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YouTuber raises some interesting criticisms of the 16-bit Sonic games

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Josh, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Covarr


    Sentient Cash Register Member
    Trapped in my own thoughts.
    Two stageplays, a screenplay, and an album
    I fail to see how this is an issue. Difficulty curves are a good thing for games. If every zone were as easy as Emerald Hill, the game would get boring awfully fast.
  2. Jayextee


    Monochrome Cat Game Guy™ Member
    Atro City
    I was intrigued by this topic. I thought to myself "interesting criticisms? I may be able to use my brain to make discussion about them".

    I got to 5:15 when he said that platforming in a platform game sucks. No. Not interested.
  3. Josh


    Oh, it's definitely not a bad thing. I've just seen a lot of accounts from people who didn't grow up playing the series, saying that they only really enjoy the games in those early levels when it's easy.

    If the 16-bit games were made with modern design philosophies, it would at worst have a DO THIS TO MOVE ON tutorial, and at best would have dedicated sections in the early levels designed to teach you the basics, probably guided by Omochao. You'd never make it out of Green Hill Zone without knowing that you could press down while running to curl into a ball and smash through obstacles you'd otherwise slam into due to the speed. But I distinctly remember that I'd been playing the games for months before I made the connection. (To be fair, I was six.)

    But instead, Sonic games punish you by not letting you go as fast. In Mario, you'd die. In Mega Man, you'd use a subtank or die. In Sonic, you lose all your rings and momentum, then trek onward, probably still trying to play like it's the first level, until you smash into the next obstacle.

    That's why people ensconced in modern gaming struggle with Sonic. The game doesn't directly MAKE you get better, at least not the way other games of the era do, nor does it treat you like an idiot the way a lot of games today do. You can decide to work at it and become more skillful, or you can keep letting the game frustrate you for not doing so. A lot of people don't seem to realize the choice is even there.
  4. Hukos


    Meh, it's the same with people that I show a Megaman or Castlevania game to and they bash into everything and can't even beat a single level. It's really no different with how people play classic Sonic nowadays.
  5. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member

    ...Fuck momentum.

    I don't really see how losing momentum (or "flow") is any punishment. Because, at first, you are not playing the game to perform the bouncing challenge. You are playing it to beat it. Losing rings is part of it, dying is part of it, Game Overs are part of it. If you've stopped running, too bad for you. What a game like Sonic can't do is to enforce a behaviour and then punish it, such is the case of springs that make you run into spikes or traps that were completely uncalled for and made only to make you know that specific trap was there in the first place.

    And by "a game like Sonic" I mean a platformer that lets you control the environment. The character's abilities and your skill take over the contingencies in order to proceed, rather than using items around you or something. In that sense, momentum is not the end, it's the means. Beating the game with momentum is fun, not momentum itself. Of course, it's Sonic vs. Mario Bros. (1983) all over again and I'm just showing my opinion, but I just can't stand people saying "Sonic is about speed".

    I do acknowledge the game rewards you for being fast in various ways. By keeping the flow, you are able to beat the game faster, since Sonic's attack and movement are the same thing. But why should that restrain level design to style over substance? There's a learning curve there and you might not ever fulfill it, but as long as you've beaten the game... you won't really care unless you want to improve your score, upload videos to Youtube et cetera. In that regard, though, I agree in parts with who said here that "boring" parts are... boring. Blocky platforming isn't made so that you learn something from it in Sonic. But even then, I do think refraining yourself is valuable in Sonic and it IS a form of exploring the capabilities of Sonic's speed. Fast dodging shows speed as much as running.
  6. Chimera


    I'm not a furry. Tech Member
    Castlevania prettyness
    I actually agree with him only because of this. The way SOnic had his "health" system was that, as long as you have one ring, you're fine, but like he says in a lot of boss fights you end up going in with NO rings, and in some cases no way of backtracking, which means you have a one-shot chance at this. Megaman had two things Sonic didn't: a health bar and a gun. The health bar meant he could take more than one hit, even if he died and came back to the scene. The projectile also allowed for more combat than just jumping on an enemy. In a sense, Classic's moveset just... doesn't seem that fit for boss fights.

