Sonic Mania

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  • #220860

    Ben Kirkham

    Blah blah blah DRM blah blah Denuvo blah blah. There’s definitely a point to be made there – you should be able to play offline.

    But I’ve not heard anyone talk about the game itself yet. I’ve been playing for a couple of days, and I’m really enjoying it. A smart and clever synthesis of the first four games, with a bit of Sonic CD, Sonic 3D and Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine thrown in for good measure. A bit like being 8 years old again!

    Opinions?

    #220861

    pad_ehh

    I love it. I have it on my Switch. As someone who adored the MegaDrive games, this is the Sonic 4 we should have got and not that pile of wank that was the mobile game.

    #220862

    Dave

    It’s fantastic. I’ve been playing it daily since release and I haven’t tired of it yet.

    While it trades quite a bit on nostalgia, there’s actually a huge amount of innovation here (with some cracking new gimmicks), but it’s all perfectly integrated with the old stuff and feels completely seamless. I already love some of the new levels as much as the old ones, and the music is cracking.

    Plus, the physics are perfect again. This feels like a Sonic game in a way that nothing really has since S&K.

    #220869

    KyoSo

    As a longtime fan from childhood, I’ve obviously been waiting quite a while for a new Sonic game that wasn’t one of those tedious “Hold A-to-Win” boosting-based Modern Sonic ones they’ve been making for the past decade. Of course, it took hiring talent from the fanbase to make that happen, because SEGA has long ago lost its heart and soul and is just struggling in vain to replicate past games without any kind of understanding or insight on what made them fun to play.

    Mania is well so designed it’s actually making me spot flaws in my beloved Sonic 3 & Knuckles that never occurred to me before; to name a more harmless example, how boring a level Angel Island is. I always considered Sonic 2 to have the unequivocally best level design of the Genesis trilogy (Sonic & Knuckles is literally Sonic 3 Part 2, not a fourth game), but Mania beats it out not only in what made it good but with a design complexity the Genesis could never have achieved on its meager double digit kBs of RAM.

    The bosses are wholly more clever than anything from the original Genesis games, with the vast majority requiring you to figure out the gimmick/work out a way to indirectly attack Eggman’s robot. You can’t just jump on him easy peasy 8 times the way you can in practically all the old bosses. They’re great, and an actual challenge at times.

    I could go on forever about what I love about Mania.

    Mania is the real Sonic Generations, and the Sonic game we all should’ve gotten on the Saturn in 1996. God help me, I love the new Sonic game, but before Mania was announced I never thought I’d say those words again.

    The best level design in Mania came from the original levels/new sections of old levels, so all SEGA have to do to top this is do what Christian “Taxman” Whitehead knew to do from the very beginning: just make a wholly new 2D Sonic game, all original levels and elements. You finally know for sure it’ll work, you don’t need to keep rehashing levels and other stuff from the past as a crutch any more.

    #220872

    Dave

    Yes. I hope Mania paves the way for a sequel that’s 100% original. Press Garden and Studiopolis are two of the most fun levels in the game, and Titanic Monarch is maybe the most challenging a traditional Sonic game has ever been (but satisfying with it).

    #220873

    Dave

    Oh, and the Special Stages are rock hard (especially number five) – it took me quite a few goes to crack them.

    What did anyone else think of the ‘good’ ending? Don’t want to spoil it if people haven’t got there yet but it’s an interesting one.

    #220875

    Darrell

    Careful what you wish for though – I remember how long and hard we all prayed for a new 2D Mario, and once they started the fuckers wouldn’t stop, to the point where I started to wish they’d never bothered.

    #220878

    Dave

    The new 2D Sonic is better than any Sonic game since the 2D era, though. I don’t think the same is true for the Mario games, which made the transition to 3D (and other game types) far more successfully than Sonic.

    #220893

    Ben Kirkham

    Dave Wallace, completely agree. This feels like it should have been after S&K. I love the original spin they’ve put on some of the classic levels. Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 is wonderfully quirky, and there’s a richness to the level design that makes me want to go back and explore even more. Exactly what I want from a Sonic game. Never felt warmly to the more modern games like Generations.

    I’m also surprised that it’s actually a good deal harder than I expected it to be. It’s a bit like a greatest hits in its game structure.

