Adventure 2's Sonic levels really feel like the precursor to the Boost games

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Mana, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. Mana

    Mana

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    I didn't realize it until this most recent time I decided to replay through the levels. This game has all the makings of what make the Boost games what they are without the boost button.

    The one word I most associate with the boost games is "rhythm" as in if you understand the level and the way it wants you to move you can keep going without ever slowing down. This is a good and bad thing and achieving the best path feels fun the loss of exploration does hurt. Adventure 1 is the only 3D Sonic I can think of with a focus more of exploration and careful platforming over just speed, and yes, this includes Adventure 2 as this topic is saying.

    Adventure 2 hides that it's a rhythm game or at least isn't as bad with this as it rewards exploration during early playthroughs, with many of the upgrades unlocked behind backtracking and clever use of moves you unlock in later levels. However when everything is unlocked the game offers up a clear "best path" that can be taken in any level and you can keep speed and momentum the entire time without slowing down except to beat an enemy or quick puzzle or two.

    I didn't realize this until I played with Metal Harbor today. I decided to take every short cut I knew in the level (and there's several) and I realized I didn't really stop even once and the levels moved so breezily. Even the summersault parts seamlessly move into the next portion if you go exactly where the game wants you to as it puts you directly under the lift. This helped me FINALLY clear the last part of the level where you can take the higher level of the rocket ship to get an A rank. I understood the rhythm of the stage and how it moved and it allowed me to move from speed ramp to speed ramp then homing attack, light dash, and bounce my way to the higher path. I understood the rhythm of the stage and I was able to achieve victory.

    I always understood that Adventure 2's stages were more linear, I just didn't understand what they were trying to achieve. Honestly rushing through the stages using the upgrades smartly to get faster times feels satisfying and it's making replaying the levels and again and again a big joy. I feel like implementing something that this in later Sonic games, even boost if they can, will go a long way. Gives the game two distinct and fun ways to be played and both have a lot of merit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
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  2. Josh

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    Yep! I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the line drawn directly from SA2's focus on linear high-speed action stages to the more modern games. That's exactly what I'd always loved about Unleashed and Generations, actually. As much as I loved it at the time, in retrospect, SA2 feels like a bit of an evolutionary half-step to me; It makes a lot of sense for a 3D game to be more focused on speed and spectacle, but despite the level design pushing hard in that direction, SA2's was still built around a lot of the conventions of SA1. (Most notably, incredibly simple controls, which worked wonders in the Genesis games, but got clunky in a 3D game with so many more mechanics. If you've ever Bounce Braceleted into a pit you're trying to light-dash over, you know what I'm talking about.)

    I see Unleashed as a modernization of SA2's speed stage gameplay, with Colors showing it was flexible enough to work with more traditional level design (especially if you ignore the gimmick acts), and Generations further polishing the formula. Then, of course, Sonic Team lost the thread again, but for a good few years there, I _really_ thought they'd figured it out, haha. There's still a reason this "spectacle platformer" approach has largely stuck around for 20 years. It's not the ONLY way Sonic can work in 3D. (I'd still love to see something more akin to a modernized SRB2.) But it is the one that's gotten the most refinement.
     
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  3. Frostav

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    I don't really see it. SA2's levels were much more "straight hallway" than SA1's (they actually aren't terribly that much more linear, SA1's levels never have the same kind of multi-route design of the classics, not even that prototype Windy Valley), but there was a certain concession to slower-paced platforming that Boost Sonic never really had. I have been playing a lot of Final Rush for the flying animals and the section in the middle where you ascend constantly on those vertical rails aren't really like anything in Boost Sonic, who would feel horribly clunky in such a section.
     
  4. Mana

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    So in the level you just mentioned that gimmick can be used to just fly over large portions of the stage.

    Heck using it in that way is REQUIRED to get Shadows final upgrade in final chase and that level is more obvious about using them to avoid dealing with the actual level.

    It doesn't mean it has to play exactly alike. They're still very similar.
     
