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Let's criticise classic Sonic gameplay.

Discussion in 'Fangaming Discussion' started by Deef, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. Deef

    Deef

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    Ooh time to actually reply to this.

    [First I'll say please keep it to criticisms. Small asides are fine, but if you write a wall of text make sure nearly all of it is on topic.]


    I'm wondering if there are criticisms that are more in terms of classic Sonic fundamentals or mainstays, as opposed to specific instances. Gameplay, not game. Kind of "What's wrong with the classic Sonic formula."
    As in, looking for problems that carried over from one game to another (or, could have carried over, but were fixed).

    A good example of a fundamental that could have carried over but was fixed, was the absence of any functional distinction between characters in Sonic 2.
    An example of a fundamental (opinion disclaimer) that carried over and wasn't fixed, was the infinite life of one ring.

    Here are some of the things that have been suggested so far; things that are more about fundamentals than specific pieces in a specific game.

    * Levels are often repetitive, not enough landmarks or distinction
    * Centered camera + speed = annoying
    * Memorisation issue
    * Shields lack character
    * Shields are under-utilised
    * Some bosses too simple to bounce on
    * Some bosses demand waiting around
    * Rings = infinite life
    * Super Sonic too accessible, too early
    * Dick moves are a thing

    Etc, etc.
     
  2. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    There's too much momentum based gameplay in the classic series, and there should be a more guided experience. Too many times I'd come across a chasm wishing I had a run button.
     
  3. Deef

    Deef

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    Can you elaborate on that? Gameplay that emerges from momentum-based antics is often described as a good thing in the classics. Any examples you could give?
     
  4. Felik

    Felik

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. Deef

    Deef

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    Hehe... ok I was wondering but yeah.
     
  6. You mention as a flaw how having one Ring would basically be infinite life, as long as you can keep collecting that same Ring. Now, I know that if you have something like two hundred Rings and get hit, only something like twenty or thirty appear on-screen. (I know this isn't the right number, but you get the idea.) What if, when you got hit while carrying less than the loading threshold, only half of your Rings appeared on-screen, rounded down. If you get hit with ten Rings, only five will go flying on-screen for you to grab. If you only have five and you get hit, you'd only see two. (2.5 rounded down) That way, if you are only holding a single Ring, if you get hit, you won't have the chance to re-collect it. You'd still have the gameplay concept of collecting tons of Rings so that if you get hit, you'd have the opportunity to save yourself, but you wouldn't have the eternal safety net with one Ring. (You know, this seems like a simple enough thing to do that a proof-of-concept hack could probably be easily thrown together by somebody who knew how.)
     
  7. Jayextee

    Jayextee

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    Oh, okay. I guess I won't follow my post up and dissect Sonic 2's gameplay and criticise it then, since I think this shit goes deeper than bullet points.
     
  8. Beltway

    Beltway

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    The below is not mine (it's from a Sega Forums member called Nieves), but I think it's a rather interesting bit of critique nonetheless on the design of Knuckles' routes in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

    The context was in light of the initial complaints about Tails' implementation into the game as a co-op character and the co-op moves possibly being required to progress through the levels, n the wake of S4E2's trailer reveal. The following bit was used as a comparison point with S4E2's co-op moves on how gameplay abilities, if not handled well in the game's design (specifically, in terms of the player having to stop and perform these moves in order to progress through the game), can come off as condescending.

     
  9. Deef

    Deef

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    @Jayextee
    No need to get offended (and that comment wasn't aimed at you in particular). Dissect the gameplay by all means, but the core gameplay; the stuff that can be applied to levels that don't exist yet. Avoid writing 2000 word about how particular things in particular levels affect the game at those particular times, unless they are adding to a point that is referring to something about the core gameplay mechanics. It's easy to take a lot of your comments and say they'd be the same problems in any platformer. That's why the OP distinguishes between "gameplay" and "game".

    For example, critiquing the spin dash is a yay, as well as discussing how it can be used well or badly with some hypothetical half-pipe level design.

    @Yeow
    Heh, that's me you quoted. :D
     
  10. Beltway

    Beltway

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    lol I had a nagging hunch you were Nieves back at the Sega Forums. Your signature image and general posting style (which I'd say are of a very articulate manner) had me somewhat convined, but I could never really tell.

    Glad to see my thoughts were correct. Very long time no see. :specialed:

    By the by (to try and get back on topic), I remember one time during the Automation thread back at that forum, reviews for Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles at the time of their release were brought up, and lack of freshness was cited as a negative point for both individual titles. You touched on that briefly and said you were in agreement that they didn't change the formula much; bringing up Mario's additions and changes between SMB1 to SMB3 and then SMB3 to SMW as comparison.

