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Sonic 4 said to have "few to no physics changes"

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It's now 2010, and said engine has either been lost in the annals of Sega development or simply isn't contemporary enough for a modern classic.

What defines "contemporary?" What does that even mean in this context?

Mega Man 9 and 10 say, "hi."

EDIT: Want to make it clear Brad, that I'm not railing on your opinion to be disappointed. I'm simply pointing out why thinking about the game from a codebase level doesn't make sense to me. We're not coders, we're amateur hobbyists that like to pull ROMs apart at the very best. And at the end of the day, I thought it was all about the gameplay, not the perceived idea that Sega should be reviving dinosaur code that was proven to be 'broken' back in 1992 in the first place. :P

You probably got that anyway cos you're pretty funky, but yeah. Never can tell on the intarnets! *comedy jingle*

Yes, I'm a hobbyist, but I don't simply pull apart ROMs. You know that, Svend. I'm all about creating a new experience while maintaining the one thing that was never broken. Most ROM hackers/fangamers are all about that. This news (and the way it was first posted) further motivates me to prove that sentiment with something that you can physically experience. What you meant to say was, "I'm not a coder" (in reference to yourself). There are people who do understand it from a codebase level. The largest Sonic forum on the Internet is dedicated to it.

And yeah, we're always cool, best bud. I'm always appreciative on how we on staff remain cool despite opinions.

I respect your viewpoint, Slingerland, because I know that you have personally played it.

I don't get to read that very often. Thanks.

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No matter what anyone says, the one thing that I know that has ALWAYS remained constant in Sonic games are level specific gimmicks. Repeated gimmicks were far and few between. For instance, I can't think of any other level apart from CPZ in Sonic 2 that has speed boosters. I can't think of any other level in Sonic 3 apart from AIZ that had ziplines. So why are there speed boosters all over every stage we've seen?

Yes this is a level design flaw, but I believe that it is atleast partially enabled by the sub-par physics in this game. Will I have fun with it? Hell yea. Will I play it thinking I'm playing Sonic 4? Hell no. Therein lies the problem. It'll feel like Sonic Rush or a slower paced Sonic Advance 2. Not Sonic 3 And Then Some.

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No matter what anyone says, the one thing that I know that has ALWAYS remained constant in Sonic games are level specific gimmicks. Repeated gimmicks were far and few between. For instance, I can't think of any other level apart from CPZ in Sonic 2 that has speed boosters. I can't think of any other level in Sonic 3 apart from AIZ that had ziplines. So why are there speed boosters all over every stage we've seen?

Yes this is a level design flaw, but I believe that it is atleast partially enabled by the sub-par physics in this game. Will I have fun with it? Hell yea. Will I play it thinking I'm playing Sonic 4? Hell no. Therein lies the problem. It'll feel like Sonic Rush or a slower paced Sonic Advance 2. Not Sonic 3 And Then Some.

Comparing it to Rush is sort of unfair to S4. I'm not a fan of speed boosters but Rush was also absolutely linear, filled with death pits, featured a trick system, and generic Egg Pawns.

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Eh. Sonic Rush wasn't really linear. It's just that it encouraged tricking and boosting so much that you seldom ever took other paths. Point still stands though. There is an element of automated acceleration present in Sonic Rush in the form of the boost button. That same element is in Sonic 4 in the form of excessive boost panels.

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Maybe I was too good? I dunno, I always ended up on the same path every time I played certain levels, unless I deliberately botched something so I could go somewhere else.

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Rubyeclipse @ gamespot: We've decided to delay the game and i'm sure a lot of fans will be happy. People complained about the physics so we decided to extend the developing time and work on the physics to make them more like the pinball physics from the genesis games.

Rubyeclipse now: We have changed some things but don't expect the physics have changed a lot.

I feel sorry for the guy.

