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Let's criticise classic Sonic gameplay.

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

  1. Felik

    Felik

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    On the subject of pushable spikes.
    So how many of you found that secret from your experience rather than from reading guides/watching playthroughs and whatnot?
     
  2. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    I did. But then I find S3K just a joy to explore, especially in the last couple of years where it's been my main project. :ssh:

    I'd also like to point out that there's two sets of pushable spikes in FBZ, each concealing a big ring.
     
  3. Deef

    Deef

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    You know, I hadn't thought of the monitors themselves being the playful part. Actually, you might remember Mopingskull back on the Sega boards did a sketch of a monitor trap... a kind of bear trap around the monitor. But how to go even further I wonder. As we know them, monitors can't run around, and it's a bit anti-lore for them to be flying around I think. Maybe. But then again, maybe Robotnik is into using camera-equipped drones now with little jets... So maybe a little reinvention would be good. Just finding it tricky to imagine without losing the feel of them... I don't like SA1's approach. (Imagine if Sonic Adventure 1 had actually kept using monitors like those in Sonic 1... would've been pretty cool imo.)

    So the other approach is to leave monitors with fairly conservative restrictions (or at least, some standard physical properties like tumbling or breaking), while inventing a new powerup container. Which leads into the capsules.

    The Flying Battery capsules were a good thing to point out. It raises the thought that monitors aren't the only way powerups can be provided, and those capsules are pretty good for it for the reasons you pointed out. They fit the universe, they have mobility, they have dual functionality, they are secretive. That could definitely be played with; maybe mini-capsules... with their own behaviour, and 2 flickies and some unknown/random goodie. Heck, they could be capsule-badnik hybrids. Ideas are just starting to gush now heh.

    The sphere's idea.... hmm. What I've felt is the biggest problem with making powerups more interactive is that Sonic levels themselves aren't simple things. A Mario stage can very be shaped with powerup-collection-play in mind; not so much with Sonic. So, would the spheres just appear in the air to collect? Bit boring. Would they pursue Sonic like a flicky? I'd kinda rather leave that conceptual space open for things like... well... flickies. What about bouncing/rolling away? Doable I guess. I suppose that solution really is just doing the Mario because it's a good thing to do. Put a monitor containing a fire shield at the top of a hill. Halfway down the hill is a lavafall. The powerup appears and starts rolling down the hill; the player has to chase it before either of them arrive at the lavafall.

    Again just writing more than thinking. Exam tomorrow and this is kind of rushed procrastination heh.

    But overall, yeah good input. Playful powerups and playful containers.


    Regarding point 5, well the examples you gave were all kind of fed to the player weren't they? I can't remember if the rock secret in AIZ was obvious or not, but I know it never felt like a surprise to me for some reason. Similarly with the CNZ secret paths; once you were in those secret rooms, the hidden passage was kinda given to you, no? Not sure now.

    But the pushing business is a pretty natural way to address the idea. So far, being able to push something pretty much guarantees that whatever it is, it means something. But that could be changed; it wouldn't be hard to begin a game and introduce the player to the idea that lots of stuff can be pushed, but only some stuff leads to a secret place, to the point where the player will frequently sail past secrets they could have checked.

    The only problem I see is that pushing stuff is slow and annoying.

    Perhaps the best way to address that design feature is to just implement it in as many ways as you can think of. Push spikes, push blocks, but also things like the raft idea in Sonic 2, and isn't there a floating block you can ride to a secret in Sonic 1? Hmm... here's a very Mario-esque example: the mushrooms in MHZ. Some bounce you a little, some bounce you a lot, up to a secret area. Stage-specific, but it ticks the boxes otherwise.



    @Felik
    I found the spikes, but I read about the completely hidden 1-up near the start of FBZ1 in a magazine before I bought the game. Since it's completely impossible to notice, to this day I have always wondered if I would have ever found it by myself.
     
  4. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    Sonic 1 8-bit did some creative things with its monitors, in particular with extra life monitors:

    1. There's an extra life monitor in every act; hitting them all gives a special bonus at the end.

    2. In Labyrinth 1, there's a ring monitor; pressing a button makes it turn into an extra life monitor.

    3. In Scrap Brain 1, there's an extra life monitor on a conveyor belt; you have to hit it before it falls off the end.

    4. In Sky Base 3, the extra life monitor only appears if you've hit all the previous monitors, giving a clear indication that you've got the bonus.

    Sonic Colours made pushing less slow and less annoying by allowing you to kick it with a spindash attack.

    All mushrooms act the same in MHZ. Mushrooms bounce you up a small amount the first time, slightly higher on the second bounce, and at max height the third time. There are also mushroom-shaped seesaws, but these are visibly different and... well, they act identically to seesaws.
     
