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Sonic CD's uneven usage of its four time periods.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Frostav, Mar 18, 2021.

  1. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    I mean, at that point if would be just name changing, good/bad present instead of good/bad future (original present wouldn't exist). Which indeed does make it sense because, how come that the present doesn't get changed after you blow up Eggman's machines in the past?

    But then there is an issue with that, once you get all the time stones, you basically have no challenge at all? Since bad timeline wouldn't be no more, you'd just start in paradise land and... that's it. Yay. It's definetly not comparable with being Super on Sonic 2 because getting Super carries over its own set of risks, while good future would have no con at all.

    And we could say to remove the always good future from getting all stones, but then they would be equally pointless than S1's emeralds, gameplay wise. Which for me personally wouldn't be strictly bad, but with the deeper plot that Sonic CD has, it seems kinda dumb.

    Or, alternatively, getting all time stones set you at original present, and you can go to the future to still have the original rewards? But this isn't exactly the most consistent approach.


    There is a fundamental element that you're missing here; immersion.

    Sonic CD builds a game world for us to explore, following the principal of allowing the player to explore freely, something the original game specialized in doing (going forwards and backwards, up and down, freely).

    You can travel through time periods freely because that's simply what the Little Planet is like. It's something of an open-world style philosophy, and precisely what makes CD so unique.

    The good future also tends to have more rewards and rings, increasing your score if you find these hidden items, or simply rewarding players who enjoyed this immersive style of exploration.

    That's not to say that there could not have also been better differences in the futures, good and bad respectively. The layouts of the future maps are near identical, if you compare them, only with graphic, pallete, and a few small obstacle/gimmick changes, but it is clear that the designers always intended to wow the players by simply allowing you to change the timeline and experience those differences at your own leisure, and in that sense they succeeded. It makes the world of Sonic CD feel more believable, a bit more like a real place that could exist (within the limits of what 16 bit tech allowed at the time). It disrupts the traditional narrative, but the game successfully creates immersion and atmosphere and is artistically and mechanically unique because of this. There is almost no other game I know of that uses Time Travel as effectively to alter your enviornment as CD does. Chrono Trigger perhaps (and it is rightfully critically acclaimed for it), and Metroid Prime 2's dimension hopping come to mind.
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  3. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I agree with @HEDGESMFG but I also think there's the lingering problem of 'so what?' I also think it's fun to explore the different time zones and mess about, but it's the kind of emergent gameplay you can apply to anything. I don't think the game gives you much incentive to explore outside of getting a good ending and for curiosity's sake. It's the problem with exploration in Sonic in general, where it's mostly pointless except for fucking about. The only games where I think exploration has a concrete goal is Sonic 1 (finding secret routes to beat the level faster since the game is hard enough to warrant it) and Sonic 3 (blue spheres). Except for Sonic 3 you often have no idea if a path you are exploring will lead you to a special ring. The best way to find special rings is just to keep trying to jump into hidden passages in walls.

    There's also the problem that getting to different time zones in Sonic CD is a mess, but that's a different issue.

    Honestly, despite how popular exploration is in the fandom, I haven't seen many arguments in favour of it other than it makes the game more refreshing on repeat playthroughs and it's fun to just fuck about roaming in the levels. But it's also fun to fuck about and test the limits of any game you enjoy.
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  4. Beltway


    The most grateful Sonic fan of all time this week Member
    Sega of Darkest Peru
    Artwork and classes
    Not sure what point you're making against having exploration elements in Sonic games, besides maybe personal preference. "It's pointless" in regards to what? Keeping the focus on speedy gameplay? Sonic's linear level structures? How exploration is handled in other platformers? It's a especially odd argument being made against keeping an property of Sonic gameplay that was even admitted to be broadly well-received amongst fans, for all of its supposed lack of value.