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Yup. He's basically Sega's PR guy on the inside, without being a PR guy. Honestly, he's probably about as frustrated with this game as the rest of us (using the term loosely) are. But don't take my word for it.

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For instance, I can't think of any other level apart from CPZ in Sonic 2 that has speed boosters.
They're not identical, but sideways springs really ought to count; the end result is basically the same, you just have to approach them differently.

I can't think of any other level in Sonic 3 apart from AIZ that had ziplines.
Again, not quite the same, but Launch Base had some.

And, y'know, if a gimmick is in every level, it isn't repeating a level-specific gimmick, it's a game-wide gimmick. We don't call springs a level gimmick and then complain about reusing a level gimmick when they're all over; the only reason that's the case for the boosters is that they used to be level gimmicks and now aren't, while springs were always omnipresent. Complain about their usage if you want, but try not to invent issues that don't really exist.

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So it's my wording that's a problem? Okay.

Level elements that automatically thrust or transport Sonic in the direction required to progress through the level that are placed in such a way that avoiding them requires more effort are major parts of the problem when it comes to level design.

I think that pretty much covers everything apart from springs. And you want to talk about horizontal springs? You have to actually walk into a horizontal spring, because they are almost never placed in areas that you would end up in by yourself. For instance, you're not going to run off any cliff on roll down any hill in EHZ that automatically launches you into a spring that'll take you a little further into the level. If you want to use a spring, you have to very deliberately walk into it. If you want to use a booster, however, have no fear because it is placed in exactly the same place you were going to go anyway. You don't have to be deliberate about anything because its right there, whether you wanted to use it or not. Same goes for those blasted ziplines. This sir, is a problem.

Also, if you're going to say "not quite the same" you can also just go ahead and say "different". That works too.

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And you want to talk about horizontal springs? You have to actually walk into a horizontal spring, because they are almost never placed in areas that you would end up in by yourself. For instance, you're not going to run off any cliff on roll down any hill in EHZ that automatically launches you into a spring that'll take you a little further into the level. If you want to use a spring, you have to very deliberately walk into it.
Well, it's not Emerald Hill Zone, but.

Y'know, I can pretty much guarantee if we saw that arrangement in Sonic 4, but with boosters instead of springs, a certain portion of the fanbase would burst a blood vessel raging over it. It's kind of funny.

Also, if you're going to say "not quite the same" you can also just go ahead and say "different". That works too.
Not when I'm aiming to emphasize the similarities. There are more classifications than "identical" and "entirely unrelated", after all.

And if you want my real opinion on the matter, the problem is not that things like these exist, it's that they're overused. There's nothing wrong with boosters, ziplines, horizontal springs, or whatever instant-speed gimmick they want to put in, in themselves. They've existed since the beginning, and I'm sure that the vast majority, and likely you yourself, have enjoyed using them, where they've been used well. The problem is that Sonic 4 relies on them too much.

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"Instant speed" was pretty much Chemical Plant's level gimmick. Atleast, I've always considered it as such. Throwing you around as fast as possible seemed like that was what that level was about to me.

Other than that, you said pretty much what I'm trying to say. There are way too many speed boosters. If they were in just one level, I'd be fine with it, but they're not. They're all over the place, everywhere! Plus there's the matter of general looks. A mechanical speed booster just looks...out of place in Splash Hill. So does that damned zip line. But that's another discussion, I think.

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If they were in just one level, I'd be fine with it, but they're not. They're all over the place, everywhere!
I see nothing wrong with boosters in every level (no more than having springs in every level), I just wish there were less of them in general.

Plus there's the matter of general looks. A mechanical speed booster just looks...out of place in Splash Hill.
And those computer monitors and lampposts scattered around fit in just fine? Our perceptions are warped by years of seeing these things as normal; mechanical boosters are, objectively, no more or less out of place, it's just that we haven't adjusted to them.