    Everything else he says, I can really see where he's coming from. 'Twas a great watch actually.
  7. 0r4ng3


    I agree and disagree with this guy's assessment of the spindash. Yes, it made the game more fun because the momentum was picked on more quickly. However, much of the momentum "puzzles" that were cleared weren't as fun to pull as without it. For example, if the player failed to clear the loop, he had to go all the way back and then try again in Sonic 1. With the introduction of the spindash, the annoying backtracking was no longer needed. However, there was a sense of accomplishment when you went up a loop without disrupting the flow, which is lost with by clearing it easily with the spindash. When I say a loop, I also mean the higher paths, the secrets and whatever else that became much more easier to get in Sonic 2 forwards. Sure there were still some stuff the player could get if he was skillful enough, but the amount of it per level decreased substantially.

    I agree enemies in Sonic never had much appeal. They were funny to look at, I wouldn't change one thing about that. I mean about the behaviour. Sure there's one or two which have interesting skillset, but the vast majority is underwhelming. Then again, I felt the same concerning Mario or the earlier Crash games, so. Maybe this is only me? Yet I agree with this guy's general point that for a 'speed / momentum' game there isn't much incentive for spending time with the enemies. Perhaps that is the point.

    I agree that much of the early zanier setting also made the games' memorable. My first recollection of a Sonic stage is how vivid green it was. I'm a visual creature and I enjoy looking at colours and patterns. Which is one of the reasons why I can't hate Sonic Heroes and why I hate Sonic 2006 with great passion. I feel like ST has gone back to betting on this. There's a significant shift from serious business setting of Shadow - 2006 to Unleashed. Of course, from Unleashed to Colours there's yet another jump back towards the zanier setting.

    I don't agree with the harder the levels the harder it gets and that's bad. WTF. Why is that bad? I mean, I understand perfectly that there are certain parts that exaggerate, but I don't see what the big deal is all about. Or that the platformer parts are bad. WTF. Sonic is a platformer. I agree that the no ring bosses suck though.

    The disagreements I have with this guy all revolve around the way we see the games. He sees them as racing games 24/7. I seem them as racing games one day, platformers the other day. And I enjoy both. Still, this is the type of person the 'gotta go fast' crowd really needs. He raises very good points.
  8. Zycor


    Unlike Sonic, I don't chuckle. Member
    Beats me.
    If lack of familiarity with stuff (which sounds like his problem to me) is his problem, then why play any video games? You are not going to be in the situation where you know exactly what you're going to expect out of every level of a new game unless it's a remake, so you should really not play any games at all if you don't want unfamiliarity to be a problem. I recently started playing through Sonic Colors for the first time and the Sonic Unleashed Project. I have gotten several game overs between the two, but I never quit because I wasn't having fun. It was a good challenge and I kept going back for more. A game really has to not appeal to me at all, what-so-ever for me to not want to play anymore. + - *coughBioshockcough* I didn't like the combat, and if you don't like the basic part of the gameplay, killing enemies and moving on to the next area, then you're not going to be motivated to continue onward   I do find lives to be a bit redundant in modern games (mostly due to lacks of total game overs I.e. you have to start from the absolute beginning), but they still have their place in adding to difficulty.

    The worst thing any of the Sonic games have ever done (besides Sonic 2's accidentally jumping after hitting the goal post with 7 emearlds and 50 rings) is Mystic Cave Zone's pits full of spikes... that's really the only major complaint I can think of that's completely crap in any Sonic game because of the fact that you can end up in that situation as Super Sonic and are forced to wait for your rings to run out so you can continue for your "mistake" of getting all the emeralds before/during Mystic Cave Zone which honestly leads me to how in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, you're almost "punished" for gathering all the emeralds, because it's practically impossible to not go super in Sonic 2 if you have 50 rings, unless you get hit by an enemy on purpose (though it's easy enough to flat out avoid getting all the emeralds in Sonic 2) while in Sonic 3, you lose the ability to do the double jump button feature of Insta-Shield/Flight/Gliding when you have all the emearlds and then the game basically goes easy mode.

