The Spin: Sonic Forces Me To Write This…

Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.

So when I said in my last article that…

“I’ve seen the footage from SXSW, and the Nintendo Direct, I have a few things to say, mainly on what bugs me about Sonic Generations 2 Sonic Forces so far.”

I didn’t think that it would take less than 2 weeks before Sega did something that would mean I felt it necessary to actually talk about these things.

Based on what we have been shown from Sonic Forces… I have to say I am growing increasingly concerned.

Some people however like what’s been shown so far and don’t quite get why some people have a problem with it, so, I’m going to try and write this in a way which helps explain the problems without just going ‘you’re wrong! People will see it and die!’ As I’ve seen in some other YouTube video reactions and articles from some other places out there.

But first.

The Following Excuses Have Never Been Valid…

“It might be the tutorial stage!”

“It might be an early build!”

“It might change before release”

Imagine for a moment you had an assignment, be it for school, college, university or work. You come to a deadline where you have to show off what it looks like in it’s current stage and you are graded on that, or given money to complete the project. And it’s not very good… Are you likely to get a good grade or the extra budget?

The answer is no, if you think it’s yes, all I can say is that is how Sega and virtually every game developer behaves when another studio pitches for a game. If what they show is good, they get the cash, if it’s bad, the pitch is rejected.

So why should judging a trailer, footage, screenshots for a game be any different?

If you put out a trailer that shows an entire level, that is what we judge on, that is what our expectations are based on, so if what you have shown is bad, those who see it are going to think it’s bad. And if it looks really bad… we’re going to think it looks really bad.

With that out of the way, let’s get on with most of the things wrong with Sonic Forces.

“The Game is Playing Itself Son!”

Sonic 06 is over 10 years old, when Forces comes out it will be over 11 years old. So aside from all the other problems Sonic 06 has, why is it 11 years later we still have issues with auto-motion, huge sections of the stages in which the player has no control over the character, in which we’re just sat there watching stuff happening.

In some games, they have these huge set pieces in which you ‘watch’ something happening, typically they’re some kind of payoff for an action you did, for example, take any first person shooter, odds are there will be a scene in it in which you ‘push a button’ which causes a powerful airstrike… or the entire city to explode… the level then ends… of in some cases, the level starts… it gives you a sense of power right?

This is an issue with a lot of Sonic games and sadly a lot of fans are still buying it, a lot of Sonic games have segments within the actual stages in which the player looses all control to make way for spectacle, typically, this is done by either having Sonic fly around the stage in some way, or instantly travel at maximum speed.

And it’s not fun.

It’s not fun if suddenly you’re no longer playing a platform game, what’s the point, I might as well have watched a let’s play.

It’s even more dull and frustrating when there is utterly no reason for the automation other than either hand holding or complete spectacle…

The following examples are cases of where this is both stupid and evidence of a much wider problem with the level design.

S-Tubes + Boosters = Not Very Good

Before we get into this… here is how I ‘think’ Sonic, well actually, any platforming character that you give a speed or velocity to should behave… this is roughly based on other games in which there is an accelerator on an object (be it a car, runner, plane etc), and how it slows over time and we’ll factor in gravity or friction.

To put this into a very basic explanation for those who do not look at code a lot… this is ‘roughly’ what’s going on… or what should be going on.

Speed = Speed + Acceleration – friction.

So our speed is whatever our current speed is adding acceleration and we subtract friction. So if we remove the acceleration, we gradually slow down until speed is 0.

Now let’s look at rolling down a hill.

Speed = Speed + Acceleration + Gravity – friction.

So our speed increases due to both gravity and acceleration, meaning the speed increases faster, friction is still active, but odds are it cannot overcome the acceleration and gravity values, so we eventually hit top speed.

Sonic Forces however does this differently and in a way which is not fun and artificially gives the impression that you were playing the game well.

For every S-Tube in the stage, Sonic instantly goes to the Max Speed… this value should gradually increase over time due to the ‘rolling down’ mechanic of the tube… but this doesn’t happen because we artificially get boosted to max speed.

The arrow in this image illustrates the moment Sonic automatically enters into a ball and instantly hits top speed… this happens in every S-Tube.

Now this might be forgiven if there was a reason for the player to be at max speed on exit (however I would argue this shouldn’t ever occur), but every S-Tube in this stage has a serious flaw.

Here is how this tube ends.

With a speed booster, look at the timer there, it’s less than 1 second, absolutely no speed should have been lost, if anything, speed should have been gained… so why do we have another speed booster set to max speed?

You might argue “that S-Tube exits towards a vertical loop, you need max speed to make the vertical path.” If that were the case, it’s still poor design as it traps the player forever, but we have the very powerful spindash, so why is that booster there when the player can escape using a basic move from Sonic’s abilities?

For further commentary, sections of Sonic 2 have this same design… only without the artificial boosting, you have to use the spindash to escape if you become trapped, meaning you have to actually play the game.

Is the second S-Tube any different?

No it’s even worse… there is a speed booster right at the start of the S-Tube, and yes, the S-Tube also has the artificial speed boost, time between these boosters? Less than half a second.

The speed loss is so minor you can barely see it in the video, but it’s there, utterly no point for this speed booster other than spectacle and hand holding. The gravity value from the slope is more than enough to compensate. It’s unnecessary design, which is bad.

The final S-Tube? It’s less than half a second after the last one, and guess what.