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It was more of a side thought than anything else, really. I do get what you are saying, but the thing is, anything else that has been designed to propel you quickly in a specific direction in any Sonic game I've played has been designed with that level in mind. The fans in oil ocean, those little poles in that lava level in Sonic Advance 2...and even the speed boosters in CPZ. They all seemed to make some sort of sense for that level.

Besides, springs and monitors and checkpoints were supposed to be ubiquitous from the start of the franchise. Like I said, I get what you're saying, but as long as speed boosters are abused the way they are, they will never achieve the same kind of status. They'll just be ugly little eyesores to me.

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So basically:

-Development team makes levels, disregards past game's physics.

-Game revealed, people poke at trailer, not too much to go by

-Game close to release, leak happens, people go ape shit

-Game delayed. Promise to work on fixes

-Developers make changes, realize that changing most of the physics breaks their level design from the beginning.

-?????

-PROFIT!

Great. We'll just have to live with it I suppose. I'll hold my tongue until we see the final build.

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They're not identical, but sideways springs really ought to count; the end result is basically the same, you just have to approach them differently.

And, y'know, if a gimmick is in every level, it isn't repeating a level-specific gimmick, it's a game-wide gimmick. We don't call springs a level gimmick and then complain about reusing a level gimmick when they're all over; the only reason that's the case for the boosters is that they used to be level gimmicks and now aren't, while springs were always omnipresent. Complain about their usage if you want, but try not to invent issues that don't really exist.

Horizontal springs can't just be slapped down anywhere to sling you forward, they only trigger from one side, and they don't always send you towards the next whatever you have to touch to go to th next... you get the idea. They actually point left sometimes.

Spings have many applications, they can be placed to be used as a quick change of direction, a boost up a wall (placed next to a quarter pipe that leads up said wall), vertical bouncing, and they contribute a lot to the perception of speed, though their "set rather than modify" behavior of late has really toned this down. a rail just takes you from wherever it starts to wherever it ends. A speed booster sends you at whatever it's pointed at.

This is getting into the sort of really detailed mechanics that usually have people around here claiming that minor shit like this doesn't matter (even though it does or else I wouldn't have noticed it), but I find it much more interesting, if I don't have enough to speed to make it up a wall, to fall back down and bounce off a spring rather than just hit a booster and go up the wall straight away. Might be because the presence of the booster means that not just the outcome but the specific path would be the same regardless of my input.

Well, it's not Emerald Hill Zone, but.

Y'know, I can pretty much guarantee if we saw that arrangement in Sonic 4, but with boosters instead of springs, a certain portion of the fanbase would burst a blood vessel raging over it. It's kind of funny.

Nah, if that arrangement were in Sonic 4, it would just be an empty shaft with diagonal springs.

I think I'll just rattle off a few differences that swapping those out for speedboosters would do, 'k?

Speed boosters are more powerful than yellow springs, this section would go from exhilarating to spastic. Sonic 2 had red springs, they chose to use yellow springs for a reason. speed boosters are also physically larger, which would reduce the run up Repeatedly encountering a speed booster from the front is strange. I don't even like that it's happening once there, considering that it contradicts the way a prime mover like that functions. Shouda just used a red spring.

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Well, it's not Emerald Hill Zone, but.

I can pretty much guarantee if we saw that arrangement in Sonic 4, but with boosters instead of springs, a certain portion of the fanbase would burst a blood vessel raging over it.

Hold up, we do have sections like that in the very first level of Sonic 4. Phos said it before me. Spring to another spring to another spring up a wall, under a section of Bubbles and down the S-curve fired by a booster. I've said this before and it applies here, when the old games used speed boosters they were self-contained, almost like a planned and acknowledged roller coaster section. Hydrocity almost always shoots you into the air after a speed section, having you land on those spinning things. Chemical Plant ends in dead ends or moving bricks. Flying Battery does this also. It was more of a conscious thing in those games, the speed in new games doesn't stop until the signpost, it's not contained.

