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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. Chimpo

    Chimpo

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    What's stopping you from just doing it the right way on your own?
     
  2. Regarding the argument about lives, I just want to point out how Crash 4 did things. You can pick between a "Classic" mode where you have the traditional lives system, and a "Modern" mode where you have unlimited lives. The game does feel quite different as a result.

    Without lives, you get to a difficult part of the game, and you can just beat your head into the wall until you somehow make it through. You can do this for as long as you want. By all means, it might be a total fluke that you managed to get through, you just kept blindly throwing yourself at it Super Meat Boy style until you got past.

    With lives, you're encouraged to be much more methodical. You're going to stop and watch how things move, try to find the patterns in the obstacles and enemies up ahead, until you form a plan of action to try and get by. You have consequences, so you're much more careful and observant.

    One of my favorite games, "Distorted Travesty", doesn't use a traditional lives system. To be completely honest, by end-game, I was totally taking the first approach I mentioned above. I was throwing myself at each part of the level, knowing that if I just got to the next room, I'd have unlimited tries for the following room and that even if the next room killed me, I'd end up with full resources upon respawning. Several years later, I watched a Let's Play (LPer in question was Raocow) and since I was looking from the point of view of an observer, I noticed patterns and things that I completely overlooked in my own playthrough, since I wasn't the one blindly throwing myself into each gauntlet. (Note that DT is an insanely difficult series, and I'm not advocating that the game needed a lives system. I'm just using it as an example to compare the two styles of play.)
     
  3. Starduster

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    I find the implication that playing without lives makes less skilled players morons who can only overcome difficult sections through trial and error weird.

    If the guy playing Bridge Island could only fail on that ending section four times before dying and had gotten sent back to the start, that’s then time spent not engaging with that specific challenge and instead needing to prioritise brain power to remembering the rest of the level layout and reacting to what’s there.

    Meanwhile, without game overs, the focus remains on the specific challenge a player is actually struggling with rather than making them go through tests they’ve already passed again.

    The threat of losing progress being removed more intuitively encourages experimentation and, at the end of the day, that challenge just won’t be overcome unless the player adjusts their approach. All game overs do is make that process longer. Even if repeat runs focus on stocking up lives, all that does is provide a bigger safety net that…allows players to experiment with their approach.

    And honestly, when did the last time anyone arguing for game overs in a Sonic game find themselves out of lives?
     
  4. LockOnRommy11

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    I think a Crash Bandicoot plays differently enough to classic Sonic that any comparisons are likely to be wildly inaccurate as a result.

    For example, I’ve never spent 30 lives on one section of a bridge in Sonic, because Sonic is never that unforgiving.
     
  5. jubbalub

    jubbalub

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    This reply aged better than anyone expected
     
  6. Vertette

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    I can see why they didn't bring lives back for Superstars as it's definitely going for more of a "the whole family can enjoy it" kinda vibe than Mania. That said, I do think lives still have a place in games and find it weird how quick some people balk at them. I can see how why you might find them outdated or too punishing, mind you, but for me personally overcoming the challenge is the most satisfying part. Sonic games without lives definitely don't feel the same. Whether that's a good or bad thing, eh, but to say they have no place in games anymore at all...

    There are definitely better ways to handle it though. I'm not a fan of the "lose all lives and it's back to the beginning" system personally, I always thought that just kicking the player to the beginning of a world is enough punishment without making it too painful.
     
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  7. AzuraRacon

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    Hell even if you *do* know what you’re doing; the Death Egg Robot can and will still get you, especially in the Original and Emulated versions

    One of the biggest pros to the retro engine ports now being the most readily available versions of the game is that today’s kids will never have to know the sheer bullshittery of hitting it too fast and clipping sonic’s entire body into the robot for an instakill
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  8. Chimpo

    Chimpo

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    The co-op aspect is definitely something we aren't considering here at all. If that clobber head playing Tails burns through all of our lives, he's gonna get it. I don't care if he's my son, I'll show him a boss fight.
     
