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TGC's Sonic Retrospectives Adventure 2, Heroes, and '06 inbound!

#46 User is offline E-122-Psi 

Posted 23 December 2018 - 05:31 PM

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I think a problem is that all these gimmicks tended to slowly end up distracting from the actual mechanics and physics of the game.

I could in fact argue this started at SA1, because while it was more loyal to the classic premise, it still had an overemphasis on gimmicks, with a lot of the actual levels and obstacles being extremely underdeveloped.

Tails is a good example of this. Most of his levels are just truncated versions of Sonic's, and his gimmick of flying is mainly a means to 'break' the level and hover over it, making the mission more generic. This is exacerbated by the fact that the game mostly motivates Tails to access short cuts, but rather than being in the form of developed paths only he can reach, they're generic rows of boost rings. His CPU gimmick is also perhaps the most blatant case of one that is driven to distract the player from focusing too long on the level and just trying to win as quickly and frantically as possible, which also cuts down on what made Tails' gameplay interesting in the earlier games; exploration. Even in the Adventure Fields he's not really given a lot to exploit.

Big is probably also infamous for this, but maybe not for the same reason people think he is. Sure his fishing is unfitting to some degree, but as Josh points out, once you figure it out, you can get it done with in a matter of minutes. However his whole game is reliant on the staying power of that gimmick, the levels themselves are usually barren and Big himself lacks many real abilities that exploit platforming. Even the fishing itself is the same each time, just with bigger fish (an omen to later games fake difficulty 'the same but more'). Some levels hint that initially his levels were going to be more developed, short little puzzle based routes with the fishing challenge a short gimmick at the end like Gamma's bosses though this is barely existent in the original.

Amy, Gamma and Knuckles to some degree do a better job in terms of balance, having developed enough level design and missions with their abilities rounded enough to play on their objectives and give the player momentum and speed as they master them without making the whole game a farce like Tails'. The general issue with them is the same deal, it's over before it's really started. They tend to each have at least one level that really shows their gameplay at its tops and that's where I feel they could have been as good as Sonic.

Gamma for example has a time limit, but it's fair and mastering the lock on ability allows you to expand it, the level design is well made for the most part but also usually ridiculously short, and while the bosses are momentum based and don't drag on, they don't really put up any offence to still make them challenging (compare to say the 2D games where the bosses can be destroyed equally quickly but you have to be skilled about to do so). Hot Shelter is by far the most developed Gamma level with a lengthy span that's full of unique layout and obstacles and challenges the time more if you're not careful enough and a boss that's quick in nature but at least forces a bit of a fight out of you.

For SA2 the other gameplays go downhill because while they're maybe longer in length, they also detract from the things that connected them to Sonic's gameplay. And while SA1's over simplicity at least still made the game quick and momentum based, SA2 onwards relies more and more on fake difficulty and forcing you to run through the same superfluous hoops over and over. Josh already pointed out the basic blandness of the mech levels or the obtuse and monotonous puzzles of the treasure hunting ones (combined with the botched radar forcing linearity and more fake length).

Next Gen exacerbates the problem ensuing here, that every new gimmick and characters feels less to complement and give a new take on the Sonic gameplay but more as a distraction from how undeveloped it is.
This post has been edited by E-122-Psi: 23 December 2018 - 05:40 PM

#47 User is offline UpCDownCLeftCRightC 

Posted 23 December 2018 - 06:55 PM

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Yeah sorry, didnt mean to derail too much. Thought it might be appropriate given that TGC has been reviewing these titles recently (and in this thread).

#48 User is offline Frostav 

Posted 24 December 2018 - 03:48 PM

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That last bit of the 06 video really hits hard.

There is an entire generation of gamers who think Sonic is some shitty series that never had a good game and only survived off its 90's marketing push and is only beloved these days by kids with no taste and weird furries on deviantart. Who don't realize that Sonic is, like, the ONLY "Mario killer" that actually went up against Nintendo's plumber and not merely survived but thrived. I've seen people call SEGA itself some shitty company that was never good, like its massive arcade legacy just doesn't exist to them. I've seen people laugh when you call Sonic one of the most iconic gaming characters ever, even though that really isn't up for debate in the slightest. I've seen people call Sonic's original design--not his 3D one, his fucking 2D one--a shitty weird furry design and not, ya know, one of the most iconic character designs that's been praised by many people in the animation/art industry.

I don't think the brand will ever actually recover from 06. Someone earlier in the thread said "he just need a 90-100 game on Metacritic" but I don't think even a literally perfect 3D game could garner above an 85 or so on MC. Sonic is just too weird compared to Mario-style platforming that every other platformer uses as its basic DNA. In the 90's, video games were still a new and experimental medium so Sonic's focus on physics and momentum was acceptable. Nowadays even Mania can't garner above a 90 because Sonic is just too weird for a generation of gamers and reviewers who grew up solely on Mario-based platformers.
This post has been edited by Frostav: 24 December 2018 - 03:51 PM

#49 User is offline High Fidelity 

Posted 25 December 2018 - 07:41 PM

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Just watched your 06 vid, really enjoyed it.

Good to see you gaining traction and hitting a groove after seeing your early stuff on here a few years back, your hard work is paying off so keep it up!

#50 User is offline Ravenfreak 

Posted 26 December 2018 - 02:20 PM

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The ending of your 06 video really got me. It's true, and it really made me realize why the younger gamers at my work laugh when I say I like Sonic. :\ They're 19, and were young kids when the game was released so they probably grew up never playing any Sonic game because of the infamous 06 and only heard that "Sonic is for furries, it's a bad franchise!!!11" by all those lets players on Youtube. I still thoroughly enjoy the games that I've played since 06 was released (aside from Rise of Lyric and Sonic 4 Episode 1). It makes me wish that I had a computer sooner to join the community. I was here when Sonic Unleashed came out, and was here to witness just how bad Sonic 4 and the Boom games were. But to be in the community back when the worst games in the franchise were only Sonic Jam, Sonic Blast and Labyrinth must have been something. I can't wait to see your Retrospect on Sonic 4 and the boom games in the future.

#51 User is offline Yash 

Posted 26 December 2018 - 03:04 PM

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View PostFrostav, on 24 December 2018 - 03:48 PM, said:

Nowadays even Mania can't garner above a 90 because Sonic is just too weird for a generation of gamers and reviewers who grew up solely on Mario-based platformers.

I'm glad Mania still reviewed fairly well, but yeah, if you went over on NeoGAF (RIP, not really) around when the game came out there were at least five threads asking "how do I play Sonic Mania?" from people who never or rarely played the Genesis games, and kept running into shit because they were just blindly gotta go fasting.

It's not really a problem of Sega's to fix because Sonic is unlike most other platformers, people just need to git gud to really enjoy it (or just accept that they're not going to be amazing at it on their first try).

Anecdotally I hung out with a couple friends a few months ago, one of them had Mania but asked if I could just play through it for him because well for one we were baked so he didn't want to concentrate too much on anything, but also just wanted to see what a Sonic game looked like when played by a competent player. Josh's story about a crowd gathering to watch him play SA2 at demo kiosks is pretty on the money.

#52 User is offline Josh 

Posted 26 December 2018 - 11:25 PM

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Yeah, part of the problem is that when it comes to scores, there seems to be a _maximum_ that some reviewers are willing to rate 2D platformers. As an example, I remember a review of the Switch port of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze that said something like: "The greatest 2D platformer of all time. 8.5/10."

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