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Ring drop systems


SuperStingray
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You may have noticed that the past few Sonic games have been experimenting with changes to how many rings the player drops when hit. So far, at least to my memory, we've seen:

Shadow the Hedgehog- Whenever you are hit, you lose twenty rings (or all of them if you have 20 or less.)

Sonic 06 - The traditional method, but some attacks (okay, ONE attack- the rapid fire shot from the basic hominid robots) cause you to drop one ring per hit.

Sonic Unleashed - I'm not really sure what the algorithm is here, but from what I see, the more rings you have, the more you drop, usually about half, and if you have less than 50 or something, you lose all of them.

So basically, what do you think is the best way to handle rings? Is losing all of them by a single hit unfair or is losing too few at a time too easy? I guess each game has its own needs, but in general, what do you think is the best method? If none of them, what do you think could work?

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Actually, in the classic games you would lose all your rings, but never more than 30 would actually come out of you. I don't even know if that is worth pointing out or not.

Out of the 3D games, I really liked Shadow the Hedgehog's approach to ring lose. Losing all worked well in SA1&2, but in Sonic 2006 (where there was a much higher focus on combat) it became problematic. Sonic Unleashed's system also works, but like the OP said, there doesn't seem to be all that much rhyme or reason to it.

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I always enjoyed the "lose all" system of the classics, although I rapidly became disenchanted with it after I realised that even if you lost 500 rings then you would only be able to re-collect...hmm, is it about 20 in the genesis games? (EDIT: beat to it by Legendary Emerald, it's 30)

That sort of annoyed me, and still does - no matter how many you have, if it's over a certain number only that many will show up on screen. I understand it's due to graphical processing limits and all (my memory might be faulty again but wasn't that one of the main incentives for the ring system? To show off how many bouncy separate objects the Genesis could show on screen?) but I would like to hope that with today's PS3 and 360 we could show your full 100 rings on screen...

Alright, perhaps it'd be a LITTLE distracting, but I'd still like it.

I didn't really like the ShTH method, I thought it cheapened the rings. At the same time there were hazards and projectiles everywhere in that game so it was somewhat justified...but perhaps Sonic games aren't meant to have so many hazards in the first place. The Sonic '06 system was also quite clever, my only problem with it was that if you had say, three rings, and then you got hit a few times by the vulcan cannon from the robots, then you wouldn't flash invincible for a few seconds once you were down to zero rings and so it was insta-death.

What I REALLY hated was falling down for like, thirty seconds in Sonic '06 after losing all your rings, ugh, I want to GET UP AND RUN!

Unleashed was also a good method. I think what happened was that you lost half of your rings, unless it was under a certain number in which case you lost all. That really suited the game, i.e. in Rooftop Run when it's easy to collect 600-800 rings it's far more fair to only lose half. In a game where you're NOT likely to collect so many in just the one level...yeah, that system would be too easy.

I suppose each system works for its individual gameplay style and difficulty level. I think "what works" is really dependant on the game - in ShTH it would have been unfair to lose everything in one hit (I think) but in Sonic Unleashed you could hardly just lose 20 rings per hit. I personally think that Sonic '06's original idea - rings lost are proportional to the damage caused - would have been too distracting and complex. Losing rings should be simple, not some sort of RPG strategy fight where you carefully work out damage around your HP. I suppose that's my only real request - keep it simple, and I would just LOVE to be able to re-collect my entire 100 rings I just lost.

...that's right, that was one thing I really hated about Sonic Unleashed, I might be totally wrong and my memory is insanely bad, but couldn't you NOT re-collect your rings?

Edited by Extryn
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I like it when you lose all your rings and they scatter everywhere making you run back and forth to try and re-collect them.

Huh? What's that? It's not fair? Well too bad! If you can't handle the raw power of blast processing then you need to get out!

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I think the most balanced one is the system they used in the classics, really. If you took a few hits, you could still get through the level, but you probably wouldn't be getting a continue out of it, and you'll eventually run out if you take too many. One thing I liked about the classics was the patterns the rights would form when they flew out. The 3D games have always seemed a bit plain to me, it would look better if it were a sphere of rings, but maxing at 30 (Actually, I think it's 32) would make you loose too many, they'd be too hard to get, maybe have a hundred rings fly out? Or perhaps combine it with Unleashed's and have half vanish and half fly out under 50 or so. Unleashed system was basically designed such that you wouldn't have to stop if you took a hit. I think it halves your rings unless it's below 20.

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I like the systems where you don't drop everything at once, at least for 3D games. Of the ones they've tried, Unleashed's seems to work pretty well; you get more protection than the classic "drop everything" system, but the way it scales, the more rings you have, the less valuable each individual ring is. With a fixed rate like ShtH, having 300 rings is damn near immortality, but with Unleashed, that'd be chipped away with only a few hits.