  9. shilz

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    I expected it to age well. Otherwise I wouldn't have said anything.

    Tbh if it wasn't for IGN noting that Ohshima was on the project, I probably would've just stopped at saying "Hey this kinda looks like Balan and I think that's awesome".
     
  10. Palas

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    This is my time to be blunt, but you can't begin to imagine how alien this sounds to me. You speaking as if each part of a Sonic demanded its own very specific set of skills that could never be found elsewhere, and as if the human brain was a computer that could run out of "power" by saying "oh right, I've been here before" and then just repeating the same inputs from before, is absurd to me. That specific challenge is just a reflex jump that can be made easier by jumping at the top of the small hill right before that. Bridge Island has plenty of opportunity to get better at challenges of that kind, and the player won't even notice they're getting better at it.

    Subsequent playthroughs because of game overs don't just enable stockpiling lives and rings: in order to do so, you have to be better at tests you've been through before. You'll be more confident than you were the first time and probably just... start learning tricks and basic skills, even if just to avoid the tedium of doing things the same way. That's how Sonic became second nature to us. Not by winning, but by losing, even if a little bit.

    Repeating that challenge until you pass works too, but it works differently. Again:

    Implying playing a game again to beat it is innately an absolute chore and can't be otherwise does beg the question: how did you even come to like those games, if yu do at all? You may say they're better off without lives, but you probably didn't play them like that the first time. And yet, it doesn't look like lives ruined the game as much as y'all are making it out to have done. So what's the angle?
     
  11. A lot of this is going way over my head cuz I just don't think of the Classic games like that at all, but my perspective on the lives system is that I'd very much prefer it gone for good and don't really understand any of the benefits of having it.

    That said if classic Sonic games had to keep it I'd much rather have game overs force me to restart the current zone instead of booting me all the way back to Zone 1 Act 1. That aspect of S1/S2 game overs is what kept me from beating those games for a long long time, knowing that I would have to go through zones that were miserable experiences the first time through is a very strong deterrent to wanting to play again.
     
  12. Starduster

    Starduster

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    @Palas That's fairly reasonable, my argument was less that players will just switch off, but that they can become frustrated if they're made to replay stuff they've already mastered. With the example of Bridge Island, the climax doesn't require a specific set of skills not found elsewhere in the Zone, but the challenge with it is that the specific gestalt of level design needs to be learned. Now, whether that's an engaging challenge is another matter, but when the task is just to learn and react to this new area, replays of the rest of level aren't really relevant to that.

    With regards to game overs having us learn to love games, I'd say they didn't really have an impact on me personally. Growing up, I sucked at video games, but I loved stuff like Sonic and Crash for their characters and settings and game feel. I never got past any of the first hubs in the original trilogy because I couldn't do the bosses, but making me redo other stuff didn't make me any better. I didn't beat any of those games legitimately until we got the N. Sane Trilogy. The reason I kept playing them was because I was a kid with no disposable income who had to just get the best enjoyment out of what he had. If I had originally played Sonic 2 as a kid without a lives system, I reckon something like the Death Egg bosses would still stick in my mind as being dick-kickingly hard compared to other bosses in the game, but without the frustration of having to redo the entire game due to having failed an arbitrary number of times. I remember that really annoyed me as a kid.
     
  13. Ura

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    There's an inherent difference between games now and games then, there are thousands of games fighting for your attention, which means that pretty much nobody wants to waste their time replaying stuff just so they can get a chance at trying a mostly unrelated challenge. I myself had never beaten any classic Sonic game until I was twelve (2016) because there was always something in those games to stop me... and well, quite frankly, I didn't have any reason to repeatedly play from Emerald Hill up to the Death Egg just to retry a single fight when I could spend my time playing Sonic Unleashed, which I ALSO struggled a lot as a kid, but everytime I failed in, say, Jungle Joyride, I was able to retry that same level again and again and again, instead of wasting my time in levels I feel I'm already good enough and can barely see any possible improvments and optimization.