    Just as you say that doing things "for fun" can be applied to any game and thus doesn't justify their existence, I could rebut that removing things that are (only) there "for fun" can be applied to any aspect of Sonic gameplay. What's the desired goal of Sonic gameplay that you're trying to achieve here?
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
  5. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I'm saying that exploration in Sonic games is largely pointless aside from just the inherent fun of exploring the maps. And yeah, I do think that's fun. I do it a lot, I especially did it upon Mania's release. But it's not really any different to how I fuck about in the maps of other games like Halo for example. It's exploration for the sake of curiosity, which is the most basic incentive of exploration possible. And I think it's only something hardcore fans of a game are going to do.

    Like how does Classic Sonic reward exploration? It doesn't really. You only do it for your own enjoyment. Sometimes Sonic games hide 1UPs and shields, but even those rewards are largely pointless because 1)- continues are more important than 1UPs and 2) - aside from Sonic 1, most of the games are easy enough not to necessitate looking for extra lives. Which is why I think Sonic 1 and 3 are the only games to really give an incentive for exploration (as detailed above).

    Also I'm not saying that exploration needs to go from Sonic games. I think there needs to be more incentive for exploration than just "I enjoy playing the fuck out of the game". You could argue that exploration rewards speedrunning, but Sonic oddly doesn't directly reward beating the levels quickly outside of Whitehead's Sonic CD. You could make exactly the same argument for Halo rewarding exploration because that game has a big speedrunning scene.

    I'll give you an example of what I mean. I introduced one of my best friends to Sonic 3, which I thought would be a good starting point seeing as how he hates Sonic games. And when he played it (and Mania) he essentially said "wow I get to do exploration but for absolutely no reason because all the paths lead to the same goal". And while I don't agree with much of what he says regarding the game, he's not exactly wrong here is he?
  6. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    In the case of Sonic 3, the goal for exploration aside from finding the Giant Rings would be adding different levels of difficulty. The upper, middle, and lower paths are typically hard, middling, and easy in that order due to the skills in keeping on the respective routes. This encourages repeat playthroughs where you have to refine your skills in order to make it to a new pathway and stay on that pathway. I will agree though that perhaps these different routes should have some greater incentive for exploration, but that's where CD excells.

    In CD, you have to explore the present and past stages in order to locate sign-posts, holo-projectors, and robot transporters. The downside there is how tedious that cycle can be and how easy it is to screw it up. CD should never have had an arbitrary 9 minute time limit and travel between time periods should have been more seamless (as they planned and as it's been implemented in the Time Travel Revamp mod). Where it falls apart is the incentive to travel into the future other than to see your handiwork and/or have an easier or harder difficulty.

    Based on how they alter geometry in the levels, I get the feeling that the team wanted to create puzzles around time travel and force you to travel into each period to get to a different portion of the map but couldn't commit due to technical reasons and deadlines. This would've been ample incentive to explore each of the 4 time periods thoroughly. Maybe the time stones automatically granting you good futures was an attempt to patch up the design flaw that occurred?
  7. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    We were talking more about their gameplay value, there's no doubt about its artistic value. Let me, however, state a couple of things that i agree should be present beyond this exercise of gameplay reformulation:

    A) Three timeframes are important, they are the 3 "dimensions" of time perception. We take where we are as reference consider what took us there and what will we do. While maybe not the optimal way to handle that gameplay in the terms we know it, only two time zones would leave us feeling something's missing (I felt this with Sonic Time Twisted), and also giving us a hard time to perceive where (or when) we would be if we only had "past" and "future" labels, with "present" and "future" probably making it better, but then we wouldn't travel in time if we had the machines to break in the timezone we started, and having "past" and "present" would be even more strange. We need a middle time to locate ourselves between the causes and the consequences.

    B) However, affecting the present directly through the past also makes sense, but direct changes plus three timeframes would mean more branching in time, which I doubt they could fit in a single game and would be overcomplicating things to send the message, hence the "Y" structure. An alternative would be a "V" structure were present changes slightly and future changes more but with no branching, just seeing stages of the good or bad evolution, but then we would add an extra timezone too. I think less badniks and more rings in the present after the shift would have been enough.

