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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. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I respect that position, and it can be true for a lot of genres (I'm not a fan of roguelikes for that reason, a bit). But I think Sonic is a fluid enough kind of game that it's not such an issue. For example-- this challenge we're talking about, which I do find engaging and I'm very happy to see people die at it, isn't harder (when it comes to gauging distances and executing a jump accordingly) than successfully jumping between two moving platforms. And while we haven't seen that in Bridge Island, I think we will. And if a player gets that good at jumping between moving platforms, they're more likely to deal with that specific gestalt. There is a lot being tested there, and in a unique way, but playing the game up until then does ask each of the skills required there a lot of times. But again, nothing wrong with having you get better at that specific challenge either.

    I'm not trying to say "game overs make you love the game" as much as "it can't be that bad, just works differently". I'm still not that good at videogames, and I remember being unable to get past the very first spring that shoots you towards the water in Sonic 1 8-bit, because there was a buzz bomber there too. It was a fairly trivial challenge, but I was just like. Four years old. So I get the frustration. However, I think @kazz brought up the narrative aspect of it that I think is pretty often overlooked. When I read @raphael_fc's story with the Death Egg boss, I saw two stories: one, of the boy who got fucked over by a difficult spike for more than 30 times. But two, the story of a boy who got so engrossed that he bothered to try it for 30 or more times and remembers the specific number of lives he had at the start of it until today. This sense of "wholeness" of a playthrough, that makes up a story that's so uniquely yours with the game, ironically transfers some of the focus to you. The number of tries isn't arbitrary: it's yours and depends on you. Personally, I'm into that. But that's me.

    But anyway, you guys don't like counted life systems. I get it. It's fair. The discussion was about them making a game different, and a game can't be both indifferent and worse for having lives at the same time. So I guess we're done with it: Superstars is different from Sonic 3.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  2. raphael_fc


    Overthinking Sonic timelines. Member
    Yeah, that happened because it was not the first time I died at Death Egg Zone. I got there a couple of times, but with only a few lives - I was not very good at the game. Knowing that the Death Egg was a bitch, I decided to play the whole game again but carefully, collecting as many lives I could get, so I could beat the game. That's why I remember having 23 lives.

    In that sense, the game overs helped me improve my performance comparing this final playthrough with the first ones. I got to the Death Egg with many lives more.
    At the same time, the game overs screwed me over, because they didn't help me beat the level - quite the opposite. When you are stuck in a level or a section of a level, you only improve if you try that particular section over and over. But if the game makes you redo a previous level - or even the whole entire game - before attempting it again, not only you don't improve at that painful section, but you also begin to play worse at what you had already succeeded, due to impatience.
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  3. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    ...but most action games haven't had (relevant) lives systems in decades though?

    This kind of strikes me as insisting that all modern racers use a time-based checkpoint system like the old arcade titles, because That's How It Was and some people liked it?

    For instance, Bayonetta does not have lives. Because the difficulty is in perfection. This is generally the trend games have been going for for many, many years - clearing the game on a basic level is most base thing, but if you want to test your skills, you go for perfection - the S rank, the Sunset City gem, all emblems to unlock Green Hill.

    Likewise, I'd argue that even the old Sonic games had some of this ethos. You need 50 rings to get to special stages in 1, 2, and CD, which demands a degree of perfection in how you play - but you don't need that to clear the level. All lives do is make it even more difficult, but in a way that is a bit overbearing on this mechanic (and of course, if you do the special stages, you get far, far more lives than someone who doesn't).

