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Zone Themes


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Throughout the various Sonic games, there has been a great amount of level themes. While many zones have used the same theme, most of them have been able to put a unique take on the theme. While we have seen the "tropical theme" zone, maybe we'll get more original themes too. So, what kind of themes would you like to see, or reinvented in this game?

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Maybe not in the first episode, but if there's no winter level in this game, I'll be one sad panda.

A new kind of environment, you say? There isn't much Sonic hasn't explored before, although I'd like to see more genre cross-overs, like how White Acropolis was snow and mechanical.

A level based off of a haunted mansion is seldom seen, maybe they can mix that up a bit?

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I'd like to see an Old West style zone like Frontier Canyon in Rivals 2. I really liked that zone. Other than that, I've always wanted to see a nighttime Green Hill-esque zone, but I don't think that will be happening here.

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A level based off of a haunted mansion is seldom seen, maybe they can mix that up a bit?
Yeah, I'd love to see another haunted sort of stage. Maybe not a mansion, though, as Heroes did that (and I think Rivals 2, too?). SRA did a ghost pirate ship...maybe a haunted forest? I don't think Sonic's done that before...

Maybe some kind of railway (not involving grinding, put away your torches and pitchforks). Dunno if I'd rather have more of an old west thing or a slick modern one.

I'd also like to see a nighttime city stage with neon lights. Not an actual casino stage, but a vaguely futuristic city sort of thing.

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I maintain that the frozen jungle from that one level in World 9 in NSMBWii is weirdly cool, and it's a real pity that it wasn't expanded upon. I'd love to see a level take that concept and run with it.

Something vaguely horror-y might also be a nice change: we can definitely do ghosts without too much NERDRAGE, since quite a few games have featured them, and I don't think a haunted forest or graveyard-type level has ever really appeared... Cryptic Castle, Mystic Mansion and Haunted Ship all sort of count, I guess, but they didn't do a ton with the gimmick.

DMNBT has it right on two counts as well. Different times of day could easily help to squeeze a little extra originality out of quite a few old gimmicks, and something Wild West-like would be fabulous.

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Sonic Rush Adventure had some fantastic level themes mixed in with the generic Sonic stuff, that's part of the reason why I liked the game. The final level deviated from the typical final base and moved onto a surprisingly cheerful landscape that improved the mood of the game.

I'd like to see this game take on new settings while mixing in some familiar styles, and I would love to see them pull off a final level that's not one of Eggman's bases or air ships.

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We just HAVE to get a Casino zone, come on Sonic 1 had one, Sonic 2 and Sonic 3. Sonic 4 can't break the chain!

I'd also like to see an Ice level most definitely, though unlike Ice Cap I'd prefer if it was all outside rather than in a cave, for this reason I far prefer Act 2 of Ice Cap to Act 1.

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Maybe some kind of railway (not involving grinding, put away your torches and pitchforks). Dunno if I'd rather have more of an old west thing or a slick modern one.

I'd also like to see a nighttime city stage with neon lights. Not an actual casino stage, but a vaguely futuristic city sort of thing.

I really dig these suggestions, definitely the railway one.

I'd love it if the aesthetics would be similar to Rail Canyon and Bullet Station in Heroes. No matter how much infested those levels were with rails, they looked great.

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Sonic Rush Adventure had some fantastic level themes mixed in with the generic Sonic stuff, that's part of the reason why I liked the game. The final level deviated from the typical final base and moved onto a happy-go-lucky old city of sorts.

I'd like to see this game take on new settings while mixing in some familiar styles, and I would love to see them pull off a final level that's not one of Eggman's bases or air ships.

Same here. I'd love it to get really wacky. Like a half ruined city which is partly underwater (less serious and realistic than Crisis City though), or a White Acropolis inspired level (perhaps with a bit of Phendrana Base from Metroid Prime style antics in, where you infiltrate the base, though it'd still be platforming), or a fire and ice level, which is both parts in one level.

If not a ruined city, then something like Speed Highway in 2D. Been waiting for that for fucking ages and each new 2D game fails to give it to me :(

Maybe a crashed ship like the Crashed Frigate in Metroid Prime? Or stuff like Collision Chaos which makes no sense. But this is drifting. But Eggman's bases need mixing up, I liked White Acropolis because it did this (and a few other factors, surprisingly).

