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The Victory Lap - My Opinion on How to Handle Super Sonic Fights


charmsb
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So recently, I beat Sonic Unleashed, meaning I fought Perfect Dark Gaia as Super Sonic. And damn, first loading into that fight and hearing the music and seeing Chip walking alongside me as we raced towards the boss? That was nothing short of awesome and got my heart pumping fast.

Then I died like 20 times before finally beating the boss, and I forgot about the fun I was having.

Maybe I just suck at video games, but my point is that because of all that restarting, hearing the voice lines over and over, seeing the same mini cutscenes play out... the spectacle from the fight disappeared. The battle was simply too difficult (and at times bullshit) to enjoy and stick with me.

Then I thought about another Super Sonic fight - Perfect Chaos from Sonic Adventure, and how I felt about that boss.

Saying Perfect Chaos is a cakewalk is inaccurate - but saying it's anywhere near as difficult as Unleashed's final boss is a stretch. When I fight Perfect Chaos, (and believe me, I've tussled with him a good number of times... Sonic Adventure is one of my all time favorite games) I'm playing near my limit, but at the same time I'm able to appreciate the spectacle of racing through a flooded city as a Supersonic hedgehog towards an ancient god of chaos energy while cheese-infested hard rock plays. I don't die ten times and hear Open Your Heart restart a ton or hear Tikal tell me how to neutralize the god for the twentieth time.

I realize that I had a much better time with Perfect Chaos than Perfect DG because dying didn't interrupt the spectacle! It's not a last stage boss or an attempt at an S rank - its a cap off to a story, a moment where you're supposed to feel like Sonic himself as he deals the final blow to whatever demon god alien and sometimes, mad scientist, is threatening the world at the moment. And not dying repeatedly helps you revel in that. In essence, it's like a victory lap, and I don't think these things should be incredibly difficult or too long-winded.

Also - maybe don't make the gameplay as Super Sonic entirely different to the normal game? That also really helps. I actually didn't have a huge problem with Unleashed's attempt in this aspect, as different as it was (because it was super simple). I mainly think of how Generations was just... I still don't know how that boss fight works. Actually, in the most recent episode of the GHZ Podcast (SHOUTOUT TO @Grunt, GO CHECK IT OUT) Someone, sorry, the name is escaping me at the moment, proposed that the special stages throughout the game actually have gameplay similar to or that exactly of the gameplay of Super Sonic - for instance, if it were Sonic Mania, Super Sonic would control in like, a 3D space as you chase down Heavy King and collect rings and blue spheres, just like the special stages. I think that is just... wow, why haven't they done that yet?!

Hope I didn't speak too much that no one can add anything lol. How do you think Super Sonic should be handled in final bosses?

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2 minutes ago, charmsb said:

Also - maybe don't make the gameplay as Super Sonic entirely different to the normal game? That also really helps. I actually didn't have a huge problem with Unleashed's attempt in this aspect, as different as it was (because it was super simple). I mainly think of how Generations was just... I still don't know how that boss fight works. Actually, in the most recent episode of the GHZ Podcast (SHOUTOUT TO @Grunt, GO CHECK IT OUT) Someone, sorry, the name is escaping me at the moment, proposed that the special stages throughout the game actually have gameplay similar to or that exactly of the gameplay of Super Sonic - for instance, if it were Sonic Mania Super Sonic would control in like, a 3D space as you chase down Heavy King and collect rings and blue spheres, just like the special stages. I think that is just... wow, why haven't they done that yet?!

Hope I didn't speak too much that no one can add anything lol. How do you think Super Sonic should be handled in final bosses?

Congrats on beating Unleashed! I totally agree about integrating the special stages and the final boss fights more... it would just make perfect sense. It took me so long to figure out the Generations final boss until I realized I was over-complicating it by trying to engage with it and in the end it literally is just hold boost to win lol. 

Appreciate the shout out for The GHZ Podcast, too! Glad you're liking it. Anyone who is curious to check out the discussion, the link is in my signature below. 

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I think there are a couple of ways to go about it.

I think introducing a brand new gameplay style out of nowhere that's only used for the final boss can be a little annoying, so to me the best takes on Super Sonic are ones where he essentially plays like normal Sonic - except he runs faster and jumps higher. The Perfect Chaos boss is a great example. You don't have to learn any new controls for that fight, since Super Sonic just plays like a powered up Sonic.

Compare this to the Biolizard where you have to move through space with these new flying controls that the game's never used until the end.

I feel like flying Super Sonic battles are a little easier to get a handle on in 2D (Doomsday Zone, Egg Reverie, the various Advance/Rush finales), and I get the spectacle argument; It's cool to power up and fly through space.

I like your idea of implementing Super Sonic gameplay as the special stages. Imagine temporarily going Super while trying to get each Chaos Emerald - flying forward and dodging obstacles, collecting rings, etc. It'd start really easy, and work its way up in complexity with each Emerald - training the player how to use Super Sonic's unique controls over the course of the entire adventure. That way, when the final Super Sonic boss does come along, the player already has a handle on how Super Sonic controls. 

Sonic Robo Blast 2 has the whole "Flying Super Sonic in special stages" thing, but I don't think it actually has a Super Sonic final boss. It'd be neat to see the two concepts combined.

