Of the many issues Sonic Forces faced, one of the most noteworthy was how Classic Sonic… just didn’t feel right. He felt fine in Generations, but something was different in the shift from one game to the other. If you’re a fan of 16-bit Sonic, with muscle memory built up from hours upon hours of Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and the like, this regression has to be baffling.
Another is that the game implies you get to fight all the bosses they show off in cutscenes, but then neglect Chaos Zero.
Classic Sonic Improvement Mod aims to fix both these, yes, even the lack of Chaos.
I had to jump back and forth between with and without the mod to really come to grips with classic Sonic’s physics. I hadn’t played Forces since release, so jumping right in with the mod was deceptively… what I expected from Sonic. His speed felt reasonable, he had a solid jump height and arc, and when I pressed down to roll, it preserved momentum until it made sense not to.
So what did this improve exactly?
Basically everything I just described. As soon as I turned the mod off and gave vanilla Forces a revisit, Sonic felt sluggish, he couldn’t jump as high as I expected him to, and his roll drastically slowed him down. It wasn’t as drastic as jumping from Sonic 2 to Sonic 4, but the improvement mod clearly added a few control nuances Sonic needed to feel like Sonic. And to top it off, those orange warning signs from Colors and Generations to tell you certain holes are bottomless? The mod mercifully brought those back. Because they’re a good idea, darn it!!
Other elements the developer notes that I didn’t encounter or recognize in my play experience include removal of specific obnoxious dash panels and springs, mild changes to Sonic’s character model, dynamic camera modifications, removal of autoscrolling, uninhibited Super Sonic speeds, and more difficult S rank requirements.
The other core aspect of this mod only shows up after you’ve completed the Ghost Town stage as Classic Sonic. When you make it to the end, an additional node on your map pops up, allowing you to finally fight Chaos Zero in Forces! And… it’s alright.
Not to undercut the clear technical achievement of adding a whole new boss to the game, the fight itself is pretty straightforward. Classic Sonic on a circular track dodges falling raindrops and spiked balls traveling in opposite directions. As you’re avoiding the relatively simple attack patterns, you’re also jumping to hit (and mostly pass through) Chaos Zero flying in circles overhead. Hit him enough times, and the spiked ball attacks become several impeding (but not damaging) downward water torrents. In his final form, Chaos fills the entire field with water (and a few spots to grab air bubbles), encouraging you to jump up a bunch of stationary platforms forming a spiral to the top of the water to complete the fight. Compared to the initial attacks, this final challenge feels bizarrely punishing, as you’ll be pushing tiny Sonic’s lung capacity to the limit as you hope each of your jumps lands perfectly and quickly.
Despite my criticisms, it’s probably worth to keep this mod handy for any future playthroughs of Sonic Forces. Everything it does should have been part of the base game. It doesn’t “fix” Forces as a whole since you’ll still be dealing with Classic Sonic’s lackluster level design, but the overall experience will be a step more tolerable.