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Oh Sonic levels, there is something very true to an article I read a year ago or so, there's nothing in gaming quite like a good Sonic level.

Anyways, taking the multiple episode thing into account I was wondering how they were going to split up zone themes. I strongly believe Sonic the Hedgehog 4 will be a trilogy of episodes (which later will be known with fans as the Sonic 4 Trilogy) and maybe the later episodes will have much more abstract and original zone ideas.

However, taking into consideration we only know one zone in Episode 1 so far, which happens to be our Green Hill-type level, here are some staples and ideas I have I would like to see:

-Snow Zone: This is ESSENTIAL. The ice levels in Sonic games have always been some of my favorites, and I would like to see how it can be pulled off in Sonic 4.

-Haunted Zone: I am a horror fanatic so even if it's not scary a creepy and mysterious haunted stage would be great. As stated above, we've had haunted mansions, maybe something like a haunted valley, forest, abandoned facility, or something of the sort would really do wonders. Also make sure not to slow down the player too much, but this would be a good place to break up the pace a little and do what I like to call "Ghost Puzzles", they had some in Sandopolis Zone and very common in Mario games actually, but something like a looping area until you figure the escape route, or things to just unsettle us, invisible walls, and multiple paths and secret hidden paths are a must.

-Casino Zone: Sonic and friends seem to love gambling... and that's just fine. Distractions, points and rings galore, and fun little minigames make these stages fun distractions, but in these graphics the neon lights and lit-up buildings of such a zone could look majestic.

-Desert Zone: Sonic is one of the few series I have actually enjoyed the Desert stages in. Usually ridden with traps and annoying Badniks, somehow they come off less annoying and more fun to me. They are more challenging stages that also in the series has a staple for Quick Sand. Love to see an HD Desert level, maybe even with heat wave special effects.

-Cavern Zone: I usually HATE Cave stages in video games, yet ironically one of my favorite stages of all time is Lava Reef in any game ever. If they can pull of a new Lava Reef-styled stage, I'll be in love.

-Water Zone: I don't mean like Labyrinth Zone. I mean the likes of Hydrocity or Tidal Tempest, water stages are annoying to some fans but I think the danger they posses are essential to get down, and maybe we can even get some beautiful underwater-style worlds.

-Eggman Zone: Now I have my preferences on which Eggman Zones I liked the most, and it's like guaranteed we'll get an Eggman level, but I want to see a change in pace in an Eggman level. I want to see a finale where the first act is Badnik and chaotic, gravity defying and intense... But then for the second act things get quiet. Too quiet. There's traps around like spikes and hard platforming sections, but no enemies and an eerie music track playing building up to the final boss. Make it difficult, ridden with traps, maybe the background can give hints and foreshadow the final boss mech upcoming, maybe you can hear a giant screech or roar coming from it in the distant, but build up to the final fight.

-Adventure Island Zone: I don't predict to see this in Episode 1 at least, but in a future title I would like to see a Jungle-type Island which is styled maybe like the Island of Hook, with running, platforming, beaches, caves, mountains, and jungles around all in the zone, with themed Badniks this stage could be great fun.

-Prop Base Zone: This was an idea I had, but maybe a prop base? Not like Toy Kingdom from Advance 3, but maybe an Eggman base that looks like a stage with props? Like it has mechanical portions but is decorated with weird props like cardboard trees, hanging from the ceiling on strings being toy model planets, stage props around, and it all looking like a base, but with different themed areas looking like a set for a movie. I think it'd be cool...

I know I have more, but will post later, what I got for now.

Edited by Dusk The Hedgehog Keeper
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Please please please please please no water levels. If there MUST be water, at least make it possible to spend a majority of the time on land. Labrynth Zone was a disaster in Sonic 1 16-bit, and was worse in 8-bit. I thought team Megamix could salvage it, but they just made it worse, and longer too (they did give it some nice music though). Aquatic ruin was perfect, Hydrocity was okay, but all other water levels since were terrible.

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Since this is episode 1, I think we should go with familiar stuff... mostly.

Say there's 7 zones (possibly wishful thinking considering the episodes thing but it depends how often they're released of course).

