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I kind of feel the spin dash takes away about as much as it adds

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Technically Inept, Feb 3, 2022.

  1. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    My i key is broken. So apologies.

    i think these discussions about the spin dash often overthink what is fundamentally a simple mechanic. it's designed to stop those moments of frustration in Sonic 1 where you can't run up a slope without running backward and building up momentum. Those moments were very tedious and i think it's for the best that Sonic Team introduced the spin dash. That's really the context for why it was created and i think it does a good job of resolving that problem without completely wrecking the game balance by making the levels too easy (ala boost).

    i don't really agree that Sonic is fundamentally about flow (even though that's a popular position). The game philosophy is very flawed from a flow perspective even putting aside the spindash: the very fact it's a platformer means that you have to stop and consider your environment unless you already know the level layout. No matter how telegraphed the challenges are, it's impossible to speed through complex platforming at Sonic's speed. That's why the more platformer focused levels dial back on speed and go for a slower flow. People often criticise Sonic 1 for not knowing whether it wants to 'go fast' or not, but the same criticism can be leveled against Sonic 2 and 3. it's just that Sonic 1 evenly splits the slower levels throughout the game while Sonic 2 and 3 puts them at the end of the game and people are less familiar with those stages (compared to say Marble Zone).

    So i don't really agree that the spin dash forcing the player to stop is a bad thing, since most of the more complex levels force you to do that anyway. i think it's less that Sonic is about flow, but more that Sonic provides conventional platforming then rewards skilled play (that is getting through the challenges) with high speed set-pieces. This is really the root design of all Sonic games, including Sonic 3 and Mania. i thin where the levels are best is when they ratio platforming with high speed set-pieces in a satisfying way.

    @Palas said this many years ago, but i think a lot of hardcore fans forget that the main objective of Sonic isn't to go fast, speedrun, or ace all the higher routes. As he said, the main objective is to beat the level. in that respect it's like any other platformer. The spin dash is a tool that's designed to help player beat the level when it's being irritating while not making the game too easy.
  2. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I don't think you can really think about one issue without addressing the other. Everything is connected, and every design decision affects the others somehow. But while this may look very complex, I agree wholeheartedly with @Laura here that the spindash is trivial in nature. The context entails so much more, and in the end all of it is made just so that you beat one level after the other (not beat well, or without getting hit, or speedrunning, or holding as many rings as possible). Our actual experience with Sonic is very different from what we construe as the game in our minds, and that's how it's supposed to be anyway.
  3. raphael_fc


    Overthinking Sonic timelines. Member
    I agree with this. I feel Sonic 1 would be much more praised if the level order was something like: Green Hill -> Starlight -> Spring Yard -> Marble -> Labyrinth -> Scrap Brain.
  4. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I think this is a really key point about game analyses which often isn't discussed. The more years pass after beating a game, you often remember the best and worst parts and filter out tedium. Some of my biggest complaints about Mania upon release are stuff I don't think about now because I have more knowledge: the heavy Shinobi fight, the Oil Ocean boss, the crushing deaths, the reverting to Act 1 upon game over, the confusion in the Metal Sonic fight. Some of these things got patched out but then Plus did introduced Metal Sonic Kai which I personally think is a nightmare.

    These memories are then further cemented by replays, where the best parts are heightened because you can really enjoy the rest of the game while knowing how to avoid or minimise the irritations. I think this point is why Sonic Adventure is beloved (including by myself) because you can ignore most of the faffing about and minimise the dud stages when you know what to do. You can even know how to avoid most of the glitches which can minimise those issues (and this is usually where the Sonic 06 defence attempts come).

    In many ways, I think game analyses (especially on fan sites) are rooted in a replay mentality rather than a first play mentality. I think Sonic is elegantly designed in that it's fundamentally a speedy platformer for first time players, but also provides shortcuts and levels which are designed in such a way that they can be beaten very quickly by replay.

