Fundamental Flaws of Classic Sonic (Mania Spoilers)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Laura, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Sean Evans

    Sean Evans

    Professional Dork Member
    Sonic Overture, Sonic Utopia
    I think your definitions are askew. Challenge should indeed be in regards to how well players are capable of dealing with mechanics and game elements in varying situations that are clearly communicated to the player, however in most cases the best form of communication is to just have the player experiment with the game. Lest you wish to have tutorial screens pop up, or force the player to see certain things just so they have a full grasp on how stuff works. This is the thing with Sonic in comparison to other platformers. Rarely, if ever, should good Sonic levels dictate pacing. The game's all about flow and the player's ability to properly take advantage of their abilities to keep the momentum going, where a skilled player can blast through even a seemingly "sluggish" stage. If the game constantly tries to stop you and hold you back to get you to see this new mechanic that they need to teach you, it ends up feeling stilted and broken up. This is why the original games do clever and subtle things with their levels. Placing rocks in your path where an enemy or shifting platform might be coming up. Using a humble ramp to slow the player down just enough so that they can react to an oncoming obstacle without completely breaking the pace. Having a hill or slope encouraging the player to roll along them and take out some enemies near the bottom. The game does it's best to give players the heads up necessary to deal with oncoming hazards without being intrusive. In all fairness Mania doesn't do this as elegantly as the originals. There are a lot of times where they sort of stop you with a rock or platform so that you can see how a badnik or gimmick works, and there are cases where the game does an absolutely horrible job at conveying things to the player, mostly in some of it's boss fights. But the level design has an unprecedented sense of flow and consistency to it, and the enemy placement is quite honestly some of the least offensive I've seen in a Sonic game. The mechanics are all great and very easy to grasp. It's not perfect by any means, and I'd argue Sonic 3K does it a little better, but given this was their first shake at things, they did a pretty frickin' great job. I'd rather the game be a bit tough, but doable and fun, than overtly forgiving and bland.
  2. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    The thing is, I wouldn't say Sonic Mania is a hard game. The only genuinely challenging aspect of the game are the bosses, particularly Oil Ocean's ridiculous boss, the Titanic Monarch boss, but also Heavy Shinobi etc.

    What makes Sonic Mania seem difficult isn't that it's got hard challenges but that the fundamental flaws of Classic Sonic, as I've listed above, make the game frustrating. You can't react in time for a lot of the BS crushing hazards and the ceiling running, which may be intuitive for some, is very confusing for some people and it's frustrating to fall into a bottomless pit when you have no idea why you fell off the ceiling. These aspects of the game aren't hard, they don't make the player improve, they simply encourage trial and error memorisation. That's not difficulty.

    They are just two examples, but they are emphasised by Mania's level design. Especially the crushing. And when they are combined with an arbitrary limit on lives and no way to gain continues (unless you play No Save mode) these irritating design decisions are even worse.
  3. GHNeko


    sega stockholm syndrome Member
    Hybrid Souls Card Game
    Agree: Pixel Perfect deaths due to being misaligned ala TMZ cylinders (literally claims 1 left a playthrough for me. it doesnt help, I'm usually in super form.)

    Disagree: Perfectly normal crushing hazards no longer insta killing. I feel that's a fair obstacle since you don't really run into hazards that are intended to crush you without reasonable time to react.

    Disagree: Inverting controls when sonic is upside down. Following up what others said about his perspective, you're generally just going to have people on both sides of the fence. So just leave them as they are.

    Agree: Have the level geometry push you out in regards to pixel perfect crushing death nonsense.

    Disagree: Time overs are fine as they are. You can circumvent them with restarts and debug mode or you just just accept your lost life and continue from the check point.

