Sonic ..Excursion?

Speak your mind, or lack thereof. There may occasionally be on-topic discussions.
User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

Tsuyoshi-kun wrote:Adventure 2 is more polished than 1, but it also has weaker level design, a much worse camera, levels that are either too long (Death Chamber) or too short (Shadow's levels save his last one), and bland Sonic-centric levels, with none of the flair of the 16-bit games or even Sonic Adventure 1 (bland city, bland jungle, space, etc.)
Agreed. SA2 is atrociously bad. The game basically relies on boostpads to direct players and control the experience in the worst way. The camera is also so bad in some levels that you basically have to know in advance that the camera is about to swing left 180 degrees or you'll plummet to your death. I remember playing versus mode A LOT back in the day and the only way to play the game was to have memorized the courses in advance. So no fucking thanks.

sonic colors is the way to go

User avatar
Neo
Posts: 974
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:18 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Neo »

Tsuyoshi-kun wrote:Emerald hunting was more fun in Sonic Adventure 1 because the levels were more compact and they told you where each shard was, instead of forcing you to do it one at a time over levels that can take you 15-25 minutes to complete if unfamiliar with the level. I remember taking 35 minutes to beat Death Chamber on my first time because the level was just too big.

Adventure 2 is more polished than 1, but it also has weaker level design, a much worse camera, levels that are either too long (Death Chamber) or too short (Shadow's levels save his last one), and bland Sonic-centric levels, with none of the flair of the 16-bit games or even Sonic Adventure 1 (bland city, bland jungle, space, etc.)
You're wrong, but I really don't feel like wasting a lot of time writing up a lengthy post on how you're wrong.

Sonic Adventure's Knuckles stages were just trimmed bits of Sonic's levels, and though they might've tried to make that decision work, the pond was already tainted no matter what they did. Those levels were designed to be progressed in a linear fashion, and so they're structured along linear paths, even though they did pick the most open out of the bunch. What happens next is you end up with stages which have meaningless architecture which was once supposed to lead you in a certain path and now just seems disjointed and confusing, and a general lack of a major requirement for any exploration-based game: easily identifiable and memorable landmarks. The stages in SA2 greatly benefited from being their own thing, with stages like Wild Canyon making it clear where you are at any given point, through structures such as the wind tunnel, the giant head and the array of boxes. Even large stages like Death Chamber make sure you know where you are and by extension where everything else is, with color-coded hallways and unique designs in each main room.

The single-emerald radar allows you to focus on each one at a time, and gives the chance to implement an actual hint system (as opposed to the "it's over here, dumbass" aid in SA1). Furthermore, it's been simplified to just green-yellow-red to make it more obvious when you're actually getting closer, with the exclamation mark balloon in Battle being a welcome addition for diggable pieces. And finally, the emeralds in SA1 are barely hidden at all, making the entire thing completely pointless and offering no challenge at all, other than having to resist turning the game off as Knuckles climbs a wall and completely destroys your speakers.

Also, seriously? Sonic Adventure's levels are more inspired than SA2's? While I admit that the lack of a casino level was a crass mistake (Casinopolis was a bad excuse for one, anyway), which level archetypes did you miss in the sequel? The first one had a beach and a highway in the clouds, the second one had a military harbor and a Halloween pumpkin patch. The first one had a volcano and a snowy mountain (originality), the second one had a murky forest and the streets of San Fran. The first one had a Mayan temple, the second one had an Eggman-ornamented pyramid. The first one had an airship, the second one had a spaceship. The first one had steamy clockworks, the second had upside-down gravity. Both had skyscraper freeways. And there's 30 levels in the sequel compared to the 11 in the original. Honestly, if there's something I can't understand people complaining about is level variety and originality.

Dammit. Fell straight for your bait, didn't I?

