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Sonic games you didn't like at first, but grew on you...


Wraith
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My first playthrough of Sonic Unleashed was not fun. At the start of the game, two or three werehog stages back to back were paired with the worst tornado minigame in the entire franchise to filter out the weak willed. But I persevered.

Playing the day stages for the first time with the comparatively mindless Colors and Rush Adventure as my only reference point was kind of like getting sprayed with one of those spray bottles they use on dogs every time you pressed a button. The wolf stages were were nightmarish mashfests that seemed engineered to suppress the game's best qualities with the way it's aesthetic choices swallowed all the game's bold colors and the glacial pacing cut into Sonic Unleashed's defining trait: the power fantasy of Sonic as a superhero that could make miles in our world feel like inches. The pacing didn't help things. It flies in the face of what makes every other Sonic game enjoyable with it's constant medal checks and the inconsistent rhythm. The constant back and forth in the hub worlds felt like they flew in the face of how easy to navigate SA1's were. By the time I got through the extended minigame that was the final boss, I was about done and ready to take it back to the story.

But I didn't. Someone here(I don't remember who) pressured me to try it again, so did. And then I played it again. And again. And again.

Once you know the medal checks are coming, your approach starts to change. Medals are rewarded through optimal play in the day stages and exploration in the night stages, and it turns out those playstyles makes both of those groups of stages more fun. The same nuance can be found in the hub worlds if you comb them instead of beelining for the next area. Hiding collectables through little pockets of gameplay feels like the nuance that SA1's take on hubs was missing. The NPCs turn out to be more endearing than they initially seemed too. Moving around these little towns may be sluggish at first, but they're actually pretty small and have a lot of details and characters worth appreciating. They're like lovingly crafted pieces of a diorama. I could still go without hubs in Sonic games for the most part but Sonic Unleashed gives me a little bit of pause and makes me consider how much this kind of thing could add to the world if done well.

The day stages turned out to  be some of my favorite 3D Sonic levels to return to for their difficulty and how S ranking came from an actual solid playthrough. Sonic Colors seems to be on a similar level at first but the scoring system cracks wide open under pressure, and Generations opts to make A ranking a given instead. Once you're good at the game and can create those "unleashed opening" esque moments yourself it's a lot easier to appreciate the spectacle. The way these levels "progress" in terms of visuals is spectacular and I hadn't seen anything else like it in a platformer until Retro's DKC games really started to take off. I'm particularly fond of the way Sonic moves from the fishing village, across an island chain, through the jungle and arrives at the gaia temple in Jungle Joyride. The other Sonic games had flashes of moments like this, but Unleashed felt like they'd achieved what they wanted to do since Sonic 3 started changing up the visuals in each act to make that sense of progression stronger.

I'm still not really convinced the night stages needed to be included, but I can see the reasoning a bit better now. They're upheld a little by the ability to get up close and personal with these stages in a way that daytime Sonic can't hope to. Exploring the inside of Spagonia, the climb up the clocktower with the shifting gears, and the rolling barrels are level gimmicks that are bizarrely absent in the day stages that add some flavor. It also helps to level up Sonic's combat stat early since new moves rotating in regularly helps stave off the monotony  and the other stats feel like mechanical dead ends. It's still not the type of game I would give any mind if Sonic wasn't attached to it, but it doesn't detract from the experience as much as I initially believed.

The attachment of two different "slower paced" gameplay styles to help flesh out the world indicates to me that maybe Sonic Unleashed didn't need to be so fast paced to start with. It would probably be a much better game if there was one style based around slower platforming gameplay that could more fluidly switch between the low stakes civilian/platforming areas and the high octane speed areas. Sound familiar?

But until we get a modern take on THAT type of game, I'll still be revisiting Sonic Unleashed to get my fix. I understand why it rubs most people the wrong way since it did the same for me, but it's a pretty important game to me now. I've only given one other game ever this many chances though, so if you still hate it, more power to you lol.

 

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For me it's Sonic 1 for Genesis/Mega Drive.

At first I didn't enjoy it much, yeah it was ok but Marble Zone, pushing rocks, waiting on moving platforms, being crushed under those blocks in Spring Yard, etc. Especially coming from the 8-Bit version that's way simpler, but has a more mario-like level design and feels completely different.

Then, by playing it many years later, I realized that it's a great game, solid and well designed, and I started to apreciate it a lot more.

The opposite happend with Sonic 2, I loved it as a kid (though I originally played it on emulator with savestates), now I quite dislike the game aside for a couple of things (Aquatic Ruins for the level design and to an extent Casino Night for the creativity/originality).