    Sonic 3 doesn't really have this as the rings can be found regardless of conditions, but their locations also demand perfect play in some spaces - the Hydrocity Act 2 ring near the end for instance - and the lives are...for.......what reason exactly? Just to keep you from having to replay both acts if you really suck?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  4. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I can definitely relate to the tension of failing over and over, and how that can make you play worse. But the "narrative value" of it makes it worth it to me: it's fun to feel like I'm going through something I built for myself and that no one will ever live the same way, even if I ultimately lose. So I find your experience fascinating, and I have a couple stories like that from other games. Then again, that's just me.
  5. kazz


    16-bait Member
    I actually find that growing-impatience-leading-to-choking phenomena is more likely to happen to me when I force myself to redo the same exact challenge over and over again and that doing something else (including something else in the game like a previous level perhaps) gives my brain the refresher it needs to de-stress and think clearly. Of course this is player dependent which is why I think just having options is the ideal.
    "Action games" is a vague distinction in this context and infinite lives are still a new precedent for Sonic. He literally just said he wanted the option and lives are a much more universal game mechanic than timed checkpoints so I don't think it's a fair comparison.

    "Some people" liking lives is a more compelling reason to me than you specifically liking how they weren't done in another game that's nothing like Sonic.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  6. Nope


    Lives have their place, I don't think they are necessarily an oudated concept but in the realm of classic Sonic I don't think they make a lot of sense if you have other things to find. Like, Mega Man games usually place lives only in select levels to balance out the challenge of specific levels where there are tougher sections or bosses or to make certain things easier by giving the player another chance. But those games are also far more linear than Sonic games, and with the way Sonic levels are usually designed the player might not even run into them. It feels like they were just there because it was the times and the scope of collectibles was limited in those games. I feel like they could just put other stuff around the map.
  7. Snowbound


    I think the lives system is great for classic mega man games because the challenge of those games is to survive tough challenges. When you game over you have to start the level over, which can be aggravating, but you get an initial burst of satisfaction from being able to breeze through the level’s intial challenges which you’ve now mastered.

    Not entirely related to the quoted post but here are my thoughts on a life system in classic sonic:
    In Sonic 3K, while there are lives, exploration became it’s own reward due to the presence of special stages, multiple bonus stages and unique shield abilities. Superstars’ multiple special/bonus stages and emerald powers feel like an evolution of 3K, thus I don’t think lives are necessary.

    The earlier classic sonic games (1,2,1(SMS/GG)) are more designed around having a limited number of lives and needing to earn additional lives and continues. At the time, being forced to start over emphasized the levels replayability by giving players a chance to understand how to master Sonic’s unique physics. Today, younger audiences are not accustomed to being forced to start over. Additionally, superstars gives players the option to create a unique save as a different character (or at least I’m assuming the game will have multiple saves) as such it’s better to allow players to choose to start over since this game is targeting a wider audience
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  8. foXcollr


    Resident Dolphin Member
    I think there's either 2 or 3 different types of players here.

    1. Marathon players - players who like the challenge that comes with getting to the harder late-game stages and feeling the pressure of do-or-die

    2. "Execution-only" players - prefer levels to create difficulty through expanding upon mechanics and challenges with harder and harder iterations, but infinite retries.

    (3.) Chill players - not really concerned about the issue of difficulty, they just enjoy the sandbox nature of Sonic and having fun levels to goof around in with their friends, OR players who do not have fun dying in games at all so they prefer infinite retries

    I'm not personally opposed to marathon runs; currently I'm trying to no-hit a 22-minute long (if you're quick) Celeste map where every single screen can insta-kill you. The feeling of getting to the end of a game or challenge and knowing the stakes are high feels really good, it's nice adrenaline. It gives me the same feeling as trying to get to the end of Sonic 2 as a little tot. But I think those challenges are better off either self-imposed by the player or encouraged through the game's design like getting a special achievement or unlockable for clearing the game and its individual stages without dying. Such a system also adds *layers* to the difficulty of the game and allows people to take on optional challenges to suit their taste, which prevents new players from giving up

    Regardless, I agree that it should be an option in the game, and I'll be shocked if it isn't. Lives aren't inherently bad and I think I will play with that option on if it's there, just to count how often I die. Not all players will hate a game just because they can't get past a part; I've been a diehard Sonic 3 and Ecco the Dolphin fan for years, despite always getting stuck on the CNZ barrel as a kid and never getting past the first 4-5 levels of Ecco... just because I loved the games so much. But I DO remember putting down games like Rayman because I couldn't get past certain parts, and if someone doesn't LOVE Sonic but they still want to see the full game I think that should be an option, considering how much money they paid to play lol.