    In fact, I'd say this dual dynamic is integral to Sonic 1 and 2's identity as Genesis games. The classic games are often completely divorced from their Genesis context, where you couldn't save and after a failed run the Genesis power adapter is probably overheating so you better take a break. It's almost like a roguelike where replays are a mandatory part of completing Sonic 1 and 2. One of the main reasons I think Sonic 1 is an incredibly well designed game is because the skips through the stages are a combination of explicit memorable shortcuts and using the terrain to bypass difficult platforming challenges. These terrain skips are very sometimes very clearly intentionally designed (steep slopes and inclined directly below the platforming challenge like in Star Light) or they can be done more organically by the player.

    I could keep praising Sonic 1 but you get the point! I guess I'm essentially saying that people often say that the multi layered level design is there to make speedrunning the levels more fun and give the game more exploratory replay value. I do think those points are valid. But I think the main reason for the multi-layered design is so players can learn shortcuts and rewarding paths which can help them beat the game.
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  5. Sai Start Marker

    Sai Start Marker

    Born in 1947 but made for the 90's Oldbie
    Rolling has always been more satisfying than spin dashing to me, ever since I stepped out of childhood. A well timed roll just feels like you've truly "mastered" the game design and obstacles that lots of Mega Drive Sonic games implement. Especially in the first game.

    I don't think I'd get "rid of" the spin dash per say, but it's an odd situation where I think I've gained a greater appreciation for the developers level design in limiting my use of the mechanic.
  6. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    This so much. So, so much. What people'll call "nostalgia goggles" as something derogatory encompasses an actually very valid kind of experience, one that comes after you know the game very well. All frameworks tell us something different about the games, and we'll forget something important about them if we ignore the material conditions around them at the time.

    Which is why I'll add that not only replaying the game as a whole is significant, but also replaying the same stage a few times by virtue of sucking at it. That's how we all got good enough at Sonic games to beat them, in fact. You'll need skill to time your jump correctly in Marble Zone, as the lava launches you up, so that you get a shield or a few extra rings or whatever. But you'll only build that skill as some other section ahead actually kills you, and you feel like the only way you'll get through it is if you do get the shield, or if you have enough rings that you can catch enough of them after you get hit.

    You'll also need skill to play with the stage's gimmicks and geometry to find a path that completely skips that one section that keeps getting you killed. I remeber this most vividly in Mushroom Hill, but it certainly applies to learning how not to spend more than half your time in Aquatic Ruin underwater. There are many layers of skill and knowledge about the game, which makes every new stage in a game like Sonic 1 so exciting. These are easy games for us now, but they haven't always been easy, and the little strategies and tactics we devised or heard of are all so trivial, so menial, yet so meaningful when you understand just how cleverly the game had to be designed for them to work.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  7. Fadaway


    I have felt this way since Sonic 2 came out. However, it is a balance. I used to prefer secret breakable walls to be more secret and not so easy to access as in Sonic 1. That seemed more fun to me. Over the years, I've come to like the spindash as well (I still feel the peel out move is redundant).
  8. ChaddyFantome


    The Spindash was introduced because the game was never really designed with gaining speed being the challenge of Sonic. Maintaining consistent pace was.
    There isn't anything deep or skillful about recognizing there is an incline the devs expect you to curl into a ball and start rolling as they intended in a rote manner.
    The SpinDash acts a as way to prevent the pacing of the game from being stopped too hard to frequently, preventing the games' floor from dropping too low for people who aren't at the apex of the games' skillcurve.
    As for the example in the original post, I feel like its a bit inaccurate of a description of the scenario. The SpinDash jump requires existing knowledge of the levels layout and still requires timing to execute.

    I don't see how the spindash can be considered a mistake in any respect when it largely exists to prevent the game from entering tons of dead states that ultimately only serve to bring the game's pace to a halt. I think we as experienced fans have a tendency to overlook that players beyond us the veteran and experienced, also need to be enjoying their time playing the games. The SpinDash to me does this without harming the the ceiling of the game.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
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  9. I can agree with most of this. But not all of it. The biggest thing for me is that I fail to see how that particular section requires good timing. At the very least, it’s not comparable to what it would be like without the mechanic.