    #220896

    Dave

    Yeah, it’s very hard in places, especially some of the bosses like KyoSo says.

    Chemical Plant Zone act 2 is a great example of taking the basics of the original level and adding a huge amount of new stuff and imaginative level design to it (and not just the big new gimmicks like the bouncy gel and the purple lifts – I also love the smaller stuff like the switchbacks on the helix platforms that send you back in the opposite direction on the other path). It’s my son’s favourite level and he asks for it repeatedly.

    Also,exploring is well worth it, especially with Knuckles (for levels you’ve only played as Sonic or Tails). The Knuckles paths are often so different that they feel like different levels altogether.

    #220902

    Phil

    It’s super good, but the difficulty complaints are kind of surprising to me! I struggled my way through Sonic 1, 2, and 3 at various points in my life, but didn’t have any issues with this one until the final zone.

    And, to be honest, the final zone felt like a massive load of BS after the graceful level designs that preceded it, but maybe I’ll change my mind on a replay.

    Also, I know folks have (probably rightly) grumbled that so many zones were reused from previous games, but I honestly didn’t mind. I haven’t played the previous games enough times to remember layouts or anything, so it didn’t affect me at all. Outside of Green Hill and Chemical Plant, I barely remembered anything about the originals.

    I really enjoyed this one.

    #220907

    KyoSo

    I know those old layouts like the back of my hand, and I didn’t mind. The majority of the game is new content, and it’s good stuff.

    Tying this into Red Dwarf, I’m currently writing and producing a Sonic parody in which Tails is heavily influenced by Rimmer. He’s deeply resentful of being stuck in the sidekick position, power hungry, ignores his real talents in favor obsessing over what he doesn’t have, and hates that an airhead like Sonic is allowed to get all the praise while he (thinks he) does all the work.

    Or maybe _I_ am just kind of like Rimmer. That would probably explain why I like writing the character type so much.

    #220911

    Dave

    It’s super good, but the difficulty complaints are kind of surprising to me! I struggled my way through Sonic 1, 2, and 3 at various points in my life, but didn’t have any issues with this one until the final zone.

    I think part of this is the changed nature of gaming today, which is less reliant on fast reaction times and memorising level layouts than this type of gaming in the ’90s. I’ve seen quite a few complaints from young gamers of this generation that parts of Mania are incredibly unfair and almost impossible –

    #220912

    Dave

    It’s super good, but the difficulty complaints are kind of surprising to me! I struggled my way through Sonic 1, 2, and 3 at various points in my life, but didn’t have any issues with this one until the final zone.

    I think part of this is the changed nature of gaming today, which is less reliant on fast reaction times and memorising level layouts than this type of gaming was in the ’90s.

    I’ve seen quite a few complaints from young gamers of this generation that parts of Mania are incredibly unfair and almost impossible – like the Oil Ocean Act 2 boss, which is just a remix of a couple of classic bosses really – which I found amusing.

    The only bits of this game that I found genuinely challenging were the fifth Special Stage (never have I been more relieved to get a Chaos Emerald after so many tries) and parts of Titanic Monarch (but even then I got through it at a first attempt, once you work out the gimmicks).

    The final final boss you get with all the Emeralds is a bit tough at first, but not too bad once you work out a strategy.

    #220921

    KyoSo

    I somehow managed to beat the Oil Ocean Act 2 boss with no rings. It was a total million to one fluke and I wish I had it on video.

    #220922

    Phil

    “parts of Titanic Monarch (but even then I got through it at a first attempt, once you work out the gimmicks)”

    I’ve finished the game twice and I still don’t think I worked out the gimmick! I just seem to amble around in circles, especially toward the end of Act 2, and then finally a big portal opens and I can go to the boss. I honestly don’t know how to trigger the portal…it just eventually seems to happen.

    The Oil Ocean boss is weird, and I wondered if something was glitched. Every so often I’d just die for no reason, usually during or after the platforms were sinking into the oil. I’d just be hopping around down there and die, without anything (as far as I can tell) there to kill me. Maybe it’s a collision issue, or maybe something was hitting me from below, but there didn’t seem to be any indication of what was killing me. A little frustrating, but not bad.

