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How might you change/enhance/improve Sonic CD?

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i am starting this as a very informal expansion of @DaBigJ's very good status chat thread, about Sonic CD!!

There is already actually a project remaking CD using some kind of open framework derived from the Retro engine, which, it's hard to tell when it will be completed but it is a nice suprise that such a thing is in progress!!



Sonic CD is in certain ways among the most imaginative of the 2D quadrilogy.

but as many people were discussing in DaBigJ's chat thread, there are some aspects which limit how good it is in certain ways.  Some of these were technological limitations and others the relative unfamiliarity with the potential of Sonic gameplay. 


The idea in my head personally at the moment is that it would be fun to explore much larger versions of these zones, maybe with some kind of zone creator if not actual new versions of the zones, as with Sonic 1 Definitive which, i just checked, is still being made which is very good news. 

And, there is the possibility to have different, nuanced sections of the zones representing different small ecosystems that didn't exist before, with modern technology for having i would have to guess basically unlimited tilesets per zone.  with the mention of Wacky Workbench i wondered about a much taller version of the zone that could even, by catching enough momentum from a series of those magnetic floors, send Sonic off of Little Planet temporarily into an unusual region of the upper atmosphere sort of like where the Floating Island goes at the end of Knuckles' story in S3K, where the ancient civilization whose artifact is in the past, is still there existing, to explore in all timezones.

That reminds me of, in Mania, catapulting into the background of Metallic Madness, if this were possible in a new version of Sonic CD: to experience some of those worlds in the actual distant backgrounds of the zones maybe by them becoming new zones that you would enter somehow through the main ones.  Think about the backgrounds from the past, or some of the environments shown in the special stages!!  

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Simply put, the level design and the time travel mechanic are at odds with one another. It's a real challenge to find an opportunity to hold top speed for that long when a lot of the level design feels very stop and start-y, and although you can mitigate part of the problem by not removing your fucking time travel status if you hit a wall it still doesn't change the fact that a lot of the time, travelling through time at all feels like it has to be done through borderline exploits. Honestly if it were up to me I'd give the level design itself an overhaul because even in general it's... actually kinda lame by classic standards? And something more in line with S3&K's styling would benefit the game as a whole, not just the time travel mechanic.

For that matter though, while time travel is an interesting gimmick, there doesn't really seem to be much reason to actively use it a lot of the time. I can certainly understand it not being necessary for progression, because if Quartz Quadrant taught me anything it's that coming apon a completely impassable wall and having to backtrack for a different solution in a classic Sonic game is a huge pain in the ass. But the actual benefits you receive from it don't really seem to change all that much from what you would have gotten simply by running the whole stage in the present? Nevermind that both of the things that can actually change the outcome of the playthrough are in the past and you never have any reason to warp to the future at all. Maybe, I dunno hypothetically speaking, have specific kinds of powerups or something that are exclusive to one timespan or the other?

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Basically what Blacklighting said, except on the level design more in line with S3&K.

I think that Sonic CD needs a different style of level design unique to that game, designed around the time travel gimmick. The levels need to be entirely backtrackable and open, but the layout must accomodate the player to build speed for time travel: getting stuck between two springs or in a circular room where you can loop infinitely until you build up the speed is not satisfying the same as playing well in the actual level until you manage to activate the thing... time travelling should require a clever use of the terrain and some skills from the player to be interesting.

I know that the super peelout is iconic and all but I would remove it... it's partially redundant and makes activating the time travel sparkle thing too easy because it gives you instant top speed... I would make it so that you need to build the speed by yourself instead.

In fact, aside of some tweaks of the core gameplay, I think that the biggest thing it needs is a complete rethinking of the level design. And as Blacklighting said, time travel is interesting but almost pointless, it should be more involved in the gameplay without being completely forced for progression.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes; The zones which are almost like puzzles to even be able to navigate is one of the most unique aspects, it can be fun if you are in the mood for it: but it is also definitely surprising that there are so many entire zones, to some extent all of them, where it is difficult to even get onto and stay on the platforms and/or correct landmasses, small and large alike!!   