    Replaying through levels back to back in Unleashed became progressively more fun to me because I was able to practice each challenge as its own thing rather than making dozens of perfect runs in Windmill Island and Rooftop Run just to try Eggmanland for the 100th time. It took me 5 months in real time for me to beat Unleashed the first time because almost every single level after a certain point was able to gatekeep me. If I had to start from the beginning, the game would've lost me and I would've just given up instead of improving to be capable of beating the challenges, and then retrying them to get better, not because I need to, but because it's fun.

    And don't get me wrong, I'm totally fine with the idea of restarting games from the beggining, one of my favorite games is Touhou 8 after all, and the games from that series that I like the least are usually the ones that allow you to endlessly restart from the same level you died. The thing is, not only is this style of game not attractive to most people, but also you need a certain type of design for that, retrying Touhou is fun because it actually forces me to get better and more confident at each challenge since the game is... you know.. actually dificulty and challenging, but with Sonic (and many others like it) I only use the word "challenge" as a formality, because the skill ceiling of Sonic games never feels that high for casual players since you're not required to get anywhere near close to it for most of the game.

    Even for casuals and beginners, most of a Sonic game is devoid of challenge, the level design isn't particularly challenging, and the Ring system allows you to damage boost through almost everything the game throws into you.

    When I had to replay Sonic 2 from the beginning I din't feel that I was getting better at Emerald Hill because the level already took just a few seconds to be completed, I felt like I had stagnated very early on and there was only a single challenge at the end. Wanna know how I first finished Sonic 2? Save states, I needed to improve at the Death Egg and I felt I had stagnated at everything before, so I used save states for that specific challenge until I was able to beat it. Replaying Sonic 2 became increasingly more comfortable to me after that because I had given myself the opportunity of individually engaging with the challenge that's stopping me from progressing, then later I replayed the game back to back to apply that to a non-cheating playthrough and the experience was much better for me than it would otherwise be. What I mean by that is that with a lot of games, in particular older games, most people aren't improving at earlier stages because the game doesn't ask for it, you don't need to improve at those parts, you might be perfectly optimized, yet there's one specific challenge later that is gatekeeping you, and that's what you want to practice to be able to win. Getting good at Sonic games is a lot more fun after beating it because the point of Sonic isn't necessarily to beat it, but to get better for the sake of it, that's why I don't see the need of a life system that gatekeeps casual players.

    Lives aren't good for Sonic imo both because the series tries appeals to a very wide audience, so anybody needs to be able to play through these games, and as a consequence, they're designed in a way that a life system becomes 100% useless for most of the time if not to gatekeep someone at a very specific challenge, forcing them to play through a giant walk in the park of a game just to retry that one hard section again. It isn't a chore because the game isn't fun. It's a chore because Sonic is one of the easiest platforms out there and it's designed specifically to allow a lot of optimization and improvement to make the game progressively more fun, but none of that is really helping you getting through difficulty sections, it's as if you got a game over at Labyrinth and the game is came at you and saying "Oh shit, you drowned again! Why don't you go practice to lower your time in Green Hill Zone act 1 from 30 seconds to 29 seconds?"

    There is one thing I like about lives however, and that is the unhealthy amount of pleasure I get everytime I see the meaningless number getting higher and higher as I collect rings and points. I'd prefer if they had the option of a life system because of that, or if they at least replaced it with something else that works the same way but doesn't punish you with a game over

    Edit: just in case, the term "gatekeep" here is not being used to imply that anybody who likes the life system is a gatekeeper or something weird like that, it's just a way for me to say that the player is encountering something that stops them from advancing
     
  14. Vertette

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    You'd be very surprised. I know the classic Sonic games had a reputation for being easy back in the 90s but that's definitely not true anymore.
     
