Grinding is one of the most constant mechanics in all of 3D Sonic and one of the few that has no equivalent in the 2D games (at least the classic series). So it's probably here to stay. However, I've thought about it and I'm wondering if it's really got any use outside of cinematic moments (which have their place, of course). The chief issue is that grinding is inherently limited: you're at the sole mercy of physics, and can't really stop. Platforming is mostly limited to jumping over straight line gaps because a rail by definition is so thin that having to steer in midair to hit one is an absolute crapshoot. Switching rails is almost always a simple button and QTE. If we imagine a 3D game that tries to take the concepts of the classic games and bring them into 3D, are they necessary? To go over the 3D games which have it: SA2: First game with it. Grinding is entirely physics based (cool), and all you can do is crouch to decrease drag and speed up. The player has to tilt the stick to stay balanced on the rail. This is fine enough but it's very twitchy and there's no indication of where you need to hold the stick (unlike the say Tony Hawk games), and it's a pretty one-note mechanic bordering on a QTE. Switching to a different rail requires tilting all the way to the side, pressing A, and praying the game realizes you want to switch and doesn't make you jump or just do the switching animation but throw you off the rail anyway, because Sonic Team is obsessed with shoving critical mechanics that can get you killed on one button (putting the bounce attack and light speed dash* on the same button was a genius idea, guys!). Heroes/Shadows: Crouching and maintaining balance were removed. Now you just spam a button to go faster. Okay, so now it's just even less engaging. In Heroes switching rails works like SA2 (bad) but in Shadow they thankfully moved to making it an automatic canning animation that can't fail with its own button. Yay. Now it's literally just a QTE. 06: Not as familar with this but it seems to just be Heroes/Shadow but the physics are worse and rail switching isn't really a thing anymore. Fun. Unleashed Onwards: Sonic can now boost on rails and uses quick-steps to swap between them. These games actually do the most with rails, admittedly, like the final third of Skyscraper Scamper, and rails were widened so they could be used in platforming (but as I said: only jumping over gaps in straight lines). In fact in these games rails are mostly used to bring Sonic to an alternate path, hanging over the "regular" level and diverting away. It's an clever way of getting around the fact that having actual footpaths over the level would look kinda awkward. In Unleashed especially they are also just cinematic flair which does look pretty cool. *: Actually the LSP is another good example of a mechanic that has stayed but seems a bit too limited to really be worth it... So in basically every 3D Sonic game, rails are borderline QTE's that don't have much depth to them. I'm not sure what could be done to make them more engaging. Do you agree with this? Are you fine with rails just being cinematic flair? Are they essential to Sonic, or could they be abandoned without much problem?