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Specials Stages in Sonic Games

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Jlook, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. Jlook


    Genesis and Dreamcast Era was best Member
    Special Stages has appeared quite a bit in Sonic games. So, here are my thoughts on them. Also these are coming from the classic games including Mania and 3D Blast:

    Sonic 1: They're fine. They're doable but they are luck-based to me.

    Sonic 2: They're way more interesting but they're really unfair especially with Tails.

    Sonic CD: They're pretty good. It's not perfect since you can miss the UFOs sometimes but
    other than that, pretty good.

    Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Absolutely beautiful. They blend the right mix of challenging and fairness.

    Knuckles' Chaotix: Probably the best special stages in the 2D classic series to me.

    Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis): They're okay but really easy to me.

    Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn): One of the best, if not, the best set of special stages in the series. Just a good mix of fun and challenging.

    Sonic Mania (Plus): Really good special stages. And I got nothing else to say other than good special stages.

    So those are my thoughts. Do you agree with me or no? Leave your thoughts below! Also don't be a jerk when someone's opinion is different from yours. Everyone has an opinion and it should be they're own opinion
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  2. Billy


    RIP Oderus Urungus Member
    Colorado, USA
    Indie games
    Obviously my own opinions.
    • Sonic 1 - I fucking hate these special stages. Way too trial and error. You have to memorize them and very carefully traverse them to have any success. Not super exciting, given how hard they are to get into in the first place. And there's no reward for completing all of them except a slightly different ending.
    • Sonic 2 - Much more fun to play, but, as stated previously, pretty unfair. One of my friends actually beat them with Tails, and I have no idea how he had the patience to do so lol.
    • Sonic CD - Fuckin' love these ones. They're a little confusing at first (the water takes time away, wut?), but once you get the hang of them, they're a blast to play.
    • S3&K - Great fun. Control is snappy and easy to come to grips with. Has the added bonus of getting all the rings for a 'perfect'; great for completionists.
    • Knuckles' Chaotix - Pretty fun, and it's the part of the game that really shows the power of the 32X. The jumping feels kinda weak, but otherwise a great time.
    • Sonic 3D Blast Genesis - No complaints, but they're boring for being too easy. Before the DX version, no super sonic reward for beating them all either.
    • Sonic 3D Blast Saturn - Fucking awesome. Super fun to play, and look great for Saturn.
    • Sonic 3D Blast PC - Boring as shit. I never bothered trying to beat them all, even when S3D PC was the only version of the game I owned.
    • Sonic Mania - Fantastic. Takes what I love about the SCD ones and removes what I don't. It's now a race, which I think works really well for a special stage.
    • Sonic Heroes - Super boring, just from lack of variety. Never much cared for them.
  3. Sonic 2's special stages set the standard for me, as I never enjoyed the weird Sonic 1 version despite having played the first game first. While I do love the Blue Spheres of S3K, I'll always prefer the ones rooted in the S2 tube. If I were to rank them it'd go something like this: Sonic 2 as the baseline, Sonic 3D Blast [MD], Chaotix, Sonic 3D Blast [Saturn].

    I do really dig the CD style as well, especially after Mania streamlined it. Sonic 1's can go ahead and remain in the past.
  4. Josh


    I'm on-board with the general consensus so far, but I'd also like to throw in some praise for the Special Stages in the DS games. Using the stylus to control movement in the half-pipe makes your movements much snappier and more precise. I recently played through Colors DS for the first time, and its Special Stage gimmick of running through the same layout thrice, getting different-colored spheres each time was a unique idea, well-executed.

    The song's a bop, too!
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  5. Jlook


    Genesis and Dreamcast Era was best Member
    I do agree. I think the DS special stages are the best controlling ones in the series.
  6. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

    size of a tangerine Member
    Sonic 1: Best of the classic Special Stages. Sometimes the game is poor at responding to input when trying to jump around, but overall these are the easiest to get the hang of, and it's the only Sonic game that I always go for the emeralds on an average playthrough in.

    Sonic 2: The original halfpipe is probably my favorite of them all conceptually, and is certainly the most nostalgic for me. My only problem here is that after the first couple stages, the difficulty goes too high too fast.

    Sonic CD: I really enjoy these ones, though the way a UFO can just kind of fly around you if the perspective you have at it isn't quite right is annoying.

