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The potential of Sonic Frontiers - What did the game get right and what can be improved upon?


Iko

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While Sonic Frontiers has been received positively by most of its player, a lot of the hardcore fanbase and professional critics seem to have a lot of issues with the game: empty environments, annoying mechanics, repetitive level design, cyberspace gameplay, combat system, etc.

Many comments I've been reading in the community are about criticizing those aspects, but very few focus on the positives of the game (analizing the good things in detail). So, I want to ask, regardless of if you liked or disliked the game: what are the good elements of its gameplay that should be expanded and improved in a sequel? What are the innovations to the formula that Frontiers brought in and you want to see more of?

Kishimoto said that he's going to take the feedback more seriously and Sega seems to be willing to increase the quality of the brand, so, maybe if this discussion turns out constructive enough, it can actually contribute to the quality of the next Sonic games (I have no way of sending the feedback from this thread to Kishimoto and his team, and at the time of writing this post, I don't even have a Twitter account or something, so that's probably never going to happen, but the discussion is interesting regardless).

I would like this thread to stay mostly focused on gameplay rather than other aspects such as narrative and art style, but everything is welcome.

 

 


 

 

I'll start with my opinion:

  • The interaction of Sonic with complex structures such as the ruins

I like that Sonic can climb complex structures in unconventional ways. The ruins seem to be purposely designed to have a lot of details so that Sonic can land on them and climb them naturally like platforms, and that's great. The physics and the collisions are a bit janky and it doen't always look fancy to glitch your way on top of a very slim arc of stone, but from a player pov it's very satisfying to climb all those buildings by using the engine of the game in clever ways. Sometimes it's required to boost and exploit the angle of the jump that's altered by a slope (even though the physics of jumping from a slope is a bit inconsistent in this game, and usually, if the angle of the jump is too much vertical, the game caps it to a fixed value and if there's a wall in front of your trajectory it will just not work... sadly you have to be creative to work around this engine's limit, that some of the older games didn't have, including Colors). Maybe, refine the geometry of the buildings so that it's smoother and less janky to climb them, but keep this complex design of the world's "walls" so that with some effort and dedication you can exploit them and climb to the top regardless.

  • The creative miniboss fights

I like how much creative some of those minibosses get. It's great to climb an Asura or to cyloop its feet to extract some additional gears, to solve the rail puzzles of Strider and Caterpillar, and glide down a maze of obstacles after riding a Spider and being launched up in the sky... even the QTEs of Shark are very exciting to perform if not that they drag for a bit too long for my liking. This type of creativity was absent from most, if not all, of the Boost games, but at its core, it's the same type of creativity that the 2D games used for the so called "level gimmicks". I wish that in the next game, they will consider using that style of set pieces for the navigation of the world and not just for fighting.

Don't forget that smaller enemy that will trap you in a blob of water and requires you to stomp it several times in order to break it... that's all interesting stuff that I hope to see more of in the future: interaction in creative ways with enemies AND the wolrd itself (bonus points if the enemies and gimmicks are specific for each biome, so that each environment feels like a different "zone").

An extra thing that I want to note is that during the Tower (and similar with different names) minibosses, you can look at the environment around, search for hills, and use them to increase your jump height and reach their head directly even if you didn't damage them yet. This, if successful, can lead you to instantly defeat them skipping all the module destruction part, and it's a very "Sonic" thing, to use momentum and physics at your advantage.

  • The moveset mix of Classic and Modern

This is something that the game didn't really "get right" completely, but I see that there's an attempt at least, and I'm happy. The only game series which tried to merge Classic and Modern mechanics together was the Advance trilogy, and I love those game for that reason (among others). Here the boost won't make you invincible anymore, there's Drop Dash that will trigger a rolling status too, and it's even possible to normally roll in some instances of 2D (even though it doesn't really work well). I'd like the series to work more in this direction, with maybe also the inclusion of proper momentum-based physics and a normal way to activate rolling (in 3D too) which does not require a Drop Dash.

