What are your opinions on the Sonic Rush series?
The first Sonic Rush game is really difficult for all the wrong reasons. It’s full of lots of stupid trial-and-error level design where if you aren’t paying attention you basically fling yourself in to a bottomless pit. That shouldn’t be happening, and it basically demands you memorize the layout of each level so you know exactly where the trouble spots are, otherwise, you’re going to have a bad time. My first time through Sonic Rush was, for these reasons, extremely frustrating, because it was like a non-stop string of cheap hits and cheaper deaths.
Sonic Rush is a vastly more enjoyable game on your second playthrough, once you have a better understanding of how levels are laid out. It ends up testing your twitch reflex in some really good ways, and even after I’ve “mastered” the game (S-Ranked everything but bosses) I find it to be challenging and engaging. But that’s not an excuse for its poor level design; you can’t expect new players to just stick with your game through all of the torture you put them through. You cannot tell anyone with a straight face, “the game gets really good after you finish it the first time”.
Sonic Rush Adventure is a lot more forgiving. The visuals aren’t as nice looking (even by Dimps visual standards, which for Sonic games are pretty low), but overall the level design is a lot tighter and features a lot less trial-and-error. I am not ashamed to admit that Sonic Rush Adventure is up there with my favorite Sonic games ever, and it is certainly my favorite Dimps Sonic game. I guess some people didn’t like all of the sailing minigames, material collection, or the abundance of talking, and I probably can’t blame them for that, but most of that stuff did not bother me (except for Marine; her australian-isms were way overdone. STREWTH MATE THAT’S JUST APPLES DON’T TOSS A WOBBLY).
A good example of SR vs. SRA is in how both games handle Blaze the Cat. Her move set is almost identical between the two games, but SRA’s level design really caters to her abilities more - in Rush, she feels like just a weirder, slightly more gimmicky version of Sonic, because you never really have scenarios that make her abilities feel useful. SRA on the other hand builds levels around her crazy super jump dash move. In some levels, like Machine Labyrinth, you can practically fly through the stage as Blaze the Cat, rarely touching the ground.
In general, it feels like levels in SRA switch off between being “For Sonic” and “For Blaze”.
Plant Kingdom is for Sonic, Machine Labyrinth is for Blaze, Coral Caves is for Sonic, Haunted Ship is for Blaze, and so on. Levels designed for Blaze are a lot more vertically oriented (for her trick moves), while Sonic gets horizontally oriented levels (more apt to running). Both characters can still handle levels that weren’t designed specifically for them, but I find some levels easier to S-rank as Blaze over Sonic.
So yeah. SRA is a better game. Not everybody agrees with me on that, but I love the crap out of it.
Do we count Sonic Colors DS in this? Because while it’s not a bad game, it’s not a very good game, either. I always liken it to a cartoon-licensed videogame, like Spongebob or something, where it feels like the developers were weirdly hurried and disconnected from the property and probably didn’t care how it turned out. Whenever I go back and play the DS Sonics, I always just play my “favorite levels”, which generally turns out to be:
Colors DS levels feel cramped and haphazard and don’t really flow very well. Some people think that just means the game is slower like the Sega Genesis games, but I just think it means it has lots of arbitrary stuff that is both trying to force you to slow down and prevent you from backtracking (a real pain in the butt if you’re going for Red Star Rings).
Colors DS isn’t an awful game by any stretch, it’s just way under par.