    Agree: Would like to map super transformation to a seperate button while also allowing detransforms.
  4. XCubed


    Will Someday Own a Rent-A-Center Oldbie
    Curling while in the air, control of super transformations... More reasonable improvements as seen in Sonic Time Twisted. One thing that irked me is how the collision chafed for the Death Egg Robot in Green Hill. There are times when I've seen Sonic run through the feet without penalty, when in Sonic 2 the feet were off limits. I have trouble in many other games when it comes to the "how can I damage/what can hurt me" setup as its not as obvious as it used to be. Sonic 3 started the tradition of having other circumstantial objects be able to hurt bosses. While cleaver, the first few times can be extremely frustrating as this is not the expected mechanic until its too late or discovered by accident in some cases.
  5. The running on the ceiling thing did confuse me a lot for years! To me it does feel unintuitive to hold left while running right, but upon further consideration, the alternatives would be even worse, so I don't think there's anything to do about that.

    As for being crushed, yes, it can be pretty annoying sometimes, but you can't simply replace it for a loss of rings and call it a day. If a moving object (say, one of the big blue blocks in Casino Night) crushes Sonic into a corner, there's nowhere Sonic can go, there's no space for him to be while the block finishes its movement and bumps back. Having the block bump on Sonic instead of the wall could throw off the synchronization between different moving objects, and there'd be no easing of the movement as the block changed direction, so I really can't think of a way to make this work, visually.
  6. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Again, as a PC-only player I don't know if very bad things happen in Mania, but they don't happen really often in megadrive games to call them fundamental flaws, just occasional flaws or difficulty peaks. I might agree with the "no continues" thing if there wasn't a save feature, but that's like infinite continues, and seems like developers see it like me if they actually added continues in No Save mode.

    About the challenges Vs pointless frustration, I agree with definitions, but I don't see them really applied to an example, so I'll give you one or two: it's quite easy to get crushed in Metropolis zone because there are dedicated crushers, and also possible to get crushed at "rotating" block rows in that drowning pit in Chemical Plant, but it's also easy to see that practice will get you through. In the Sky Chase-like act from S4Ep2, instead, there were plenty of "obstacles" that granted me unfair deaths, and they happened once and again, not just once, so I felt I was playing a gambling game more than a platformer.

    I agree there's no fun every time a cheap death happens, and those things should be taken into account upon designing, but there's a difference between specific cases and funfamental flaws or bad designs. Cobalt Capital on Project Spikepig fangame was really hard, but I felt more cheap tricked by the buggy Metallic Madness-like sticky wheels that threw me to the spikes again and again than the actual sequences of conveyor belts, spikes and badniks on narrow corridors, because I could master those ones sooner or later and I saw those coming. I'm not saying Cobalt City has a great design or is absent of cheap deaths on it (bugs aside), but I think we got too used to be the masters of the Sonic universe and we now whine if we find an unexpected challenge because, hey!, we the masters should be able to blast through a classic styled game with no sweat.

    And, about, the "no damage" run on any Sonic game, I only did that in Sonic 1 MS to get all the hidden bonuses and a one million points score; other than that, I usually play quite kamikaze, I'm the lord of the rings. :v:
    Now, to the real point of that post, what do you have with memorization? I agree most of the time there shouldn't be a need for memorization in a classic Sonic game, but some "memory challenges" won't hurt you either. Counter-intuitive stuff is a different thing, but, again, how often does that kind of stuff happen? Still, if just occasional recalling (of cheap deaths) is enough to survive all the trip, there isn't that much of an issue.

    The fundamental flaw in classic Sonic games is they gave us too much time to become professional nitpickers before this new release Mania is. I have the sensation I'll feel it as a fangame when I play it, because fans do things Naka and company would never do, so fundamental Mania flaws will always be different from the older ones. I have yet to see a fan game with no worrying bugs or design flaws, something I don't really find in classic games besides Sonic CD, which I love but I see its faults. I digress ,as CD faults are exclusive and not fundamental.
  7. Dr. Corndog

    Dr. Corndog

    They're badniks according to Sonic Retro, and there's no cue to tell the player they aren't, or that touching them would hurt the player.