    Doing a run through with Knuckles now, and man, it’s so much easier to find those huge rings that lead to the special stages. I have three chaos emeralds! Two more than I’d gotten on my previous runs!

    #220929

    Dave

    Yes, there is a bit of a glitch on the Oil Ocean Act 2 boss where you can die if you’re in the oil at a certain point. A shame as hiding in the oil is a good strategy in places.

    As for Titanic Monarch Act 2…

    ….spoilers, obviously…

    …the level is made up of four different sub-levels that you can access in any order from the hub with the four portals. Each sub-level requires you to make it all the way to the end, where there is a glowing orb that you can use to shoot you through a portal that takes you back to the hub and closes off the level you completed. But there are lots of portal traps along the way that will take you back to an earlier point in the sub-level and make you redo it until you get to the end. Then, once all four sub-levels are complete, a circular portal opens to take you to the boss.

    #220930

    Dave

    The word “portal”, there.

    #220945

    Phil

    Ahh, that makes sense. My first time through, I actually ran out the clock…which shocked me because I forgot it was possible to die that way. The second time I figured it was just some kind of big maze, so I sprinted around and eventually made it through. It didn’t occur to me that it was actually a series of four smaller mazes that each needed to be completed. Thank you. That helps a lot!

    #220946

    Dave

    No worries, it took me a while to get my head round it too.

    I ran very close to the time limit on my first run through too. Luckily the stage timer resets for the boss fight!

    #220977

    Tranter

    Why do they always go backwards?

    There’s a whole world of potential in a properly realised 3D Sonic game. Look at Mario 64, Nintendo got that right on the first go.

    Sonic just can’t seem to get the right developers.

    #220988

    Dave

    Sonic Adventure is arguably the best of the 3D Sonic games and it was the first proper 3D game in the series.

    #220993

    Phil

    “There’s a whole world of potential in a properly realised 3D Sonic game. Look at Mario 64, Nintendo got that right on the first go.”

    As Dave said above, though, that’s the major difference. Nintendo did just fine translating its franchises to the third dimension, Mario chief among them. Sonic has yet* to be translated successfully, even now, several generations after 3D levels have become the norm for game design.

    They “go backwards” (if I understand your meaning properly) because they’ve tried a dozen or so times to go forward and keep meeting with popular and critical failure. When they go backwards — as they did here, in Sonic 4, and partially in Generations — the critics and public make it very clear that that’s where they should spend their time.

    And in fairness to Sonic (which largely doesn’t deserve fairness, I admit), they’ve tried going forward more often than they’ve tried going back. It’s just that only one direction seems to work for them.


    * I’m by no means a Sonic completionist, so I’m speaking from the general sense of dismay that surrounds Sonic’s 3D outings. I haven’t played most of them, but the overall reception of those games is clearly pretty dire. Personally, though, I can say that I really liked Sonic Lost World, and I genuinely think it gets dismissed because people assume it’s as bad as most Sonic 3D games are.

    #220995

    Ridley

    I really need to get round to Lost Worlds.

    Sonic’s problem is that he’s ‘only’ a fast hedgehog. Mario’s whatever the game needs him to be. And a plumber.

    #220997

    Dave

    I think a big part of the problem is that high-speed gameplay and 3D often don’t easily mix – too many opportunities to go off-course in a way that doesn’t happen with more linear 2D games by their very nature – and Sonic’s appeal has always required an element of that in a way that Mario doesn’t. I don’t think a Sonic game has ever really made the high-speed sections totally satisfying in true 3D.

    That’s not to say that Sonic is just about speed, of course – I often see (especially recently with the release of Mania) Sonic’s original 2D games written off as on-rails speed games where you have to do little more than push right to succeed. Sonic has always been a mean platformer as well as a thrillingly fast speed ride, with lots more to it than running quickly. But the speed parts are important.

    #221021

    Phil

    Finished my Knuckles run. Additional thoughts:

    1) Got four Chaos Emeralds! But…frankly, I don’t know how I’ll ever get all eight without using Knuckles. I feel as though the giant rings I found were almost exclusively due to my ability to explore with him.