  • The decreased automation

Even in the Cyberspace levels, even the ones ripped out from past boost games, there are less constraints and the player is left in control of Sonic for more time than before. The invisible walls have been removed, and you can now do tricks to skip some parts of the level and experiment more. The levels now require more player input, even when dash panels are involved, because sometimes you are not automatically pushed into them and you have to actively aim and touch them if you want to take advantage of their additional speed boost. The controls can be improved a lot and the physics of the game might not be the best in the series, but I see this as a HUGE step in the right direction compared to the boost formula.

  • The uhm... 2D sections in the Open Zone please don't kill me

I know that most people hate them, and I agree that there are WAY TOO MANY in this game, but hey... I think there's some potential in them. Let me explain:

Lots of 2D platformers at some point have those 2D like sections; often they are confusing and require you to adjust the camera multiple times, except that you move the character and the camera rotates again messing everything up. There are platformers such as Mario 3D World and Kirby and the Forgotten Land which rely on fixed/static camera angles in order to make those sections less confusing, but they are also slow paced games where the flow is not always important, and especially they're linear and definitely not open world.

Mario_64_Somewhere_Rainbow_1.jpg

I hope you remember this Mario 64 level and how infuriating it gets due to its weird camera angles despite being mostly a pretty simple 2D level at its core.

This is Sonic, you sure can't break the flow, stand in place, adjust the camera and walk slowly through a platform in order to not fall... sometimes you just gotta go fast. The classic games have those moments when you just push down and watch Sonic roll on a very long slope and occasionally cross a loop... in a 3D open zone game this would not be possible without constantly aiming Sonic precisely through a path, avoiding obstacles which could slow or stop him completely.

A lot of modern 3D platformers use 2D sections here and there, including Mario (from Galaxy to Odyssey). The big difference here is that in Sonic Frontiers, the 2D sections aren't really 2D sections, they are just regular 3D areas where Sonic gets stuck on an invisible "rail" for a limited time, in order to simplify the navigation; most of the times you can bypass the trigger that pushes you into 2D and stay 3D in those areas.

I'm not against those 2D sections... even the classics had their moments when the player has less control over the character for the sake of spectacle (example: Sky Chase and the snowboard section of Ice Cap), and I think that 2D (or "fixed path platforming" a la Klonoa/Kirby 64 to be more precise) can be used for some cool fast paced moments where the player doesn't need to care about controlling the direction of Sonic, only time some jumps instead; as long as it's not overused.

This is something that as-is definitely doesn't work well, but with some improvements it can be great for Sonic. First of all, I need to know when and where a 2D section is triggered; there need to be some visual clues both on the world itself and on the GUI (sometimes I'm in 2D and don't even realize it until I try to move toward the background). Then, there need to be a way to disable the 2D at will: a button that let me break the 2D at any moment and go back to 3D. 2D should be optional and just for simplifying, if a player wants to stay 3D, it must be possible to.

Since the mechanics of walking on a fixed path are very similar between 2D and Quick Step sections, they can even optimize the mechanics in a way so that they are treated as the same thing by the game's code, just with a different camera angle. I'm not completely sure how, but I at least think that pressing L or R in a 2D section could be a valid idea for a way to exit 2D at will. Let me choose in the option if I want auto-2D activation or do it manually when a 2D section is crossed, by pressing a Quick Step button while near it (just an idea). "Fixed path platforming" should also be used for not-automated loops as well.

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I honestly think it's just about pacing and getting the whole thing done at this point; people can complain all they like about momentum physics, but obviously they are not the sole thing it takes for a Sonic game to be good. What the next Sonic game needs is focus. A higher number of smaller open zones (I'm only talking like six or seven total here, to be clear), action stages with more visual variety (and again, controls like the open zone, what the hell), and an endgame that's actually finished. There are already enough good ideas and good bits of level design in Frontiers to make a great game, there's just a lot of empty rail grinding between them. Cut out the middleman, and you're not only making a better experience, you're doing more with less.

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2 hours ago, Iko said:

Mario_64_Somewhere_Rainbow_1.jpg

I hope you remember this Mario 64 level and how infuriating it gets due to its weird camera angles despite being mostly a pretty simple 2D level at its core.

The purpose of Lakitu cam is to keep the camera in a fixed perspective from Mario so that you don't have to manually adjust it in sections like this...

Even without a zoomed out perspective, I don't think most people found this one part annoying.

---

That said, I also don't believe the camera is gonna be a reason people have a problem with the 2D sections in Frontiers.

