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Sonic Frontiers (2022) | MT | General Discussion (DO NOT discuss leaks here please)


Dreadknux

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So in Advance 2, you actually accelerate faster with more rings. Get your ring count up (or use a Game Shark to permanently have 999 rings) and you'll activate boost mode almost immediately after you reach maximum normal running speed. It always surprises me that no other game has used this idea quite so plainly. Frontiers only toys with the concept of unlocking a second boost tier at max rings.

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Just now, Blue Blood said:

So in Advance 2, you actually accelerate faster with more rings. Get your ring count up (or use a Game Shark to permanently have 999 rings) and you'll activate boost mode almost immediately after you reach maximum normal running speed. It always surprises me that no other game has used this idea quite so plainly. Frontiers only toys with the concept of unlocking a second boost tier at max rings.

I see. That is interesting. I do think I remember reading that Sonic 06 was going to utilize a similar mechanic, or the same one, even. Obviously, it ended up being cut, of course. I do think though it would not be a bad idea to revisit as long as they don't rush the Sonic game they try to include it in again.

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If boost does get removed in the next game, what could the in-universe explanation be? Mine would be that Cyberspace gave Sonic long-term effects, preventing him from tapping into his boost and forcing him to go faster another way.

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10 hours ago, Blue Blood said:

So in Advance 2, you actually accelerate faster with more rings. Get your ring count up (or use a Game Shark to permanently have 999 rings) and you'll activate boost mode almost immediately after you reach maximum normal running speed. It always surprises me that no other game has used this idea quite so plainly. Frontiers only toys with the concept of unlocking a second boost tier at max rings.

I actually don't like this, especially since Advance 3 screwed up the balance and you rocket forward if you have more than like ten rings. The character's base movement shouldn't be up to too much chance.

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48 minutes ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

I actually don't like this, especially since Advance 3 screwed up the balance and you rocket forward if you have more than like ten rings. The character's base movement shouldn't be up to too much chance.

I might be wrong, but as far as I know Advance 3 does not feature that system... the characters' speed value depends on the partner, and in some cases the physics are so screwed up that it becomes hard to control.

I like the concept of rings enhancing Sonic's (and other characters') abilities, it could be expanded futher IMO (give Tails more flight stamina the more rings he has, make Knuckles create bigger shockwaves the more rings he has, etc.). The acceleration being tied to the amount of rings can be a bit more complex, because it can get into the way of platforming, but I think that if well balanced it might be a cool feature, especially in an "open zone" setting where platforming is not the main focus, and you mostly run into an open space.

In my opinion, the effect of rings on the acceleration should be noticeable only at high speeds, while in slow precision platforming it should not have any effect (you should accelerate faster only after a certain speed, when you are already fast enough to make platforming hard even at 0 rings).

The problem of the ring system in Advance 2 is that when your ring count is too low, the character would take forever to accelerate from standing, and some apparently easy jumps would become hard or impossible to perform due to the more limited air mobility. Being able to reach the boost mode faster with more rings is cool though; I think the system can be improved and it would be interesting because it would make rings more meaningful overall (this also and especially applies to Frontiers' gameplay formula, where it could have been interesting if the fighting moves were altered by the amount of rings, and if dealing good hits would make you gain rings from the enemy, so that you can increase the amount during a fight and improve your powers without having to grind around the open zone).

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1 hour ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

I actually don't like this, especially since Advance 3 screwed up the balance and you rocket forward if you have more than like ten rings. The character's base movement shouldn't be up to too much chance.

Advance 3 just did awful things to the physics. It doesn't handle well at all. And tbh, I'm unsure if it actually features the same ring-based acceleration as Advance 2.

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I played Advance 3 fairly recently (only as Sonic + Tails, too), and I am all but certain control felt way worse when I had a higher number of rings. I was pretty sure the reason I never understood the control criticism is because as a kid I usually got hit enough that the game really didn't feel any different from 2, which I still hold as true.

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The second tier when you have 100 rings was a satisfying middle ground. I actually hope the idea of a buff when you can keep Sonic topped off like that returns even when the boost doesn't. Brought back the thrill of holding onto a lot of rings without having Lives to rack up.

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41 minutes ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

I played Advance 3 fairly recently (only as Sonic + Tails, too), and I am all but certain control felt way worse when I had a higher number of rings. I was pretty sure the reason I never understood the control criticism is because as a kid I usually got hit enough that the game really didn't feel any different from 2, which I still hold as true.

I tested it right now, it seems that the ring system is there but it's completely messed up, it's nothing like in Advance 2. Indeed with just 10 rings or a little more, you will boost forward like if you had the speed shoe.

I tested Sonic & Tails and Cream & Knucles, it seems that only Sonic & Tails are affected by it, or if Cream & Knuckles are too, the effect is so small that's hard to notice.

There's never a time in Advance 2 when the character accelerates too fast to the point of becoming hard to control, this only happens in Advance 3 (mostly during jumps), if anything in Advance 2 it's the opposite (too low rings: it feels like controlling a brick, high rings: feels natural).