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Despite all the talk of experimentation with gameplay gimmicks being the downfall of the series, I think this is something that should be decided on a game-by-game basis and something that Sonic Team have (gasp) actually handled pretty reasonably.

Shadow's system was useful because of the amount of ranged combat in that game. If bullets are flying at you from every direction, losing all of your rings every time you're hit would make it beyond frustrating. Likewise, Unleashed's system was built around its mechanics: with the number of rings and the sheer speed of the game, only losing a fraction at a time and not being able to pick those up (at least in the PS360 version; I think the WiiS2 version handled it a bit differently) just makes sense.

06... urgh. It definitely could've used Shadow's system, that's for sure. I like that it only removed a few rings if you were hit by bullets, though; that was sort of a nice touch. The number of rings dropped if you were hit was pathetic, though, and the perfectly circular pattern they appeared in didn't help either. I don't even think they had a 'flying out' animation; they just sort of showed up. If rings can be re-collected in the next main console game, I want to see a ridiculous number of them flying around randomly. Rush could do it, after all.

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I don't remember it starting in ShtH (did it really?) but I remember the SatSR version where you lost something like 20-50 rings depending on skills equipped. It worked well in that game since it didn't make a lot of sense to go collecting lost rings while you were catapulted forward on-rails. That method is more like a health bar you fill from zero to infinity. I really prefer the classic style though, since it's so unique to Sonic and adds some depth to gameplay. Plenty of shooters or platformers have life meters, but Sonic's worked upwards instead of down, and even though he really only takes two hits to kill (spike glitch, lol) you get chances to save him. Part of what made some of Sonic even suspenseful when I was a kid, was trying to catch loose rings during boss fights. But it can complicate things sometimes, like making the Sonic CD final boss way too easy to kill. I dunno if others have this problem, but I also find it really hard to kill some bosses in the Advance series without taking hits.

Those issues aside, I prefer the traditional method. I noticed it has some problems in 3D however. I always thought the neat little donut that dropped rings leave around you was extremely awkward. There was power in getting hit in the classics, they would fly out and off the screen. In the 3D games, they just kind of scatter neatly. I guess it makes sense, because in 2D you only need to go forward and backwards to recollect. In 3D you'd have to run far in four directions to get all of them, making it impossible. They could solve that problem (if anyone besides me thinks it's a problem) by having rings fly away from the side of the hit, so the rings would end up bouncing away in a cone-shaped area behind Sonic. I'm also a big fan of the updated classic method from Rush, where rings spill out closely at first, but if you take a lot of consecutive hits they fly further and further. It actually solves the ring abuse issue in boss fights, since it's hard to collect the same ring more than three times that way.

Edited by Stretchy Werewolf
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I'm assuming Wii Unleashed used a different system, because I'm sure you only lost something like 20-30 with each hit, although don't quote me on that for sure.

I was about to say I prefer the 'one hit, lose all' mechanic, but yeah, I can understand that it might need to vary on a game-by-game basis. However, ultimately you need to think as to why you need rings. If your main focus is just to keep enough rings to survive (read- one), then by all means losing every ring with one hit is no problem. However, it gets frustrating in some games where the ring score is only based on how many you're holding at the end of a stage, rather than getting points for each ring as and when you grab them.

I can't remember which games use which scoring mechanic, but I do remember it being infuriating at times to lose all your rings near the end of a stage and thus totally screw up your chances at an A or S rank.

...or am I remembering it wrong? Am I thinking of dying? I actually can't remember how the ring score is tallied in each game, come to think of it.

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It really doesnt concern me whether one loses all or only a few rings upon being hit, as long as the basic idea that one can collect the (or some) of the rings again remains. I consider this mechanic a defining aspect of the Sonic series. I remember that as i child (a child that, as all children do, sucked pretty hard at video games) i considered this one of the major perks that the Sonic series had against the Mario series: Mario could take a maximum of two hits, and after that, it was all over, while Sonic one the other hand could theoretically be hit a billion times and still hang in there.

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The entire ring system is basically what set Sonic apart from Mario. If Sonic had a set number of hits like Mario did, the game would have probably been a lot more slower and methodical and not as popular.

However, one minor nitpick of some of the Sonic games is how careful you have to be with your rings to get to special stages. Not only do you have to be extremely paranoid when you have enough until you get to the exit/checkpoint, you have to worry about beating the special stage, too. That's why I like the way you entered them in S3&K.

Anyway, on topic: I think I'd like something like Unleashed, although when you're VERY low you drop a couple you can pick up again. Also, make it so any rings you get in boss fights dissapear as soon as you lose them.

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I like the classic system, myself--get hit and lose them all; pick up what you can after the fact. If you're not aiming to achieve some sort of score bonus, just keeping one makes it possible to stay alive.

