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Let's criticise classic Sonic gameplay. Or criticize, if you prefer.

#1 User is offline Deef 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 03:35 AM

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I don't know of a topic like this. Well, outside ranty arguments between fanbases that is.

I love the classic Sonic games. I made this thread for the sake of learning more about the design choices that go into their gameplay. I used the word 'gameplay' instead of 'games' because there are things that can be criticised in one game but were addressed in another. Eg: Water levels. Though there's nothing wrong either with bringing attention to things that once were bad; it won't hurt the discussion.

So post something you think isn't good in the gameplay of the classic Sonics. You can be analytical if you want, or just have a vent and express yourself.
OR reply to the criticisms of others with agreement, or reasons for disagreement, or perhaps you agree with someone's observation but want to argue that it doesn't matter... etc.


I'll start with something:

The levels are huge and multi-pathed, but often everything looks the same. Think of Marble Garden or Oil Ocean or Carnival Night. It's often hard to label where you are without describing something like "more of the same stuff". It's not always the case; there are some very clear set pieces. For example, Flying Battery has you running inside and outside the ship, Angel Island is also quite good at providing distinct places throughout the zone (though it's certainly not in my favourite zones). Meanwhile, Hydrocity goes both ways. It flips between moving above and below water, but often it feels very samey to me at the same time. Emerald Hill and Green Hill on the other hand both provide recognisably different areas through their simplicity, mainly because their high and low paths are genuinely high = sky and low = underground. But these cases aren't the typical case.

It suggests that the 'ant colony' approach to level design is partly to blame; Mushroom Hill, Metropolis, or Chemical Plant being more good examples.




I'll end by reiterating that this is about poking holes and exploring problems for the fun of learning better ways to design things. It's not about getting defensive over someone bagging out something you like. As I said, I love the classic Sonics, but I also like to explore what's wrong with them in the interest of learning how to design something better.

#2 User is offline winterhell 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 04:44 AM

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I don't like that you can land consecutive hits on the bosses and kill them in 3 seconds. They are not too complicated, which in the case of S3&K's 26+ Bosses can be excused given the sheer number.

Knuckles fight is anti-climactic and I'd have loved more space to explore in Hidden Palace and Sky Sanctuary(on the Knuckles's path being only a flat ground).
Going up in Sandopolis Act 2 for an ultimate reward would have been amazing.
Loved the exploration added by Knuckles' climbing, it probably needed more.

So yeah, my criticism is with some of the levels not being big enough and the bosses being too easy/simple.

Also in Sonic 2 the spindash is not really necessary. While it is a great feature, the game feels very different and I have more satisfying experience not using it. Only in the zones of the latter games you'd really need to use it in oder to progress.
This post has been edited by winterhell: 19 July 2015 - 04:50 AM

#3 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 05:28 AM

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I felt that they never gave enough attention to Sonic's damage state, which remained identical in every game. I don't particularly like that Sonic is fully paralyzed after taking damage and is stuck in a fixed motion until contacting ground. By itself it's already more annoying than it needs to be, but when taking damage near an edge, it can result in some really frustrating falls or even a helpless death. I feel it could be improved by giving the player some directional influence, and one way I felt the Adventure games improved over the classics was by introducing a jump cancel to the damage state. It could only be performed after a moment of being stunned, and with good timing you can save yourself from a nasty fall or cheap death. I imagine they implemented this since the levels were often linear and surrounded by a bottomless pit which the player was at constant risk of falling into, but regardless of that, it's overall just a good mechanic to have in the games. It allows a punished player to earn their pace back, and good players don't have to be treated like beginners for an occasional accidental hit.
This post has been edited by Mr Lange: 19 July 2015 - 05:30 AM

#4 User is online DigitalDuck 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 06:57 AM

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The ring loss mechanic.

You're safe from most obstacles provided you have at least one ring, and it's incredibly easy to reclaim that ring once it's lost. This has the effect of making most enemies in the games... ignorable. Sonic 1, 2, and CD at least gave you a purpose for holding onto your rings, as you needed 50 to enter the special stage. In Sonic 3, you no longer even need to do that - the only benefit you get from holding more rings is more points, and the occasional extra life (the latter of which is completely unimportant in a game which throws lives at you like they're rings, and has a save system anyway).

The only real dangers are being crushed, drowning, and falling into bottomless pits. It's probably why S3K introduced a lot more crushing objects into the game, as well as more water-filled areas.

#5 User is online Dark Sonic 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 10:14 AM

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Any "unbeatable" enemies, such as those bombs in Sonic 1 or Orbinauts up until Sonic 3 when you could kill them with the instashield. They're basically just moving spikes, which isn't really fair, especially when they're put in places where you have little choice but to run into them (Starlight zone I'm looking at you). Somewhat related to that I always thought the camera was a little too close to Sonic. While it's not a problem for me anymore since I know those games like the back of my hand, when I was a kid it was very easy to be blindsided by something that you never saw coming. The classic Mario games for example give you ample room to view upcoming obstacles, where as Sonic, a game which has the gimmick of fast, has a smaller screen which results in pain sometimes. It would be better if the main series took the Sonic CD camera that showed more of what was coming ahead rather than what was behind you.

