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What defines style in a sonic game for you?



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What defines a fun style and personality in a sonic game to you?

Is it the fast paced way you kill robots? Or is it exploring the levels and taking in gorgeous artwork and set pieces of the zones? Is it the way the characters interact with each other during stages whenever they do? Unleashed was about a world adventure speeding throughout beautiful real world-like locations. What could sonic games developers make to replicate that feeling you get from playing through an epic grand scale tale? In your perspective, describe a great sonic adventure in your own words as if you were reading from it's own manual, as if you were riding home in a car, with a new game in your hand, anxiously shaking with excitement to play an all new game when you get home.

Basically, what features in a sonic game, to you gives it life?

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well a lot of things define style, sonic himself is, and always will be, style. but the true style is the sense of speed that sonic achieves. I may haven't truly mentioned this in my bio, but the TRUE first 3d Sonic game I've ever played was sonic 06, I remember having a very hard time getting into the first stage, as almost everyone my age did. but when I got there, playing sonic was a blast, going across loops, running on walls, jumping from board to board as you hold on to a whale (one difficult tails section later) and the whole thing closes with sonic saying "darn we're not gonna make it, lets speed up!" as he zooms through the beach as I tried to maneuver him through obstacles with shoddy hitboxes, it was tough, but it was extremely fun.

one of the greatest example of speed was in sonic generations, although my thoughts of this game haven't aged perfectly, it's still a blast to play, I remember playing the demo time after time, holding the boost button and letting my hands run wild. after waiting a godly amount of weeks to download the full game, It was worth it. sky sanctuary, speed highway and rooftop run are excellent levels and the best ones in the entire game.

Oh and sa2, can't forget about that divisive, polarizing, ambitious "dARk AnD Edgy" mess of a game. While I think the treasure hunting and shooting levels are underrated these days, they don't have nothing on the speed stages. City Escape and Final Rush are hands down my favorite levels in the sonic the hedgehog series, with City Escapes Nauseatingly Catchy beat to it's wonderful level design, and Final Rush's Open space and it's use of my SUPER AWESOME RAD RAIL GRINDING SKILLS...Ahem, sorry. anyways, speed isn't everything, but it's a core element of sonic that no game should exclude, and it never has to this day, for better, and for worse.

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Presentation. Plain and simple.

Or to make it less plain and simple, the ability to not only show the characters doing their most breathtaking feats, but also putting the player in charge of these moments and giving them the ability to make the magic for themselves. 

Far too often the games lean back on automated controls or QTEs for its dynamic setpieces. The parts of the game that truly make Sonic stand out. Even within the same game you can dig up numerous examples of properly and ill fated attempts at crafting style. Lets look through a few examples shall we? 

 

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This. This right here is a bad example. 

*dodges bricks* 

I know its one of the signature moments of one of the signature games in the franchise, but this is fake style to me. Its clearly a setpeice. Designed to get the blood pumping and show off Sonic's amazing speed and attitude, but it robs the player of any need for input. You could just as easily put the controller down and Sonic will accomplish the feat on his own. The style is there, but its hollow and meaningless. Especially when you put it next to something that nails execution and knocks it out of the park.

 

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This. This so much. 

This is poetry in motion. Its giving you the same in-your-face attitude and adrenaline of the first example, but giving you full reigns of the controls to guide Sonic down the side of the skyscrapper. Its not showing you Sonic being a badass, its actually letting you be the badass and do the kinds of things that Sonic can do that other platformers just can't. Going Down is one of the best moments of style in the series. Not only is it a spectacular transition break from one of the best stages, but its the definition of the style the game wants to portray to the player. He spends an entire level rocketing round skyscrapers and playing piggyback with helicopters, only to skip the elevator on the way down and just run down the side of a building. Short. Simple. Sweet. STYLISH as HELL. 

Sonic games are always heavy handed with the setpieces. Outrunning avalanches of some form of another have been used multiple times. The Gun Truck also serves up another example of a dynamic setpiece that shows off Sonic's style while not taking away the controls. But not every set piece has to be grandiose and flamboyant. Sometimes, little effects here and there can have the same effect. Cue up another example (and probably my favorite example in the entire series)

 

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Man I miss Unleashed. 

But Arid Sands is a perfect example of building style right into the gameplay. On approach to the final stretch of the level, Sonic enters some degrading ruins. The game is wide open and encouraging you to pour on the speed, so you'll naturally enter this space at a good clip. As you run, the pillars ahead of you will start to crumble and fall horizontally across the road ahead of you. You can play it safe and slow down, or you can choose to live life like the fastest Hedgehog alive and blaze right under them before they can fully topple. Style points. 

But the real essence to this bit is what is around the next bend. As you enter the next open ravine, you are given the same visual cues and the same choice, this time spying much larger falling boulders. On your first playthrough, with a Sonic that doesn't have all the EXP poured into it, Sonic actually won't have the speed to accomplish this feat. You'll smack head onto the falling rock and your pride will take a significant blow. Even a modestly invested Sonic won't come close to making it. But after you beat the game? after you beef out your hedgehog bod to the max? Sonic cruises past all rocks in style. Your perseverance and bravery to be the daredevil is rewarded with pure sexyness. The stage even ends shortly after this stunt to give the player time to bask in the afterglow. Its straight magic and a little piece of style hidden in broad daylight.

 

 

I could go on for days, but I think I've summed up my point well enough. Style is all about how is presented to the player. And if the game devs can show me how cool I can be, without taking the controller out of my hands to do it, then they are doing their job the right way. IMO anyway. 

  

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I, personally always loved that you could be in control when the stage setpieces come and doing cool things that not only make sonic look cool, but make you FEEL cool. You brought out a good point @Sega DogTagz. Sega needs to do more of this but find a balance between veteran sonic players and newcomers.

Also, in-stage transitions need to comeback. I wanna go from an eggman factory, to some ruins in the sky into a cyberspace world of some sorts. 

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3 minutes ago, Pelvic WOO! engine said:

Also, in-stage transitions need to comeback. I wanna go from an eggman factory, to some ruins in the sky into a cyberspace world of some sorts. 

Unleashed was probably overkill in the transition department. almost every stage (save for skyscraper scamper and windmill isle) would have Sonic blowing through 2 or 3 different biomes from point A to B. And GodDAMN if that didn't make you feel fast. In Arid Sands (there is that man again lol) you start in a bustling bazzar but by the end of the level you have outrun the stretches of humanity and infringed on ancient ruins. In Rooftop Run you start out downtown, but end the level spanning the aqueducts you saw in the distance early on. Just by changing the scenery over the course of the level, your adding to the immersion of speed. There is style in that. These levels can't contain Sonic. He's too sexy fast. 

Its one of many reasons why I adore Unleashed. 

Stage transitions being used as story telling is something that gets a lot of attention. The burning of Angel Island in Sonic 3 comes to mind there. But it can also be a super effective tool in building up style. Blowing up ships using the rocket accel move in heroes Egg Fleet then transitioning to the nosecone of another flaship? Beautiful. Running along the hovering platforms in Windy Valley in the eye of a tornado? Amazing. Getting stalked by an oversized Chomper for a few seconds if you try and get cheeky with water-runing shortcuts, but being given juuuuust enough time to play with it and find a shortcut or two before insta-death? Golden. 

By making the set-pieces that transition the level playable, it adds a whole nother layer of style points. I thought Mania handled that really well too. In Chemical Plant Zone act II, you step on a syringe and change an entire factory's worth of Mega Mack into an entirely new platforming tool. That's creativity in letting the user alter his environment right before your eyes. Platforming style. 

 

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