User avatar
Neo
Posts: 974
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:18 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Neo »

Radrappy wrote:I remember playing versus mode A LOT back in the day and the only way to play the game was to have memorized the courses in advance. So no fucking thanks.
A racing game requiring you to be familiar with the stages in order to stand a chance? OH NOOOOOOOO

User avatar
G.Silver
Drano Master
Posts: 2747
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 12:58 am
Now Playing: Radiant Silvergun, Wario World
Location: warshington
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by G.Silver »

Also, seriously? Sonic Adventure's levels are more inspired than SA2's?
In terms of inspiration, SA2 is definitely a contender, but he said "stage design," not "inspiration." If you strip away the visual fluff, you're left with a lot of samey flat surfaces linked by tubes and rails that may or may not also be flat, every level is Speed Highway. SA1 had a greater variety in terms of what actually happens in those levels and the nature of the obstacles. Emerald Coast had all those massive banked surfaces, Twinkle Park was structured on a circular path like a Mario 64 level with loads of shortcuts, Red Mountain had you running along the spiraling edge of a volcano while lava rose in the middle, and Sky Deck and Final Egg were just insane. They were distinctive and clever and full of neat stuff.

Some it worked better than others and that's what's both good and bad in SA2, it's much less ambitious in terms of level structure, instead of creating more wild surfaces, they picked a few of them and just used them everywhere. The result I think is a much more solid-feeling game, as if the physics were improved, but it's hard to tell for sure because they don't push them the way they did in SA1, everything is either a loopy racetrack or a rectangular box.

I have to admit I loved the emerald hunt stages once I got the hang of them. They do require you to get to know where everything is and where emeralds are likely to be, but by the time I was going for all the time goals I had those levels so figured out, running from one side to the other at high speed was satisfying in a Sonicky sort of way that the actual Sonic levels weren't.

User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

Neo wrote:
Radrappy wrote:I remember playing versus mode A LOT back in the day and the only way to play the game was to have memorized the courses in advance. So no fucking thanks.
A racing game requiring you to be familiar with the stages in order to stand a chance? OH NOOOOOOOO
yeah, except the multiplayer levels are identical to the in-game tracks. I didn't say stand a chance. I said it was the only way you could even play the game.

also I think you're the only person on earth who found emerald hunting more fun in SA2.

User avatar
Neo
Posts: 974
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:18 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Neo »

G.Silver wrote:In terms of inspiration, SA2 is definitely a contender, but he said "stage design," not "inspiration." If you strip away the visual fluff, you're left with a lot of samey flat surfaces linked by tubes and rails that may or may not also be flat, every level is Speed Highway. SA1 had a greater variety in terms of what actually happens in those levels and the nature of the obstacles. Emerald Coast had all those massive banked surfaces, Twinkle Park was structured on a circular path like a Mario 64 level with loads of shortcuts, Red Mountain had you running along the spiraling edge of a volcano while lava rose in the middle, and Sky Deck and Final Egg were just insane. They were distinctive and clever and full of neat stuff.

Some it worked better than others and that's what's both good and bad in SA2, it's much less ambitious in terms of level structure, instead of creating more wild surfaces, they picked a few of them and just used them everywhere. The result I think is a much more solid-feeling game, as if the physics were improved, but it's hard to tell for sure because they don't push them the way they did in SA1, everything is either a loopy racetrack or a rectangular box.
He said "bland city, bland jungle, space, etc.". He seemed to be criticizing the visual themes of the levels rather than the level design itself. I agree that in terms of building blocks, SA2 was more reserved than SA1, but as you said, as a result it's much more often in complete control, resulting in an overall much smoother ride. I rarely ever get mad at the physics engine in SA2 because the level design is oriented in a way not to challenge it too often. Contrast with SA1, in which I can't play a single stage without having to wrestle against it.
Radrappy wrote:also I think you're the only person on earth who found emerald hunting more fun in SA2.
I'd like to think the game's designers agreed with my opinion. Otherwise, why change it?

User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

Neo wrote:
Radrappy wrote:also I think you're the only person on earth who found emerald hunting more fun in SA2.
I'd like to think the game's designers agreed with my opinion. Otherwise, why change it?
Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Removing the adventure fields is a great idea in theory as long as the sense of exploration now missed can be found in the actual levels. As they did it though, the levels were narrow and limited, making a very stiff, constrained experience overall. The adventure fields weren't universally loved but they were certainly the heart and soul of SA1. As near as I can tell the heart and soul of SA2 is Shadow the Hedgehog which doesn't bode well for the game itself.

Rob-Bert
Posts: 849
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:52 pm
Location: Here, not there.
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Rob-Bert »

The result I think is a much more solid-feeling game, as if the physics were improved, but it's hard to tell for sure because they don't push them the way they did in SA1, everything is either a loopy racetrack or a rectangular box.
I still wonder if they deliberately designed the stages that way so they wouldn't have to actually work on refining the physics. Sonic doesn't even ball up when he jumps anymore.

