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Unpopular Sonic Opinions

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Londinium, Jun 17, 2022.

  1. To be fair on Cybershell that video is from about 2009 and he's toned down a bit. That was back when being edgy was hip.
     
  2. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I can't see the worth of forcing the player to learn how to do anything in classic Sonic, with the exception of maybe spinning (which is a major mechanic people often miss out on).

    The rest is just minor tech that comes naturally by playing the game in repeated playthroughs, or grinding it out in Time Attack / leaderboards. No need to bottleneck anyone into anything.
     
  3. Palas

    Palas

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    This might not be the first time we talk about this but I feel we have polar opposite views on game design like, as a whole.

    What you're advocating is actually what's been in vogue since maybe always: the game-player dynamics is thought of in terms of a learning curve, of an action space in which a game teaches players how to play it and the player meaures what they have learned againsst the game's challenges. This is done in steps so as to give the player a constant sense of accomplishment.

    I just find this so extremely boring. Sonic has always been great for me precisely because this is not what it does. You figure the game however you do, and at -- almost -- no point will the game force you so use a particular mechanic of pose such a particular set of challenges that it has to teach you beforehand. There is a name for this: the SEGA Learning Curve, used derogatorily more often than not, but which more or less explains what Sonic games generally don't do "a very good job" at, and that you'd like to see more of.

    Point is, I -- and most people who played Sonic as children I guess -- appreciate that, that's how we came to approach games. It's a certain syntax, one that is lost to time (as we've talked about before), and that is no less amazing than the mainstream one, that "teaches" players.
     
  4. Jucei

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    People give too much credit to the composers like Jun Senoue and Masato Nakamura for making the Genesis games sound good. While it's true that they did create the compositions, the Sound Programmers (or Sound Designers? I don't exactly remember the term) definitely had a hand in making them sound the best they could be.
    There's no better example I can give than the beta/prototype Carnival Night theme. Here's a comparison:

    The Sonic & Knuckles Collection most likely had the SC-88Pro as the intended synth, not the SC-88VL, but I figured it was close enough.
     
  5. kazz

    kazz

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    Jun also gets too much credit for SA1's soundtrack lol
     
  6. I think he genuily did an amazing job in Sonic Adventure soundtrack, I just think both Kenichi Tokoi and Fumie Kumatari deserved the credits (and praise) equally.
     
  7. I watched that video, along with many of Geek Critique's other videos. Love the guy's content, but I'm never going to fully agree with him, especially not when it comes to this. Nor are we ever going to agree that Sonic's way of teaching, or not teaching things it probably should on n initial run, is as good as the mainstream way of doing things. It's mainstream for a reason.

    You brought out how you find games that do this boring. I agree it doesn't make for INTERESTING gameplay IN ITSELF, but just gameplay that is not unfair and that can REASONABLY ask you to handle several mechanics at once and/or use that mechanics in different ways. But it doesn't STOP games from being interesting.

    From my experience, the actual issue when games that do this stuff start to become boring is that they JUST did this and stopped there, instead of getting some ACTUAL challenge in there.

    Like, I generally don't like 2D Mario games, which are basically the king of this, because they are too easy. But Celeste is another example of teaching stuff this way, except it uses it's taught and introduced concepts in scenarios that are way harder and call for way more precision and stricter timing, and it's a darn good game that's really fun and satisfying to play.

    Hence, I just want one flippin' Sonic game, just one, that follows some more mainstream design principles while also being hard as heck. It is my true conviction that if we see this, it's going to be one of the most well recieved Sonic games. And I honestly think all y'all are gonna like it as well, more than you probably think you will, because put simply it will be a good game.