Palmtree and Metallic might be the most stable platforming of the whole game, which is interesting to consider!!  Tidal a close third, and then, Collision, Quartz, Wacky and Stardust are, although again i do personally enjoy how weird they are, are so incredibly puzzling with their platforming!! 

that might be a very fun hack for someone or a team to create: Sonic 2 or some of the Sonic 3K zones, if they were made in the level design style of Sonic CD!! 

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The way to stop yourself from time traveling when you don't want to is unintuitive, for you have to keep tapping a direction rather than hold it so as to keep Sonic below full speed.

CD may feel very start stop. But that is what introduces an element not really found in the other Classics in the same way. What you're supposed to do is go through the level, not at top speed, until you find a section that you can route out a...

route, that allows you to maintain momentum long enough to time travel. And then you go back to the beginning of that sectio and actually execute the smooth run through it you mapped out.

In this way, CD provides TRUE incentive to learn it's levels ad run them smoothly past intrinsic satisfaction, which is a element that's kind of lacking in the other Classics.

I don't think 3K's level design is what CD should be modeled after becuse outside level specific gimmicks that halt momentum (Mushroom Hills grab mechanics you pull down on to go up for example) maintaining momentum is a bit too straight forward.

Further, backtracking is sometimes harder if not impossible in some levels, which would hurt the above mentioned process and also wouldn't work with CD asking you to find set goals on SPECIFIC PATHS in the levels, unlike 3K which ask you to keep out an eye for hints at secrets (namely shields and big rings) on ANY path.

I'd remove the time limit, and remove sections that allow you to time travel for free.

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As exploration is a key element in Sonic CD, I would focus more on that - encouraging players to go backwards to try and explore and making it possible in the level design to do so. Also remove any kind of time limit that's pushing players to rush forwards.

I'd also alter the time travel so it's easier to perform but also something you won't accidentally do. 

Another small change would be reducing the amount of foreground assets and making the backgrounds more obvious. I encountered quite a few situations where I thought the background was platforms or the foreground got in the way. 

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Stop the bouncing. I think the level design in CD is fine for the most part, each stage has plenty of areas to gain speed and time travel (no, I'm not talking about two red springs facing each other spots). The part that annoys me is the bouncing. Wacky workbench, collision chaos are both really bad about this.

It's a game where your speed is earned and not handed to you on a silver platter, much like Sonic 1. Why you do you have me coming to a halt so you can bounce me around a bunch of bumpers and red springs for half a minute while I fight the games pinball physics? Maybe make some stages a bit longer, so that you have more chances to find areas to time travel with and collect timeposts/rings. Maybe remove the 50 rings requirements and hide the special rings around the level like S3&K/Mania.

For the people who want to go fast and take the more skillful route, they can collect timeposts and time travel. For the people that want to actually explore the levels (which they'd do anyways trying to get the robot generators, but I'm not counting that for this), then they can explore the level and find the giant rings. And like Blacklightning said, remove the peel-out. It's good for instant top speed, but top speed right off the bat takes away the idea of slowly building up speed through skill and knowing the level design.

This should not be a game where you get the good ending on a blind run and/or without practice, this game should be closer to Sonic 1 where the good ending is an actual result of skill and knowing the game layouts.

Rework the bosses. Seeing Eggman's mechs in this game makes me feel like this should be Sonic and Egg's first bout, not their second (or third or fourth, whatever your idea of the timeline is). His machines go down super easily, and one of them just destroys itself through prolonged use. Eggman's Sonic 1 machines posed more of a threat, why are his machines in CD so amateur? Also make Amy actually important. She appears twice, gets captured on her second appearance then is gone the entire rest of the game. She isn't even a side note in her debut game.

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14 hours ago, LegoFedora said:

Maybe remove the 50 rings requirements and hide the special rings around the level like S3&K/Mania.

I actually think that the 50 ring requirement for special stages is a good thing, as it makes taking damage have actual consequence and something you'd want to avoid doing if you can.

You can compromise and Sonic 2 the special stages by tying them to checkpoints you find in the level rather than just goal post but I wouldn't want that dropped completely.

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