Jump to content

The "core" zones of Sonic


Recommended Posts

Lately, I think that people (both fans and not fans) started to accept the existence of Sonic's friends more than in the past... even the more obscure characters are now appreciated, including stuff like Sonicman and Elise. But the thing I want to focus more on is that outside of the "main" group who's being pushed by Sega the most (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Shadow, plus Eggman and often Metal Sonic too), there's the extended cast, who I think is slowly increasing its presence in the series and the appreciation by the fans and casuals.

The cast I'm talking about is mainly composed of the characters who appear in Sonic Heroes + Silver and Blaze (and maybe some additional ones like Jet, Zavok and Chao), the extended core cast.

But I don't want to talk about characters now... the characters are there just to make a comparison, a parallel.

Seems like Sega is applying a similar treatment to zones. There's a set of main zones, and an extended set of other zones, which are very iconic and often come back or are referenced in multiple games. Those zones are usually meaningful for some reason, be it story, connection with a character, os simply popularity and being extremely recognizable. Sonic Generations has helped to consolidate some of those zones as staples of the series.

The "core cast" of zones is Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary and Seaside hill, while the extended "cast" includes City Escape/Radical Highway, the Death Egg, Stardust Speedway (bad future), Planet Wisp, Angel Island (especially the altar) and Crisis City (as the representation of Silver's future); some Lost World zones are also featured in mobile games (Runners, Rumble) and seem to be on the way of joining the others soon.

So, what are in your opinion the zones that deserve to become staple of the series and part of the recurring world of Sonic? What do you think about the already recurring zones?


In my opinion, there is the idea of a casino/pinball level that always comes back, but Casino Night, which is the first one in the series, does not get enough recognition.

For a similar reason, Labyrinth Zone should also become more prominent and get a modern redesign (they kinda tried it with Sonic 4's Lost Labyrinth and its recreation in Lego Dimensions, but it seems it failed to stick around; the zone was featured in the movies though)... it's a pretty unique place that introduced the bubble mechanic which is iconic in the series; several other water stages were made and most of them took inspiration from Labyrinth.

Music Plant is often associated to Cream (Sonic Channel did it multiple times) and would make sense to have it around as a zone iconic to the character, other than being the most memorable zone of the Advance games and the one which could represent them all at once.

Blaze also has a main location she comes from, the Sol dimension and her kingdom, though very little is known about it and I think said location deserves more, maybe a recurring zone and an actual representation in a game of Blaze's kingdom (the comics and Sonic Channel did this to an extent, IDW also referenced Coral Cave as the place where the Jeweled Scepter is kept). So maybe an hypothetical "Sol Castle" or Coral Cave as a returning zone representative to the character of Blaze would be cool.

Shadow Generations and the third movie might put the Space Colony Ark under the spotlight once again, and it mitght make sense to let the zone join the group as well... it looks (and plays) pretty unique even compared to the Death Egg so why not.

Regarding the general idea of having returning zones in new games, I think it's ok to have them as long as they aren't the majority; it's especially ok when it comes to spin-offs, when the fanservice of old games might be one of the core points of the game itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before we start picking "core zones" I think we should step back and try to figure out what the concept could actually bring to the series. The reuse and abuse of GHZ, CPZ, and SSZ for nostalgia points is already one of the biggest complaints in recent years, and throwing a few more on top isn't going to solve the problem.

Personally, I'm not against there being some consistent recurring locations in the series. I had no problem with Prime's take, that a bunch of the characters live in the series' most iconic tropical paradise; the show's story practically demands that they choose something to symbolize "home", and there's really no better choice when the characters have usually been treated as homeless drifters. Even Forces made an attempt to work GHZ into the story as an emotional beat, showing it destroyed and decaying as a result of Eggman's actions, except we were already starting to get tired of seeing it and they failed to commit hard enough to make it land.