    As far as requiring knowledge of the level, which the noted example also does, I’m not entirely sure I regard that as a positive, as something that should be counted in favor of it.

    I mean, requiring knowledge of the level so you are not punished by having your momentum killed or some other terrible-feeling consequence would be much worse. I have seen too many express feeling that they are being punished by something out of their control while playing 2D Sonic.

    But though that would be worse, I’m not sure that missing out on an opportunity for further engagement and a display of skill because you don’t know the level is any good either. For a first time player, such an opportunity might as well not exist. That probably is the source of another complaint I see leveled against Classic Sonic, that it is, for lack of a better expression, “just holding right and jumping peedioically” except outside of bosses.

    Further, this is just my personal opinion perhaps, but I feel memorization of a level in a platformer should be an aid in completing it well, not a requirement. Should be able to simply react

    Also I cannot speak of my first runs through the Classics, exactly because of the reasons the user Laura stated.

    But I can speak of my first and very near final experiences with Mania, which heavily emulates at least Sonic 3 I think. I got that in the beginning of December in 2020.

    And I say with confidence that I blew through almost the entirety of the game in the night I got it, not completing the final level Titanic monarch because I just didn’t feel like it. And I remember looking up how many levels there were left in the game as I was playing to see how many more there were, because…


    i was bored. I didn’t feel particularly challenged by anything the game was throwing at me. That would include the new levels and the Act 2’s, which means I don’t think it was experience alone that was the cause of this.

    It wasn’t until my second run through that I started to feel particularly engaged, because I concerned myself with exploring for the emeralds. Even still, I would not say I was challenged by the levels themselves.

    I haven’t played Mania nearly as much as the other Classic style games. Besides unlocking super Sonic, and grinding green hill’s checkpoints until I could get all but the last gold medal, and the occasional attempt to replay Mania to see if my experience would change, I haven’t touched it much since.

    This is probably a bold statement, but it makes me wonder if many outsiders find Classic Sonic hard to play simply because they don’t know or understand the mechanics, rather than those mechanics themselves being difficult to execute.

    When I do bother to play through the Classic’s these days, I somtimes try to take a look at what I’m actually doing to see what I find engaging. When I do, I don’t often find myself coming up with much.

    off the top of my head, there is the example mentioned from spring yard act 2. In Scrap Brain Act 1 I think, there are these platforms that periodically spin. You have to climb to the higher path using them by jumping in tandem with them. That same level also has rotating spheres in act 2 I think that are used to reach higher areas in the level. Have to time a jump off then after building up enough speed by spinning around them. I used to find Labyrinth Zone’s boss pretty interesting.

    And last time I played 3K before I kind of stopped liking Sonic as a whole, I found it interesting to interact with Carnival Night’s pinball gimmicks so as to reach certain places in the level.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
  10. Mastered Realm

    Mastered Realm

    The spindash is good, really good. It helps set the gameplay further apart from other platformers and also makes sense as Sonic is the fastest thing alive.

    All professional runners can start running very, very fast at the start of a race, ok that they don't reach their top speed instantly, but still. Very fast.
    You can't implement that in a Sonic game otherwise you'd mess the platforming sections, look at Lost World with the running button, didn't work.

    The spindash gives you insta speed and some invulnerability to cope with the fast reaction times. When you're walking your real obstacles are badniks, when you're in a ball it's mostly projectiles, spikes and pits.

    I love the spindash and all compromises that have been made in layouts to include it don't bother me.

    You have to remember a game can't please everyone. I, for example, don't like Sonic transition to 3D (SA1, SA2 Heroes...), it doesn't mean that it's invalid. To me it just strays away from what I like, so I just stick with the 2D titles or titles with 2D sections (Unleashead, Colors, Generations etc.).
  11. Wraith


    I like the spindash, I think it should keep it, but it has crossed my mind to nerf it a couple of times. Nothing too major: Just more of a delay before you get up to full speed with it. I think novice players have to have good habits engendered into them by the designer, so there should be something encouraging players to be more proactive and not rely on the spindash so much when they meet a hitch in the level.
  12. The spin dash used to seem so vital to me as a kid that OG Sonic 1 felt incomplete without it. If I played Sonic 1, it HAD to Sonic Jam’s version. Although I had been playing the games since before I could remember, I didn’t have the skill and/or motivation to not rely on the move as a crutch.