Case in point. We got a video on TSS (was it Jason who did it, hey Jason) that shows the end of one level, where you can find an extra life by jumping over a booster. Rewarded for not playing the autopath? Oh my. It's not a hidden power up, it's in plain view, behind the booster. It's a metaphor to me for lacking level design. Not trying to complain but...

Edited by Dabnikz

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What defines "contemporary?" What does that even mean in this context?

Mega Man 9 and 10 say, "hi."

Maybe 'contemporary' wasn't the best word to use then, but my point still stands - Sonic Team could have used a completely modified engine for Sonic 2, 3 and Knuckles from Sonic 1 (and, it could even be argued, a completely different one perhaps - like the totally different one in Sonic 4) and it wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference. The comparison with Mega Man isn't really appropriate. The classic Mega Man games not only used the exact same engine, each entry followed the exact same level structure, graphical presentation, audio direction and even screen design in some parts. Unless you were a fan or really paying attention, you wouldn't be able to tell Mega Man 9 from 10, let alone Mega Man 10 from 2.

Sonic, on the other hand, has always had changes to its graphical presentation, musical direction, level design, and - most importantly to your argument - use of engine. Your argument assumes that Sonic 4 should look, act, feel and play like Sonic 3&K/Sonic 2/Sonic 1, when in fact none of those games play exactly like each other at all. And the fact that the engine has remained constant is merely a convenience - there's no benefit to maintaining the exact same engine, because it's use has never been constant. Meaning the use of a constant engine in and of itself is useless. Do you see what I'm getting at? It's an argument that purists are using because Sonic Team aren't coding the game they way they want it to, regardless of the fact that it plays exactly as it should - like a 'Sonic 4'.

Yes, I'm a hobbyist, but I don't simply pull apart ROMs. You know that, Svend. I'm all about creating a new experience while maintaining the one thing that was never broken. Most ROM hackers/fangamers are all about that. This news (and the way it was first posted) further motivates me to prove that sentiment with something that you can physically experience. What you meant to say was, "I'm not a coder" (in reference to yourself).

Maybe I was a bit too basic in that paragraph - I know some guys like you hard-code your own replication Sonic engines. But that research has to come from somewhere. That fan-made physics guide had to have come from somewhere. Investigating ROMs and understanding the code is what the Retro side of the fanbase does.

But hobbyist coders are hobbyists, not coders. The distinction is that, more than the science of creating and developing their own engines and worlds, many are simply enthralled with the idea of replicating a 2D Sonic game, or crafting a Sonic-inspired 3D game. Maybe I'm wrong, and sure there are some exceptions to that rule, but if I've made a sweeping generalisation feel free to correct me.

Most importantly though, I must have seen a hundred (unfinished) fangames that have tried (with varying success) to exactly replicate the classic Sonic engine from the ground up. You know what? Some of them are spot on, they're great engines. But inexplicably, they still don't feel like Sonic games. They feel like very, very good imitations. Because as I said, it's not just the engine - and in terms of gameplay and the average classic fan (they don't all live on Retro, believe it or not) the lack of an engine isn't even an issue.

It's the whole package, and the end result that I (and I imagine many others) care about, not what Sonic Team or Dimps actually did to get there. Sure, I acknowledge there is a very vocal portion of the fanbase that cares about the way the game is coded, but I don't believe that portion represents the majority of (even classic) fans (many of whom don't really go on Sonic fansites in the first place - just ask a shitload of my friends for example). To say it's MD engine or bust just seems a bit overdramatic to me.

There are people who do understand it from a codebase level. The largest Sonic forum on the Internet is dedicated to it.

As much as I love Retro and want to have the babies of many people there... Understanding the codebase and understanding its application in the series' history are two different things.

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Each game in the Genesis trilogy was an evolution from the previous one and improved on everything with each passing installment. Sonic 4 feels like a step down from S3&K, and a major one at that - in every aspect. From the physics to the graphics to the music to the overall design and original material (or lack thereof) - this game is basically Sonic Pocket Adventure 2. Thinking about it that way, I feel like the game is a lot more tolerable, but either way, none the more appealing.