    In the end though... please give us the option to play however we want. Pls Arzest, plsssssssssssssssssss. The "anniversary vs classic" / "Mania vs encore" thing has been a trend for a little while, so I'll be surprised if they don't offer it here.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2023
  9. synchronizer


    Agreed. The point of playing Sonic is to feel good about getting through. So what if you beat the level? Would you feel good if you brute-forced it? Probably not. The appeal is to get through with "style." The same goes for many kinds of games, really.

    Side-thought: what if you got special tokens for finding the hidden rings in the level, and at the end of the level, you got a special stage attempt for each token you got in that act (and if you won, you got to try the next one if you had more tries)? That would combine both Sonic 1/CD and Sonic 3&K approaches.
  10. Mr. Cornholio

    Mr. Cornholio

    That actually sounds rather similar to Sonic Advance 2's SP Ring system, but considerably more fair. That'd be cute too!

    I also don't mind Sonic 1's Special Stage Acess System as well and do understand how that one interrupts the core gameplay loop a bit less, but my issue with that was the limited entry attempts and Sonic 1's Special Stage concept probably being my least favorite of the Genesis bunch. There is also a really odd satisfying feel to trying to get all the Chaos Emeralds within the first two Zones with the 2/3K approach that 1 just can't provide, but both games do offer ways to restart the game with all Chaos Emeralds if you want to have some fun with Super Sonic.

    I also realize after that after stating that, it's been confirmed you can't grind to get all the Emeralds early. I suppose it makes sense though given the way Act replays will work in Superstars.
  11. Battons


    Shining Force Fan Member
    My opinion on lives is that I don’t care because I rarely die in sonic games anymore, unless I’m doing something janky on purpose. If it helps even more kids get in on some blue action then I’m all for it.
    I’ll give you my personal experience. I watched a friend who doesn’t really like sonic try out S3&K and almost gave up because he got a game over on the final boss autoscroller. If it wasn’t for me pushing him I promise he would’ve just never touched the game again.
  12. Chimpo


    I Gotta Be Me Member
    Los Angeles, 2029
    Don't Forget! Try Your Best!
    Can't believe we really went from "Hold Right to Win" to "Hold Right to Die" in a single generation.
  13. Plorpus


    Hog Blue So What Member
    I’m in my early thirties and still can’t beat Scrap Brain or Wing Fortress without saves so it’s not just a generational thing. We’ve always been around, lurking in the shadows.
  14. You really need to watch Twitch streamers try and play retro Sonic's for the first time, we might find it easy and forgiving, because we've been playing Sonic probably before we even started school.
  15. Mercury


    His Name Is Sonic Tech Member
    Location Location
    Chaotix has done away with lives for yonks, so Superstars won't technically be the first.:eng99:

    I think it's definitely the right call for Superstars to broaden its appeal (I hope it sells well and has tons of sequels), but as I've aged I've come to appreciate how a lives system affects so much else in a game's design and haven't encountered any substitute that quite captures the same dynamics.

    This discussion has definitely been interesting for me to read, especially Laura's articulations - outright calling it "resource management" gives me a novel mental framing.
  16. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I think you inadvertently brought up something very important about arcade games in general that made it work back in the day and that doesn't exist today in the same way when it comes to gaming culture: friends.

    Gaming with friends is very much alive today, of course, if not more. But pushing each other to play games or playing them together just so you can beat them was in fact a structured part of the environment.

    A few people have mentioned, here and elsewhere, how replaying games was the norm back then because the supply of games wasn't as big, and you couldn't just switch between games as easily as you'll do today. That's true, but arcade gaming in general -- and I'll include at least Sonic 1 in this, because in many ways it was a home arcade game -- was also never as lonely as we make it out to be. I know we think of "hard games in which you have to get extremely good to beat, spending all your allowance over several months in the process" when we think of arcade gaming, but... that wasn't my experience with it at all. And it doesn't make sense for most kids, if you think about it.

