At the beginning of this series, I called the gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog “Shallow”. And that… pretty much pissed off everyone that read these posts. To that, I say this.

Shallow gameplay is not bad gameplay.

First off, separate Gameplay from Fun Factor and think about that for a moment.













The fuck you lookin at?

Nothing? Ok, well, lets look at shit like Monster Hunter.

Now, the entirety of the internets would conclude that Monster Hunter’s gameplay is superb.  Where this comes from, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the “Capcom” bug. However, I’m sure the majority of the Western world would agree that Monster Hunter is just not fun. It’s a fucking chore to play. Yes, we can talk about the depth of the game’s combat system, the tactics and preparation needed to take down monsters is fucking deep. No doubt about it. But I figure most people would probably find God Eater to be a helluva lot more fun in comparison. It’s faster paced, has more unique monsters, and some damn good music to boot.

Not to mention de African main character! *cough* Sorry, the MULATTO main character.

God Eater’s Gameplay might be more shallow than Monster Hunter, but it’s fun factor is much higher. This goes for Tekken vs Virtua Fighter. Many will agree that VF is deeper and has better gameplay than Tekken. But more people cling to Tekken because it’s “more fun”.


What? I’m serious! You can take a poll to the streets and have so many people wanting Tekken over VF. It’s not even a discussion. Tekken’s learning curve isn’t as complex (or hyped up to be as complex) as VF, and it’s over-promoted to. Plus it’s flashy, and they have this hoe:

Anyway, it’s quite common to have people vote for the more fun games than those with the most “depth”. Fun Factor takes a large gapping priority over “Gameplay”. Like I said, no one really cares about gameplay as long as the game is fun. Oh, and there’s the appeal aspect as well. If there’s no appeal or fun factor, then forget it. You won’t have a large enough fanbase for the game.

So in many ways, shallow gameplay usually wins as long as it’s fun and appealing. Shallow gameplay is not demanding of the player beyond the minimum basic skills necessary to achieve a goal. This goes for a lot of POPULAR games (God of War, Tekken, should go for Zelda too), but for some fucked up reasoning, we’ve adopted this sick mentality that a game has to be overly demanding just to be high quality. Actually, the reasoning is for an exclusionary goal that many are aware of (TEH DREADED CAZUELS!)

Sonic? Same thing. Sonic’s gameplay has always been shallow. But it used to be fun and appealing. Sonic has no appeal anymore, so now there’s a bigger focus on gameplay. But what about Fun Factor?

That’s been stripped away as well.

The last million main series Sonic games have literally been on rails. Thanks to the unwarranted hyping of Sonic Rush (somehow being promoted as being the return to Sonic’s roots), damn near all Sonic games since then has taken the Rush approach in giving the players boost mechanics that turn the series into more generic roller coaster rides than ever before. There’s something wrong with a game when replaying it doesn’t feel exciting after the first time. You could say the same for a large majority of Nintendo games these past few generations, but Sonic does it in a strange way. None of the levels feel like a chore, nor is there “that one part” that makes one reluctant to replay the game over again. You know what I mean. The “Water Temples” of long ass games. Sonic games don’t usually have Water Temples, but the fun factor of the levels quickly diminish after the first time playing. It’s not a fault of the boost mechanics, but the levels are designed to accommodate the boost mechanic and nothing more (Well, maybe except Modern Crisis City, that one’s pretty decent).

Even the classic levels in Generations don’t carry that special sauce needed to reinvigorate that hunger you crave to go at the game again. There’s nothing special beyond the first time spectacle excitement you gained upon entering the level. Afterward, it’s just play this level and “watch him go”. There’s nothing beyond that, so as a result, no matter how many times Sonic fans claim that the games are getting better, that Sega’s actually improving, and that the future looks bright, this kind of gameplay is not going to be FUN after the first time.

The fun factor of the game should be go beyond first time spectacles. The levels need more depth.

Going back to Sonic’s “roots” meant going back to spectacle thrill fests, and the fanbase does not realize this. The era of Sonic games starting with Adventure 1 were attempts to increase depth of gameplay. They were all hit and miss, but they were games that were suitable for this era where everyone is demanding some emergent gameplay to behold. You demand Sonic roots, and you put Sega into a position where they can only strip away the depth of the games to create those spectacles. Sonic games are not selling on spectacles anymore, yet that is exactly what people are demanding. It’s counter productive. Might be a little karmic too.

Everything in this world needs a balance. Without equilibrium, shit just falls apart. Games need a balance in depth and fun factor, and unfortunately that’s only (or damn near) found in First Person Shooters primarily because of the multiplayer. There’s literally no other genre that does it better. Fighting games are a close second, but because the bar to entry is too high, most people would crowd the COD servers ready to curse out mother fuckers over the mic. Games that have equilibrium are more likely to succeed where others fail.

What is depth? Most people would assume (from SRK or other fighting game shitholes) that it is the complexity that comes with executing a move or defeating a particular boss/level, what may have you. This is not true.

Depth is merely the amount of options you have on hand to counter an obstacle, and the many secrets obtained via those options. Looking at Pokemon, just go through the fucking encyclopedic volumes of strategies you have on hand, and the games are still easy to get into. Mega Man series, again, you have many different options of tackling levels. 3D fighters (in general) give you more freedom to experiment different tactics to beat wholesale ass on your opponents (except Tekken where you get to live out your dreams as one of the Ringling brothers). Guilty Gear is probably the best example of “depth”. Lots of the retro throwbacks from the previous generation (sans DKCR and Rayman Origins to an extent) have more depth than previously expected in the amount of ways players can tackle levels (coop play the past generation just kicked ass in general because the players could interact with each other in a multitude of ways to get over obstacles, like NSMBW where one player can give another a boost to reach a ceiling pipe.) It doesn’t have to be complex. It has to have something that draws you back into the game over and over again. IE how much shit can you do in this game? How many secrets does it hold? “How deep does the rabbit hole go?”. The game essentially “evolves” the more you get into it and do.

What Sonic game actually has depth these days? You’d be hard-pressed to find one outside of maybe those racing games (Especially the first Riders). How deep were the classic Sonic games? Not very much, but they’re a helluva lot deeper than the most recent games now. Hell, 06 is probably the deepest Sonic game out there, quality be damned. Again, I point out Sonic CD. The time traveling aspect unlocks different versions of the levels. It adds replay value because you want to go through the game several times to see how the levels change through the different time periods.

Mother fucker, Sonic CD is the shit!

Sonic CD was the king of depth in this regard because you wanted to go back and see how the levels could be altered by your own actions. Shadow the Hedgehog can go the same way. Quite a  bunch of missions take you into alternate routes and different areas, giving levels more depth than once thought. It’s literally the first Sonic game that allows you to move beyond the goal ring. Sonic Adventure 2 had several secret areas in their levels, especially with the mystical song boxes. And don’t get me started on the Chao Gardens. Those elements had a fuck ton of depth (and you know it).

Sonic Colors? Well, you have red rings and little egg sim. levels. That’s about it. Sonic games are not trying to provide depth anymore, and the fan’s boredom is evident of that. Yet, for some reason, Sonic fans continue to demand the games to be like this?

The fears associated with another Shadow or another 06 have paralyzed the minds of the fans. They are literally terrified of having another disaster that they are willing to sacrifice anything else they perceive as a “threat” to Sonic’s good name. So it is of no wonder that the outcome of Sonic games are “well, that was fun!… now what?”

Infact, they’re so terrified that it’s gotten to the point that they demand the content to equate to this.

I thought I feared nothing Gye Nyame. I stand corrected!

Since when did Sonic fans turn into friggin Bronies? That’s for another post.