User avatar
FlashTHD
*sniff*
Posts: 1504
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:00 pm
Now Playing: Team Fortress 2
Location: Out of earshot

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by FlashTHD »

Rob-Bert wrote:I still wonder if they deliberately designed the stages that way so they wouldn't have to actually work on refining the physics. Sonic doesn't even ball up when he jumps anymore.
Wow, that sure is a problem with the physics >_>

User avatar
G.Silver
Drano Master
Posts: 2747
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 12:58 am
Now Playing: Radiant Silvergun, Wario World
Location: warshington
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by G.Silver »

He said "bland city, bland jungle, space, etc."
Oh, whoops! I guess I just wanted to talk about what I thought was better. ;)

Also I guess I'm the other person on earth who liked SA2's hunting more fun than SA1's. There is nothing about the earlier incarnation that I like better (except the multi-emerald radar).

User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

G.Silver wrote:Also I guess I'm the other person on earth who liked SA2's hunting more fun than SA1's. There is nothing about the earlier incarnation that I like better (except the multi-emerald radar).
I stand corrected then. Well, how about the music? Don't tell me you actually like pumpkin in the alley.

User avatar
Neo
Posts: 974
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:18 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Neo »

What's wrong with pumpkin in the alley? Once you realize the plot is about anthropomorphic hedgehogs which run fast and bend time and space, you also realize you're clearly in camp territory and enjoy how the music gives each character their own unique signature feel.

Knuckles gets the hip-hop stylings of Hunnid-P, Rouge is accompanied by the sweet tones of Tabitha Fair and Shadow gets unpredictable with the techno-y rhythm of Everett Bradley. And then the other characters are Jun Senoue/Ted Poley butt rock, which has just about sufficient variety and hadn't been run to the ground yet at the time.

Rob-Bert
Posts: 849
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:52 pm
Location: Here, not there.
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Rob-Bert »

FlashTHD wrote:Wow, that sure is a problem with the physics >_>
I wasn't saying it was a problem with the physics. I was pointing it out as an example of them doing something such that they'd be able to avoid getting the physics right.

User avatar
G.Silver
Drano Master
Posts: 2747
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 12:58 am
Now Playing: Radiant Silvergun, Wario World
Location: warshington
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by G.Silver »

you're clearly in camp territory
That about sums it up (though just because it's campy doesn't mean it can't be excellent on its own)! Pumpkin in the Alley is a novelty song, we judge it on its stunning lyrics, not its musical quality. ;)

User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

Neo wrote:What's wrong with pumpkin in the alley? Once you realize the plot is about anthropomorphic hedgehogs which run fast and bend time and space, you also realize you're clearly in camp territory and enjoy how the music gives each character their own unique signature feel.
Camp territory or no, that music gives me a splitting headache. Im pretty sure you only tolerate it because you were young when you first heard it. Also I can't believe you just wrote
Shadow gets unpredictable with the techno-y rhythm of Everett Bradley.


Also just that we're clear, though the series has always starred an anthropomorphic hedgehog, that doesn't mean we can't strive for something beyond laughably bad.

User avatar
Tsuyoshi-kun
Posts: 943
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:33 am
Now Playing: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Location: Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Tsuyoshi-kun »

Neo wrote:Sonic Adventure's Knuckles stages were just trimmed bits of Sonic's levels.
I liked how Knuckles got to explore bits of others' levels. After all, Sonic 3 & Knuckles had three characters take various paths for the same zones, and that was one of my favorite parts of the game. Getting to explore areas with Knuckles with far more detail and freedom with him than you do as Sonic was a lot of fun.
Neo wrote:The stages in SA2 greatly benefited from being their own thing, with stages like Wild Canyon making it clear where you are at any given point, through structures such as the wind tunnel, the giant head and the array of boxes. Even large stages like Death Chamber make sure you know where you are and by extension where everything else is, with color-coded hallways and unique designs in each main room.
Wild Canyon is boring because it's too simple. Death Chamber sucks, and the different colored rooms and warps don't make it any less annoying to go through.
Neo wrote:The single-emerald radar allows you to focus on each one at a time, and gives the chance to implement an actual hint system. Furthermore, it's been simplified to just green-yellow-red to make it more obvious when you're actually getting closer, with the exclamation mark balloon in Battle being a welcome addition for diggable pieces.
Except using the hint system gave you a crappy grade on the game's ranking system, and thus discouraged me from using it. The emeralds also blinked in Sonic Adventure 1, dude. Plus they were accurate.
Neo wrote:And finally, the emeralds in SA1 are barely hidden at all, making the entire thing completely pointless and offering no challenge at all, other than having to resist turning the game off as Knuckles climbs a wall and completely destroys your speakers.
Because Knuckles' raps don't get annoying to hear looped for 10-20 minutes, right? Or Rogue's scat singing, either.

