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I, LOVE RAIL GRINDING, I LOVE IT TO DEATH... mostly in sonic adventure 2, I love risking my speed getting lost by crouching on the rails and gaining speed in the process. heck, final rush is one of my favorite 3d sonic levels of all time, mostly because of how open it is. the execution of this mechanic has been botched to death, like heroes, 06, Unleashed, and forces especially (even in that game, rail grinding was cool....just a little), but even in sonic adventure 2, rail grinding as a mechanic is, to put it simply: fundamentally flawed. here's the video:

BillehBawb made a good critique about the execution of the rail grinding in all of those games, and made a few good idea on how to improve rail grinding as a mechanic. so If I were to add a thing or two to this, let's make all of the 4 (shadow is a carbon copy of sonic) characters have unique actions when on the rail:

Sonic will work just the same as he does in sa2, with BillehBawb's improvements of course.

Tails will be easier to balance, but won't go as fast as sonic.

Knuckles will be the hardest to balance, but will go the fastest

Amy will use the board she used in the advance games, she'll be extremely hard to balance even when you're not crouching. but a reward to this is that she'll be able to gain speed the fastest and be able do to two tricks at once. speaking of which...

I would also do more with the trick system and what better game to take inspiration form then sonic advance 2. by holding LB after doing a trick on a ramp, you can use the face buttons to do 3 separate tricks (this is on an Xbox controller, by the way)

Pressing A as sonic will make him do the uhh… I forgot the name of it but he'll do the sonic advance 2 jump. Pressing it as Tails will do a Higher, more floatier jump than Sonic's. Pressing it as Knuckles will do a smaller but more aerodynamic jump (meaning he'll still be able to move while doing it). And pressing it as Amy will do a diagonal front flip on the board.

Pressing B or X as sonic will make him do the spin kick, It'll go the fastest of the four but will be the hardest to steer after doing the jump. Pressing it as tails will make him do the Twin Tail launch move he does in advance 2, it'll make him go in an arc as well. Pressing it as knuckles will make him do the glide punch, it's a short move that you can maneuver out of immediately after. and pressing it as Amy will make her do spin on her board while moving straight forward.

Pressing Y as sonic won't make him do the stomp move, but instead the comet strike he does in Smash Bros, he can't really move much in any direction while doing this. Tails will do an arcing pounce, it's (again) very floaty. Pressing it as knuckles will make him go down FAST, faster than any of the 4 characters, but at the cost of being immovable during the strike. And pressing it as Amy will make her move quite fast diagonally.

if I were to add something, maybe have some segments where you both need to balance and dodge oncoming obstacles, like in ratchet and clank, sonic unleashed. maybe even make optional routes that require you to rail grind and do tricks to reach secret places (and get some hidden items, more on that in the 3d control scheme forum).

so how about you guys, if you were to add anything to this, what would you add? let me know in the comments below!

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The video's pretty much on point; rail grinding in SA2 was a bit of a mess, but it had some actual purpose to it, while rail grinding in subsequent games stripped all that out and left it as just another way of putting limits on the player so they didn't need to bother with actual gameplay or level design. Returning to a more polished form of (early) SA2 rail grinding, with a focus on shorter stretches of rail that are actually built into the level instead of floating over the void between level chunks, re-integrating momentum into it, and asking the player for some actual input to perform well rather than just holding boost would solve most of the problems with them. I don't think we really need different stats and trick moves for every character, though; kinda feels like extra complications just for the sake of it.

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5 minutes ago, Twister said:

To be fair Mr Cynic (haha - see what I did there), rail grinding has always been cool to look at, even in the awful Boost games. 

Actually it's usually been incredibly boring to look at, because instead of doing anything you're just staring at Sonic's ass until the game decides to try to be a game again.

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Rail grinding has unfortunately become one of those many, many mechanics added to Sonic's repertoire over the years that are there largely for spectacle and not much else, yet are obsessively baked into nearly every level in every modern Sonic game in spite of that. If rails as they currently stand were pulled from future Sonic games, I don't think we would be missing anything at all. Which sucks because it doesn't have to be that way.

Going back to Adventure 2 where they did increase your momentum if you were good at balancing on them would definitely be a good start, but there's definitely more that could be done. Rails greatly suffer from a lack of novelty in their implementation, where they are not only in every world/location (regardless of pacing and theme), but also function the same and visually look identical across the board. This also applies in terms of level design, where they're practically never used beyond setpiece bridges from one platforming section to another above bottomless pits. Addressing all of these elements would go a long way towards making them much better for Sonic games.

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Yup, guys got a point in the vid.

I'd just say to use SA2's as the base and tackle the balancing system so it actually feels rewarding doing successful rail grinding. Maybe like a 1 - 1.5 second counter before the game recognizes you're hanging off to the sides for too long and boots you off.

Maybe even give more incentive doing "perfect" rail grinding by allowing the player to also spin dash charge on rails only if they're balanced long enough to gain even more speed quicker and also traverse through what would be normally impossible areas like a straight 90 degree vertical railings leading to hidden upper paths...? Just some spitballs here. Anything than what we got these days.

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I like simplicity, I think that the rails should not have a balance system at all... at best, crouch to gain more speed on slopes, but that's it. I like that Sonic Adventure 2 (and Advance 2) preserved momentum on rails. In the boost games, rails are completely automated and the moment you touch them, you just automatically go forward at a fixed speed regardless of the angle of the rail.

Reintroduce momentum and natural physics to the rails, make them simple (no balancing, only crouch to gain speed on slopes), use them in small sections only (no huge rail sections over the void); make it so that you will fall off if you are too slow.

They would basically act as a forced "rolling" section (sliding instead, but the physics act similar to rolling), and unlike rolling on an actual slope (where in 3D you can move left or right), there you are stuck on the path of the rail, and you have to keep a minimum speed in order to stay on it. In this case, limiting the movements of the player doesn't necessarily mean it's bad... it really depends on level design.

They can be used as a trap to make the player slide into an unwanted place, or as a speed test section (if you are fast enough, you will go to the other side of the rail; if you didn't build up enough momentum, you will be too slow and fall), and probably there are more ways to use them.

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Sonic Rush used rails much in the same way it used ramps. It would oftentimes launch Sonic or Blaze into the air at its completion, and given that much speed and momentum, the player character could drastically alter their path forward with the suite of airborne moves available to either character. 

Rails need to be reintegrate into gameplay and jumping off early or tricking at the end should go back to creating shortcuts. Rails as sequence breaks or transition points are a waste of space. 

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I find it funny that the new rails quite literally put sonic into "on-rails" sections. You only ever watch sonic stand there moving forward or move side to side to avoid some spiked rails.


SA2s rails aint perfect but i remember really enjoying that space level thats entirely based on them. Hopping off into space to land on different rail paths, using momentum to go up steep ones, ironically this gimmick level had better sonic level design philosophy than the regular sonic levels.

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