    However, during the run up to Sonic Mania, playing the classics again as an adult with substantially improved motor skills led to me using the move less and less. Now I rarely use it outside of the beginning of a time attack run because it impedes the flow of the level so much. I find much more enjoyment in being able to time my jumps and rolls in a way that maintains my momentum, even at the expense of going as fast as possible.

    I don’t think the move should be removed or even nerfed. I think the trade off of instant speed in exchange for halting momentum is pretty well balanced. While over reliance on the move can encourage bad habits and impede the full enjoyment of the gameplay, I think it’s ultimately necessary for less experienced players. As people get good, they will naturally move away from it in favor of a more fluid gameplay style (hopefully).

    The drop dash is a perfect move though. It offers just enough speed to carry your momentum which is balanced with the smaller demand on the player when compared to the spin dash.
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  13. Think it comes down to how much intrinsic satisfaction you get from that flow.

    Intrinsic because, outside of Sonic CD’s time travel system, I don’t really feel that element of Sonic has been all that well incentivized by the game itself. Which is one of the things I actually appreciate CD for actually…

    Though I will admit that that game’s level design and visibility problems are probably as bad as you can get, to the point where you need to literally (attempt) to tiptoe through the levels until you memorize them in their entirety, looking for places where you actually do that.

    Even still, wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a CD 2 with that being one of the reasons. I also think Advance game’s boost mode has some potential for that as well. It’s still technically intrinsic satisfaction that would move one to maintain that, though it’s a bit more concrete of a basis.

    But I don’t think the level design in the Advance games quite reaches that potential, leaning pretty hard into feeling “hold right to win” when that mode was introduced.

    Also, if the game is about maintaining momentum….

    don’t you think a mechanic that allows you to maintain momentum at virtually all times, however little that may be, should be slightly more demanding than a move you need to stop to do?
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2022
  14. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I tend to find complaints about "visibility issues" a little weird, because it just feels so prescriptive and based on an external parameter of what games should be like, and not at all considerate of how Sonic works by itself.

    If anything, you'll also spindash because you're low on rings, don't know what's ahead and feel the need to be as invulnerable as possible (which means in a rolling state and moving quickly, with room to maneuver and hit an eventual badnik that you may come across). More often than not, you'll run into a wall or something and go "oh ok, it was not that bad".

    That, and the game simply challenges you to get to the finish. It doesn't incentivize one thing or another, nor should it. You just have to use what you have to your advantage and try again if that doesn't work. You don't really have to memorize anything, just try different approaches and see what works, step by step. There's no inherent "visibility issue" because the camera doesn't exist alone in the game -- it's also tied to everything else and it's not like we're talking something technical like "you literally can't see badniks even though they're there because of the palette against the background etc"
  15. if it wasn’t obvious, I don’t actually like Sonic. At least not anymore. I only hang around discussion forums because I am interested in how Sonic could be made better and more acceptable to a wider audience, which is at this point the only thing I still care about in relation to the Blue blur.

    So yeah. I believe that “visibility issues” occurring from Sonic’s higher speed and generally more zoomed in screen, should be addressed. It’s one of the main complaints I see leveled against the Classics. And I find it pretty reasonable that many people express that when moving at speed, they’ll find it unfair how something can fly on screen faster than one could reasonably react, feeling like punishment for something outside their control.

    As far as generating a feeling of tension and uncertainty about what’s ahead in the level when approaching it the first time, I feel there are better ways to do that than literally not being able to see hazards until their ramming into your face. Not that I feel such tension anyway, possibly because of experience but most likely because of the ring system.