    And if we're going to make them learn something, why rolling of all things? That is literally the least interesting aspect of Sonic's physics play. I am trying to promote FUN, man. Come on. lol
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2023
  8. Nemi

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    Barrel of doom was pretty demonic. I don't really get how anyone is really supposed to just get that. Looking up and down are both pretty useless features in 2D Sonic games. I don't think any classic game up to that point really had you press up for any actual useful function? If you got it you got it but I think it's odd when people make it seem like it's some common sense thing when it wasn't anything you ever had to do anything like for the past like 3 games.
    That being said though, my obligatory hot take is that exploration in Sonic games is overrated. This isn't like a Mega Man or Mario game, exploration should come from doing cool momentum tricks while still mostly going forward. Sonic 3&K for as cool as it is feels way too bloated at times and like you rarely even get to genuinely be fast. It's like you're doing standard slow platforming and the actual fast moments are just cool set pieces. No Sonic level should ever really be able to go on for more than like 4 minutes lol.
     
  9. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    Wanting exploration in Sonic is not a hot take. Pretty much every Sonic fan agrees that even if it's restricted to hub environments, the Sonic universe is too likable and full of potential to not want to explore it.
     
  10. GoldeMan

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    I agree which is why in his more recent attempts where he directly mimics it feels so much weaker or irritating then how his sounds originally translated. I think back to that 3D Blast Demo Tape Gamehut uploaded whose version of Twinkle Park is fantastic might I add. Or even the Sonic 1 and 2 Demos where they are fine at first but sound great and in place with their final forms.

    Think like someone using a Genesis Soundfont to make a track whereas it feels generally limited and inauthentic vs having a fleshed out demo then using a dedicated sound programmer to work with the chip directly translating it, finetuning the results. I guess not entirely related but if Sega got the people behind Savaged Regime to do that translation that would be a fantastic soundtrack.
     
  11. Zephyr

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with the player being able to beat a game even if they're not taking advantage of every trick at their disposal. Players having the freedom to approach a problem from a variety of different ways, with multiple viable solutions, is fun, actually. Facilitating player creativity is a good thing. Granted, having a specific challenge that must be cleared in a very specific way, with execution of this very specific way, can also be fine. These are two different approaches to design, and one is not inherently better than the other. Yet one is being framed as such for some reason? I don't understand.

    You yourself say that you don't want the player to be required to act on EVERY physics-stunt opportunity, which is good. But your proposed middle ground is already a feature, at least some of the time. Chemical Plant Act 2 features what could be called a "casual filter". There's a section where the 'water' is rising, and the expected means of progression is platforming up the rotating stair blocks. Most first time players I've watched go through this part either get crushed or drown (or both) over and over until they get a Game Over. Of course, just before these stair blocks is a double helix of wavy paths, with a speed booster just before them. A well placed slope jump here bypasses that entire punishing platforming section.

    All that said, I'm not too opposed to a greater degree of "tutorializing" level design. I started playing the original 2D Sonic games (1 and 2 specifically) as young as 3 years old. Aside from Labyrinth Zone's boss and the Death Egg Robot at the end of Sonic 2, I was able to finish both games by age 9 at the latest. The funny thing is, though, the utility of things like Sonic's rolling ability (outside of spindashing) actually never clicked for me until around the age of 15 or 16. I could handily clear (the bulk of) these games without taking full advantage of the moveset, and they were still my all time favorite games. Discovering new layers to their design as a teenager only gave me more appreciation for them. At the same time, though, I see plenty of people bounce off of these games without enjoying them, and unsurprisingly a lot of struggles come down to not utilizing the rolling ability. I can personally attest to not learning it organically very quickly, and while I still gravitated to the games just fine, plenty of people don't specifically because the game doesn't teach the player very well in the now-traditional sense. I still don't think the games need to lock progression behind the player learning baller physics stunts, but more people would probably see the appeal of these games more quickly and more reliably if it was at least spelled out a little better.

    No it's not. Sonic is effectively always 'rolling' along the terrain, in the way that he physically interacts with the geometry. The way a downard slope takes him, the way he smoothly navigates a quarter pipe or a half pipe, resemble the way a ball or a wheel would. Indeed, at high speeds, his feet even turn into a circle and spin like a wheel. But beyond that, Rolling™ itself, as in the "somersault" ability that Naka devised, is multi-purpose; it functions as a speed-increase (much like crouching on a skateboard), a melee attack, and a defensive posture all at once.

