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Sonic Superstars: A New 2D Sonic Game (Fall 2023)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by DefinitiveDubs, Jun 8, 2023.

  1. Zephyr

    Zephyr

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    Very strongly disagree.

    Yeah, having limited lives and game overs makes Advance more similar to 3K than Superstars is, in a regard. But permanent fail states appear across such a broad spectrum of gameplay genres and styles. Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 06, Sonic Unleashed, Crash Bandicoot, Contra, Mega Man X4, and so on are all more similar to 3K than Superstars is too, in that regard. There's a certain pressure to "git gud" in order to complete all of these games that Superstars lacks, but that's not really a hugely salient difference to me. Obviously, it is still a difference, but the game feel and mechanics at your disposal and level design make a much bigger difference, personally.

    Infinite lives/continues is scarcely different from playing a game with savestates. The only way I've completed the 8 bit Sonic platformers is by taking advantage of savestates. I guess you could say I didn't play "Sonic 1 on the Game Gear", but rather this different game called "Sonic 1 on the Game Gear feat. Savestates". That would feel somewhat odd, but I'd get it; different consequences do entail a different play-structure (at least to a degree), and a game is simply a that, a play-structure. But to say that "Sonic 1 on the Game Gear feat. Savestates" is less similar to "Sonic 1 on the Game Gear" than, say, Sonic 06 is, would strike me as puzzling. And I don't think that's what you're trying to suggest, but I do think that's what your reasoning here ultimately entails. And it's fine if you are trying to suggest that, but I still disagree.
     
  2. Palas

    Palas

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    Of course, Sonic 1 feat. Savestates is more similar to Sonic 1 on a Game Gear than Sonic 06 is because, after all, these aren't the only mechanics in place. But I am suggesting you might approach Sonic 1 feat. Savestates in a way that's closer to how you'd also approach Superstars. You may disagree, but I do think the consequences are a bit of a domino effect that really can't be ignored.

    One interesting thing about lives is that they don't necessarily mean a pressure to "git gud". They may sometimes be quite the other way around: a relief from that pressure in each instance. It defines how a game frames its challenges, and lives makes them less binary. Infinite lives essentially make the section between two checkpoints its own discrete challenge that requires only its own discrete set of skills to beat. You'll retry until you beat it, the way it asks you to beat it, and (in that playthrough) never have to see that particular challenge again.

    Lives, though, make it so that getting better at previous challenges makes it more likely you'll survive this challenge, either because you'll get more skilled at them or because you'll acquire enough lives/rings to beat this challenge with less skill than you'd get if you just repeated it over and over. Each discrete challenge is less important, and so the way you become better at the broad set skills the game ask you to have changes dramatically.

    A game I'd strongly suggest to see how absurdly different the game becomes is Touhou 15, which has both an infinite lives mode and a normal shmup mode. In the normal mode, the last boss is incredibly easy, because I can just spam bomb though most of it because I earned so many lives and bombs in the stages before. Infinite lives mode is actually a lot harder, because I can't do that. I have to consider each challenge, and they're all pure bullet hell that I can't ignore.

    EDIT: or really, just any especially hard boss in Sonic. They're harder to beat with the 3 rings after the checkpoint than with the 32+ you get before that, but if you're forever stuck with 3 rings, you WILL be forced to "git gud" to beat them. Game overs make that dynamic different, allowing you the "easier way" again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
  3. Shaddy the guy

    Shaddy the guy

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    How can Sonic 3 be made with something it does not contain in mind? If that were true, saves would only count as a way to pick up and put down progress, there's no reason they couldn't delete the save file if you got a game over. Hell, the fact that the stages are harder, bigger and more numerous than in Sonic 2 would imply it's built with recovering from a save file in mind.

    Either way, this is still a weird and kind of bad distinction to make, because it implies a very subjective view to how lives and saves effect a given player's experience, and is still extremely flimsy as a separating factor. It really treads the line of delegitimizing experiences of the game without the live system in place, because making that system a fundamental tenet of your definition of Sonic 3 kind of implies that experiences outside of that aren't the real Sonic 3.