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Making  the Super Sonic Final Boss (SSFB) play like the bonus stages would definitely be an improvement since you wouldn't be dropping a bunch of new mechanics on the player (including a time limit for them to figure everything out) at the 11th hour, but I still think there is a major problem with the concept. The final boss of a game is supposed to be the final test of all of the skills you've developed during that game; SSFBs usually don't do this as is, and they won't be able to do that if they play like the bonus stages unless the bonus stages themselves play more like the main game. Bonus stages are typically used to add some variety to the games they appear in , and it would be a shame to see those levels be constrained by the needs of one boss fight.

I think if we want to keep the spectacles of SSFB for the grand finales of Sonic games we just need to make the SSFB so easy that the player almost can't possibly lose. Super Sonic has the unlimited power of the Chaos Emeralds to call on, so why should any of Eggman's machines be an obstacle to him anyway?

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5 minutes ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

 

I think if we want to keep the spectacles of SSFB for the grand finales of Sonic games we just need to make the SSFB so easy that the player almost can't possibly lose. Super Sonic has the unlimited power of the Chaos Emeralds to call on, so why should any of Eggman's machines be an obstacle to him anyway?

That's what I'm getting at. Not only did Super Sonic in SA control basically exactly like regular Sonic, but it was also just difficult enough to engage you and yet give you a low likelihood of dying and messing up the climactic flow.

You can even, like you said, make Super Sonic so god damn easy - usually that would result in a loss of engagement from the player, but if Super Sonic controls exactly like Sonic, it could feel more like you've turned on cheats or something, and that novelty shouldn't wear off before the boss fight ends.

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Going to be honest here; I remember dying to Perfect Chaos quite a few times as a kid, so I think SSFBs should be even easier than that.

My frame of reference for Final Boss Fight That Is So Easy That You Can't Lose is (spoilers for two decade old JRPGs):

Spoiler

Persona 3 and Persona 4

 

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1 hour ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

Making  the Super Sonic Final Boss (SSFB) play like the bonus stages would definitely be an improvement since you wouldn't be dropping a bunch of new mechanics on the player (including a time limit for them to figure everything out) at the 11th hour, but I still think there is a major problem with the concept. The final boss of a game is supposed to be the final test of all of the skills you've developed during that game; SSFBs usually don't do this as is, and they won't be able to do that if they play like the bonus stages unless the bonus stages themselves play more like the main game. Bonus stages are typically used to add some variety to the games they appear in , and it would be a shame to see those levels be constrained by the needs of one boss fight.

I think if we want to keep the spectacles of SSFB for the grand finales of Sonic games we just need to make the SSFB so easy that the player almost can't possibly lose. Super Sonic has the unlimited power of the Chaos Emeralds to call on, so why should any of Eggman's machines be an obstacle to him anyway?

The other thing we were talking about on the podcast is that the Special Stages should be training the player for the final boss. So it's not just that the Super Sonic final boss plays like an 8th special stage, but a cumulation of the skills you've developed over the previous 7 as the grand finale.

To put it another way — the regular final boss should test your main-game Sonic skills, and then the SSFB should test your Super Sonic skills.

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1 hour ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

I think if we want to keep the spectacles of SSFB for the grand finales of Sonic games we just need to make the SSFB so easy that the player almost can't possibly lose. Super Sonic has the unlimited power of the Chaos Emeralds to call on, so why should any of Eggman's machines be an obstacle to him anyway?

I actually don't agree here.

Super Sonic is a spark of hope at the end, but it shouldn't be a foregone conclusion that nothing else could possibly go wrong. Otherwise there's no dramatic tension.

I don't think Super Sonic battles should be ridiculously hard but I feel like ideally they should be engaging - not just something a player can blindly button-mash through and still win.

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1 hour ago, Grunt said:

To put it another way — the regular final boss should test your main-game Sonic skills, and then the SSFB should test your Super Sonic skills.

The SSFB is the regular final boss that marks the conclusion of the story, though.

1 hour ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I actually don't agree here.

Super Sonic is a spark of hope at the end, but it shouldn't be a foregone conclusion that nothing else could possibly go wrong. Otherwise there's no dramatic tension.

I don't think Super Sonic battles should be ridiculously hard but I feel like ideally they should be engaging - not just something a player can blindly button-mash through and still win.

However, I have been thinking about it, and what if the final boss requires Sonic to fight in both his regular and Super forms? Super Sonic is supposed to require collecting a bunch of rings anyway. The fight could be set up so that as regular Sonic you have to play defensively while collecting rings, then once he transforms you get to go on the offense. Your skills at the main game and the bonus stages would both be tested in the same fight, and to make things even better the time limit on Super form doesn't have to be so punishing because instead of dying when your last ring drains away you could just go right back to the ring collecting phase of the fight.

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2 hours ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

 

However, I have been thinking about it, and what if the final boss requires Sonic to fight in both his regular and Super forms? Super Sonic is supposed to require collecting a bunch of rings anyway. The fight could be set up so that as regular Sonic you have to play defensively while collecting rings, then once he transforms you get to go on the offense. Your skills at the main game and the bonus stages would both be tested in the same fight, and to make things even better the time limit on Super form doesn't have to be so punishing because instead of dying when your last ring drains away you could just go right back to the ring collecting phase of the fight.

While thats not bad from a game design standpoint, I'd feel kinda bummed out when I switch back to regular Sonic.

 

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What if you had the opportunity to gain enough rings or other power items to use Super Sonic against a normal final boss? Well, wouldn’t be much of a challenge normally… but maybe their AI detects if you have gone super and becomes tougher on you, using new attacks to work around your super form. I also feel like Perfect Chaos is another good example, and heck, if people really want 2D in their 3D games so badly, why not use it for the Super Sonic bosses? 

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