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Fundamental Flaws of Classic Sonic (Mania Spoilers)

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

  1. GHNeko


    sega stockholm syndrome Member
    Hybrid Souls Card Game
    Even for people who aren't good at Classic Sonic, as youtube so frequently showed me. A lot of the deaths from reviewers who've gone over the game have admitted fault with themselves and not the game.

    Classic Sonic is still an old-school platformer so general platforming skill and platforming common sense reign supreme.

    And really, the general perception that the public has is that the game is not littered with crushing traps like you're making it seem. There have been complaints about crushing, but they're all basically the pixel perfect level geometry problems that this thread generally agrees is actual bullshit.

    Other normal crushers as obstacles? Not really a problem outside of this thread.
  2. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Everyone here is going to be, at least, better than average. We are fanatical fans of Sonic who are registered to the most 'elite' Sonic community online. We know all the bizarre facts about Sonic and we discuss the inner workings of the franchise. I think it's easy to forget sometimes we have a far higher knowledge of the game's mechanics and level design tendencies than everyone else, even if our platforming skills aren't remarkable.

    And trial and error is exactly the problem, these challenges in the game I've mentioned can only be overcome by trial and error, because they are completely unpredictable and near impossible to react to by design. It certainly wasn't an attempt to weakly boast :v:

    And again, "I have no problem with it" isn't an argument. There have been some efforts to tackle my points, such as attempting to argue that there aren't many instakill traps (which I disagree with), but I don't consider "I have no problem with it" a valid argument. You could say it about literally anything.

    Sonic 06 is glitchy. "I have no problem with it".
    Sonic Boom is a mess. "I have no problem with it".
    Sonic Adventure has a poor camera. "I have no problem with it".

    Et cetera.
  3. Cooljerk


    NotEqual Tech, Inc - VR & Game Dev Oldbie
    You've said this several times throughtout the topic but you have yet to make an argument for why trial and error gameplay is bad, beyond "i don't like it."

    Some people LIKE trial and error gameplay, you know?
  4. GHNeko


    sega stockholm syndrome Member
    Hybrid Souls Card Game
    Trial and error on its own isnt bad lol.

    On top of that; outside of pixel perfect bullshit, all the death traps and crushers in the game are fairly easy to react to.

    I guess there times where the global timer ends up working against your favor, but that's a fault of the timer implementation and not the hazard/set piece.

    If anything, there is a much stronger arguement for timer / tick seeds causing problems than the crusher hazards themselves because it is a really substantial and impactful aspect of running through levels.
  5. Sean Evans

    Sean Evans

    Professional Dork Member
    Sonic Overture, Sonic Utopia
    Except the other three are legit problems with those games, and trial and error is...normal? That's how almost any game works. You find something, you mess around with it, if it ain't working out, leave it alone. You learn the game by playing it. What's so bad about that? Mania does a pretty decent job of teaching you about it's mechanics so you never HAVE to do any trial and error. And what's even more is that you keep saying that we're bound to be experts at the game due to our knowledge with Sonic. But everyone so far has been talking about how this is easier than the originals, which I didn't mind much. If we found this to be that easy, then anyone not well versed with Sonic should find it just right.
  6. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Oh, I thought it was pretty commonly accepted that trial and error gameplay is bad design. Apologies for not explaining why I don't like it. The reason I don't like trial and error gameplay is because it's just memorisation-based and doesn't improve the player's skill. It isn't based on genuine, meaningful challenge and is an easy way to rely on cheap, lazy difficulty when designing levels.

    So let's have two examples.

    Example A: An enemy dashes offscreen at the player, charges a move, and then strikes.

    To me, this is genuine challenge. It's clear to the player that they need to dodge the enemy's attack as it is telegraphed. Using their skills in evasion, the player either dodges the enemy successfully or fails and ends up getting hit. As the challenge is clearly communicated to the player, this is nothing but a test of the player's skill.