    This is as much a consequence of how the game treats Sonic when respawning as it does what the effects of death are. I'm not sure how many times a checkpoint before a Classic Sonic boss allows you three rings and no way to just...go scavenge more from the rest of the stage, but moreover, I don't think it's a good excuse for demanding he repeat that whole stage if he dies to the boss too much, because one of the main flaws in Sonic is that the bosses are not and have never been a meaningful test of the skills the player has honed over the course of the stages. There's little else in the games that works the way Robotnik does when you smack him, and usually few parts that confine you to small arenas without the ability to try a different direction. This usually isn't that big a deal though, since most bosses are simple and follow a similar enough ruleset that they're almost a core mechanic unto themselves. However, Death Egg in Sonic 2 is the rock bottom of the classic games, full-stop. This is because it utterly destroys the rules, not by giving you less rings or even by stopping you from collecting more, but by giving you none at all and demanding you weave into hitting two very small hitboxes on enemies that will kill you if you're a hair off. How is giving the player less attempts at this for every replay of the entire game supposed to make them better at it? If they want that, they can reset the fucking console. Like it or not, this is the dominant design philosophy engendered by such a system, one that prioritizes finding ways to waste the player's time rather than keeping the pace up. And yes, you are correct, none of this matters. This obviously is about whether those design elements define the games, not whether they're good design elements. But the problem is that if you're saying this is a significant enough thing that it needs to stay or else the classic games (for all their caveats to it) become less of themselves when you remove it, it kind of feels like an insult to those games.
     
  4. charcoal

    charcoal

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    Lives are a mechanic that many modern players no longer mesh with, it makes sense that Superstars removed them.

    I don't think it really significantly affects the experience either, if you're new at most the game just becomes a bit less frustrating, and if you're experienced it won't affect you period.
     
  5. Palas

    Palas

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    That's ridiculous. Once again, we're trying not to make value judgements here. It's not about the "real" Sonic 3 experience, but about the Sonic 3 that was made in 1994 for people who had a Genesis, which entails a huge number of conditions vs. any other version of Sonic 3, including bootleg ones even at the time, that were made. Being a "true" experience or not makes no sense whatsoever, but they are different from each other. It's true they could delete your save file, and they didn't! The balance is different, but the core very much is not -- and there not being counted a life system whatsoever is very much different from there being a life system that works different, is more lenient etc. How you do things doesn't change much, but why you do things does change. And that's just as important.

    Is how the game treats Sonic respawning not a part of the life system? They could make Sonic not respawn at all, just lose all of its score or whatever. I'm not sure how many times the Sonic games do that either, but what I know is that they do. Sonic CD's final boss is the first example I can remember, and I simply won't indulge on your judgements of what mechanics are good or bad, or if they executed them well or not, because that's not the point, and I'm glad yu acknowledge that. They don't become less of themselves if they don't have this or that mechanic. They simply operate on different syntaxes, i.e.: become slightly different, and are subject to historical processes and changes in perspective.

    By default, Superstars operates on a different syntax from those games than they operate when compared to each other, and it does so because it's for a different target audience than Mania. That was what @jubbalub said. That's what I agree with.

    EDIT: ALSO, and this is very important: what you mentioned is crucial, actually. Yu can scavenge for more rings, etc, and that's actually extremely pivotal in how players may discover more paths and explore a level, to get more protections or to completely avoid a challenge. This is directly correlated to the threat of a bigger setback -- the influence is explicit, and some are more influenced it by others. Without that, the reasons for that exploration become more subjective. That may be good or bad. Not the point.

    Although you claim what I'm saying to be a subjective view on how lives affect a game, I'm just talking about what a game is very explicitly asking of you. Anything the player can do by their own volition, I can't talk about. They can also just restart the level in modern game, but I can't really say when each player will decide to do so because the challenge is bullshit enough.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
  6. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I don't know if people play a game to survive/"win" as much as they do to have fun. It plays a factor, at times maybe a stronger factor than others. Whether one thinks the lives system matters or not I suppose depends on how important the player finds it.