    I also wouldn't exactly say the Bosses in Sonic games are at fault (unless you're talking about some of the Dreamcast Era bosses and Time Eater...) because let's face it, the special stages in Sonic and the bosses exist to give you variety. While the bosses might not always be the most memorable parts of games, I'd say they're a good change of pace. Though it's really hard to decide what exactly makes a video game fun, because if you strip away any one thing from a game, does it continue to be that game? You certainly could do a Sonic game without Special Stages and Bosses, but even I enjoy seeing Eggman come down with his contraption of the zone for you to play around with and beat, I actually really enjoy bosses in games because they just give you something different to do with similar game mechanics. His problem with games locking you in an area to fight bosses is complete BS because very few games allow you to just go wherever you want during a boss fight. The only game I can think of with a boss that you can fight without any real area restrictions that lock you in are the Wither boss in Minecraft, because even the Ender Dragon essentially locks you in the End, and I can honestly vouch for the Ender Dragon being one of the most boring boss fights ever. I only ever found some of the 3D Sonic game bosses to really be a bore. (mostly the Dreamcast era bosses and Time Eater, as stated above)

    I'd say the original Sonic games still hold up very well today, and games had to be tougher back then, because they were expensive and it would've cost a fortune to make extremely long games. It also would've cost a fortune to buy one in those days. Games with battery back up pushed upwards of 70 and 80 dollars in some cases. If you can't stand being punished for making mistakes, then perhaps you shouldn't do anything. Life is full of punishments for making mistakes, and if a mistake you can recover from in a video game is going to make you completely bitter towards a series, then I really don't know what I'd say to you if you made a mistake that say... cost you your job, your house, your life, and is much more difficult to recover from.
  9. Epsilonsama


    Was gonna post this on youtube but its acting funny so.

    Sonic is not all about speed. Speed is something to be earned. If you are good then you are gonna go fast if you don't then expect to take the scenery route. Also the last stages have less speed because you are in Robotnik's domain, its a way to make you feel threatened. But by playing the game over and over you will be able to even beat the last boss without a single death. Heck the last boss of Sonic 2, except if you are Knuckles. Isnt hard at all, but you gotta learn how to do it. And thats the thing of Sonic. Sonic difficulty doesn't come out of cheapness but out of lack of knowledge.
  10. winterhell


    On the other side of the "punishment" spectrum is paying 15Euro for a game in 2010 that you beat the same morning you got it. Twice. Both possible ways. After that you don't want to see the game ever again.
  11. redhotsonic


    Also known as RHS Tech Member
    United Kingdom
    Funnily enough, the first time I actually noticed where you would enter a boss without rings from a checkpoint was S3K! Death Egg final boss. If you died, you you'd have to try again with no rings!

    But now looking at S1 and S2, yeah, there are a fair few. Bosses were easy though so never noticed =P
  12. Naean


    Naean H.F. (Nez Man) Member
    United Kingdom
    2D. Sonic Fan Game
    I just tested it out. If you play your cards right and take the correct paths, you can actually get through Spring Yard Zone by using a total of only one mandatory moving-block section, which is near the beginning of Act 3. Every other section of that kind in Act 1 and Act 2 can be avoided by mostly sticking to the upper routes. One part towards the end of Act 3 requires taking a lower route instead, in order to bypass another moving-block section.
  13. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    Meanwhile, it's fairly common knowledge, at least around here, that maybe at most one of the block-riding bits in Marble Zone is actually mandatory. The rest can be worked around, either by skillful jumping or using nearby invincibility.
  14. Cooljerk


    NotEqual Tech, Inc - VR & Game Dev Oldbie
    RE: Getting lucky and finding a bubble

    Sonic 1 is so meticulously designed that not a single air-bubble is necessary. You can beat the entire game without taking in a single air bubble. They are spaced a maximum of 16 seconds away from each other, with the most difficult section coming in Labyrinth Zone Act 2 where this is an entire segment which, assuming no stops, will take 17 seconds to complete if you ignore the air bubbles, resulting in just a 1 second cushion.

    So lol at that.