For the first couple of levels in Sonic Adventure 1, yeah they're not hidden that well; you can't dig yet, remember? I remember the emeralds being out of the blue in the sequel in the first levels in 2 also.
Neo wrote:which level archetypes did you miss in the sequel?
Ones surreal, interesting, or fun. I also missed spacious outdoor places, of which there are a grand total of 2 of that aren't on a harbor or in space. And there's nothing like the coolness of Casionopolis, Lost World, Sky Chase, or Twinkle Park in Sonic Adventure 2, which gives us the following:

- Three pretty levels based off San Francisco, of which only Sonic's is any fun, and also two tedious kart levels
- Five unique but boring pyramid levels, of which only Sonic's is even remotely fun
- Two ugly jungle levels
- Two lifeless levels in a harbor
- Six space levels (Meteor Herd, Crazy Gadget, Final Rush, Mad Space, Cosmic Wall, Final Chase)
- Four tedious shooting levels in boring grey corridors

The game's few unique levels are the treasure hunting levels like Pumpkin Hill, Aquatic Mine, Security Hall, and Mad Space. They were fun in small doses in Adventure 1, but not when they make up a third of the entire sequel.

But level variety aside, most of Adventure 2's levels fail to impress me. Many of the levels feel like they're in rooms, there are very few shortcuts/alternate paths, the missions are inconsistent in difficulty (Tails' 100 ring missions are super tedious), and they abuse the grind gimmick more than needed. Grinding is fun in City Escape, but not in levels where you need precision timing or you die. And yes you might have more control in Adventure 2 over your character, but you sure don't over the camera, which is terrible and causes a good amount of deaths in levels like Sand Ocean. I can't begin to recount how many times I died in the Mystic Melody challenges backtracking and falling since the camera doesn't go back with you.

Sonic Adventure 1 also had a bunch of mini-games to tinker with. Twinkle Circuit, the Casinopolis pinball machines, the desert/snowboard races, Sky Chase, Hedgehog Hammer, and more. Adventure 2, meanwhile, gives you two shit kart levels that you're forced to play in-game with the absolute worst characters in karts and an expanded Chao Garden that I barely touched.
Neo wrote:the second had upside-down gravity.
Oh yeah, the worst Sonic level in the entire game, complete with shit camera and controls and the still not working light speed dash. Give me Death Act Zone Act 2 from Sonic and Knuckles any day.
Neo wrote:And there's 30 levels in the sequel compared to the 11 in the original. Honestly, if there's something I can't understand people complaining about is level variety and originality.
Except half of the game's levels are blatant copies of each other, or heavily use the backgrounds/textures of other levels, only with different music.

Tails' levels suck.
Neo wrote:Dammit. Fell straight for your bait, didn't I?
You sure did.

User avatar
Crazy Penguin
Drano Master
Posts: 1898
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 10:06 pm
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Crazy Penguin »

Sonic Adventure 2 had tighter, more precise controls than SA1 and was less glitchy. I think the scoring and ranking system added a whole lot of replayability as well, but I always was a huge fan of NiGHTS. Unfortunately the physics still weren't quite there (the pipe sections in Pyramid Cave were barely functional), and the homing attack and Light Speed Dash only did what you wanted them to half the time, a problem compounded by the increase of bottomless pits.

I agree with G Silver on the level design, the terrain and overall structure was a lot less varied than the previous instalment. And with a few notable exceptions (City Escape, Pumpkin Hill) the visuals were incredibly bland. No Sonic game should have so many grey corridors. On top of being a lot more colourful and interesting to look at, SA1's stages changed as you progressed - Speed Highway had the dawn segment at the end, Twinkle Park had the go-karts, the roller coaster and castle, Lost World had the snake room, the dark mirror mirror, the outside segment, the water slide, and so on.

