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What are the missed opportunities in Sonic games that bother you the most?

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Hey, this franchise has lasted close to 30 years, so it's got to have a few good ideas that you think could have been even better. What are they?

One such missed opportunity to me is not bringing the full mechanics of the boost system in the Rush games in, when they adopted it for console games. Don't get me wrong, I love the play style in Unleashed, Colors and Generations, but Rush and Rush Adventure felt like an evolution of the ideas that came before it

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The Advance series added in mid-air tricks that could get your higher or push you further, allowing you even more control and freedom. Rush took that idea, and also allowed the tricks to affect the way you play on ground, with you gaining Boost through the trick system. You had to constantly keep doing tricks to keep your meter up. The 3 console boost games mainly focus on gathering your Boost by gathering rings or wisp capsules (hitting enemies can get you Boost in all the games), which means the link between the trick system and the Boost system is cut off. However, the console games do try to replicate the visual flair of doing tricks... in a boring way.

Unleashed gives you a QTE that on failure can lead you to a slower route or kill you. It's binary and doesn't let you control your trajectory at all. Colors... just makes you mash the A button. Generations got kind of close... 


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You can make Sonic do different tricks and finish it off (like in Rush Adventure), to get more boost. But at the end of the day, you're on a set path based on whether you were boosting or not boosting when you touched the ramp, for these 3 games. It's also only activated on those rainbow ramps and hoops, whereas as long as you get launched in the air by anything in the Rush games, you could do these tricks. The tricks are visual flair that don't add much to the rest of the gameplay since it's not your main method of gathering Boost, nor do your inputs change your trajectory. 

The Boost gameplay is one I really like across all the games it is featured in (Forces doesn't exist), but it does have moves that are very situational and don't work together with the rest of the system (quickstep sections, and tricks). I do like the air boost that these games added, but to me, not incorporating the trick system into the Boost gameplay is one of the missed opportunities that bother me the most.
(then again, the Rush series also allowed you to roll and the Boost games don't utilize that even though they do have decent slope physics)

I'm sure there are more missed opportunities (parkour lol), and I'd love to hear which ones bother you the most. :o

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The biggest missed opportunity for me is, how do I put this, making Sonic Forces a good game. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Forces could have been the closest thing that we've gotten in recent years to a game that could have united the fanbase. It had 2D classic Sonic for classic fans, it attempted a serious story and a serious mood of the kind that Adventure fans have been longing for, and obviously it had the modern boost gameplay for modern fans. Just imagine if it had actually been a good game, what kind of reception it would have gotten!

And the reason why the poor quality of Forces bothers me more than the poor quality of certain other games is that I feel that Forces had no excuse to be bad considering that SEGA has already produced similar games that were good, namely Colors and Generations. It's not like, say, Lost World or Rise of Lyric where a completely new gameplay style was attempted and didn't work out. All SEGA had to do with Forces was replicate a gameplay that they've already succeeded at, but for some reason they didn't.

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Forces is too obvious.

I’m gonna go with Chronicles.

It expanded the background of the ancient echidnas and the Gizoids, and could’ve given Knuckles his own personal enemy and a villainous rival for Eggman with the Nocturnus clan.

Sure, it wasn’t that good as an actual game, but for what it brought outside of it was something that could have really done some wonders and development for Rad Red alone.

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Never actually making a true 3D Sonic in the same vein as the classics. SA was an attempt, but every successive game just deviated further and further, stripping out everything that worked and replacing it with things that either were worse or outright didn't work, and now they don't seem to understand it at all. They took a good thing and fucked everything up piece by piece.

Also it's a bit hard to work up the energy to be mad about it considering, well, everything, but Forces being about Eggman successfully taking over, except not actually about Eggman succesfully taking over, is just...I mean that's supposed to be the big one, right? The villain actually winning and having to tear control back from him. And it's not even just that it's a bad game it's that the game doesn't even care about it at all, the effects of his rule are a number on the map and basically nothing else. The game would've been 99% identical without it, but now they've wasted it so there's no chance we're ever going to see a good version of it.

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It is a damn shame how lethargic the whole handling of Forces is. I mean I don't really appreciate the English version's attempts to tack on 'grittier' elements, that wasn't the right way of trying to add stakes, but they really could have done more with this, especially given it was supposedly a spiritual adaptation of the comics storyline of sorts. I mean Eggman freaking TOOK OVER THE WORLD.

