sonicphc's comments

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sonicphc

Card game recommendation: Android:Netrunner. It is literally a card game about hacking. And it is amazing.

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sonicphc

Hell yes, Netrunner!

In other news, I'm really happy to see this episode. Board games often have a depth that comes more from nuance than the complexity video games offer, both because tabletops can't automate everything and because the players need to be able to keep all the rules in their head while playing. Those constraints for the rule set lead to more creativity in design, and allow for discovery in the depth of the interactions.

Of course, my current favorite tabletop experiences, Android:Netrunner, Galaxy Trucker, and Mage Knight: The Board Game are all over-the-top complicated, so that invalidates my point a little bit, but the great Euro games like Dominion and Ticket to Ride really shine with respect to mechanical simplicity leading to strategic depth.

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sonicphc

@SoulScribe Well, the Mage Knight rulebook is certainly worthy of being feared. Two tomes in tiny print, one just to get you started? It's super daunting. Definitely one of my favorites, though, especially with the Lost Legion expansion.

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sonicphc

@mrmalkraz @Evanrocknuma This review had initially turned me off of the game - the video made the controls looked really, really bad. Surprisingly so, given the previews I had seen.

Then I did some youtube searching, and there are some really impressive speed runs already showing up of people nimbly bolting across the levels and doing some cool things with the "parkour" system. You can see there are some control hiccoughs in here, so there are definitely flaws, but the footage used in the GS video is unacceptably bad.

There's a section where the ground falls out from beneath you after you step on it, taken from the first level. GS shows this section something like 3 times in the video review, each time falling to their death due to what they say are poor controls. They don't point out that they're walking at the slow speed while the ground falls from beneath them when there's a run button.

It's one thing to have issues with the game and score it low. It's another to play the game wrong in your video review to try and reinforce your scoring choices.

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sonicphc

@Evanrocknuma Take some time to look around youtube - I was a little shocked at how bad the control seemed watching Gamespot's review, and thought something might be off. I noticed that, in sections where the floor was falling out from underneath them, the player was walking rather than pushing the "run" button.

User cobanermani456 has some really good videos of the game controlling and playing well. You can see there are some small control hiccoughs in there, but it makes the GS video review look pretty sad. The text of the review might have some points, but the gameplay they showed off looked like they weren't even trying.

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sonicphc

@Infinite_713 Not that the genesis games were totally immune to that problem - Wing Fortress Zone from Sonic 2 did the "one misstep and you die" thing all over the place, and that was the game's last level. The Sonic 4 games were pretty bad all around, though.

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sonicphc

@TehUndeadHorror Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, the two Sonic Rush games were all very good. It's a little mystifying why they decided they needed to rewrite the book on those mechanics when they were fun and played well. I get the impression a lot of reviewers feel the same way. If you haven't played since the Dreamcast, I highly recommend Generations or Colors, since you should be able to get at least one of those regardless of what platforms you own.

But, as @Yomigaeru pointed out, most of their profits come from pachinko/pachislot/arcade business from the Sammy half of Sega-Sammy. Also, I hear the Sonic brand sells quite well and carries a lot more pop-culture weight in the not-Americas of the world... not that I would know...

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sonicphc

@LavaEater5 Heh, have you gone back and played through the original adventure games lately? There's some entertainment in there, but it's not exactly a formula that aged well.

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sonicphc

@Rotondi I completely agree. This is the reason I think Sonic games review poorly - the control schemes are not exactly intuitive, feel very different from the Mario/Rayman type games most players are used to, and carry a high learning curve. The levels are designed around the nuances of that control scheme, and SEGA never really puts in a good control for giving the player mastery of those nuances, so people die a lot. There's usually a really great experience hiding in there (well, from Colors onward, anyhow), but there's a lot of investment required to get to that point and the level design doesn't help build you up to it.

(Okay, well, I don't completely agree - GTA V and The Last Of Us aren't memorable for challenge or mastery like Sonic games are, but they're memorable for other reasons.)

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sonicphc

I think the largest problem SEGA has designing games is the Mandatory High Difficulty Curve. This review and a lot of others complained about the later stages of the game being frustrating death traps. That sounds a whole lot like the Asteroid Coaster levels of Sonic Colors. I loved Sonic Colors, and still do, but my first time through those levels I wanted to throw my controller against the wall. Now that I know them and have the timing down, I love blasting through the entire game in one run in the challenge mode, and those frustrating quibbles are long forgotten.

It sounds like Lost World is going to be the same experience, based on the reviews. Like Colors, they went for a completely new control system and level design, and they decided to skimp heavily on the tutorial and just let the player figure it out. If someone were dedicated enough, I bet there's an amazing game here, with plenty of opportunities for speed running, finding optimal paths, etc - the kind of stuff I love to do in both Colors and Generations. Unfortunately, the 'challenge' material that kills you a lot is all required to beat the game, making it feel 100 times more frustrating because it's required, not a challenge the player chose to take on. The player feels punished for not having mastered the game yet, rather than challenged to go get better and master the controls.

This quote from Destructoid's review feels apt: "Sonic Lost World most certainly requires some acclimation on the part of the player. In fact, I despised it when I first started, and it wasn't until I got used to the subtle intricacies and replayed a few levels with a fresh perspective that I found myself having a ton of fun with it."

I suspect that will be similar to my experience with the game - though maybe a little lighter on the despise since, come on, look at my avatar and signature. I'm probably going to be more forgiving.

Maybe SEGA just needs to hire playtesters near the end of the development cycle that haven't already mastered (and helped develop) the nuances of their control schemes, so they have a fresh look on how a non-fan is going to experience it?

On a side note, it does look from their latest reviews like GS is trying to buck the trend of "7 is average" by giving generally lower scores across the board. It would be cool if 5 was labeled "average" rather than "mediocre" and 6 "okay" rather than "fair". That would strip the negative connotation and remove that somewhat poisonous industry trend of "anything less than 7 is a miserable failure".

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