Artificial boosting, instantly puts you at top speed. Again, utterly no point. But then it gets even more silly.

Less than a second later, another speed booster… What hazard awaits you here? A gentle slope that goes up, to a spring.

In less than 2 seconds you hit 4 instances in which your speed is artificially increased to the max speed. Four. That’s like three, but one higher, all to overcome a gentle slope. This is ridiculous, the speed gained from the S-Tube alone is more than… it’s a gentle slope and they give you 4 max speed boosts? Can someone give me a gameplay reason as to why this is good design?

This is not playing a game, it’s a poor mans spectator sport.

This Spring Is Very Pointless

Once upon a time, I used a spring in a video-game, I used this spring because I needed to get to a higher level, in one occasion I found a spring hidden in a tree which led me to many extra rings.

This was an example of how I could explore a stage, how a spring was a useful device, how it didn’t interrupt the pace of the game unless I chose to do so.

So can someone justify this?

A hidden spring, by a low level ledge… which provides no rewards, which gives you no advantage to use, which doesn’t provide a route to any alternative path, which doesn’t do anything… except ruin the pace of the stage.

You could say it’s to prevent just holding right to win… like that slightly higher ledge just next to the spring… oh… Why is that spring there again?

There are a number which appear to be like this later in the level, so it doesn’t appear to be an accident but a design choice.

Actually, speaking of springs….

Springs Cancel All Horizontal Speed & Momentum

Look at any spring the player hits, Your X speed is completely gone, replaced by Y velocity. Compare it to any spring in the stage, the same thing happens.

The pace ends up being all over the place, it’s completely fractured, especially given the number of springs in the stage.  for what appears to be an early level it both doesn’t make sense for the springs to completely cancel momentum like this, nor does it make sense to put so many springs in the same level like this, especially when several don’t appear to do anything.

Automated GamePlay Is Not Very Good

I have chosen this video, because when you listen to the audio clips, you suddenly realise just how bad the spring placement is, just how bad the flow of the stage is broken. Your control over the character is taken from you for automated sections, this includes moments where this should not happen, such as moving up and down slopes and hills.

With the exception of one small bit right at the start of the stage. The player is never allowed to just run or roll down a sloped path, there is always a booster to automate the gameplay. You can never enjoy it or feel like you are playing the game.

You might be thinking ‘what about that spot just before the 30 second mark? There’s a speed shoe power up right by that slope so… yeah… doesn’t really count does it?

Combine this will all the other automated moments in the stage, the springs, the S-Tubes, the boosters… it’s just… how much of this stage do you actually play?

When this game eventually comes out… here is a game to play. Every time you hit an automatic booster, or automated section, release the controller, see how much of the level is played for you before you absolutely have to take control of the character.

This Swing Bridge is Not Very Good

During the new GHZ, we see an odd throwback to the second act of the original incarnation. But… they didn’t get it quite right.

Do you see the problem?

Look at the original first, say you fall off the bridge, or fail the jump, you fall into a lower path… to make it back you have to travel back to the left and take the much lower path, or build up speed to make the vertical path back to the top (notice the spike hazard for new players to be wary of).

It’s a challenge and a clever use of level design and item placements.

So how come the new GHZ messes this up so badly?

If you fail the swing bridge.. it’s not a problem, there’s a hidden spring there that sends you back up… So why even have this throwback? What’s the point of this hazard at all? Is this even a hazard? What happened to that clever level design of the original?

It’s like they didn’t even look at the original when making this stage, just looked for iconic imagery and picked at random.

Take that rock in the classic game, just look at it, it’s in a great place which was put there by someone thinking. Notice how it prevents the player from ‘easily’ using momentum to leap that gap? How the player has to learn how the game works to either make the gap by timing the jump just right, or using the swing bridge?

In new GHZ, there is no such hazard, meaning jumping the gap is even easier with a spin dash followed by a jump… however the player is going so fast, all they need to do is likely time a jump at the right spot.

Speaking of rocks… Let’s take a look at why new GHZ rocks are not that clever.

This Rock Is Not Very Good

This rock is on a perfectly flat route, both to the left and to the right. Just before it is an enemy, so for inexperienced players, a hazard that they’re likely to take out. For other players… just jump it… and likely the rock in the same leap, go momentum.

This rock is not in a clever or creative place, not on the edge of a ledge, not in a way to get to a higher plane… it is just… there. Sitting, doing nothing. Not being a hazard to any kind of player, not being a device to aid exploration and reward.

The only thing this rock does, is break just breaks the flow of the game because someone decided a rock should go there… for absolutely no reason other than to have a rock.

Actually… there is, it’s another badly done throwback.

Except this rock’s placement makes much more sense than new GHZ rock. See what you can’t see is just to the left there is a section of platforms you jump up and if you keep your rhythm is right, you can make it over the rock without any problems, not just have it randomly appear for no reason.

Rock appears at just around the 26-30 second mark.

Remember how DIMPS made the 3DS version of Sonic Generations? Remember how they left in really odd power ups and star posts which didn’t seem to have a use or provide a benefit to the player. For example star posts right by the exit?

Well that’s because in the original games, they usually ended with a boss fight, so the power up or star post made sense. However, in the 3DS version, this didn’t happen. They didn’t understand why they were there originally, they just copied it because they were there.