    2) I don’t think I’m a fan of how the blue sphere levels are implemented. You don’t need many rings to activate them at goal posts (25?) meaning I keep going into the blue sphere sequences frequently, breaking the actual flow of the levels. Every minute or so, I feel like I’m in a blue sphere level, and that’s just too much. Yes, I know I can choose not to visit them…but I do need those medals, so…why not? Either I’m breaking the flow too often, or I’m abandoning a chance to get a medal I need. Neither is ideal.

    3) The Oil Ocean boss stinks. Mainly it’s the glitchy deaths that get to me, but the main issue is just how long it remains invulnerable. The cycles between opportunities to hit it are way too long. You wait, then you avoid the spiky tail thing, then you wait, then you avoid three very slow lasers, then you wait, then the boss appears. It’s a lot of waiting. I know you are jumping around to avoid the other hazards, but they’re not difficult…they’re just time consuming. Considering you essentially need to avoid both turrets or whatever they are before you can even attack the boss directly, that’s a fight that’s far too long and dull for my tastes. Oh, and the game may glitch and kill you for no reason and you’ll have to do all that fighting and waiting again. B-)

    4) Speaking of glitches, this is the first time my game softlocked. I’d heard about it before, but it finally happened. No idea why. I was just playing a level, the music stopped (though I could keep playing) and then it finally just crashed and I had to reboot my console. Also, I went out of bounds and died at least twice, just by playing the game normally. I’ve heard you can get out of bounds easily with Knuckles, but I wasn’t even trying to. It just happens. I have faith Sega will patch this stuff, though.

    5) The game is truly awesome. I really love how every level integrates major speed segments. As Dave mentions above, Sonic’s always had a bit of a split personality when it comes to speed: it’s all about speed / no it isn’t. This game provides both experiences in what I think is a really natural and rewarding way. There are plenty of games I’ve played through three times, but very few of them I’ve played through three times so close to release.

    Next is a Tails run. I’m not even a huge Sonic fan, and I’m loving this game. It’s great. And that soundtrack is almost obnoxiously good.
    5)

    #221022

    Dave

    Got four Chaos Emeralds! But…frankly, I don’t know how I’ll ever get all eight without using Knuckles. I feel as though the giant rings I found were almost exclusively due to my ability to explore with him.

    You can actually go back and add emeralds to a completed save file by replaying a level and finding an special stage and completing it. So you can build up a completed save file with only a few emeralds (or none!) to a save file with all emeralds pretty easily, by replaying levels with easy-to-find giant rings.

    The great part is that the giant rings come back each time you go back into the save file on a completed save, and emeralds register to your save file as soon as the Special Stage is completed – you don’t even need to finish the Act. So if you (say) play through Green Hill, go to the first giant ring, and then come out of the game, you can keep reloading the level and doing the same thing until you’ve got them all.

    #221023

    Dave

    And that soundtrack is almost obnoxiously good.

    Favourite tracks? I love what they’ve done with Lava Reef Act 2. And Press Garden Act 2 is lovely.

    (Flying Battery Act 2 is also pretty cool.)

    #221026

    Ben Kirkham

    I’m incredibly frustrated that, at the age of 32, I am nowhere near as good at playing classic-style Sonic as I was at 7 and 8.

    My 8-year-old self is roundly attacking me using a spin dash.

    #221033

    Phil

    “Favourite tracks?”

    I don’t think there’s a stinker in the bunch! Again, slightly cheating because a number of the tracks are recycled, but the remixes we get for Zone 2 absolutely justify it.

    My favorites are probably Mirage Saloon and Metallic Madness. The latter is super funky and so much fun. Press Garden and Studiopolis aren’t far behind.

    I went into Mania not knowing which zones were included, so now that I’ve been through it a few times I can share my disappointment that we didn’t get a remix of Starlight Zone. :(

    Also, secondary disappointment that there were no casino-themed zones.

    “I’m incredibly frustrated that, at the age of 32, I am nowhere near as good at playing classic-style Sonic as I was at 7 and 8.”

    I had my version of this disappointment in 2008 when Mega Man 9 came out.