  5. I can sort of see it given Adventure 2's greater focus on linearity; it kind of feels like a half-step like Josh said. One of it's gameplay is still a holdover from SA1, but the other part would probably become the basis for later games. It is noticeable because every subsequent game would take cues from SA2's level design rather than SA1's; more focus on linearity and a trick system versus explorative platforming.
     
  6. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    That section gives me anxiety to this day, im afraid a wrong input will kill me (the "map light speed to y" mod somewhat helps with this)
     
  7. Myles_Zadok

    Myles_Zadok

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    Well, according to Wikipedia, (the relevant reference going to this interview), Sonic Unleashed was originally going to be Sonic Adventure 3 and iterate on Sonic's gameplay from Sonic Adventure 2. So if that's true, it isn't really any wonder that the boost gameplay would feel that way, because that is exactly how it was designed to feel.
     
  8. Mana

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    I feel like Adventure 2 did the boost idea of "constant movement" better than boost because you have to EARN the ability to run through the stages non stop by exploring every nook and cranny of them to get the upgrades as well as learn the best short cuts. The fact that you have full control over Sonic's movement and when and where he moves is satisfying too rather than being forced to run and run and run and run.

    This game showed me how satisfying that gameplay style can really feel but even more so when you have to earn the right to play it this way.
     
  9. Blue Spikeball

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    Can't say I see where you're coming from here. Even without upgrades, you're still running non-stop in the Sonic/Shadow levels in SA2. Well, except for a few more puzzle-oriented sections, like those parts in Pyramid Cave where you have to carry a key to open a door (which were unskippable even with upgrades IIRC). The boost games had alternate paths and shortcuts too (moreso than SA2, I'd say), and you had to earn your non-stop running by dodging obstacles.
     
  10. Mana

    Mana

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    I don't think I quoted you but anyways.

    Yes, you are running non stop because Sonic doesn't walk but the levels reward you for exploring at your own pace by having upgrades and hidden upgrades through the levels. There are very few moments in the boost game where you stop completely and even less when you're expected to or rewarded for exploring. Forces even cut the middle man and made most of the stages very linear. Even those "puzzle" parts in Adventure 2 didn't slow you down much, you just go the direction the stage wants you instead of forward and pick up and drop the piece. You still have to slow down very little to accomplish it, especially when you know what you're doing.

    By the way I said IT WAS MORE SATISFYING IN ADVENTURE 2 BECAUSE IN THE END IT WAS EARNED WHILE IN BOOST YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO JUST RUSH THROUGH THE STAGE IN THE FIRST PLAYTHROUGH. But yeah, sorry for the misunderstanding.
     
  11. Josh

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    See, that's kinda funny, because I remember a major fandom criticism around the time of SA2's release went something like, "These stages mostly feel like linear rollercoasters suspended over bottomless pits. You don't EARN speed anymore, you just hold forward and get flung up to max speed by boost pads." That was never a criticism I agreed with, but I do see where the sentiment comes from. Ever since Sonic 2 introduced the Spin Dash, the evolutionary trend has generally been toward MORE SPEED, which you get MORE EASILY. But I think that's largely why I prefer the boost games to SA2; they feel more like they're designed around that speed, giving the player more interesting things to do and choices to make. But that's just me! I never played Sonic games to explore the stages or solve puzzles, I played them because I enjoyed blazing through the stages faster and faster as I got better at them. But I get why different players might prefer different approaches!
     
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  12. Blue Spikeball

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    The boost games reward you for exploring too, with red star rings, medals and collectibles. Granted, some of them are just lying there in the path, but you're still required to replay the levels and go through their alternate and secret paths to get them all, which is exploration in itself.