The GHZ Music Isn’t Very Good

If you like it, hooray, enjoy it. I however do not. A lot of other people do not. Whilst having something universally loved is hard, it shouldn’t be getting this many complaints about how bad it is.

Meanwhile… Majority of the reaction for the main theme was positive, yet everybody has forgotten about that… that’s… not great.

Modern Automated Game-play Is Not Very Good

So earlier I spoke about how GHZ was a highly automated experience… what about the modern section? Well… we have not even been shown the full stage yet… however lets count it up.

This video is 41 seconds long, however it cuts to black at 0:33, giving us a total of 33 seconds of gameplay footage. Here are all the moments that I can see where the game moves into automated mode.

0:07-0:08 (1 sec): Speed booster, this one is there to help you go up a small hill after a downhill section… absolutely no need for it.

0:13 – 0:15 (2 sec): Not one… but two boosters, less than a second after each other, the hazard, two small slopes with no enemies on them… again absolutely no need for it.

0:20 – 0:21 (1 sec): Another booster, the hazard is another small slope, no enemies, no rings, absolutely no need for it.

0:25 – 0:27 (2 sec): A handrail thing, this one leads to a red ring so it apparently has a use… first justified use of an automated section.

0:27 – 0:28 (1 sec): Less than a second after the last one, another booster, up a small slope… to a spring which sets your speed to a set velocity… again, utterly no point for it to exist.

0:28 – 0:31 (3 sec): A spring which catapults you into boost rings, player has no control. Barely any reason for this other than a spectacle moment.

0:33 – 0:35 (2 sec): Not one… Not two… But FOUR! Yes four boosters on a downhill slope. Yup, you need help to go fast downhill in this game! Utterly no reason for them. You are going downhill, these do not need to exist?

 12 seconds, that’s how long control is taken from you, that is the time the game auto plays.

Out of 35 seconds of gameplay footage, 34% of the footage takes control away from the player and this isn’t even a full stage. You currently only playing the game for 66% of the stage. Buy a game, play only 66% of it, the game plays the other 34%.

Other Stuff I could Talk About…

How the marketing for the game has been really poor.

How the tone of the game is completely contradictory both to what Sonic is and what the game itself is trying to portray.

Why nobody should care about this third character given how new Sonic characters typically die after their first or second game.

Why having a third character with a third gameplay style is not a good thing since we’re coming into this to play Sonic.

Why for the last year Sega have been saying things like ‘We’re going to be taking Sonic into a specific direction and some fans won’t be happy’ only to then try and please everyone + fans of mystery third character.

There’s a lot more but you’ve read enough.’

Conclusion

In short, for the reasons stated above, I do not think Sonic Forces looks very good.

58 Comments

  1. “Why having a third character with a third gameplay style is not a good thing since we’re coming into this to play Sonic.”

    Umm. Different gameplay styles & playable characters are something fans have been asking for YEARS. MANY years. Since Unleashed, if I’m correct.
    I don’t understand why it is necessary to add a new character though, but eh, I kinda got used to that at this point.

    I like the article in general though. Personally, I’d agree on most of the points (I do like the music, I just think it’s not really fitting as a level theme), but also, sadly, I do see why there are so many springs and boost pads. I mean, mainstream gaming sites will rate it bad if you have to press a button to get through a loop. (Totally not talking about IGN *cough*)

    Kidding, I’m not a fan of all the automatization. It’s too much, even if this is only the tutorial level. But since we’ve already seen three different builds of the GHZ, they MIGHT remove some boosters & stuff.
    … I hope so.

    1. The difference is: different 3D gameplay styles were always filler content and it will always be. They did not brought up anything significant for the game, it was just there to extend the game’s length. Treasure Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, Werehog… They were different for the sake of being different. SEGA never realized what made Tails and Knuckles good and enjoyable in the classic games. People want to have multiple playable characters with the same core mechanics, not have forced random nonsense in a Sonic game. The closest thing to this was the multiple characters from ’06, but we all know how terrible that went…

      Not to mention, people want to see the already established characters to be playable again. Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Blaze… Hell, let’s have Silver get it’s time to shine, for once. But nope, we’re gonna have a brand new character, for no reason at all, which will most likely be forgotten by the time

    2. Different gameplay styles & playable characters derived from the already present and tested cast of characters is what people are asking for, seriously, when was the last time you could actually play as Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Cream, Shadow or even the Chaotix… It was in Sonic 06, a game that came out over a decade ago. Ten solid years of people asking for the other characters to be playable as DLC characters, in side missions or even in main game sections.

      When people ask for more playable characters, the majority of them don’t want another generic throw away character who somehow has shoulder the core section of the plot in order to validate their inclusion in the game at all, they just want to play as Tails, Knuckles, Amy and so on.

  2. I’m having worries about this game too, though it’s mainly aimed at the tone. I’ve always preferred lighter hearted stories than the dark when it comes to Sonic. And this game looks like it’s trying too hard to be serious again.

    Now, I’m not saying that a light-hearted series shouldn’t try for a darker tone. In fact, some TV shows, games, and movies have benefited from it in the past. (Ben 10: Alien Force and Power Rangers RPM spring to mind for me.) But there’s an art to it. And the Sonic franchise has had some bad experience with that in the past. The Adventure games did it fairly well, but Shadow the Hedgehog and 06 took things too far in that direction. It’s no wonder Sega went the way they did with Colours, Generations, Lost World, and the Boom TV series.