    Sonic 3&K: Blue Spheres is definitely my least favorite out of the series. Gets way too frantic and difficult.
  7. Jlook


    Genesis and Dreamcast Era was best Member
    Well it's your opinion so I respect it.
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  8. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    Sonic 1 (8-bit): Jolly good fun and a nice break from the action. No specific goal, just a point scoring, life chasing, time-limited romp.

    Sonic Chaos: Largely forgettable. I guess the rocket shoes one had an interesting gimmick.

    Sonic Triple Trouble: Interesting concept with a Hidden Palace like ancient ruin and boss fights. More like a side quest than a special stage though. I guess the into the screen Tornado ones were somewhat impressive for the hardware.
  9. kyasarintsu


    Mania has the only special stages that I don't mind replaying. I find the rest of them some combination of boring or annoying—though I do think that the rotating maze is a cool idea.
  10. Azookara


    yup Member
    Sonic 1 - I love these. I don’t see how they’re difficult, I just find them pretty easy and fun to navigate. They’re a bit on the slow side though, so I understand how they’re not all too exciting.

    Sonic 2 - Horrid. The concept is the best one, but it’s execution leaves so much to be desired. You wanna talk about blind spots and trial-and-error; you look to these. They’re fun for the first two or three but it very quickly becomes a chore to play.

    CD - Very fun, but hellish to beat on the original hardware. The remake makes playing these so much smoother. Still like them in both versions; they demand a learning curve from the player.

    3K - One of the best in the series. They’re overwhelming at first but extremely fun, and have endless replay value from auto generated levels. Don’t have much else to say about em.

    Chaotix - Fun in concept, I love the aesthetics and music to them, but the farther into them you get the more wonky they are. Kinda reflective of the game as a whole, huh lol.

    3DB Genesis / PC - Fucking yawn. Genesis version at least looks better than the PC one, which is almost the same if not for the horrible attempt at a halfpipe.

    3DB Saturn - Best. This is what the halfpipe was meant to be. Plus there’s springs, caves, and hills. And you can roll! Also the visuals and music rule. It’s easily the best by a landslide.

    Mania - Second favorite in the series. Perfect blend of racing around like in the halfpipes, collecting blue spheres like in 3K, and nabbing a UFO like in CD; and surrounded by Sonic 1 visuals. The speed mechanic and drifting around the maps is a blast.

    Heroes - somehow even jankier than the game they hark from. You just feel like you’re gonna clip through the floor at all times in them. Also the instant stop when you get the emerald.. yeesh lol.

    Advance 1 - More trial and error like Sonic 2’s, except arguably worse since you have to reach in every direction instead of shift side to side. Getting to the stages themselves was a whole nother bottle of hell, which somehow was even worse in the sequels so I never played those special stages..

    The DS ones - Rush / SRAs are neat but I don’t remember playing them that much. I guess it’s worth a revisit.
  11. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    1's are mediocre. Not awful, but you really do have to memorize them. The pink and white ones still give me trouble sometimes.

    2's are really good. I've actually NOT found Tails' presence to be much problem after I've memorized these. After all, he can only lose the rings he collects, so just have Sonic get them.

    CD's are the remaster. I find Mode 7 racers extremely difficult to gauge my position in. Since the remake uses an actual 3D environment, all that is alleviated. I do think water is too much of a punishment: it's, what, 10x speed on the clock?

    3K's are great. First one I ever got good at. My sister said they gave her motion sickness, though.

    Chaotix's are neat. I like the changing gravity thing. Some of them later ones are really long and tedious, though.

    3D Blast Genesis' are the most boring by far. And they're piss easy. I don't usually deduct points from something for being easy, unless it's braindead, which these are.

    Love Mania's, though they get frantic at top speed. And the Encore Mode ones are fucking HARD. I can get the Mania Mode ones first try almost every time, but the Encore Mode ones are always a struggle.

    Advance 1 and 3 are alright. Kind of a slower-paced Sonic 2 with the whole screen.

    Advance 2's are awful. I don't think they're actually doable without multipliers, so you NEED to learn the layout, and the tedious way you get to them makes them a pain in the ass to practice.

    3DS Generations' are "if the Heroes ones were actually functional", and pretty good.