    I know you said you had to earn the ability to run non-stop through the levels by finding upgrades, but that's one of the parts I didn't get. Other than the Light Shoes (which are mandatory for clearing the story), none of the upgrades are that useful for running as far as I recall. I can see why you'd find it rewarding to collect the upgrades, but most of them have little to do with with earning your right to go fast. If anything, I'd say it was the boost games that had you upgrade your ability to speed through the levels. Unleashed had you level up your speed and boost with experience points, and Generations had you unlock skills (by collecting red star rings) and buy them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  13. You have more overall control over Sonic/Shadow in Adventure 2, but the level design pretty much means that there's really not much to do with said control beyond just move forward. So yea, you do "earn" your speed technically, but it's like...in the simplest way possible. Slow platforming is just as garbage in SA2 as it was in Unleashed because the levels and controls just aren't designed for it. Show of hands, how many times has someone died by cause they either mistimed a homing attack chain, or bounce attacked/air boosted into a bottomless pit when they tried to use the Light Speed Dash?

    So with that said, Unleashed's controls are certainly worse, but that's a deliberate choice because the levels assumed that you are constantly moving anyway, and sure enough, the worst bits of level design from both games is when they slow down and actually for you to play more slowly with terrible controls.


    But yes, the focus of Sonic games was steadily moving towards going faster more easily, and keeping up the spectacle rather than taking advantage of the terrain for your speed. Which wasn't a terrible idea, but given that has basically been the focus of almost every 3D game to date. I can understand why people are burnt on it, but it kind of makes the reactions to Lost World kind of fascinating, because it's the first time the series really deviated from the design elements established in Sonic Adventure 2, and the results were overall met with a mixed reception.

    I do feel like the next game in the series will probably hybridize elements of both the Adventure and Boost as I can't really see them making an entirely new gameplay style like they did with Lost World again.
     
  14. Mana

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    In the same way that you claim none of those upgrades matter in Adventure 2 I got S rank in all of the Generations stages without having to use a single one of the upgrades. The Red Rings reward you through mainly non gameplay ways anyways like new music and artwork.

    If the boost games reward you too that's cool, the illusion of freedom that Adventure 2 has feels more satisfying because I'm moving Sonic where I want to when I want to and the game isn't telling me keep running because that's just how the engine works.

    I like the boost games btw, I just never realized how perfect Adventure 2 ran and functioned as one.
     
  15. Myles_Zadok

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    I think I have to agree there. I love Generations, but I think I prefer SA2's approach a bit more. In Generations, you're rewarded the highest rank for just getting through the stage as fast as possible. But in SA2, you're incentivized to perform all the tricks, hit all the enemies, and collect all the rings, because the goal is to make the run as cool as possible, not necessarily as fast as possible. The first time I re-played City Escape in SA2, I shaved 30 seconds off my initial time and thought I would get an A-rank for sure, but I only got a B-rank. Just getting a faster time won't cut it in SA2. You have to get the "stylish" points if you want an A-rank. And I think the better controls of SA2 reflect that. It's easier to stop and hit enemies or collect rings or whatever. SA2 is more about spectacle than pure speed, and I can appreciate that. I would be interested to see another game take an approach more like SA2 than the boost games, as I feel like a lot of the levels in SA2 have cheap enemy placement and too much rail grinding over bottomless pits. The boost stages in Generations are better designed overall in my opinion (except for Planet Wisp obviously).
     
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  16. BadBehavior

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    That's an understatement. Rather than losing the thread, Forces felt like Sonic Team saw the entire pile of yarn and was like "BURN! BURN TO THE GROUND!" like Flame Hyanard from Megaman X7. The other boost games, and even it's spiritual predecessor SA2 are so much better than it that it goes past comedy and into tragedy.
     
  17. Mana

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    Going to keep reminding everyone that Forces originally had much better level design but someone above the paygrade of the level designers and coders made them simplify it for whatever reason.
     
  18. Beltway

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    The beta level layouts in Forces are at least more difficult and more engaging than the final (where there's way too many "empty hallway" layouts going on for the 3D sections and the enemies there barely put up a challenge until the end) but I'd personally be hard-pressed to really say any of them are all that good. They don't compare to either the spectacle/setpieces or the challenges Unleashed and Generations offered and are still lacking of the puzzle platforming Colors offered, and Park Avenue/Sunset Heights aside (when they were originally one stage) the levels are still very short. And some layouts like Mortar Canyon go completely up their own ass on trying to be a final / "hard" level. If you can stomach the erratic and nonsensical level structure and the ridiculous spam of spikes and columns of dash panels, you're busy trudging through some seriously tiring do-or-die platforming sections that bring out the worst of Forces' controls.