    I’m more looking forward to Sonic Mania than I am to Forces at the moment. And I somehow doubt that’s going to change anytime soon.

  3. Some thoughts: the dismissal of the “but it could be an early level/tutorial” type of comments feels quite hand wavy, especially considering the false-equivalency nature of the rebuttal. I don’t think any video game developer in the history of Earth has ever actually agreed to green light a game based on forty seconds of footage. Sure, this is the footage SEGA have chosen to put out there and I agree we should be breaking it down and discussing what we think of it, but we also need to come face-to-face with the very real possibility that this is easy, early game stuff. We should be reaching a reasonable middle ground between the two positions instead of placing our flags on either hill. But hey, this is the internet so I guess we always need to be butting heads about everything???

    Not really a whole lot to add about Hogfathers actual criticisms though. I’m obviously not as affected by the problems as he seems to be. I disagree with the section which talks about those springs just in front of low level ledges; Hogfather argues that they destroy the pace of the level, though I personally think keeping Sonic moving is better than coming to a dead-halt at the ledge. That sort of level design fits in with “this is literally the first level” kind of thinking, even if it is a little TOO hand-holdy (and I’m not going to sit here and convince anyone it’s GOOD level design).

    I also disagree with this: “[T]he tone of the game is completely contradictory both to what Sonic is and what the game itself is trying to portray.”

    It’s difficult to comment on because Hogfather doesn’t really elaborate, but I don’t see anything in there that is contradictory to Sonic’s character/history: it’s always been about a hedgehog fighting back against a mad scientist, this game is just further along in the hypothetical fight. It’s not like the game is “darker” like Shadow The Hedgehog was or anything like that.

    Also: “[N]obody should care about this third character given how new Sonic characters typically die after their first or second game.”

    I don’t think this is “typical” at all actually? Like, I can think of TONS of characters who are still around after being introduced (let’s not forget, the vast majority of Sonic games have introduced new characters; they’ve been doing it since 1992), and I can think of a very small amount who have actually died (and that’s not including Shadow who was immediately brought back from the dead).

    All in all I think this is a weird article considering it’s essentially just passive-aggressively bashing people who are looking forward to the game (or at least, that’s how my mind is interpreting the sub-text).

  4. I find it funny when you said ““It might be an early build!” and “It might change before release” were never valid excuses when it actually might be an earlier build as things can be added or removed from a level during development. In fact if you look at the screenshots and compare them to the footage, you can see that there are rings in the screenshot in an area that they weren’t in in the footage.
    https://www.twitter.com/dariosamo/status/857016818925522946
    In fact, this makes me wonder if ANYTHING we’ve been shown so far is even the current build.

    1. Right now Classic Sonic in Forces just feels like a poor man’s Mania, especially since he apparently has the drop dash as well.

  5. Great article!

    3d sonic has 12 seconds of automation out of 33. The other 21 seconds are used holding the joystick forward and tapping a.

    I would consider this automation too haha

    1. Holding the joystick and tapping A? That’s how sonic always been, what in the hell is wrong with you people?

  6. I’d like to add to your argument.

    You talk about automation of gameplay heavily, but you overlook something in your argument. Sonic the Hedgehog featured multi-planar gameplay. Forces appears to keep you locked to a single plane, leveraging the automation to push you through it faster. The ability to climb high or crawl low is what have the series it’s allure back in the day. Not only did you have to dodge and interact with the game, but you also needed to think. Interaction and engagement are what give a sense of fun to the game, both of which are removed for the sale of attempting to “be greedy” as SEGA likes to put it, and appeal to literally everyone.

    Also, Igort, the gameplay footage we are seeing is referred to as a “vetical slice.” It’s entire purpose is to demonstrate the strongest qualities of a product being developed and serve as a showcase. It is to contain true gameplay and is intended to reflect what we can expect to see in the final release. This build is going to change, certainly, but it’s not going to change much, let alone in any meaningful way. What we have seen is pretty much exactly what we can expect. Minus a rock and plus two or three more boosters.

  7. Oh my God will you people please wait until E3 2017?! I seriously hate hearing about the complaints in Sonic Forces and I hate the fact that everyone can’t understand the meaning of a beta! The game wont come out till fucking Winter and you guys are treating it as though it’s coming out in Fall!

    Like Jesus Christ, SEGA is showing us the development progress of the game and by the time it comes out, the stages, music and gameplays will come out beautifully.

    Besides, Sonic Team themselves said that they’re aiming for a realistic but not too realistic approach for Sonic Forces. We haven’t even seen the Hedgehog Engine 2’s full potential yet and they’ll be showing it at E3 2017 along with the new character!

    So can all of you please stop fucking complaining about everythin and be thankful that we at least get to see Classic Sonic’s gameplay early?!

    Hell even I can admit that the game still need work, by that I mean the stage layout and the character models, but it’s still cool. Because it shows Sonic Team are working really hard to give us the greatest Sonic Experience ever with a decent quality just like they promised.

    So everybody chill the fuck out and learn how to be patient! Stop bitching and whining like fucking five year olds!

    1. Please read the section entitled The Following Excuses Have Never Been Valid… for my response on that one.

      Furthermore. Why should anyone be thankful if the gameplay looks naff?

      1. Boi chill out for a sec. They haven’t even shown us the current build of the game they have. There is proof of that if you need it btw. I don’t know why they’d hold off on that, but they even confirmed at SXSW that the Modern gameplay is an alpha build.