Sonic 3 & Knuckles is probably the superior game of the classic trilogy, but since it's long and has many cinematic moments, bonus stages and blue sphere special stages (which I grew up bored of) breaking the pace, at the end I realized that Sonic 1 is the classic game which I enjoy replaying the most (both versions, Genesis and 8-Bit).

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Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I never despised it or anything, it was just (and still is) my least favorite of the genesis games. Not a bad game, something about it just kind of bored me I guess. Maybe it was the game being so much longer than Sonic 1/2/cd that I would get burned out trying to play it. I know it saves but this is a genesis game, I'm so used to the thinking that older games like genesis/nes/snes should be done in one sitting unless it's a rpg or something. That mixed with the fact I used to (and still kind of do) dislike his sprite in 3. I think it's the pupils, they're too small or light or idfk. I can't pinpoint exactly but I hate how his eye sprites look in 3&K.

As for why I like it a bit more now, well I forced myself too. Back in December when Texas had that horrible snowstorm horrible for people used to snow, for me it was the best thing to happen in years, it had been years since I last saw snow here. I was locked inside my room and decided since I'm going to be stuck here for the foreseeable future, I may as well force myself to play a game until I liked it. I choose Sonic 3 and it kind of worked? I still get burned out with it halfway through and dislike Sonic's sprite, but I like it more now only because I'm used to the crap some stages try to pull (aka the entirety of death egg zone). I play it now and then using the DS collection, and can reliably get the 7 emeralds (not super though) so I don't hate it anymore I guess.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but only to a point.  The Genesis version that is; I don’t think I’ll ever stop hating the 8-bit thing they misnamed Sonic 2.  I hated playing the Genesis version without a save feature, and purchasing the mobile port gave me enough leeway that I got some enjoyment out of it, but I’d probably rather play any of the other Genesis Sonic platformers or better yet, Sonic Mania.

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10 hours ago, Iko said:

For me it's Sonic 1 for Genesis/Mega Drive.

At first I didn't enjoy it much, yeah it was ok but Marble Zone, pushing rocks, waiting on moving platforms, being crushed under those blocks in Spring Yard, etc. Especially coming from the 8-Bit version that's way simpler, but has a more mario-like level design and feels completely different.

Then, by playing it many years later, I realized that it's a great game, solid and well designed, and I started to apreciate it a lot more.

The opposite happend with Sonic 2, I loved it as a kid (though I originally played it on emulator with savestates), now I quite dislike the game aside for a couple of things (Aquatic Ruins for the level design and to an extent Casino Night for the creativity/originality).

Sonic 3 & Knuckles is probably the superior game of the classic trilogy, but since it's long and has many cinematic moments, bonus stages and blue sphere special stages (which I grew up bored of) breaking the pace, at the end I realized that Sonic 1 is the classic game which I enjoy replaying the most (both versions, Genesis and 8-Bit).

This is pretty much my exact experience with the classic trilogy. Sonic 1 is a nearly perfect game in its simplicity, a natural evolution and improvement on Super Mario Bros 1. Sonic 2 is my least favorite, though in the last two years, I'm starting to appreciate it again thanks to the iOS version and forcing myself to actually interact with the full extent of the level design instead of letting the game lead me along the same paths every time. Sonic 3 & Knuckles is a masterpiece and deserving of all the love and attention it gets, but its length and a handful of stages I just don't care to play (Marble Hill and Sandopolis) make it less likely for me to choose as a pick-up-and-play experience.

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I'll second Sonic Unleashed for this. I remember playing some of the later day stages for the first time and getting so ridiculously frustrated with the seemingly "trial and error" style of gameplay, because of course, I was just trying to boost my way through without understanding the levels first. But what I noticed is that I kept feeling compelled to replay the stages again and again to see if I could do better. By the time I started getting more S-Ranks and really nailing down the layout and rhythm of each level, I was hooked. I still like to play the day stages when I'm listening to a podcast/video or doing some other passive activity, just because they're so intuitive and satisfying.

I think the story, world, and atmosphere of Unleashed are elements that I've really come to appreciate, though. At this point, I think Unleashed probably had the last great story in a mainline Sonic game. Sonic's relationship with Chip is just so charming, and the game manages to juggle humor and believable stakes way more effectively than any of the 2010s games. I pretty much agree with all of the previous points about the NPCs and hub worlds. Unleashed's world has such a level of personality and character that you just don't get from the series anymore. Buh.