Advance 3 physics sucks btw.

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3 hours ago, Wraith said:

The second tier when you have 100 rings was a satisfying middle ground. I actually hope the idea of a buff when you can keep Sonic topped off like that returns even when the boost doesn't. Brought back the thrill of holding onto a lot of rings without having Lives to rack up.

This I very much agree with. Frontiers does have a bit of an issue with how easy it is to just cyloop in circles to generate rings. It barely takes any time at all, even when you've maxed out your ring capacity. 

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5 hours ago, Iko said:

I tested it right now, it seems that the ring system is there but it's completely messed up, it's nothing like in Advance 2. Indeed with just 10 rings or a little more, you will boost forward like if you had the speed shoe.

I tested Sonic & Tails and Cream & Knucles, it seems that only Sonic & Tails are affected by it, or if Cream & Knuckles are too, the effect is so small that's hard to notice.

There's never a time in Advance 2 when the character accelerates too fast to the point of becoming hard to control, this only happens in Advance 3 (mostly during jumps), if anything in Advance 2 it's the opposite (too low rings: it feels like controlling a brick, high rings: feels natural).

Advance 3 physics sucks btw.

Well, glad to know I wasn't hallucinating, I guess that's why Advance 2 is the one getting decompiled.

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So I think I can finally lat out my thoughts on Frontiers in full, in a somewhat coherent way. I say somewhat because, uh, this is more of a rant than a review. I'm rather passionate about my feelings towards this game.

My thoughts will be in a spoiler tag due to containing spoilers about the ending and a certain moment, if you have not played this game then proceed with caution.

Spoiler

 

Sonic Frontiers is a game that both has nothing to it's name and squanders what ideas it has. It's open world is drab, boring and overdosing on the exact same shit we've been seeing since 2010, maybe even longer, and the Cyberzone is just another example of how tonedeaf Sonic Team is when it comes to understanding why people liked games like Generations.

It's a game where it's very obvious that they had to just stretch things out to make it seem like it has more content than it actually does. Frontiers runs out of steam by the second island and just drags it's feet in the mud for the remaining three islands (and I'm being very generous with that number, by the way). Chaos Island in particular is the most forced thing I've seen in a Sonic product, because so much of is just 2D segments that are so disconnected to everything else in the Open Zone side of things.

Who thought it was a good idea to make Chaos Island like this? Was it done under time restraints, or lack of ideas? Honestly I'd believe in both options, because they both stink up throughout the entire game, and I'm not just mentioning how the last two islands are just chunks of Kronos that you couldn't access. No, it's apparent in other aspects too.

Like the plot.

It's probably one of the only things I tolerate about this game (the other being the visuals and (some) of the music), but even that feels very half baked in my opinion. It feels like not a lot happens beyond the exposition of the backstory and lore of the Starfall Islands and Sonic having to save his friends. All the characters in this game felt flat, even Eggman, who tends to be a highlight for many in terms of characters. Then there's Sage.

Sage is a waste of a character. They don't do enough with her to make me even remotely care about her, or her relationship with Eggman. The ball was fumbled hard with that daughter father angle they brought up before the final boss. It felt so out of place, and the flashback bits didn't do a damn thing either.

Yes, I know the Eggman logs are a thing, but they don't do enough to help sell the player on the dynamic the game wants to build up too.

On top of that, the sacrifice Sage makes at the end doesn't really matter much either, as not only did the game not do enough of a good job to really sell the character, it doesn't even really show how Eggman is impacted by it, he doesn't even come off as that upset. It also just gets nulled out when it's revealed that Eggman most likely found a way to bring her back, so really, what was the point in this?

Another thing I wanna mention is Sonic getting corrupted by the cyber energy, which was such a damn cop out. You'd think that it'd be leading up to something big, especially when Sonic gets fully corrupted and trapped in between Cyberspace and the real world. But...no, not really. That mysterious voice reveals it's true intentions and then....Sonic just gets brought back almost immediately afterward.

Yup, you don't do anything to bring Sonic back. You don't collect memory tokens or even, god forbid, do a Cyberspace level (we'll fucking get to them in a bit), nah, Sonic's friends just sacrifice themselves back into Cyberspace and Sonic's just magically better. Hurray, I love plot convenience!

Wasted potential, that's what the whole plot is. Surely, though, the gameplay's better, right?

Nope!

Gameplay is also a mess, to a point where I legit have to wonder why this was released in the state it is in. 

Starting with the Open Zone, it feels like they designed the world first then plopped Sonic and Sonic like elements into it. (I think I read somewhere that this is the case, but I'm not confident. Lemme know if this is true) The layouts of every island do not mesh well with how Sonic controls, and it meshes worse with the automation and typical boost game quirks that plagued nearly every 3D Sonic since Colors or Unleashed.

The automated segments are a waste of space, plain and simple. I can be a little more forgiving of them in a game like Generations because the game was designed around them, but Sonic Frontiers is absolutely NOT designed for these and they shouldn't be in the Open Zone areas. They break the immersion of playing a semi-open Sonic game, and completely shatter Chaos Island in particular for the over abundance of them.

