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Old 02-15-2020   #21
Ace Dragon
 
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Based on my reading of hundreds of comment sections regarding feedback for a game, it's pretty much impossible to please everyone. There will always be that group that likes level A better and others who say level B is better. If the SRB2 team decided to try to please everyone, the levels would be reworked again and again with no end in sight.

In this case, the vast majority appear to see version 2.2 and many of its levels as a major improvement, that should be enough to indicate the game is going in the right direction. Zone Builder is there for people to rework existing levels to how they think they should look and play (though I'm not what this forum's policy on releasing alt versions are).

Last edited by Ace Dragon; 02-15-2020 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 03-24-2020   #22
RascalRosy
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Here I go, bumping a month-old topic because I have *opinions*. I think I should preface this by saying that all of these will be colored by the fact that Amy is easily my favorite character, and thus approached from her playstyle.

EDIT: Wanted to clarify that I specifically mainly play with DerpyBubblez's Legacy Rosy, which mainly comes into play for Black Core 1 thanks to the Hammer Vault.

Spoiler:
GFZ Act 1 - 8/10

Greenflower 1 isn't perfect, but it's a strong start. Unlike some other comments I've read, I'm a big fan of fodder enemies like Crawlas in SRB2 specifically, because they're just so fun to bounce off of. The appearance is lovely, lots of greenery and yet still feeling fresh for your typical first zone. I'm particularly a fan of the cute little houses, there's something quaint about the random single homes. The path can get a touch winding for a first level, though.

GFZ Act 2 - 8/10

Another "great but not amazing" level. The extra verticality hurts the appearance a bit with how much brown you get, but it makes up for that in what it adds to the gameplay. In a perfect world, we could have both. Very fun to explore, but also nice to just blaze right through as quickly as you can. Also has my second favorite track in the game! That major -> minor -> major progression gets me every time.

GFZ Act 3 - 8/10

It's fine, and that's about what I expect from a first boss. He shoots a laser, you jump at him, he blows up. I think it's a particularly well-designed first boss, though, and despite how easy he is I have died to him a few times just trying to get extra hits in.

THZ Act 1 - 5/10

I've seen a lot of love for Techno Hill, but I just can't relate; it's easily my least favorite zone overall. The music is thumping, but the more muted palette feels like it's too serious too soon, and the paths here are some of the easiest to get turned around by in the entire game. On the bright side, those slow-moving mosquito robots are fun to lure around to make big jumps, and not only is the purple goop a fun mechanic, but this zone overall introduces it perfectly.

THZ Act 2 - 6/10

Not a favorite, but better than the first act. Suffers the same issue of feeling drab for just the second zone, but all the machinery here does give it a more fun, frantic energy. My biggest gripe is the section where you have to jump down and hit a button to raise the goop level. I only knew how to do this from playing previous versions, and I remember the frustration trying to figure out originally. I'm really not sure why that little bit of frustration wasn't removed. Otherwise the gameplay here is pretty fun!

THZ Act 3 - 5/10

Still feels like a first boss, except significantly more boring. I have not once died to this fight, and I don't think I ever will. The good things I can say for it are that the arena is cool, and it's fun to bat Eggman back and forth in the first phase.

DSZ Act 1 - 6/10

I love the aesthetics of this zone - it feels so chill and gives exactly the sprawling, ancient feel that makes me wanna dig into every alternate path I can find. But my main issue here... Deep Sea 1 feels like it's at odds with itself. In appearance and structure, it's deeply inviting for exploration. But then at least half the time that exploration is in underwater sections which are clunky to control and on an air timer, so you just want to get out onto dry land as soon as possible. It both wants you to explore and actively punishes dawdling.

DSZ Act 2 - 7/10

The main improvement over Deep Sea 1 is that most exploratory sections here have little worry of drowning, while most underwater sections are at least mostly linear, playing to their strengths with big underwater leaps and managing your air. I'm also a huge fan of the outdoor sections and that beautiful blue nighttime skybox, as well as the ending tower climb.

DSZ Act 3 - 5/10

The fight is very simple. The clone thing might fool a new player a couple of times, but after that any extra challenge it added is pretty much moot. The older version wasn't perfect, and while I was initially happy to see it replaced, I'm not sure that this is actually any better, and may even be worse. I do think the idea has potential though.

CEZ Act 1 - 7/10

There are some great ideas here, they just need a little more refinement. The new swings are fun, the scale feels fittingly grand, and it's satisfying to traverse. However, something about it feels less fluid than the old version, though I'm glad the chain swings were replaced. I feel like there are a lot more places to get stuck or have your momentum stopped. Also, The Bridge™. I love the idea, but at the moment it's just too cluttered with enemies and spikes, plus those springs feel so bad to hit. A big cinematic piece like that shouldn't actually be terribly hard in my opinion, if difficult at all - it loses its impact when you have to play it several times.

CEZ Act 2 - 7/10

An enjoyable act overall, but it starts to suffer from the dreary palette by this point, I think partly because the castle interior is also dark. Little to say aside from that, its strengths are mainly the same as Castle Eggman 1.

CEZ Act 3 - 7/10

THANK GOODNESS. This was my least favorite boss previously, now I can actually enjoy it. Difficult without being too much of a spike, though the second phase is actually easier than the first. My favorite change: no more fixed-speed chain swing for the second phase. In the original fight, that made it so that custom characters with a slower acceleration or top speed and no extra jumps/climbs just couldn't get on top of the stands. I know custom characters don't get official story mode support, but part of what makes SRB2 so fun and replayable is that very thing, and I love taking custom characters I feel are balanced through the main story. Ensuring that a wide variety of characters can complete every level goes a long way to enjoyment for me.

ACZ Act 1 - 8/10

This stage has one of the best senses of speed I can get in SRB2, despite challenging paths, which is a great balance, and the bright oranges and blues are refreshing after the dark green and gray of Castle Eggman. I'm not typically big on western/canyon style levels, but this one really comes through both in looks and gameplay. The only major issue I take is the rope section right before the end. Only through reading the forums did I ever realize that I could just drop down using the spin button, and even playing through it now it still feels like one of the most punishing parts of the game between the huge bottomless pit and the aerial enemy diving around trying to knock me into said pit.

ACZ Act 2 - 7/10

This act, unlike a lot of previous second acts, feels like a step back from the first. It's still plenty of fun, but in a game where one of the biggest draws is having so many paths to take, the linearity of the minecart sections is a little disappointing. However, when it isn't on rails, this stage plays to the same strengths that the Arid Canyon 1 does and is a lot of fun for it.

ACZ Act 3 - 9/10

I love character bosses, they have a lot of, well, character that standard bosses tend to lack, and with all of Fang's animations he's got it in spades. On top of that, the fight itself is very fun, and I love chasing him around the arena, trying to get extra hits in as he's bouncing around. My only issue with it is his second phase, where the bombs can very easily toss you straight out of the arena. Yes, it might just mean you need to play more safe, but it does feel pretty bad to have him dropping almost guaranteed instakills with every leap, and discourages trying to go for extra hits in that phase.

RVZ Act 1 - 8/10

I really want to give this stage an even higher rating. It's bright and colorful, has varied challenges and terrian, and overall is really fun to play. Plus, the rolling ball gimmick is surprisingly fun when it pops up, it almost feels like a better version of those rolling levels from Super Mario Galaxy. But there is one major source of frustration here, those ridiculous Pterodactyl enemies. They immediately stop any speed you've built up as you try to find just the right way to get past them without being grabbed and dropped into lava with no sense of counterplay. I feel like if I try to destroy them I just get caught, if I try to run past them I get caught, and if I try to escape once I'm caught they drop me just the same. Beyond that, there are some other frustrations, but I think they're reasonable for a penultimate level.

ERZ Act 1 - 7/10

I feel as though I like this stage a fair bit more than some others, even if it is a bit of a gimmick gauntlet. Most of those gimmicks do feel fun and fair, though I would say that some of the outdoor sections aren't so enjoyable, with the most glaring being the first one where the concept is introduced. The 2D outdoor sections are actually pretty fun, and more suited to quick five-second bursts of platforming than the 3D ones. Plus, it does have my favorite track in the game, the piano solo in Egg Rock 1 is killer.

ERZ Act 2 - 6/10

Egg Rock 2 definitely feels at least as dated at 1, if not more so. The gimmick gauntlet feel is in full swing here, but it's still fun to play nonetheless. It certainly does feel like a final level, and the difficulty feels significant without ever getting too unfair. The removals from the previous version help the pacing, but I can't help loving silly gimmicks and setpieces, so I am somewhat hoping for a potential return, especially of the mini section.

BCZ Act 1 - 8/10

So, this section is I think where my Amy bias shines through the most. This race is practically built for her in my opinion, because she has Sonic's lack of a flight ability but a powerful enough hammer jump to make a lot of fun shortcuts, which gives it a perfect amount of difficulty. It may have taken me two dozen tries or so, but they were a fun two dozen… except for the lava section. That particular bit was pretty frustrating and a major bottleneck, but otherwise I love this act.

