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DAY 8 - Question of the Week 1: Most Underrated Sonic Spinoff Game [30DOS22]


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Hey everyone! Another Wednesday for 30 Days of Sonic!? Whatever shall we do? Well, it's time to kick off another Question of the Week!

For taking part in today's challenge, you will earn this badge for taking part.

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You have until Friday 10 June at 23:59 UK Time the end of the month to participate.

Question of the Week

What is the Most Underrated Sonic Spinoff Game?

Now, Sonic and friends have featured in a huge number of spinoff games - some of them good, some of them... not so good... but what spinoff title do you think doesn't get a fair shake? A game you really enjoy but just simply doesn't get enough love from others in the community?

I'll start! With Sonic Riders (the original):

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This game came out on Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 back in 2006 and, besides being a spinoff game, looked quite unlike any Sonic game that came before it. For one thing, Sonic and friends all had their designs changed to be rather  more lanky and 'extreme!!!' - which wasn't really the done thing for Sonic games back then. You couldn't just change Sonic's design like that! What would the fans say!?

Well, I don't know how many of them felt, because the game seemed to come and go without much of a second thought amongst most of the community at the time. It probably had something to do with the fact that, at first play, the game wasn't exactly the most accessible - if you pick this up expecting Mario Kart, you're in for a Bad Time. Most people likely experienced this for the first time, found it too hard to win any races and called it quits.

But, as I said in my review back in the day, if you take the time to dig deeper into the airboarding mechanics, you'll find a racer with quite a bit of depth to it. Understanding the exact timing and positioning to pull off X Rank moves in order to access shortcuts is a great enlightening moment, and once it clicks Sonic Riders is in fact a very enjoyable game. Even better, for a spinoff game this was packed with a tonne of extras, as well as awesome 'extreme' re-interpretations of many long-standing Sonic characters. 

Oh, and it also introduced us to the Babylon Rogues, a group of new Sonic series characters that didn't totally suck - which was a rarity in the 2000s, let me tell you.

Sonic Riders received a sequel in Zero Gravity, but they removed a bunch of the mechanics that made the original so great (while also adding a rather awkward new 'gravity dive' move that was a bit hit and miss). Sonic Free Riders was also a thing, but absolutely nobody played that game. Because it was bad.

These days, a small pocket of fans reminisce fondly about Sonic Riders, but generally, the game doesn't get as much love as it should these days, in my opinion.

Anyway. What do you think is the most underrated Sonic spinoff game?

 

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castell-neath was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I'll go there...Shadow The Hedgehog. 

I personally liked the branching story options, the controls and the story too. The Space colony ark levels still remiain in my mi d years later. Ok the guns were neither here nor there, as was the bike sections, but honestly...I enjoyed it as a follow up to Heroes on the ps2 more so than i did mega collection plus

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Sonic Fan 3,183 was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Sonic and the Black Knight is quite fun. I hate how it's controls put people off.

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JezMM was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Think I'll go with Sonic Rivals:

Sonic Rivals Screenshots for PSP - MobyGames

It's not one I've really gone back to in the past decade or so, but I was pleasantly impressed when I finally got a PSP to play it.  Despite the lack of boost, in many ways it felt slightly more like a prototype of Sonic Unleashed gameplay than Rush did, with a lot of emphasis on twitch reactions and a focus on speed and thrill in the stage design (for better or worse, depending on one's taste).  I was also really enamoured by the visuals - even Sonic's 3DS games didn't bother to fully model the environments in the way Rivals did, where, even though they were entirely 2D in gameplay, made it feel like you were weaving your way through a proper location rather than just "a level".

Also, despite the reputation, I like the soundtrack a lot too.  Cut-scene music not withstanding, they have a great energy to them, and, similar to the visuals, I guess I was just kind of impressed to hear console quality music coming out of a handheld.

The only downside is that, unlike Rivals 2, there's no option to play the stages outside of race conditions, but Rivals 2's ability to do that did reveal to me that the stages are toned down in terms of complexity to not be overwhelming when racing anyway - they do become a bit unchallenging without another player bearing down on you.

 

EDIT: Since Shadow the Hedgehog was mentioned, I guess actually, I like that game more than Rivals - I just don't consider it a spin-off by my own categorisation since it is an important part of the plot and the gameplay is pretty much standard Sonic but with a gimmick-of-the-week just being gunplay this time around (by that same logic, I kinda consider Rivals to be main series handheld too but... yeah both these games are seen as spin-offs by most of the fanbase and official media, I feel).