Puzzles are also a waste, being incredibly easy and always taking 1-2 attempts at most. I genuinely don't know why there here other than "other open world games have side missions too", because they're extremely armature in design. The only "puzzle" that got on my nerves was the mandatory pinball mission, if only because it felt like RNG at times.

Combat's a tedious chore of button mashy stuff with guarding thrown in, none of the combos truly matter and you can just hold the parry button to mow down most, if not all non boss enemies. You're better off legit just skipping most combat segments unless they're mandatory to collect gears for portals or you just wanna level up. On the combat side, bosses are also shallow, flashy nonsense that aren't overly challenging either for the most part.

The only hard boss was 'The End', and that's because it's bullet hell bullshit that has nothing to do with anything the game has taught you or has you done outside of two story missions. The QTE was also just an extra middle finger, because if you mistime you inputs and fail, you have to redo the ENTIRE fight again. 

Fuck the final boss.

Collecting Kocos is a pain in the ass to do, more so because you need to collect a TON of them just to max out both Speed and Ring compacity. Collecting the defense and attack seeds aren't as painful, but it's still not entirely fun to compete puzzles and defeat enemies for them.

However, there is a way to overcome this.

Before I talk about Cyberspace, I wanna quickly address Big's Fishing and how it breaks this game in half. Throughout each island (outside of Rhea) you can find both purple coins and portals to fishing areas, the purple coins are used to fish and increase in price by multiples of two for each island.

Here's the broken part: You get green coins with each catch...and they multiply too.

Essentially, you can skip whole chunks of island and make exploration, combat, and Cyberspace completely pointless by just fishing (or cooking meat if you have the Monster Hunters DLC, that's arguably more broken because it's completely free to do anytime you want). Purple coins even respond so you can just recollect them everytime you go back to an island.

Once you find this out, the game part of the game becomes almost obsolete. Why fight if you can just buy the emerald keys. Why find Kocos when you can go to Big's possibly highly illegal black market? Same for finding seeds, or gears, of even fucking XP and rings. 

How was this not nerfed? Was it even tested? Jesus.

Now onto the absolute worst element of this entire game: Cyberspace.

I'm not gonna sugar coat it, these are some of the most insultingly bad Sonic levels I've ever played. I legit almost felt bad for being so hard on Forces, because at least the level designs in THAT game are all original.

That's right, a majority of the levels in Frontiers are literally, and I mean LITERALLY, taken from other games. Chunks of Generations and Unleashed, to even full levels from those games and fucking Sonic Adventure 2 of all games. They took levels from good games (and SA2) and actually made them worse because the physics in Cyberspace is fucked in the ass.

I hadn't mentioned this, but you can customize how Sonic controls in the Open Zone. It's probably the best aspect of the game, it's just a shame it does not apply to Cyberspace.

Sonic controls like a stiff magnetized truck, and it's hard to steer him even when your not boosting. This would be a problem by itself, but it's made worse that, like in the Open Zone, you can't boost through enemies they put in your fucking path. A staple in every boost game, just fucking absent in these levels for no reason.

It made sense in the Open Zone because it'll break combat if you could do that, but when your physics already differ between both styles, why the fuck wouldn't you make it so that I can blast through the enemies when I have to essentially speedrun the levels to get S ranks while keeping my rings.

I say that, though, but the levels aren't that difficult to S rank outside of 1-2, where it feels abnormally strict compared to other levels. However, they're made more difficult to get thanks to horrid controls and level design that feels weaker than the sources it was plagiarizing. 

Oh, but don't worry, there ARE original layouts sprinkled in as well, but unfortunately they suck as well, suffering from all sorts of things that make a boost level bad. Useless automation, too many fucking rails and homing attack chains, hallways and 2D segments, and pathetic red ring placements ala Forces, all topped off with music that gets on my nerves.

I'm sorry, but I don't think vocal themes fit in boost stages, I find them to be annoying especially on repeated playings of the same stage.

On that note, special middle finger towards the fact that the timer doesn't reset when you die, you might as well restart a stage if you die, which, depending on your skill level, can lead to repeating the same sections over and over again. This made 1-2 even more insufferable.

To top this shit sundae, there's only four level themes throughout the entire game. Seven if you wanna be generous and count Open Zone stuff. Three are reused from the classic trilogy, and two of the three are the most overplayed locations that I am SO sick of seeing.

Green Hill and Chemical Plant are not cool anymore. They're not fun to revisit anymore. Hell, they're not even nostalgic anymore. Stop bringing them back every chance you get, it's gotten old.

Those two, alongside Sky Sanctuary and a generic city, will be the backdrop of your entire Cyberspace adventure. It gets dull insanely fast.

"Oh, but Jake, they're just optional!"

I don't fucking care. 

If it's content that you can access through normal means and is fucking encouraged throughout the game to play through, then it'll get treated just like everything else. Optional or not, it's fucking dogshit and I'm not gonna pull back punches.

So, I hate the Cyberspace. I hate the combat and boss fights. I find the story to be lackluster.