BCZ Act 2 - 8/10

I liked this slightly less than Black Core 1, but I don't think quite enough to score it any lower. The fight is really fun overall, I love the way he telegraphs his attacks without them being too easy to avoid. Plus, the pinch mode is my favorite just barely ahead of Fang's, I love how frantic it gets. My only real issues are 1) The barriers around the edge of the ring, which feel inconsistent - Metal pings off of them like they're solid, but your character goes right through them, which feels off whenever it happens. And 2) The way he follows you between attacks, which makes him feel like an annoying gnat instead of a threat if he starts too close to you. I also really liked a suggestion that I saw for giving Metal a grounded attack, which I feel would help mix things up just the right amount.

BCZ Act 3 - 6/10

It's a decent boss fight, but it doesn't entirely feel like final boss material. When he flew off the side of the arena, I totally expected the "real" final boss to appear, especially on my all emeralds run. I liked the suggestion that I saw about removing the need to make him vulnerable and just giving him a lot of health, as well as an initial armored form that breaks off partway through. This isn't to say it's all bad, though - the arena itself has great atmosphere and it is a fun fight, just not one that feels as grand or exciting as I would expect.

Last edited by RascalRosy; 03-24-2020 at 04:22 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 04-01-2020   #23
Moose the Fat Cat
 
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Top 5 Favorite Levels in SRB2 campaign

Spoiler:

1) Castle Eggman Zone Act 1
2) Arid Canyon Zone Act 2
3) Castle Eggman Zone Act 3
4) Red Volcano Zone Act 1
5) Castle Eggman Zone Act 2

Those middle levels are (chef's kiss) perfect.


Top 10 Favorite Levels

Spoiler:

6. Techno Hill Zone Act 2
7. Greenflower Zone Act 2
8. Techno Hill Zone Act 1
9. Greenflower Zone Act 1
10. Deep Sea Zone Act 2



Top 20 Favorite Levels
Spoiler:

11. Deep Sea Zone Act 3
12. Arid Canyon Zone Act 1
The bottomless pit rope section isn't fun and drags down a level that is otherwise top 10.

13. Arid Canyon Zone Act 3
14. Deep Sea Zone Act 1
15. Greenflower Zone Act 3
16. Black Core Act 1
I mostly love this boss battle, but the lava room is too unforgiving and requires memorizing the level layout which is annoying.
17. Black Core Act 3
18. Egg Rock Zone Act 2
19. Egg Rock Zone Act 1
Both ERZ have too many bottomless pit + new gravity rule rooms and it's annoying until you memorize it through trial and death.
20. Black Core Act 2
I don't think Sonic is as suicidal as he appears to be in this fight with the Thok only.



Top 5 Specific Suggestions

1) Techno Hill Act 1
Spoiler:

The color saturation is ugly in the exterior sections / the beginning. The walls are a weird color tone and just feels wrong for the series. Chemical Plant is very vibrant with primary colors mixed with a lot of dark tones, but THZ1 feels more like a bad future Sonic CD level but it doesn't really hit that vibe either. It's hard to articulate but it just visually strikes a bad note immediately, even though the level is very fun.

Inside the factory feels totally right, and the purple goo is my favorite mechanic, I think. The city skyline is wonderful -- we should see more of it somehow, maybe earlier as you approach the factory.


2) Black Core Act 3
Spoiler:

Since the character is modeled after the OVA including the machine gun fire, why not also incorporate some of his other abilities from the OVA?

Shooting glue/goo could be a repeat of the blue or purple goo from Techno Hill, or both? The glue is yellow in the ova and could be added as a fourth substance -- but that seems like it'd be a lot of juggling goo colors maybe? But it could work if it comes later in the fight. The mixture of his machine gun fire / bombs + goo it's like he's fighting you with napalm!

He should definitely have a transformation of some kind before a final form. Idk if he needs to add flying with bat wings, but it's there for a big boss squeeze -- it kinda seems like that's what's going to happen when he flies off, you almost expect him to come back with a final form, but he just leaves.


3) Black Core Act 2

Spoiler:
Sonic needs a homing assist option, in addition to overall Z-targeting the camera. Ironically the best way to beat him is the same as THZ3 which is just standing still, which is silly. This level is most fun as Modern mod to just kick Metal's ass. Give Metal a homing attack, too, or a Thok, or a spindash before the final missile form... he should fight more like Sonic. It should feel scrappier... give Metal spin attack and claw/swipe in addition to his hover. Then he starts adding in the blasts, then the kamikaze missile.


4. Greenflower Zone Act 1

Spoiler:
There needs to be a Butterfly robot for the player to practice jump attacking.


5. Castle Eggman Zone Act 1

Spoiler:
CEZ should come before Labyrinth (edit: I meant Deep Sea) Zone, because it's such a knockout level and I feel like it's smart to put your big new idea zone in the third spot, like Studiopolis in Sonic Mania comes after Green Hill / Chemical Plant.

It also teaches/tests platforming and jumping in a way that sets the player up better for Deep Sea Zone more than the inverse is true. Nobody really loves water levels in Sonic games but everyone can agree CEZ is fantastic.

Also it makes more narrative sense that Eggman's castle would follow his factory, and then the player would find themselves sent underground to a labyrinth/dungeon/temple, emerging into Arid Canyon. Going from Factory to Labyrinth to Castle to Canyon just doesn't really follow logically as much as Factory to Castle to Labyrinth to Canyon.

Last edited by Moose the Fat Cat; 04-02-2020 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 04-01-2020   #24
Unknownlight
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moose the Fat Cat View Post
CEZ should come before Labyrinth Zone, because it's such a knockout level and I feel like it's smart to put your big new idea zone in the third spot, like Studiopolis in Sonic Mania comes after Green Hill / Chemical Plant.

It also teaches/tests platforming and jumping in a way that sets the player up better for Labyrinth Zone more than the inverse is true. Nobody really loves water levels in Sonic games but everyone can agree CEZ is fantastic.

Also it makes more narrative sense that Eggman's castle would follow his factory, and then the player would find themselves sent underground to a labyrinth/dungeon/temple, emerging into Arid Canyon. Going from Factory to Labyrinth to Castle to Canyon just doesn't really follow logically as much as Factory to Castle to Labyrinth to Canyon.
You know what? I like this idea. It's not going to happen, but I support it.

I like that it would give a very nice three-act structure to the game. Every three zones is a little mini-adventure. It would feel a lot better, especially for new players, than just zone after zone of unrelated levels where you don't necessarily feel progression.

It also ties in nicely with my idea that Amy should be unlocked by beating Castle Eggman. Say that she's hanging overhead in a cage during the Castle Eggman boss fight, and the reason Sonic and co. stormed the castle in the first place was to rescue her.

Act 1: Rescue Amy.
  • Greenflower
  • Techno Hill
  • Castle Eggman
The theme of the levels is starting in nature and progressing further and further into Eggman's territory.

Act 2: Get something / destroy something at the heart of a volcano
  • Deep Sea
  • Arid Canyon
  • Red Volcano
Again, we get to end on a climatic "final level", in this case the classic lava level. I haven't thought of what the story goal would be, but the idea is similar to Lord of the Rings-ish "get to the volcano to do something".

The theming of this set of levels is the elements. You've got your water, ground, and fire levels.

Act 3: Defeat Eggman
  • Dark City
  • Grand Eggship
  • Egg Rock
The theme of this is "ascension". Start in a city, move to the sky, then move into space.

Additionally, I think SRB2 shouldn't have such a linear difficulty curve. Right now, every level is more difficult than the last one. There are no moments of "de-stress" whatsoever. It's just constant ramping up. From watching new people play on YouTube, a lot of people seem exhausted later in their playthroughs.

A more staggered difficulty curve might be beneficial. The first zone of each "act" should be a bit less difficult than the level immediately prior. So Deep Sea would be a bit easier than Castle Eggman, and Dark City would be a bit easier than Red Volcano. It gives players a chance to take a breath after a difficult challenge.

I've been kind of making this post up as I go along. I'm not sure if any of this is actually a good idea.
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Old 04-02-2020   #25
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So I was gonna post my thoughts on each level with a general overview of each zone and what I enjoyed/disliked about them. However, I feel like I would have to take a bit more time to fully go over these thoughts since a lot of effort was put into these levels and I am not even sure which level is my favorite yet. I can at the very least go over one level, and it's the one that I find to be the absolute worst level in the game.


Azure Temple Zone is just awful as a challenge level when compared to the others, and has a bunch of design takes that either bring out nasty game flaws or seem way too dickish. Before I break down these issues, there are some positives here.

This place has some nice textures (too bad some of them are a bit hard to tell their coloration because of the color mapping). Despite being very square in design all through it, this feels like a prison-esque water temple you would find probably in a Zelda game of some sort. It also uses a remix of Deep Sea Zone's theme which is rather calming. This acts as a neat little opposition to the full stage itself, which is anything BUT calm. There's also some neat gimmicks in some places too, like leaps of faith riding currents that push you up, moving gargoyles to avoid being shot or to light up crystals, and the whole stage being underwater. Srb2 tends to be more methodical in it's platforming sections, so it being a slow paced level in a Sonic game doesn't bother me at all.