EDIT 2: Oh, I just wanted to comment on why I chose Rivals over the widely more acclaimed Rivals 2 - simply put, I felt like Rivals 1 had better item balancing - I have strong memories of items doing barely anything in Rivals 2 to help you catch up if you fell behind more than a few screens' worth of distance, and likewise, getting an early lead made you untouchable.  I remember literally being able to outrun some of the homing projectiles on offer.  It was a real dealbreaker to my overall enjoyment. Also, I really didn't care for Rivals 2's battle stages.

I'll also use this edit to just mention that actually, above both Rivals and Shadow, Riders was probably my most replayed spin-off, but I don't think that's especially underrated, people generally like it it seems lol.  Sonic R is another one that I like but I think is pretty well-liked in the community overall, not underrated.

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Celestia was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I have to agree with Sonic Riders. I can't really think of another Sonic spin off that I'm really in to, and while it was definitely talked about a lot at the time it definitely fell by the wayside as the sequels came out and weren't as good. (Well, evidently. I never played them!) Yeah it's a bit hard to get into at first so that probably didn't help over time either. Maybe I'm underestimating how well it did and how much people think about it but it doesn't feel like it.

But man, the visuals, the music, the mechanics...there's just so much. I thought having to keep an eye on your air gauge was really neat, the tricks were fun to pull off successfully, your dash also doubling as a usually hilarious attack if you did it near somebody, each character type had different abilities to access different shortcuts which almost feels like a bad idea game design wise but fuck it it's fun, and of course the turbulence was a super fun way to catch up to opponents. All in all it was a pretty fun game.

 

If I had any runner up it would be Tails Adventure. It's a cute little idea but the main reason I hesitate to actually pick it is I never played more than a level or two. I do find it fun though so maybe I should give it an honest shot. I'd love to see a new take on it I think.

I also could have said Labyrinth...but I've put those memes days behind me......

Spoiler

Also I don't think I beat it either but I'm not sure. I did play through a lot of it though, way more than I imagine most people have LOL

 

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Winston was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I was going to go with Sonic Spinball, but seeing Rivals mentioned in the thread, reminded me of my actual favorite spin-off. I think Spinball is more of a guilty pleasure of mine anyway. 

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Sonic Rivals 2 is probably my favorite, even above the original, and it's mostly because of the wider selection of characters as well as fully voiced cutscenes. I don't believe the original one did, but it was really fun for me to get more interaction between all these characters fully voiced... even if they were still images in the cutscenes, it went a long way for me. The gameplay may be repetitive, but I found it pretty simple and easy to get used to, and I thought the music was a bop, especially the main title theme of the game. I don't have my PSP anymore, and it could just be the nostalgia pushing this game up as I probably haven't played it in over a decade, but I easily put more hours into this than any other Sonic spin-off, Riders included (though that one is pretty good too). I was also a pretty big Silver the Hedgehog fan, so getting more content with him was nice. 

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Iko was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

This is easy for me, it's Tails' Skypatrol.

This game is increadibly fun and addicting, and the gameplay is really unique. They made a sidescrolling game similar to a platformer, but that's not a platformer at all... it's all about flying, and you can grab (by using a ring) the gimmicks and interact with them in clever and funny ways.

The level design is a bit unfair in some spots and overall it's a very short game, but I think it has a lot of potential, I would like to see a sequel of it, even just as a minigame in a bigger game. There is a lot of automation in this game: aside of the fact that it's an autoscroller, most of the gimmicks will launch and move you automatically across the screen, that's why I think an hipotetical sequel would be very suited for a mobile device, you can optimize the gameplay to require very little input and still make a full game out of it, one with non traditional controls (no virtual gamepad).

It's very experimental and, level design aside, I think it didn't age that much. I like to compare it to other experimental sidescrollers such as Kirby Canvas Curse and... I don't know there aren't many. It might look similar to Balloon Kid, but the way how you interact with the level is way more creative here, while Balloon Kid is usually just a platformer where you fly most of the time but you can also detach form the balloons and land.

In this game you can even grab the bosses and slam them onto the ground to damage them... it's great!

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Ducktor Naldush was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I love Black Knight, Battle, Tails' Adventure, stretching it a little Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, but let's be honest I think the prize goes to Sonic Riders.

 

Yeah, Sonic Riders.

 

The first one does everything a spin-off should do. Take an aspect of the series and amplify it to fit whatever new genre you want to play with. 

A racing game that focus on futuristic tech, tries and succeeds at being cool, has a rocking soundtrack, a big roster of Sonic (and a few not Sonic) characters to choose from, and introduces fan favourites like the Babylon Rogues (I am unsurprinsingly a Jet The Hawk fan)? Yeah, can't go wrong with that, and I think Sega should have given us a third Sonic Riders game instead of Team Sonic Racing.