Even just adding more personal or emotional quotes from the cast could have improved it a good deal (even if their dialogue is at least still an improvement over Heroes or Generations).

 

Another personal one; while I don't HATE Big's fishing levels in SA1, I do think it's a shame they kinda squandered the idea of a more laid back Sonic campaign. I think if the things that made Big more chill were less HINDERANCES that added tedium and the fishing mechanic was something that was more deceptively fun it could have been a great idea. Heroes and Big's Fishing Derby show those goals are possible.

Hell while I love SA1 as a whole, I do think it's a shame how unfinished it is and how most of the character campaigns are pretty short and undercooked.

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This is going to sound especially strange coming from me, but the more I think about it, the more frustrated I am with SEGA that they didn't have the foresight to capitalize on something that was going on at the time.

Custom Characters.

I'm of the opinion that Sonic Forces came 15 years too late. Half-baked execution aside, the custom avatar mechanic is something that Sonic fans had been doing for years, and it's kind of baffling to me that they didn't think to take advantage of this sizable pocket of the fanbase. There's absolutely no shortage of fan characters to back me up on this.

Had they taken action on this early enough, there could have been an entire sub-series dedicated to everyone's custom characters doing their own thing. Whether or not you dislike the notion of making your own character, it's a concept that has proven to sell. With a stronger foundation than what Forces built and with more options to choose from (that could result in more meaningful changes in gameplay) then I think it'd be a huge seller.

The other missed opportunity that comes to mind is a Chao Garden mobile game, but everyone's on board for that, I think.

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Sega spending nearly two decades only caring about Archie when they decided they want to meddle with it to keep things in line with a vision that they didn't seem to have in the first place; and then after cancelling the last original link left to Sonic's glory years and shrugging it off as if no one should care, doing the same thing thus far with the current comic. No cross promotion, no attempt to bring attention to comic "events," no attempt to link anything to the greater franchise as a whole. Here's one of the biggest media properties in the industry; fucking figure it out yourself.

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The only times I recall Archie ever getting promotion from Sega were when the UK Sonic blog were posting previews for the first few issues of the "Iron Dominion" arc (post 200) and then much later with the "Mega Drive" specials just before they pulled the plug on Archie. I can't think of any other time Archie was acknowledged on official channels though.

IDW, on the other hand, may not have gotten tons of social media promotion from Sega (hell, I seem to recall they were more readily plugging shit like Boom on iTunes after it was already dead), but I feel like SoA has tried with it in other ways. The first month the Sega shop created a shirt based on the cover with Tangle, and later on they even made pins of Tangle and Whisper. There was even exclusive variant covers made for the shop. The comic was also plugged in their own livestreams with other merch. It's more courtesy than Archie was ever given, which is unfortunate, since I would've loved to have seen official reboot FF merch.

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Gotta go with Forces as well. It had all the right potential broader ideas that really could work with some fine tuning....but it's like they heard what some people wanted, but did not understand why they wanted it in the first place. That's what it feels like. Some people wanted a more serious story, a boost game after Lost World screwed up, the other characters to be involved, etc. They took that....but never understood the WHY. They just threw it all in there. 

I also agree with the above mention of deviating further from SA1 and how it tried to emulate the classics in 3D. It had a good thing going and perhaps we coulda gotten something with staying power. SA2 did take somethings backwards but I've never enjoyed controlling Sonic more than in these games. The levels themselves just needed work and better accommodating to his control.

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From a purely business perspective, the fact that SEGA/Sonic Team didn't have a new game or something to tie in with the Sonic movie (doesn't have to be a 'Sonic Movie' game, just... like, anything...) will always be a little bit baffling.

I like the idea of talking about game mechanics as missed opportunities rather than entire games, and I agree with the OP on the trick system. Really quite liked it in the Advance series, especially Sonic's Up move which had him do an extra splits vault in the air. Was pretty cool.

But yeah. Missed opportunity #1: Shields/Power Ups. I feel like, with the move to 3D, the ability to power up Sonic in new and interesting ways during the level fell by the wayside. It's probably difficult to replicate things like the Fire Shield from Sonic 3 into, say, a Sonic Unleashed or Sonic Adventure 2 style experience, but when I saw the electric shield in the original Sonic Adventure I thought 'oh boy it's like the 2D games'... and then in future games item boxes have pretty much held either rings, lives or some other macguffin. I guess it's also one of the reasons I actually liked the Wisps in Sonic Colours, because they were power-ups that had a purpose.