What does bother me is everything else.

The level is mostly tight hallways with sharp 90 or even 180 degree turns. The camera gets stuck on these turns a lot. In situations where it's just a plain tunnel to another room, it doesn't matter. In cases where it leads you straight into a room where you have to react quickly to the fish badniks or shooting flames is when it becomes an issue. I cannot exactly prepare for the challenge up ahead if my view is obstructed, and in cases like Tails' emblem, they really push the camera to the very limit of how fast it can try to remove itself from walls.

These fish badniks aren't too bad to deal with if you are on safe ground or can just swim around them, but most of the other times they can be tricky or annoying. Firstly, you are underwater so knockback stun lasts twice as long. Secondly, if you kill them they drop an air bubble. Sounds good if you need a refill, but terrible if you kill them over a pit since 7 out of 10 times you'll fall into the bubble and be locked into falling into the pit. According to developer MascaraSnake this is intentional...



...and honestly it shouldn't be. This is the most underhanded way this level is designed to kill you. Doing an action that is suppose to be a positive towards you (killing an enemy, overcoming an obstacle) should NOT cause you to sometimes receive a strong punishment (being death of all things) unless you were careless on the rebound of your own accord (like thokking at a flying badnik far out and away from platforms). A mechanic where killing one of them would release a poison gas you have to avoid or even causing the rest of them to target you faster would be way more fair and interesting than this. REMINDER: Tails' specific emblem in this stage requires you to blindly swim in tight corridors where you can't predict or see where these guys are and they move super fast. This is cheaply made rom hack levels of bad placement.

Late in the stage there are these current sections where you have to follow flame patterns on the ground and then "glide" with them to the other side. These are nice, when you don't get your head bonked against a lowered ceiling. If your momentum wasn't so heavy and you could accelerate faster when hovering above these currents then situations where you bonk your head could be saved at a cost of speed, instead of a perceived cheep death.

Some people say the green flames the gargoyles shoot have too big and/or deceptive hitboxes. I really don't have this issue. Sometimes I will admit it is hard to tell where they are in 3D space, because they are sprites and often moves towards the camera (and sometimes you move towards them at the same time). However, I am more so concerned about their placement and overuse. There are just some straight corridors where you have to run down and carefully jump over the flames to make it across. Their timings can be a tad strict, and they can be mixed with bottomless pits. They can be chained one after another in a series of diagonal hallways leading you to get blind-sighted by more flames if you're not careful (some of these turns have ledges that prevent that, but some don't and just surprise you). It makes the obstacle get old really fast since they get used in pretty much the same way every time (barring one Knuckles pathway where you climb up). Reminder that the only normal enemy type in this level are the bubble fish.

Lots of the challenges in this level get repeated one after another that their gimmicks overstay their welcome. If they were mixed together more often this would help. Say the first room you dodge some fish and reach another room with gargoyle flames. Then you get a current ride section followed by more fish and an (optional?) crystal puzzle. It would really shake up the pace and be way more engaging then just me wanting to bum rush the stage.

If I ever feel the need to either take a pity damage boost to cross an obstacle over trying to learn the timing and beat it fairly, then you have lost my interest in said obstacle. And if I lose interest over several different obstacles, similarly designed or otherwise, then the level is no longer fun. At that point I don't want to play it.

You may be thinking, "Most of the reasons that people dislike the stage are things it's doing on purpose." Yup. Doesn't make it good level design though. A kid kicking the back of my car seat endlessly is also a frustrating thing they could be doing "on purpose" to me, and I end up not liking them doing that for that very reason. In Aerial Garden, it felt like the level wanted me dead but it still mostly felt fair and how it went about that. It hits a certain type of difficulty design that fits the tone and style of Srb2 level design in general. Even Haunted Heights matches this quota despite being much easier than the other two. Azure Temple leans closer to the "Kaizo" spectrum of difficulty for the reasons I have stated, and in that case it sucks as it feels out of place comparison wise.

3/10
It needs some major reworks. I have gotten all the emblems in this level a while ago and I have no compelling reason to ever want to go back. Even if it returns unchanged in another major update similar to 2.2, I refuse to go back through it. The concepts are fine, it's just poor execution.
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Old 04-02-2020   #26
Moose the Fat Cat
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownlight View Post
You know what? I like this idea. It's not going to happen, but I support it.

I like that it would give a very nice three-act structure to the game. Every three zones is a little mini-adventure. It would feel a lot better, especially for new players, than just zone after zone of unrelated levels where you don't necessarily feel progression.

It also ties in nicely with my idea that Amy should be unlocked by beating Castle Eggman. Say that she's hanging overhead in a cage during the Castle Eggman boss fight, and the reason Sonic and co. stormed the castle in the first place was to rescue her.

Act 1: Rescue Amy.
  • Greenflower
  • Techno Hill
  • Castle Eggman
The theme of the levels is starting in nature and progressing further and further into Eggman's territory.

Act 2: Get something / destroy something at the heart of a volcano
  • Deep Sea
  • Arid Canyon
  • Red Volcano
Again, we get to end on a climatic "final level", in this case the classic lava level. I haven't thought of what the story goal would be, but the idea is similar to Lord of the Rings-ish "get to the volcano to do something".

The theming of this set of levels is the elements. You've got your water, ground, and fire levels.

Act 3: Defeat Eggman
  • Dark City
  • Grand Eggship
  • Egg Rock
The theme of this is "ascension". Start in a city, move to the sky, then move into space.
Yesssssssssss, exactly. I love the idea of rescuing Amy at the end of CEZ, that fits perfectly.

Putting CEZ third is a perfect "act break" in the larger story the way it sort of plays with your expectations. It's almost like the twist in, say, Avengers or Dark Knight or Mission Impossible where it feels like you've reached the ending earlier than expected— only to realize things are just getting started. In the Woolie youtube playthrough, he initially assumes it's the final zone (even though he said he'd completed the campaign once as Knuckles but I guess he forgot; I digress).

Sonic 2 and 3K are so great in part because of the narrative progression & world building that's happening with the backgrounds through the stage progression. Mania does a pretty good job with all of the level cutscenes, too — although it doesn't actually make sense with where Hydrocity and Lava Reef are placed in that game.

Quote:
I've been kind of making this post up as I go along. I'm not sure if any of this is actually a good idea.
I think it's an excellent idea. The other reason it's fun for the overall campaign to have a three act structure is the symmetry of each zone being divided into three acts.

That beat rhythm is satisfying in a lot of forms. Think about if you're making a music playlist. You know these rules; they're even in High Fidelity

Track 1 - Something short, welcoming and probably familiar
Track 2 - Take it up a notch
Track 3 - Escalate to your best song.
Track 4 - Slow it down. Reset your heart.

And so on from there.

Quote:
Additionally, I think SRB2 shouldn't have such a linear difficulty curve. Right now, every level is more difficult than the last one. There are no moments of "de-stress" whatsoever. It's just constant ramping up. From watching new people play on YouTube, a lot of people seem exhausted later in their playthroughs.

A more staggered difficulty curve might be beneficial. The first zone of each "act" should be a bit less difficult than the level immediately prior. So Deep Sea would be a bit easier than Castle Eggman, and Dark City would be a bit easier than Red Volcano. It gives players a chance to take a breath after a difficult challenge.
I think it's also that the level's design / music / presentation kind of reset to a lower intensity.

Difficulty wise, imo, Deep Sea is arguably as difficult or more than CEZ, or at least it feels more frustrating when you die underwater in Sonic games, generally.

But it's a calmer feeling. And then the vibe gets playful again with Arid Canyon, then intense again with Red Volcano.

Following this, then it would maybe dial down for a quieter Dark City, ramps up intensity with Grand Eggship, climaxes in Egg Rock.
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Old 04-02-2020   #27
Moose the Fat Cat
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownlight View Post
Act 1: Rescue Amy.
  • Greenflower
  • Techno Hill
  • Castle Eggman
The theme of the levels is starting in nature and progressing further and further into Eggman's territory.

Act 2: Get something / destroy something at the heart of a volcano
  • Deep Sea
  • Arid Canyon
  • Red Volcano
Again, we get to end on a climatic "final level", in this case the classic lava level. I haven't thought of what the story goal would be, but the idea is similar to Lord of the Rings-ish "get to the volcano to do something".

The theming of this set of levels is the elements. You've got your water, ground, and fire levels.

Act 3: Defeat Eggman
  • Dark City
  • Grand Eggship
  • Egg Rock
The theme of this is "ascension". Start in a city, move to the sky, then move into space..
Again, this is not going to happen, but it's a fun distraction to think about.

Spoiler:

How about this:

Each of the Big Acts are bookended by cutscenes. The beginning prologue is condensed, and the cut parts can be pasted in later scenes with some slight changes for new context.