    I also have an issue with using the spin dash’s near invulnerability as a crutch. It essentially means you don’t have to play really or pay attention for a bit.

    Or in bad cases, if you spindash and then a hazard comes up that can’t be mindlessly dispatched by Sonic’s ball form such as spikes, pitfalls, stage hazards and the like, you very likely won’t have the control needed to do anything about it. Because you lose a degree of control in ball form.

    In this case, we are right back where we started: Being punished for something that is this time ***literally*** outside your control.

    And if you did care about not taking damage and holding onto rings, that means using the spin dash, a tool y’all are saying is used to make the game less punishing and traversal more efficient while still learning a level, would be a terrible idea. Because you are sacrificing the control you might need to deal with some of the aforementioned obstacles should they appear in the level.
  16. You are really just expressing the Egoraptor/meme-y “Sonic is flawed because he runs too fast and I can’t react in time” opinion in a lot of words.

    Memorization is not necessary to navigate a Sonic level without damage. I have 0 issue playing well-designed fan games that use 4:3 aspect ratios.

    The point of the roll is to sacrifice control for speed, which is a super common gameplay element and those trade offs are what makes things fun and challenging. You chose to roll, so no, it’s not “outside your control.”

    This whole notion that Sonic games are difficult is super recent and their relative easiness was a bigger criticism back in the day.
  17. I agree with both.

    In my personal opinion and experience, 2D Sonic games are too easy. Most of the “skill” involved is memorization. If you do that, the Classic games especially are a literal breeze. Outside maybe Sonic 1

    If you don’t do that, they are still a breeze, but every now and then something may pop up you can’t really react to. But when you know it’s there, such as on a returning run, it can usually be taken care of with a simple jump or by pressing down. Not much skill involved there.

    No examples of good mechanics that sacrifice control for some benefit immediately come to mind, though I’m sure they exist. But I’m pretty sure that in such cases, you’re willing to sacrifice control because you have a general idea of what the outcome of doing so will be. Not so the case here, especially if you don’t know what’s ahead in the level.

    Also, one word stood out there in those fan games you mentioned. 2 words actually: Well designed.

    I am well aware of at least 2 methods 2D Sonic level designers may attempt to use to make Sonic’s speed not a source of frustration. Both of them involve manipulating Sonic’s momentum. That doesn’t address problems with the mechanic itself, however.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2022
  18. ChaddyFantome


    Because the player can't see far enough ahead to get a good gauge of the jump without preexisting practice on the jump and knowledge of the level layout. If the player jumps too soon or too late or places themselves in the wrong spot relative to where they need to jump, they will miss the jump all the same. That is, unless I am not understanding your description of the scenario.
    I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at here. The knowledge of the level is required in both scenarios whether you are using the spindash or not. When the Player rolls on the incline, the first time they do it they are almost guaranteed to miss the jump because they don't even know there is a jump to be made.
    Having your momentum or flow require knowledge of the level to be maximized is a perfectly fair and valid way to design the game, especially as a concession to the fact the game is expressly designed to be more forgiving than other platformers in terms of baseline difficulty thanks to the Ring system. In fact I would go a step further and say its a necessity so that the game still feels like there is an adequate level of adversity being presented to the player in spite of its more forgiving hit system.
    In either case, its not really relevant. Timing the jump isn't necessary to complete the level nor does it need to be. The player having the option to seek out further optional engagement is very much the basis of most any game's design, and when it comes to something like that particular jump, it would be pretty poor design to make it mandatory in any capacity since the player has limited visibility and is expected to time something while moving fast in 2D.
    But I'm getting on a tangent now lol.

    Its a good thing them that preexisting knowledge of the level isn't required in this scenario to simply complete it. Simply to access a largely superficial bonus of which itself only really serves primarily as a means of aiding the player complete the level.