    I think we wouldn't be complaining that much about the existence of relatively useless timezones if traveling in time had a better flow and less constraints and accidental shifts. I would do a Pr->BF->Pr->Pa->Pr->GF run in every act every time I played SCD if the game allowed me to do so in a fun manner. Which leads us to...

    I need no more incentive, and I think it's great that a game with no further incentive still leads so many people to explore it regardless. I do think level design in these games doesn't include enough variety in the ways the exploration is made and what you find when you explore, but that would be improving something good, not really a faulty design being corrected.

    Big news: games are for fun, not everything has to have a trascendental purpose even if the design philosophy would allow for that, because, if we got that way, you should be practicing some sport or studying some new career instead; those would be more fruitful ways to spend your free time instead of looking at a screen with a gamepad in your hands to make a cartoon have an inconsequential journey.
  8. kyasarintsu


    Is this dismissive talk really a necessary response to something as innocuous as "I'd like exploration to be more intrinsically rewarding and beneficial"?
    Like, I'm not going to deny that finding stuff is fun, because it satisfies my curiosity and I do like to find things when my interest is piqued. But the classic games didn't really do that great a job of making your rewards useful or more than just a small "you found me!" monitor tucked in a hidden passageway or something. CD added an objective tied to exploration (destroying stuff in the past to save the future) but that was hardly anything useful.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
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  9. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Trust me, doing intense work like a PhD or working towards a career is more like staring into the abyss than having a transcendental experience :V
  10. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    If a classic Sonic game was ever able to get enough dev time to toss in oodles of great goodies to unlock, like alternate character skins or selectable bonus music or even a concept art museum, combing the levels for unlock tokens would be a great way to encourage exploration on initial playthroughs. Mania had some nice unlockables but playing Blue Sphere (ostensibly an entirely different game) to get them was assy. The chance of finding weird easter egg shit like the Wacky Workbench angel statue would make it more fun to check out a level's nooks and crannies as well. If you know it's always gonna be a shield or whatever, why bother?
  11. I don't know, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages did only Past and Present and it worked well enough. You don't strictly need a third timezone if it's just filler.

    So this was addressed above but there's nothing wrong with analyzing what works/doesn't work about games you enjoy so that you better know what you're looking for in other games. They don't even have to be games in the same series, this is more refining your tastes beyond "I like this game and that game and that game but I don't like that other game as much for some reason."
  12. Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Taking a Sand Shower Tech Member
    Lyon, France
    Sonic 2 Long Version
    Not to mention that in Zelda, the game forces you to go in the Past to unlock your way in the Present. This is not the case in Sonic CD where you can reach the goal while always remaining in Present.
  13. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    That's not how I read it, and I don't think I was that harsh answering like that. I get people want a symbol of their effort materializing in unlockable rewards or something like that, but I find a lot of times people need to be rewarded for everything instead of just enjoying the possibilities of a game for what it is, in this case when exploring a level. Games are for relax, after all, you can ignore the goals and rules and just be curious with no explicit reward. If the game actually hindered exploration, by, for example, filling any hidden path or room with dickish traps and enemies, that would be a different thing.

    Um, right, I forgot to point out what I said makes sense for SCD because it's a new place you just arrived with no previous connection, and there's some added philosophy in the game about time and the long-term effects of our actions. If it were South Island again it wouldn't have been that necessary because we already knew how it was, yet think about Sonic 2 concepts about time travel; there were a good bunch of alternate versions of the same map.

    Ecco the Dolphin did this structure with their two games, traveling only to the past in the first game but traveling to both futures, good and bad, later. What they did right in the second game was locating the current fight in the present, but, even if there was no "future" in the first game, they did even better because they had the actual structure of SCD in a less evident way: what you see as "present" from Ecco's perspective is actually the bad future. You first travel to the past to be able to restore the asterite and be able to get a good future, and you use again the time machine to go back to were ba things started and be able to create a good future. From the atlanteans' perspective, they were the present, what Ecco did in jurassic beach was still the past, and Ecco's life and chance to change things was the future too, so we have this structure of three timeframes from two diffrent points of view in the same story and game.

