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Playing as other Characters

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Cyberguy, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. Cyberguy


    I am the Chancellor of Clown Cars! Member
    We all remember the infamous Sonic's Friends Scapegoat, blaming the extended cast of the series for the inherent problems Sega has been having in developing fun games. Sega obviously does, seeing as how every major release (besides Boom, but that's a can of worms in it of itself.) has delegated the supporting cast to NPCs at best. They obviously took the complaints to heart, but was that really the best course to take?

    In contrast, Mario went through an almost inverse scenario. While Sonic's playable cast swelled and grew, Mario games dropped off Luigi and the others into the spinoffs and supporting roles, leaving him as the sole platforming hero for years. Sonic fans complained that there were too many characters, Mario fans bemoaned that there weren't enough. So, slowly, Nintendo started adding other people you could use. Starting with letting Luigi take center stage again, they gradually added Toad and then the Princesses to the roster, with their own, unique abilities as well, to the joy of fans.

    What can we take from this? Well, first, Nintendo made sure they had a formula that worked before they started shaking it up with the alternate characters. Second, they made sure that the alternate characters weren't too radical of a departure from the main gameplay, being mere skins over Mario before giving them subtle traits to make them stand out. Then, they experimented with more unique characters, like Captain Toad, in mini-stages that weren't a requirement to complete the game. (Would people hate Big so much if his fishing wasn't absolutely required to finish the main story of Sonic Adventure? If he was optional along the lines of the Chao Garden?)

    Sonic's heyday did much the same thing, introducing Tails as a skin for Sonic to test the water in 2, before giving him unique abilities and throwing in Knuckles for good measure in 3&K. The Advance Trilogy kept up the trend, adding Amy and her radical departure from the boys' gameplay, being slower and more combat based, but still built off the same engine. The best received games with alternate characters have been the ones where they're all built off the same template, adding in their unique abilities for differentiation.

    As has been discussed elsewhere, Sonic's current problem is that Sega can't stick with a single gameplay style and refine it long enough to make something worthwhile, re-inventing the wheel every game. If you had a say in adding more characters to future Sonic games, How would you approach it, and how would you implement the characters? Which characters would you implement?
  2. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    I guess it depends on where the Sonic Gameplay Style Roulette lands for the next instalment. I have a hard time personally imagining how flying or gliding would fit in with the Unleashed/Generations style.
  3. Lilly


    United States
    Shang Mu Architect
    That could be because Generation's play-style emphasizes too much on the horizontal plane of platforming, requiring massive stretches of uneventful terrain that don't do characters with better vertical scaling advantages any good.

    I feel like this is what Freedom Planet nailed down to a tee. There's plenty to do in both dimensions that keep things interesting for every character. Sonic needs to get some of that vertical action again.
  4. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

    Working on my art!
    I would love seeing Knuckles given a faster, more platforming centric version of the Werehog's gameplay. I think it would fit his character perfectly. Tails I think should adopt a modified version of Sonic's gameplay from the Adventure series that should have some more exploration. Sonic should keep the Modern Generations style gameplay, maybe including some of Lost World's parkour stuff for the hell of it.

    Metal Sonic should be included as a bonus where he can play through all three characters' levels, with his gameplay slightly modified in each level so he can still complete the levels. Since he's a robot he can do whatever the fuck.
  5. Nova


    This is ideal and definitely how I'd go about it - in fact, I think the Adventure series was pretty close to having distinct styles that worked for everyone. The unfortunate nature of those games, however, is that they were technically broken on multiple levels and it leads to a less-than-brilliant experience. Something like that again, with some proper QA and more intelligent game design (like we saw in Generations?)... I'd be all for that.

    Also, I just want to raise the point about the friends being 'scapegoats'. I don't think that's it, exactly - nobody blamed them for the games being terrible, as far as I recall, but I do blame them for oversaturating the story and stealing the spotlight slightly. I like how Boom does characters - I just dislike everything else about it.

    How hard is it for them to get it right? :v:
  6. Felik


    I so much agree with you. SA1 was first time original Tails gameplay actually worked. Not the first time it worked since classic games, it was the first time it actually worked and was fun, period. In Sonic 3 Tails was just watered down Sonic with a special ability which's only purpose was to subtract fun from the game (and give access to occasional alternate paths).
    Original Knuckles gameplay also transfered to 3D well in SA1. I'd even argue it was better than in original.