    That's all I remember.
  12. Jlook


    Genesis and Dreamcast Era was best Member
    I don't think the actual special stages are that bad. Actually I think they are at least decent. But I do agree getting into the special stages are bullcrap.
  13. Ravenfreak


    2 Edgy 4 U Tech Member
    O'Fallon Mo
    Sonic 1 Game Gear Disassembly
    Sonic 1 (16 bit) special stages aren't bad, but they're not great either. If the smooth scrolling was kept in the final game it would have made it a bit more fun to play. Sonic 2 (16-bit) half pipe stages are my least favorite when it comes to the classics, and it's really because it's been in too many different Sonic games at this point. Yeah I know Sonic 2 was the first to do the half pipe, but I still don't really care for it. My personal favorite from the 16 bit games are Blue Spheres, they can be challenging at first but are tons of fun to master. Sonic Mania's come in second for me, since it puts a twist on the Sonic CD special stages. As for the 8-bit games, I love Triple Trouble's special stages the most. Both the flying and Fang stages are tons of fun to play. I also don't mind Chaos' special stages too, and Sonic 1's bonus stage is much better than it's 16-bit counterpart. Can't say much about Sonic Advance's special stages, because I was never able to enter them. :V
  14. >Sonic 1 (16-bit): I think these are fine. The only one that is a real pain is #3, which I have unaffectionately dubbed "the tower". People always complain about the physics, but I think they're fine... at least, I never had trouble with them growing up. The method to enter is fair, but you can only mess up 4 times, and the earliest you can have the emeralds is SYZ2.

    >Sonic 1 (8-bit): A little distraction at best, a waste of time at worst. If you unknowingly pass the goal with 50 rings, you have to play the special stage. At least each one provides a continue hiding somewhere.

    >Sonic 2 (16-bit): I can beat every one with Tails following me. Is that abnormal? ;) Entrance method is very fair, albeit a tad easy.
    Stages themselves require memorization- and that's no good. Much better in 2013.

    >Sonic CD: Very very fun. Wish there was more. With the way the blue UFO spawns it's possible to stay in the special stage forever. Method of entrance is the same as S1.

    >Sonic Chaos: Eeehhh, I've got a love-hate relationship with these. They're kinda fun and are required to get the good ending (plus the music is a bop), but they're so easy to access I've done it on accident before. Normally that wouldn't be an issue, but entering a special stage immediately ends the current act, regardless of how far into the act you were, or if you win or lose the special stage. o-o

    >Sonic 3&K: What everyone else said. Plus, blue sphere adds extra fun. I spent literal days playing the lock on minigame as a kid.

    >Triple Trouble: Whhhhhaaaaat? 2 kinds of special stage in one game? The platforming ones are tedious. They love to chuck sonic around like a basketball. The tornado ones are inconsequential. Can you even fail these ones? I have yet to. I always get the 50 rings before anything comes up. The Fang fights are worth the journey alone. Entrance method is fine, but definitely not the easiest. I still don't know where the emerald monitors are hidden. Up high just seems to work most of the time.

    >Sonic 3D Blast Genesis: Again, inconsequential. Everyone seems to dislike these, but I think seeing how many rings i can pick up is a great reward for the trek to finding Tails and Knuckles in the first place.

    >Sonic 3D Blast Saturn: I can't discuss these, as I've yet to play them

    >Sonic 3D Blast PC: ...the PC version has unique special stages? Since when...?

    >Sonic Blast: These are weird. An odd cross between the half pipe ring collecting and the checkered ball? Okay. Depth perception is awful, but easy to get a grip on. Entrance method is fine, it's the giant ring from S3, but emeralds can only be obtained in act 2, which means you can't fail once, or you can kiss that good ending goodbye.

    >Knuckles Chaotix: I've yet to actually play this one all the way through, but I have vague memories of playing the special stage and having a blast. I love these ones. S1 entrance method again.

    >Pocket Adventure: Half pipe from S2 with the S1 giant ring. Depth perception is on par with Sonic 2, which I must admit is impressive for this game. It's not as hard as you'd think.

    >Advance 1: It took ages to figure out how to use the trick zones. Otherwise, it's a dimps special stage collection; in other words, #7 kicks balls. Entrance method is okay, but there's only one spring for each emerald. Failing only means going back to the same spring this time though, not starting the game over. Also, there's only one set of emeralds. Sweet!