I would say they should consist of:

- Grass (like Green Hill - confirmed)

- Non-threatening mechanical (like Chemical Plant)

- Slow water maze (like Labyrinth)

- Casino (like Casino Night)

- Threatening mechanical eggman base (like Scrap Brain)

Once you got those 5 down, they can do whatever for the last 2, but those are the essential memorable zone types if you ask me.

I like the idea of having 5 or so "generic" themed levels in each game to revisit the past, then 2 wacky new genres (I love Diogenes idea of a slick, modern train themed level).

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Well if its the start of a new retro adventure...

The 5 first stage should be:

Tropical:

We already know that were gonna have a tropical zone so that one is clear.

City based:

The city base level should have things like sewer pipes, car-type badniks and light in/out places so that the electric and light bulbed badniks have their place.

Casino:

Slot machines & poker slots, bumpers everywhere, pinball areas and maybe some roulette areas?

Icicle:

Snowboarding is a classic but we could also add in a sledge area too? wich could accelerate when sonic uses the spindash on it? frozen lakes/ocean wich have cracked ice blocks to have some platforming too!

Fully mechanical with Gravity devices:

Combine Death egg from S3&K with Crazy gadjet from SA2 + Final egg from SA platforming parts and im happy.

I'll be happy with the 2 others their gonna deliver to us.

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I doubt we'll be thrown the more vast differentials in Episode 1. I dont think I will expect a snow level until say Episode 2 or something since I doubt there will be two snow zones or so in Sonic 4. Chances are that they'll be saving all the cool zones for later.

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I know that most of the zones (especially in "Episode 1") will be normal staples, but I felt like adding some twisted zones anyway. So yeah. There's quite a few, and most of them are probably a bit too extreme, but what the heck.

Well I think there should be a sewer zone. The only times I can remember any Sonic sewers were Toxic Caves in Spinball and Casinopolis whenever you don't have enough rings. Sonic can run through giant metal pipes, avoiding currents and maybe some toxic slime rivers for good measure. Music should have drip-drops and metallic echoes for awesomeness.

I'd also like to see a Hailfire Peaks zone - as in, the classic fire/ice combo. Music should sound cool and ambient but have a dark beat hidden within. It could go either way, from one side being volcanic while the other being a snowy land, or it could just be a messed up fusion that might have been (read: probably) caused by Robotnik.

I'd like an Autumn-ish zone. Not sure how it would work out though. Maybe use giant leaves for transport to get around...from green and orange to red and even pink (I've seen pink leaves in real life before), all doing things that would either help or hinder you (green leaves dash you forwards, red leaves GIVE WAY DUDE). Maybe some sounds of wind in the background. Music could be similar to the Bramble stages from Donkey Kong Country 2. Gotta love it.

There's not enough Wild West zones. Really. Big sunset with sun in center, dark red-purple sky, quicksand, big orange sandy cliffs with cactus, cowboy Badniks, Robotnik riding a giant robotic handgun while wearing a cowboy hat shouting YEE-HAW when successful in hitting you. YES. Music should be quiet but creepy.

One of my personal favourite "oddities" is the infamous candy zone. You know, pink happy skies, candy cane headlights, rivers of chocolate, icing acts as snow, maybe an optional Robotnik honey factory, Badniks pretending to be edible, Robotnik using death-gumballs to attack you, it's all good. Music should be over-joyful and happy, like Ocean Palace in Sonic Heroes but more retro. I always love the more bizarre zones such as Toy Kingdom and Music Plant, and I don't think they've done the candy theme yet.

Even though Robotnik has had many lava bases, I think he's only had one actual volcano fortress (Spinball's Veg-O-Fortress). I'd like to see another one. Outisde and inside. Outside could be a rusty beach with polluted purple seas and brown dirty sand complete with dark skies, it would actually look pretty peaceful...but you're too busy playing EXTREME LAVA-WAKEBOARDING indoors to notice. Top it all off with lavafalls and the usual Robotnik-ego signs everywhere. Music should be industrial and spooky.

Sonic has been on the moon before, but only for a Super Sonic fight in Sonic Advance. I'd like to see an actual moon zone - lonely but massive, with dark craters and abandoned moon buggies all around. There would be constellations in the starry sky, maybe constellations of the faces of various Sonic characters old or new - maybe even other SEGA characters like Ristar. Music would sound lonely and...airy. If that makes sense.