        1. Please read the section entitled The Following Excuses Have Never Been Valid for my response to the this.

          If you show off something naff. It will be called naff. Doesn’t matter what build or how early it is.

  8. First of all, I just want to say to all the people who are bummed by a “Generations 2” pseudo-title: unless you’re one of the few who didn’t like Generations, stop having the mindset that this is a bad thing! Generations was great (mostly). Why would this turn you off?

    Okay, sorry, now for my actual comment.

    I definitely agree with most of your points about the, “auto-motion,” and can see where you’re coming from for sure.

    I remember playing Generations’ Act 1’s and hating that it felt like a Sonic Advance amount of boosters ‘n junk, with most of my hate directed towards those damned S-loops. I mean, with the classic games, the S-loops were great! Even the slightly gimmicky (not in a bad way) ones in Casino Night. I really don’t understand why it would be different, especially in such a negative way, to how they work today in 2.5D.

    I don’t so much have an issue with the Modern Sonic boosters though, because generally I’m holding square to boost anyway, so it’s kinda hard to notice. But if this game is closer to the Adventure feel, with less boost ability, I can easily see how that would get annoying, by simply imagining Sonic Adventure with countless boosters. Yeah, that’d be terrible. But I also don’t really mind the grinding sections, even though that is literally the definition of “on-rails.” Those orange boost rings in the air can be kinda cool too, but only if they make Sonic look cool. There’s been a couple moments in the past where those scenes sorta reminded me of his movement in the CD intro/outro videos, and for me, those moments were very refreshing.

    All this being said, there is definitely a limit on everything. Everything should have a purpose in a momentum game like this, and it’s a real shame when it isn’t perfect. Hopefully with Mania we’ll get that.

  9. The only reason the third character is a thing, is so that people won’t get satisfied by porting this game to generations, which this game basically is.

    1. Sonic Generations should have been a sandbox, you buy it for 20$, get original story and everything’s ​cool. Then keep releasing extra stages through the years for a reasonably price, maybe add another campaign every now and then.

  10. While I’m not huge on The Spin articles, I’ll admit that Hogfather raised some decent points in this one. I often don’t like seeing criticism without an upside/what could be better or negativity in general, but I can’t ignore what’s in front of me. So, for being reasonably blunt, Hogfather I applaud you and I’d say it’s a fairly written article. I liked the whole assignment/essay comparison in the sense of, you can only go off what you see, and while I do believe in the bigger picture and all that, I can see where you’re coming from with this.

    I think the only reason I haven’t jumped to the critic side with this game is because I know Sonic Team as a developer can do better, I should probably explain that though. We’ve had 25 years of a series that generally speaking has always seen a yearly release of some kind, all the way back to the 1991 original and its sequels. I’d say most of those games with the odd exception have been decent, impressive or great with only a few ‘bad’ titles along the way. Where most developers have a couple of years to make their titles the best they can be, Sonic essentially being Sega’s western mascot gets pushed to forefront alot more. For a team that’s seen various lead developers producers and managers come and go and still have an inkling of a good idea and develop it to an acceptable standard in such a short time, especially given the series many revisions, comes off as very impressive for me.

    I noticed 06 got a sort of mention in this title and although it’s flaws are there for all to see, of which there are many, I found enjoyment in that game for a variety of reasons. The game’s development was troubled and a lot of bad decisions were made in addition to circumstance and Sega’s strict deadlines, the fact it had an end or could be finished was a miracle. I honestly believe if things were different and they had more time to revise and improve the title that it would be a memorable game for the right reasons. Sonic Unleashed which came two years later after a number of spinoffs, saw a lot of behind the scenes development including a revolutionary engine as well as change in design and direction for the series, that title didn’t fare much better in a critical sense, but among fans and non fans is considered a much better game.

    Remembering the whole thing with Sega’s restructuring a while ago reminds me that they have much more of a chance to subvert series expectations so I’m more than willing to give it a chance despite what I’m seeing right now. I may be wrong and I’m seeing potential where it doesn’t exist and you have more realistic expectations Hogfather but I have a lot of hope regardless. Anyway, great article based on the current situation, these things are good to talk about and put in perspective. All the best good sir.

  11. As far as I’ve heard, Sonic isn’t supposed to be a “hardcore” videogame franchise. However, most of his games can be taken to extremes for the sake of speedrunning, whether it be through exploits or simple runs.

    All of the flaws stated would be a concern to oldschool fans, no question; but, unfortunately, it seems that today’s children (and even young adults) lack a sense of direction (myself included in the sense of government, economics, etc… I’m not excusing my own flaws, is the point). Some games guide the player while holding his hand; others simply have an outstretched arm. I have to say that Sonic games have been holding both of the player’s hands, and I really don’t enjoy that. The reckless level design doesn’t make the situation any less concerning.

    I’m still hopeful… kind of. I really want another main series story game that has a good balance of serious and aloof. I don’t know if Unleashed would be considered to have this, but it remains to be my favorite Sonic game for both story and gameplay; my main ire with it is that it doesn’t feel like it gives the player much freedom of movement like in the Adventure games. I’ve seen people say Generations fixed this, but I think it made it worse…

  12. Valid concerns. A shame to see the community responding so harshly without solid counter arguments and creating complete strawman arguments to take down. Here’s hoping it’s good, but we’ve yet to get enough to impress. Sonic Mania is looking a much more solid title until we hopefully get a more beta level of footage from Forces.