Sorry folks, this game stinks.

I feel bitter, I'm not gonna lie. Five years of waiting for a new mainline game after Forces, and this is what they give us. A game that feels like it's trying to be like other open world games yet is too afraid to fully commit to it. A game that feels like it should've ended after the third island, a game that clings onto every bad aspect of Sonic games that's been around since Colors or longer.

A game that has wasted talent from voice actors like Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock to the incredibly talented Ian Flynn.

I have no hope for future Sonic games after this, full stop. Maybe they'll prove me wrong, maybe the next game will be better. I don't know, and I doubt I'll be there if it happens.

There's content updates coming for Frontiers. I'll play them, probably give my thoughts on them, but it's doubtful that I'll be buying any future Sonic game that isn't just a port, a remaster or a collection.

Frontiers is just barely a step up from Forces, but it also makes me more sad and bitter than Forces,

It's a 3/10. I don't know, I don't care.

Blah.

 

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15 hours ago, SticksSuperFan14 said:

If boost does get removed in the next game, what could the in-universe explanation be? Mine would be that Cyberspace gave Sonic long-term effects, preventing him from tapping into his boost and forcing him to go faster another way.

There's no in-universe justification for the boost to begin with...

Sonic runs faster "just because" in literally every piece of media besides SatAM anyway and as far as attacking with it goes...he's never gonna attack people with it in any animated setting. According to Unleashed's opening it was just a big punch.

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Lost World didn't have to waste time explaining why Sonic couldn't boost. If they nix it moving forward, no game will have to address that as an issue.

 

I do however, believe that they will not be able to split the franchise from the boost power fantasy cold turkey. There will be some mechanic built in to recover some amount of speed from a standstill. While I'm all for designing a system that rewards skill and unlockers higher speeds for earning it, you also need to be careful not to kneejerk in the other direction and make getting up to a decent speed a slog. The Hotbutton spindash barks up that tree. as does the super peel out to a lesser extent. Greater focus on the drop dash could do the trick too.

 

Sonic is the fastest thing alive. Boost or no boost, he's gotta feel like it.

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image.png.d3e32ab42a508f0a8c39603090eef924.png

So Infinite is still a thing. Would be cool if Ian retcon or rather goes more into depth why the guy was so obsess with power than just Shadow called him weak because I mean it seems implied Shadow idk killed his team? I mean they used "destroyed" the jackal squad, but you know that would actually make more sense for the mental break down if he actually cared about his team on some level or just heck being a mercenary by itself even can delve into what some of us thought he would have ended up being a tragic villain given his theme song (and as MugiMikey's video from Tails even speculates) but yeah only time will tell.

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6 minutes ago, SonicLegends said:

image.png.d3e32ab42a508f0a8c39603090eef924.png

So Infinite is still a thing. Would be cool if Ian retcon or rather goes more into depth why the guy was so obsess with power than just Shadow called him weak because I mean it seems implied Shadow idk killed his team? I mean they used "destroyed" the jackal squad, but you know that would actually make more sense for the mental break down if he actually cared about his team on some level or just heck being a mercenary by itself even can delve into what some of us thought he would have ended up being a tragic villain given his theme song (and as MugiMikey's video from Tails even speculates) but yeah only time will tell.

You know, I don't mind Infinite, and I think he still has lots of potential and room for improvement. If he is still around, it is good to know that that the Eggman Empire has not lost someone like Infinite; assuming he is still with the empire; but it is good to see they are building Sonic's rogue gallery, if slowly.

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13 minutes ago, Sega DogTagz said:

Lost World didn't have to waste time explaining why Sonic couldn't boost. If they nix it moving forward, no game will have to address that as an issue.

I do however, believe that they will not be able to split the franchise from the boost power fantasy cold turkey. There will be some mechanic built in to recover some amount of speed from a standstill. While I'm all for designing a system that rewards skill and unlockers higher speeds for earning it, you also need to be careful not to kneejerk in the other direction and make getting up to a decent speed a slog. The Hotbutton spindash barks up that tree. as does the super peel out to a lesser extent. Greater focus on the drop dash could do the trick too.

Sonic is the fastest thing alive. Boost or no boost, he's gotta feel like it.

Honestly, I think what they're aiming for, is moreso just not making the boost the center of the gameplay like it was in the boost era. It'll still be there, but it won't be the be-all, end-all that dictates practically 80% of the gameplay anymore.

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21 minutes ago, ShinyGems said:

You know, I don't mind Infinite, and I think he still has lots of potential and room for improvement. If he is still around, it is good to know that that the Eggman Empire has not lost someone like Infinite; assuming he is still with the empire; but it is good to see they are building Sonic's rogue gallery, if slowly.

