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Sonic The Slowpoke? - Destructoid




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The following blog is set for One Fall! Introducing first, he is the Hylian Champion! Winner of the Seven-Year Slam, making the Hylian Ring safer, one Powerbomb of Courage at a time!

AboveUp!





Started gaming on an Atari 2600, grew into the gamer I am now with Nintendo, playing on an NES and SNES. Became more aware of the wider scope of gaming through the Playstation and Xbox. Now I'm loving the PC gaming life.

My favorite games include A Link to the Past, Terranigma, Guilty Gear X2, Viewtiful Joe, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and DotA 2.

Huge comic book reader, and currently keeping up with Saga and Hawkeye.

My favorites are The Sandman Vol 4, Batman - Court of Owls, and V for Vendetta.

Lover of wrestling, although not so much of the infamous Attitude Era. Much of more a CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler kinda guy.

Life-long reader of books of the fictional and non-fictional variety. Love Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Wendig and Haruki Murakami.

My biggest dream is that one day Quintet returns and makes a current generation Terranigma.

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AboveUp
10:00 AM on 05.27.2013



Previously, I wrote about how Sonic could be the bad guy in his franchise. Or at least, how he could be in the first game if you ignored all outside information but what is in the game by itself. That post might have given something away about my lack of familiarity with the older Sonic games. Had Sonic really been my thing, I'd have found it a lot easier to accept him in the role of a hero and accepted the game's world without a problem. Except I didn't. I still have a problem seeing him as a hero in that game, but that's because I feel Sonic The Hedgehog is being dishonest about its own image.

Sonic The Hedgehog is a franchise featuring a protagonist known for three things:

He's Blue
He's got an attitude
He's fast

Sounds simple enough in itself, but the game only seems to get two of these right in the contents and design of it.

We can go down the path of arguing Sonic turning Super Sonic into a golden Super Saiyan. We can argue that over the years he seems to have less of an attitude problem, and that the moment people became aware of this they threw in Knuckles to keep in the attitude. Then when Knuckles started to become accepted and mellow, they threw in Shadow to bring the attitude. But these problems come into play with later games, the original game just had Sonic in his regular form. No partners, no Super status.

He's not going fast either.



When most games these days push a faster pacing, they tend to do this through risk-reward structures. In settings with a ton of dangers all around you, they tend to be set up so that if you respond to all of them in the right way, you can run through without interuption. Each hazard being signalled just in time for you to respond to them. Clearing areas in one smooth movement often gives extras, even if it's just something as metaphysical as a score bonus.

Sonic the Hedgehog†is full of roadblocking hazards that force you to come to a dead stop. There's no way around them. There's no rushing past them. They're activated when they appear on the screen, and they won't switch off or move out of the way until a few moments of empty time loafing around. A large chunk of the game revolves aroud waiting for platforms to come down, walls to move, water to rise, fires to go off, and pathways to open up.

Okay, so Sonic's an older game. They needed time to finetune this whole going fast deal. Other games hadn't really pushed for this whole going fast thing yet, right?



Unfortunately for Sonic, the Mario Bros franchise seems to actually support the faster playstyle. Without a protagonist designed to convey speed and a gameplay style that wants you to take your time and explore the settings, both Mario Bros 1 and 3 feature game design that more often than not, let you run from one end of the stage to the other uninterupted.

I've done a Super Mario Bros playthrough where I never stopped running forward. The game actually works this way, although I do have to confess it becomes easier with a few warp routes thrown into the. Despite that, it's still more accomodating for the playstyle Sonic the Hedgehog pushes than Sonic's own games.

Anyone who has seen the speedruns of Super Mario Bros 3†and has tried to recreate them knows how incredibly well-designed the levels are in that game to allow you to perform these feats. The positioning of the platforms and enemies allowing you to make pixel perfect jumps from one another can't be an incident, but they're not forcefully put down to be the only way to go through the levels.

What bothers me about Sonic The Hedgehog†is that I want it to be what Super Mario Bros 3 is in terms of level design. And I don't feel this is a strange demand, because this is exactly what Sonic wants everyone to believe he is. This is exactly what every game that took a large hint from Sonic would end up being later in the future. Heck, this is what Sonic Adventure tried going for and, to an extent, would actually deliver despite all of the problems 3D titles still suffered from when it came out.



To me, Sonic the Hedgehog†has always come across as a succesful story in the marketing of video games characters, with the actual product having very little to do with the promises made.

That isn't to say that Sonic the Hedgehog†is a terrible mess of a game, quite the opposite, it's still a good platformer, just like Dynamite Heady and Ristar. It lacks the dynamics and level design fitting the character it houses, stunting his ability to truly shine from a gameplay perspective. Later games do get a lot better at it, but they come with their own problems. Most notably running faster than the screen can keep up with and bumping into enemies you can't see.



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