I still don't like the Werehog, but outside of the absolute worst stages (*cough* Shamar Night *cough*), I can tolerate it well enough. I see some merit in the platforming and puzzle solving elements, even if the stiff physics are a major sticking point for me. Like, I feel like the Werehog would gel a lot better with the daytime stages if the acrobatic platforming had more of a sense of momentum and speed behind it. For what it's worth, I do like moments like the aforementioned clock tower section in Spagonia. There's no redeeming that combat system, though. Waayyyyyy too repetitive and monotonous, and that jazz music. God, if each stage had a unique battle theme, I think that would make the Werehog stages at least 50% better, haha.

Sonic Advance 2 is another one that's really moved up my list over the past few years. I used to see it as a slower, even more mindless version of Rush (which I like), until I started really treating it like a game to master. What I found was that the trick system does add a lot of depth and strategy to the hold-right-to-win gameplay, as well as tying the boost state to how many rings you can hold onto. Finding out how to maximize my points in every level really became a fun challenge after awhile, and the sountrack and visuals are about as good as it gets for the GBA. Hell, at this point, it's the only Advance game I still go back to.

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To be honest, Sonic Forces.

Now that that I'm done joking, I'll be serious and say Sonic Heroes. The control was really annoying at first and the collision detection is still kinda wonky, but the game has grown on me the more I've played and I can definitely appreciate what the game was trying to do now. 

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I actually wasn't super fond of Sonic Adventure 2 back when it first came out (whereas I had been very impressed with Sonic Adventure 1). I liked it fine enough but for some reason it didn't really click with me. A few years later, maybe around 2003 or 2004, I revisited the game (the Gamecube version this time), and ever since I've considered it one of the best in the series.

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Sonic CD eluded me with its level design back when I just tried to get the time stones for the good ending. It didn't really come into its own until I realized how core exploration is to the experience, since otherwise it's a really basic and easy game.

Rush and Rush Adventure were both difficult enough that I had a tough time, though I'm not sure I ever disliked the,. I still hate the do-or-die moments in Advance 2, but time has given me the ability to appreciate it a bit better.

To be honest, there are more Sonic games which experience has made me realize are trash than the other way around. I used to kind of like Unleashed and even Shadow to an extent (really!) but I can't stand them now.

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13 minutes ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

To be honest, there are more Sonic games which experience has made me realize are trash than the other way around. I used to kind of like Unleashed and even Shadow to an extent (really!) but I can't stand them now.

This is true for me too, and I considered making that topic to pair with this but I figure I've done enough whining.

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On 9/24/2021 at 2:59 AM, T-Min said:

Sonic Advance 2 is another one that's really moved up my list over the past few years. I used to see it as a slower, even more mindless version of Rush (which I like), until I started really treating it like a game to master. What I found was that the trick system does add a lot of depth and strategy to the hold-right-to-win gameplay, as well as tying the boost state to how many rings you can hold onto. Finding out how to maximize my points in every level really became a fun challenge after awhile, and the sountrack and visuals are about as good as it gets for the GBA. Hell, at this point, it's the only Advance game I still go back to.

I still play it regularly too, and I agree with you. It's from since when the game came out that I wish there was a sequel or a mod which would use the same gameplay but with a more elaborated level design, because the formula in my opinion has a lot of potential. Both Advance 3 and the Rush games changed the formula so much that it's not the same thing anymore, you can't do the same tricks nor they have the same physics. If only there was a level editor for the original game...

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Same with Shaddy, there are more games where my opinion on them had gone down after initial impressions more than it's gone up. Most of the Colors Era springs to mind.

The closest I think I could get for this is SA2, and even then just Security Hall. Couldn't stand it as a kid. Not so bad now.

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Sonic 3 and knuckles. Used to find the game super tiring to play. Would get to marble zone and pretty much drop it without ever going back. Was able to return to the game with a fresh perspective with sonic 3 AIR and now i enjoy it. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Honestly, my thoughts on Sonic games have stayed the same from when I first played them for the most part. The only exception is Shadow, which I like less than when I first played it.

The only time I came around on a Sonic game I disliked was when I played Sonic Spinball on Mega Collection. I hated the game when it was new, but when I replayed it I thought it was pretty decent. However, I played it again more recently and I hated it again. 🤷‍♂️

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  • 3 weeks later...

Honestly there isn't a single Sonic game I like today better than I did when I first played it, and there are plenty I like less. I do have an up and down (and all around) relationship with Sonic Adventure, however. The game might be half broken at it's best, but the original Dreamcast graphics really do have a strong aesthetic that gives the game a genuine charm. It's really the only 3D Sonic game that got the tone and themes of it's Adventure narrative right.

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Sonic lost worlds since I found it required a different way of looking at it to enjoy it over time. One of my favourites now. Though yeah it did take a while to grow on me.