    >Advance 2: Special stages themselves rock, but the method to reach them is anything but. You've all heard the story.

    >Heroes: Aside from the glitchy floors, these are cool. Boost Sonic, Booooooost!! Method to enter is absurd in concept, yet not as hard in execution. I don't know why.

    >Advance 3: Method of entrance is... odd. I suggest you look it up yourself. Stages themselves are really cool, but #7 is a gut punch though.

    >Rush: Method to enter is near perfect. Ya just gotta be good with your boost. Stylus controls are a dream.

    >Rush Adventure: Does this even count? Imma just say the boat minigames were awesome (aside from the sailboat, that one was meh) so getting to play more speedboat stuff was a joy. Method of entrance makes sense, but is a slight pain.

    >Colors DS: Yes! I'm not alone with this one (thanks Josh)! Second favorite special stage with #1 favorite music. The stylus half pipe is back, but this time it's a racetrack. You have 3 laps to get enough red/blue/yellow spheres on each lap respectively. You can touch wrong spheres ahead of time, but that will detract from how many of that kind you can pick up the next time around the course. Such a cool reimagining of the old halfpipe formula, and a kicka** song to go with it! Getting in just requires finishing with 50 rings. No giant ring to jump into, just get to the goal with a chunk of change.

    >Gens 3DS: A better version of the heroes special stages. Need I say more? I can't remember how to enter them though. :/

    >Lost World 3DS: Why am I the only person alive who had a blast with these? Aside from looking like an idiot spinning around, these handled amazingly (and once again reminded me that sonic belongs in a free roaming 3d world, but I digress...) and weren't too hard. I never got dizzy with these, and I always hear people online say "I think I was supposed to be standing up for these". Yeah, that's how you get them to work. They won't work if you're fixed in a chair or laying down in bed lol. Nintendo wanted 3ds owners to move. I don't remember how to enter these either.

    >Mania: Best in the series, with the song being a close #2 behind colors DS. Reminds me too much of Sonic R, but in a good way. Handling is great, challenge doesn't climb too fast, reward is worth it, and the method of entry is perfect.

    And whheeeeeew. I'm out of figurative breath. No one's gonna read all that lmao. But I had fun assessing myself. :D

    Edit: Crap, forgot CD
  15. ChaddyFantome


    I guess a part of the convo should be whether the Special Stage itself is being judged or if the method for accessing it is also being taken into account as well as the process of beating them all.

    Sonic 1's special stages for example I generally consider to be a mess that feel too RNG in general, but they tank significantly more when the fact you only have 6/10 chances to nab the emeralds, and 2 of those are Labyrinth so its more like 6/8 is taken into account...

    Sonic 2s I feel get too much flak but not because it doesnt deserve em, its that it gets flak for the wrong reasons.
    Generally I agree that the dificulty scaling on them is off, and that memorization becomes too important in later ones for what they are.
    People often bring up Tails losing you rings, but he can only pick up Rings Sonic doesnt get and lose Rings he himself got.
    The real issue is that the Ring threshold is higher when you are with Tails than without iirc.
    I find accessibility to the special stages much improved from Sonic 1, as StarPosts provide more attempts to snag the Emeralds now, however Sonic 2s placements of these are often very questionable. A lot of the time they are put in places that feel like they were outright hidden and other times they are in the middle of speed sections, causing you to off screen em and miss your chance to enter the special stage.
    The stage itself is legitimately fun though.

    Sonic CDs Im actually not fond of. I find the visibility and and hit detection on UFOs to be a pain. That wouldnt be as bad though if the means of entering a special stages was such a headache.
    Its back to the special stage system of Sonic 1, which at face value it seems to improve on since more Zones means more chances to get a Time Stone, but unlike Sonic 1, Sonic CDs level design isn't as conducive to getting those 50 rings to the end unscathed. Its level design means you have to spend more time actively searching for and collecting the rings instead of focusing on not losing them. It makes losing in these sting a lot more as a result. At least in my eyes.