    I also liked how Heroes handled multiple character playstyles. If only it was not so painfully repetitive and didn't have a bazillion enemies with bazillion hitpoints to be taken care of. Also slippery controls.
  7. MartiusR


    How could I miss this topic? :P

    Anyway, I've got to admit, that I liked the feature with additional character(s) since Sonic 3 (& Knuckles), wasn't too interested about it in Sonic 2 (it was nice feature though in VS mode, even it was generally about the "skin"). I like overall model in Sonic Heroes (not a surprise in my case, though ;)) - simple to use, functional, giving some variety... On the other hand, I didn't mind the fact that in Sonic Adventure 2 I was playing as Shadow who was generally the black Sonic running through different levels and with different story. The thing I didn't liked though were these annoying types of gameplay, such as looking for emerald shards in SA2 or fishing in SA. In effect, my experience with playing with such characters as Big or Rouge were far, FAR better in Sonic Heroes, despite the fact that I made with big (almost) the same things as with Knuckles, Omega or Vector (similar with Rouge and trio Tails/Cream/Charmy). And hey, even playing in Sonic 3 & Knuckles with Sonic and (later) Knuckles was quite a nice thing, even if major chunk of the game was generally the same. I've got to admit, that for me model from SA series was the most "risky" one. It's generally hit or miss, no intermediate states.

    Therefore I would tell that the best option (for me) would be the mix of "just the skins" approach (e.g. Shadow/Sonic from SA2 - almost the same skills, but different levels) and the consistent (and decent!) gameplay with mixing the skills of characters (like in Sonic Heroes). I could accept also mixing the approach "just the skins, but different levels" with the model from Sonic 3 & Knuckles (generally the same gameplay, but there is one or two skills which are making playing with current character in some way distinctive.

    Now about characters - natural rivals are Sonic and Shadow, so definitelly there should be Shadow (as one of the alternative characters). From two "classic" partners of Sonic (Tails and Knuckles) I would personally prefer Knuckles - I always felt a bit weird when such "non-combat" characters as Tails or Cream were engaged into some serious aggro. As well as Amy - maybe if there would be character development similar to this one from Sonic the Comic (and Sonic the COmic Online), she would fit better as one of the active characters, but at this point I see her rather as some (psychotic :)) damsel in distress than active, fully playable character (of course it doesn't count in case of VS modes or spin-off titles, like Sonic Riders). I personally would like also something special - campaign for Metal Sonic. With different enemies (let's say that there could be antropormorphized animals like Sonic & pals, which would fight back), bosses and all other stuff. It would be probably hard to perform such thing, especially since some bosses would be probably some positive characters, and it was always a hard thing, to perform fight with other characters in proper way (let's be honest, it was really weak in Sonic Adventure or in Sonic Heroes, while fight with Knuckles in SOnic & Knuckles was too short for me to make some opinion about it).

    I can imagine that there could be made some parts with playable such characters as , Omega, Blaze or even unfortunate Rouge*... But rather as some sort of one-shot interlude/ornament, than regular stuff. Some easy and entertaining stuff (and short, as it should be in case of interlude). Again, it wouldn't count in case of VS modes or spin-offs.

    *I'm not a big fan of her, but I've got to admit, that her features are quite good material for some short, playable sequence.
  8. Fenrir


    Eh. Member
    I've always been a firm believer that people wouldn't have nearly as much of a problem with Sonic's 'friends' if they were all fun to play as and didn't show up during games of debatable quality.

    I mean obviously they'd still have a lot of problems from a character standpoint but I don't think every generic game reviewer and their mother would be pulling the Sonic's stupid friends card all the time. I feel it is part of the reason Sonic Team has been so scared to let us play as anyone other than Sonic since 06.

    I mean, we have seen it work before... even a lot of fan hacks have managed to make other characters playable and fun to boot. If each character followed basically the same formula as Sonic- platforming and speed, with their own abilities to help separate them from the rest, (I.E. Tails, Knuckles, Advanced Amy, Blaze and Cream), I would be a happy camper. Companies don't tend to realize how much replay value a game has if you give us more than one character to play with.

    I'm just getting a little bit sick of Sonic only, is all.
  9. E-122-Psi


    I feel the pivot in people getting sick of Sonic's friends being playable was that you were FORCED to play as them whether you wanted to or not, meaning rather than a bonus it was a mandate and in some cases even a handicap if they were developed badly or not to your taste.

    You wanna switch around from Sonic sometimes and try some different guys like Tails or Knuckles? Can do in the MD/Genesis games and even SA1 to a certain extent. You don't? Well you can always just play as Sonic as usual.