Yeah, his design even before he joined Eggman seemed more fitting with the Sonic cast unlike wannabe Bowser knockoff with Zavok but to the IDW's credit his characterization to differentiate him from Eggman in that he actually values the qualities of living beings over machines and his reasoning in so actually improved my opinion of him. I think I even remember hearing his name was originally going to be Zero which again that implies to me this character was meant to be a tragic villain in that he had nothing (like how some characters are given their names to reference what they're about like Blaze is to fire powers, Espio is to espionage as with his being a ninja and so on) and granted he's called Infinite but did he don that name when he joined Eggman after he upgraded him is my question? The Forces prequel (comic included) just really dropped the ball as all we're given is vague hints like how the guy when he comes into contact with the Phantom Ruby both him and Eggman see what the guy envisions for with a destroyed world which just left me with more questions. Also I'm still off put by how he was just taken out of Forces at the end as it's never made clear was he just absorbed by the Phantom Ruby or did Eggman intentionally made him retreat back to recuperate to get him out of there? Never sat right with me.

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1 minute ago, SonicLegends said:

Yeah, his design even before he joined Eggman seemed more fitting with the Sonic cast unlike wannabe Bowser knockoff with Zavok but to the IDW's credit his characterization to differentiate him from Eggman in that he actually values the qualities of living beings over machines and his reasoning in so actually improved my opinion of him. I think I even remember hearing his name was originally going to be Zero which again that implies to me this character was meant to be a tragic villain in that he had nothing and granted he's called Infinite but did he don that name when he joined Eggman after he upgraded him is my question? The Forces prequel just really dropped the ball as all we're given is vague hints like how the guy when he comes into contact with the Phantom Ruby both him and Eggman see what the guy envisions for with a destroyed world which just left me with more questions. Also I'm still off put by how he was just taken out of Forces at the end as it's never made clear was he just absorbed by the Phantom Ruby or did Eggman intentionally made him retreat back to recuperate to get him out of there? Never sat right with me.

Yeah, I would like to know what happened to Infinite as well. That is the question, isn't it? Thing is, apparently from what I remember, the Phantom Ruby was destroyed at the end of Forces, so if Infinite was not absorbed into that thing, would he technically even be able to use the Phantom Ruby again?

Either way, I have a feeling it is a possibility his being absorbed into the Phantom Ruby may be a writing error from the Sonic Encyclopedia or wherever it came from.

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52 minutes ago, StaticMania said:

There's no in-universe justification for the boost to begin with...

Sonic runs faster "just because" in literally every piece of media besides SatAM anyway and as far as attacking with it goes...he's never gonna attack people with it in any animated setting. According to Unleashed's opening it was just a big punch.

I think they mean why he'll stop using it in gameplay, not the story.

In which case, there is no in-universe reason, it's just gameplay. Sonic's always able to go at supersonic speeds. He didn't learn how to boost between Sonic 06 and Sonic Rush, like he didn't forgot how to roll after Unleashed, or use the super-peel out in one game and the instashield in another.

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You don't need an "in universe"  reason for gameplay related things...especially if it's never really acknowledged outside of gameplay.

Otherwise you gotta question whether or not Sonic was ever really fast or does he just have really good balance when running down hills.

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Honestly if they cut the boost but still have a permanent 'hit button to go fast' button while grounded to make things less punishing, I think that'd be a fair enough compromise. Frontiers is already proof that they're willing to nerf it into the ground, so taking that a step further in favor of momentum-based gameplay when Kishimoto's already expressed a lot of interest in it seems plausible. In that context, the only thing I'd miss is a proper air dash since that genuinely does add some depth to Sonic gameplay.

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On 1/9/2023 at 4:50 PM, The Deleter said:

You're not far from the truth tbph. When I get the chance to go over the Japanese interviews again, I'll try and make a follow up post to cover it in detail, since there's an element to them that pretty much everyone didn't make a note of. They had also contradicted info that we thought we knew about the development of the game, so it's kinda egg in our face after going with the leaks as a 100% reliable narrative tbh

 

On 1/9/2023 at 6:26 PM, DaBigJ said:

No shot I'm not far from the truth. You're pulling my leg here.

Coming back to these now that I have the time to do so, wrt Cyberspace being the way it is and the idea that they're underdeveloped compared to the rest of the game

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

If you want an easy to read timeline of the game's development, I'm actually surprised at how well-rounded this launch-day interview on the Playstation Blog was, considering you usually have to hop between multiple interviews in order to get the full picture beforehand. Give it a read if you want a comprehensive overview of the development process tbh:

https://blog.ja.playstation.com/2022/11/07/20221107-sonicfrontiers/

 

But first off, the reason the leaks were "incorrect" was because people, including myself, assumed that the cyberspace stages were absent from the earlier builds of the game, as the leaks only mentioned the open world (accurately mind you) but emphasized that there were no levels.

In comparison:
 

Spoiler

Kishimoto, Iizuka, and Kawamura mention several times that the cyberspace stages were there from the very start of development, as one of the central conceits of the game's development, in fact.

Spoiler

https://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/interview/1440960.html

Quote

最初の頃はワールドマップを3D空間で自由に移動できるようにして、その中にステージを遊べるところがぽつんぽつんとある、フォトリアルな世界だったんです。そこから今の状態まで、5年かかりました。

Kishimoto:

"In the beginning, the world map was a photorealistic world where you could freely move around in a 3D space, and within that space, there were a few places where you could play stages. It took us five years to get from there to the current state."

