I think I might’ve rubbed a few folks wrong on Sonic Heroes in one of my earlier posts so let me clarify.

I do like the fact that you have the ability to switch between different characters at will. What I DON’T like is level design that removes the choice.

Whoever still reads this mess knows that I am against puzzles in most games. Sonic is definitely not a series made for puzzles. The ones in Heroes seem to “justify” the character switching element. By that, I mean you need to use specific characters to get around obstacles. Or, if you’re a leet mother fucker, glitch the game and bypass it. Not only that, but certain areas just cannot be accessed with certain characters, and seeing as many require you to be a certain character to get around the obstacle. It’s not a huge issue as once you’re done with said obstacle, you can go back to being whoever you choose (unless you like Rouge and you’re stuck hauling heavy ass Omega everywhere, it doesn’t feel natural), it’s just something that irks me. See, if I wanted to use Knuckles, I’d only really need him for combat purposes and not much else. He can’t grind very well, nor is he fast enough to outrun chase segments. I have to switch to Sonic if I want to get through a level faster. That’s because he’s classified as a specific character type. He’s more of an asset than he is a character. And the levels justify that by having obstacles that one or 2 of the characters cannot progress over. it’s ludicrous to me that Knuckles cannot jump over a wall or hump because power characters have low jump heights. And knuckles has no ability to climb or glide, he’s stuck doing parachute jumps that have no other function than to hover above fans.

It’s not a game about character choice so much as it is about the characters themselves being mere tools to progress through levels. That to me is pretty fucked up. It doesn’t feel natural or even fun in this regard.

To me, player choice should factor into customer satisfaction as it is the developer saying “here’s an obstacle, figure it out, hero!”. Instead of them saying “here’s an obstacle, there’s only one solution to progress”. It’s like how a teacher demands you solve a math problem one way when all of a sudden, you find an easier, more practical method to solve the problem, but for showing your own work, you get half credit because you didn’t demonstrate your understanding of the method you were being taught. That’s horse shit. You should be rewarding the players for their own sense of creativity and cunning to get passed obstacles, not demanding they perfect one certain method to get passed the obstacle. Especially since it’s not consistent with the character’s own natural abilities. Sonic’s speed is gimped in Lost Mind for the sake of “exploration and fetch quests”. Well shit, Knuckles’s abilities were gimped to show the real super power of team work!

Some might suggest that it is good that developers make you use all the characters so that you can become adept at each one available. In all honesty though, that should be your business and no one else’s. If it’s a story mode that shows a different POV of every character? Fine. So as long as the difficulty doesn’t stack up too high when there’s more variation going on than a consistent progression of similar levels or characters. Take MK9. It’s not ridiculous in any stance for story mode. You;re using roughly half the cast and you might not be familiar with any of them. This is a… good way to do it, even though some people would still be annoyed by the feature. DOA5’s story mode? The AI will fuck you up so badly, you’d need to go the UN to get a binding resolution to keep the titty monsters from destroying you. That is when player preference would come in handy, especially since much of DOA5’s story mode features Zack in almost every scene, it wouldn’t hurt to make him the main playable character (and dat’s mah boi).

Other than that? Fuck it, I want to use who I want to use. In most cases, the developer should not make you use any character/weapon/technique just to progress or be good at the game. Otherwise, the game becomes too predictable when you go to replay it. It’s quite possible this is why FPS’s have so many fans because there is more freedom in how you get to murder people…. in a safe environment. This shouldn’t be a bad thing in games. Letting the player determine his or her own destiny was the biggest reason games were a fun form of media up until the playstation. And forcing one to use all characters doesn’t help especially if there is one character that people would want to use. If I want to use Big for w/e reason (drunk or weed), don’t prevent me from being able to progress just because there’s a switch over a large wooden door that he should have enough power to break through wit his belly.

That said, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland does this decently enough…. as long as you’re player 2.

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