    You can also think of Back to the Future II in similar terms, it's a common thing. You don't always need three timeframes, ok, but plots with two timeframes tend to be somewhat different or operate under better established conditions. Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen did quite right with two timezones in gameplay, but it also had a "middle" timezone to establish the lore where the plot starts, and it adds further moments in time on subsequent titles for the big picture that also have a breakpoint between "bad future" and "good future" (the ending of the first game, in fact).

    tl;dr. Don't dismiss plot references to other times and the impact of two vs. three timeframes in the weight of the plot. (Ah, Link, that timeless child).
  14. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    The issue with this statement though is anyone can find enjoyment in anything. I enjoy playing the same level of Halo 2 for the hundreth time, but it's only because I find the core gameplay so fun. The game doesn't really reward it past that. So I think it would be a stretch to say that Halo 2 promotes replay because I like to do it.

    I think it's the same for Sonic. I do enjoy exploring in classic Sonic. I've done it way too much :V. But I don't really see how the game rewards it beyond Sonic 1 and 3 (as I've already argued). Just because you enjoy doing something in a game doesn't mean the game encourages it. You can argue for Sonic CD too, but only because it unlocks an ending and for the time zones. And again, I think that's really only for curiosity sake for the art and music. Which is something I guess.
  15. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    Still, do you get the good overall ending without the time stones, even if you got the good future for all other zones? Because if you don't, then the whole time traveling is indeed pointless outside getting easy branches for which you have to go a way more annoying gametime.

    Asking from total honest ignorance.
  16. TheOcelot


    Scooty Puff Jr sucks! Member
    To get the good-ending you need to either destroy all robot generators in the past version of acts 1 & 2 (creating a good future in each act) or collect all 7 time stones.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
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  17. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    Ooh, that's good, so you don't really need to get through those annoying UFO stages if you manage to get all generators. Thank you.
  18. Some interesting hack ideas floating around in here huh? I'd personally love to play through a modified cd.

    Also, has anyone actually even completed a playthrough of sonic cd visiting all 4 time zones in each act? I'd totally watch an hours long playthrough of Sonic CD of someone doing literally everything:

    >Travelling from the present to the bad future, then to the present, then to the past and destroying the generator, then to the present again, and then to the good future in each act

    >Also breaking the metal sonic projector in each act as well

    >travelling from the good future back to the present in palmtree panic 1 to see amy

    >grabbing each time stone in the good future of act 2 in every zone (7th stone obtained in metallic madness 2) so the only time zones of any act not visited are act 3 bad futures

    Like for real, is this even possible? If it is, it needs to happen badly. O.O
  19. Childish


    Pigs wiggle when they walk Member
    Shady lane
    Sonic 4 Blast Processed
    I think it would be possible I did a quick search and it seems this guy attempted it

    On another note do ya think that instantly time traveling would be more conductive to exploration? I like the build up momentum thing but I think teleporting at the posts would make me want to time travel more. although in my perfect sonic CD time posts could be reused that way you can time travel wherever without worrying about messing up.
  20. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Sorry, I wasn't saying it encourages exploration, I was just saying it offers exploration and you can try it for curiosity's sake, much like you can speedrun the games but there's little reward in doing so in the game itself.

    I've done runs of both breaking all the generators and getting all the time stones, and I usually go to the good future if I have the chance, and have also done runs of going deliberately to the bad future to play the game there, but the whole thing you propose is too crazy for me to think anyone would both want and be able to do it.

    As I said above, I have quite a good bunch of ideas to do it smoother. Instant traveling would be better in some scenarios, but I've also thinking about monitors that last as much time as invincibility and speed shoes that you'd have to break and then reach a post in time for it to activate. It would still demand speed but on different terms.