 

https://news.denfaminicogamer.jp/interview/220917i

Quote

まずオープンゾーンの遊べるワールドマップという3D空間を自由に移動できるフィールドを作って、そこにステージを点在させ、自分のいる位置から移動して遊べるようにしました。

そしたら、かなり厳しい意見が返ってきまして……。

Kishimoto:

"First, we created an open-zone playable world map, a field where players can move freely in a 3D space, and scattered stages throughout it, allowing them to move and play from where they are.

Then I got some pretty harsh feedback..."

 

https://www.famitsu.com/news/202209/18276496.html

Quote

そうした日々の中で、オープンゾーン、我々は“遊べるワールドマップ”という呼びかたをしているのですが、これをいちばん最初に実装したときは、だだっ広いフィールドの中にリニアなステージが点在しているという状況になっていました。

Kishimoto:

"When we first implemented open zones, or "playable world maps" as we called them, we had a huge field with linear stages scattered throughout it.

We wanted to create a photorealistic landscape in the field so that players could enjoy the experience of moving from one stage to another, but the testers said that the space was so empty with nothing but grasslands that it was boring to move around."

 

https://www.4gamer.net/games/608/G060894/20221023002/

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オープンゾーンの島で自由に行動するという新しい体験を味わえる一方で,従来のリニアなアクションも遊べることは,当初のコンセプトから想定していたことです。マップ上に無数に存在する「ポータル」から電脳空間に移動して,それらのステージを連続して遊ぶだけでも,1本のゲームとして満足できるようにしようと考えていました。

Iizuka:

"From the initial conception, we envisioned a new experience in which players would be able to move freely on an open-zone island, while at the same time being able to play the traditional linear action.

We wanted to create a game that could be played as a single game by simply moving into the cyberspace through the countless "portals" that exist on the map and playing through these stages in succession."

We heard about this idea in one of Iizuka's english interviews before, but the central premise that Kishimoto keeps citing as inspiration for the game's design was taking the stage-by-stage design of action games and Sonic games, (comparing it to SMB3 in the English interviews, and a Sugoroku board in the JP interviews) and expanding that map into a playable space, so that players could move freely stage-to-stage, enjoying the movement and exploration of their next point of interest.

Spoiler

https://blog.ja.playstation.com/2022/11/07/20221107-sonicfrontiers/

Quote

ソニックチームが世界のリングに上がるには、AAAといわれるタイトルが当たり前のように使いこなしているオープンワールドという仕組みを、ステージクリア型のアクションにもってこなければならないと思っていたんです。そのため、オープンワールドらしい要素の採用は最初から決めていました。

では、オープンワールドをどうやってステージクリア型のアクションに組み込むのかを考えました。例えば、スゴロクのようなマスがあるワールドマップを採用したゲームでは、その上をプレイヤーであるコマが進んでいき、特定のマスに止まるとそのステージに挑むというような仕組みがありますよね? そのワールドマップ自体を3Dにしてオープンワールドにし、自由に走り回って遊べるようにして、そのなかでステージを自由に選ぶ、というものにしようと考えたんです。

Kishimoto:

"In order for Sonic Team to rise to the world's ring, I thought that we had to bring the open world mechanism that AAA titles use as a matter of course to stage clear action. For that reason, we decided from the beginning to use elements that seemed like an open world.

So, I thought about how to incorporate the open world into the stage-clearing action. For example, in a game that uses a world map with squares like Sugoroku, there is a mechanism in which the player's piece advances on it, and when it stops at a specific square, it challenges that stage, right? I thought about making the world map itself 3D, making it an open world, allowing players to freely run around and play, and to freely choose the stages within it."

 

https://dengekionline.com/articles/150019/

Quote

古典的なステージクリア型アクションゲームには、すごろくのようにステージを選んで、ボスに挑戦するようなワールドマップがあるじゃないですか。あのワールドマップを3D空間にして、自由に遊べるようにした中に、ステージを選べるようになったらどうだろう、それこそが新しいアクションゲームのフォーマットじゃない? という発想からスタートしているんです。

 なので、『ソニック』でオープンワールドのゲームを作ろうとしたわけではなくて、アクションゲームの進化として、「次世代のアクションゲームはこうなるよね」というのをまず『ソニック』で、アクションゲームの強豪たちに先んじてやるぞ、と決めたのが、『ソニックフロンティア』なんです。

Kishimoto:

"Classic stage-clearing action games have a world map where you can choose stages and challenge bosses like Sugoroku. What if you could turn that world map into a 3D space so that you could play freely, and now you could choose your stage? I started with this idea.

So, I didn't try to make an open world game with 'Sonic', but as an evolution of action games, I thought, 'This is what next-generation action games will be like.' Sonic Frontier is what I decided to do ahead of the rest."

This is reflected in their description of the dev timeline, which describes the feedback they received on parts of the game, and the changes they made to the game in response. Crucially, players enjoyed the cyberspace from the very start, but found the open zone to be boring and empty.