 

 

Spoiler

I KNOW, DON'T REMIND ME OF FREE RIDERS 

 

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Adamabba was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Not sure if this really counts as underrated... but I think Advance 2 is kind of overlooked. The problem is you have to be an experienced player to really "get" it . Once you understand when to use air tricks and a couple other moves, how to avoid the Dimps pits, and how to efficiently beat the bosses, it's pretty addicting to replay. (There's also a surprising amount of moves you can use that you'll very likely go through the entire game without realizing they're an option that make the game more fun.)

The games boost mechanic is pretty fun. You can't use it by holding down a button, you have to run long enough without a decrease in speed till you start boosting, and the more rings you have the faster you enter boost state. I like that you can't achieve and maintain the boost state for free.

The sprites and character animations here are my favorite of Sonic's 2D games. I especially appreciate the expressive animations the characters do before starting the level, and the ones they do when you hold up on the d-pad that they really didn't have to put in but did anyway lol (like this one)

tumblr_ooj6cgUCyu1w1kerio1_400.gifv

The soundtrack is amazing too, there's only one zone where I found the music less than awesome.

I won't deny that the game certainly has its flaws, but I find there's a lot to love about it if you can look past them.

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1 minute ago, Adamabba said:

Not sure if this really counts as underrated... but I think Advance 2 is kind of overlooked. The problem is you have to be an experienced player to really "get" it . Once you understand when to use air tricks and a couple other moves, how to avoid the Dimps pits, and how to efficiently beat the bosses, it's pretty addicting to replay. (There's also a surprising amount of moves you can use that you'll very likely go through the entire game without realizing they're an option that make the game more fun.)

The games boost mechanic is pretty fun. You can't use it by holding down a button, you have to run long enough without a decrease in speed till you start boosting, and the more rings you have the faster you enter boost state. I like that you can't achieve and maintain the boost state for free.

The sprites and character animations here are my favorite of Sonic's 2D games. I especially appreciate the expressive animations the characters do before starting the level, and the ones they do when you hold up on the d-pad that they really didn't have to put in but did anyway lol (like this one)

tumblr_ooj6cgUCyu1w1kerio1_400.gifv

The soundtrack is amazing too, there's only one zone where I found the music less than awesome.

I won't deny that the game certainly has its flaws, but I find there's a lot to love about it if you can look past them.

I'm not sure if the Advance games count as spin-offs since they are traditional Sonic platformers and introduced a recurring character, but I agree with you. Advance 2 was one of my favorite Sonic games but now it slowly became my top favorite Sonic game in general, it's the one I replay the most, the one with my favorite gameplay/physics (even though there are some things that would need improvements), and my favorite art direction (both visuals and musics).

I also like Cream and she's playable in this game.

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Jay_Senju was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I Think I'm one of the very few people who think Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is a decent game I love the fire and ice mechanic. It's nothing super innovative but it just feels great speeding through a stage and flicking back and forth between fire and ice to freeze or melt elements of the stage to continue progressing. 

Edited by Jay_Senju
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Covskin was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Defintely Tails Adventure for me.

I can remember one by one unlocking all of the Game Geat games in Sonic Adventure DX. Trying them out as I took breaks from bloody Chao racing and not really finding any of them better than ok (and in some cases, terrible). Finally, I unlock Tails Adventure. "This better be worth it" I thought.

Boy, it was worth it.

Superficially, the game looks amazing for Game Gear, I really appreciated the Tails sprite in particular. I went in knowing it wasn't a typical Sonic platformer so I was prepared for a slower pace which probably helped, but the exploration element really caught me off guard in the best possible way. Sure, a lot of Items are useless but its great fun finding all of the Chaos Emeralds to improve your health and flying time as you work your way through the levels. A real delight to discover, and thankfully much more accessible to play in Sonic Gems Collection.

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I'm also going to say Sonic R for basically all of the reasons @Ryannumber1gamer already said. The 3D platformer-racer hybrid idea is poorly executed in R, but it is an appealing idea. The visuals are charming, and really, you can't help but have a good time when you're feeling the sunshine.

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Rabbitearsblog was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Sonic Riders for me.  I was about to mention the Sonic Advance games, but it was stated that it's really not a spin off series.  But anyway,  I really enjoyed Sonic Riders because the gameplay was pretty different from the other Sonic games at the time and I just loved the racing aspect of the game as it made the game pretty entertaining to play through.  I also liked the characters Jet, Wave and Storm.  I thought that they were pretty good rivals to Sonic, Tails and Knuckles and I wished that they were featured more in other Sonic games.

