Monday, December 7, 2009

REVIEW: Fairytale Fights (X360)

If there's even just one thing that Happy Tree Friends has taught us, it's that destroying innocence is fucking hilarious - take a bunch of cute characters of general kid's cartoon stereotype, then have them maim the crap out of each other. Fairytale Fights follows much the same example, putting you in the shoes of one of four classic fairytale characters (Red Riding Hood, Jack (and the Beanstalk), Snow White and the Naked Emperor), then gives you sharp instruments and a crowd of enemies. You guess what happens next. Simple mechanics and ludicrous blood are easily what makes this game - the problem is, most everything else is not up to scratch.

The first thing worth noting is that there's no actual attack button - to swing a weapon, you tap the right control stick in the direction you want to swing, and if you want a stronger swing, you hold it down in one direction, then shift it over to your intended swing direction. You can probably guess that this is quite confusing and awkward at first, but it doesn't take too long to adapt to, at least with the faster moves. However, despite its simplicity it feels like an extremely unecessary control scheme - you almost never have any incentive to swing in a specific direction. It only even affects gameplay differently in a grand total of two possibilities: launching enemies upwards into an air combo (which, again, is extremely confusing and at first seems to occur completely at random), and a shockwave attack (which is only accessible with a strong attack anyway). The rest of it is just the same move with different animations, to the point that you might as well have used an actual face button for the attacks instead. Not that this particularly gets in the way of the fun too heavily, it just comes off as incredibly pointless.

One thing it DOES tax on, however, is the camera. Now let's face it, anyone old enough to legally be interested in this kind of shit has the common sense to realize that the right stick should be used to guide the camera, or at the very least if it doesn't, that the auto-guided camera be some kind of gift from god that magically knows exactly where the player wants to be looking at any and all given times. And in Fairytale Fights, that, it isn't. For the most part it's barely enough to get by on, but you'll find it's not all too uncommon to be killed by enemies and hazards that aren't even onscreen, and on occasion you'll find yourself thrown with a camera angle that seems absolutely fucking hell bent on hiding enemies and treasure chests behind obstacles in the foreground, completely ruining your platforming either before or during tricky jumping sessions, or generally just throwing you for a loop by making it as hard as humanly possible to see just what the fuck you're actually doing.

Speaking of platforming, by fuck does this game want you dead. As if the camera wasn't bad enough, the hazards themselves are a work of sheer masochism that almost universally punish you with death for the slightest of slip-ups, can literally occur with no perceivable warning, and... well, perhaps this can be best explained with a single, memorable example. Imagine there are circular saws suspended in the air, and you have to actually jump on them and use them as platforms without touching the edges. Fair enough, not exactly unheard of in a platformer. Now imagine you have to jump between multiple blades at a time, and that you're constantly moved around on the surface of the spinning saw to fuck up your precision. Imagine that they have fucking blades within blades around the centre of the saw, forcing you to teeter the the sharp edge on the brink of the blade and the additionally edges spinning on the inside. Imagine that this all happens in the third fucking level of the game, at a time where you're still trying to get a basic grasp of the game. Now hold on, I'm not done yet. Additional to that, you have a camera angle not ideal for so many factors, the fact that your shadow is very difficult to see and possibly out-of-place due to dynamic lighting, making your jumps potentially innaccurate, and the possibility of multiple players attempting the same obstacle, resulting in the camera trying to keep all players onscreen with complete disregard for the lead player attempting to jump on an offscreen obstacle, and the fact that players can push and nudge each other around both deliberately AND accidentally is just icing on the motherfucking cake.

I mean, christ on a fuckstick, guys. It ain't quite I-Wanna-Be-The-Guy material, but it's starting to get pretty damn close. The only thing preventing it from being worse is the extremely lenient infinite lives system that respawns you frequently mere inches from where you last died.

Okay, maybe I went a little overboard there, so let's go back to what the game's best at and pretend for a moment those issues don't exist: simple, arcadey hack n' slash, and the riduculous, uncharacteristic amount of gore it yields. It's a button masher to be sure (or erm, a stick masher if you choose to be fucking picky), but the best bits are simply visual rewards for killing people. When you kill someone with a cutting weapon, their body is almost always bisected perfectly along the exact angle of the cut - the first time I've ever seen anything of this sort of such precision in a videogame. This goes double for the "Glory Attack" mode, enabling you to go absolutely apeshit with these slices and make multiple perfect cuts varying by the direction of the swing, making end results ranging from people divided into perfect quarters to poor sods sliced into sections so thin you could probably spread them onto a sandwhich like a piece of salami. And the blood? An intended and effective selling point of the game, as not only does it spill in such large amounts that you could literally paint entire buildings with, but a technology dubbed "volumetric liquid" enables it to actually behave like a realistic liquid, spraying onto other people, spreading across the ground over time, and to the delight of two of the game's achievements, even allows players to slide on it. This is definitive cartoon violence at its best, and in a videogame you probably won't see anything better for a long, long time. However, as far as sound and graphics go, the violence is all the game has going for it - other than that, the game has a severe lack of visual polish. Nearly all textures are damn-near flat, animations lack the visual oomph of a higher budget game, and sound? Outside of nasty slicing sounds, extremely underwhelming and sometimes nonexistent, and the game has a bad habit of using songs in the soundtrack in very unfitting contexts, even if some of them are pleasant on their own.