Prologue:
We just begin with Eggman suddenly arriving to bully South Island and blowing up Greenflower Mountain without warning. This is a distraction for two things: Amy Rose is kidnapped by Metal Sonic, and the Crawlas and other badniks begin searching for Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic needs to save Amy and get the emeralds before Eggman!

Act I[*]Greenflower[*]Techno Hill[*]Castle Eggman
At the end of CEZ-3, Amy Rose is rescued from a cage and hugs you. She becomes playable.

Act Break

Cut-scene begins. (This also helps the "fake out" aspect of thinking this might be the last level in the game). The part of the prologue we cut about the comet goes here instead, but now the background is in Eggman's castle.

You* find out why Amy was kidnapped, and it's because she knew about the comet (it ties into the old Sonic CD characterization of Amy as a tarot card reading astrologist; it's also possible that the comet was once part of Little Planet but broke off when Eggman chained it!)

Eggman is in search of the power from the Black Rock; he knew it would be reappearing, and that part of the Black Rock broke off the last time the comet appeared and supposedly resides in a mountain (which, in addition to the distraction, is why he blasted Greenflower Mountain). Amy says comets that land on earth is how volcanoes are formed. Eggman says that's definitely not true, and frankly kind of stupid, even for a child. How old are you now? But then he realizes she could be right. So, after Amy very helpfully told Eggman about the comet's potential powers, Eggman very rudely imprisoned her in his castle.

Eggman confirms her story, but says it's too late. He presses a button destroying the ground in the jousting pit, sending Sonic into the Deep Sea.

*
Spoiler:
If you are playing as Amy, then Sonic is the one who was kidnapped, and it was to lure Amy to CEZ.


Act II
[*]Deep Sea[*]Arid Canyon[*]Red Volcano

In DSZ3, we replace the Eggman sprite with Egg-Robo (fits with the fake-eggman gimmick) because we're trying to catch up to Eggman in this Act. (Edit: could be cool to adapt the great Eggman character mod as an Egg Robo playable character)

In Arid Canyon, we find Fang looting a train and defeat him.

Red Volcano 3, the boss is Eggman again, presumably, with whatever is in development for it. But now the intensity is raised inherently, since it's been 8 levels since your last meeting.

From this point, I'm going into pure speculation mode on what could follow, but I'll give it a swing.

Act Break
You destroy Eggman's volcano mining/fracking operation. Eggman did indeed find the Black Rock piece encased in granite, and first encounters/develops the green energy that will help defeat him later in BC3. But now Sonic's destroyed his machines and it's fallen deep into the lava, possibly destroyed.

Eggman curses you, but says it doesn't matter. He'll simply go to the source himself, in this case. And so now you're off to the space race!

Act III[*]Dark City[*]Grand Eggship[*]Egg Rock / Black Core

Dark City, I'm picturing it like a more bustling version of Eggmanland from the OVA + Robotropolis from SatAM + the real world from The Matrix but with a lot of neon lights. It hasn't been since Techno Hill that we've seen Eggman's technology, and we realize now that was just the tip of the iceberg. Here, it's a city completely deserted except for Egg-Robos.... in the background, we discover the Egg-Robos have been completing more ambitious projects than we might've guessed! It's like a real city with no real life anywhere, just robot slaves.

Sonic tracks Eggman to his launchpad in the center of the city, and pursues aboard the Grand Eggship into Egg Rock and finally the Black Core. He catches up with Metal Sonic and defeats him, who was running the space operation while you ran around with Eggman and his lesser creations. Then he finds Eggman in his Metal Eggman form in BC3 and defeats him with the help of the green energy flows and wrecks Eggman's operation.

Mirroring how the game design offers multiple pathways, Eggman's scheme involved multiple routes to getting to his endgame, but thankfully, Sonic dashed all of his plans at each turn! Sonic has now restored freedom to the planet!

Ending
The player is rescued from the exploding space base on the comet, which is restored from Eggman's machinations by the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Tails rescues Sonic as he falls back to earth in the Tornado; Sonic rescues everybody else.

Each cleared character joins a party in Greenflower Zone with the freed animals.

Once all are cleared (only 1 needs to have cleared all 7 emeralds), the bonus final ending — Amy Rose points out a shooting star. Tails looks through his binoculars and sees it's actually debris from Eggman's destroyed space bases... it crashes into Greenflower Mountain, removing his face from the side.

Sonic takes the binoculars and looks to space. We see the final image we see now -- the comet shedding the space station with the Chaos Emeralds, and then a star constellation as a wink from the universe saying "thanks so much for a'playing my game!"

The End.

Last edited by Moose the Fat Cat; 04-02-2020 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 04-02-2020   #28
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I don't think Castle Eggman should be moved before Deep Sea. Castle Eggman is such a grandiose zone and feels fit as a halfway point zone, while I think it's reasonable to put the water zone early on in the campaign before the game gets too crazy hard.

On this topic, I guess I should say that CEZ2 and DSZ1 are my two favorite zones in the main campaign.

CEZ2 is just plain mind-blowing in its scope, filled to the brim with rewards for exploring and an unbelievable amount of alternate paths, and the fact that it's unfinished and has a few rough spots only makes me more hyped for what's to come.

DSZ1 is by far the best water zone I've ever played in any Sonic game; it looks gorgeous and has lots of exploration value and alternate paths, plus doesn't lay the obnoxious water gimmicks too thick at all. SRB2 is the only Sonic game where I think the water zone (or at least the first act) is not just tolerable, but one of the highlights of the game.

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Old 04-02-2020   #29
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This is the most underhanded way this level is designed to kill you. Doing an action that is suppose to be a positive towards you (killing an enemy, overcoming an obstacle) should NOT cause you to sometimes receive a strong punishment (being death of all things) unless you were careless on the rebound of your own accord (like thokking at a flying badnik far out and away from platforms).
So, Azure Temple definitely has some cheap shots and problems. The Tails emblem in particular is a major problem which has become significantly more obnoxious with Tails's statistics buff in 2.2. It's something that I'm planning on fixing in the future. However, this is completely intentional behavior, and I strongly disagree with your assessment that this is unacceptable behavior.

The rules involved here are clearly demonstrated to you, the player, long before you have a chance to die to attacking it. The very first thing in the stage you interact with is a Buggle, and it teaches you pretty clearly that you grab the air normally when you defeat it. There is also a very early location in the stage where two are next to each other and if you just attack straight in, you'll grab the air from the first and the second will hit you because you uncurl when you grab the air. If you later mindlessly grab air over a pit and die, that's on you because you were clearly shown all the rules beforehand. This fits under the same category as rebounding badly.
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Old 04-03-2020   #30
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Originally Posted by cookiefonster View Post
DSZ1 is by far the best water zone I've ever played in any Sonic game; it looks gorgeous and has lots of exploration value and alternate paths, plus doesn't lay the obnoxious water gimmicks too thick at all. SRB2 is the only Sonic game where I think the water zone (or at least the first act) is not just tolerable, but one of the highlights of the game.
I couldn't agree more. I've vocalized my love for the new Deep Sea ever since my first time playing act 1, and it really shows; alongside Castle Eggman, it's the most atmospheric zone in the game, with gorgeous visuals, gimmicks that don't overstay their welcome, an extremely fair and consistent difficulty curve, and a banger of an act theme that makes the ride through this ruined temple so much more appealing. It's only the third zone and yet it's one of the big highlights of the game as a whole and I don't see anything topping it any time soon.

Deep Sea 2, on the other hand... really drags down the zone for me. It's just so much more boring than the first act and doesn't really feel complete in a way. With those weird reused rooms from 2.1, an "outside the temple" area that appears like twice and is completely forgotten, that ending room that doesn't really feel like an appropriate ending room, and the level being so much more overly open and disjointed makes act 2 feel like it was shoehorned in. It's not bad, but it definitely doesn't live up to the first act.
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Old 04-03-2020   #31
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I couldn't agree more. I've vocalized my love for the new Deep Sea ever since my first time playing act 1, and it really shows; alongside Castle Eggman, it's the most atmospheric zone in the game, with gorgeous visuals, gimmicks that don't overstay their welcome, an extremely fair and consistent difficulty curve, and a banger of an act theme that makes the ride through this ruined temple so much more appealing. It's only the third zone and yet it's one of the big highlights of the game as a whole and I don't see anything topping it any time soon.