    EDIT: Proof:

    I fuck up in Act 3 by grabbing a muteki box, which forces me to grab an air bubble (partially because I'm coming down on top of it, partially because, if I didn't, the time taken to grab the box wouldn't have left me enough time to make it to surface) but you can beat that act pretty easily without grabbing an air bubble.

    Obviously you can beat Scrap Brain Zone act 3 in like 10 seconds without touching much water so no problems there, either.

    The only block riding bit that is necessary is the one that gets pushed up by the lava spurt (twice) in act 2. You can't reach the ledge by skillful jumping or any other way. every other segment in Marble Zone can be skipped by jumping on floating platforms. The swings can be skipped the same way, provided you jump in rhythm.

    I'm also struggling to think of examples of bosses in Sonic games that you fight without rings, both Death Egg Zone final bosses excluded, obviously.
  15. Flipside



    Those 16 bit commercials were great at the time, bit it seems to be biting Sonic Team in the butt now.

    Sonic is not JUST about speed. Speed is the cause. NOT the affect. Well, Classic sonic has a lot of ingredients with a special balance.

    The whole point of a videogame is to give the player's input meaning. Not just connecting the developer's dots. It's about the player actually making conscious decisions. Sonic's momentum-based gameplay puts a high emphasis on player control. It's simple, but you can do a lot with it. WITHOUT CONTROL, SPEED IS MEANINGLESS. So no, the point of momentum isn't speed. The point of momentum is control. I guess the reward for control is the ability to go fast or slow at will and manipulate the environment to your maximum potential.

    I think Sonic Team purposely made themselves seem either stupid, indifferent, or genneraly untrustworthy so the player had to think for themself.​
    Even when the developers grab you by the nose and drag you through a section, it still feels like it was YOUR victory. When you see a spring, it doesn't necessarily mean that's the right way to go. If it launches you into springs it's now YOUR fault, NOT the game being cheap because the makers are stupid/indifferent/untrustworthy. But when it's the right way, it's rewarding.

    I liked this video, and it brought up a lot of great points, but a few things were wrong, or a little misguided. It seems like Sonic Team is misguided now striving for the affect of speed instead of the causes—the ingridients that made it so great. When a Sonic game "goes back to it's roots", it's not just starting over, it's simply getting rid of it's unneeded baggage because it doesn't make the game better. Sonic "going back to it's roots" is a good thing. It seems like Unleashed, Colors, and Generations have all done that.

    He said the game does nothing to increase your skill. That's just flat out wrong. The clasics teach the player through gameplay, but when you do it right, most people don't even notice it. It's when you get it wrong that it sticks out like a sore thumb. (Barel of Doom, Insta-shield) Sonic 1 taught you about rings, pushing blocks, score multiplier, and the invincibility having no affect on drowning through gameplay quite seemlessly. The more complicated a game is, the less you can teach the player at a given time. In the 3D games, you just have to trust the springs sometimes. Sonic Unleashed has the evil Eggman spring that giggles when it hits you into spikes, but it's just not the same...

    Wait, where was I?... Oh yeah, still on the first 2 minutes of the video... ... ... I don't mind the startup speed unless I need to be fast, like with loop-de-loops. I usually play it slower paced and explore a bit anyway. The exploration in Sonic 2 is great, but S3K goes too far with it. I never feel "at home" in the levels. They're too big for me to memorize, even Mushroom Valley doesn't feel at home to me. Maybe Angel Island Zone, but not any other parts off the top of my head. I don't feel at home in all of Sonic 2's levels, but that might be good for a game. Just a few not-at-home-levels... I dunno.

    Wow. Never thought about it like that. Wait, I think you were the one in the Sonic vs Mario 1985 thread that said Sonic 1 had fast sections and slow sections on purpose. That the slow sections make you enjoy the fast even more. I guess they did the same thing by not handing out 1UPs willy nilly. If someone sees a gameover screen, they might decide that restarting the game isn't worth it. So if you keep the lives system, you're game better be good and replayable. :P

    Alright at 3:40 in the video (this is gonna be a long post isn't it), he mentions the multiple paths. No path is explicitly the WRONG PATH. It helps the exploration while keeping direction. It also slaps top-path-players on the wrist and sends them down a path without it feeling like a punishment. The game is still fun. Every level seems WORTH EXPLORING too. Well, most of them...