    Worth noting beforehand that this takes the discussion into a bit of a tangent, but I think it's still something interesting to touch on: when compared to other (classic) platforming series, how does the Genesis Sonic series stack up in terms of how they evolved their playstyle per sequel? If people are in agreement that the games didn't really push the envelope in expanding the formula, would that certainly count as a critique against classic Sonic gameplay?

    Personally I do agree about what the reviewers said about Sonic 3 (less acts in terms of numbers despite being bigger, and the competition mode not being as good as Sonic 2's split screen) and Sonic & Knuckles (obviously being a mission pack sequel to Sonic 3), but at the same time I do think Sonic 3 & Knuckles was in a sense a huge leap over Sonic 2--if not the equivalent to Mario 3, it certainly came the closest. I just feel that it never got to show it, due to being split in two games and/or the marketing materials not promoting both games as being two halves of the one title it was intended to be (outside of the Sonic 3 European boxart). I think both games being called Sonic 3 but having their own subtitles (I.e. Sonic 3: Revenge of the Death Egg; Sonic 3: Knuckles' Return) could had made some decent headway towards accomplishing that.
     
  11. Jayextee

    Jayextee

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    Yeah BUT there's a bigger picture it all fits into; did I not explain how different isolated things came together to form a smooth progression in teaching a player how to Sonic The Hedgehog properly? Dang. Alright.

    Oh right, you didn't want to look at the larger picture but once more retread on a tiny but already-overexplored plot of land. Either way, this ain't the topic for me.
     
  12. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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    The European box had the "Part 1" sign hidden, so it didn't promote such thing either.
     
  13. Deef

    Deef

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    It ain't the topic for unfocussed rambles. It especially isn't the topic for "but my stuff is deeper than your stuff".

    @Yeow
    Yeah heh they were good times. :D That was the thing about Sonic 4; the forum's fun made up for the game. Almost.

    For your question, to be honest there aren't really many other platforming series that I dwell on. I simplify life (all of it) as "Mario was a plain game done superbly, and Sonic was a superb game done messily", and every other normal platformer as a weaker attempt to do either superb thing. To throw some out there: James Pond, Bubsy, Cool Spot, Donkey Kong Country, and Jazz Jackrabbit.

    James Pond mixed it up a lot. If it hadn't we wouldn't have received James Pond 3, so that's awesome because James Pond 3 is a really great game. In fact it has in it the ingredients to be a better game than Mario or Sonic in my opinion. With a bit more focus Pond 3 could have been (or could be) something that I'd rather play over Sonic or Mario, and I don't think I can say that about any other platformer at all.

    As a contrast, DKC started off amazingly then kept things more static than anything else I can think of. I loved the first DKC, and I'm sure I would have bought at least DKC1 & 2 had I owned a SNES, but looking at those games now the staleness hits me very hard. This could be due to the fact that a lot of DKC's great experience was, for me, riding on its presentation rather than its game.

    So it sounds like I'm making the obvious point of "change is good", but honestly that isn't how I feel. I dislike when developers take a good thing and muck with it; always fearful that they'll mess up what made something good. So a big part of me is very thankful that this didn't happen with Sonic. They did things exactly the way I feel comfortable with: kept the core intact and made it better, not different. Perhaps that's a big reason why the levels were able to evolve so massively. Had Sonic 3 really gone down that path of totally changing it up, we'd be left thinking Sonic 2's zones are as good as it gets. Instead we've seen how impressive 2D levels can be.

    Five games in one generation didn't help though. Sonic CD and Sonic 2 were in my opinion easily acceptable evolutions over Sonic 1, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles was an acceptable jump over everything before it. But 5 separate titles of the same core in 3.5 years is asking for a lot of attention, and complaints of repetitiveness really are due. I doubt they would have even considered Sonic & Knuckles because of this, were it not the salvaging mission that it was.

    So to answer your question, I think if Sonic 3 had released as originally intended I wouldn't agree with the complaint at all and would see the evolution as a definite positive. They didn't screw around with the core at all, and added significant improvements to the complimentary stuff. To me that's a good approach when you're carrying a really unique and fun formula in the first place.

    But as it unfolded in reality, yep too little change for 5 releases. Still more than DKC though. :D

    Is it a criticism of the core gameplay itself, or just the handling of it? I guess the latter.


    On a related note, I prefer Sonic 4: Ep II's jumping over Sonic 3's.


    Wait.. really? There was a Part 1 sign?
     
  14. Rika Chou

    Rika Chou

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    http://info.sonicretro.org/File:SSS_SONICL_.png
     
  15. Wow. Do you want a discussion regarding game design or do you want a list topic of mini-rants that don't benefit anyone?