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@StaticMania About Rainbow Ride, It's not that specific section I'm talking of, it's the whole level that's basically a 2D sidescroller for 90% of the time. The level is very annoying even for me who have mastered the game and 100%'d it multiple times. Even with the Lakitu cam, sometimes the camera moves slightly and it influences the movements of Mario, making the controls confusing (especially when you are on those flying carpets). that's an issue of all the game, but levels like that which require precision platforming over the void are the ones where you notice it the most.

Regarding the 2D in Frontiers:

4 hours ago, Iko said:

This is something that as-is definitely doesn't work well, but with some improvements it can be great for Sonic.

4 hours ago, Iko said:

I think that 2D (or "fixed path platforming" a la Klonoa/Kirby 64 to be more precise) can be used for some cool fast paced moments where the player doesn't need to care about controlling the direction of Sonic, only time some jumps instead; as long as it's not overused.

4 hours ago, Iko said:

"Fixed path platforming" should also be used for not-automated loops as well.

For instance, when I say "fast paced moments" I'm referring to cases like this:

Sonic-Generations-Sky-Sanctuary-Zone-Scr

Would you imagine running on those curved crumbling tiles in full 3D while also rotating the camera? Offcourse you need an automated path if you want to run on there and fast. The cool thing that Frontiers does, intentional or not (it most likely is since they put some kocos and purple coins on some 2D sections that you can get only by returning there in 3D), is that it allows you to follow a path in 2D but also visit the same geometry with full 3D freedom if you avoid the spring/panel that triggers the 2D in the first place... what I'm suggesting is to explore this idea more, the idea of having the 2.5D to be optional.

EDIT: I know it's a stretch, but to explain what I mean, imagine Super Paper Mario where you can switch from 2D to 3D at will... incorporate this in the open zone where it does make sense (running on pipes or borders which are to hard to run onto in 3D because they're too narrow, or confusing geometries such as corkscrew loops or loops in general).

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In no particular order:

Cyloop / Combat

I'm grouping these together because honestly, I'm not convinced they can both exist together at the same time. In a more movement/platform oriented kind of game I could see cylooping getting more use maybe because well, moving and manuevering to hit a target would more likely already be the focus of any remaining combat the game can offer whenever enemies aren't treated just as stepping stones (such as what happened in, well, literally every appearance enemies have in Cyberspace stages). But even here, this only becomes useful explicitly where the game mandates you have to do it in order to progress or defeat an enemy at all, such as those fucking annoying Soldiers which turn into invulnerable cylinders until you disengage from fighting them completely to slowly trace a circle around them. It isn't like homing attacking or boosting or even just bog standard rolling, which have their own "square peg > square hole" moments but still manage to be as broad and versatile as the world design allows them to be, and if we absolutely HAD to bring it back I'd like for it to much broader use cases than making it the moveset equivalent of a key card. Like hypothetically speaking, making it automatically collect pickups caught in a completed loop, or making it summon a Blue Tornado that Sonic can use as an updraft for platforming situation, or shit, giving it some kind of application at all that doesn't require you to waste time literally running in circles for and making just the line alone useful by itself.

Say for sake of example that Sonic goes the other direction and focuses on the combat instead. There's something about the combat of Frontiers that brings me back to the tiniest, most miniscule spark of accidental brilliance that Sonic 06 could muster - whenever you Homing Attack a target, and that target doesn't die, the resulting momentum would place you directly above them. From that position you could then follow up with a Bounce Attack, through which performing a """combo""". This probably sounds rudimentary, and honestly it kinda is, but the main thing I like about this small sequence of events is that it creates a flow to fighting that depends entirely on learning where Sonic is before a move, where he'll end up after a move, and what moves in his arsenal will subsequently actually hit anything when used from that resulting position - not that lame ass God of War / Dynasty Warriors shit where an entire string of attacks is completely predetermined and getting to a genuinely useful move hinges on spamming the X button an arbitary amount of times and praying that you're not interrupted by so much as a stiff breeze in the meantime.