    Well yea. The Emerald system exists to make things like the Ring system matter and not overly trivialize the game's challenge. For the less experienced player, falling back on the Ring system allows them to be encouraged to play through the game while still adhering to its design encouraging them to move quickly and maintain their pace. While experienced players are challenged by maintaining rings. I very much think there is not enough conversation about how this aspect of the ring system was dumbed down in Sonic 3&K, but the aspect of looking out for Big Rings along with shields certainly presents what I think people would agree is a more than adequate replacement.

    Is this considered bold? I was under the impression this was commonly understood in the fandom by now. Most platformers these days are built on the conventions of Mario rather than Sonic or even the myriad of other platformers that were much more abundant in the past, so the Classics can and do easily become a foreign language to people. That said, I don't really see that as applicable to this particular scenario. independent of players expectations and familiarity with the mechanics, stuff like the jump there is simply something that is strictly a case of "you have to know there is even a thing there to begin with or be intentionally experimenting".

    Sonic is a game series that very much is built on the visceral enjoyment of playing the game. An experience, if you will, much like a lot of arcade games at the time. Speaking for myself, I had a BLAST playing Mania and Enjoy playing the classics again. There is a lot of charm that comes with appreciating the experience of playing through the game in Sonic games that I feel I just don't get from other series, and the gameplay loop is something I find endlessly enjoyable. part of it is the engagement in the world for me. Creates a level of investment in the act of playing through the game I just don't get from say Mario. I have my gripes with it of course, but I would very much love a sequel.
    (sorry for the ramble there but talking about mania made me wanna talk about it myself)

    Based on your posts, a lot of this just comes down to "I don't actually like Sonic much at all" which is sort of an "oh well" type thing in terms of the kind of response it elicits from me. That's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I myself am not the biggest fan of traditional 2D fighters like Street Fighter.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2022
  19. As far as the noted example, when you know it is there, you can simply just hold back and brake. Then positioning yourself in the correct positioning is a really simple matter.

    I suppose having knowledge of the level required to play efficiently and reach such bonus areas is fine with the base difficulty bei by as low as it is. I would prefer for the base difficulty to just be higher to begin with but….

    Okay. I think you’ve successfully changed my mind on that issue. I recognize that as just a preference.

    I can’t say I agree that looking for big rings and elemental shields provides an adequate replacement for striving to hold onto rings for the special stage system. I think I used to feel that way, but not anymore.

    I didn’t have this specific example in mind when I made that “””bold”””” statement.

    Perhaps you are correct. There is no real reason for me to be here any longer.
  20. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Actually @Technically Inept i always like it when people who don't like Sonic games post on here. Might sound weird, but i like to hear opposing views and sometimes they can even challenge my own opinions. Lol.

    i actually do agree that the centered camera is an issue in Classic Sonic. i don't think Sonic should be entirely about running quickly or even about maintaining momentum (possibly a controversial view), but i also don't think it can be denied that camera is so centered on Sonic that it makes it harder to see enemies coming up. it's pretty clear to see why most 2D platformers have protagonists on the very left of the screen.

    That said though, when people criticise the centered camera i think they often overlook that it isn't an easy fix. if you do use mods which move the camera to have Sonic on the very left of the screen (surprisingly Mania has a mod like that), then the game is surprisingly clunky to play, because Sonic demands the player run backwards more than you'd think (to access higher routes and the like). You don't go backwards often in Sonic but the 'hold right to win' meme obfuscates the fact that most traditional 2D platformers go left less often than Sonic. And putting that to one side, the fact Sonic is centered in the camera makes the vertical movement of the games easier to do (where you often jump left as well as right).

    Furthermore, even with the camera to the left, it honestly doesn't make a gigantic difference in reacting to enemies. Sonic is already such a fast game that even when you have the further screen space to the right it's not always helpful. Sometimes you have enemies above and below you attacking you. Sometimes you are just going so fast that even with double camera space you wouldn't be able to react in time.

    i think the best solution to this problem has actually been Generations. The camera in that game is really well-designed, pivoting at many different angles to highlight enemies and hazards. i think a dynamic camera is probably the best bet, although Generations also went too far in putting those dumb hazard warnings everywhere.

    My i key is broken. Sorry.
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