    For a reply more on topic--yeah, pretty much. I've said it before that the Boost gameplay is inarguably the zenith of the design philosophy that Adventure 2 established. When people say Sonic Adventure 2 and the traditional 3D Sonic games that followed its ilk were less automated than the Boost games....I guess that's true, but not something I'd figure worth celebrating. I'd actually give Boost more credit as a playstyle than Adventure 2 and its ilk in that it's removed far enough from platforming in its gameplay focus and controls where it could be feasibly spun out of the platforming genre and exist as its own line of Sonic games, where it could co-exist with a traditional 3D platforming experience.

    As for Lost World-- I'd say that is less Sonic Team completely starting from scratch and more Sonic Team writing what could had been a completely fresh playstyle, only to then bake in enough of their old design philosophy into it that it's a wasted opportunity. To wit one example--for a game where the developers made so much emphasis on making Sonic slow down in comparison to the Boost entries, why are there still a truckload of dash panels, springs, and scripted events in virtually every stage to carry Sonic through entire sections of levels? Just look at this S-rank speedrun of what's supposed to be the first act of the fourth world alone.

     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
  19. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

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    I essentially agree with Mana, I already agreed in 2002. SA2 is the base for the design philosophy of further games and specially boost games, but the path taken could have been very different, again refining it instead of stripping it of everything decent it included. Of course there was already automation (how hard I tried to fight those automated loops), there were already booster pads, grinding rails over bottomless pits (I'd say if you're in space, you have to show the space, but well) and homing attack chains composed of harmless badnik fodder, but there was a sense of agency in getting it right and the thing you had to do changed constantly while still keeping with some sort of platforming feel and a requirement of skill. Yes, I still don't get why the default for untargeted homing attacks is launching yourself forward instead of nothing happening besides some sound effect, and bouncing is so unnecessary (besides a couple of times) the issue is not mapping both on the same button, but having more moves than you really need if that will hurt performance. Those issues can be corrected without changing the playstyle, and, as bad as Shadow's exclusive game may be, I was thankful it at least followed that base.

    A key word Mana used: Rhythm. I've felt a rhythm when playing classic games, and I felt one when playing SA2. It was a different kind of rhythm, but it was there and had great flow when mastered. The score system demanded you to perform well non-stop, to take a further step when you thought you had already mastered the level, but doing it felt rewarding (see the difference between "there are rewards" and "it feels rewarding") regardless of the score. I prefer my speed tested under platforming standards than under racing ones, and there's a lot of stuff in SA2 that is shit and should have been better done in further games, but there's no need for boosting to get that feel. And I agree the exploration part is highly debatable, but having the chance to choose how you play a level the first times, and having a learning curve where you may think everything went really good the first time you blazed through the level, yet you'll really have to do it perfect to get that A-rank, that's feeling you're in control and finding you can still be when the bar is raised. It's just something I've already said in this post and many people many times elsewhere: if something works, refine its weak points instead of abusing its strong points.

    Oh, and Lost World is not really that different, it's just being too many different things at the same time, both from different Sonic playstyles and non-Sonic playstyles.

    Last thing: how anyone can like that many action buttons at a time? I'm ok with adding as many as the game really needs, but adding actions and associated buttons for the sake of it is a case of more is less.
     
  20. Crasher

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    Generations' issue is that the ranks are far, far too lenient. I believe that's a common criticism everywhere.

    Unleashed's system was much more stricter (to it's detriment, imo), but it was essentially exactly what you wanted. You had to kill enemies, collect a ton of rings, up your score, AND be fast while doing it. Generations went too far in the opposite direction, while Unleashed was unnecessarily harsh.