User avatar
Wombatwarlord777
Posts: 906
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:07 am
Now Playing: WarioWare Gold
Location: Iowa, the 32nd best US state

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Wombatwarlord777 »

Man, there hasn't been a heated debate about the respective merits of the Adventure games around here for years.

One thing that I'll say in favor of SA2 is that the ARK levels were, at least aesthetically, incredibly cool. And in both the heroic and dark stories, the extent of the ARK is fully revealed right at the climax of the story, which lends the whole place a frenzied, manic feel that the game was probably shooting for. I'm not counting that one level early on where Robotnik walks around in the dark, though.

I'll grant that Sonic and Co. operate a lot more tightly in SA2, but that doesn't matter if the level design features platforms so narrow that you're constantly in danger of falling into oblivion. SA1 had a lot more firm ground / wider paths even in the action stages and in the end I felt much more in control in that game. The same goes for SA2's emerald-hunting missions, which didn't generally have bottomless pits, and it's there that I feel SA2's controls really shine.

Also, rail switching was incredibly fickle early on. I'd estimate that Sonic or Shadow would hop over the rail I was trying to switch to at least 25% of the time. I've got to give kudos to whoever managed to iron that out in most of the games beginning with Shadow.

User avatar
Dr. BUGMAN
Posts: 1526
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:18 am
Now Playing: Poverty

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Dr. BUGMAN »

Neo wrote:Once you realize the plot is about anthropomorphic hedgehogs which run fast and bend time and space, you also realize you're clearly in camp territory and enjoy how the music gives each character their own unique signature feel.
Camp does not exempt from criticism. There's good reason West's Batman is beloved while Schumacher's is reviled. Good camp require a smart, flippant appreciation of the material. An idiosyncratic premise isn't carte blanche to not give a shit about the product. SA2 isn't really camp anyway since it's so obviously earnest in it's ridiculousness (hello, dead girl!). Movies MST3K riffs aren't camp, certainly not by intent. Do we really want to appreciate Sonic like an MST3K movie (complete with Scratch and Grounder silhouettes)?


The only SA2 song I feel that came close to the spirit of the earlier games is Chao Lobby, but it's a lesser Sonic CD-style song.

User avatar
Radrappy
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 10:53 pm
Now Playing: MvC3, Vanquish, Skies of Arcadia Legends
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Radrappy »

Dr. BUGMAN wrote:
Neo wrote:Once you realize the plot is about anthropomorphic hedgehogs which run fast and bend time and space, you also realize you're clearly in camp territory and enjoy how the music gives each character their own unique signature feel.
Camp does not exempt from criticism. There's good reason West's Batman is beloved while Schumacher's is reviled. Good camp require a smart, flippant appreciation of the material. An idiosyncratic premise isn't carte blanche to not give a shit about the product. SA2 isn't really camp anyway since it's so obviously earnest in it's ridiculousness (hello, dead girl!). Movies MST3K riffs aren't camp, certainly not by intent. Do we really want to appreciate Sonic like an MST3K movie (complete with Scratch and Grounder silhouettes)?


The only SA2 song I feel that came close to the spirit of the earlier games is Chao Lobby, but it's a lesser Sonic CD-style song.
hear fucking hear.

For something to be camp, it needs to be self aware. And let me tell you, SA2 is far from self aware. Whoever made it genuinely thought they were making something cool and edgy. There's absolutely nothing ironic about it.

User avatar
Crisis
Posts: 531
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:15 pm

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Crisis »

G.Silver wrote:I'm not willing to let Sonic Team off the hook like that, just to say "things are getting better," or "they don't have the talent." This is one of Sega's most important divisions working on one of their most important franchises, they should have the talent. It might not be shining through because of any number of factors, corporate pressure to crank out games too quickly to allow for experimentation, a controlling mindset at some level that insists they stick to the "path" that they're on, or maybe no one there even thinks it's a problem (I assume they do well financially regardless). There are plenty of other good games out there to look at for ideas and quality benchmarks. There is no excuse for this slow ramp up away from mediocrity.

