What about those (a small minority of fans, I'll admit) who just generally prefer the Adventure-style of 3D Sonic gameplay as opposed to the boost-oriented 2D-3D stuff? A third Adventure title can't be all that bad if Sonic Team were to drop the gimmicks people didn't like so much (mechs, fishing, emerald hunting etc) and expand on the elements people did like. Isn't that reasonable?
It can’t be that much of a minority for how much I seem to hear it.
When I think about Sonic Adventure 3, I ask myself: what is a Sonic Adventure game? Well, if you define it, it’s like:
With a couple of exceptions to the above rules, we have four games that fit this mold.
By all definitions, Sonic Adventure 3 was actually Sonic 2006. Now, stem your tide of discharge right now: I’ve heard the story that Sonic Team originally intended Unleashed to be called Sonic Adventure 3. I don’t care. I’m dealing in logic, here. And logically, Sonic 2006 is the third game in the Sonic Adventure mold. Therefore, it is Sonic Adventure 3.
But that makes an important distinction: I am against Sonic Adventure 3, even though, by all definitions, Sonic Unleashed, a game I won’t stop professing my love for, is a Sonic Adventure game. Certainly, “Sonic Adventure 3”, whatever that is, could be the game I pitched as Sonic Unleashed 2. And I would be pleasantly surprised!
But they didn’t call Unleashed “Sonic Adventure 3”. They called it Sonic Unleashed. If they’re going to go with the name, they’re going to attach it to the things people expect out of a game called “Sonic Adventure”, and that’s going to be the things you don’t want, because that’s what Sonic Adventure is. Otherwise, they’d just call it anything else.
Do you want the next main Sonic game to keep the 'Unleashed' style gameplay or go for something different?
I’d actually like a straight-up Sonic Unleashed 2. Maybe axe the Werehog bits, but I dunno, sometimes your mind wanders and you think about new locations they could do.
Canadian pinewood forests in winter. The Utah desert, or maybe Nevada (you could lead in to Vegas at the end). The Florida bayou. Mt. Fuji in Japan during cherry blossom season. The Australian outback. Hawaiian volcanoes. Mexico. Russia.
That’s 9 stages right there!
I think the formula they established in Unleashed/Colors/Generations works pretty well. I’d rather not they mess with a good thing. If they do mess with it, I’d like them to more greatly emphasize its racing game elements - imagine a Sonic game with a Trackmania-type multiplayer mode where you join a server full of a hundred other players all doing time trials on the same map together. That’d be rad.
Which is what worries me so much when people keep going “SONIC ADVENTURE 3! GIVE US SONIC ADVENTURE 3!” You shut your dirty mouth. Sonic games are better than that now. If you’re asking for Sonic Adventure 3 then you really do actually have stockholm syndrome from this franchise.
And the worst part is, Takashi Iizuka is dumb enough to honor your requests! Argh!
What do you think of the story in Sonic Unleashed? Or at least, in comparison to games before it?
If you’re going to have story in a Sonic game, I’d prefer it to be like Sonic Unleashed. When you think about the Sonic Adventure games in the right context, they’re weirdly morose. They deal with ghosts, vengence, terminal diseases, death, war, genocide, genetics… heavy topics for something rated E for Everyone.
Sonic Unleashed is, for the most part, pretty light and breezy. Sure, the world’s ending, but nobody seems particularly upset about it. “Oh, the planet split in to pieces and an ancient Death God is going to extinguish all life? Well okay, but you should really try this ice cream.”
And it works. It’s fun. Sonic Unleashed gave us Orbot! And had a non-psychopathic-stalker Amy Rose! And made Sonic and Tails seem more like friendly equals instead of continuing to harp on the notion that Tails was just a little kid that tags along. It also more blatantly turned Dr. Eggman in to a humorous villain instead of just being an over-the-top villain.
It doesn’t always hit, though - most of that is due to Chip. I did not mind Chip as much as some did, but a lot of the more annoying jokes and the most self-serious moments center around him.
I think I even prefer it to Sonic Colors, though, which felt like it was trying a little too hard to be funny.
What is your opinion on the level design in the 3D Sonic titles?
I don’t actually know, really. Level design is kind of a tricky thing, but it’s important not to overthink it. A lot of people will proclaim things to be “bad level design” when I don’t know if they actually know what constitutes good level design.
Good level design is a combination of many factors. A good level flows together seamlessly, where the next action feels like an extension and evolution of the previous action. Good levels are absolutely clear about what the player has to do next - and the best levels do this silently without the need for tutorials or on-screen button prompts. This can be as simple as a trail of collectables pointing you forward, or the little “shake” animation a platform does just before it falls. Make everything obvious, but not so obvious that you insult the player’s intelligence. Nobody wants to be treated like a baby, but just the same, you don’t want to frustrate your players so much that they give up. It’s a delicate balancing act that a lot of independent developers don’t get right, either from lack of experience or a pigheaded stubborn “ideal” they’re incorrectly trying to uphold.
The last element is variety.
How do you feel about Sonic Unwiished?
You are poking a hornet’s nest with this one.
Well, kind of.
Rabble rabble, different scoring systems
Do you think Generations Unleashed could get greenlighted?
Absolutely, unquestionably: No.
For starters, the mod team owns almost nothing in the Unleashed Project Mod. The legal quagmire alone would get the project removed from Greenlight within hours. Dario and crew would have to go through Sega, and that’s a whole mess of legal red tape that I’m pretty sure Sega doesn’t want to bother with (otherwise, they probably would have already).