I was also going to say sonic adventure DX since when I first played that I was so use to the megadrive sonic's that I felt it was extremely different in feel so it didn't appeal at first but grew on me as time went on. Unfortunately I had a falling out with it today when playing it.=(

Nothing like playing and running into a gamebreaking glitch where I couldn't progress no matter what and searching online for answers only to see that the only way past was to restart the game and delete the save. It's going to take a while to get over that................

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  • Dreadknux changed the title to Sonic games you didn't like at first, but grew on you...
  • 4 weeks later...

Seconding Sonic Colors. For about 10 years, I barely thought of it. When it first came out I loved the story, new VAs, and the creativity in its level theming and cohesion, but consider it such a gameplay downgrade from Unleashed that I often forgot it even existed. It was just that average little Wii game that came out between the "real" heavy-hitters in Unleashed and Generations.

But over the past year or so, I've finally come around on it. I see it now as kind of the "Sonic CD" of its era, and that took some time for me to wrap my head around too. I prefer more fast-paced, spectacular Sonic games, but I appreciate Colors for what it was going for on its own merits much more than I did before, and I finally get why people loved it so much in 2010. (And of course, I did this right when a vocal contingent really started dumping on it, haha.)

I'll put in another vote for Lost World as well. It hasn't risen half as far as Colors has in my book, but this far removed from my disappointment about, "Aw, they're abandoning the Unleashed model? WHY!?" I can enjoy it more than I used to. It's got a lot of good ideas and its heart's in the right place, but it *really* suffers from First Installment Syndrome. Those mechanics need some refining, and for better or worse, the game bombed so hard that it'll never get a sequel.

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  • 1 month later...

sonic 3/knuckes.  Probably because I originally played a crappy windows port with the music from the beta version.

 

Also I saw some youtube videos that make me want to play SA2 again but I dont have anything that can run it.  It never occurred to me to backtrack in any of sonic's levels.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry to dredge up a relatively old thread, but just I wanted to make an entry which is pretty much the same as the OP: Sonic Unleashed.

When I first played Unleashed, I thought it was fun, but the medals and werehog were a chore. Then Sonic Colors came out, was a critical hit, and ultimately jumped on the anti-Unleashed bandwagon thinking this was best for the series. I remember trashing Unleashed a lot in comparison to Colors and Generations because of of the former's lack of platforming and trial-and-error stage design.

But then the series regressed and stagnated after Generations(Mania aside) and I've been giving older 3d games another to if I truly loved some only out of nostalgia and if the ones I hated were as bad as I thought. I've done a complete 180 on Unleashed.

Sonic Unleashed's story has a sense of charm, thrills and adventure that's been missing from the series for a while now. Trying to keep a constant sense of forward momentum doing perfect no-stop no-damage runs feels very rewarding in the day stages. 

I remember hating the night and dreaded re-playing and now, with a bit of upgrading combat, I'm having a blast with the Werehog. Slamming enemies into each, smashing them with giant fists, and freaking cartwheeling people to death is hella fun.

The medal system can kick rocks, though.

In fact, I've been finding myself having a lot of fun with the alternate gameplay styles of the older 3d games. They can actually be pretty fun if you approach them with a different mindset. Most of these styles aren't even broken and could even be their own games.

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  • 2 months later...

A game that has kind of grown on me over the years is Sonic Advance 2. When I first played it, I wasn't the biggest fan of the level-design and chaotic gameplay. But after I played it again and again, I learned to really like the presentation and emphasis on speed! I think, it's a nice idea that all bosses are fought while running, for example.

Edited by FabianTheHuman
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Eh, why not

Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble (just about any of the Game Gear platformers) seriously disappointed me when I first tried them out. I never had them on the OG Game Gear but played them first as the unlockable "mini games" on Sonic Adventure DX. Reading the preview blurbs made them seem so much more exciting than they actually were, so I was very underwhelmed. I also had trouble just playing them at all, could never get used to the controls and physics. I would then go ahead to write them off as second-rate Game Boy game knockoffs and that was that.

Then, years later as an adult, I got myself a little pocket emulator and figured, "what the heck," and I went ahead and added them and gave them another shot. 

I found myself actually completing a few of them and having a good time! Something about playing them on a smaller, handheld form factor made a difference for me. (I've also purchased them on the soon-to-be-defunct 3DS eShop so SEGA did eventually get my money for them) 

They're fun little distractions and I find them to be really charming in their own right! The physics are definitely wonky and that lack of visual real estate is a problem, but I've since accepted that as a limitation of it's time and I find myself wanting to jump back in now and again. So far, Triple Trouble may be my favorite, and I am wondering why skipping across the surface of water or being able to curl into a roll after launching off a spring isn't a standard mechanic in 2D Sonic now. 

Fun little games. I like em.

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