Frontiers came SO GOD DAMNED CLOSE to reflecting that same flow with a bigger host of moves, but instead hit the opposite problem - now, it's TOO forgiving and broad. Throughout the course of the game Sonic unlocks all these movement-based attacks that feel like they should have their own approaches, exit angles and specific followups, but their application in this game are literally interchangable and combo almost infinitely into each other with almost no consideration for synergy required at all. You don't have to gauge whether a stomp will connect, because it automatically places you above the enemy if you use it during a combo. You don't have to gauge whether a Loop Kick or Wild Rush will connect, because they're effectively just alternate Homing Attacks that have no way of missing. And the projectile moves - god only fucking knows why Sonic has projectile attacks - require almost no coordination or planning because it's not like an enemy will move much less evade while you're performing them. Yeah, that's gotta change. Give another layer of strategy to the way attacks flow into each other, and if it's based on where Sonic's momentum carries him after each move, even better.

Momentum and Platforming

Okay, look. You can say people overstate the importance of Genesis physics if you want, and I won't disagree with you. In fact, I would say that Sonic Team, for better or worse, finally found an environment that they don't completely matter in with the building of Frontiers. What I will say is that even by THOSE standards, the way Frontiers handles is fucking embarrassing. A character shouldn't come to a complete stop from a boost pad - not even a drift to a gentle stop, a complete and abrupt halt to all momentum - just because they don't happen to be holding down the control stick. A character shouldn't be put into their situation where their air mobility suddenly means nothing without an accompanying move just because they've homing attacked one of the aformentioned stepping stone enemies. A character shouldn't lose all the speed they HAVE gathered up to that point somehow just for fucking jumping. It shouldn't matter which side of the momentum debate you're on, because the way Sonic handles has grown amateurish by ANY platforming standard, much less Sonic's own. It should not be fucking controversial to suggest the simple act of running and jumping in a genre literally built entirely around those things should be fun and engaging even in a complete vaccuum, and yet here we are somehow unable to agree on even that anymore.

Speaking of building shit around other shit, please for the love of god stop making world design with generic boxes and slabs. I thought it was bad enough in Forces which felt like every fucking sub stage was made out of them without any regard for the theme or geometry of the world it took place in, but Frontiers somehow managed to go a step further and make almost ALL platforming in the game based around these copy-pasted blocks, often not even doing the bare minimum to physically connect them to any part of the environment so they just awkwardly hover in the air wherever the world designers happened to leave them, or even so much as retexture them for any kind of thematic fit to its surroundings or its guardians. It honestly beggars belief that Sonic Team were working on this game for five years and were somehow this lazy with the physical design of this world, and maybe I'd be more lenient with it if you interacted with any of it differently to the last copy and pasted sequence of blocks you came across.

Because honestly, it's difficult to even call it platforming at times so much as a loosely attached sequence of QTEs. So many segments of Frontiers platforming will devolve into "hit this spring to take you to a scripted location and then decide whether you need to Homing Attack, boost, stomp or abstain during the course of your flight", occasionally broken up by two or three platforming slabs in a row that you have to reposition yourself across manually but sometimes you won't even get to do THAT because they'll just dump a set of boost pads and another spring along the path instead because Sonic Team has absolutely no trust in either the player's initiative or the ability of their gameplay engine to actually handle platforming this intricate otherwise. It's fun for maybe the first two worlds, but it gradually starts to dawn on you that you're just doing the same maybe three or four sequences over and over again in slightly different orders, and that's before they start throwing 2D sequences at you from the third island onwards.

2D SEGMENTS. TWO DEE. A COMPLETE ABSENCE OF Z AXIS, IN A GAME BUILT AROUND ALLOWING THE PLAYER'S AGENCY TO TAKE THEM WHEREVER THEY WANT, IN A SERIES WHERE 2D SEGMENTS OF 3D GAMES IS ALREADY OBJECTIVELY THE WORST PART. THIS SHOULD BE A FUCKING WAR CRIME. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE FACT THAT THEY COMPLETELY REMOVED THE DROP SHADOW IN THIS GAME AND MADE CERTAIN JUMPS A COMPLETE AND UTTER GUESS.

Super Sonic

These are the best Super fights in the entire series. Yes, that includes the Adventures. Yes, I'm even including Doomsday Zone in there. Quote me if you want - I will die on this hill.