Deep Sea 2, on the other hand... really drags down the zone for me. It's just so much more boring than the first act and doesn't really feel complete in a way. With those weird reused rooms from 2.1, an "outside the temple" area that appears like twice and is completely forgotten, that ending room that doesn't really feel like an appropriate ending room, and the level being so much more overly open and disjointed makes act 2 feel like it was shoehorned in. It's not bad, but it definitely doesn't live up to the first act.
DSZ2 is much weaker than act 1, I have to agree here. It feels kind of like a bunch of ideas tied together with duct tape without having a good connecting theme, almost like an intermediate phase between the level design style of 2.1 and that of 2.2.
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Old 04-13-2020   #32
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Based on my reading of hundreds of comment sections regarding feedback for a game, it's pretty much impossible to please everyone. There will always be that group that likes level A better and others who say level B is better. If the SRB2 team decided to try to please everyone, the levels would be reworked again and again with no end in sight.
Forreal. Even the 2D Sonic games, which this game very clearly tries to emulate in level design and control, weren't perfect. Frankly, even though I'm not in-love with big difficulty spikes ala Egg Rock, if you go back to a lot of the older games they also had intense difficulty spikes too. Look at Sonic 2 with its 3-act Metropolis Zone, and then that last boss with its 0-ring count. SRB2 has nothing on that.
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Old 04-14-2020   #33
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I've been meaning to post a full act-by-act review of the main campaign levels for quite a while, and now I'm finally doing that. Here goes:

Spoiler: Main campaign level reviews
Greenflower Zone Act 1 - A

A fantastic introductory zone that cleverly and efficiently teaches you how SRB2 works without feeling specifically like a tutorial level. This zone teaches you the basics of platforming, alternate paths, emblems, shields, and gently introduces springs towards the end which are elaborated in Act 2. I very much appreciate the way this zone introduces emblems and shields in particular. The star emblem is right in front of your face shortly after you start the level, which is a great way to teach you that emblems exist. Similarly, I love that all five of the game's shields can be found in places that teach you what they're useful for. I especially like the introductions to the armageddon shield (the locked-up room full of crawlas) and whirlwind shield (the path of rings leading to speed shoes).

Greenflower Zone Act 2 - A-

While the first act of Greenflower is introductory in its design and doesn't let itself get too big, the second act is the opposite. Its scope and amount of stuff to do in it is simply breathtaking, and the various things the zone does with springs are also a lot of fun. The spring shenanigans are necessary to teach players how springs work in SRB2, since those can be an odd change of pace for players who are familiar with the classic Sonic games or the Adventure games. While these sections usually do a good job at teaching how springs work, I sometimes miss the springs in diagonal chains due to moving forward while I bounce on them. I think spring chain precision is a good challenge in later zones—there's some sections like that in CEZ2, my favorite zone in the entire game—but missing a necessary spring in this zone feels awkward and script-breaking.

Another issue I have with GFZ2 is that the opening section before the cave with the springs and shallow water has some barren sections that are easy to get lost in when playing as as the more exploration-oriented characters, especially Knuckles. The first few times I played through this zone as Knuckles, I couldn't resist the temptation to climb and glide through the zone to explore as much as I could, and it took me a long time to realize I was going around in circles and had to go through the cave section to proceed. I don't have issues like this in the zone's further sections; only the opening section feels at all awkward to me in terms of exploration. The rest of this zone is fantastic in all aspects.

Greenflower Zone Act 3 - B

A good simple first boss, but the difference in difficulty between the single lasers and the triple lasers is too high for my liking. I think a boss's pinch phase shouldn't be too much harder than its initial phase, especially when it's the first boss of the game.

Techno Hill Zone Act 1 - A

I don't have too much to say about this zone, other than that it's a worthy successor to Greenflower that seamlessly transitions into a full-out factory zone in the following act. It has great variety in paths and shield usage, and forces Knuckles to take a different path that I think is up to snuff with the rest of the zone.

Techno Hill Zone Act 2 - A-

The only complaint I have with this zone is that it's a tiny bit too linear and doesn't present as many opportunities for alternate paths as the rest of the zones do. Other than that, it's a fantastic zone that makes great use of its gimmicks. The annoying purple slime from the last act is turned into a defining feature necessary in several parts to get through the zone, which players who know what they're doing may even use to their advantage.

Techno Hill Zone Act 3 - A

A boss with a fun little gimmick that could only ever work in 3D, but nails the humorous feel of classic 2D bosses. I'm quite a sucker for simple gimmicky bosses in general: they define Eggman's character very well as someone who creates increasingly ridiculous contraptions just so he can finally defeat Sonic and friends.

Deep Sea Zone Act 1 - A+

This zone has so much to love about it. The gorgeous art, the interlocking paths, the clever secrets hidden throughout, the variety of rooms, and overall how much more expansive it is than it may seem at a glance. While water zones in Sonic games usually have a negative reputation that I can't say is undeserved, this zone uses the third dimension to go so far above and beyond what water zones usually do that I consider it to be one of the two big highlights of the SRB2 main campaign (the other being Castle Eggman Act 2). Seriously, I can't overstate how much I absolutely love this zone. Every time I play it feels like a totally different experience from the last time because there's just so much detail put into it.

Deep Sea Zone Act 2 - C-

Compared to the first act, this zone is rather underwhelming. It plays a lot more like a traditional sluggish water zone and has plenty of things I don't really like about it. It doesn't have much of the uniquely intertwined design of Act 1 and instead feels like a bunch of cool ideas clumsily pasted together. There's a lot of inconsistency in this zone's visual design and the transitions between "nature" and "temple" sections are disorienting and weird. When I play through the zone and traverse one of the less obvious paths, it feels more confusing than rewarding and really brings out this level's lack of direction compared to other zones. To add onto the problems I have with this zone, there are a few parts that feel like spectacle shoehorned in, which does make the zone more exciting but doesn't help its lack of direction one bit. I don't think DSZ2 needs to be remade entirely, but I imagine editing its visuals to focus more on exploring a temple and perhaps cutting out some parts that don't match with temple exploration would do wonders in giving the zone a stronger identity and make it feel less... I don't know, clumpy?

Deep Sea Zone Act 3 - B

I haven't been doing much comparing to prior versions of SRB2 in this zone-by-zone review, but I think this one warrants such a comparison. The 2.1 version of this boss was way too difficult to be so early in the game, with extreme punishments for failing to hit Eggman or getting fooled by his decoys. I was stuck on this boss in the first few days I played 2.1 before I went ahead and downloaded the newly released 2.2, so I highly appreciate that it was made considerably easier. The boss now involves much less waiting and no more going SHIT SHIT SHIT FUCK when you land in the water and are subsequently shocked, replaced with having Eggman emit a shockwave riding over water which you have to pay attention to no matter what. I think the shockwave is a good enough compromise in keeping this boss somewhat water oriented, because I can't imagine this boss would be any fun if it used water gimmicks beyond that (which is a bit of a shame, I like when bosses expand upon the gimmicks of their zones). The decoys in the current version are also easier to identify and now feel like the clever prank they were always meant to be. As thankful as I am that this boss was simplified, it's a bit too easy and short now, and I think tampering with the boss's timing will probably be enough to fix that.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 1 - A+

I LOVE THIS ZONE!!!!!!!!!! The atmosphere and visual design are mind-blowing and just feel so REAL, like you're exploring the outskirts of a real castle during an intense thunderstorm at night, hidden away in a world of mud and thorns and spike balls, plus all the usual Sonic setpieces. The level layout is 3D Sonic at its absolute finest, filled with secrets and alternate paths but still intuitive to navigate. The bridge collapsing section at the end is a good challenge that forces you to balance speed with careful platforming.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 2 - A+

I LOVE THIS ZONE!!!!!!!!!!!, for completely different reasons from Act 1. As indicated by the additional exclamation mark, this is my absolute favorite zone in the entire game and I'd give it an S grade if not for my policy of A+ being the highest. While I won't pretend the atmosphere is anywhere near as striking as in the prior act, the level's INSANELY detailed design and alternate paths and new things to discover at every corner more than make up for it. No two playthroughs of CEZ2 are ever the same, there's just so much to do and discover there no matter which character you're playing as. There are plenty of cool areas that are easy to get to as Tails or Knuckles but much more rewarding to get to as Sonic, and an unbelievable variety of branching paths that the zone often makes no effort to hide (most notably in the courtyard room with three open doors and a fourth locked one), just to demonstrate how EXPANSIVE this castle is.