  13. Don’t you think sonic can jump before hitting a spring beside the low level ledge? Doing so will make sonic not hit the spring beside the low level ledge. And still keeps the horizontal momentum going.

    So the design is “hitting a spring is a punishment for not jumping quickly”

    You’re just judging by the way someone plays the game

    While I do agree that a few speed boosters are unnecessary.

    Thank you

      1. Don’t you think sonic can jump before hitting a spring beside the low level ledge? Doing so will make sonic not hit the spring beside the low level ledge. And still keeps the horizontal momentum going.

        So the design is “hitting a spring is a punishment for not jumping quickly”

        You’re just judging by the way someone plays the game

        While I do agree that a few speed boosters are unnecessary.

        Thank you

        1. So why can’t you just jump the ledge instead of having momentum ruined by a spring which is not needed and does nothing?

          It completely breaks the flow. Rakes control away from you.

          It’s bad design.

  14. My biggest issue with the game, as of now, is this “Forces” idea. You telling me that you are having this scenario of a “Resistance”, everybody fighting against Eggman, yet, only 2 Sonics and a random ass character will be meaningful for the game? COME ON! THIS IS SUCH A WASTE OF POTENTIAL! They should’ve not been wasting this scenario, if they are not having anybody else playable

    1. But, as a whole, i’m not happy at all with Forces. From the return of Classic Sonic to the whole tone of the game being just a Generations 2 with an unnecessary third gameplay style (So much for a “Brand new experience”, Iisuka). Sorry, i’ll pass on this one. Give me some Mania

    2. Oh, and btw, awesome article! There is some solid arguments there (Boi, replying to me 3 times is sure gonna look weird :V)

  15. “…why is it 11 years later we still have issues with auto-motion, huge sections of the stages in which the player has no control over the character, in which we’re just sat there watching stuff happening.”

    In the case of Forces, a probable explanation is the fact that the person at the helm of Sonic 06 is now in charge of Sonic Forces. It may also explain the similarly contradictory tones in both Forces and Sonic 06.

    While I won’t comment on the level design in detail as you have, I will say after comparing the GHZ designs in Generations and Forces, I like the level design in Generations better. So that is my most simplistic summary of why I dislike Forces right now.

    The HUGE problem that Sega has been unable to overcome for years now is that they are stuck in this erroneous mindset that Sonic games are all about going fast in super speed. Sonic’s original vision was never been about just going fast, but instead about going *faster than* competing platforming games. They stuck to this vision back in the day, and the level designs were good because of it. Now Sega just makes Sonic go fast for the sake of going fast (usually via short speed boosts that break the level design) and ignores the original vision of just being faster than Mario, etc.

    Oh, and the GHZ music in Forces is horrible. Sega can do better “retro” music than that and they know it.

      1. Yeah, just cause you didn’t get my joke means I’M the one who doesn’t understand what I’m saying. Suuuuurreeeee….

        I know what “salt” is, lol, I was just trying to be cheeky instead of wasting my time arguing over my difference in opinion over the actual topic. It’s pretty pointless, I’ve seen you long enough to know that you’re not that easily swayed. Reading these articles just usually brings out a lot of ire in me and others, reading the comments section just makes it worse, and throwing myself in there just adds to the colossal headache. Just wanted to save myself the headache, throw in my smartass joke, and be done with it.

        But I guess that’s what I get for trying to be funny. 😛

        also @Mikael Fernandes, not everyone has to comment by detailing a long-written well-thought-out counter argument about why they don’t agree with whatever new tedious opinion piece the mod makes every other week (especially not when, again, it’d just be a waste of breath for me personally, I’ve tried too many times before), nor does not trying to even do so make me a “typical brain-washed fanboy”.

        I seriously don’t give enough of a crap to do what everyone else is already doing anyway, how exactly does that make me some kind of gullible sap who will applaud every little thing Sega does with Sonic? I’ve got concerns about this stage, sure, but I’m not about to weigh them against the millions of other observations he’s made, especially when some of them might not even concern me that much anyhow. It’s just not worth it.

        Sorry I didn’t get to feed your lust for fire I guess, lol.

          1. Sure, whatever, this was more than I planned on saying anyway. Maybe next time I’ll actually be interested in what you have to say. But then again, maybe I should just stick to reading the actual news that comes out.

          2. Yeah, see, that’s what I’m talking about right there. The whole “you don’t get this, I’m better than you” thing, it’s pretty stuck-up. You’re a mod, you have opinions, I can respect and understand that. I don’t have to agree with you, I don’t have to argue with you, and yet you take me pointing that out as being stupid and worth ridicule. That, I don’t respect. You are entitled to expressing an opinion and looking for open dialogue (at least that’s what I assume you’re doing), but you aren’t entitled to acting like a jerk. Maybe it was pointless for me to comment on basically nothing in the first place, but there’s no scenario out there that justifies your attitude towards other people. I’m surprised you’re still kept on this site.

        1. Do you actually intend to try and participate in the topic on hand? Or should I just start deleting these comments on the groups they’re no better than spam?