    You say you're trying to promote fun, but I think you're just trying to workshop a way for these games (which already promote fun for a great many people) to be more fun to you. That's fine, but there is a difference, I think.
     
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  12. Yeah, the chemical plant thing is not what I have in mind when I say barring progression. I have in mind something a lot less punishing and to where the player can't even accidentally bypass the opportunity for this (in this case by successfully completing the Chemical Plant challenge) which I can't think of any times they do.

    Like, just as an example, maybe a large pit that is not bottomless that the player is shot into and falls down into. And at the bottom are two springs that bounce you back and forth between them. In the middle of those springs is a hill. Sonic's only real action is jump, so as they are bouncing back and forth and are trying to jump, the idea is that hopefully, eventually, they'll realize that if they time a jump just as their running up the incline of the hill in the middle, they jump higher or something.

    And maybe place some rings outlining the path you'll follow if you jump from the hill at the right time.

    Just an idea.

    Also, I'm not denying the rolls utility. It is a useful one. I hate that I am getting back into this subject, as I really don't want to, but when I said that it wasn't FUN or as interesting to do, I was referring to the way you do it. Something like slope-jumping, badnik bouncing, or the super glide and stuff take more in the way of precision or timing in a way the roll just doesn't, and it's part of the reason I find them to be more interesting mechanics.

    Getting positive feedback for something that calls for skill is always going to feel better than getting feedback (such as tons of speed) for pressing down while moving.

    Also, see what you're saying as far as providing multiple approaches. I even agree with that, but I still think sacrificing a degree of that every now and then is fine if it will allow them to actually realize what all of the approaches available to them are, including the ones that are more fun
     
  13. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I just wish there was a great way to tell the player rolling is there without directly telling them. It's hard, because players don't really register the "down" input as it's own button (which I think reveals a gaping flaw in the "one button" philosophy lol). And most attempts to teach it to the player (like the S-tubes in Green Hill) instead teach the player that the S-tube makes you go fast, not rolling. Breakable walls also tried to teach it's worth, but tbh when I was a kid I only ever found out you could break through them on accident. I'm sure that's the same for a lot of other players.

    It's such a bummer to see a lot of players, especially ones used to Nintendo games, run down the slope in Chemical Plant Act 2 instead of rolling and have no choice but to bumble around the bottom path. Or worse, see them run down a slope in 3K and slam into an enemy, left wondering why they deserved that. It'll come as elation to them when they figure out what to do, but many people never quite learn how it works. Some players only learned half the solution and think you're supposed to just stop and charge a spindash everywhere, which also drastically changes the experience from a flowy one to a constant stop-and-go.

    Rolling is just such an important part of these titles and it's so poorly communicated. Not telling players it's importance grants the freeform nature of classic Sonic, but I think did more damage than good. After all, we have spent the past, what, 20 years trying to get Sonic Team to bring it back / do it right? Not even their own staff communicated it's worth to each other properly.
     
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  14. Palas

    Palas

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    I'm going to tackle this point only because @Zephyr basically said all I wanted to say and you said you don't want to come back to this discussion yet again. But this conversation about mainstream philosophies and tactics in game design being mainstream for a reason is interesting to me because the question is, is it really?

    To claim the mainstream approach to game design is mainstream because it's inherently better under any circumstances is sort of teleological, as if game design could innately reveal a bedrock of the human psyche instead of reflecting the material conditions under which games are made. After all, is it the mainstream approach to arcade games, online games or mobile games? No, I don't think so-- they operate on completely different logics, and it wouldn't be too farfetched to point out how much arcade games are important to SEGA as a whole, maybe being an influence on Sonic somehow. Arcade games don't really teach you the way home console games do, nor do MMORPGs -- older ones, at least. Nor they should.