    Example B: An enemy dashes offscreen at the player and strikes with no warning.

    This is trial and error. It's not clear on a first playthrough this will happen and so the player will either dodge the attack through sheer luck (example, they were already jumping before the enemy dashed forward) or get hit. The challenge is not communicated to the player, so it is not a test of the player's skill since they could not react to the attack. The only way to dodge the attack is through luck or by memorisation upon repeat playthroughs. This is simply a cheap and lazy way to put artificial difficulty into the game.
  7. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    Whatever the game, trial and error is not a good thing when there's nothing to indicate the player what to do. Example:

    • Shenmue QTEs could count as a good kind of trial and error, since the player may fail but only because he didn't react in time to the prompts.
    • Shenmue QTEs without on screen button prompts would be the bad kind of trial and error and just bad game design.
  8. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    A lot of it comes down to communication.

    I love the Metal Sonic fight in Mania now, but I originally hated it because the game didn't clearly communicate that you were supposed to spindash the silver sonics into Metal as they were revving up. I spent ages awkwardly bouncing the silver sonics into Metal. Once I learned you should spindash them much later I started to appreciate it as a really fun boss, but it's a failure of game design not to communicate that to the player in any way.
  9. To be honest, I saw that I wasn't bouncing them high enough, so I just tried the spin dash to hit them harder and it worked. Half the fun in these games is to figure out how stuff works, and to have everything spelled out for you kind of detracts from the experience if you ask me. I prefer to be rewarded for trying new things rather than just doing what the game tells me to. The Metal Sonic fight doesn't punish you for experimenting, and that's good enough for me.
  10. Ravenfreak


    I dunno what I should put here. Tech Member
    O'Fallon Mo
    Hacking Sonic Drift, Writer at Sonic Cage Dome
    I've been playing Sonic since I was 4 and I'll admit I've got at least 4 game overs my first playthrough, but it's because I wasn't familiar with the layouts or boss patterns. After dying over and over again I learned the layouts and boss patterns and the game got easier. This is what I did growing up while playing the classic games. My point is, everyone has their own skill level with games, but if you keep at it you'll get better with time. I don't want to play a game that holds your hand the entire time, the more anyone plays the game the better they'll get at it. Getting rid of hazards and other features that's been around since the very first game would ruin the gameplay value for me, and many other players.
  11. Chimpo


    Atomic Sonic Part II
    If you cannot see the difference between your complaints and these comparisons then the only thing fundamentally wrong in this thread is your train of logic.
  12. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Again, as I've said multiple times, memorising the layout of the levels is just trial and error. That has nothing to do with skill or improving at the game, just memorising upcoming obstacles.

    And in my opinion, trial and error for non-telegraphed hazards is a cheap and lazy way to create artificial difficulty in the place of actual challenge.
  13. Okamikurainya


    Somewhere in Africa
    Sonic: Time Attacked - MAX
    Crushing should take away ten rings only, we should hold right while boosters guide us along a near straight path, we need BIG red signs everywhere there's even a hint of danger!!! :specialed:/>

    Jokes aside, the crushing thing is a big problem. It's easy to avoid, if you know to be cautious, but the way the Retro Engine handles it is bad.

    I hate this modern need for tutorials and Omochao like blathering along the way, preferring some nice subtle hints if any at all.

    With the Silver Sonics, one of them could have been in Metal Sonic's path at the start, he knocks it out of the way with a spin which sends it flying into a lock on the machine's cockpit, thus opening it for him to get in and the battle to start. It isn't overt but if you pay attention it helps without being condescending.

    We could also bring over some aspects of the Modern games that DO work, such as Ranks. Get a timeover? Well it won't kill you but you're certainly not getting an S-Rank on this run buddy!

    Hang on? Is this a discussion about Mania or Generations/Unleashed? You realize you don't actually have to go fast? I've never had a playthrough in any of the classic games that required me to memorize the layout of the Zone. It helps, but so does paying attention.