    Sonic 3&K are ones that I actually didnt apreciate much in my youth. But as I got older I really love them. I still think i like the halfpipe aesthetically a lot more, but I do love the rush of adrenaline from the increase in speed and music from Blue sphere. The means of accessing special stages has been made to where simply finding the Giant Ring in the stage now so frustration is kept to a minimum, but i do think just a bit was lost since there is less incentive for holding on to rings now. I still think it is overall the best system though. Balancing in Blue Sphere is also great, though I suppose I could criticize the game for not making it clear that you have to encircle the groups of Spheres to turn them into rings. That's just a bit of hindsight though.

    3DBlasts system of being able to Bank Rings was a novel concept i'd like to see re-explored. It certainly would have made the CD system a lot more approachable. The stages themselves though are nothing special.

    Mania's I would go as far as saying are the best Special Stages in the series. While I enjoy Blue Sphere and the Halfpipe quite a bit, Mania's special stages are perhaps the only ones I wanted more of when I was done with them purely for their sake, as opposed to being content with having completed them.
    The amount of mechanics at play really makes mastering them a much more dynamic experience than other special stages in the series.

    Sonic Advance 1s are fine, though U always feel tense as if Im gonna miss Rings due to the perspective. Really, I find the process of getting to em a tad too obtuse. Having a single spring in the entire level that lets you access them, often that access being barred depending on the character you are playing, I'm just not a fan.

    While Sonic Advance 2s system is convoluted, my main issue with them isn't even the method itself. Its the fact you have to do it with every character in the game. (It doesn't even makes sense.)
    The special stage itself is fine if nothing remarkable but having to play them over 20 times is ridiculous, especially given Sonic Advance 2s level design phylosophy.
    On some level I kind of respect the idea of having to chart out a route to get the emeblems to access the special stage. Its invocative of the speedrunning mentality that the series was founded on.

    Sonic Advance 3s special stages are also fine, and the method of accessing them while not my favorite isn't the worst thing in the world either I suppose. It helps that the Chao stay collected so you dont have to restart the stage just to try again like Advance 2s. I'd say Advance 1s were the best overall out of the Advance games.

    As people have already mentioned, the Stylus allowed for a level of control in the DS games that makes them very intuitive and fun. I'd say the only criticism I have of any of them is that Rush Adventure's later ones require you to upgrade your ship to ein at all, which you cant do til post game. It doesnt ruin em for me because the Jet Ski is very fun to play with, but it is a gripe I have with em.

    Sonic Heroes aren't perfect but overall are more than serviceable once one realises that holding the Boost button instead of mashing it is actually better.
    Only thing I guess I would criticize is that each Emerald is tied to a stage, which makes collecting them more of a chore than they would be otherwise since you have to clear stages without getting hit while getting the key to get to them.
    Overall fine still.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
  16. BadBehavior


    For once, I can agree! Touch controls are the only way the half-pipe formula is even remotely enjoyable to me.

    It doesn't help that much like everything else that gets even a remote modicum of praise in this series, Sonic Team rode half-pipes into tiresome fatigue with constant overuse.

    Otherwise, I prefer blue sphere, CD/Mania's 3D, and Mega Drive 3D Blasts versions top-down ring paths.
  17. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I never liked the Special Stages even as a kid. I always thought they were just visual spectacles with shallow mechanics. The most visually interesting is Sonic 2, even though the stages are incredibly annoying after stage 2. Sonic 3 has the least painful ones, but I think they are very dull to play. Sonic 1's are okay but dull. Sonic CD's are weird, just like the game itself.

    The only soecial stages I actually like to play are those in Mania. I think they are significantly better than every other special stage. The concept is fun, it's far deeper than the others mechanically, and the difficulty is mostly fairly balanced. It's not trying to show off hardware but actually be fun. It still has issues, like the confusing wall design and the steering taking a while to get uaed to, but I still consider them the best.
  18. Oh crap, I forgot sonic 4 lol.

    >Episode 1: they're fine, but it's basically the sonic 1 special stages with you controlling the maze and an arbitrary time limit. As always with dimps, they get unreasonably hard as they go on.

    >Episode 2: the half pipe, but tails actually has a purpose lol. These are pretty good all in all, and just serve as another reminder to me how much I enjoyed episode 2 over 1.
  19. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    The best special stages are the Game Land stages in Sonic Colors.
  20. Jlook


    Genesis and Dreamcast Era was best Member
    Well they do have chaos emeralds in them so I guess they count as well.