    Likewise, it's important to point out the material reality that was around Sonic back then. We're talking about whole structures that SEGA thought were integral to the game experience -- game manuals, help lines, official magazines, gaming clubs etc. Again, maybe because they might have understood their consoles not as standalone toys, but as parts of an information network, which is the reason why they were so incredibly hellbent on bringing online play to their consoles as early as the Saturn era. Retro fights to keep all the paratextual information alive, without which maybe Sonic games make less sense than they should. Likewise, once all Wikia and videos and guides and Let's Plays are lost, today's games may feel completely alien to future audiences, or at least a part of them.
     
  15. Level Zone Act

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    I think there are a couple of bits in Master System Sonic 1 where it's helpful to look down for optional reasons (IIRC, the extra life floating on water in Bridge Zone Act 2, and the flying shortcut platform below the starting point of Sky Base Act 2). When I first played Mega Drive Sonic 2 I remember pressing up while exploring the high platforms to confirm that there were no other platforms moving up and down just out of view.

    But those are all optional things. As you say, I don't think you ever need to do any of that in order to progress.


    (I heard about the solution to the Carnival Night barrel by reading about it in a magazine long before I played the game. I've always wondered how long I'd have been stuck if I hadn't known about the method in advance.)
     
  16. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Did nobody try pressing down to see what was underneath and go "oh, that did something!"?
     
  17. Gestalt

    Gestalt

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    I talked to the barrel. Knowing it won't hear, I then tried to communicate through the buttons, and, crazy enough, that worked. It took me years to figure that out.
     
  18. Zephyr

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    The problem is that you're kind of comparing apples and oranges here. Slope jumping and badnik bouncing are both part of Sonic's moveset as a platforming character, someone who jumps and lands on things. Rolling is part of Sonic's moveset as a momentum-based running man, someone who moves to the left or right and keeps going even when the player stops.

    If your point is that "pressing down" isn't terribly interesting to do, well, sure, fine, I guess. But "pressing jump" and "holding jump" aren't terribly interesting either. Besides, rolling does require some degree of timing and precision. If you're trying to defeat a Caterkiller with it in Marble Zone, then using it too soon will have you not reach the Caterkiller and possiblly uncurl due to running out of momentum right in front of its face; using it too late will cause you to run right into it. That involves timing, which in turn in involves skill.

    If your point is that the movement-based abilities require less precision and timing than the platforming abilities, I think that's a non-issue and is also by design. Sonic is a platforming game, not a driving game. Ground movement ought to require less precision and timing than jumping and landing on things.

    If your point is that it's less interesting because it's a movement mechanic and not a platforming mechanic, and it's a platforming game so of course the platforming mechanics will be more interesting than the movement mechanics, I can see where you're coming from but still don't completely agree. Because the movement mechanics feed into and directly facilitate the platforming mechanics; that's what it means for Mario and Sonic to be "momentum-based platformers"; rolling is the particular flourish on the movement mechanics that help set the latter apart from the former. Rolling helps the player gain more speed, which they can then use for a slope jump. Rolling off of a ledge onto a monitor directly below has it weave into the "badnik" bounce. In a way, it's a sort of like glue that keeps the various platforming stunts flowing together, which makes it feel good to use. It's also extremely interesting (to me) because it effectively combines the Super Mario Bros. mechanic of "duck while running to slide" with the skateboarding mechanic of "crouch to go faster". That's cool as hell.
     
  19. Level Zone Act

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    "lf only you could talk to these creatures barrels, then perhaps you could try and make friends with them, form alliances... Now, that would be interesting."
     
  20. Dek Rollins

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    The barrel in Carnival Night didn't give me much issue. I think I was stuck the first time I came to it but I figured it out within the next run through at least.

    Regarding the game teaching mechanics to the player, that's one reason I think all new players should start with Sonic 1 first. I played Sonic 2 a lot when I was little and pressing down while moving just wasn't something I thought about. I knew how to spin dash and that was how I rolled on the ground, which sometimes made the Hill Top loops where you have to break through the ground difficult. It wasn't until I played Sonic 1 more extensively that I learned the importance of spinning while running.