They're brilliant not because of how they differ from normal gameplay, but because of how they don't. A lot of other Super Sonic fights throughout the series are characterized by a sudden, last minute shift in gameplay you'll have had no time to adjust to or build on over the course of the game, and even at the best of times can generously be described as "this game about jumping on robots to pop them suddenly turns into a glorified game of bumper cars". In Frontiers, all that really changes is that your health effectively becomes a timer instead, and you no longer need to interact with the Y axis to reach a target because you just fly level with whatever you're expected to hit. And of course, the sense of scale - it feels fucking INCREDIBLE that not only does everything that works on a lowly Soldier still works on Giganto once you bust their defences open, the whole mood of the moveset changes along with it from a fight for survival to a god damned beatdown. These motherfuckers are the size of skyscrapers, they are terrified of you and have every right to be. And it probably isn't a coincidence at all that the soundtrack for these fights wouldn't sound out of place in a modern Doom game.

Change absolutely nothing about this. If I was pressured to pick SOMETHING, I guess do less scripted sequences and QTEs? But if Sonic is going to

Spoiler

 

pick up a sword the size of a fucking building and cut someone in half with their own weapon

 

then I guess I'm not complaining if it's not technically actual gameplay, as long as the actual gameplay still feels like punching god in the face and winning.

The overall structure

Honestly, Frontiers feels like it's made up of a lot of pieces that don't necessarily quite gel or click together and wouldn't necessarily hurt the overall game if they were separated or removed from one another. In a game where you combine a focus on platforming with a focus on just going places as your wants and needs dictate, simply uncovering and arriving at places should be rewarded in of itself, like the equivalent of going off the beaten path in a Zelda game and getting a Heart Piece for your trouble. But I guess Sonic Team didn't make their world design challenging enough to navigate for that to actually matter on its own, so what they've done instead is bury it in an unhealthy, almost Donkey Kong 64 esque variety of middleman items that serve no effective purpose but to waste your time. Sometimes very literally. Take for example seeds which increase either your attack or your defence - and I'll just say on a side tangent that I really dislike the idea of RPG stats in a Sonic game in the first place - but don't actually take any effect until you take them to a specific Koco elder that only stands in specific portions of the map, assuming you even know where one of them is yet and can sometimes be an entire half of the map away even when you do. That's one of the BETTER examples. Instead of making separate seeds for speed or ring count - or god forbid, just straight up GIVING you the fucking upgrade for finding it in the map - you're made to instead collect these Koco things and cash them in to a different Koco elder for one of the two upgrades of your choosing. Individually. With about 15-20 seconds between each upgrade, and they don't even have the decency to tell you how many you're using up or how many you have left while you're doing it.

Right at he end of the game I cashed in Big tokens for about a thousand of these bastards so I could boost some stats somewhat, because an upgrade to ring capacity is only seven additional rings per level. Do you know how long it took to spend them all? A literal fucking half hour. It's made all the more insulting because the attack and defence seeds are all cashed in instantly regardless of quantity, so it isn't like Sonic Team didn't know HOW to do skill levels up in bulk.

In fact, in the overworld Frontiers has a habit of making you wait for things for no real good reason, and they're only sometimes skippable. I don't need you to completely remove me of my movement or agency to show me a cutscene of a Cyberspace portal opening - it's enough that I see a gear fly into it and see the portal turn red. Likewise, you don't need to completely stop me to show off a miniboss, especially if gravity is still going to apply while I'm in the middle of a scripted camera angle and I'm trying to do some of the aformentioned platforming block sequences, and you CERTAINLY don't need to completely stop me to deliver a single line of dialogue remarking on ruins that look identical to the rest of of the structures that look almost as copypasted as the platforming sequences do. You don't need TWO cutscenes of Sonic unlocking a vault to collect one of the Chaos Emeralds, and you don't need THREE cutscenes of Sonic leaving a Cyberspace level, gathering his keys and unlocking a vault on the map respectively, and that shit gets annoying even though they are skippable just for the sheer frequency they arrive in. Just point my camera at something and tell me a thing happened. Leave everything else intact. That's all it needs to be.

