First, lemme just say that comments like "blegh, it should only be Sonic. screw everyone else" are completely worthless silencer arguments here and deeply discouraged. We're here to discuss possibilities and encourage innovation, not to shut up anyone who has a different idea. This thread is something of a continuation of the thread I posted yesterday http://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?showtopic=30048 and since then, we've established that Sega and Sonic Team are utterly incompetent when it comes to developing this sort of thing without it crashing down disastrously. In that case, please don't take these threads TOO seriously. Just forget about whatever Sonic team seems unable to do and let yourselves harmlessly wonder what could've been in the hands of other developers in some alternate reality or whatever. Lastly, I want to make clear that I don't play Sonic games for plot. Gameplay mechanics and level design matter to me more than story elements, but I still felt like talking about such things anyway. Anyway, moving on... I think the ability to play as other characters was handled the best in SA1. Sure, it was a pain to have to beat the campaigns of all six characters before being able to fight the true final boss, Perfect Chaos, but if someone really can't be compelled to go that far, they could just settle for playing through Sonic's story alone, with the Egg Viper sufficing as a final boss. And even then, the campaigns featuring the other characters were MUCH shorter than Sonic's story. Sonic himself visits almost every single stage, and the other characters range from 3 to 5. It isn't nearly as much of a hassle as some people make it out to be. Still, SA2, in my opinion, has a VASTLY superior storyline. SA1's storyline was fine, but it mainly centers around things introduced in S3K, making it.... Sonic The Hedgehog 5, I guess. As its own thing, SA2 had a great plot, despite having many elements that I'd usually consider wholly inappropriate for a Sonic game. It did have problems, though. Unlike in SA1, there was no option to JUST play as Sonic or Shadow. The story frequently cut to other characters, which really doesn't bother me much, but it is easily where a lot of people's disdain for Sonic's friends stems from. If they have to play as other characters somewhere down the line, they don't want to be abruptly cockblocked from playing as Sonic because it's totally intrusive. There's another problem, though. The story HAS to play out this way. In fact, it must be taken further. See, the plot of SA2 doesn't really shine as much as it could when playing through each half of the game separately. They work best when merged, and the entire game plays out in unaltered, chronological order. To see what I'm really getting at, check out this guy's LP of SA2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2dz-Qm5KCY This made me see SA2 in a whole new way. Nothing was jarring or out of place, nothing was confusing or incomplete or sporadic as they sometimes were with the campaigns being separate. This way, SA2's plot plays out with a great pace and feels like a really cool movie at times. Considering how many elements are in this story and the world its in that I think are wholly inappropriate for a Sonic game and may usually put me off (the presence of humans, somewhat more realistic settings stuff like that), just that it holds up DESPITE that is amazing. This gave me an idea. I believe I may have figured out a good way for the plot of a new Sonic game to play out with the use of other characters while keeping it all optional for those who really just can't be invested in it, while being easily accessible to those who can. The videogame adaption of Lord of the Rings- Return of the King had an INGENIOUS stage select system. It was basically a tree that started at the very bottom, split apart to follow the sub plots of different characters as they progress along other "branches" of the tree, and eventually, they all re-converged at the final boss. Think of it like SA2's stage select map, except instead of progressing from left to right, we're moving UP. Something like this may work really well for a Sonic game. Let's imagine Sonic being the core of the story, basically being the "trunk" of this plot tree. All the other characters (perhaps Tails, Knuckles and Amy being on one side, and Shadow, Rouge and Omega being on the other) could be the branches that diverge from this. Let's say you beat a coupla' levels as Sonic and suddenly, a new path has opened up. Now, you can either choose to progress to Sonic's next stage, OR play a stage in Tails' campaign to mix things up! The further you progress along the core storyline, the more options you have and the opportunity to flesh out the story through the actions of supporting characters becomes easier than ever. Sonic himself could have, like, fifteen stages in his campaign, with each of the other characters having three or four in their comparatively shorter stories. However, upon beating a stage as these characters, they become playable in other stages if you want to replay these stages as them without the context of the story getting in the way, with various branching paths made just for them, allowing them to reach things that other characters may not be able to. They could each have their own boss fight, maybe with Sonic having a few more. Perhaps some characters could even find level up items a la the Adventure games but find themselves unable to use a few of these items. However, maybe another character CAN! Something like this would ENCOURAGE the player to play as the other characters from time to time for the sake of making them all stronger! If there was a Chao garden that all the characters shared, like in SA2, they could each find Chao eggs that other characters wouldn't be able to reach! They could each have their own story that is mostly independent from Sonic's story, while learning about things that he never gets the chance to on his own. They could uncover new layers of Eggman's schemes, letting the player learn intriguing things about the going ons of this world that they would never know if they ONLY played as Sonic. Also, having exactly seven characters could present an oh so convenient way for them each to acquire a chaos emerald and then all of them could meet up at the end of the game. I prefer getting the emeralds via special stages if possible, but if you find the emeralds through the story mode, this may be the way to do it. The end result may be a final encounter that is only made available if the player plays the ENTIRE game, but Sonic himself could have a satisfying encounter with Robotnik to cap off his own character driven story, with the TRUE final boss only having relevance if the player did go out of their way to learn about this part of the story, otherwise its presence may not make sense. Instead of depriving the player of something, it would just reward them for going the extra mile. Maybe, as a bonus, even a character like Metal Sonic or Mecha Sonic could be made a special unlockable upon beating the game, able to play in everyone's stages and possessing certain abilities from all of them, making a well rounded, all-purpose gameplay style that would make him the ultimate prize for beating the game 100%! Overall, I think it would be best for Sonic, Shadow and so on to play similarly to how they do in the Adventure games, but with some tweaks. Sonic rolls, Shadow uses his crazy chaos powers to obliterate the opposition, Tails flies like in SA1, Knuckles punches, Rouge kicks, Amy... well, maybe she could run a little faster. Last but not least, I'd like to see Omega play like a faster paced version of Ratchet and Clank, tearing through Eggman's other robots with a shitload of crazy firearms and zooming around like in Heroes. Perhaps some other time I'll make a thread that goes into greater depth about how these other characters could play, but for now, whatcha' guys think of this idea? I think something like this could easily make it possible to play as other characters without them stealing the spotlight against the player's will or becoming intrusive, instead being something they'd have to welcome, which some, like myself would!