On the other hand, why does Sky Sanctuary keep showing up? These are crumbling ruins hidden in the clouds above the already mythical Angel Island, there's a specific context and narrative weight to them that should be respected. Frontiers could've gone all-in on connecting the ancients to the echidnas and saying cyberspace was mixing Sonic's memories with their records, but with the other cyberspace settings having nothing to do with it it's clear that wasn't the intent, it's just lazy referencing and asset reuse. Even the prologue animation doesn't really justify it when all that comes of it is "yeah the ancients made it I guess?" If you want to use a place like SSZ you should be writing a story where it's necessary to include SSZ.

So if we're talking about adding to some list of significant, recurring locations, and if we're willing to accept GHZ as the closest thing the heroes have to a home base, the most natural addition would be to give Eggman some kind of consistent home base. Chemical Plant, the Death Egg, the Veg-O-Fortress, pick whatever works best for what they'd want to use it for.

Of course if you're just talking about filling the stage roster in a spinoff game or something, go ahead and do whatever. More variety would be nice and the most common picks are getting a bit tired, but it doesn't really matter what you pick as long as people have fun with it.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@DiogenesI agree with what you said.

Lazy referencing and asset reuse can be a problem, but that's not always the case... Stardust Speedway for example has been referenced several times as part of Metal Sonic's lore. It wasn't because of asset reuse, because most games where it was referenced had new assets created specifically for that game (and in some cases it was referenced just by music, Death Egg MKII). Sonic Rumble does have Sky Sanctuary, but it looks nothing like the previous iterations, the assets are all new.

The main issue in trying to avoid references to past zones is that at this point it's pretty much impossible... the series has decades of games with a wide amount of already used concepts: creating a new zone that's completely original is simply not possible anymore. You can use some brainstorming practices, throw darts at postits on a wall with random words on them, but at the end of the day, even the craziest of the concepts will have something in common with an existing level. Even the most unique-looking zone we got recently, Press Garden, is a mix of several different already used ideas from past zones (European style buildings, oriental environment, snow and ice, very long angled platform like Chemical Plant's pipes or Hydrocity's slides, Marble's puzzly platforming, a few Launch Base elements, etc.).

So, while I definitely prefer if a new game has new zones, I don't mind getting old locations back if it helps to improve the world building and lore of the series. This does not necessarily mean asset reuse. An example is Angel Island in the Advance games. In the first game, Angel Island looks nothing like the Sonic 3 counterpart, it's made of completely new assets, has original musics and a new artstyle. Advance 2 has Sky Canyon that's not explicitly stated but it's implied to be part of Angel Island; that zone looks nothing like any Angel Island related zone from the past, besides maybe Adventure 1's Windy Valley and Adventure 2's Pumpkin Hill, which is not Angel Island related anyway. Advance 3 had Chaos Angel, which is probably supposed to be something half Hidden Palace and half Sky Sanctuary. It still looks original enough. Even Green Hill had its own unique twists in those games.

On the other hand, Sonic 2 has Emerald Hill, a new zone... though it's just Green Hill over again, and the same applies to some others as well, such as Bridge Island from Superstars. I don't see a point in making new zones if those look almost identical to the existing ones (Sonic 4 was heavily criticized for that).

11 hours ago, Diogenes said:

If you want to use a place like SSZ you should be writing a story where it's necessary to include SSZ.

To my knownledge, the only time it happend was in Sonic Runners Adventure, where it's said that there's a mysterious energy in the place and Eggman is there to use it for his plans.

So, back to the original question, what would the concept bring to the series: I think that if not overused and not lazy, it can bring some interesting world building and depth. Other series already do it: I know that comparing Sonic to Mario is annoying, but still, Mario has Peach's castle, the Mushroom Kingdom itself, Bowser's kingdom, a Star World that might change name every game, Rosalina's Comet Observatory, Isle Delfino, Donkey Kong's jungle, and a few other places that sooner or later will always return, redesigned or not. Instead of trying to hide this aspect of the series, I would prefer if the developers/authors embrace it and design the new content (games or whatever) while being aware of the existing world the Sonic universe already has.

Edited by Iko
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.