The only good indicator for the next game, when it eventually happens, is that they seem to have decided to slow down and take their time with the project for the first time since Sonic Adventure. Like GG! said years and years ago (where is that guy?), the best way to improve 3D Sonic is hiatus.
I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at here. You say you're "not willing to let Sonic Team off the hook" - what exactly do you mean? Sonic Team is in a state of constant flux and the Sonic Team that brought us Colours was presumably different from the Sonic Team that brought us Shadow the Hedgehog. I agree that Sonic Team has been hopelessly mismanaged and that they ought to be seeking the best of the best, but that takes time and money.

Sonic Team had a series of ambitious attempts to reimagine the series and they were catastrophic failures. Since then, they've scaled down the ambition considerably and focused on incremental improvements. Obviously it's frustrating that things are moving slowly and that Sonic Team has a talent shortage. Of course you can point to smaller indie projects, or projects from large studios that aren't owned by a company that has been teetering on the verge of collapse, and point out that Sonic Team can't keep up.

Instead, they've been testing the waters to see what they're capable of accomplishing without sacrificing consistency, they're training new blood, they just recently finished a project that involved taking a long, hard look at the classic Sonic gameplay, etc, etc. Once they've developed a reputation for not constantly fucking up, and have a stable of experienced game designers, they can start courting external talent. But until then, it's not as simple as "they should have the talent" - talented people aren't interested in a sinking ship. Steady, incremental improvements are the only way that Sonic Team can realistically recover.

---

I liked the idea of having Knuckles exploring Sonic's environments as a throwback to the original series, and I admit that it's hard to go back after having 3 simultaneous emerald radars. But I can't deny that the SA2 implementation makes a heck of a lot more sense.

SA1 in general feels like playing a game with ADHD. There's a cool idea around every corner, and half a dozen different play styles you can alternate between at any moment. Almost none of the concepts are explored to any amount of depth, though - SA2 is much more disciplined in that regard.

User avatar
big_smile
Drano Master
Posts: 1171
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 3:27 am
Location: UK

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by big_smile »

The trouble is that a lot of Sonic Team's experiments and ambitions feel like things the marketing department would come up with so they can promote a big feature list on the box. Surely even someone who has never played a Sonic game would know that things like the warehog and Silver the hedgehog were a bad idea. There's no need to build a game to test these ideas out.

Plus, a lot of Sonic Team's improvements have focused on secondary elements, such as the extra characters. The core Sonic level design has been relatively unchanged between Sonic Adventure to Sonic Generations. There have been some significant additions such as the boosting and more platforming sections. But the level structure has seen very little inovation. Some games such as Sonic 06 didn't even bother adding anything new.

The worse thing is that, despite its awful controls, Sonic R contained the perfect example of 3D Sonic level design. The stages have multiple paths but one path is highlighted, so the player can't get lost. Dash pads re-create the 2D sense of speed, but the player has to work to use them by collecting rings (which encourages exploration of the multiple paths). Water pits punish players by slowing them down, but they don't result in death (in contrast to bottomless pits), so there is no frustration.

The fact that no one at Sonic Team has been able to perfect the 3D Sonic formulae when they had a template for it since 1998, speaks volumes about their skills. At the very least, they could re-hire Hirokazu Yasuhara (who did both the level design for the Mega Drive games and Sonic R).

User avatar
Crisis
Posts: 531
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:15 pm

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by Crisis »

big_smile wrote:At the very least, they could re-hire Hirokazu Yasuhara (who did both the level design for the Mega Drive games and Sonic R).
Could they, though? Has he expressed an interest in working on a new Sonic game?

User avatar
G.Silver
Drano Master
Posts: 2747
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 12:58 am
Now Playing: Radiant Silvergun, Wario World
Location: warshington
Contact:

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by G.Silver »

Or they could do something really crazy, like bring in some other powerhouses in an advisory capacity. They don't necessarily need Miyamoto himself to come in and flip the table, but a table flipping is exactly what they need. Ever since F-Zero GX I've been really keen to have Toshihiro Nagoshi take charge of a Sonic title (also consider his experience with Monkey Ball).

Big Smile nailed it, these incremental changes aren't fixing anything.