    >>Haven't played that much Sonic CD, but the rest of the classics have great controls. (should compliment level design. Sonic Unleashed had great controls, but the level design made the Night time drawn out and repetitive. I think controls need to be consistent enough for the player to have control, but should be useful enough for the level design to use in many different ways to keep things interesting. Consistent controls, diverse level design.)
    >>All the classics have great vibrant colors. Scrap Brain Zone even uses brown and grey without being dreary and boring.
    >>All the classics have great music. The S1 and S2 composer wasn't trying to make videogame music. He instead made the music as if it was for a movie... only using videogame tools. He strived for the best music possible. When Sonic 4 tries to sound like a videogame, it completely misses the point. (The pace of the music usually compliments or contrasts the level design. Labyrinth Zone is claustrophobic and slow, but the music is full of life. The music still has a slow pace to it though. It's a very nice contrast.)
    >>Sonic 2 has great level design. (not talking about background details nor colors. Talking about the placement of floors and loops and rings and such. Paint the whole level grey and the level design is still intact. This both enables and justifies exploration. Also related to certain mechanics like if the timer killed you at 3:00 and how the enemies affect play. An enemy that makes the level impossible to beat would be bad level design. Level design should compliment the controls and teach the player how to use the controls.)
    >>Sonic 3 has great environments. (Not talking about level design. Talking about backgrounds, and the design of what the floors and loops look like. The details like Carnival Night Zone's power being turned off and the swings in angel island, and mechanics and such. Also applies to the enemies in the level—how they move, look, and if they reference anything interesting. Related to the level gimmicks and the story that is told—like in Sandopolis Act 2 where Sonic is forced to free Ghosts trapped in Robotnick's capsule and how when you play as Knuckles, the capsule starts off open. Also related to the vibrant color pallet. Paint the whole level grey and most of the environment is completely different. Also may encourage exploration, but I think that's just icing on the cake.)

    7:37 "This kind of creativity was spawned by, not only by talent, but also limitations."

    Absolutely true! When they hit the peek of their graphics, they began to rely on their aesthetics. (what you do with the graphics. Also goes into all the other aspects of the game, like music and controls) A spike ball 8 pixles tall is boring. Make 4 of them circle an orbonaught, and all of a sudden it's awesome. The same tricks were used for the invincibility stars, and the neck of that lava dinosaur robot in Hill Top Zone. Movement like that makes things look better. That also applies to animations changing from one sprite to the other. Dr Who's TARDIS spins when it travels space-time and achieves a similar affect. Parallax scrolling is another great aesthetic trick.

    With increasing technology, I think game designers need to learn to limit themselves like the musicians already have. "Graphics" age terribly but "Aesthetics" don't age like that.

    Some want to play a game and some want to play an "experience" on their videogame system. It seems like in a way, Sonic does both. Sonic 3K seemed to sacrifice "game" for "experience", but I'm starting to wonder if I've already seen a mix of both in another game and forgot about it...
    9:30 "With games, you need to please the 3 senses a player will use to interact with said game. One is feel, one is looks, and one... IS A ROCKIN' SOUNDTRACK!"

    Um... sort of...? But not quite... I don't think any genesis/megadrive game ever used the sense of touch.

    >>Right now, videogames use 3 of 5 senses. sight, sounds, and touch. Might go back to 2 for all I know, but if one sense evokes enough of an aesthetic idea, it can make the player feel more of their senses. When people on TV treck through the ice, snow, and wind, it makes me cold feel cold... even though cable TV doesn't come with a rumble pack. lol
    >>"Feel" wasn't in most videogames before the Nintendo 64's rumble pack I think. You might be able to get the sense of touch though the vibration or through motion controls... or through touch pads. Videogames haven't even scratched the surface of the player's sense of touch.
    >>Looks, Videogames haven't mastered yet. In my opinion, 2D cartoony pixel art became acceptable at 16 bit. 3D cartoony polygons became acceptable at the PS2. (so much so, they stopped drawing the cover and started using rendered images.) 3D realistlic polygons became acceptable (but still awkward) at the PS3. We're not to a point where the game system can handle a program making things behave as they should though. Dynamic Physics doesn't work right, realistic 3D characters still aren't animated quite right, water and rain don't seem to react quite right. I can't tell if that's aesthetic or technical.
    >>Videogames have nearly mastered sound. I think it happened around the switch to DVD-contained games, like on the PS2. Even if you don't like the voice acting, the technology behind it doesn't seem to have any noticeable limitations anymore.
    >>I don't think games have taken advantage of a player's sense of smell or taste. Maybe that's a good thing. :P I hear some movie theaters tried "smello-vision" though.