    I for one don't care that it's gone and I don't think it changes what defines classic Sonic in a way that matters. But that's me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
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  7. Palas

    Palas

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    Sure, fun is multifaceted and surviving/winning may or may not be a huge part of that. It's subjective and depends even on your mood. So while of course the devs want people to have fun, they can only put forth mechanics for them to play with and rules that influence how they'll play with them and hope as many people have as much fun in as many different ways as possible, but if it was as simple as providing as much assured quantifiable dopamine releases as possible, they'd simply sell drugs. So all we can talk about here is these mechanics and what constrains the way we interact with them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
  8. Laura

    Laura

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    I think removing lives from Classic Sonic games significantly reduces their value and is one reason I find Sonic Origins difficult to enjoy.

    I personally think that game challenge and difficulty is inherently linked to its fun factor. I find it funny that Yu Suzuki of all people expresses it very well, but as he says, if I gave you a Rubix cube that could solve itself, that would be dumb fun for a short time, but solving it is where the enjoyment comes from. I think that's a good analogy for gaming. Halo God Mode Firefight is mildly amusing but becomes boring in about five minutes. Without challenge, I think games have no value at all.

    Now those challenges can manifest in different ways. You can't game over in the LEGO games but I think those games are very well made in that the game's challenge is in the form of collecting studs and exploring secrets. That's where the fun factor actually comes from. Beating the game is fairly pedestrian and shallow.

    I think Classic Sonic's fun factor is in its challenge. I think once the lives are removed then it's no longer nearly as enjoyable. Sonic CD is an exception in that its enjoyment is primarily fixed in exploration, which I think it does pretty well. Sonic 3 is a weird position where it is quite easy and the exploration is largely shallow.

    This is why I always will consider Sonic 1 as the most elegantly made game, followed closely by Sonic 2 and CD. Sonic 1 has issues for sure, especially with some annoying level design in Scrap Brain Zone, but the difficulty of Sonic 1 means that you actually do need to explore zones for extra lives, explore the map for shortcuts, use special stages and high score for extra lives. I think a lot of people's dislike of Sonic 1 is closely linked to the fact no one really plays that game in one run with limited lives and without savestates nowadays. So they criticise Marble Zone for being linear and the extra paths being only for monitors, for example, without considering that you explore that level for shields and extra lives to make the stage easier.
     
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  9. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I think difficulty in classic Sonic comes from learning how to move quickly, elegantly, or with enough understanding of the game to ram through danger. Hazards, enemies and pits still are a problem for players even without lives being a factor, because if you die it's still gonna knock back your progress some (bad for novices and the avg player) or hurt your time or score (bad for experts and speedrunners).

    You don't need a game over screen, a "womp wommppp" song, a boot back to the title screen, and then the start of a game and/or level to feel like you were punished for bad play. You can prefer that, and if I were making the game I'd even include that as a 'classic' or 'hard' mode. But I don't think the game's philosophies are lessened just for removing it.
     
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  10. Laura

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    This is a position which I respect and can understand. I think it's especially true in Mania, since the Time Attack mode is so well made. One of the reasons I think Ray is such a great addition to Mania Plus is because of how the levels are designed in such a way to encourage speedrunning. So for Mania, I'd say the game is at its best by far in Time Attack Mode. The main game is fairly easy like Sonic 3.

    But I would disagree that losing speed in a level in a normal run (non Time Attack) is a significant enough challenge to pose real challenge. I do agree that it is some very small marginal challenge, but only in so far as it is slightly irritating. Closing to a Game Over is clearly much more significant in slowing progress. I find it hard to express what I mean here but I imagine you know what I mean.

    But ultimately, yes, there should be options for unlimited lives.
     
  11. foXcollr

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    To me, lives in Sonic games have kind of felt like a case of doing something purely because it's the thing to do. There are infinite ways to create difficulty but platformers always use X trope, so let's use it. There is definitely something charming about being a kid and putting your all into a game where dying means you have to start over, it's part of the reason I regularly attempt deathless runs of mind-numbingly hard platformer levels. I don't think I've ever save stated Sonic 1 but I remember being a kid and trying over and over again to get to the end, being impressed each time I managed to get to Scrap Brain with my tiny uncoordinated hands. But I also have played enough hard games without lives that are 10x harder than Sonic 1/2/CD without having a restart-from-the-beginning-of-the-game/stage mechanic. I just think there are creative ways to create difficulty without that trope, even if it means doing something just slightly different like always restarting from a checkpoint. I think ditching lives ultimately allows the level design to have more difficulty spikes and genuine challenges without alienating players. Ultimately I think it depends on how difficult the stages themselves are, restarting from a checkpoint is very convenient if the stage is blisteringly difficult, like how challenge platformers use "rooms" that are super difficult but can be restarted infinitely... but I kind of doubt that's the case with Superstars, so I can see why people would be upset. The game does not look very hard (relatively).