There needs to be more train zones, because trains are awesome. You would go through all the rooms beating up pesky Badnik conductors. Eventually they could have a homage to Triple Trouble, with Sonic running on top of the train as the famous Sunset Park Act 3 theme plays. Until then, the music would depend on whether the train belongs to Robotnik or not.

A 1920s zone would be hilarious. The Badniks would dress up in top hats and false spinning moustaches, everything in black and white...maybe Robotnik could tie small animals to some train tracks. Music would be bouncy and over exaggerated, with quiet rolling tape in the background. Robotnik could ride...I don't know. A giant robotic top hat perhaps?

How about going inside one of Robotnik's even-more-giant-than-most-giant robots? Maybe it could be one of the last zones, like Cannon's Core/End of the World, with Sonic/Tails/whoever going through each body part as Acts. Music would be booming and threatening.

Here's an idea - Robotropolis Zone. Yeah. Don't panic. Just replace SWATBots with Badniks, change SatAM Robotnik to SEGA Robotnik, and there you go - a twisted futuristic industrial nightmare. I can see it now - tall metal towers and structures that pierce the dark skies, millions of elite Badniks on patrol, dirty black rivers that you could still swim in (just watch out for air bubbles and being able to see in the dark...and especially watch out for Robotnik's CYBER-SHARKS), and the inside of the central tower (Act 2/Act 3 if we're having three Acts) would basically look like a Robotnik church...as in, a royal yet eerie shrine/monument to, well, Robotnik's existence. Because he's sick and twisted like that.

I wouldn't mind another try at apocalyptic zones, but only if it's different from the rest and actually still felt more Sonic than Final Fantasy. Maybe a dark ruined town, vehicle wreckage and crumbling roads all around, with rain, thunder and lightning with a "retro-ish" Egg Fleet (or some other Robotnik armada) looming overhead firing down at the poor city. Add some skyscrapers if you climb high enough. The boss could be Metal Sonic or Mecha Sonic MKII, either race or battle. The music would be slow and evil that makes you lose all hope.

Also as with the 1920s Zone, I also think a N00b Zone would be funny. Not sure how the area would actually look, but the Badniks could be Trojans and Spam-Bots. The music would be all distorted and messed up, and the boss could be the Egg Roflcopter, using LOL's and ROFL's and WTF's to attack you.

There's been many beach themes, and Sonic 4's "Green Hill" of course appears to be going along those lines as usual...have there been any beaches at sunset? The only one I can think of is Sunset Hill, but that was more "Green Hill...in sunset" than an actual beach. Go along the sands and out to the sun-kissed ocean, jumping along small rock islands. Maybe at one point there could be a lighthouse...or better yet, a Robotnik lighthouse, in the background firing lasers from it's lights ala Lava Reef Act 2 boss. Music should be...I dunno...romantic? I'm not really sure how to describe it.

Shadow's game had (for the most part) dull levels (and Black Doom's constant monologues of traitors didn't help), but there were a few good themes. Example: Circus Park. Circuses aren't common in Sonic games, and depending on how they are portrayed, can also make for good scary places, with or without ghosts (read: no one likes clowns). Optional pie-throwing Badniks and lion robots. Music should be zany and colourful with a creepy vibe hidden in there.

Another ShtH-made concept I'd like to see again are those multicoloured digital stages. I'm a sucker for worlds with seizure-inducing colours (which might explain why I love Mario Kart's Rainbow Road), especially when they're so...strange. Except of course, this time you'll face Badniks instead of Black Arms and G.U.N.

What about a gauntlet zone? It wouldn't exactly be a proper zone, just a big arena against some classic Robotnik bosses, ala X-Zone. It could resemble...a fighting ring? Or does that sound too Kirby-ish? How about a roman colosseum? Badniks watching all around?

I might think of more later.

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One thing I'd love to see is a moon Zone. Not the lame super fight from SAdv1 but an actual platforming stage. Imagine if the final stage is Eggman's dome-like moon base and level had unique moon physics(super jumping, slow acceleration but a much greater top speed), level gimmicks that alter the gravity and affect enemies also. There lot of possibilities with this. Get to top speed with normal gravity then hit a gravity switch to boost your speed. Turn the gravity on/off to affect badniks' attacks and movement, possibly making harm themselves or other badniks. Turn off gravity in a section full of badniks and use the homing attack to navigate as they all float about randomly.