    Most of these senses can create tension and excitement in a player... except maybe smell. The flow of a game usually is important though.
    I didn't have that much of a problem with the platforming... except in Labrinth Zone and some of Scrap Brain Zone. Especially the Labyrinth Zone. Super Sonic platforming is a problem though. You sort of get used to it, but... yeah. In a game like Sonic Generations or Sonic Adventure, Super/Hyper Sonic would need something different to help fix this. And ya, usually, water isn't the great for platforming. Not sure how you could make this better. Hard to imagine a classic sonic game without water. I think overall, it makes the game better tough. It makes the levels a little more diverse and interesting.

    No, the classic bosses are usually great. But some modern Sonic bosses are like a glorified Dance Dance Revolution.

    Dodge left, and right, and left, and right, jump, slide, jump, obey the huge neon "HOMING ATTACK HIM" sign!
    And wait! And wait! Dodge left, and right, and left, and right, and wait!

    Ok... maybe not that bad, but it's pretty bad. The classic bosses were more of an obstacle course. You can hit Robotnick anytime you want, but if you want to survive long enough to beat him, your gonna have to dodge his attacks and time your own attack. That was a lot funner than waiting for an enemy to open himself up to an attack. More believable too.

    Those signposts keeping you from filling up your rings could be a problem. Sometimes you can just back-track to get some rings, but not always... And yeah, the game purposely stalling so you waste your Super Sonic sucks. I kind of liked how S3K's final boss did it though. In Sonic 2 Death Egg, you started with 0 rings. For the S3K Final Boss, you at least had the CHANCE to get super sonic without cheating. And in S3K, Super/Hyper whoever can go into a bonus stage and come out normal, maybe with a shield. cool way to conserve your rings at least.

    And yes, Exploration vs Progress is a real problem. Sonic Heroes had places in Power Plant that looked fake. Like they were meant to be seen from afar but never accessed. Maybe not even solid, but you go there and the floors and walls ARE solid. And then you find a few Item boxes. There's only so much you can make with a triple-A budget that's worth exploring anyway. Blindly wandering around trying to find a goal ring isn't fun.
  16. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    I think there is nothing in Flipside's post I immediately disagree with. But even without all the agreeing, I appreciate the great argumentation.
  17. Flipside


    Hmm... taking a while for him to make the next video :P

    I'd like to point out that in the post above, I might have been wrong about something.

    I said that home console games didn't use the sense of touch until the rumble pack came out. Turns out, just about every game scrapes the surface of that sense. It's really only noticeable when you do it wrong though. An example of doing it wrong would be when a game tells you to press the A button quickly for 5 min strait, but if ya do it too slow, you lose. I think Banjo Kazoie did this. That would really make your hand/arm hurt.

    Another example is when a Mario Party game for Nintendo 64 tells you to turn the analog stick as quick as you can. The fastest way is with the palm of your hand, and that encourages you to do it so fast your hands blister up. I did that all the time with the Dragon Ball Z games, and it actually damaged the controllers too... I can't tell you how many times this killed me in a game because the analog stick didn't reset itself to the center like normal.

    The sense of touch is handled by the hardware, but it's also handled by the software, just like the other 2 senses. I've heard this wasn't an aesthetic and was instead ergonomics, but I don't know... A normal fight in Mortal Kombat and the bonus challenge to break a block seems aesthetic to me...

    -waits for new video-
  18. Vaiyt


    Oglio p'ru çeu Member
    Well, there is a reason why stick-spinning was abandoned later in the N64 history, and why they changed the analog stick base for the Gamecube.