  15. Grimchief

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    If I had never played a classic Sonic game until recently, I would suck at them and probably lose all my lives at some point as a result. Game Over-ing and having to restart huge chunks of the game would've then made me drop the game and go play something else. The only reason I didn't do that when I was a kid was because, well, I loved Sonic (as a character and franchise) too much to not keep playing them. At the time, the only real Sonic game I had was Mega Collection Plus, so I had no choice but to keep trying. Eventually I played the games enough that I got good enough at them to never even really sniff Game Overs.

    And that's the thing, most newcomers are going to appreciate not having lives. They'll be happy sucking and then not being forced to replay huge chunks of the game they've already played. They can just keep replaying whatever's stopping them. On the flip side, those of us who aren't newcomers know most of these classic games like the back of our hand and haven't really needed lives (let alone Continues) in a long time. For most of us, it's just a fun little collectible to find or shoot for to raise the number in the bottom left of the screen, and that aspect is easily replaced by medals or whatever else they want to add. Not having lives in SuperStars shouldn't affect us much considering we aren't the ones likely to be getting Game Overs.

    I remember the backlash to Mania's lives system at release, particularly when it came to Oil Ocean Act 2's boss. I saw how many times people were kicked back to the start of the Zone, especially the people who weren't classic Sonic veterans. A lot of frustration was had, and I'm honestly happy we won't have to deal with stuff like that for SuperStars. So many more people will be able to overcome similar challenges without that frustration and I think that benefit outweighs whatever positives a lives system brings.
     
  16. Lambda

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    For the modern gaming audience, myself included, I like level-specific lives systems. You get three chances to beat a level (or for Sonic, it could be a whole zone), and if you lose all three you start the level over. Once you beat the level, your number of lives is brought back to three for the next one (or whatever number the developer chooses).

    Freedom Planet 2 did something similar, and also had the ability to trade in-game currancy for extra attempts. That game's approach to death and attempts was actually interesting in multiple ways, but that's beyond the scope of this topic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  17. Ura

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    I mean, I've seen people sucking at them and stuff, but most people are still able to just struggle their way out of everything thanks to the ring system. There might be a few "12 game overs at Oil Ocean boss act 2" out there, but Sonic games are very forgiving for the most part, so parts that can be harder for some players usually stick out a lot
     
  18. Zephyr

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    long post, am sorry

    In the context of a game, I think the act of trying to survive and/or "win" is by design supposed to be fun. Because trying to survive and/or "win" is simply playing the game. And if playing the game isn't fun for me, there's a problem. Either with the game, or with me. By which I mean, my specific sensibilities and the larger system of mechanics that make up the game are a mismatch.

    That's sort of what I mean, sort of not. The point about becoming better at the broad set of skills the game asks you to have is interesting, because that's often how "getting better at Roguelites" is characterized; in something like Spelunky I can't memorize level design, but I can definitely become more acquainted with the way my jumps work, the way my whips work, what sorts of items I'm likely to find, how many of each resource I begin a run with, how the various enemies behave and what it takes to defeat them, etc.

    The point about sections of a level becoming discrete challenges is pretty much what I'm talking about. Instead of having to clear just this one challenge to continue, you have to be able to clear all of the challenges without getting a game over. This asks for a sort of consistency in your performance that can only come from improving at the game. And 'forcing' the player to go through earlier sections if they get a game over actively facilitates this. The more you go through those earlier sections, the better you will get at them. It is also true that you will accumulate more rings, lives, and continues the better you get at those earlier sections, allowing for more failures in later portions of the game. But that only comes after the improvement, which the player is pressured to do by being placed back at the beginning if they fail enough times.

    This is a good point, and one reason I wasn't immediately happy about the fact that Anniversary Mode in Sonic Origins got rid of lives. Having finite lives and continues gives the player a certain incentive to bank up on rings, and in turn a certain incentive to explore. The more I think about it, I don't think the games need to retain the same incentive for this, but I do think there should be some incentive for it. Else, like you said, the player's reason for exploration becomes more 'subjective', doing so freely rather than as a part of any defined gameplay loop (and thus they may not be as likely to do it in the first place).