    Have you even played the other Donkey Kong Country games, man? The Donkey Kong/Diddy Kong mechanic was there mainly as an extra hit in DKC1; there was little different between the two other than that DK carries barrels above his head while Diddy holds them out in front. DKC2 expanded the differences by having Donkey Kong himself kidnapped and replacing him as a playable character with Dixie Kong. Diddy holds barrels with her hair retaining the above-protection but also came with a unique gliding ability. They also introduced the Team-Up ability. DKC3 replaced Diddy with Dixie's cousin Kiddy Kong replete with his own unique stats. To say that the Donkey Kong Country games "kept things static" does a major disservice to the game series.
     
  16. Jayextee

    Jayextee

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    My 'unfocused ramble' was detailing why such design choices may have been employed; where they fit into the bigger picture provides better context for their inclusion than a shallow bullet-point list. But if that's all you were after, then your understanding of game design is puerile at best - focusing purely on superficial item lists is possibly the reason for the gaping chasm of difference between the approaches of, say, Sonic 3/Knuckles and Sonic 4.

    Show me exactly where I said that. Please. Then again, you seem to want to be told exactly what you want to hear so I don't know why I'm bothering further. Maybe I'll stick to the actual making games thing I do rather than projecting intellectual insecurities. Good day.
     
  17. Laura

    Laura

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    There's many angles to criticise the Classic Sonic games for:

    Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 have no password/save feature, which was standard at the time. This is bad enough for forcing the player to finish the game in one sitting, but with Sonic 2, it ruins the point of Super Sonic, as he's lost when the game is powered off. And I know that you can use cheat codes, but I don't think that is a good substitute for a password/save feature.

    The final boss for Sonic 2, combined with the lack of a save feature, is the most frustratingly designed boss in the series.

    The games are too zoomed in, and it's difficult to see where enemies/obstacles are in time to avoid them. I know widescreen wasn't possible at the time, but did the game really need to throw Sonic in the centre?

    That said, I still think the Classic Sonic games are excellent :v:/>
     
  18. winterhell

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    The save system in S3(S3K) is very very very wrong.
    The original argument for it was that the game was too long and you might not have 2 hours at a time to play through the whole ordeal or have a power cut, console freeze etc. So far so good. Thus the save should work as a substitute for a PAUSE.
    You reach ice cap? Save. 6 Emeralds? Save. You die? Substract one life and save. You die again? Substract one life and save. 0 lives? Game over, you have to start over from the first zone. At best you get to keep your emeralds and the game working the same as a soft reset.

    I mean come on. Sonic 2 takes 60 minutes to play through(with the special stages). Each zone takes 6-7 minutes on average.
    If you had the game take you back to Wing Fortress Zone or Death Egg Zone(or the last zone you got to) with 3 lives each time you restart, you'd probably complete the game the first few hours after you got it. You wouldn't get to play a dozen times through Aquatic Ruin or Metropolis. You wouldn't have the same enjoyment you got from completing the game that you got from playing it on the Mega Drive. Besides, do you really want to spend 60 UK pounds('92s pounds are a shit ton of money) on a game you complete in 3 hours ?
    When you rewatch a movie you like, do you just skip to the conclusion, I.e. 'the best part' or do you watch the whole thing? Again and again?
     
  19. Beltway

    Beltway

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    ...what? I'm pretty sure when you lose all of your lives and get a game over on Sonic 3(&K)'s save system, you just have to start from the beginning of latest zone you reached. Not start the entire game all over again. So if you died in Ice Cap, you start from Ice Cap Act 1, not Angel Island Act 1. Unless this is some type of bug or faulty version of the game I don't know of, I really don't follow.

    ...unless you're referring to how you can't play previous zones when you haven't completed the game; in which that I can understand. Though not exactly a solution, it's worth noting that after you complete the game, you can select any stage without having to resort to opening the debug level select/sound select menu.

    You know, if you disagree with the topic or feel your post was unfairly deemed as a tangent, you could had conveyed it without throwing out cheap shots like this. I don't agree with Deef's "rambles / but my stuff is deeper than your stuff" comment that followed, but that likely wouldn't had come about if you didn't feel the need to include this instigative jab in.
     
  20. winterhell

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    Yes I know this is how its in the game, but it shouldn't be. It makes the notion of number of lives almost meaningless. And S3K is much easier and life-gain friendly than S2 and especially S1.
    They didn't think that one through. Just like how they added homing attack in Adventure "because the game is hard to control in 3D" only to mindlessly put it in future 2D gameplay in the face of Advance, DS, Sonic 4, etc.