          1. Fine then.

            Personally, I’d rather just play the game myself to see how it actually feels rather than just going on what my eyes alone see. You can observe a lot just from looking, sure, you’ve shown that already, but that’s not enough for me personally. I still sensed a lot of problems with this demo, particularly just how bland and straight-forward it felt to me, particularly the second half, and I’m honestly hoping everyone else’s hopes that this is a beta or whatever turn out to be true, but I’ve never known Sonic Team for completely changing the layout of a level after already revealing it in a trailer, they tend to keep pretty consistent with what they show off. At most I just expect them to update smaller things like hazards and graphical features, as much as I want an overhaul.

            I don’t feel like getting into the mythology of “why springs and boost pads are ‘bad design'”, I find it a pretty one-sided debate. The fact is, there are practical uses to them, even boost pads, but I will relent that they haven’t been used very strategically in the last few titles, and especially not with this stage, unless the strategy really is to do everything for the player. The objects themselves don’t suck or ruin design, it’s how poorly they’re used and placed that’s the problem.

            The music doesn’t sit well with me either. I don’t think it’s terrible on it’s own per say, but it certainly isn’t very fitting for a Green Hill theme, I’m not even picking up any traces of the original melody in there, it just sounds like a generic “Classic Sonic music”. It sounds more like a power-up or Super Sonic theme to be honest. Just make it that and replace it with much more fitting “Green-Hilly” music and we’re good.

            I won’t get into Green Hill’s inclusion as a topic, or Classic’s inclusion, or anything else that I could see myself debating with you for hours on end, I’m just leaving it at that.

            There, I contributed, just like you wanted. My statements about you still stand though.

  16. So glad someone is actually breaking down the information we have on Sonic Forces and being HONEST. As someone who has been geeking out about Sonic since ’96, we have a right to “force” this kind of discussion and throw it back in Sega’s face so we can get what we need from a new Sonic title. We’ve waited too long for a well-acclaimed game just to watch another Sonic ’06 unfold and put the franchise in the ground for good.

  17. I agreen with most of this post. These boost and automatic things are really annoying and the fact that they put a spring right on a small jump platform is just like “you’re dumb enough to don’t jump so we put this right here to help you”.

    BUT I don’t think the marketing for this game is poorly made because this is the first time (I’m from Brazil guys) ever I see my friends and some people from here talking about Sonic Forces (even in game websites or speaking about that to me) and for my surprise they really liked this Sonic game, well, they are not fans but still want to play it. I think Aaron and Sonic Team (on Twitter) are doing a really great job here.

    About the tone of the game, is “really completely contradictory”? Keep in mind we don’t know which point we play with Modern Sonic or which point we play with Classic Sonic (could be on beggining or after the events from “whole city is on fire”). Also, remember that Sonic Team already said that Eggman have 99% of the world on his hands. 1% still okay (or not, but still, no fire).

    Why nobody should care about this third character? Really, why? After 11 years playing with Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Werehog, Classic Sonic and Virtual-Sonic, I really want to play with Sonic friend’s or even with a new character. The fact that this char die it’s because the some fans and media who LOVE to say “SONIC HAVE SO MUCH FRIENDS LOOK AT THE SONIC RAINBOW WORLD OF ANIMALS, SO MANY CHARACTER, SO MANY COLORS, IT’S RIDICULOUS HOW MANY CHAR THEY ARE”. If they don’t have plans to use it again or there are no sense to this char appear on future games (aka Silver but I love him so anyways), kill it or don’t shown it again. It’s better than nothing. This is the same for a third gameplay. I really want to play with someone who is not Sonic, I’m playing even with a Chao right now if they put on it.

    And I don’t think they are trying to please everyone + fans. Sure there are forced nostalgia things here, but the fact that they are on this formula for a second round speak for himself. Takashi Iizuka know that Sonic Forces look’s like Sonic Generations (and look’s like a sequel), he said on a interview that “when we play two different games with the same formula it’s like we are playing the same game with other stages”. Fans don’t liked. The fact that fans don’t liked just show that they are really into a specific direction that are leaving some fans disappointed. This game is good for non-Sonic fans, but for Sonic fans is not. This game is not for Sonic fans, is for non-Sonic fans. That’s why is a “Sonic Generations 2” with a mysterious new char and a third gameplay, they want to bring Sonic to a new generation. They need to do this to keep the franchise alive.

    1. Wouldn’t a good Sonic fan know what makes a good Sonic game for newcomers? I mean, you’re on a website called “Sonic Stadium” – I’m pretty sure most of us are capable of going through what information is out there and critiquing it for what it’s worth. Personally, I don’t think SEGA and Sonic Team are making good choices with this game and I believe it’s for the same reasons Hogfather listed above – a big one being poor level design. Regardless of the build, seeing another Green Hill Zone has to give you tremors. It means they’re out of ideas and scared to try new things, while depending on other elements that many Sonic fans (myself included) are kind of sick of. Please, let’s have some meaningful discussion on here and figure out a way to send it to Sonic Team and the rest of SEGA. I seriously believe we could be on the precipice of another massive Sonic failure if fans don’t speak up.

      1. I know it. This is what I mean we I say “forced nostalgia”. Keep in mind that there are Boost fans (who asked for this gameplay), classic fans (who asked for years to classic Sonic return), etc. I don’t know if SEGA listen to his fans like they should of even if they do this. I love Sonic franchise and I really want to Sonic Forces be sucessful. I know about SEGA once looked at fans and then shooting gameplay on Sonic Adventure’s, Shadow the Hedgehog game and Sonic Generations with stages we selected come true. But sometimes I really think that SEGA just don’t listen his fans. Look at Youtube comments, here at Sonic Stadium comments, we are warning SEGA from what they are doing, but still… like before, no reply return, just a “the game still in development and things can be changed”, what things? the things they want, of course.