    I guess this whole topic is actually pretty subjective as different folks will approach the games differently...
  14. Sean Evans

    Sean Evans

    Professional Dork Member
    Sonic Overture, Sonic Utopia
    These are points that I think need to be stressed, and is the penultimate reason as to why I feel the series has been slammed with "bad design" from those not well versed with it.

    The unfortunate marketing slant the series was given gave the impression that the fundamental concept that the games are built around is speed. And while that's true to a degree, no one outside of us took time to actually gauge what that meant. The fact that Sonic has to wind up to even go a reasonable pace, or how slopes and angles affect your jumps and movement. Speed is as much a detriment as it is beneficial. Players who are good enough should be allowed to blaze through stages without worry, but those who like to take their time should be rewarded to. But overall the idea is that you get better the more you play, and that the game never forces your hand in how you approach anything. This is why I don't get these complaints about how fundamentally flawed things like obstacles and crushing hazards are. No one is forcing you to go super fast, and no one is forcing you do the same thing over and over. You have choices, and you have the capability to improve. So until there's undeniable proof that this stuff can't work with Sonic, I can't subscribe to the idea that it's a flaw that needs to be fixed.
  15. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Dear Laura:

    Look, I get frustrated easily, I get frustrated a ton, I get angry because I wanted to do something my way and I had to do that the way it really was supposed to be done; that's bad, but I know myself, and I know that not every frustration comes from unfair challenges, specially with the quite easy games classic Sonic titles are. Again, Sonic isn't about running blind, it's about taking advantage of the physics, and it rewards you with a speedier gameplay when you do it right. You know the rules, you know the kind of things that happen, and you know people likes classic games as they are, and they're liking Mania, so, if you're not ok with it, it's because you don't like it, or you want to play it in a way that isn't ok with the game. Globally recognised faults may be arguments, but most of yours aren't, it's just whining because it's the first time you feel that way without having a real reason to feel that way, like with Dimps games. An all new well done classic game that you can't easily overcome despite your proficiency level? That would be great news to me.

    The worst thing about your complaints, however, is that you're trying to defend the newbies and non-fans approaching this game; sounds noble in theory, but it's quite arrogant from your side. People can play and decide if that's too much for them or not, give their own impressions about it if they feel like it, and they don't need you to do that for them, specially if you haven't talked to them to know their feels and ask for permission to be their voice. It's YOU who doesn't like and never liked those things, it's YOU who see them as fundamental flaws, so don't use absent people as a way to give weight to your opinions.
  16. XCubed


    Will Someday Own a Rent-A-Center Oldbie
    Strangely enough I just recently had a friend tell me he doesn't like Sonic because the gameplay is too fast. I honestly didn't know how to respond to that. So I didn't. :colbert:
  17. James K

    James K

    Excerpts from a playthrough of Sonic Mania:


    8:39 (most likely not an intentional way to get damaged?)
    9:08 (ring loss vs KO consequence clearly conveyed?)
    9:35 (boss behavior of when you can/can't hit it, clearly conveyed?)

    At 9:08
    The part where the player has 49 rings, misses a jump slightly, and the spikes turn into an unexpected insta KO, is this a clearly conveyed penalty that creates a challenge?
    The solution isn't to go the other direction of removing obstacles from the game, the game can convey danger clearly and still be just as challenging.
    The game can use subtle hints in the level design without hand holding or stopping the player.

    The spikes and crushing platforms do not have to be removed;
    Instead, there can be 2 downward slopes that lead you under the crusher platforms,
    and keep the spikes in the middle so they clearly will send the player down the dangerous slopes

    Code (Text):
    2. (platform)                    (platform)
    3.  |                 ^^^^      
    4.  |              /       \                  
    5.  |        _____/         \ ______
    This more clearly conveys to the player:
    "See those spikes? They'll make you fall down slopes until you're under those crushing platforms, don't touch the spikes or it'll lead you on a slope toward an instant KO."