    You don't want to in SA2, Heroes or Next Gen. TOO FREAKING BAD. In fact you can't complete a single level of Heroes and Next Gen as just Sonic.
  10. Fenrir


    Eh. Member
    Very good point. It's one of the things I begrudgingly give Black Knight credit for... you had the choice of 3 other characters in the latter half of the game. They all played similarly to Sonic but had more than enough to make them different as well. But they were also 100% optional. If you wanted to just keep going as Sonic, you could. Funnily enough, I remember them making that a key point in the initial Nintendo Power article the game had.

    Having extra characters for incentive to do more than one play through is one thing. Padding out the game by FORCING you to play as them is another.
  11. TheKazeblade


    "Our Life is More than a Side-Effect" Member
    NO FRIENDS. With one caveat.

    Re-introducing fully-playable friends in any capacity outside of the Generations formula or a true-to-form Classic formula would not only be ill-advised, but likely compromising the the final product. With the classic titles and Generations, a refined, well-developed formula has been created. With Generations, Sonic's gameplay is sound, there is a framework in place for it, the team is familiar with it, and we can tell from their turnaround speed – as well as how successful its modding community is – that level assets can quickly and efficiently be created for it with a full team working on it. So that formula can benefit from the addition of friends without risk of compromising the core gameplay. It's the only 3D Sonic formula that has had this degree of refinement to the engine and gameplay. The second closes is the Sonic Adventure formula, but it was spread over three different engines over three(ish) console generations and 7 different consoles (Not counting PC).

    Fully-playable friends in anything besides the Classic or Generations framework means that friend implementation will have to be developed from scratch WITH the core gameplay. Meaning neither would get the full-attention it deserves. Sonic Team have proven in the past that they are incapable of multi-tasking successfully in this manner. No one can argue Sonic Adventure would have been a much more mechanically sound game if more emphasis had been given to the core Sonic gameplay and levels (maybe with Tails and Knuckles implemented). Because the engine, collision and scripted events were all basically held together with duct tape and bubble gum. SA2 was significantly more refined in those regards, but that was three console generations ago; none of that framework or its engines are usable now. They would still have to be re-built from scratch.

    The prolonged dev cycle (comparatively, anyway) of the 25th Anniversary title in theory makes it possible that core gameplay could get the refinement it needs in addition to friends, but not probable. I'd love to be proven wrong, but considering the fact that Sonic Team ditched a well-refined and potential-filled route with the Generations approach for the rickety Lost World approach does not give me confidence.
  12. I think that for me the first thing would be to include additional playable characters ONLY IF the core formula has been refined (for example the Genesis trilogy/Advance 1) as well as making the optional, and most certainly not mandatory to play them all in order to reach a final boss/true ending.

    One of the things I felt were the root of many problems since Sonic first moved into the 3-D realm is that the core formula was not only unpolished as it was the first time Sonic had a full 3-D game, but many of the character either were not as fast, had different objectives or were placed in levels that were not as fun nor as exciting as the stages dedicated for Sonic. The other issue is how in those more story driven games, you were limited to play with other characters for only a few stages, or you were obliged to play as whatever character the story needed to take action to advance the story. None of these issues ever existed in 2-D games like the Genesis games or the Advance series as they felt less restricted.

    Further, while I think that in 2-D there should be no problem to have alternate optional characters, 3-D is a whole different story. Some abilities that could potentially break the game by being abused such as Tails flight or Knuckles gliding and wall climbing would require to be nerfed in order to not trivialize the platforming challenge. I feel that more grounded characters like Sonic and Amy would be more easy to implement since they do not possess any fight abilities and instead focus on the more traditional approach, with Sonic being best for horizontal movement while Amy excels in the vertical.

    Another thing is level layout. Characters like Tails and Knuckles were created basically to play like Sonic... in fact you use Sonic's signature abilities with them much more than their unique abilities as they mostly serve the purpose of reaching their exclusive paths. In contrast a character like Amy does not require said paths (though they woukd be welcome if they were to be created) as she uses a different set of abilities that change the way you approach the same challenges Sonic has to face through a level: sometimes what is easy for Sonic will be harder with Amy and viceversa, creating an actual balance between them instead of eclipsing Sonic like Tails and Knuckles tend to do as they do everything Sonic can and more.
  13. Beltway


    The most grateful Sonic fan of all time this week Member
    Sega of Darkest Peru
    Artwork and classes
    Some years ago I was someone who advocated greatly for playable characters to return--at least, bare minimum anyway of Tails/Knuckles and later Amy as well.