      2. THAT’S IT!! More than anything else, that is what bugs me about Sonic Forces. Ever since the adventure titles SEGA has done wacky, new things to the franchise with nearly every installment. While that has made the franchise fun to follow all these years, honestly, most of the time it just ends in disaster.

        As a result, for the last 10 years now I’ve been preaching “specialize and perfect a game play style.” That’s because I thought if Sonic just stopped reinventing himself, SEGA could figure out what works and make a truly awesome game. But here we are, I got my wish, and for all of the reasons mentioned above, I’m still not happy.

        Nothing suggests that SEGA has improved upon the boost or classic level design since Generations 6 years ago. At the same time, the edgy innovations that I was willing to forsake are nowhere to be found, immediately crushing any illusion of grandeur or charm for the franchise’s future. While it is still too early to tell, Sonic Forces is on a (automated) track that might confirm my worst fear: that Sonic Team is simply incapable of developing strong level design, even when working with a formula that they are familiar with.

        1. Sonix, I make your words my words. That’s what I mean. The real problem here is: SEGA don’t make something new with something that they already have. They could make a new method to play with the Boost or even a new gameplay based by on Boost formula, something totally new or made from what they have. One fact that I really love on Sonic franchise is the fever for renovation. Even when we think about Sonic, we know it’s not all about be fast. The real problem is when they want to fix something that is not broken at all (look at Lost Word). They can fix all boost issues or even make something better with boost formula but they don’t and I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHY. To me, it’s not a question of fear to try something new but time. Sonic games ALWAYS need time to do it. It’s like Sonic Team wasted is time since Lost World just working on a new light engine called Hedgehog Engine 2 and… Just this.

  18. I understand where this article is coming from and a few revelations were shown that i wasn’t aware of before. Like the speed boosters in the S tunnels. Eww.
    Still i am of the opinion right now that it is currently May, We have a month and a half to go before E3, and we haven’t seen the new gameplay style or any more than a glimpse at modern sonic. I say let’s hold back the full outcry of “sonic forces isn’t looking good”, at least until after more gameplay is revealed.
    I agree that criticism of what they have chosen to release is good and definitely needed as a potential wake up call for the team, but there’s much more to be shown and more context to be applied. Now there’s a lot of stretching needed with this GHZ being some kind of fluke, like a tutorial level or something, but there’s still plenty of potential that more context in revelation of more gameplay could make more sense of this apparent backwards direction.
    My hope is that they show what they got and the community can offer constructive criticism where needed so that the next 6 months can be used to apply said criticisms like what happened with Sonic 4. I’d actually be ok with a delay into early 2018 if it meant taking away all this automation and putting in actual physics and momentum.

  19. I’ll disagree with you about the tone. I think it’s literally the only sigh of relief I’ve gotten from the news about Forces so far. The fact that the fear that was instilled into them about how overboard they were going with the super harsh and dark tones of the other games is subsiding a bit and they’re allowing themselves to not sky-rocket into the complete and total opposite direction because of it makes me happy. Stripping literally all the conflict and coolness away wasn’t the way to solve that dilemma of theirs. They just needed to dial it back a bit and I feel like this works as a cool, Toonami, action-anime kind of conflict they’ve got going on here.

    But the rest you sold me on. The automation conversation was something I always hated because whenever people complained about it, I could never quite understand what the issue was since I was just recognizing that I was having fun and was actually able to beat the stages in Generations (unlike the Classics which I still can’t…) but having it broken down like this really does spell out the issues in a way that makes sense and has me in full support of what you’re trying to say about it.

  20. Appreciate the well analyzed article. I wish this wasn’t the case but, based on the reasons stated in this article and many others, Sonic Forces unfortunately looks like all the other miserable Sonic schlock we’ve seen the past decade. It doesn’t help that it’s being headed by the people who worked on Sonic ’06 and it looks like they’ve learned virtually nothing in the past ten years making these games.

    I know this a devisive statement but I’ll buy the hell out of Mania and bypass Forces altogether. I could be wrong, I hope I am, but Forces looks no different from any other Sonic cycle release. Lets hope it’s Mania and not Forces that paves the way for the series future, because I have a feeling this head to head release is exactly what Sega is testing the waters with.

  21. I’ve never seen an article as ridiculously nitpicky as this one before. This reads like a stereotype of overly dedicated, eager to complain Sonic fans.

      1. When you’re analyzing every individual spring and s-tube in a level, you go beyond in-depth and into self-parody territory. (Doesn’t help that you take the time to lamely debate every person who disagrees with you in the comments.)

        1. It’s quite hard to debate if you don’t actually bother to put across a meaningful response of you disagree.

          First off. We both know I didn’t comment on every spring. So please don’t exaggerate.

          Secondly, what did I get wrong about the S-Tubes? What about them is perfectly fine to you with relation to level design?

          If you don’t have a problem with them, could you explain why it’s justified that one of them has 3 cases of artificially setting the players speed to max when the end of the tube has no reason for it to be that high outside of momentum generated by the initial velocity + increasing gravity?

          Just that right now you just seem upset that I criticised a thing you like. If you would like to explain why the level design is good and these items make sense. By all means go right ahead.

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