    You could argue that bombs are liable to explode and the player should therefore stay away (ignoring the previous five stages that have trained the player to attack anything mechanical that moves). But even that reasoning would only make sense if the bbs exploded on contact, which they don't.
  8. There are 3-4 instances tops where you run into what you could consider an unreactable crusher in Mania, and 2 of those instances are based on how lucky/unlucky your level pattern cycle is. This is such a non-issue in Mania I'm not even sure how to parse this. Most of what crushes you moves so slow....

    To note the instances:
    Chemical Plant Zone Act 1 (Which has a crusher segment you can just skip by going the high route anyways)
    Titanic Monarch Zone 1 & 2 (1 has that rising and lowering platform, depending on where it is in its cycel you could see it's a crusher or not, but the ceIling spikes drive the point home IMO. And who can forget the banana runkiller platforms =P)
    Oil Ocean Boss (this depends on how fast you kill him.)

    Like, before calling this a fundamental flaw we need to establish that it happens almost never. Any other crushing hazard in this game is a result of a slow moving platform pushing you into a solid surface which almost never happens.

    That being said I agree that Pixel perfect crushing should probably go, but that's about it. These hazards also will not likely kill you more than one time so there's also that, and this game hands out lives like crazy. Oh, I'd also like to be able to earn continues outside of No Save mode ala S3&K. I'm ok with restarting from Act 1 on a game over, continues as a mechanic were in S3K to offset that if you were good at the special stages = )
  9. serpx


    These things can definitely change with the power of smart computer programming.

    When a death situation would occur from crushing, a different event could happen instead of insta-death. It could be to press/launch Sonic to the nearest empty space, it could be to flatten him, lose rings, and have him shake out of it, it could be to clip through materials, etc.

    I think crushing is okay (i.e. the Eggman boss where crushing was the main method of getting hurt), but the BS crushing has to go. It's unfair, no fun, and ruins the flow.
  10. The problem is what looks natural and what doesn't tbh. Certain crushers flattening Sonic would look weird (i.e. crushed by spikes). As far as ejecting him, that also looks weird and just confuses more players. 2D Platformers kill characters when they get crushed, it's an established function that has been around since the Mario games so it's one a lot of people understand more thoroughly than something like clipping or ejecting. Even 2D Platformers praised for their modernity (Shovel Knight) have crushing interactions. It's just easier to understand and to compute.

    The BS crushing in this game is mostly circumstantial outside of Oil Ocean 1 and the yellow banana platforms in TMZ2, and both have simple solutions: Just color the death pipes on the OOZ1 boss to be red, and leave the center ones green (hints), and then I'd say for TMZ2 I'd make the crushing a bit more strict (i.e. the tips of the platforms from under can eject you SLIGHTLY, not when youre directly sandwiched but when you're crushed by the tip, let's say.) Most of the other crusher deaths in this game are just faulty cycles which have to be re-rigged. CPZ1 for instance has crushed me randomly upon entering that section (very rarely) and can be easily fixed by forcing a cycle manipulation and making the platforms only move when activated upon entering that segment. TMZ1 can be fixed in the same regard. Every other crushy thing in Mania is slow and usually predictable, and has only ever killed me when I was playing silly.

    Smart programming has to take a backseat to intuitive things and stuff people expect from a genre, as well as natural world interactions. Other problems come up when you think of Hydrocity Zone 1's boss. Would the crushing arbitrarily change there? Considering that it never scrolls back up, how do you account for this? Clarity is generally important. Hell making it scroll back up would completely ruin the point of Eggman detonating the ruins. FWIW I'm generally trying to sympathize and understand the argument here but my experience with every other 2D platformer I've played including old Sonic games and Mania is not helping me understand =P.
  11. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    There's loads of examples of unexpected crushing in Mania, you can't just deny something because you don't like someone's argument.

    Titanic Monarch alone has far too much BS crushing. I have to constantly keep in mind when I'm about to run into some BS retractable spikes, those cylinders or the moving platform without warning. And that's just for one zone. But then I do think Titanic Monarch is the only outright awful zone in the game.