    I can at least agree that a lot of collectibles lose value when finding them is incredibly easy and they don't offer much utility. That's kind of why I like what they're doing with the rings system, those things have had almost 0 value post-S3K, just one was enough. But now you're encouraged to collect rings to earn medals, which adds a very real incentive to look for them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
  12. Antheraea

    Antheraea

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    Yeah, a classic Sonic level can still be hard without lives. There are parts of Lava Reef and Death Egg Zone that still make my hands sweat even though I already have 99 lives by that point in the game. Having to redo segments of a level because you died is a fair way to "git gud" IMO.
     
  13. kazz

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    Finite lives (on top of adding inherent replayability to complex levels that certainly need replaying) add a building sense of tension to progressing through the game as the levels get harder and your lives dwindle. It's like a form of raising stakes in the same way a story would but in gameplay form and can be extremely satisfying in short but challenging games. No matter how many times I beat Streets Of Rage 2 I always get a lump in my throat as soon as I get on that elevator in the second-to-last level and that wouldn't happen if I knew the worst that could happen was just going back a checkpoint or whatever. The same went for trying to beat S&K as a kid with one life left and nine minutes on the clock, still only on the first form of the Death Chicken final boss...It sounds stupid but in the moment you feel like you have as much to lose as Sonic does. That might be pretentious but I think there is something there and I don't like this supposition that finite lives are in inherent opposition to fun factor.

    Of course per-level autosaves already did away with this effect anyway and we've had that in the series since 1994 so I still don't begrudge Superstars for just being more consistent in that regard. Them taking the opportunity for more challenging level design would be lovely but that's yet to be seen. Either way I'm definitely holding them to a no-save mode with lives/continues though because literally why wouldn't it be there
     
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  14. Plorpus

    Plorpus

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    Removing lives from the anniversary mode actually helped me enjoy the games more, to be honest. It might be because I’ve already played the normal versions of the games for almost 3 decades, but being able to retry as much as I needed to made some of the more frustrating levels more manageable.
     
  15. TheOcelot

    TheOcelot

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    I don't have an issue with finite-lives being fazed out. They haven't been a thing in the 3D games since Forces and it looks like they won't be in Superstars either, which is not a big deal as Sonic & non-Sonic games can be enjoyable and fun to replay without them. I get it, it's an old outdated concept which isn't needed anymore. Hell, 95% of the games I play don't have a traditional lives system and I never feel like I miss it.

    The only exception to this IMO are old platformers like Sonic, Crash and Spyro from the 90's with the threat of a game over-having to start all over from the beginning. So you had to get good/master the game to beat it and as a result can earn a massive lives total which brings a lot of satisfaction in my experience. The target of achieving a high lives total also adds incentive to replay the game even if you know the level design inside out to see if you can get even better. For example I like trying to reach 99 lives in 3K before the end of Marble Garden Zone (not easy to do) or get over 60 lives in Sonic's story in Sonic Adventure.

    I don't mind coins being added to Anniversary Mode in the classics but removing the finite-lives system entirely from this mode isn't fair. There should have been a simple option to switch between coins & finite-lives. It's not asking much.
     
  16. Starduster

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    I’m going to be terribly blunt, but I’m truly unable to wrap my head around what value people feel lives hold in a platformer. And it’s not like I’m not accustomed to them, given that I grew up on the likes of Crash and Sonic through the 00s, but I can’t for the life of me see what they bring to the table.

    If I were playing classic Sonic 2 and I get a game over, I’d need to start the whole game over again. Why should i have to do stuff I’ve already mastered just to get to the challenge that was giving me trouble originally? It’s passing at best and a complete motivation killer at worst.

    Meanwhile, when playing Classic Sonic 3 & Knuckles, a game over just means starting from the beginning of the Zone, assuming a save file run. Not ideal, but much more forgiving, so what’s even the point of lives in that scenario given how little consequence they have?