Oh, did I mention that you can't even TALK to people in this game without gathering their own pickup for it? That's lame. I would think it should be just a result of interacting with the world and opening it up - and granted, sometimes it is! You should do more of that! - but again, Sonic Team seems to have chosen the option that exists simply for padding's own sake. I don't care how long a Sonic game is if I don't feel like playing it more than once, and this kind of shit is exactly what makes playing a Sonic game more than once feel more like a chore than it should.

Miscellaneous bullet points that don't really fall neatly into their own category

- Big as a minigame is a neat addition. I wouldn't mind a handful more of little optional, time wasting activities like this, as long as they're strictly their own thing and aren't needed for any completion in the main game. Still pretty mad that you need Chao emblems in SA2 to unlock Green Hill.

- Please for the love of god, start introducing some more playable characters into this. Do you want to do only a small amount of them to keep the workload minimal? That's fine! Do you want to only use the ones that closely match Sonic's archetype (ie: Shadow again) for the design overlap and ease of balancing? That's fine! Do you want to double down on the cyberspace aspect and make other characters only exist as Jojo-esque stands so Sonic himself is still the focal point? That's still fine! Just do something. You guys have been putting this shit off for the better part of fifteen years now, and "we're still looking for a foundation for Sonic himself" isn't really a good excuse anymore. Not that it ever was.

- Get rid of Red Rings already - far as I'm concerned, just getting to the goal quickly and/or safely should already be its own reward. If you want to reward players for exploring, reward them for actually finding the routes themselves, but even then it still feels weird for a game about the player taking their own initiative to be pigeonholing them into other nooks and crannies that might not even benefit the other objectives, nevermind their own tastes.

- You know what? Fuck it, throw in some modding tools too. People had already started throwing shit together mere DAYS after the release of Frontiers, and there's still pretty decent mod communities for many previous titles too, especially SA2 and Generations. I think it's high time they realized there's an audience for this kind of thing and embrace it.

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Another thing that I forgot:

In Ares island, you can cyloop around cacti, and they explode into rings with a big firework effect. That's just a cute and funny little easter egg: it would be nice if they filled the open zone with creative interactions like that. Every element of the world would interact differently to Sonic and his moves, and even just messing around pointlessly would be extremely fun.

It does not have to be always about the cyloop... even something as simple as the glasses breaking in the background of Studiopolis in Sonic Mania when you run very fast... as long as the environment reacts to Sonic, it's cool.

EDIT: @BlacklightningWow, I didn't expect an essay that big! I don't necessarily agree with everything but I definitely do with part of it.

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1 hour ago, Iko said:

Another thing that I forgot:

In Ares island, you can cyloop around cacti, and they explode into rings with a big firework effect. That's just a cute and funny little easter egg: it would be nice if they filled the open zone with creative interactions like that. Every element of the world would interact differently to Sonic and his moves, and even just messing around pointlessly would be extremely fun.

It does not have to be always about the cyloop... even something as simple as the glasses breaking in the background of Studiopolis in Sonic Mania when you run very fast... as long as the environment reacts to Sonic, it's cool.

As much as I loved Frontiers, this is the thing that I most dislike about it. We have different islands, but not different ways to interact with them. There's no special events besides the meteor shower or puzzles that actually take advantage of the biomes. Every place is the same boring empty thing. 

Funnily enough, I think Sunset Overdrive is more or less what a fully and better realized Frontiers could have been. If you ignore the firearms and humans, this is pretty much a Sonic game.

Look how much interaction there's between the main character and the various objects around the world! I would love this in a Frontiers 2...

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Kinda getting tired of all the potential, but lack of execution now.

We've had potential for the last 20 years. And we're always "The next game will fix these problems" away from a completely great game. Wake me up when they deliver. Better yet, get rid of the fuddy duddies holding everything back with circumspect nonsense. Actually finish a game, instead of giving us a half-baked thing.

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😉 Might as well plug some site work while it's topical.