Spoiler

https://news.denfaminicogamer.jp/interview/220917i

Quote

「電脳空間」という従来のソニックらしいタイムアタックを楽しむようなステージは最初から評判がよかったんです。[...] ところがいざオープンゾーンに戻ると「ここでなにができるの?」となってしまうんです。プレイテストを経て現在の形になっているため、最初はほぼなにもありませんでした。

なので、「電脳空間はおもしろいけどオープンゾーンはつまらない」という意見が最初はすごく多かったです。

Iizuka:

"The stage called "Cyberspace", where you can enjoy the traditional Sonic-like time attack, was well received from the beginning. [...] However, when you return to the open zone, you wonder "What can I do here?" It was playtested into what it is today, so it was almost empty at first.

That's why, at first, there were a lot of people who said , "Cyberspace is fun, but Open Zone is boring .""

In describing the dev timeline, they also simultaneously describe each aspect of the game that they overhauled in chronological order in multiple interviews.

Spoiler

https://blog.ja.playstation.com/2022/11/07/20221107-sonicfrontiers/

Quote

まずオープンゾーンでの「移動がつまらない」ことに対しては、テストしていただいたユーザーからの意見をもとにアスレチック的な仕掛けをいっぱい用意しました。オープンゾーンのあらゆる方向、どこに行っても何かしらの遊びが用意されていて、それらにアクセスすることで何か楽しいことが起こるようにしたんです。目的地へ一直線に最短距離で行ってもいいけれど、寄り道をしたら寄り道したなりの面白いことが起こるようにしました。そうして再びテストを行ない、やっと「移動が楽しい」と言われるようになったんです。

しかし、移動が面白くなったら、今度は「バトルがつまらない」と言われました。

Kishimoto:

"First of all, in response to the "boring movement" in the open zone, we prepared a lot of athletic devices based on the opinions of the users who tested it. Every direction in the open zone, wherever you go, there is something to play, and when you access them, something fun happens. It's okay to go straight to the destination in the shortest distance, but if you take a detour, something interesting will happen. Then we did another test, and finally people began to say, "Movement is fun."

However, once the movement became interesting, I was told that "battles are boring"."

 

https://dengekionline.com/articles/150019/

Quote

バトルをやるなら、本格的なバトルをここいらで一発やってみようと、コンボ型のアクションアドベンチャーゲームのスタイルでバトルを組んでみたんです。その要素は世の中にあふれているので、容易にたどり着きました。いったん固まったのでまたプレイテストをかけるわけなんですけども、そこでの感想は「ソニックじゃない!」でした。

 「ただポコポコ殴っているだけで単調」、「飽きる」、「というかソニックじゃない」。いろいろ言われたことを踏まえて、ソニックらしいコンボアクションとはなんなのかと考え、また作り直して、今のバトルになりました。また生みの苦しみを味わいました。

Kishimoto:

"If we were going to do a battle, we decided to give a real battle a shot here or there, so we tried to put together a battle in the style of a combo type action-adventure game. The elements are all over the world, so it was easy to get there. Once it was solidified, we did another playtest, but the impression there was "It's not Sonic!"

"It's monotonous just by punching", "I'm bored", "I mean, it's not Sonic". I took into consideration the various comments I received, thought about what Sonic's typical combo action would be, and reworked the game to create the battles we have today. I went through the birth pains again."

 

https://www.famitsu.com/news/202209/18276496.html

Quote

岸本: 当初はHPが多く、たくさんのコンボ攻撃が必要な敵も存在していました。でも、そうした力押しが必要なアクションはソニックらしくないということで、敵ごとに多彩なアクションを駆使して攻略する方針に変えています。

飯塚: 我々が作っているのはファイティングゲームではなく、アクションゲームです。アクションゲームでは、ボスの行動を見極めてアクションを行っていく攻略の要素が魅力ですので、それを味わっていただけるように作っています。

Kishimoto:

"In the beginning, some enemies had a lot of HP and required many combo attacks. However, we decided that this kind of force-intensive action was out of character for Sonic, so we changed our strategy to attack each enemy using a variety of different actions."

Iizuka:

"What we are making is not a fighting game but an action game. In an action game, the element of strategy, where you have to identify the actions of the boss and take action, is appealing, and we are making the game so that you can enjoy that."

 

https://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/interview/1440960.html

Quote

でも次は、バトルがつまらないと言われている。じゃあバトルをソニックらしくしましょう! とし、今度は納得してもらえる。なのに、目的地への移動とバトルは面白いけど謎解きがつまらないと返ってくる。それらを、一つずつ切り崩して乗り越えていく作業という感じでしたね。

Kishimoto:

"But next, they say the battles are boring. Then let's make the battles more like Sonic's! And this time, they are convinced. But then they come back and say, "The battles and getting to the destination are fun, but the puzzle-solving is boring. It was a process of breaking down and overcoming these problems one by one."

https://www.4gamer.net/games/608/G060896/20220916177/

Quote

例えばフィールドにアスレチックアクションを入れてみると,そこは楽しんでもらえる代わりに,バトルが単調という意見が出てくる。それでバトルを面白くしてみたら,今度は謎解きがもう一歩物足りない。

Kishimoto:

"For example, when we tried to add athletic action to the field, people enjoyed it, but they said that the battles were monotonous. So I tried to make the battle more interesting, but this time the puzzle solving was one step more unsatisfactory."