Finally, there's the boss fights. Most of the smaller bosses involve beating down on some fucktard until he stops moving, then pushing them into a hazard repeatedly until they don't get up again - understandably, this gets really tired and predictable once you figure it out the first time. The bigger bosses though, while not much better as far as repetition goes, really know how to make you feel really small, something other games rarely touch on like this. It's like the level itself works for them, and they won't hesitate to use it to try and kill you - ranging from tilting the entire platform you're standing on to try and knock you off, to blowing so damn hard that you have to practically glue the control stick in the opposite direction to avoid getting impaled on a nearby hazard. The rest is mostly pattern exploitation that, honestly, has gotten extremely old in the biz as of late, but for what it's worth, at least they feel genuinely big for a change.

Defining Points
- Blood, lots of it and just about as realisitic as possible in a videogame, along with extremely precise dismemberment that would usually have been generic and scripted to a small list of possibilities, sets a new bar for videogame blood and gore that is unlikely to be topped for quite a while.

- Gameplay is relatively simplistic on a basic level. Even if there are usually better tricks that the game doesn't properly introduce you to, the bare basics can be learned within a single level, making this as arcadey and pick-up-n'-play as they come.

- The larger bosses have some very interesting setpieces, on a scale few games out there can compete with.

What could've been done better
- Straight to the point, the platforming sucks. A combination of unsuitable camera angles, bad platforming shadow, masochistic level and hazard design, unsuitable camera angles, unintentional team-killing, unsuitable camera angles and unsuitable camera angles completely ruin any sense of fun and fairness that could have been earned from pressing the jump button, and hell, sometimes you'll find yourself falling off edges simply for attacking enemies too close to them. Did I mention unsuitable camera angles?

- The game overall suffers from a big lack of polish outside of the blood and gore it prides itself on, and yet, somehow still finds way to lag your system down nevertheless. In extreme circumstances it's possible to actually lag so badly that the game can freeze for a whole second or two, making me wonder if anyone actually tested this game very well.

- For the most part, using the right stick as an attack method comes off as pointless where using a button could easily have yielded a comparable, if not exactly the same, result. Which is infuriating in comparison to the horrendous unsuitable camera angles it inadvertantly causes.

- unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles unsuitable camera angles


4/10: Fairytale Fights is practically a one-trick pony, excelling in one area whilst performing average at best, horrible at worst in every other. If you can persist through the godawful platforming sequences and unsuitable camera angles then perhaps one could find pleasure in simple slash-'em-up gameplay and ludicrous blood, but to absolutely nobody else would I recommend a purchase of this game. Such technology deserves far better treatment than this.

unsuitable camera angles

Monday, May 25, 2009

REVIEW: Tenchu - Shadow Assassins

Tenchu is a franchise I have a bit of a soft spot for - admittedly, I haven't played the original Playstation game that people seem to hold in such high regard, it's still in general a stealth series I adore, even if their concepts could have been executed better most of the time. Shadow Assassins is just the latest entry into the franchise, and even though some of the fundementals of the series are changed to a decent amount of success, some aspects of the game prove to be extremely infuriating - sadly, more on fault of the game rather than the player.

Outside of gameplay, Shadow Assassins is merely decent in some fields, and bloody lovely in others. The graphics aren't particularly special, but they're enough to get by on and aren't particularly distracting or intrusive. The only real problem I have with the visuals is the animation, which ranges from okay to laughably bad - at several points I managed to kill enemies by setting them on fire, and I couldn't help but marvel at how ridiculously unfitting the death animation was. There is no ingame lipsynching and very little facial animation of any kind, which also tends to lend characters a very dated look when viewed close up. The game also supposedly boasts Havok physics, but what physics the game displays are incredibly clumsy and poorly thought out - dead bodies needlessly twitch for ages after they've dropped dead, and I've even had several incidents where I dropped a crate on the ground and it landed sideways on one of its corners... and stayed there, making jumping on them as a platforming aid completely impossible.