It's well-known that CEZ2 is unfinished, and I'd be a stone-cold liar if I said it didn't show. There's cases like the fourth door I mentioned earlier and several other areas that are closed off or unusually empty, plus several noticeable imbalances in difficulty between areas. But these don't drag down the joy of playing this zone one bit for me; if anything, this knowledge makes me more excited for this zone to become even more rich and detailed. There is one big criticism I have though: this zone could really use more checkpoints than it currently has. The checkpoints are currently spaced out way too far for my liking and it felt rather cruel being sent so far back to (for example) the beginning of the courtyard room when I was new to this game. With more checkpoints and everything else finished, this zone will no doubt be an even bigger absolute favorite of mine than it already is.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 3 - A-

A notoriously difficult boss, but a well-designed one through and through. Pressing buttons in a clearly indicated order while avoiding spike balls so you can open Eggman's cage while still avoiding spike balls is a genius concept that makes for an engaging boss where you're always on the move and never waiting for things to happen, while the threats get increasingly strong along the way (less and less floor to stand on, gradually faster spike balls, more buttons you have to press). The pinch phase, on the other hand, involves quite a bit of waiting for Eggman to come close enough for you to hit him, unless you want to risk getting hit by the robotic spectators (which are a great touch, don't get me wrong). I'm not a fan of waiting-oriented bosses, but it isn't that bad when you only have to do it for the last three hits. I should also say this boss does a great job incorporating its zone gimmicks, easily the best of any game's bosses.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 1 - C

I want to like this zone—no, more than that. I want to absolutely adore and gush over everything about this zone. Unfortunately, several pressing issues prevent me from fully enjoying myself in this zone no matter which character I play as. Open zones are fun and all, but in SRB2 you have to be careful with designing them unless you want them to be easily cheesed as Tails or Knuckles. Climbing up the wall at the start trivializes this entire level when playing as Knuckles, and Tails can similarly fly over way more parts than I feel is fair for him. All this wouldn't be such a huge issue if it weren't for the zone's final rope hanging section, which is so unforgiving to Sonic, Fang, and Amy that it dampens the entire zone for me. When I first played the main campaign as Sonic, ACZ1 stopped being much fun when I had memorized how to easily get through everything EXCEPT the rope hanging part at the end. Sonic can make the rope hanging more fun by thokking through some parts, but the risk in doing so arguably makes that part worse for him. I would greatly, greatly prefer if there was solid land (probably with a fair amount of hazards) below the rope hanging section, to increase the rewarding factor in hanging on all the ropes and decrease the punishment factor in failing to do so.

Putting aside imbalances with the vertically-oriented characters and qualms with the final rope hanging section, ACZ1 is a pleasant zone with extremely fun cartoony western-style gimmicks that experienced players can make very clever use of. Thokking into a dust devil or off of a rope gives Sonic an advantage in this level's design, and dust devils carry onto this zone's much more balanced but similarly flawed second act.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 2 - B

Unlike the first act, ACZ2 isn't so easy to cheese as Tails or Knuckles, which has its benefits and drawbacks. The greater focus on underground and enclosed areas helps visually differentiate this act from the first one and makes the cast far more balanced, but also makes the zone noticeably more linear, which in turn makes the zone less memorable in a lot of ways. I do greatly enjoy this act's expansions and continuations on the first one's gimmicks like explosives changing the zone's layout and dust devils, and though it isn't quite as open as Act 1, there are still plenty of alternate paths to go around. I also don't mind that Knuckles is forced at the beginning to take different paths from the rest of the cast; even if his paths aren't as exciting as the rest of the cast's, I'm a sucker for Knuckles-exclusive paths in general, and it's also fun that Amy can access Knuckles' downward path.

Now for the elephant in the room: the minecart sections. A lot of people dislike that these sections are linear and repetitive once you've learned the pattern, but I'm honestly a minecart apologist. These sections would certainly benefit from being less linear, don't get me wrong. I don't imagine it being hard at all to implement path splits where one way goes left and the other way goes right, and faster minecart routes for experienced players certainly sound like a viable addition to me. However, I'm fine enough with the minecart sections as they stand. The carts go fast enough to feel right at home in a Sonic game, and in my opinion, the spectacle of watching your surroundings zoom by as you avoid hazards makes up for the linearity. Spectacle is a somewhat contested subject in Sonic games, but I think it's a good thing more often than many people seem to give credit.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 3 - A+

Everyone seems to agree that this boss fight is a highlight of SRB2's main campaign, and I have to say, I agree with everyone on that. Arid Canyon's boss could have easily been a desert-themed Eggman boss, but instead it's a battle against one of the most obscure characters in the entire Sonic series, Fang the Sniper, which I think is absolutely genius. Fang's boss fight is a lot of fun and it's just the right difficulty for this part of the game, but what really sells me on this fight is the execution of the reward for beating him: it turns out Fang was a secret playable character all along, and all you had to do to unlock him was beat him. Unlocking a playable character after defeating them in battle is common in video games, and I really like the way it's pulled off with Fang. Fang has his own strengths and weaknesses as you'll notice in battle. He can bounce around at enormous heights and distances, but to use his primary method of combat, he has to stop and aim his gun, which is very faithful to what playing as Fang turns out to be like. The only part of this fight that isn't replicated in Fang's playable moveset is dropping bombs, which I'll let slide because everything else about this boss fight is so perfectly executed.

Red Volcano Zone Act 1 - A-

This is a late-game stage done right. A major step up in challenge from prior zones that is difficult because of the lava and fire theming, not random crushers or lasers or death pits or any of that nonsense (please nerf pterabytes though, please please please please please). It's a tight, mostly enclosed level that's not strong on the vertical side and much more linear than prior levels, but I don't see that as much of a problem and instead treat the zone as more oriented upon challenge than exploration. The rollout rock is a great gimmick that helps make this zone feel unique despite its relative linearity. I find it interesting that this of all zones is suited for Metal Sonic's boost mode (especially the crumbling platform sections), and I sure can't complain because most zones don't mesh that well with Metal's abilities. I have a good feeling that Acts 2 and 3 of this zone will similarly deliver.

Egg Rock Zone Act 1 - D

I don't mind having final zones in Sonic games be structured as gimmick upon gimmick upon gimmick, but my god does this zone need a makeover. The left path is way easier and shorter than the right path, a lot of the death pits and crushers and other hazards feel just plain unfair, there aren't any slopes, timing-based challenges aren't my cup of tea ESPECIALLY not in Sonic games, yada yada yada. I don't think I need to say much more, because I'm well aware Egg Rock has a remake in progress.

Egg Rock Zone Act 2 - B-

Unlike the first act, I think ERZ2 holds up reasonably well. The left and right paths are much more balanced and the gimmick-after-gimmick structure is done much better here. In this zone, the series of gimmicks feels less like annoying nonsense and more like Eggman is giving it his all in trying to stop Sonic. The visual design in this zone is stunning as well, making it feel like a worthy final zone despite the lack of slopes. When Egg Rock's remake comes out, I hope that some elements of the second act are preserved. It's way too tiring to list each Egg Rock gimmick individually though.

Black Core Zone Act 1 - D

This REALLY needs a remake, preferably from scratch. Once again no slopes, extremely biased against Sonic, segments of unfun tight platforming, easy to cheese as Tails and almost everyone else. Slopes would make the race against Metal Sonic so much more fun and perhaps help in demonstrating his abilities as a playable character, which I can't say are demonstrated in his race and fight anywhere near as well as Fang's.

Black Core Zone Act 2 - C

Aiming at Metal Sonic is frustratingly hard and somewhat counter-intuitive, since at this point players are probably used to pointing the camera to aid in defeating bosses. In this boss fight, moving the camera around like in other bosses won't help one bit. This fight isn't too hard once you get the hang of it, and first having to make Metal Sonic dizzy before you can hurt him is worthy of a near-final boss, but one thing I really don't like about this boss is that its crazy attacks on you are completely unrelated to what Metal Sonic is like as a playable character. It makes unlocking Metal Sonic not feel anywhere near as rewarding as unlocking Fang, but I've voiced my issues plenty in a different thread.

Black Core Zone Act 3 - B

I think it's kind of weird that the current final boss of SRB2 is unintelligent enough to be lured into green slime that makes it vulnerable, but the extreme degree of Brak Eggman/Black Eggman/Brak/whatever I'm supposed to call this thing's attacks makes it worthy enough of being the game's current final boss. Not really sure what to say aside from that.
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Old 04-15-2020   #34
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I'm going to give this a try...

Spoiler: Main campaign
Greenflower Zone Act 1 - 8.1/10
I like how it has developed over the years, the structure and how it's changed since I first played it. The music is kinda cute and all, but I play in complete silence, so haven't had the opportunity to listen to it very well.

I really like the design because it gives both speed players and slower players, ways of feeling the level design speak for itself.

Flaws? I can't find too many, after all it's the first stage and it is not that long.

Greenflower Zone Act 2 - 9/10
Very interesting level to say the least.
Implementing routes for each char which connect very beautifully.
but it needs a little bit more fluidity. Can't say too much.

Greenflower Zone Act 3 - 10/10
Just you and Eggman, alone in the world.

Techno Hill Zone Act 1 - 10/10
Why did you move the underground path? Whatever, it's amazing.
Poor Knuckles though, it's the reason I don't like playing as him.

Techno Hill Zone Act 2 - 10/10
It's pretty much the third best stage for me.

Techno Hill Zone Act 3 - 7/10
Boring boss fight, Eggman alone with you in the world but this time he is completely ignoring you for 12 seconds... He starts "Doing something" and jumps but that doesn't fix anything Eggman.

Deep Sea Zone Act 1 - 9/10
I don't like underwater levels, but the visuals are amazing the only reason I'm giving it a 9.
*It's also the only stage where I turn on music.
The gimmicks are cool when you are not in a rush, the just stop you and say "you gotta be patient mate!" and ruing your pointless run.

Deep Sea Zone Act 2 - 6/10
*Again, the visuals.
*I don't like those crabs, they don't even touch me but they suck still, too random for me.
*The finishing part is the best, sorta an action movie.

