You know that some people don't play games precisely the way they're told to, right? The control isn't illusory if you're actually not trying to go where you're directed. If anything, it's fucking SUPREMELY FRUSTRATING when you try to deviate from the beaten path, only to have the game flip you the bird and force you back into your lane, in an incredibly jarring and flow-breaking way, like boost panels, splined automation, invisible walls, dash rings, and whatnot. Objectively, that's bad game design, and it forces the player to realize that they don't even really have to be present. It destroys the importance of the player. You don't build a character around modularity, and then rip that away from the player in a follow-up title. That is also bad game design, or at least piss-poor consistency. Look, I play these games to test my speedrunning ability. I like exploiting the game to get farther, and go faster. Sonic games are a rare bird, in that exploiting the level design to suit your desire for fast IS NOT equivalent to breaking the game. The original Genesis Sonic games were made to be played creatively. If freedom of movement is a thing that Sonic Team are unwilling to give me in a game about a character and his ability to move freely, then I don't want to fucking play it. It's just as self-defeating as it is unnecessary. Telling me to simply put up with it because you think I won't deviate from the flow in a fuckin platformer, is tantamount to telling someone to just shut their brains off and enjoy a shitty movie, because that's what you choose to do. The very essence of a good game is modularity. Remove modularity, and all you get is a cutscene. Seriously, if you've ever taken a look at a Generations level in Dario's level editor, you can see firsthand that you don't have any say in where Sonic goes for a good half of the game. It's really disheartening that this is what platformers are now. This is coming from someone who loved Sonic Generations. I still do, but I'll be god damned if I'm not going to call bullshit where it needs to be called. The game is 100x more fun when you're not hitting a boost panel every Planck Length. There really is a good game hidden in there. It's fucking frustrating to see that Sonic Team are so lazy, that they would rather pad out the stage with bullshit and automation than give you a chance to actually enjoy the meat of the gameplay, that I believe they put an honest effort forward in creating. I even proved it once by removing almost every non-essential boost pat in Modern GHZ 1, just to see what would happen. What happened? The game played just fine, and it was a lot more fun, because MY intended route wasn't being obstructed by the in-game nanny, trying to forcefuck me in a direction that I don't want to fucking go! I don't play games to watch simple shapes and pretty colors on a screen. I play games to test my hand-eye coordination. I want my input in the game to fucking matter. If I wanted a game that could beat itself with minimal player input, I'd go buy into the NSMB series. They have a literal win button in those games, and if I wanted to get to the end, I would just hit that and stare at the screen like a mongo. I will say, though, that Dash Rings absolutely have their place in 3D Sonic games, and I think that so long as the buffer period upon exiting the ring is minimal, that it can be a good obstacle, and fun to interact with. A few of the bonus stages in Generations pulled it off nicely.