 

https://blog.ja.playstation.com/2022/11/07/20221107-sonicfrontiers/

Quote

私も自分で企画書を書いておきながら、最初は「ソニックで謎解きってどうなんだろう……」という気持ちもありました。ソニックを愛する人たちが、果たして謎解きをやるためにこのゲームを買ってくれるのか? それを望んでいるのだろうか? ですが、つまらないという意見をもとに思い切りメスを入れたら、評判がとても伸びたんです。最初は”頭の体操”のような謎解きばかりだったんですが、ソニックのハイスピードアクションを駆使して挑む謎を増やす形にシフトしました。ソニックとしての謎解きとはどうあるべきか、オープンゾーンのおかげであらためて確認できたという感じです。

Kishimoto:

"Even though I wrote the proposal myself, at first I was also thinking, "What would it be like to solve a mystery with Sonic?" Will people who love Sonic really buy this game to solve mysteries? Would they want that? However, based on the opinion that it was boring, I took a sharp look at it, and the game's reputation grew a lot. At first, it was all about solving riddles like brain teasers, but we shifted to using Sonic's high-speed action to increase the number of riddles to challenge. Thanks to Open Zone, I was able to reaffirm what Sonic's puzzle-solving style should be."

Note that Cyberspace is not part of the described iterative process in any of the interviews. Instead, as listed before, Cyberspace was one of the elements of the game that was received positively from the start of the development.

Kishimoto does describe some negative feedback about cyberspace, however, occurring immediately after the puzzles were made more interesting,:

Spoiler

https://blog.ja.playstation.com/2022/11/07/20221107-sonicfrontiers/

Quote

しかし、移動が面白くなったら、今度は「バトルがつまらない」と言われました。そしてバトルにメスを入れて面白くなると、今度は「謎解きがつまらない」、謎解き要素を改善したら次はステージクリア型アクションの「ステージがつまらない」と言われました。最初の段階ではステージが一番評判よかったんですけどね(笑)。

Kishimoto:

"However, when the movement became more interesting, the next complaint was that the battles were boring. When we improved the puzzle-solving elements, the next complaint was that the stages of the stage-clearing action game were boring. In the beginning, the stages were the most popular (laughs)."

In response, Kawamura, the producer of the game Kishimoto himself wanted to collaborate with, was worried about the progress, as he wonders if the enjoyment is decreasing in relative terms in spite of players enjoying it at first, and whether the feedback process would end at that rate:

Spoiler

 

Quote

岸本:[...] 川村も、「これはいつ終わるんだろう?」と心配していたと思います。

川村:「この間までこれは評判よかったのになぜ?」という感じですね。評価が低かった要素の評判が上がると、それまで評価のよかった要素の評判が相対的に下がってしまうことがよくあったんです。

Kishimoto: 

"[...] I think Kawamura was also worried, 'When is this going to end?'"

Kawamura:

"It's like, "Why was this so popular until recently?" When the reputation of an element with a low reputation increased, it often happened that the reputation of an element with a good reputation up to that point decreased in relative terms."

There are no mentions of iteration of the Cyberspace stages in the interviews beyond this mention of feedback, despite Kishimoto talking at length of the many differences and changes he made in every other aspect of the criticism

 

TL;DR summary for everyone:

  • Cyberspace stages were explicitly a part of the game from the very start
  • Stage-to-stage gameplay was part of the central conceit of the open world format on top of this, as an explorable, playable stage select at first
  • Cyberspace stages were received well during the feedback process, while the empty open world, combat, and puzzles were not
  • Open world, combat, and puzzles were gradually improved to meet criticism from playtesters; cyberspace is deliberately noted as something that already was well received. It receives some criticism after every other aspect of the game is improved, however
  • Kawamura was worried towards the end of development how feedback was occurring, and negative towards the cyberspace and other aspects of the game only in response to improvements everywhere else
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I don't mind Infinite, he's not one of my favorites, but I still kinda liked him for what he was (especially the interpretation that he's "weak inside" and just a tryhard who couldn't get over being humiliated, hiding himself behind a big power that at the end of the day is nothing but a mere illusion - a quite original and interesting concept for a villain).

My only issue with him is his design... his antro form is ok, I'm not a big fan of eyes with different colors but still, he looks like a Sonic character more or less... what I don't like much is his mask and the way how the phantom ruby is just there on his chest, randomly, I don't know.

If they refine his design a bit, I wouldn't mind him coming back, especially if they make him independent from Eggman: it would be nice if he also starts wanting a revenge on Eggman too for using him as a living battery at the end of Forces, it would be interesting to have another villain who's unrelated to the main one and acts on his own (and the Zeti aren't interesting enough for that).

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