(Apologies in advance if any of what I am about to say comes across as testy – it is not intentional, but I am still a bit salty about last night’s Game of Thrones.)
MoldyClay wrote:But if we're using Adventure, Adventure 2, Heroes, Sonic 06 and maybe another game that's still out of almost 30 platformers, ~18 of which have characters playable that aren't Sonic.
How many of those ~18 games are actually well-made, though? Without counting, it seems like an extremely small number in my head.
“I don't remember Sonic flying, gliding or having a hammer.”
I am not certain how that response is relevant to a comment on the problem of pure clone characters.
Additional characters that are not mechanically identical to Sonic come with their own, separate problems; hence why I say a plague on both their houses.
“Was Sonic 3 & Knuckles not doing it right? Or any of the Advance games?”
Well, full disclosure: I am not a particular fan of the way Dimps handled playable characters (or much of anything else), and the Knuckles levels are easily my least favorite part about 3&K, which is a bit funny because that was as good as playing him ever really got.
“And when I was mentioning having everyone be clones, I am saying I'd want them as like skins. Not new campaigns with added story. Purely an aesthetic thing.”
And as I said, most people would probably not be against that sort of thing (I agree 100% with you on the principle), except Sega has a fairly atrocious track record when it comes to having restraint about the story and the campaigns and the gameplay types. When they put different characters in their games, there is enormous temptation to use those characters as a crutch to compensate for not-wanting to do too much work with the level design.* Until they start releasing games that demonstrates that they can resist that temptation, then a fair degree of skepticism seems warranted.
“You keep mentioning Unleashed. I haven't played it, but if I am not mistaken, don't you ONLY play Sonic? Werehog Sonic is STILL Sonic”
‘Sonic’ with a different voice, different design, different body with Ristar-esque extensible arms, different lines, different behavior, different gameplay, due to being semi-possessed by a demon. In mechanical and thematic terms — in all the ways that I consider important — not Sonic.
If you tweaked the story to make him a separate individual named Willy the Werehog or whatever, that would not have any actual impact on his quality as a player character.
(Incidentally, if being a distinct character that you play with is the only bar, then we should at least half-count the talking sword
in Black Knight that we had to use for all the hilariously-bad motion-control-fighting.)
“And I discount Shadow because that's not what we were talking about. Shadow is a bad game, but it has nothing to do with having Sonic's friends mess up a game where you play Sonic.”
My personal take is that Shadow is a bad game because it is essentially a Sonic game where you almost never play as/like Sonic and are punished for trying to.
“because it's not a game where you play Sonic, and you don't play multiple characters”
That is not strictly
true – co-op players can control the characters that run through the levels with Shadow, including Sonic. And in principle you can go through large chunks of the game playing Shadow like a clone of Sonic; it just does not work very well.
(Also, Shadow existing as a character and Shadow the Hedgehog happening as a game are not entirely unrelated. You are never going to get a Sonic game built mostly around him using a gun – that would go against everything about his character. So to build a shooter segment, you need a character where that gameplay is appropriate. Shadow, despite being basically a palette swap, is the franchise’s ‘dark, edgy’ character with the troubled past, so Sega has no problem using him as a vehicle for the godawful gun and, er, vehicle segments in that game (and in ‘06). That is why so much of their marketing for that debacle was ‘No, guys, it’s cool that the main character is busting caps with realistic guns, ‘cause it’s not Sonic
.’ If neither he nor any other characters that used guns or mechs or whatever remained only NPCs, then Sonic Team would have had to have scrapped the central design decision that game was built around, and they would have had to have made an actual Sonic game. Just like no Werehog, no extendo-arms brawling. No Silver, no physics puzzles. No Knuckles, no crawling around on walls.)
“Gonna be honest, I played the Power characters as Speed characters, which is probably why I don't see the problem with them. And I don't really remember there being that many actual segments where you needed them. I remember it mostly being to break blocks. Been a while, though. I have intended to replay recently though.”