    But nowadays I don't even know if I'm even up for it anymore. Attempts to make other characters "playable" again like Sonic 4: Episode II (lol) and the Boom games really soured my optimism on having them return, which along with characters being continuously barred from playability in the mainline games as of 2007 has just made me largely apathetic to the cause. Unless it was a sequel to the classic games, I don't think I'm as interested on the concept of playable characters anymore. Even nowadays, I play as Sonic in most cases when replaying Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

    But to humor the thread, I think two of the core sticking points with playable characters has already been pointed out (other characters should play identical to Sonic and other characters should be optional to play). I'll add a third sticking point--the character's abilities and the game structure should be to be designed in tandem with each other.

    While this isn't too much of a problem for most of the 2D games, it becomes a very obvious issue when you have to factor the third dimension--level design in particular. As much as I can fault the way the Adventure series and Sonic 2006 handled multiple playable characters, I can also legitimately theorize that Sonic Team significantly shifted characters from the core gameplay because their abilities are in some ways too unrestricted for a "standard" Sonic experience to handle. Knuckles in particular has the ability to climb on most surfaces and glide anywhere, which if left unchecked makes it reasonably able to go out of bound or bypass the game's levels entirely--hence, he's in a gridlocked location for most levels and he (along with Rouge) is required to hunt for emeralds instead. Tails' attempt in SA1 comes the closest towards adapting his classic moveset to 3D (complete with level paths designed specifically for his use), and yet his flight abilities still allow him to bypass a fair amount of stretches in levels (which may or may not be why he's stuck in a mech as Eggman's heroic palette swap as of Adventure 2). In both respects, both aspects can be used to gamebreaking levels.

    Conversely, you can have the problem in a different direction--the gameplay itself is too restrictive for the character's abilities. The boost gameplay as seen in Rush / Unleashed up is obviously tailored towards supporting Sonic's rewritten core abilities and those core abilities alone, and those abilities are designed purely for speedrunning purposes. It doesn't allow for the likes of Tails' flying or Knuckles' gliding/climbing from a perspective of level design (as they utilize exploration more than speed) or even controls and gameplay flow (as they require some slower-paced navigation). The best you could do is a palette swap (I.e. Generations' mods of other characters), and even then people would probably be more preferential towards having the actual experience properly supported than what they would see as a cosmetic compromise.

    Having Tails and Knuckles in a playable 3D Sonic game that can support characters with different abilities while also primarily sticking to core Sonic gameplay I think would require their abilities to be downplayed considerably. Specifically, their abilities being for more situational uses, being heavily neutered in distance/duration/height, or probably even being cut entirely (and ideally replaced with something else). Super Mario Bros. 2 USA and Super Mario 3D World strike me as a pretty good way of going at it, though it's admittedly more of a case of each additional character's base moveset being tweaked with (Luigi's traction / Peach's floating jump / Toad's speed and height) rather than factoring in different gameplay mechanics outright (which it does do with Rosalina at least, as she has the spin mechanic from the Galaxy games while also having the slowest speed).

    Not entirely correct, at least if we're going by Sonic 3&K standards (don't know how far the differences go in the likes of the Advance games, and the 3D games are a different kettle of fish).

    Tails and Knuckles can obtain shields, but don't have access to the secondary powers like Sonic does. They also don't have the insta-shield, which aside from providing the one-frame invincibility also locks Sonic out of a fixed rolling jump (more of minor/subtle thing, I know, but in the proper context it can be a fairly important deal).

    Individually, Tails could --emphasis on could-- be excused in his similarities with Sonic as being something of "easy mode Sonic" in gameplay (being able to enter flight from a spin attack can save the player from a lot of ill-timed or poorly though-out jumps; also worth noting he has a lower ring count than Sonic to collect in Sonic 2's Special Stages) and looking up to Sonic in terms of personality, but other than that complaints about being similar are totally valid.

    Don't agree very much with Knuckles though--he has a lower jump height and his alternate routes and bosses --which make extensive use of his climbing and gliding abilities in most cases than the main paths-- generally tend to be more difficult. So Knuckles does get a fair amount of trade-off with his abilities, especially so when you play him against the bosses in Sonic 2.

    That said, I do get the complaints, though in my view the issue is more that Tails and Knuckles' controls could had been altered more to not control similar to Sonic (a la the aforementioned Super Mario Bros 2 USA and Super Mario 3D World). With that said, that's admittedly referring more toward retools to the "base template" that is Sonic's core moveset, rather than having a new control scheme completely; which seems to be more of your thing in regards to Sonic and playable characters.