  5. Deef

    Deef

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    Ok, yes good example of the environment affecting the container.
    Wow o_O. I actually still have this in a box somewhere, but I doubt I can love my Master System II (which has absolutely no power LED, brilliant design there) back to life.
    If only I'd played more the game I actually own. Now that you mention it, that was totally a thing with the blocks in Sandopolis too. Good tip. Begs the question though, why would the player push when they can spin dash. But good addressing of the low speed anyway.
    Ah yeah, sorry I meant they bounce different heights in the hypothetical situation I was imagining. For Mushroom Hill Zone at least, the shrooms could have been rather direct copies of Mario's pipes' functionalities.

    The logical way to expand on that then would be for every zone to have its own gimmick that served the same 'hidden in plain sight' role. But I'm feeling like I'm trying to think of ways to shoehorn something in now. Eh well... the comparison to pipes is still interesting to consider anyway. I've certainly found more ideas from this discussion... objects to push, swinging rafts to stand on, floating blocks to wait for, bushes to roll through? Springs that conceal buttons? The thing I ponder still is, can the player develop that sense of "I see it, and it might go somewhere, but I will just wonder and not check"? So that later playthroughs see them slowly uncovering more of the secrets hidden in plain sight.

    Here's a totally off-beat idea. In NiGHTS, a loop around items, or sometimes around thin air, transforms that space into other items. I wonder if some kind of similar mechanic could be thought up in a 2D Sonic, that implements the role of pipes (ie., player always aware, rarely bothers to check).

    Perhaps freed flickies sometimes flee towards secrets.. or reveal secret passages... or outright generate a portal on the odd occasion if you watch them for a second. Just throwing things around. Ways to get the player to feel like they're surrounded by possible secrets, if only they ever checked every "pipe".

    Having said all that, a big part of Sonic level design that Mario never did is the constant feeling of "I didn't go that way. I wonder what's down there if I did."
     
  6. TheInvisibleSun

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    I might have posted this before a long time ago, but I've always wanted to see loops that behaved differently depending on whether Sonic was rolling or not.
     
  7. Beltway

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    Thought it would be in good justice to bump this topic, now that Mania has been revealed and has been out for roughly a month for people to play with and analyze it. (Goes without saying that Mania "spoilers" are below.)

    In particular, one complaint I've been seeing recently has been the accusation that the time limit is unnecessary, due to people getting constant deaths caused by time overs in Mania. While I do understand the complaints --I'll admit that I myself have also received several time overs during my first Mania playthrough, especially with the later stages-- I also do feel that I've rarely if ever had this problem in the previous classic Sonic games (even in S3&K, only a few levels --Marble Garden, Carnival Night, Sandopolis, and Death Egg in particular-- stuck out to me as being marathon levels). I'd argue that the time limit isn't so much the problem than it is the length of Mania's levels (most of the levels in the game are significantly larger, being similar in size to Sonic 3&K if not more) and the nature of the bosses (a large amount of them are of the "wait for an opening" style, which I'll address in a bit).

    One obvious solution would just be to make a more balanced array of levels of varying lengths; but I do wonder if adding a sort of "time" monitor powerup that shaved one minute or two off the clock would also be serviceable solution. I think, that could definitely help make time attack speedruns a bit more interesting, in regards to planning your route.

    Then there's Mania's bosses, which seem to be hit-and-miss for quite a fair amount of people. Largely due to several of their designs prohibiting players from allowing them to be damaged directly, and thus requiring players to either follow a specific strategy to defeat them or having to constantly wait for an opening. The result are bosses that the player not only can't attack as frequently as you can in the other classic titles (which, given the fast paced nature of Sonic gameplay, is kinda expected); but due to their long nature is also the culprit for the aforementioned Time Over results deaths and complaints about the Time Over mechanics. This is absolutely a valid complaint but I do think some of the bosses make up for this by going for a more unique approach in their thematic design and requiring some intuition to defeat, as opposed to just frequently ramming them. That of which I think is a bit necessary in regards to taking S3&K approach of having bosses at the end of every act, as I do think a fair amount of the bosses in S3&K can end up feeling a bit repetitive in design, and not really taking advantage of the level theme.
     
  8. Lapper

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    I had the same idea!

    I feel this would be a perfect solution.
     
  9. AeroGP

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    Another possibility would be to simply allow the player to toggle the time limit on or off in the Options menu, or even change the time limit to something other than 10 minutes. Just make sure there's an "arcade" mode that infers the preferred menu settings the game expects you to play on.
     
  10. Lapper

    Lapper

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    I feel it would have to be a solution that applies to everyone, which monitors would. It'd be a bit odd for a classic Sonic game with some people playing 'easy explore mode'. I'd prefer the abilty to explore more to be a reward granted by the act of exploration in the first place. Gives you something to push for, balances the time difficulty for those who play linearly & those who explore automatically, and gives you the satisfaction of finding extra time.
     