I'd love to see some of the crazy things we saw in the 8-bit games, like snowboards (Sonic Triple Trouble) or spring platforms (Sonic Chaos), or the Sonic 3&K trinity (Fire/Electric/Bubble), that can be used temporarily within a stage to add to Sonic's abilities and explore new areas. That'd be so cool.

The other missed opportunity I see: Scoring. Part of what made Sonic Adventure 2 incredible to me, was the Ranking system. Completed the level? Ah, but you got a C. Try again. ... Try again? What else can you do? You already ran as fast as you could through the stage, right? Well, maybe you did, but did you chain-attack that series of enemies in that hidden room? Did you expertly grind on those three rails in quick succession without touching the ground? Did you hop through all the rings in the circular tunnel (each of which would have given you extra points)?

This is where I thought Sonic Adventure 2 really innovated in the series, in a way that future 3D games never really explored further. Stages were built with little tricks and gimmicks you could use to build up a combo score, and even though the levels were super-linear, there was a lot of replayability there. Of course, Ranking still exists in modern Sonic games, but almost all of them are simply based on whether you died, how fast you sped through the stage, and sometimes how many rings you collected. It somehow just feels like the ability to obtain an S Rank merely exists as a courtesy these days, rather than something the game is encouraging you to accomplish.

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Diogenes took my obvious response but the other one would be Sonic Unleashed night time stages. Does anyone remember the commercials/advertising for that game? Do you remember how quick the werehog looked, how acrobatic? I thought "holy shit, maybe it'll be like Spiderman" 

But instead we got a slow beat em up. 

I wasn't expecting the game to actually be as large as a Spiderman game, but making the werehog a little faster, so as to keep his momentum up and basing his attacks more keeping up that flow (through various spinning, slashing, rolling cannonball attacks, etc.) would have been waaaaaay better than what we got. Which wasn't terrible... Just not interesting at all. 

 

11 hours ago, batson said:

The biggest missed opportunity for me is, how do I put this, making Sonic Forces a good game. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Forces could have been the closest thing that we've gotten in recent years to a game that could have united the fanbase. It had 2D classic Sonic for classic fans, it attempted a serious story and a serious mood of the kind that Adventure fans have been longing for, and obviously it had the modern boost gameplay for modern fans. Just imagine if it had actually been a good game, what kind of reception it would have gotten!

Aside from your other points which I agree with, I disagree with the idea that Forces concept was going to unite the fanbase. Sure, it had parts of what each sect of the fanbase likes, but the way it handled those parts were disjointed, or segmented from each other. It's like "hey, you're a classic fan?! Here's some classic levels!" and then the other parts of the game are not geared toward what you want. And the same for the modern levels. And I'm not acting like people can't like both, it's just that the styles don't blend well, they're really competing with one another on some level. And this doesn't get into the quality of execution either. 

I think a game that unites the fanbase (a lofty goal anyway) would be one the molds varying degrees or aspects of what people prioritize most into one consistent gameplay formula throughout, not multiple styles of gameplay segmented in one package. Obviously pleasing everyone is impossible anyway but it is possible to make a majority of fans and casuals happy by being careful, confident, and consistent in what you do. 

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I know Forces is too obvious but I don't hate that game for nothing.

The perfect Generations followup was figurativerly giftwrapped in greatness: people loved how Modern and Classic Sonic controlled in those games, was the architecture of the next gen of consoles really so different that they had to throw it out and start over with the Lost World engine? Or did they pull a PS1 Era Square and bin the source code?

And surely the level designers could have researched the levels in the best boost game and figure out what made them tick and why people liked them? Rather than making the same Hold X to win hallways with bog-standard 2D sections?

And surely the writers could have given one extra teeny tiny miniscule iota of a frick to make sure the big concept lived up to it's potential? Not introducing villains only to throw them away in literally the next cutscene? Reigning the localizers in so "They tortured him for months" didn't happen? Not completely and absolutely phoning in the new villain and his accompanying plot device (cos that's what the Phantom Ruby is, it's like the Nightmare Virus from Mega Man X6, it does whatever the hell it feels like it at any given moment)?.

A winning template for a good game was right there and Sonic Team seemed almost determined to not hit it.

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Your post describes one of my biggest pet peeves with 3D Sonic. Sonic Rush's trick system is the reason which makes me replay that game over and over and I don't understand why Sega never tried to adapt or even evolve it with the boost games. It would fit like a glove with them.