    And speaking of that particular, I don't think I can say I'm much of a fan. Mentioned it back in Deef's thread about criticizing classic gameplay, but I'm a bit iffy on characters that play substantially different to the main character. Amy in Advance 1 feels like she belonged to a different game entirely, which combined with the level design --which I think it clashes with severely-- doesn't make it a fun experience for me. It's as "out there" as her gameplay in Adventure 1, which I'm not fond of either.
  14. Rosie


    aka Rosie Member
    Either is fine if the core gameplay is fun and the characters themselves aren't obnoxious. However, if they're sticking with Sonic only, I wouldn't mind a skin option. There could be a shop like in Generations, and you could buy a skin to play a level you've completed as a different character, but with the same moveset. You could have Classic Sonic, Tails, Eggman, whoever. It would be cheap and easy to implement, and please most people.
  15. Even if Tails and Knuckles have some form of handicaps placed unto them such as a better acceleration but lower speed (Tails) or a lower Jump (Knuckles), the abilities that they possess trivializes said handicaps as an average gamer will perform better (especially with Tails) than when they play with the, in comparisson pretty basic, Sonic. Sure, Sonic has in S3&K the elemental shield but here is the thing: they are power ups, not abilities that form part of his moveset and require to find the item first as well as it being lost the moment the player is hit. In contrast Tails and Knuckles never lose their abilities when hit and still possess an edge over Sonic. (Unless he is in the hand of a skilled player, were the insta-shirld is your best friend)

    Regarding Amy, I feel it boils to personal preference and as such I find her Advance style more unique and dare I say, fun and involved than even Sonic's. I feel it was a pitty that such style was limited to just one game as IMO it gave me greater incentive to do a replay with a different character than what Tails or Knuckles offered. (At least I still have my collection of hacks that E-122 made years ago. XD)
  16. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    I want levels designed around Sonic, Tails and Knuckles and then any amount of optional unlockable characters designed as re-skins of the original trio but with slight gameplay alterations (no "let's turn this Sonic game into something that's not a Sonic game" bullshit).

    So there would be three kinds of characters:
    -Light: Flight-enabled
    -Strong: Lower jump, can break special walls, also using Knuckles' "hard mode" levels

    All of them entirely optional, Crossy Road-style.
  17. Fenrir


    Eh. Member
    I forget, did the Advance games offer much in terms of character specific routes? I only remember some in 3 because of how annoying and picky the partner system was with some of them. And the god damn Chao.
  18. E-122-Psi


    There were naturally loads of high up routes there were usually a lot easier for Tails and Knuckles to reach (if not exclusive to them at times).

    They tried to balance this out with odd gimmicks for Sonic and Amy, such as grinding areas they could use or horizontal blockades they could slam through, but they were rather sparse.
  19. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    I personally lean more towards how Sonic 3 and Knuckles handled multiple characters. How multiple characters were handled by Sonic Team in the games after the Genesis/Mega Drive titles were always supremely hit-or-miss, and I'd rather have a more...middle-of-the-road set of characters and gameplay ideas as opposed to ranging from "decent" (E-102 Gamma) to "basically useless, but meh" (Tails in SA1), to "I absolutely loathe everything about this" (Big).

    Yeah, Tails was also basically useless in Sonic 3 & Knuckles (if Super Tails had kicked in earlier in the game to better differentiate him, that'd be a different story), but he was still at his core fun to play as, because Sonic was fun to play as and the level design was great. Having characters that play really similarly with different quirks would be an easier and better way to implement multiple characters - and it's not like Sonic Team hasn't done this before in the 3D space (Super Sonic in Sonic Colors apparently is basically "Sonic reskinned with slightly different abilities", with the levels slightly changed accordingly). Of course, this would also mean that a lot more would hinge on the level design, which Sonic Team has never really quite nailed down ever since they made it to 3D, so this might be more of a "miss" than a "hit" anyway. :/ But it'd have a better probability of success I'd think as opposed to their scattershot tactics from before.

    An example of the above going horribly wrong of course would be Sonic Boom, which had characters that were virtually identical save for certain puzzles but also had the most snore-inducing level design in a platformer (possibly) in the last decade. And of course, none of them played well to begin with either, which means that even following an approach I theoretically like doesn't save it.
  20. MartiusR


    Maybe it's matter of player's style, but I personally think that ability to fly was quite a big advantage in S3&K (depending on the situation - sometimes even better than wall-climbing of Knuckles, even with the fact that flying is limited in time). I've played the most time with Knuckles (not a surprise, isn't it? :)), but I felt that when I was playing with Tails or Knuckles it was more easier experience than playing with Sonic (surprisingly, I would tell that playing with Sonic could be considered as the hardest one).

    Nevertheless - for me it was first attempt to make multi-characters gameplay, which was pretty ok. Maybe it's not something special, but still I feel that I have here some variety, which I'm missing in games with Sonic as only playable character.