    Chemical Plant 1 has that water pit with the platforms which is a massive problem because the jerky crushing mechanic is even worse when you are trying to get up as fast as possible due to drowning. And to make it even more infuriating here you have two possible falls (with the second being retractable platforms which are difficult to react to on a first play) that make you redo the whole thing. I thought it was awful in Sonic 2 and I hoped they would have taken it out in Mania. And you're right, it can be avoided by the higher path, but this is the path most people are going to be seeing as it's the middle path and the most obvious.

    Hydrocity and Lava Reef also have moving platforms that are telegraphed fine but have jerky crushing mechanics. Again, you can just graze the edges of the platforms and be killed outright. It's BS.

    Flying Battery has those spiked platforms that, again, can fall on top of you with very little warning.

    Oil Ocean have the green pots that can, bafflingly, crush you. That's BS mostly because it's completely unexpected on initial playthroughs that you can be crushed by the lids' edges. Again, you can be running into them and be killed outright with very little warning.

    All of these BS, very little to no warning, instakills just encourage you to go slowly and are completely counter-productive to Sonic's identity. I was playing Mania with my brother and while he loves the game almost as much as me, he decided to just slow Sonic when he was running so he could react to the BS instakills. That's a failure of level design. You shouldn't have to slow down and stop running in a Sonic game out of a fear of crushing, it goes against the whole purpose of the game's appeal.

    And even when the game does telegraph it's crushing hazards well and you don't have to tiptoe the block's edge because of the jerky crushing mechanic, such as in Metallic Madness, I still don't think it has any place in Sonic. Sonic is supposed to be a fast platformer, not slowly edging forward and waiting for platforms to move around. More than anything else, it's boring beyond belief.

    Give me more of Chemical Plant 2's clever gelatine bouncing, Stardust Speedway's killer plants which grow parallel to as you jump on the leaves, Mirage Saloon's gun cannons e.t.c. That's building upon Sonic in a fun way that complements Sonic's fast-paced nature. That's the direction Sonic should go in, not dull as dishwater crushing hazards.
  12. Flying Battery's platforms aren't going to crush you unless you have not paid attention to how they work within the level. They introduce them almost immediately and present the issue that "hey, standing under these is bad." Hell the first magnetic section has them PERMANENTLY RAISED so you can see how it works! Even the original game didn't do this, in fact it happens to new players more in S3K then it does here from what I can tell. Also the location of the spiked platforms are clearly marked with those huge, obvious chains that are colored differently from the background. Chemical Plant 1 passes you a bubble shield earlier in the level to make the drowning problem nonexistent and the level has multiple routes that can skip the water section entirely, also discounting the fact that you can skip it by spindashing up the ramps prior and jumping. I'm really sorry I find this hard to understand. I died so little from crushing in my first playthrough that it basically never happened in my 2nd and beyond. As far as Oil Ocean, second verse same as the first. Don't stand under stuff that's quite obviously going to come back down. They even put fire there so it knocks you back (without a fire shield) to ideally make this a non-issue. They also usually put spikes next to the pot so you don't run next to it as well. I already mentioned the boss where it's egregiously a problem which can be easily fixed by palette coloration.

    If there's loads of this unexpected stuff I'd notice considering I did like 7 complete playthroughs of this game lol. I didn't even practice before this game came out, I hung out with a friend and watched him stream some old Sonic games but that's about it. I'm not denying it because I don't like your argument (though that is in fact one reason of many), I'm denying it because the level design makes these hazards (mostly) incredibly obvious, and I'm also denying it based on my experience and what appears to be the experience of many others. The fact that you take my statements so disingenuously makes me want to exit this discussion completely. In fact, I think I will. For what it's worth I already stated the pixel perfect crushing is kinda silly and be easily amended by making it match the Genesis games slightly better which would make a world of difference I assure you. I also stand by the fact that it's not a fundamental flaw when it happens so little (both here and in the original games) in the playthroughs of....most people I see playing the game. I'm just going to admit I'm colored in bias from prior platformer and game experience and just dip, because I doubt I'll ever understand =P.