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6 hours ago, Dreadknux said:

From a purely business perspective, the fact that SEGA/Sonic Team didn't have a new game or something to tie in with the Sonic movie

Well there was Sonic Runners if that’s counts as something 

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8 hours ago, Dreadknux said:

 

The other missed opportunity I see: Scoring. Part of what made Sonic Adventure 2 incredible to me, was the Ranking system. Completed the level? Ah, but you got a C. Try again. ... Try again? What else can you do? You already ran as fast as you could through the stage, right? Well, maybe you did, but did you chain-attack that series of enemies in that hidden room? Did you expertly grind on those three rails in quick succession without touching the ground? Did you hop through all the rings in the circular tunnel (each of which would have given you extra points)?

This is where I thought Sonic Adventure 2 really innovated in the series, in a way that future 3D games never really explored further. Stages were built with little tricks and gimmicks you could use to build up a combo score, and even though the levels were super-linear, there was a lot of replayability there. Of course, Ranking still exists in modern Sonic games, but almost all of them are simply based on whether you died, how fast you sped through the stage, and sometimes how many rings you collected. It somehow just feels like the ability to obtain an S Rank merely exists as a courtesy these days, rather than something the game is encouraging you to accomplish.

A thousand times this. I don't actually have too much fun speed running the classics but when I go the opposite route and treat it like a score attack game where i'm supposed to amass as much rings and bonuses as I can without getting hit I start having a blast replaying them. If I can wring some fun out of a Sonic game's scoring system it's usually a decent game for me at worst, so imagining what they could have done if they really started emphasizing this element like they did in SA2 makes me wonder sometimes.

Instead they went the opposite route and start shying away from seriously ranking you on your performance which is a shame. I get that players don't like their performance to be graded harshly if they screw up but it's just not Sonic to me without something like that to encourage me to do better. 

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4 hours ago, KHCast said:

Well there was Sonic Runners if that’s counts as something 

? Sonic Runners died in like, 2016 though. Or do you mean the tie-ins that are happening with Sonic Forces Speed Battle? It’s probably the best thing they could do in lieu of an actual game I suppose.

2 hours ago, Wraith said:

I get that players don't like their performance to be graded harshly if they screw up but it's just not Sonic to me without something like that to encourage me to do better. 

It’s weird because I’m sort of the same... half of why Sonic 2006 is so god damn unbearable (besides the fact that it’s cack) is that it insists on contextually unreasonable goals for S Ranks (for example, they should have given S Ranks out for simply surviving Crisis City, not avoiding getting hit which is impossible).

But with Sonic Adventure 2, the system was fair and rewarding if you took the time to explore the stage. I remember spending DAYS constantly replaying Pyramid Cave just trying to find extra ways I can eke a little more juice out of the grind rails or Light Dashes, and loving every minute of it. I didn’t enjoy doing that half as much in, say, Sonic Unleashed, because the difference in getting an A or an S simply depended on whether you remembered to press the B Button at the right time. Boring.

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34 minutes ago, Dreadknux said:

? Sonic Runners died in like, 2016 though. Or do you mean the tie-ins that are happening with Sonic Forces Speed Battle? It’s probably the best thing they could do in lieu of an actual game I suppose.

Sorry meant sonic Dash, not runners. The original Dash as well as speed battle btw.

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While the final arc of the pre-reboot Archie series was probably already THE worst possible time for them to be cut short, what with it being this key not-so-harmless run for Eggman and some other villains where nearly every protagonist was at their most emotionally tested with conflicts and disownments within the home field left and right, I think even BEFORE the writers' hands got forced it was showing signs of overlooking potential conflicts. I don't think it was a very good idea at all to have Sally robotocized right in the heat of an actual canon 'Sally vs Mina' conflict for example, I mean I appreciate them not to trying to present every past shipping opposition as unrealistically fine with each other like they tried to do with Sally and Amy, and even more so not even over the actual shipping part, but this certainly exacerbated the issue of unresolved conflicts and likely left Mina fans with a permanent sour taste in their mouth due to their character being demonised against Sally without getting a proper redemption.

I also think the reboot itself to be more uniform with the games was also a lost potential to make the comics more character driven, taking the more free range style of the games to let characters have their own side agendas. But if anything it felt like, besides the Chaotix being hired detectives again, the whole Freedom Fighter occupation had an even tighter homogenising grasp on everyone. Even Sally was barely involved in any royal diplomatics anymore. IDW also mostly ignored this to conveniently adapt off of Forces' very similar dynamic.