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Sean was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I've poured an embarrassing amount of hours into Sonic Pinball Party and I consider it to be the best Sonic pinball game on the system.  I don't see people bring it up often and I've occasionally seen comments that it should have been more like Spinball, but it's definitely worth a play, both the Nights and Sonic tables are great fun. (I don't like the Amigo table much though)

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The Tenth Doctor was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Gonna have to agree with @SIXTH-RATE SOMA. Sonic Battle will always hold a special place in my heart. Yeah its mechanics are odd. Yeah, you have to repeat fights a lot in story mode. I don't care. The story mode is that engaging, funny, emotional and damn good. The mechanics of learning moves took years from my life but I don't regret it. I played it against friends every friday for years and we had great times. Thank you Sonic Battle.

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Definitely not perfect, but I really like Sonic Spinball. Despite the wonky controls, I still find myself glued to the game in an attempt to actually beat it. Maybe one day I will!

Also, the music is crunchy. No idea what that means, but I like it.

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WanderingBleats was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

Tails(') Adventure(s)! It might be my favorite Game Gear game. It's an exploration Metroidvania-esque platformer, and it's a Tails game. These are worth many points. It's one of the first games that drove home the idea of Tails being a gadget guy, even if the literal on-screen representation of it seems to be him finding the gadgets rather than making them. (I choose to interpret this as him finding parts which he uses to make the machines at his workshop!) And it has the most adorable power-up in the series.

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My biggest problem is that it's way too short. It's also pretty slow, but that probably fits the tiny screen resolution of the Game Gear better anyway. Both of these problems could have been fixed in a sequel for a home console, which Sega regrettably never did.

I feel like the game is underrated in two ways: First, people don't generally remember it or talk about it much. Second, a lot of people play the first few seconds and then write it off because it's not fast. I wish it got more attention, both from fans and officially!

(Side note, and genuine question: Is Riders really underrated? Maybe it's just the people I hang around, but I thought it was pretty widely beloved in the Sonic fandom. And outside of the Sonic fandom, almost all spinoffs are gonna be forgotten anyway. I honestly feel like SaSASR has gotten forgotten faster than Riders, and both that and Transformed were incredibly well received when they came out.)

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Sapphirine Wind was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

You guys are going to probably kill me, but I think my favorite spinoff was Sonic Chronicles.

I know it's barely even a good game, if at all, but once I could get a handle on how things work, it was kinda fun. And you beat the game, you can start a new game+ and power through the earlier parts, which I could accept despite not usually liking those sorts of things.

Other stuff I liked about it were the dialog trees, but I think the game does its best with... the Chao. You could collect Chao and equip them to your party members, which would give them boosts/buffs, if I remember right. The team moves were cool, too; I feel like you don't see that anymore.

When I was younger, I was so hopeful for a sequel to be announced, but then that never happened, and never will, lol.

I'd like to see the franchise take another try at an RPG. It doesn't have to be a sequel and I might miss Shade (she just looked cool!), but I'm open to a new kind of gameplay and story.

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AliX was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

I enjoyed Sonic and the Secret Rings quite a lot, the level design, soundtrack, and overall story and gameplay were good for me.


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Sonic_and_the_Secret_Rings_coverart.png.89f57d02281ecc11072aed865185a0c8.png

Motion controls are fun actually.

Secret Rings isn't without its problems. Locking away better control options behind poorly implemented RPG mechanics certainly was a choice, and maybe its main theme plays too damn often for its own good, but I still can't bring myself to outright hate it. In Secret Rings there actually felt like a conscious effort to figure out how Sonic can work with motion controls. It's gimmicky and silly, rough around the edges for sure, but it released in an era where every developer and their mother were doing dumb experimental stuff with the Wii. It was the style at the time, and that's not necessarily a bad thing in of itself.

Secret Rings has a really strong art direction for its environments too, The game still looks remarkably decent even for a 2007 Wii game. Plus, its soundtrack is an absolutely delightful brand of corny cheese. Yes, I am going to rock the place thank you very much.

The only reason I really bring it up is because Secret Rings is often considered the lesser of the two Storybook games, and like, Black Knight comes off as an absolute travesty in comparison for me? It lightens up on the motion controls, and still somehow manages to be just as finicky and imprecise to control. And what motion control is there is mostly just mindlessly waggling the Wiimote. I just don't get it man.

 

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Multikaris was awarded the badge '[30 Days of Sonic 2022] Question Hero Blue - Participated in one Question of the Week activity' and 5 points.

The most underrated? How about… Fire & Ice?

 

Fire & Ice seems to be forgotten, if not hated, due to Pontaff’s story and the misfortune of being a third Boom game after RoL was unspeakably bad. Then again, Fire & Ice is a great example of what Pontaff and pals can do when they are one—hundred percent in their environment. It’s a laugh riot, and even a bit heartwarming. Not only are all 5 Boom protagonists playable, the game has an original roster of bosses and Badniks to deal with, plus racing sections. The story even ties into an episode from the second season. It’s also notable as the last original handheld in the entire series.

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