A cool idea for a boss fight would set in a huge vertical tunnel with Eggman in an indestructible machine as sonic falls/runs down the wall. Along the way will several gravity switches that sonic could hit. With moon gravity Sonic accelerates slower on the wall, falls slower in the air but runs much faster while the opposite will happen with normal gravity. once you hit the bottom the real fight starts. Use a switch moving around the area to counter certain undodgeable attacks and cause the boss to fall on it's vulnerable area damaging itself.

Another idea is an entire level that is a giant Eggman mech under construction, built from various parts from previous bosses and badniks. Partway through the level the mech activates and changes the level layout and in the second act you travel inside the mech to reach Eggman kind of like Death Egg in reverse.

I'd also like a water stage that combines elements from Aquatic Ruin Zone, Hydrocity and Unleashed water running. There cold be sections where Sonic has to keep his momentum on the surface of water by dodging badniks and traps and hitting a stage specific gimmick to boost his speed. It would be possible to complete the stage quickly and skillfully without going under at all but failing to do so will make him fall to a slow labyrinth zone-like area.

This doesn't have to with level theme so much but I hope that the dizzying, "LOL Speed" stage is placed somewhere rewarding. Chemical Plant may be my favorite classic stage but it's just the second level in Sonic 2 which was underwhelming. Starlight and Stardust Speedway were both set after the most annoying classic stages (imo) which made them feel like such a cool rewarding experience before taking on the final zone.

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I'd like to see a desert-themed stage that takes cues from the Wild West!

You know it's a good idea: who WOULDN'T want to see Sonic racing an old steam engine, climbing the cliffs up the Grand Canyon, and then having a showdown against a cowboy-styled Boss Mecha in an old Ghost Town!

...Wait a minute, "Cowboy"...?

......I GOT AN IDEA!!! Here's a new twist to a level theme: a FARM theme!

Running through the fields, Sonic ends up coming across a farmhouse with many crops, barns, silos & windmills scattered about. The majority of the speed areas of the stage woud cut through the crops growing all around, and the barn, farmhouse & silos can be where the majority of the platforming areas are located. Sonic could use the windmills like catapauts; grabbing onto one of it's fan blades & swinging around until he launches off of it to get to higher ledges. One of the in-level gimmicks could be Sonic having to run away from a giant haybail that's rolling down a hill after him. Another could be Sonic getting stuck inside of a HUGE silo that is filling with grain, and he has to get to the top via small ledges here and there before the grain overtakes him (which would be instant death). As for the zone boss, it would be.... Hmm, let me think for a moment..... I'VE GOT IT!!! It would be a giant robot cow that shoots missiles from it's udder!!! Epic!

...Oh man, I gotta draw that now!

Oh, and before I forget: SEGA, can you give us an Ice stage that ISN'T Mountain Peak Zone take ten?!

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I fully support the idea of mixed zones, like first starting in a tropical zone and then making your way to the top of a volcano, or being in a city and then eggman ariships start their invasion and you have to attack from the skyscrapers, or some ambiental changes like the one that happened in Angel Island or lava reef, like you are in (or near) a dam (sorry if this is the wrong word, I'm using google for this) and in some point of the stage it starts to broke and the water starts to flood the place (wich could also lead to a EXTREEEME SURFING!!!1 moment).

The possibilities are never ending .:D

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There's so many level themes in Sonic games, it's hard to think of anything unique... I don't have any specific requests, but here's some rough concepts:

-A Tropical island level mixed with strewn bits of technology, similar to Sonic's home in the Sonic OVA, or even Mecha Green Hill zone

-A Hot/cold level, complete with some icy areas and some that could lead to Sonic becoming a molten s'more

-A Music-themed level..... 'cause I love music! And I think it could work out brilliantly, if executed properly

-An Eggman robot factory, where a possible mini-boss could be fighting off a wave of badniks

A Stardust Speedway styled level, just because I think a psychedelic level like that could look fantastic remade in 3D

-A crystal mine level, possibly like

except with more Sonic elements (please disregard the "I Will Survive" backing track, it does NOT represent the kind of music I'd like to see in that level, either.... :rolleyes: )

-An underwater temple level, a la Aquatic Ruin, just 'cause I seriously wanna see underwater segments return

There's a lot more, but that's the best I've got at the moment :P

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