Deep Sea Zone Act 3 - 9/10
Better boss fight the 2.1, I didn't even mind if it's random. I like the fact that the clones stayed, you are not alone with Eggman anymore.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 1 - 10/10
Amazing, music and visuals (Listened to the song on Youtube.)

Castle Eggman Zone Act 2 - null/10
Too laggy, couldn't play it very well.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 3 - 10/10
This time there is a crowd throwing you around and you play a little bit with Eggman while they watch, kind of like Eggman knew I was feeling alone in the others boss fights.
The ground destroys, which makes the fight parkour based for like 6 seconds. Loved it.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 1 - 6/10
Amazing music and skybox, but I don't like too many death pits... And you can't run around that much, it's a Sonic game not a Mario game guys. Fix this.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 2 - 5/10
The minecart are boring and slow, it just artificially stretches the level, the worst part is that there are a lot of these sections and they also feel like those phone games I freaking despise.
The music's cool :v.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 3 - 7/10
Can you stop being so random, Fang?

Red Volcano Zone Act 1 - 10/10
2nd favourite level, has a unique gimmick but it's not obligatory and the ambient is kinda cool with all these dinosaurs robots.
The birds though, they are the worst and kinda hard to get off them.

Red Volcano Zone Act 2 - 70k/10
This was one of.... Wait?

Egg Rock Zone Act 1 - 6/10
Fells clunky and long.

Egg Rock Zone Act 2 - 7/10
Too long and too boring and over complicated. Feels like an old stage...

Black Core Zone Act 1 - 10/10
The best thing, I wish you could race metal Sonic in every stage as a gift for unlocking him, like a vs Metal Sonic mode in the time attack.

Black Core Zone Act 2 - 5/10
Too easy and complicated...? Yes, it attempts to be complicated but miserably fails when you get the trick.

Black Core Zone Act 3 - 7/10
I'd like it if he wasn't dumb and clunky, walks like he's a baby for it's first time while also wearing his dad boots. Also, the acid thing is kinda slow.


Spoiler: Bonus stages

Frozen Hillside Zone - 8/10
It's cool (you get it? HAHAHAH ._.), needs slopes but it's good still. Would like less randomness too.

Pipe Towers Zone - 6/10
The mushrooms are not even needed, why are they there? To make the stage slower? Feels overdone (the Mario gimmicks are there but barely used) and the alternative paths are the most boring things I've ever experienced.

Forest Fortress Zone - 10/10
MY favourite level, the alternative paths are better than I expected, but they also don't distract you from the main course.

Techno Legacy Zone - null/10
It's here because nostalgia, don't feel the need to rate it. Just pure nostalgia.

Haunted Heights Zone - 6/10
Too laggy, but not as CEZ2; I actually got to play it better. I like how this leve isn't that random but it all goes to nothing when you see there are platforms which depend in time (at the end of the stage, you just have to wait...)

Aerial Garden Zone - 7/10
Cool level and all, but I feel like the bees are there for no reason, I just rush through it all.

Azure Temple Zone - 10/10
Thanks for the water.


Spoiler: NiGHTS stages

Floral Field Zone - 1/10
It's a special stage, I don't like nights though, they completely add another game in SRB2 and I like running around.

Toxic Plateau Zone - 1/10
:v

Flooded Cove Zone - 1/10
Water and nights :v.

Cavern Fortress Zone - 10/10
The music made me love it.

Dusty Wasteland Zone - 8/10
Can we not have nights anymore?
..
I don't like nights :v.

Spoiler: Multiplayer
Quote:
lol did you really think I would rate these?
I actually was laughing the hell out of me when I saw the multiplayer spoiler HAHAHAHA
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Old 04-15-2020   #35
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Originally Posted by XleederTH View Post
IThe music is kinda cute and all, but I play in complete silence, so haven't had the opportunity to listen to it very well.
I mean, it's your choice and all, but I really don't get why anyone would EVER willfully play a Sonic game without the music.
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Old 04-15-2020   #36
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Originally Posted by XleederTH View Post
Black Core Zone Act 1 - 10/10
The best thing, I wish you could race metal Sonic in every stage as a gift for unlocking him, like a vs Metal Sonic mode in the time attack.
I have never thought of this, and all of a sudden I love it. Great idea.

Might add bloat to Record Mode though, maybe? Unless the Metal Sonic races are tougher than the record mode time trials?
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Old 04-15-2020   #37
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Originally Posted by Solid SOAP View Post
I have never thought of this, and all of a sudden I love it. Great idea.

Might add bloat to Record Mode though, maybe? Unless the Metal Sonic races are tougher than the record mode time trials?
It'd be great if you ask me, I really liked racing Sonic in with Tails in SADX and SRB2 could take that from there, as a challenge mode in which Metal Sonic takes normal routes but he is in boost mode and is Sonic Thok's speed... I'm fantasising

---------- Post added at 01:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:14 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by cookiefonster View Post
I mean, it's your choice and all, but I really don't get why anyone would EVER willfully play a Sonic game without the music.
Actually, this is the only game I play without music, the songs are kinda complex and distract me, I would prefer more calmed songs (like the old ones, ambiental songs and not these really.)

Spoiler: P.S
BY THE WAY, I'm not being nostalgic, I don't even play nostalgia games because I like leaving them as good memories, I just prefer more calmed songs
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Old 04-20-2020   #38
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Here are my feelings about the main campaign's stages; I'm gonna lump both acts together for the sake of brevity.

Spoiler: Main Levels

Greenflower Zone

Great introduction to the game! It's a fun playground to just experiment with each characters' abilities and enjoy the scenery. Act 2 really shines in this regard when you make it to that open field with the large hills and mountains to climb. It evokes Banjo-Kazooie and Mario 64 to me in that the stage is just a huge playground; there's tons of fun to be had just by moving the characters around, and that really can't be said for many 3D Sonic games. I like that the emblems in these opening stages can be found by pure exploration without much trouble when it comes to platforming.

The boss is fun enough and a good intro to bosses. Perhaps the "pinch" mode is a bit too tough?

Techno Hill Zone

Great second stage as well! The goop gimmick is a fun one, if a bit too each to lose momentum. The enemies are fun to thwart and there's a slight degree more difficulty in beating them than those from Greenflower Zone. The first act definitely exceeds in its presentation to the second act, as the latter is a bit grey. Maybe some inspiration from Chemical Plant Zone would help here?

The boss is fun too, if a bit simple. That's not a bad thing, mind. I like the simplicity of it.

Deep Sea Zone

This stage is where I began to realize how special this game was. To make some great opening stages is no small feat, but to make an awesome water level? In a Sonic game? I knew this shit was gonna be raw when I spent dozens of minutes exploring these great stages. Act 1 definitely eclipses Act 2 in quality, though. The exploration in the first act is superb, and I still haven't figured out how to open the damn doors to get the medals either! I also just love the vibe of the stages... they just feel like truly ancient ruins, they remind me a bit of Lost World from Sonic Adventure.

The boss is tough, but fun. It's a bit too easy to get hit by the electric current as Sonic when thokking into the boss, though. But perhaps that's apart of the intended difficulty curve of the boss?

Castle Eggman Zone

This is usually the point in the game where I begin to feel fatigued, and for a few reasons. It's a tough stage and very maze-like, both are good things, but the visuals are a bit garish and the framerate chugs in the single-digits on my laptop. So, while the level is fun to explore in design, the performance of it keeps me down. Also, I'd just like to say that when I got to this stage, I thought that I had reached the end of the game. I was so pleasantly surprised when there were 3 more stages to play after this one! And that's not even including the bonus levels.

I think this boss is my favorite in the game. It's such a fun challenge to jump over the spike balls while hitting the switches, and then to hit Eggman in the middle. The pinch section is where the boss really shines. I had trouble my first go with the boss, and then I realized I could use Tails to take to the skies to hit Eggman. That was a special moment for me and made me realize how well this game realized the original Sonic concept in 3D.

Arid Canyon Zone

I really like these levels, but I do prefer Act 1 to 2. It seems more focused and it does perform better when it comes to FPS. I also LOVE the music in these stages! Damn! They're probably some of the best songs in the game! So catchy and I always hum or whistle along as I play. I think my SO thinks I'm crazy for doing so haha. I also kinda dig the mine cart gimmick in act 2, tbh. I know it gets flack but I feel like it's a fun change of pace from the more challenging momentum-based platforming the rest of the game requires of you.

The boss is fun, but it's way too easy to die in the pinch mode, imo. One thok into Fang and you fly off the train and it's back to the beginning.

Red Volcano Zone

Another great stage, I'm excited to see Act 2 whenever that comes out. The color scheme in the level is a nice contrast to the rest of the game, and it's a tough difficulty spike from the rest of the game. I was surprised and delighted by the ball-rolling gimmick, and the level does a good job balancing tough platforming and exploration. The bird enemies feel a bit unfair, and I always rage when I lose my rings in the lava, but I like the spike in difficulty as you know you're nearing the end of the adventure.