Second of all comes a method of distribution. If the Unleashed Project Mod does get greenlit, how exactly do you get it to people? How do they launch it? You can’t honestly package SonicGMI and expect everybody in the world to be able to want to figure out and mess with that stuff. You would have to go back and code a specific new menu to access Unleashed Project, which costs money, which I’m pretty sure Dario couldn’t afford and Sega wouldn’t be willing to dish out, either (again, otherwise they would have, already).
Thirdly, despite getting a mention on Joystiq and a handful of other places, the Unleashed Project mod has not exactly set the world on fire. It dropped out of the top ten most popular mods on Moddb pretty quickly, and outside of me still bitching about S-Rank difficulty I’m not seeing much else in the way of discussion around the corners of the internet.
To get accepted on Greenlight, you have to have a pretty significant outpouring of support that I do not think is there. I hate saying things like that, because I feel like it’s belittling a lot of very hard work, but that’s the blunt, honest truth, I’m afraid.
Damn, that ranking system (Unleashed ProjecT) is worse than the 3DS version of Generations... How'd you feel when you got around to losing like 20 lives? :B
It was an unsatisfactory experience. I didn’t get the grade because I had figured out how to do it on my own, I got the grade because I was told exactly how to play the stage. It was not my own victory, it was somebody else’s, doubly so because I made such a big deal about it in the first place. It was more like salt in an open wound.
I’ve already said too much about the issue, but I really do hope it gets fixed. Sounds like Dario and crew are planning an update at some point to fix their over-reliance on the fxPipeline renderer (more people are having problems using it than they anticipated), so I’m hoping that rebalanced rank difficulty will be a part of that.
At the end of the day it’s just a letter, but it’s one I was very proud of myself for reaching. One of the first and so far only times I’ve pushed myself to get something like that, and right now I’d say it is my biggest problem with the mod. Maybe that makes me childish, I don’t know.
How do you feel about Sonic Colors?
Sonic Colors is one of those games that I think everybody went, “holy crap, a good Sonic game!” simply because their standards for those were so low to begin with. If Sonic games continue to get better as they have been, more people will look back on Colors and realize it probably wasn’t that good of a game.
It’s enjoyable enough, don’t get me wrong. I just played it again a couple weeks ago. But it’s seriously lacking in spectacle and excitement - in a lot of ways, Sonic Colors is almost kind of mundane. The only level to fill me with any sensation of thrill or danger was Asteroid Coaster - all of the other stages are sort of ho-hum.
That’s largely due to the fact that Sonic Colors REALLY doubles down heavily on being a platformer. Running segments are EXTREMELY brief and are mostly confined to straightaways where you can’t display much finesse in controlling Sonic. Just run in a straight line until the camera switches back to 2D. Where’s the fun in that?
I feel like they try and make up for it with drift and quickstep sections, but breaking those out in to their own specific “modes” was a horrendous idea. Again, it’s a lack of finesse - there’s no sense of “drifting will help me take this corner better”, it’s instead “I have to drift because there’s literally nothing else for me to do right now”. That’s super, super lame! You could say that it’s a limitation of the Wii controller, but Sonic Unleashed for the Wii preserved the quickstep/drift controls from the Xbox 360/PS3 version. Why couldn’t Sonic Colors?
I will give Sonic Colors props for some things, though. It proved you could do a game where you only played as Sonic exclusively without needing some kind of weird RPG mechanic overlaid on top of it. It made Eggman the primary villain again, and completely avoided the “Super Sonic flying through space” trope. Because of this, Sonic Colors has one of the most memorable final bosses from the last decade of Sonic games. Final Color Blaster is a pretty rad note to end the game on, too, and despite how annoying it is to play, the Terminal Velocity escape sequence is a hell of a great idea. You’ve got a character about running fast? Have him escape the bad guy’s base as it erupts around him and let me play it. It’s perfect.
Challenge mode is a really great idea, too. I get the impression it was just kind of hacked in there, but being able to play Sonic Colors start to finish without needing to deal with maps or cutscenes or any of that nonsense is a very, very welcome addition. In so many recent Sonic games I get in to this routine of only playing my absolute favorite levels that I forget what a game feels like as a complete package. More than anything, when I play Sonic Colors nowadays, I just load up Challenge Mode, because it’s a more complete, convenient experience than saying “Was it Sweet Mountain Act 4 that I really liked, or Act 5?” (it was Act 3) Carrying score, rings and wisp abilities between levels is a weird but cool idea, too, because once you’re rolling around with 700+ rings you really begin to sweat things that could hurt you. It kind of adds that layer of excitement the base game itself is missing.
But yeah, I hope that future Sonic are a little less like Sonic Colors. It’s too preoccupied with slowing you down and making you hop around on platforms with heavy, annoying controls. It’s the game that made me realize that I think Sonic actually works better when he’s going faster, even though growing up I was a big “UGH THEY TOOK PLATFORMING OUT OF SONIC ADVENTURE 2, WORST GAME” sort of guy. Modern Sonic sucks as a platformer, something Colors makes evident. Just focus on the amazing runny-fasty bits, please.
Miss a single “blast off!” boost start, restart the whole run.
Delay any jump or homing attack, restart the whole run.
If the controls fail to respond for any reason at all as they occasionally do often without provocation, restart the whole run.
Accidentally drift a little too far in to a patch of mud, restart the whole run.
Any negative time lost on any checkpoint past the first one, restart the whole run.
60+ lives down to under 30, because restarting a run subtracts a life.
Stray any at all from the one singular perfect run, as stated by the “s-rank guide”? You’ll never have a chance, so don’t even try.
And this is just for one level. Every other stage in the game says I’m at least 10-30+ seconds away from “the next rank”, which in some cases is a B or a C rank.
That’s reasonable to expect out of somebody who’s actually pretty good at the game, right? Right?!