    The cheapest available method for playing arcade games when I was a kid was to have friends whose parents would throw bitrhday parties for them in designated party halls for children. I don't know how much of a thing that is where you guys live -- maybe you always decorate your own house for that -- but it looks something like this:


    They're like mini theme parks for birthday parties only, so they take care of the cake and the treats and the theme decoration you want. And, up until some point, they had a couple arcade machines in them, with a mechanism that allowed you to insert credits without putting coins in, but only worked on the title screen. So they effectively became home console games.

    Anyway, these games were either super hard -- I can remember Metal Slug being a staple -- or fighting games, and for the super hard games, since there was a bunch of children, the agreement was that each kid was allowed one life at the game. Likewise, kids could share the costs of credits in arcades, in a collective effort to beat such games. And the fact that you couldn't do it remotely or over several days meant gaming sessions with friends, either in arcades or someone's house, were meant for more or less any game, not just explicitly multiplayer ones. I had these friends who would call me over to play Castle of Illusion or Bomberman interchangeably. This is also a feature of a time when not that many people had consoles, actually.

    And how was this maybe inadvertently encouraged by the structure of the consumption model for games back then? Rentals. Rentals were, for all intent and purposes, credits for home console games, except they operated on real world time rather than an in-game mechanic. It was almost a necessity to call friends to help beating a game before they had to return it, either by playing together or by co-piloting it reading a walkthrough on a gaming magazine as the other played (which was also a structured part of the culture).

    This collective experience of gaming stopped making much sense and was replaced by other forms of it -- from playing games on Discord to Twitch streams, so it's not like we all play alone today. Which is why, by the way, I'm excited about the co-op in Superstars: I'm looking forward to having gaming sessions to try to beat the game with my brother and my friends. I think it might bring this kind of experience back for Sonic, because it kind of never tried to bring it back, even when other games did through other structures.

    I'm romanticizing, of course, but a little romance is in order for a gaming culture that is so often referred to as bleak and uncaring, because that was not at all the case. People have more or less always pushed each other to play games, because sharing has always been fun.

    tl;dr: it's a good thing you pushed your friend to finish the game. It's also not detrimental to the game, because there would be a few social structures -- so to speak -- in place that would, sometimes, there was someone sharing that experience with us. (Besides, like @foXcollr said, putting down a game doesn't mean you hate it)
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2023
  17. penBorefield


    Living in my best life Member
    Patching things up
    I can't believe everyone has a hot take about the lives system on video games. Lives or not, it doesn't matter. Play the game. End of story.
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  18. jubbalub


    #1 Sonic Superstars defender Member
    If we said this every time people had praise or criticism of a videogame, videogames would never evolve.

    If you think it doesn't matter, like I do, simply don't engage. That's all you gotta do. Saying "it doesn't matter, play the game" adds absolutely nothing to the conversation. People are allowed to discuss these things and it should be encouraged (in a civil manner, of course).
  19. Gestalt


    Sphinx in Chains Member
    Ultimately, it's up to you how you play your games. Make up your own rules, playing in unintended ways is fun. BotW really nailed that for me. You have the main story missions, Korok Seeds (Korok hunt mode) + the Hyrule Compendium (paparazzi mode). It's like three games in one. I'm also a big fan of customization in games. Lives, bgm, stage order, abilities, – the wilder, the better. Would be nice to have at least a few options to choose from.

    With that out of the way, removing lives and continues, for me at least, really changes the feel of a game. The sense of accomplishment is different. I think that the old Sonic Team was mindful of that.
  20. shilz


    getting my daily allowance of vitamin kk
    I feel like lives can kind of be replaced by more difficult challenges that can be tackled more universally by people. Nowadays people play games and they wanna get them done to fix their backlogs (or if they create content, so they they can get to the next game) so throwing yourself at a "try it again, stupid" challenge is usually only for the most dedicated. I think that's kind of the perfect place for A/S Ranks as they were in SA2 to Unleashed, although a similar effect was gained with the Cyberspace challenges in Forces.
    It'd be cool if they added proper ranks like that to the classic games. I find it hard to care about the actual score even though I know it's supposed to be another big part of the game.