    And sure, I get the appeal of challenge runs and such, but self-imposing a death limit is a very simple thing to do. “No-hit” runs of games are very popular, yet relatively few games have built in systems to enforce this, and little, if any, complaining occurs in response to this.

    In terms of recognising player achievement, Sonic has had a score tally since the very beginning, and deaths factor into this without need to artificially restrict attempts, since every death negatively impacts the various bonuses that are awarded at the end of an Act. Furthermore, Superstars doesn’t seem to be short on player rewards, with lives having been replaced by medals.

    Again, I’m fully aware of how blunt this is and I’m not going after anyone else over their preference, but it’s something I’ve just never been able to reconcile. Lives systems and game overs are either discouraging padding or nigh meaningless and I don’t think they bring any value to Sonic whatsoever.
     
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  17. AstroSeedP

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  18. Laura

    Laura

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    The problem with this argument, and it is very common, is that it's simply inaccurate. You don't play the game in the same way. If you did simply play the game in the same way to reach where you got a game over, it would be pointless tedium. But you play the game differently.

    I'll give practical examples.

    You start to learn new areas about the levels you have previously played which can give you extra rings to reach one hundred rings or extra lives. There's this area from Marble Zone I discovered by myself playing the game:

    upload_2023-7-2_0-22-17.jpeg

    This is not the same as trial and error. You are exploring the level in order to secure resources to better your chances in this next run. It's the actual point of moment to moment exploration in Sonic.

    You also discover shortcuts which make beating the level easier. This isn't simply for getting a new fast time but also for actually getting through the game. Sonic 1 has loads of great moments like this, such as the first ramp in Star Light Zone which you can use to launch yourself up and past much of the difficult challenges at the start.

    upload_2023-7-2_0-25-47.png

    In fact, the alternate routes are often misinterpreted by much of the fandom. People seem to think that the upper routes are harder and give more rewards. But the reality is the lower routes are harder and the upper routes are much easier but harder to stay on. Otherwise you would just stay on the lower path the whole time. The whole point of the alternate routes in Sonic 1 and 2 is not exploration for the sake of it, as people often unthinkingly say, but to make players who know the map routes make subsequent playthroughs of zones easier and more consistent. Without lives, the upper paths of Sonic lose their purpose.

    So you aren't playing the game in the same way after a game over, you are playing the game very differently in order to preserve resources. It's very similar to the mentality of arcade games. Whether you think that's a valid gameplay experience is fair enough. It's not to everyone's taste. But I do think the purpose of lives is often misrepresented in gaming fandoms. People speak as if they are simply a tool to knock you back in gaming progress when they are more a way of urging you to change how you interact with the game on subsequent playthroughs.

    This kind of gameplay mentality is embedded into Classic Sonic. Without this mentality, the score system (which is often incorrectly considered pointless) would actually be pointless. The rings only have a function so far as they give protection. Shields are only more marginally useful than one ring (since their primary goal is to guard you from losing ring numbers to reach one hundred). Special Stages are also useless aside from Super Sonic and a quirky ending (since their primary goal is lives and continues).

    In fact, resource management in Sonic is a topic which is sorely overlooked. Probably because few people now do full runs of Sonic games without saving.
     
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  19. Antheraea

    Antheraea

    Bug Hunter Member
    this isn't accurate; even the first Crash game had a password system, and all Spyro games and Crash 2 & 3 have memory card saving.

    The difficulty of the first Crash game is not in its lives system, which it even cheeses with a secret path with like 30 free ones in one level, but in how you got gems, which was to break all the boxes and reach the end of the level without dying. Crash 2 and onward got rid of the "no deaths" requirement, making it much easier.

    And the difficulty with Spyro 1 was in its extremely precise platforming and more labyrinthine levels. Spyros 2 & 3 loosed the platforming burden a bit and added a bunch of minigame filler that may or may not be a pain depending on the level.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  20. Chimpo

    Chimpo

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    I'm having difficulty understanding this conversation because I can't picture anyone losing every single life and continue in a Sonic game outside of Death Egg in Sonic 2 and Time Overs in Carnival Night Zone Act 2.