    P.S. I still stand by the fact that it's not a fundmental problem because it is minor to pretty much everyone and also does not occur in each and every level or even a majority of them, ergo it is not fundamentally fastened to the game's design. Also the changing direction thing can usually be mitigated by rolling into a ball IIRC, as it seems to preserve your momentum without holding anything but down. I use it a lot.
  13. Lapper


    Sonic Studio, Sonic Physics Guide, Kyle & Lucy: WW, Freedom Planet 2
    You can learn to avoid all the hazards mentioned so... they aren't unfair.
    Do you just want to be instantly good at, and know everything that's coming in an entire game right away? You've been so negative about aspects of Mania it's quite impressive, Laura!

    - Crushing is a valid hazard in any platformer, it's only insta-death if you don't avoid the hazard. I got crushed a LOT in every situation that has been referenced in Mania. It wasn't unfair though you just learn not to get crushed.

    I don't think any of the things mentioned here are fundamental problems at all. Someone can take issue with specific implementations sure - but like I said, they aren't hard to overcome and master.

    Time outs... eh, there's good and bad to them, it really doesn't matter much. Maybe add time+ monitors.
  14. Socknic


    Someone Too Tough To Beat Member
    I don't think this needs to be said, but I'll say it anyway. No game is perfect, and Sonic Mania is no exception. It's a hell of a lot closer to perfect than most games ever get, but I digress. If I were to list them off, I think there would be very little crossover between my complaints and the so-called fundamental flaws with which you're so concerned.

    For one, I'm having a very hard time following the train of thought that leads to the metaphorical castration of crushing hazards. For the most part, I don't consider classic Sonic titles to be difficult. The ring mechanic is extremely forgiving, almost to a fault. When employed correctly, instant death hazards, such as crushers and bottomless pits, prevent the games from becoming complete cakewalks. I can agree that perhaps Mania's conditions for a crush death are a bit too strict, but you make this out to be a much, much bigger issue than it actually is. If crushing hazards were to simply damage you, you could brute-force your way through Sonic games to an even greater extent than you can already. This change would serve to exacerbate an existing issue.

    I will admit that I've had issues with running on ceilings in previous Sonic titles, but it was something that came to me with time. The mechanic isn't exactly intuitive, but it's not downright broken either. It's just an element of Sonic's signature momentum-based movement which players will need to adjust to.

    Don't take this as me dismissing your complaints. While I personally don't agree with them, you're certainly entitled to them. In my experience, Mania has been a joy to play. It saddens me that not everyone has been having an equally good time.

    While we're on the subject of Mania's flaws, I'll echo the sentiment that super form mechanics need to be improved. I'm almost dreading my upcoming Knuckles playthrough, knowing that I'll constantly be going super unintentionally.
  15. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    It's not that I want to be instantly good at the game, I want the challenges in a game to be clearly presented, rather than throwing insta-kill hazards at the player with little to no warning. I've given many reasons above for why I feel crushing has no place in Sonic.

    And I must stress this, you can heavily criticise a game while still loving it. I adore Sonic Mania but it doesn't mean I can't recognise its flaws.
  16. Sean Evans

    Sean Evans

    Professional Dork Member
    Sonic Overture, Sonic Utopia
    Okay Laura, it's getting a bit silly now. You want the game to remove any of the hazards and mechanics that are featured in most platformers because it's a bit unorthodox for Sonic? Or I guess, it's unorthodox to you. I'll give you that the developers should be more careful with where they place hazards with the potential to crush the player. The Oil Ocean boss and be pretty unfair unless you already know the spikes are up there. I'd argue that seeing the platforms that launch you upward in the stage proper should have been a sign that you would get thrown into the air, and that you'd most likely have to avoid something as a result. But it was not properly conveyed where the actual threat may be. So to that end, it was poorly implemented. But getting rid of hazards and insta-kill obstacles isn't going to make the game any "better". If this is a fundamental flaw of Sonic's design, then it's the core gameplay that's at fault, not mechanics that work fine. That's like saying that not being able to jump into enemies and falling into pits goes against Mario's design because it's a game where you jump a lot. Or how not being able to shoot certain enemies goes against Mega Man because it's about shooting things. Challenge in most cases comes from counteraction. That being, if the game does one thing, do the opposite. Sonic is supposed to go fast, so have a ton of stuff that can slow him down if you aren't careful. What about that is "fundamentally flawed"?