I'm really curious about the "experience" angle. On one hand, there do appear to be a lot of Sonic Team members who are pretty new, or in some cases have rarely worked on anything besides Sonic or Sonic Team games (I'm going off Mobygames here--not always complete but generally pretty representative). I was thinking maybe they just need to look outside of Sonic for a bit, make some fresh games. SA1 might have problems but it was still incredibly fresh and unique, and look at the games that Sonic Team was making around that same time, Sonic R's already been mentioned, but NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, and other DC offerings like Chu Chu Rocket and PSO--those guys were taking in a lot of influences. The original Sonic Team didn't really have that much experience either, especially not with games like Sonic, certainly nothing that high quality except for arcade ports (which certainly wouldn't require much creativity in a design sense, only implementation). According to Moby, Reiko Kodama is the only one who'd ever even worked on a game with a jump button before! But look at goddamn Iizuka--the guy's only work outside of Sonic Team was on Golden Axe 3 (that's bad). No wonder they seem stuck on a one-track design.

Going back to the talent, the guys they already have, I find it impossible to believe that they don't have the talent and the ambition to make better games. I mean, right here we've got a forum full of people who might not agree about everything, but we're all SURE that we know what's wrong and approximately how to fix it. We've ALL got ideas, and we'd all love to be able to apply them. Even on a sinking ship, Sonic Team's got clout, there's prestige there. How could ANYONE not jump at the chance to be the guy who "fixed Sonic?" Maybe it's a culture thing, maybe Japanese developers prefer to just keep their heads down and do what the boss says. Maybe the environment is completely toxic for people who want to try something different, they aren't allowed to even make their case. But we've got fans who can make a more accurate model of classic 2D physics working on fangames for free. We've got guys hacking roms to figure out EXACTLY how to recreate those old games. And even a layperson can discern the difference in how these games handle. We don't need Yasuhara to make new Sonic levels, we just need someone at Sonic Team to consider what he'd done with Sonic R and take a fucking clue.

It's completely arrogant to think that I have all the answers, or that I'm BETTER than people who really did train as programmers and designers, and got hired by a high profile games studio. Even without a lot of real development experience, a complete new hire today has so much more experience with games in general than anyone from the original Sonic Team could have had going in. There are SO many more resources available today. We're all just a bunch of jerks on the internet, how is it possible that we could have so many ideas and so much ambition for these games, and these "inexperienced" developers somehow don't? That they don't recognize that they could do better? I don't believe it! Game development is complicated and there's a huge laundry list of pressures that can negatively affect a game's outcome, but lack of talent, or a need to "train up" to making better games (all the while spending millions of dollars developing shitty titles) is not the one effecting Sonic Team today.

User avatar
big_smile
Drano Master
Posts: 1171
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 3:27 am
Location: UK

Re: Sonic ..Excursion?

Post by big_smile »

Even on a sinking ship, Sonic Team's got clout, there's prestige there. How could ANYONE not jump at the chance to be the guy who "fixed Sonic?"
I think there's two problems.

The first is that the new talent doesn't really care for Sonic: They are more concerned with showing off their own ideas.

Witness Silver and the warehog. These are not ideas that were created to fix Sonic. They seem more like pet projects a developer had long before joining Sonic Team and used Sonic as a chance to bring their ideas to life.

The second problem is that I don't think Sonic Team really considers Sonic to be broken. How else can we explain the fact that they have done anything new with the Sonic forumla over the last decade. Instead, Sonic Team seem to feel that new play styles are the key to renovating the franchise.

I can see their logic: A franchise as old as Sonic needs to be reinvented to stay new. However, we've never actually had a proper 3D Sonic game, so just the act of bringing the 2D forumla into 3D is reinvention in itself.

I'm guessing that re-doing Sonic would require a new engine. Perhaps the cost of doing this is too expensive, so they are limited to just minor tweaks.
Hopefully, the current engine will need re-writing for the next generation and, as recent games have started to include more platforming segments, we should see these take a more prominent stage.

I also think that for the longest time, Sonic Team placed too much priority on having a big feature list. Sonic and the Secret Rings big selling point was that it only had Sonic as a playable character and yet they still managed to jam it full of play styles that had nothing to do with Sonic. They finally seem to have stopped this with Colours and Generations.
Could they, though? Has he expressed an interest in working on a new Sonic game?
He works at Nintendo. Sonic games sell well on Nintendo. Sega and Nintendo have a great relationship. It should be no brainer.

This is one of the most frustrating aspects of Sonic: If it was treated as purely as a business with the sole aim of making profit (and no other aim), it would probably lead to more sensible decision making then we have seen in the past.

Post Reply