I've never really had an issue with Sonic's health system. Makes it a little easy maybe, but it's unique. Besides in a way it's pretty similar to the standard platformer health system. If you were to not collect your rings, you get one hit and then your dead, or 2 hits if you have a shield. Not too different from Mario's power up to normal to small to dead system.
This post has been edited by Dark Sonic: 19 July 2015 - 10:18 AM

#6 User is online DigitalDuck 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 12:01 PM

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View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 10:14 AM, said:

I've never really had an issue with Sonic's health system. Makes it a little easy maybe, but it's unique. Besides in a way it's pretty similar to the standard platformer health system. If you were to not collect your rings, you get one hit and then your dead, or 2 hits if you have a shield. Not too different from Mario's power up to normal to small to dead system.


Except that when Mario gets hit, the mushroom he previously had doesn't pop out of him, ready to be re-collected infinitely.

#7 User is offline Covarr 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 12:10 PM

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View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 12:01 PM, said:

View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 10:14 AM, said:

I've never really had an issue with Sonic's health system. Makes it a little easy maybe, but it's unique. Besides in a way it's pretty similar to the standard platformer health system. If you were to not collect your rings, you get one hit and then your dead, or 2 hits if you have a shield. Not too different from Mario's power up to normal to small to dead system.


Except that when Mario gets hit, the mushroom he previously had doesn't pop out of him, ready to be re-collected infinitely.

Not yet, anyway. I'd love to see a hack or fangame that does this, though.

#8 User is online Dark Sonic 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 12:54 PM

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View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 12:01 PM, said:

View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 10:14 AM, said:

I've never really had an issue with Sonic's health system. Makes it a little easy maybe, but it's unique. Besides in a way it's pretty similar to the standard platformer health system. If you were to not collect your rings, you get one hit and then your dead, or 2 hits if you have a shield. Not too different from Mario's power up to normal to small to dead system.


Except that when Mario gets hit, the mushroom he previously had doesn't pop out of him, ready to be re-collected infinitely.

No but it's not like they're rare or anything.

#9 User is online DigitalDuck 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 01:14 PM

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View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 12:54 PM, said:

No but it's not like they're rare or anything.


Yeah, there's maybe five, six in a level? How many rings are there in one Sonic level?

Look, I don't get what the stick is. The point of this topic is to criticise aspects of classic Sonic's gameplay. I did that. I don't like this aspect of classic Sonic's gameplay.

Why the fuck am I being put on the spot for that?

Fucking hell.

#10 User is offline synchronizer 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 01:17 PM

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I liked the way Unleashed handled it. (Halving total rings every hit.) Obstacles started becoming threats if you kept getting hit. The system could become even stricter and it would work.
This post has been edited by synchronizer: 19 July 2015 - 01:17 PM

#11 User is online Dark Sonic 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:07 PM

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View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 01:14 PM, said:

View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 12:54 PM, said:

No but it's not like they're rare or anything.


Yeah, there's maybe five, six in a level? How many rings are there in one Sonic level?

Look, I don't get what the stick is. The point of this topic is to criticise aspects of classic Sonic's gameplay. I did that. I don't like this aspect of classic Sonic's gameplay.

Why the fuck am I being put on the spot for that?

Fucking hell.

You are correct, didn't mean to go off the rails or anything, I was just offering my opinion. Sorry if it seemed like I was attacking you that was not my intent. The whole ring life thing is for many a point of criticism in Sonic games

#12 User is online DigitalDuck 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:59 PM

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No, it's my fault. I overreacted.

It was mainly the "if you don't pick up rings it's like Mario" comment, which could be said about any criticism so far (if you don't use the spindash, it's like it's not there!) which may improve the feel of the game but doesn't stop it from being a personal criticism regardless.

Anyway, let's park this and go back to the topic.


I don't like how similar the different characters play in S3K.

Sonic is supposed to be fast. That's great. Sonic is supposed to curl into a ball. That's great too.
Tails being fast? I guess he was trying to be like Sonic, that maybe makes sense. Tails rolling into a ball? No, now he's just Sonic.
Knuckles rolling into a ball? He's the antagonist, you'd expect him to have attacks; echidnas roll into balls too. Knuckles being fast? I thought he was supposed to be the powerful punchy one? Now he's just Sonic.

It makes the three characters feel a bit too much like clones. The only thing separating the characters are what happens when you press jump while already in the air, in all other aspects they're identical (well, Knuckles has a lower jump height, I guess).

One reason I love Sonic Advance is the inclusion of Amy; she actually plays differently. She's still fast like the others, but doesn't curl into a ball, requiring a second button to attack.