If you replay the game, take a drink every time you hit a locked door, a character says ‘These enemies must be guarding something’, or every time you kill a batch of enemies and another batch just magically teleport in without you going anywhere. There is just so
much shallow combat in that thing. : x
“Also, correct me if I am wrong, but I was positive you just had to collect red orbs to level up Power, not actually be Power. Or did you have to switch and get them to power them up?”
There are a couple of power-ups like that, but most of the leveling is built around the checkpoint icons, which only level up the formation you run through them with.
I remember that because I always tried to go through those with Flying, because it was the only formation where the epoch-definingly terrible auto-target could not result in forcing the characters to dash/jump off cliffs.
“As for having 4 identical campaigns, I don't see how that's much different from playing Sonic 2 as Sonic or Tails. And to a lesser extent, Sonic 3/K as Sonic, Tails or Knuckles.”
A. As a rule I generally try to avoid making comparisons between Sonic’s recent flailings and his days on the Genesis. That case has already been made a thousand times, and it does not need me to add anything to it. Rather, I prefer to evaluate modern Sonic’s failings (and victories for that matter) on its own merits, irrespective of how things were back in his ‘glory days’.
B. ‘This terrible design decision is just like a design decision from a Classic Sonic Game’ is not a particularly compelling argument to me. Design is either good or bad, and being present in a Sonic game from over twenty years ago does not put something beyond criticism – if anything, we should be even more critical in how we evaluate that sort of thing.
C. That said, since you are the one bringing it up, I feel the need to point out that Tails and Knuckles are completely optional characters in those games (minus maybe the Knuckles levels in the S&K bit, which were rebuilt around his abilities and had completely different bosses). Are you seriously telling me that you do not see the difference between a game where you have the choice of picking different characters for playthroughs, and a game that forces you to replay basically the exact same campaign at least four times?
If I thought Sonic Heroes’s levels were worth replaying in the first place, I would go for pre-existing replay incentives, like collecting all Emblems, or getting all A-ranks, or speed-running. I do not need or want to have to go through near shot-for-shot reruns of same campaign four times (with progressively ugly character designs and one run-through dominated by inane mission objectives such as ‘Find and blow out several dozen torches’) in order to unlock the endgame – and putting those things in *on top of* the emblems and the A-ranks and the speed-running and the shoe-horned additional unlockable difficulty mode just makes those incentives redundant.
The four clone campaigns thing is just there for padding, and this is not even taking into account that Sonic Heroes’s level designers do not just repeat the campaigns verbatim and do not just repeat that silly bird boss twice *per* campaign… they literally copy-and-paste layouts and extensive segments within the stages themselves
People are always calling games and the people who make them ‘lazy’ for a variety of rather trivial reasons, but I genuinely cannot think of a game from that generation that recycles the same assets, geometry, and content over and over and over again to the extent that Heroes does – and I do not feel inclined to give Sega a pass on that just because they threw in 11 extra character models.
“A problem with Sonic 06 having so many characters was that they shared all the same levels, but interacted differently with them. They should have just had their own levels (and less of them, so it amounted to a decent total instead of the same 8 three times), like Adventure 2.”
Even if you gave the characters their own stages to go with their gameplay, the result would still be a technical monstrosity. That just exchanges the problem of making one physics engine capable of accommodating ~9 different styles of gameplay with the problem of making ~9 different physics engines, and so you still wind up drastically splitting up finite resources like time and money developing that stuff. I mean, Sonic Team is not like Miyamoto – they cannot just come up with random ideas and then tea-table the development cycle by two years to accommodate the pointless mechanics that result.
“I would be totally fine with multiple friends appearing in the story and not being playable in-story, but being unlockable skins.”
We actually agree on this point, I just trust Sega a lot less to not find some way to royally screw it up.
"you could play Eggman just running at super speeds"