    In Sonic Origins, lives and continues are replaced with coins, which facilitate unlocking museum content and retrying special stages. Unlocking museum content doesn't really feed into the gameplay loop, but it is still an incentive, I guess; I'd still much rather the game allowed coins to spent on easily toggle-able cheat codes, but I digress. Retrying special stages, though, that's a big game changer and something I really enjoy, actually. I've never been good at the special stages in Sonic 2 or Sonic CD, and thanks to the coins I actually completed all of them for the first time. This is funny to think about, because a coin is what replaced an extra life in the main game as a reward, and it also functions like an extra life in the context of special stages. I also really liked Sonic Advance's use of rings; that game could have had infinite lives and I'd still explore looking for as many rings as possible, playing carefully not to get hit, because the ones I have on me at the end of the stage go to the Tiny Chao Garden.

    I'm hoping Superstars has some reward for getting tons of rings, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if it didn't. And if it didn't it'd still resemble the Genesis games and Mania, in the ways that matter to me, way more than any of the 8 bit or GBA games (outside of Sonic Advance 1, which would be in the same ballpark for me) do.

    This is my experience as well. I know two people irl who are interested in getting more into these games, but it still hasn't quite happened yet. My wife (who is not a Sonic fan) and my cousin (who is a fan of the 00's era Sonic games) consistently game over and/or bounce off of the Genesis games and Mania. For them, getting a game over is both frustrating and discouraging after a certain point (and sometimes, it doesn't take more than once to go past said point), which actively impedes any sort of improvement or fostering of skill that having to restart ostensibly facilitates. Origins' Anniversary Mode getting rid of finite lives is going to give them a much better shot at having these games click for them, because they're way less likely to drop whatever game they're playing after dying 3 times.
     
  19. Mr. Cornholio

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    Eh, Crash 4's Gem system I would argue still encourages careful play even with the Unlimited Lives choice. A couple of Gems are tied to the player clearing the level without dying too many times. You can still very much 'brute force' a level, but doing that makes it very likely the player will miss out on the Gems. They'll eventually have to go back and think a bit more strategically if they want everything.

    Granted, I do have some pretty major issues with Crash 4's Gem System that feel irrelevant to discuss here, but I thought that particular Gem concept was a nice compromise. I played the game with Unlimited Lives and had no real desire to switch to the Classic Mode system, and this is coming from someone who feels fairly skilled with the traditional Crash titles.

    I think limited lives/chances still have a place in video games, but I'm not exactly miffed about them being absent in Superstars? Assuming you're playing in co-op, it makes things a lot more accessible. I think there are other ways to still reward mastery of a level. Again, Crash 4's Gem System with the Unlimited Lives system allows a casual player to just play the game through without having as much setback as a Live system would have, but after the main game is done, you're going to have to play a little more carefully if you want to tackle the additional collectibles.

    Sonic's '50 Ring for a Special Stage opportunity' I thought was really clever and forces a player who wants 100% completion to play a little more carefully as well. Perhaps there will be other additional challenges or objectives that encourage clearing an Act a bit more carefully too in this title?

    I also am glad Superstars seems to be going back to Sonic 2's Special Stage entry points on a somewhat related note - I found the 3K/Mania Giant Ring system somewhat clunky. It feels like it encourages less skillful play in favor of exploration, but the exploration usually felt like it boiled down to 'hug this wall and pray to everything that it isn't solid'.
     
  20. Chimpo

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    I always found Sonic 2 and Sonic 3's special stage entry system to be awful. They break the pace of the game compared to Sonic 1 where the entry was moved at the end of the stage rather than seeking out something in the middle. If I had to choose between 2 and 3, I guess I greatly prefer 2's implementation.

    Wait, I'm in the wrong thread.
    [​IMG]