The incentive to not get hit comes from the advantages of collecting as many rings as possible--extra lives, score bonuses, et al. If you make it so you only lose so many rings per hit, that incentive is less powerful; after all, if you need 100 rings for an extra life and you only lose 10 per hit, it becomes extremely easy to get extra lives each time you play. When extra lives are supposed to be a rare reward, this can be a troublesome, game-breaking mechanic alteration.

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Proto Video of Unleashed (360)

Like in the final game he doesn't lose all of his rings- only half of them. But unlike the final, they scatter. Like fats kids when their bus stops at a McDonalds. (The Rush way)

It depends on the game really. The classics through to SA2 worked fine with their one-shot-all-gone method. We didn't get bombarded, enemies were simple to kill and ring weren't in over-abundance. Heroes could have benefitted from a Shadow-esque where you nly lost a set number because you had to engage in (crappy) combat and left yourself open for attack quite a lot. 06 too, for the same reasons. Unleashed had the biggest change standard Sonic gameplay and rings were everywhere. Over 1000 in Rooftop Run? Yikes. It would royally suck to lose that many in one go, especially since your scores rely on them so much. So you only lose half and can't pick them back up. Good idea. You can still keep running for an S Rank though. In 06/Heroes, one hit meant FAILURE a lot of the time.

Edited by Blue Blood
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Chaotix sort of introduced the losing some but not all rings in that tossing each other toward platforms or use of the call-button to reunite cost 10 rings. You could also dip into negatives, which was pretty wild.

Speaking of Chaotix, it introduced a new power-up that was just blue ring. Its special purpose however is that it made you loose all rings as normal, but only one giant ring would scatter. And it's value would be equal to the number of rings you had prior to the attack. A nice idea, but only as a power-up.

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I don't remember it starting in ShtH (did it really?) but I remember the SatSR version where you lost something like 20-50 rings depending on skills equipped.

This may be venturing pretty far into Obscure-Land, but I think the system started (in a way) with Tails Adventure(s). There, the ring system worked more like HP, and if I remember right, certain forms of damage would take more rings, and you increased the maximum number of rings you could carry over time.

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Chaotix sort of introduced the losing some but not all rings in that tossing each other toward platforms or use of the call-button to reunite cost 10 rings. You could also dip into negatives, which was pretty wild.

I think the game also had a system that if the partner was hit you only lost 1 ring, but I'm not sure how that could be applicable to any other games.

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I think it depends on the kind of Sonic game you're playing.

If it's a classic 2D Sonic game or an Adventure-style 3D platformer, losing all of your rings in one hit isn't that big of an issue, and would work better since you're not going insanely fast like Unleashed. Although losing one ring at a time with no knock-back damage from small projectiles like in 2006 wasn't exactly an unwelcome addition either.

When it comes to the more linear and speed-driven games like Sonic Unleashed, losing half of your rings at a time is a better system. Although what I would have liked to see in Unleashed was the ability to recollect your rings, I understand that you're not exactly willing to backtrack to get a few rings when you can get, like, 300 more in the next minute if you keep going ahead.

An idea (that I'm sure I'm not the only one to think of) is that when you're running real fast in Unleashed, and you take damage, is that you kind of stumble and bounce, but keep moving forward, and the rings you lose fly with you, and you have a chance to collect them while running ahead before they lose their inertia and disappear. Considering you could crash into a wall with spikes though, the rings just fall out and loiter there until they disappear.

Point being, I would like to see physics utilized even more in a future daytime Unleashed game.

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Point being, I would like to see physics utilized even more in a future daytime Unleashed game.

I'd like to see physics utilized even more in any future Sonic game. XD

But anyways, B.O.T.: I like your ideas, Indigo, for Unleashed-styled "daytime" stages and for the classic / Adventure-styled stages. Both ideas were well-thought of, and they seem to be good for their own styles.

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I'd like to see physics utilized even more in any future Sonic game. XD

But anyways, B.O.T.: I like your ideas, Indigo, for Unleashed-styled "daytime" stages and for the classic / Adventure-styled stages. Both ideas were well-thought of, and they seem to be good for their own styles.

Yup yup yup! Agreeing with you agreeing with Indigo. The ring loss systems work different for the different game play styles. Imagine playing Battle with rings instead of health, and using the classic system. That would be laaaaaaaame.

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Sonic the Fighters used rings in a hilarious manner. Any future fighting Sonic game (SEGA Superstars Rumble? :O) should spray out RINGS instead of BLOOD.

I often wonder... if you cut Sonic's arms off, would he spray out rings?

So basically, they use blood as currency in Sonics world? And there's blood neatly placed around the world? Green Hill doesn't see like a happy place anymore.

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