I'm not going to claim I prefer it this way to Sonic's usual attack method; but as an alternate character, I welcome the change. I think making Knuckles slower would've helped round everything out completely.

#13 User is offline Crappy Blue Luigi 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 03:17 PM

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View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 02:59 PM, said:

Knuckles rolling into a ball? He's the antagonist, you'd expect him to have attacks; echidnas roll into balls too. Knuckles being fast? I thought he was supposed to be the powerful punchy one? Now he's just Sonic.

I think making Knuckles slower would've helped round everything out completely.


this is a pretty good point, though I wonder how slowing him down would affect sonic 3's gameplay. if it's a noticeable difference, then the game might feel significantly more slow-paced; not sure how much that matters.

on this subject, it does bug me a bit that knuckles has the same "wheel o' feet" run as sonic. that sort of thing definitely goes a long way to making sonic feel unnecessary as a character. if they'd just given him a different animation, I bet he'd feel a lot more like his own thing, even if they'd kept the rolling and spin jump.

#14 User is online steveswede 

Posted 19 July 2015 - 03:59 PM

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Is there a hack where all the rings and ring monitors have been removed? If not it could be a neat hack to make and a cool challenge for us veterans. Probably could do with some well placed extra shields on the main paths to make the difficulty of the levels more balanced.



Man playing Scrap Brain Zone without rings would be mental.

#15 User is offline Deef 

Posted 20 July 2015 - 06:48 AM

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Don't forget to comment with disagreements too if anyone has any. It's a good way to explore ways to think about things.
So I'm gonna do some of that now. :)

View Postwinterhell, on 19 July 2015 - 04:44 AM, said:

I don't like that you can land consecutive hits on the bosses and kill them in 3 seconds.
Really? I mean, sure when it's a walkover in 3 seconds that's a bit of a doddle, but actually having bosses that don't patronise the player with stupid wait-for-the-invulnerability sequences is a huge plus in my book. Hmm, though on second thought, perhaps you're referring to exactly what you said - consecutive hits. Those times when you drop on top of the boss and just camp there for a bit. Mmm, ok. So something like Angel Island Act 1, I see what you're saying. But something like Mushroom Hill Act 1, I think that's still good. But honestly I think I found it enjoyable if I could dispatch a boss quickly with that bouncing business... I don't think there were too many like this.

View PostMr Lange, on 19 July 2015 - 05:28 AM, said:

I felt that they never gave enough attention to Sonic's damage state.
I never noticed it bothering me but I can't say I disagree. I found it amusing in Sandopolis, where if you get knocked into a sandfall you get stuck in it, slowing riding it down and trapped in your invulnerable state with no control until you touch the ground.

View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 06:57 AM, said:

The ring loss mechanic.
Yeah, rings have issues. The tricky part I find is that they're part of the games' freedom too. I drop rings like it's the in thing to do, but the infinity business is certainly cheap. Honestly the forgiving nature of rings probably also allowed the developers to get a bit sloppy about allowing dick moves. I definitely like how rings work fundamentally; that uniqueness someone mentioned, and chasing them can be fun. In fact I'd happily see more thought go into how that works - the chasing part. Being a classic fan, I find the Sonic Unleased style, or anything else, sacrilege. XD

View PostDark Sonic, on 19 July 2015 - 10:14 AM, said:

It was very easy to be blindsided by something that you never saw coming. The classic Mario games for example give you ample room to view upcoming obstacles.
Totally a thing. Invincible enemies don't strike me as a design problem by default; it could just be an intelligent fireball with the same effect. But the lack of warning issue I agree with. Mario games make a point out of preventing dick moves. Sonic games' design remember to avoid them... usually.

View PostDigitalDuck, on 19 July 2015 - 02:59 PM, said:

I don't like how similar the different characters play in S3K.
This is something I actually like. In fact, I don't like how Knuckles' jump is lower; it pretty much ruins playing him for me. I agree with the notion though, but I have a Ryu vs Ken attitude about it. I'm all for small differences that don't stick out too much, so you can kind of develop a preference as opposed to choosing which clear advantage to go with.

For example; in Sonic 3 split-screen, Sonic runs a tiny bit faster than Knuckles, while Knuckles has insanely strong deceleration. Works well imo. But Tails has a significantly higher jump, and since we notice jumping all the time, I think that's too big a change, while his slow running basically makes him unusable. These characteristic make sense, but they also make the character less enjoyable for me.

In Sonic Classic Heroes, Sonic runs a little bit faster than the other 2. It's small, but you can definitely feel it, and it tears at me heh. It's so easy to get used to Sonic then play one of the others and feel a bit disappointed.

Amy though, I agree. I guess I'm fine with her being so different because it's just Amy. XD


Does anyone agree/disagree with the criticism in the opening post?
This post has been edited by Deef: 20 July 2015 - 06:53 AM

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