    Again, don't make the game easier, just clearly convey the danger and consequences to the player without having to stop them or slow down the gameplay.
  18. Sean Evans

    Sean Evans

    Professional Dork Member
    Sonic Overture, Sonic Utopia
    So seeing platforms with spikes beneath them indicating that you want to avoid the bottom, a spike in the center of these two platforms, as WELL as knowing that these platforms rise and fall periodically is somehow unfair? OR, the more likely reason, he was reckless and got an unfortunate double whammy?

    And as for the boss, I fail to see how you wouldn't get it. The boss always makes a distinctive sound once it's taken damage. He must know that by now because he's already beaten seven at this point. You also see that hitting the ball causes the boss to bounce around a lot, and the spikes and the rotating poles on the opposite ends. Now put two and two together and try to think REALLY hard about what the game wants out of you. And as for the rotating pole launching him into the spikes, he can choose the direction he wishes to go, which the level constantly makes use of in previous parts. Perhaps it's not that this wasn't conveyed clearly. Maybe he just wasn't thinking and acted recklessly. Guess what happens when you act reckless? The game punishes you. But nah you're right. None of this was made clear at all.
  19. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    What are you talking about? Did you even watch the video?

    The video clearly shows that the player understands that hitting the ball causes the boss to bounce around a lot, and that he should use the poles to hit the boss into the spikes. He clearly tries to do that.

    The problem is, the boss becomes non-solid after being hit for a short period of time, and there is absolutely no indication whatsoever of when that period of time ends. If you decide to launch yourself from the pole towards the bumper part of the boss, you pass straight through the boss and into the spikes.

    The rotating pole launching you towards the spikes has nothing to do with direction - towards the spikes is the correct direction to go in, but it results in damage or even death if you do it within an arbitrary time period that is not indicated in any way by the boss.

    Seriously, look at the linked video, specifically at the 9:34-9:37 mark, and tell me that death is the fault of the player.


    The classic Sonic formula is tried and proven. We wanted it back as is exactly because what it was worked for many of us when we were children and arguably less skilled than we are as gamers now. S3&K, one of my all time favorite games, still had huge fundamental issues like the unintiuitve barrel to discuss. This literally stopped me from beating the game as Tails for MONTHS until I was told about the up and down trick. I had to bounce with Sonic's shield to get by it the first time. THAT kind of design flaw is very, very valid and was removed/fixed in the Jam rerelease.

    Sonic Mania has nothing that bad; not even close.

    This was back in 1997. 20 years ago. I was less than half the age I am now, and 'far' less experienced with platform games as a whole.

    I still intuitively figured it out. Sonic games have 'always' been easier than Mario games, but they're still skill based and take some time to learn.

    I want the Sonic audience to widen, but not at the cost of what these games fundamentally are; skill based platformers relying on momentum based physics. Changing the ceiling running controls would step in the wrong direction there, so that's a big no-no. Control-wise these should be identical save the addition of new moves (drop dash, Tails flying as a partner with up jump buttons). These games are harder and have a higher skill level than the modern games do. This is a good thing.

    I can understand the Time Over complaint. I'd support nixing that as an option at least, but only if the devs choose to do so. It still only steals one life and resets after that. No big deal.

    The pixel perfect crushing problems should probably be addressed with slight hitbox adjustments for crushing, but only because, as others have pointed out, they're more sensitive here (seemingly) than in the classic titles. Fix that, but keep the designs the same otherwise. Never once did I truly get crushed by something I couldn't see coming in this game.

    I'd be okay-ish with restarting from act 2 if you have a continue (or even the same checkpoint), but the save system that saves by zones is fine. It worked in s3&K, it works here. You don't lose hours of progress, only about 10-20 minutes of it at most.

    I'm sorry, but this really does come down to 'git gud'. Classic Sonic is not a hard game at all. It's just not one that's intuitive to a modern gamer because a modern gamer is not as familiar with it.