Gaming My Way

06 Dec

New Sonic Games Have Fun Designed Out of Them?

The Reason Sonic Lost His Way finally explains to us all why we haven’t had a good Sonic game in awhile. I’m not impressed with the response.

David Claymen, on an IGN Three Red Lights podcast, has this to say after talking with a developer for Sonic Unleashed: “I asked one of the developers at TGS, you know I was like, come on everybody just wants Sonic running, like whats up with the werehog? And he was like, well, here’s the deal… he runs at this miles per hour, kilometers per hour, and he laid out all of the statistics on how fast this hedgehog goes, and he was like In order to make a game where Sonic is running and everybody enjoys the whole thing we’d have to design this many miles of level, and it was some ungodly number. And he’s like and that would be like maybe a three hour game and I was like wow, well that kinda stinks and he’s like yeah, so we gotta do this other stuff.”

So basically, the developer said they’re putting in filler to make the game longer. This is not cool. Countless people, fans and critics alike, have said that all of this experimental stuff isn’t working. Ever since Sonic Heroes this has been happening, and Sonic Team isn’t listening.  Here it is one more time: Sonic the Hedgehog is about speed. If you aren’t willing to put in the effort to make a game like that, pass it on to someone else. Sonic Adventure was, on the whole, a very good game. Strip out Knuckles’ and Big’s levels and you’d have an even better game, and one that was still a good five hours long. While that is incredibly short for a game these days, people replay fun games a lot. As long as I can have fun playing through it a few times, there’s no reason it has to be twenty hours long.

In fact, I’d much rather have a short, awesome game that I can play through many times instead of a long, mediocre game with a few awesome parts to it. If it has awesome parts in it, I know the team could have done better, but didn’t for some reason. It also makes it harder to play through a game again when to get to the good parts you have to suffer through parts that just aren’t as much fun.

Of course, if designing large levels is too much work, you could also spend more time on each Sonic game. A new Mario game comes out once a generation now, and while I’m not a huge fan of the 3d Mario games in general, they are still well designed and fun for a playthrough. Mario Galaxy even managed to buck the trend of the previous two games and bring the game back to platforming first, exploration second, which makes the game infinitely more fun. Now, if Sonic Team were to design one game a generation, or even one game every couple of years instead of every year, I bet they could find the time to put in lots more level to make sure there was a decent amount of game, even with Sonic running at high speeds. Say, five to ten hours. They did it for Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, they can certainly do it now if they’ll put in the effort.

What this developer had to say just smacks of laziness and wanting to get the product out the door instead of making sure it’s a good product. Come on Sega, I know you guys can do better than that. You’ve shown us you can before now, so bring back the magic.

Now that I’ve had my rant, bear in mind I haven’t actually played Sonic Unleashed yet. I hope it will still be fun, but I hear that the werehog levels really drag. I guess I’ll find out soon enough though. I felt the need to write this now because what the developer had to say about the current design philosophy of new Sonic games struck me as very much trying to use gimmicks to replace quality gameplay and provide padding to game length. This is not the way to design a game. Hopefully Sega and Sonic Team will decide to fix this soon.

For more thoughts on how to make Sonic better, see The Revival of Sonic the Hedgehog.


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