  11. AeroGP

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    Howso? It's what a lot of people on this very forum have wanted for a very long time.

    These are not mutually-exclusive ideas.
     
  12. TheInvisibleSun

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    What if checkpoints gave extra time?
     
  13. Lapper

    Lapper

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    People wanted more time to explore sure, we're discussing how the time should be given. To put things simply, I feel there should be a timelimit as there always has been as it promotes people to learn to go fast through stages. However, if you want to explore, doing so will reward you with more time to do more of exactly that.

    Are you saying you can get those same benefits with no time limit?
     
  14. Xiao Hayes

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    I defend the time limit, but it's true it was established when Sonic games had a much shorter levels. 10 minutes is ok if even a quite slow run takes you just 5 of them, but those 5 mins are sometimes spent in Mania just for the quick route if you stop to get some giant rings or extra goodies on your way, specially in acts with heavily time-consuming bosses or during an inexperienced playthrough, like your first run or a newbie's game who doesn't get used to Sonic's playstyle easily. I personally think this game's a little too long to be played on a single run even when going super soon in the playthrough. I think we're pointing to a balance problem between level design and time limit, not to the time limit itself being a problem.

    Btw, I got a lot of Time Overs on my first runs (yes, plural), and I wasn't worried because I had a lot of extra lives to spare and no need to make a perfect run (I only had this need on 8-bit Sonic 1). Losing a life because the boss was abusively time-consuming, on the other hand, bothered me quite a lot, and I hate Metal Sonic boss ordeal because it takes a lot longer than going through the act to reach there. It's also the only place where going super is bad because Super forms send Silver mechas to high and don't hit Metal Sonic (in my runs, at least).
     
  15. AeroGP

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    Collect-athons come to mind, such as Donkey Kong Country 2.

    The point of exploring is to find something. If all you're finding is more time to find more time to find more time to [repeat ad nauseum], that's going to get old fast. And if there is something else worth looking for, most people are going to find the time limit a hindrance to that, rather than something that gives it more meaning.

    In other words, exploration is a commitment that often comes at the expense of simply making it to the end of the level.

    Furthermore, there a times when a player just wants to fool around without particularly looking to "accomplish" something. (But not necessarily via debug mode)
     
  16. Okamikurainya

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    If I'm understanding it right, this isn't what Lapper is suggesting at all. The Time Monitors are more similar to the air bubbles than a goal in their own right. The monitors would allow you to KEEP on exploring, not for more Time Monitors, but for the things the Time Monitors may allow you to reach.
     
  17. AeroGP

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    Yes, hence the second part of my quote:

    The reason people don't like the time limit is because it gets in the way of doing things that don't have anything to do with completing the level. Adding temporary means of alleviating this obstacle will not satisfy. Some would rather stay in the level as long as they want without negotiation.

    This is why, as @Yeow mentioned, people call it "unnecessary" as opposed to "unfair."
     
  18. EterTC

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    About the time limit complaint, Sonic Advance lets you turn it off, and it doesn't seem to make too much of a difference, at least in that game.

    I'm one of those that defend the time limit. Exploring the stages should come at your own risk. You're well aware that staying too long in a stage will result in a time over (or at least you should be aware of it), and if you choose to see what the stages contain, you should be paying attention. I think exploration should be reserved for later playthroughs after finishing the game, not to spend more time than necessary to clear a stage for the first time. In other words, just if you're curious to see what you missed the first time. Besides, the risk of running out of time makes finding secrets more rewarding, at least in my eyes. But even then, the worst thing that could happen is losing a life and returning to the last checkpoint, and I believe some games even reset the timer back to 0:00, so it's not a big loss in the long run.

    While I did explore the stages during my first Mania playthrough, I usually went back on track around the 6 minute mark. Can't say much about the bosses since I never had any problem with them, I thought they were rather creative.

    I don't consider the "time monitor" idea a necessity, but it would be a cool addition for the time attack mode, kind of like how the time trials in Crash Bandicoot turn most boxes into "time boxes" that discount a few seconds off your timer when you break them.
     
  19. Murasaki Fox

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    For me the biggest issue is the screen size. I've played other momentum-platforming games that get the sense of momentum a lot better, and it comes down to being able to see what's coming up ahead. This is one huge advantage that 3D has over 2D, although 3D is a lot more complicated to deal with.

    I know it's not feasible in the Genesis games, but even just panning in the direction of movement would be a big help.
     
  20. Lapper

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    Panning is a solution but I always hate seeing the screen move back and forth all the time. Tracking so many movements & changes in speed due to the camera. Makes me queasy. Additionally, knowing sonic is always in the centre helps judge hazard proximity automatically without actually having to notice where he is relative to the screen constantly.