    #221034

    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    I love this game so so much. I agree with almost all of the reservations that people have mentioned (especially regarding the Oil Ocean boss and the way the Blue Spheres levels affect the flow), but for every negative, there’s about 40 positives. Unlike Sonic 4, which was a step in the right direction but ultimately just not very much fun, it feels like it was made in 1995 for the Mega Drive/Genesis, and that’s a very good thing. It transports me back to that time, and it’s a lovely feeling.

    #221035

    Dave

    I went into Mania not knowing which zones were included, so now that I’ve been through it a few times I can share my disappointment that we didn’t get a remix of Starlight Zone.

    I call thee brother.

    I did exactly the same thing and had exactly the same feeling when it didn’t show up. For some reason I was sure they would do it, too. Only having Green Hill from Sonic 1 was a bit of a disappointment – hopefully something they can remedy if they do a follow-up. I’d be happy with Marble and Labyrinth too.

    #221036

    Dave

    It transports me back to that time, and it’s a lovely feeling.

    I agree absolutely. And somehow – unlike some empty nostalgia exercises that actually highlight the flaws in old things that you enjoyed, and make you question your earlier experiences – this feels just as good as (if not better than) it was at the time.

    It was a smart choice to combine existing and fresh levels and to remix the existing stages in the way that Mania does. It’s the perfect combination of old and new: familiar enough to feel cosy and comfortable, but inventive enough that it can still surprise you and remind you how enjoyable the element of discovery was with those old games.

    #221037

    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    Yeah, you can’t beat that first moment of “ah, Green Hill Zone Act 1, I know this like the back of my… wait, what the fuck is this bit?”.

    #221038

    Dave

    Hah, yeah, that was fantastic.

    #221039

    Ben Kirkham

    Yes Dave, I’d love to see a remixed Scrap Brain Zone in a sequel.

    I’m desperately trying to find a way for Sonic Mania to fit into Red Dwarf so I can justify asking Cappsy or Ian to do a playthrough?

    Well, technically Sonic is a BLUE dwarf so…

    #221040

    Phil

    Spinball my nipple nuts

    #221042

    Dave

    “It’s cold outside, there’s no winning that Blue Sphere…”

    #221044

    Ridley

    Outrozone Act… … Uh, hang on…

    #221046

    Nick R

    @KyoSo:

    The best level design in Mania came from the original levels/new sections of old levels, so all SEGA have to do to top this is do what Christian “Taxman” Whitehead knew to do from the very beginning:

    Not just what Taxman alone knew! The game has a pretty long list of credits, but I don’t like to see Stealth (Headcannon) overlooked. He, like Taxman, got his start in fangames and ROM hacks. His Sonic: Project Mettrix fangame represented what is AFAIK the first fan recreation of the Sonic engine for DOS/Windows that was programmed in C rather than using an application like The Games Factory/Klik n Play, and he also worked on an impressive ROM hack called Sonic Megamix. He knows a lot about how Sonic game engines tick.

    (Fortunately Sonic Mania has much better level design than Mettrix or Megamix.)

    @dave Wallace:

    It was a smart choice to combine existing and fresh levels and to remix the existing stages in the way that Mania does. It’s the perfect combination of old and new: familiar enough to feel cosy and comfortable, but inventive enough that it can still surprise you and remind you how enjoyable the element of discovery was with those old games.

    Yes! There are so many moments throughout the game where one classic level incorporated elements of another in ways that seemed obvious in hindsight. Making the exterior of Flying Battery based on Wing Fortress; giving Oil Ocean aspects of Sandopolis.

    Those combinations were some of my favourite things about the game, alongside the imaginative boss fights.

    @Ben Kirkham:

    I’m desperately trying to find a way for Sonic Mania to fit into Red Dwarf

    Nigel Kitching worked on both the Smegazine and Sonic the Comic. Will that do for a connection?

    #221047

    Dave

    Yes! There are so many moments throughout the game where one classic level incorporated elements of another in ways that seemed obvious in hindsight. Making the exterior of Flying Battery based on Wing Fortress; giving Oil Ocean aspects of Sandopolis.

    Yes, exactly. On top of those, the addition of Hill Top elements to Lava Reef worked really well for me. And some of the redeployment of certain badniks (like the bats from Marble Zone cropping up in the caves of Green Hill) and gimmicks (like the Marble Garden pulleys and speed-dash wheels in Stardust Speedway) felt so natural that it took me a minute to remember that they weren’t originally like that.