    They did this because it's possible to get behind the Death Egg Robot, and so they give you a passage to head out back in front. I thought it was very clear what did and didn't hurt you know...the hands have spikes and everything. As for circumstantial damage that's a brilliant idea. I've always felt that Sonic bosses were far too easy, and a good way to give them a bit more depth and keep them from being spam fest would be to encourage the player to take advantage of the world to take the bosses out. Sonic CD had a good idea in this regard, as you had to use the hazards and mechanics you had been dealing with throughout the level to actually take on the bosses. In some cases it works, in others is a mess. Refining that concept would make for some excellent bosses. Maybe have a nice middle ground, where the Mid Bosses require you to use the ricochet mechanic to try landing multiple hits, while the main bosses require more thought revolving around level hazards.
  17. Chimpo


    Atomic Sonic Part II
    Most of the flaws pointed out seem to be from a lack of observation from your part. I won't deny that there are some situations that are unfortunate, but you are painting this picture where Mania is filled with these scenarios constantly.

    I'm finding it hard to empathize with your struggles when my first play through ended with 50 lives and 2 deaths. The game is incredibly generous with rings, one ups, shields and check points. Mania is arguably one of the easier entries in the franchise. My biggest complaint is that it isn't harder.
  18. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Fanatical Sonic fans on Retro are going to be good at Classic Sonic. I'm making a wider point about how the general gaming public would find the game.

    As I said, I've completed the game five times with all emeralds. I've got 20+ lives on my current completed save. But, even for me, the game was often unfair and frustrating on an initial run. It's obviously easier now I know all the levels inside out.

    And as I've repeatedly said, it's not that the game is too hard, there are only a few moments which are difficult, it's that the game doesn't fairly present its challenges and life and death often hinges on confusing mechanics, such as bottomless pits below compulsory ceiling running sections.
  19. Chimpo


    Atomic Sonic Part II
    If these traps and hazards were as sudden and obtrusive as you claim, then I would be having trouble with them too. After all, in going in blind. My only knowledge is that I can roll and jump. I have no idea what these levels have in store for me. I only have a surface level knowledge of Sonic 1-3+K, not Mania.

    You're also making constant assumptions about everyone else. Defenders are obsessed with the Mania team so they're too blind to the flaws. I'm apparently a fanatic that knows the game inside out? Up until a year ago, I didn't even know the CPZ2 shortcut to avoid the water.

    I have 3 co-workers who bought Mania on their Switch. These guys complain about everything and they haven't touched a Sonic game since Sonic 2. I have yet to see them express any complaints that come anywhere close to yours. I'm browsing various message boards and I'm having trouble finding critiques that paint the same picture as yours. All of this is purely anecdotal of course, but none of it is just assuming bad game design.

    You've learned to deal with it because you memorized it. I wouldn't really call that an improvement of observation skills and reaction times so your 20+ clear claims isn't impressive not really helps your case. It just shows you need trial and error on your part until you finally get the point.

    Keep in mind, that at no point am I saying that Sonic Mania is flawless. There are things I don't like about it, but not a single one of them would I say it's a fundamental flaw of Mania or the classic games. My argument here is that your point of view and your arguments are faulty. There isn't anything objective about it. It's all subjective based on your poor performance on your first playthrough.

    To put it shortly Laura my dear

    Holy fucking shit girl. Git Gud.
  20. Cooljerk


    NotEqual Tech, Inc - VR & Game Dev Oldbie
    As a fantatical Sonic fan on Retro and not the general gaming public, why should I care about problems that don't apply to me at all?

    And how can a problem be fundamental if they don't apply to everyone?