Actually did even the Chaotix talk about having money motives in the comics? I forget. Vector being obsessed with moolah is kinda a key drive for him.

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Team Sonic Racing - 

You spend ages making your custom paint jobs for all the characters only to find you can't actually race AGAINST those characters with your paint designs even in single player. This is one completely bizarre design choice that I will never understand.

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16 hours ago, BadBehavior said:

The perfect Generations followup was figurativerly giftwrapped in greatness: people loved how Modern and Classic Sonic controlled in those games, was the architecture of the next gen of consoles really so different that they had to throw it out and start over with the Lost World engine? Or did they pull a PS1 Era Square and bin the source code?

I agree with you on a lot of your points, Forces disappoints me too but I believe the reason they started with the Lost World engine is that graphically and in terms of the code, Forces is better optimized and more capable (I believe Generations is a 32bit game on PC and uses DirectX9 which is quite outdated). There's no reason to use the Generations framework, they seem to have just botched up the level design and physics because their goal with Forces was to just "Dash like a maniac".

That aside, I too wish we got a game that took what SA1 was trying to do in terms of bringing the classic formula to 3D and build on it, and I do wish that shields were implemented in the games again. That said, I believe Lost World had shields? But honestly, I wasn't a fan of the way it handled items haha. 

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-Unused potential in Sonic Advance 2's gameplay.

I love Sonic Advance 2, it's one of my favorite Sonic games. Though, it's a cheap handheld game that runs on a weak hardware. The level design is a bit weak, and the game has little content, a lot of reused gimmicks and it's overall not a very ambitious game.

The gameplay formula though was very innovative, it was the first experiment of boost gameplay; they took some elements of that formula and developed other games that eventually became the Rush series and the 3D main games (boost gameplay).

The "Boost Mode" earned by keeping the flow and building momentum, became an instant boost activated by a button and an energy gauge; the special rings became the red star rings, and the gimmick that increased your acceleration according to how many rings you collected was completely removed; the tricks system also was completely modified.

The problem is that in the process of redesigning that formula, they have lost what IMO made it interesting in the first place: boost mode being earned through momentum, and rings giving you more acceleation (rings were more meaningful than just a 1-hit shield). Sonic Rush and Colors DS still had the "Boost Mode" additionally to the regular boost, though the regular boost made it obsolete. Also, the original Sonic Advance 2 had physics that resembled the ones of the classics (not identical but still vaguely similar), while the Rush series got rid of momentum based gameplay, and so did the main boost games. Another interesting thing was the homing attack... it was in the game, but not actually required. Most enemies had some form of defense and you couldn't just spam HA: some had an hammer and you had to hit them with the correct timing when the hammer was at the other side, others had rotating fireballs all around and you had to hit them from perfectly above else they would damage you, and those jumping monkeys can even dodge your homing attack... etc.

All these nice, awesome gameplay elements, were completely unused in level design... it felt like a big tech demo but they never expanded the concepts to its full potential. The movesets of the characters are unbalanced too... it's like if the game was at half of its development and they just stopped and released it... with some more effort and content it could have been a way better game, but making a great game was not the goal in the first place, the goal was to make a cheap handheld tie-in to Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. When they did Sonic Advance 3, it was a tie-in to Sonic Heroes, so the focus was all on multiple characters teamed up and playable at the same time doing tag-team moves. They never returned to that Advance 2 formula and never expanded it, they just abandoned it. They returned to it with the Rush series but it was different, they removed the best parts of it and made the physics way worse.

I would like a more ambitious game that brings back the original Advance 2 formula, but this time uses its full potential. The movesets of the characters to be completely redesigned (maybe except Sonic who only neads a few tweaks), the levels to be way more complex and better designed, designed with all of the movesets and physics tricks in mind; the rings enhancing your skills to be expanded and more developed, make it so that each character gets a different trait boosted up by rings (Sonic - speed, Tails - flight, etc...), make the level design less automated and make keeping the Boost Mode active a challenge... maybe reward the player with something for keeping the boost mode active for longer (semi-invincibility to badniks? Bonus stage portals activated only if you go trhough a checkpoint with boost mode? Score multiplier? Other...?) and bring in some of those elements that made Sonic 3 & Knuckles great (in-game real time storytelling, coherent environments and world building, level transitions, etc). Use the homing attack more in level design, but not for automation: expand on that thing that badniks can defend themselves from HA and some can even dodge it, make HA another (optional) challenge to use. And more... not all the bosses should be running ones, too.

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