Quote

I eventually came around to the game for all its faults, and there are several bright spots. As the game progresses, the complexity of the level design starts to make up for its limited toolset, asking the player to chain more complicated actions to complete the micro-challenges. The wide plains of Kronos Island give way to negotiating cliffs and sub-islands on Ares and Chaos. Combat encounters are diverse and unique, with some enemies needing a strict beat-down and others demanding you to master a specific mechanic. Sonic’s dash and air control feel better tuned to balance pace and precision. And perhaps most importantly, Sonic’s Cyloop represents the best of open design: it’s an analog mechanic that plays into the character’s core abilities and can be used for multiple purposes throughout the game. There’s room to build more Okami-esque line drawing puzzles around it, but it’s a solid idea that makes sense for what Sonic games are about, and I hope it makes a return in future games.

https://www.sonicstadium.org/2022/11/sonic-frontiers-is-big-but-it-isnt-very-open/

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2 hours ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:
  • Fuck that pinball mini game! DON’T EVER DO THAT SHIT AGAIN!!!!

Respectfully I actually disagree with this, if only because most of the issues with it were execution-based rather than outright design flaws.

Okay yeah, it probably shouldn't have taken nearly that much score to clear, and it definitely shouldn't have been required for story completion. But beyond that? Most of its issues are just a result of a shitty physics engine, which can easily be swapped out. Hell, it actually fixed a very long running pet peeve I've had with pinball games, in that the entire table is visible on a single screen so you can actually SEE the shit you're supposed to be aiming for before you've hit the ball with your flippers. If it were up to me I'd *add* a few tables, make them optional side ventures to compliment the likes of Big's fishing, and take a few cues from Sonic Spinball like making Sonic himself the ball and giving him a small amount of influence over its trajectory. Also do the bonus stage thing and make your view of the table slanted so you can make it physically taller and still be able to fit it in a single screen.

My favorite part of Sonic Spinball : r/Megadrive

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I said in the other thread that the pinball machine would have been nice as an optional discovery to come across. The open zones are lacking in a lot of truly unique setpieces and experiences. Finding a fully functional pinball machine with some kind of online leaderboard to challenge yourself would be a cool bonus for players that search thoroughly and everyone who doesn't like it could just avoid it. I thought that was the point of a structure like this in the first place.

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Really, those were my whole gripe with the pinball. I had several ocassions where I managed to get most of the Red Rings for the score multiplier, only for the ball to go into the furthest edge away from the flippers and fall down, returning me to square one... while I was still millions away from getting the requirement.

I really wonder who the hell playtested that part and decided "Yeah, that's fine, throw that in here" for progression, because that was second only to the Cyberspace levels in my frustrations. I'd almost put it first given it was required compared to me skipping the Cyberspace stages.

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The physics in the Pinball machine were weird and kinda bad (even though it's far from unplayable IMO), but it wouldn't have been much of an issue if they let me shake the table and have some minimal control on the trajectory of the ball, even just so it couldn't automatically fall into the pits at the edges without the ability to recover it.

Add the ability to shake and half of the problems are gone. Once you get to something like a 32x multiplier, completing the score requirements becomes a joke.

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I despised the pinball area at first, spending upwards of ten minutes on it, only to lose time and again.

Then I learned that the red star rings multiply your score by insane amounts, up to 256 times. Once I figured that out, I beat it from start to finish in less than 2 minutes.

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I didn’t mind pinball personally, especially when it clicked that the multipliers where the key. So I did it on my second go. 

…But what slightly killed it for me was not realising the door was at the top… so when I hit the required points I did not realise the blue glow was where I had to get the ball (as I thought it was just a score completion light show), so of course I tried to end the game as quick as possible upon getting the points and proceeded to drop the remaining balls… and then the game told me I failed. 

Took another 6 attempts after that as the ball kept getting pocketed down those gutter holes through sheer unluckiness.

Personally I think this would have been better as a side game than a progression quest. Otherwise it was pretty  inoffensive. I also really liked the music here too, it was really retro and made me feel like I was back in the Dreamcast Era. 

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I would love some combat improvments like:

  1. Two buttons for attack: something like one for fast and another for heavy attack to combine them to create lots of new moves and combos;
  2. More mini-games: they add more replay value to open world games;
  3. Less abstract rails: in a sequel, maybe exclusive for the ps5/xsx gen, they could improve the stages/worlds with more realistic structures like buildings;
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On 11/17/2022 at 3:44 AM, Blacklightning said:

It honestly beggars belief that Sonic Team were working on this game for five years and were somehow this lazy with the physical design of this world,

Pretty sure the actual production for the actual game making started in 2019 after the prototype was scrapped 

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