In Between Posts, September 16, 2012

A blast or a bust?

More Genesis escapades this weekend as the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics continue. This weekend my friend and I were reminded of just how great Sonic the Hedgehog is. The game looks and sounds fantastic, and the gameplay! It truly was something different and it’s no wonder it was such a success. Really great game. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the other hand… My memories of this game were… wrong.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 looks and sounds fantastic, but it doesn’t play like a Sonic game, at least from the first few acts. In my opinion, the Sonic games were so successful because of the stage design. The stages were conducive to running fast. And the scoring reflected this. Points from defeating enemies were minimal, whereas your time bonus at the end of an act could really bolster your score. Rings are also a big source of points, but even blazing through a stage, plenty are collected. Yes, Sonic isn’t about defeating every enemy and collecting every single ring, it’s about doing a little of both as you blast through a stage. That’s why Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s first few acts are disappointing.

Rather than having a stage that is relatively flat with enough loops and obstacles to keep the game from playing itself, the first set of acts in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, feature a heavier reliance on slow-paced platforming. Lots of upward and downward platforming that only serves to bog down the pace and highlight Sonic’s poor movement at slow speeds. Not only that, but there’s tons of water! Nobody likes water stages in video games, nobody! The first few stages are almost designed to force players downward into the these pools of water. To top it off, the next set of acts are proper water stages! Because that’s what players wanted when they purchased Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the opportunity to move at a glacial pace as though Sonic had stepped in molasses. But I digress. Perhaps there is more to the game’s stage design that I haven’t noticed yet. Perhaps with more time, I’d be enlightened and realize I simply needed more skill and forethought. Anyways, the first Sonic is still mind-blowing.

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