    Even though only a handful of original levels were included by name in Mania, I think every single one was represented to some degree in this way.

    #221048

    SoundableObject

    With regards to special stages and bonus stages you can do them in a complete save file.

    A special ring is very early in Press Garden Act 1 which you can use over and over again. Just go down and left after the robots throwing a saw back and forth to find it.

    The bonus stages reset all of the starposts aside from the one you entered every time you use them so you can just go back and forth two of them. There is a place early in Green Hill Zone Act 2 in which you can easily access two of them with only a few seconds to get to each. One is on the low route and one on the high route and they are separated by three platforms to get up to the high route.

    #221049

    Pete Part Three

    Well, you lot have convinced me to buy this. Just as soon as I stop playing Breath of the Wild. At current estimates; that’ll be some time in the next 2 years. Probably.

    #221057

    Phil

    I’m looking forward to digging into Breath of the Wild, but I’m holding out until I get a Switch. Which probably won’t happen until they make a Mario Odyssey bundle, but I’m okay with that.

    I haven’t been a fan of any Zelda since The Wind Waker (with the glorious exception of A Link Between Worlds, which is another throwback game MAKING IT RELEVANT TO THIS THREAD), so I admit I’m a bit skittish. But everyone seems to be enjoying it so far.

    #221081

    Dave

    A great interview with Christian Whitehead on Sonic Mania:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/a-chat-with-fan-turned-creator-of-sonic-mania-w501581

    (I wonder which Zone he’s talking about when he refers to the one that a lot of fans typically dislike?)

    #221082

    Dave

    On second thoughts, it’s Oil Ocean Zone, isn’t it?

    #221083

    Ridley

    >Ristar Mania

    That would be neat.

    #221084

    Dave

    As long as he does it after Streets Of Mania.

    #221086

    Ben Kirkham

    Aaargh! My PS3 Controller doesn’t work when I hook it up to the PC (downloaded all the appropriate software)! I can’t keep using the keyboard, it just isn’t the same.

    Any help/ideas guys?

    #221114

    Dave
    #221115

    Dave
    #221147

    pad_ehh

    A few times on the Special Stage I have jumped for the ring bonus that’s over the pi and whilt I have hit it, the game acts like I’ve just fell down the pit and I get a lovely revolving aerial view of the stage until it kicks me out. It’s probably the only glitch I’ve come across so far. I do have a completed Sonic file with all the medals but only 4 emeralds and am now trying again with Knuckles but I do intend going back to the Sonic file and finding all the emeralds and seeing what Super Sonic is like.

    #221150

    KyoSo

    Sonic Mania needs to be Sonic’s Back to Earth.

    #221156

    Dave

    It’s far too good for that.

    #221168

    KyoSo

    I want a Sonic Series XII.

    #221178

    Dave

    I think Sonic 1 is very much the first series of Red Dwarf and Sonic CD the second. Sonic 2 acts as the III-IV era and Sonic & Knuckles is V, with Sonic Adventure playing the part of series VI.

    Not sure what would be VII but Sonic ’06 would have to be VIII.

    BtE would probably be Generations or something.

    #221203

    McAleeCh

    Love this game – just finished marathoning through it with all characters over the last weekend. Feels pretty spot-on compared to the Sonic games of old, and I like that the level layouts are more flowing similar to Sonic 2’s, but with the expanse and hidden secrets of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I’d been a little annoyed at the announcement we’d be getting reimaginings of existing Zones, but the team have snuck enough new stuff into them that a few of the Acts do feel more like a new Zone with an old coat of paint, so to speak.

    Presentation-wise, the Zones are all looking pretty slick – the reworked graphics for the returning stages look nice and slick with some very heavy updates to some (Stardust Speedway Act 2, I’m looking at you!), though the real stars of the show are the all-new Zones – let’s have a full game of these if there’s a sequel please, SEGA…! Music-wise, Tee Lopes has done wonders with the soundtrack, with some rather funky remixes for the returning stages and some nicely funky tunes for the new – even if a couple do lack a little of the ‘hummability’ of the older tunes, they’re still nicely memorable and have been bouncing around my head in work for the last week or two. I do wish they’d been able to add transition animations between all the Zones – looks like they ran out of time in that regard, as some have them and others don’t, and a few leftover graphics found within the game suggest a couple might have been abandoned in-progress. Hope they get the opportunity to add in the missing ones and patch them in during an update or something.