I mean, when Sonic Advance feels like a more suitable successor to the original games than this, that's just pathetic.

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Another thing from what Dio was saying (don't mean to attack you Diogenes, just happen to disagree) was the sideways spring. You can argue it's negligible, running left to touch a spring against going with the flow booster to booster. Here's the thing though, in Sonic 4 even that is automated. Tap of a homing takes you to any spring.

I think it's something I can't agree with Iizuka on. I'm going back to that new interview. He says things like this streamline the experience. This translates to my ears as - Sonic is so fast, you don't even need to stop - maybe that's cool or a minute or two. But I want to fall down and get hit by Badniks. Don't people like to be good at games anymore?

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'Evolution' is relative, though. I could argue that Sonic 2 is worse than Sonic 1, particularly if we're talking about level design and physics. Sonic 2 is simply bigger, without the curvature physics and with a 'physics-breaking' spindash move. Sonic 3 & Knuckles is simply bigger still, but the levels are arguably even more 'standard platformer' fare.

Doesn't stop Sonic 2 and S3&K from being absolutely astonishing games, mind you, but I'm just saying when you nitpick far enough, every game in the series is a 'devolution.' Sonic 4 doesn't feel any more alien to me than Sonic 2 does, really. Maybe the 'sprites' are a little bigger and the aforementioned dash pads is a bit much, but otherwise I don't see the complaint really. Is it that it looks too much like Sonic 1? Is it that Sonic uncurls when coming out of a ramp, or that the homing attack exists? I don't know, but I'm sure if I was running a franchise that had been ridiculed for a decade and tried to bring it back to its heady, well-received days, I'd want to take it slow and do an episodic package myself.

The interesting thing will be whether Sonic 4 will be judged by the fanbase by the sum of its parts (read: all Episodes in one as intended) or on the back of each individual standalone title. Interesting, because if you asked people which half of Sonic 3 & Knuckles they thought was better, you'd get some rather fun answers.

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I don't want to sound like a sissy boy or anything, but this news has struck me on an emotional level.

Playing sonic and knuckles and looking at sonic 4... wow man. Who the fuck are these people who made the game for god sakes?

I hope to god that minor fixes means releasing the directional button won't put you in an instant halt anymore. Also the whole standing on vertical walls thing.

Because if so, this game will not only have bad physics as a sequal to the genesis games, but will have bad physics period.

Edited by Jaouad

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Not quite sure what you're getting at here Dreadknux, but I've always preferred Sonic 3 to Sonic and Knuckles. Just my two cents on that regard.

Furthermore...Sonic 4 feels like a devolution because of little things that always remained consistent before. Sonic was never able to stand on such ridiculous angles before. You don't have to be a rom-molester to know that. Sonic games never made it easy for you to kill things. You don't have to be a classic-scrutinizer to know that. And Sonic games never ever made it easy for you to get from point a to point b like the excess of dash panels are doing in every level so far. This is why people are able to say things like "Sonic 4 is a devolution". Yes, there may have been changes between Sonic 1 and 2 and 3, but things have remained consistent as well. Sonic 4 seems to be shooting for left field.

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From RubyEclipse at the SEGA Forums:

We try to cater to you guys because we care about you, and your opinions. The game might sell well regardless, sure, but that's no excuse to put out something sub-par or to do anything less than the best we can. That's my feel on the subject, anyway.

Your first paragraph is not entirely accurate, by the way. There were a number of us here that actually had many thoughts similar to what you guys would later confirm, and the mix of those opinions coming together was what truly helped make it happen.

http://forums.sega.com/showpost.php?p=6185360&postcount=19

Looks like he and others did have the same concerns, but the game didn't get delayed until the fan base spoke out with them.

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