Egg Rock Zone

I have mixed feelings about this zone. On one hand, it's kind of a tradition of classic Sonic games to have a ridiculously hard final zone, yea? This zone makes the task of obtaining as many lives and continues as you possibly can throughout the adventure worth it, because you're definitely gonna need them!

On the other hand though, it feels so primitive and even broken compared to the rest of the game. Hopping on tiny platforms that disappear soon after is not fun and straight up doesn't feel fair. The gravity reversal gimmick works most of the time, too. That's the thing though, it shouldn't work most of the time, it should be consistent. Perhaps there is something I'm missing here?

Black Core Zone

I love the idea of racing Metal Sonic, but this level needs some work. The first half of it is pretty doable, but it seems like one mistake will straight up end the entire stage for you, and you may as well start over. This is super apparent in the segment where you hop upside down over lava onto tiny platforms. I straight up with just cheese that segment by flying as Tails because I do not find it fun. Thematically though I like the final dash to the end of the stage, and then fighting Metal Sonic in the arena. The fight itself still confuses me a bit though, I don't think I have articulate thoughts on it.

Final Boss

Fun final boss! You can really see the game's Doom roots with how the boss moves about. It's also a nice nod to the Sonic OVA. I think that the gimmick of luring the boss into the green muck could be changed somehow, though. I like Sonic bosses that allow you to hit the boss at any point during the fight if you are skilled enough, and that aspect kind of lacks that immediacy that I enjoy. Cute ending by making you board the shuttle to escape too. Nice finale!


And now onto the bonus stages:

Spoiler: Bonus Stages
Frozen Hillside Zone

I really like this stage. It's simple and without any grand moments, but I like that about it. Maybe some more varying terrain could add some fun to the stage? The little mountains remind me of smaller versions of the big mountains from Green Flower Zone Act 2; maybe a bit of inspiration from that stage could help make this level feel a bit more varied? I also think another enemy or two could spice things up as well. Otherwise though it's a very pleasant stage. Frankly I wish there was a second act and it was apart of the main campaign!

Pipe Towers Zone

This is an odd stage. Visually it seems a bit dated (especially after playing the mod that upgrades the visuals tenfold!), and the level design is okay but not very memorable. Frankly I think it's thematically weird to include in this game, considering how strictly on-brand the rest of the game is with feeling so authentically like a classic Sonic game in 3D. This level feels like an unofficial mod considering that. It's fun though, I just think a visual upgrade could go a long way.

Forest Fortress Zone

I played through this once so far and don't have too much to say about it, but I'm happy for its inclusion as a window into the game's early development. I like the more forest-oriented theming and actually think that could be utilized further in the final game's Castle Eggman. Perhaps make getting to the castle a bit of a trek through the woods?

Techno Legacy Zone

I can see why this was scrapped in favor of the current level. HUGE improvement on all fronts! The current level has much better paced level design, the visuals are more pleasant and fully realized, etc. I can see the skeleton of good design in this version of the level, but that's all it is. I'm happy they included it for the sake of preservation, but it adds next to nothing to the overall game when the final Act 2 is so much better. Bravo!

Haunted Heights Zone

Great stage. I like the commitment to holiday-themed stages for the bonus levels too! The music is rocking and the Caco-pumpkin Demon was such a cool nod to Doom. I wanna play through this a few more times before I say too much, but I really like the stage. It's a fun challenge too and keeps you on your toes! Just about everything about this stage is fun. The only problem I have is that the framerate chugs on my laptop.

Aerial Garden Zone

I really want to like this stage, but it's probably my least favorite in the game. First, it seems like every area looks exactly the same. Some visual variety would go a long way. Next, the bees are sooo unforgiving! I've been hit by them and sent flying way too many times. Not fun. I think that something that would alleviate these frustrations would be to make them insta-die if you kill the queen. The platforming is unforgiving enough as it is, let alone with dozens of bees coming at you!? Craziness. I also have only been able to beat this as Tails.

Azure Temple Zone

Haven't played this yet, but I'm excited to do so soon and share my thoughts!


So, I'm not gonna comment on each individual NiGHTS stage, but I just want to say how inspired a decision it was to include these as the special stages for this game. It inspired me to get NiGHTS on Steam; it's a fun game! Frankly though I think I like these stages better, believe it or not! My one recommendation is maybe to use a more abstract look for these stages? Special Stages usually look really bizarre visually, while these seem to lift visuals from the stages in the game.

--------------

Overall consensus on the game's levels:

Gameplay-wise, I am a big fan of levels that are more about exploration and player expression than tough platforming. Greenflower Zone, Techno Hill, and Deep Sea are best at this, imo. Visually, I like nice, bright colors that pop on the screen. Greenflower Zone, Red Volcano, Arid Canyon, and Frozen Hillside are the best at this.

Last edited by Solid SOAP; 04-20-2020 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 05-15-2020   #39
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Spoiler: Main Campaign
Greenflower Zone: 8/10
Perfect start to the game. This can even be the tutorial to every other aspect not mentioned in Tutorial Zone!
Techno Hill Zone: 7.8/10
Too much goo water.
Deep Sea Zone: 9/10
Introducing: water- clears throat That was already in GFZ, sorry.
Castle Eggman Zone: 6/10
Lacks optimization. Otherwise great!
Arid Canyon Zone: 8/10
Yeehaw, the great mountain- clears throat again CANYON is back, better than ever!
Red Volcano Zone 1: OVER 9000/10
Best zone in the game. Hyped for Act 2!
Egg Rock Zone: 3/10
No changes other than removal of the shrinking section and the laser miniboss.
Black Core Zone: 9/10
Best boss rush ever! Now, I know it's not complete yet, I'm still hyped for the new final boss btw, but still.

Overall game campaign rating: 7.6/10 considering Over 9000 is kinda equal 10/10


[other coming soon]
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Old 05-16-2020   #40
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I'm going to rate the bonus and challenge levels because I didn't originally do so.

Spoiler: Bonus levels
Frozen Hillside Zone - B

It may not have any slopes, but I enjoy playing this level and the winter aesthetics always put a smile on my face. I'm kind of glad ice and snow mechanics are in a bonus stage rather than the main campaign.

Pipe Towers Zone - D+

It's cute, but basically every Mario gimmick can be skipped over if you're good at efficiently clearing SRB2 levels, so it doesn't hold up that well as a playable level. Mario and Sonic are fundamentally different and I think it would take a major rework to make an effective Sonic level, let alone a 3D one, out of 2D Mario gimmicks.

Forest Fortress Zone - B

This is the rating I would have probably given this zone if it was in the main campaign instead of CEZ1. The lack of vertical depth compared to other levels sticks out to me and the brown water sections feel redundant with DSZ, but it's still a really fun level and a great look into the game's development history. It's much more focused and streamlined than its 2.1 version, but not quite as enthralling as its current iteration. Many of this zone's ideas (fun things with launchers, carefully avoiding mace hazards, mix of indoor and outdoor sections, a delightful amount of alternate paths) carried into CEZ1 as we know it today.

Techno Legacy Zone - D

I don't think anyone disagrees that this zone isn't anywhere near as interesting as Forest Fortress. I do like the idea of having an old version of a level playable in 2.2, and while this one has a decent variety of paths (quite a lot for its time) and several rewards for exploration, my big problem with it is that damaging slime is so much less interesting of a gimmick than buoyant slime. I'm OK with having the slime recolored green to avoid confusing new players, but I think a better choice for an old version of a level to include would be 2.1 DSZ1. That level is pretty fun if you can forgive the monotonous visuals and I wouldn't mind seeing it in 2.2 or a later version with a slight visual upgrade. Not 2.1 DSZ2 though, I don't want anyone to ever have to suffer through that godforsaken block maze.


Spoiler: Challenge stages
Haunted Heights Zone - B

This is a fun level that does a good job mixing existing and totally new game mechanics, but I have a few significant problems with it. There are some parts where the alternate paths feel very cramped and less fluid than the regular game; in addition, Knuckles' paths abuse non-climbable walls enough to sometimes feel more like a forced drag than a cool alternate path. Putting these issues aside, this level is an enjoyable experience with plenty of path variety and things to do in it.

Aerial Garden Zone - D

This zone does have some of the wow factor for me that it surely had for people who played it back in the 2000's, but I never have much of a good time playing it otherwise. Precise platforming isn't my cup of tea and most of this level consists of exactly that. The visuals have a somewhat cool aesthetic but feel very flat compared to what the game is like now. If this zone must be kept in the game, I think it should be reworked to something totally different with roughly the same aesthetic but significantly modernized.

Azure Temple Zone - C

Perhaps the most polarizing level in the entire game, I honestly enjoy this one a lot more than you might think—it's so nightmarishly hard that reaching a checkpoint, water bubble, or even a shield is rewarding and encourages me to keep going. I don't mind at all that this one doesn't have slopes (except that the bubble shield is totally uninteresting without them), but I do agree with the criticism that it always milks one gimmick dry before moving onto the next. Unlike Aerial Garden, I don't want this zone to be significantly changed in future updates, because it's a very unique flavor of fun that you don't really get anywhere else in the game.
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