    Story-wise, the Hard Boiled Heavies are a pretty charming addition to the canon – love the idea of Eggrobos which have developed individual personalities due to the Phantom Ruby’s influence. Some of the story leaps are a little confusing in the later stages – mostly due to those few missing Zone transitions – but overall after reading the manual first I had a pretty good idea of what was going down as I played through the game.

    The new Special Stages are probably my favourite in the series – they have a simple easy-to-pick-up premise, a good difficulty curve and the increased control the player has compared to some of the previous Special Stages means that once you’ve practiced you can really experiment with trying to figure out the most efficient ways to run (and shortcut) through the stages on repeat play-throughs. On my first run (Sonic & Tails) I only managed two Emeralds before the end of the game; by run three (Tails alone) I was able to get all the Emeralds by the end of Flying Battery Act 1.

    Blue Spheres are as frustrating as ever, but at the same time it’s so satisfying to finally crack a stage you’ve been stuck on! Love the updated graphics, though I do think they break the pacing a little as a Bonus Stage – for any sequel, I’d prefer to see some Sonic 3 & Knuckles style bonus stages that are a little more quick-fire but can earn you rings/shields to take back to the level. I like the idea of using Blue Sphere to unlock extras, though, and I’m not sure how you’d work that in without being able to access the stages directly from within the main game.

    Speaking of which, still not really had a chance to delve into any of the unlockable extras yet – something to do next time I have some free time…!

    Overall a great game and a love letter to what made the classic Mega Drive Sonic games work so well. A couple of small presentational niggles, but overall a great continuation of the series and a worthy successor to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The only thing which stops it being pretty much perfect in my estimation is those few missing transitions, and reimagining past stages – something an all-original sequel could easily fix…! (Hint, hint, SEGA… because we know you all read the G&T forums, haha. ; P)

    #221204

    McAleeCh

    Agh, can’t edit that post for whatever reason. One other thing I meant to add – I do think the Flying Battery boss was a bit unintuitive on the first run-through – it’s not that clear when it’s solid and when it’s not, and it’s a bit jarring that the cockpit’s completely intangible rather than just bouncing you back or something. Solidifying the cockpit and armouring it up so it’s clear you can’t damage it, and darkening/moving the machine into the background slightly when it’s intangible would fix the issues I had with this. It’s fine on repeat playthroughs once you know what to do, but it breaks a lot of rules established throughout the rest of the series as to when you can/can’t damage things which can be a little confusing first time around!

    #221211

    Dave

    I do wish they’d been able to add transition animations between all the Zones – looks like they ran out of time in that regard, as some have them and others don’t, and a few leftover graphics found within the game suggest a couple might have been abandoned in-progress.

    I’ve seen suggestions that the zone order was rejigged a little bit, fairly late into the process, which would maybe account for this (as well as the slightly erratic difficulty curve).

    I’m not sure how much truth there is to that, though.

    #221222

    Phil

    Finished my Tails run. I saved it for last because I kept hearing that Tails was “easy mode,” and I wanted to play the game properly before I went easy on myself. But I’d actually disagree!

    I guess it depends on what someone means by “easy.” For instance, if they had most of their trouble with platforming, Tails would certainly help there. But I guess I didn’t because I struggled with him more than I did with Sonic or Knuckles, and died in places I never even took damage before. In fact, I died to the last boss for the first time ever!

    I did collect all but one Chaos Emerald. The last bonus stage is hard as heck, as if you build up too much speed before catching the UFO it’s super easy to just fly off the track. I’ll get it…but I need a break.

    Thank you for letting me know you can dip back into stages on your completed save file to farm for emeralds and medals. I honestly didn’t even think to try that!

    #221224

    Dave

    That’s the only way I’d get them all, I think. I didn’t think the final Special Stage was that bad, but number five was an absolute bastard.

    I’m very close to the end of my Knuckles run (and I have four emeralds so far on that save) – like you, I’ve saved Tails for last.

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