The aural side of the game, on the other side of the spectrum, is fantastic. Many of the sound effects take influences from old japanese movies, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't fit eerily well for a game of this kind. In fact, much of the time it's perfect. The sound you get from cleaving through some poor sod at the climax of a Hissatu stealth kill is also immensely satisfying, and easily enough to single-handedly make up for any possible inconsistent and less-than-stellar graphics that may compliment the phenom. But as far as sound goes, Tenchu's best trait is easily its soundtrack. It may take a bit to grow on you, and sometimes I felt the tone of the tune didn't quite match the context, but otherwise the soundtrack is simply a masterpiece and a real pleasure to listen to. I absolutely adore the feeling I get from losing a guard's interest after drawing trouble, which cues a set of strings that seems to compliment your sense of relief, note for note. Absolutely beautiful.

Getting into the matter of the way the game actually plays, the movement scheme immediately feels awkward from the second you start playing. I'm not going to deny that. If you're a fan of the Resident Evil 4/5 control scheme, this method of playing may seem less alien to you, and to be fair it gets less intrusive the more you play the game, but no matter how much you adjust, anything that involves jumping universally feels clumsy and limiting - often you'll find yourself pressing the jump button in excess of five times just to clear a waist-high fence, even if you take a running start first.

The hell starts, however, the moment you first get spotted by a guard. More often than not, if you are seen, the guard attacks you in a scripted cutscene, you disappear into a cloud of smoke and feathers and spawn right back at the entrance of the level, leaving behind any dead enemies and moved items that you might already have tinkered with. Yes, that's right, you don't even get a fucking say in the matter, you just stand still like an idiot and wait to be attacked. This happens quite often throughout the course of the game, even as you get better at it, and it doesn't get any less annoying every time it happens. The only way you can change the outcome of this is if you happen to have a sword with you (yes, you don't even start with a fucking sword in this game), which brings me to my next point: the combat.

The actual fighting in Tenchu - Shadow Assassins simply screams of "missed opportunity". The main highlight is guarding against enemy attacks - the enemy swings in a specific direction, as helpfully indicated with an assisting red line intersecting the screen, and you have to hold your blade horizontal to the direction of the strike to defend it - a perfectly angled block fills your Tenchu gauge more than usual, whilst a bad defense angle (such as guarding parallel to the strike) results in the blade taking damage, resulting in you losing the fight if it breaks and sending you back to the beginning of the stage as per normal. As far as defending goes, this is a very clever mechanic and would've worked well to compliment a gameplay style overall that suited it.

The only problem is that this gameplay style doesn't suit it. Every other concept the fighting utilizes screams of sheer retardation and it's a wonder that From Software thought these ideas would work well together. See, remember that Tenchu gauge I mentioned earlier? You can't attack until it's filled to the brim. When it is filled, the enemy can't attack nor defend, and you simply flail the Wiimote until either the other guy dies or your Tenchu gauge runs out again. I'm assuming that the attacking has some kind of directional sensitivity, but I never bothered with anything as such seeing as generic Wiimote shaking always does the job the same way, if not better. What the hell kind of sense is this supposed to make? I would've played an RPG if I expected turn-based fighting, not a reputable stealth series.

Like all decent stealth games, though, I can't particularly fault the game too badly for its horrendous fighting scheme - any seasoned stealth player will learn to avoid a direct confrontation either way, so as long as you don't suck, it won't be a problem. Of course, you could also simply forfeit the combat altogether and refuse to carry a blade at all, simply warping to the beginning of the level when spotted. It only becomes a burden when the fighting is forced on you for the boss fights that happen after completing some levels. Either way, it's a frustrating affair.

Naturally, the game is at its strongest when you learn to stay undetected and take out enemies stealthily. Tenchu has a strong reputation for stealth kills that vary depending on context, but Shadow Assassins goes way over the fuckin' top with them, to the point that you can kill an enemy whilst doing virtually anything.

- It's possible to get a different stealth kill for every one of the 8 directions you can approach an enemy on the ground
- It's possible to get a stealth kill whilst airborne, in mid-dash, whilst hanging from a cliff (on an opponent above AND below), standing on a support beam in the ceiling, pressing on a wall corner, holding up high in the inside corner of a wall ala Splinter Cell, hiding in the floor, a large jug, under a table or inside a storage compartment
- It's possible to get a stealth kill by knocking enemies into environmental hazards (such as wells, cliffs or fires and torches) via use of Shurikens or a handy fishing rod.
- It's possible to get a stealth kill in the middle of or just after a quick dash between bushes, and also to kill up to three enemies in one Hissatu if they are bunched together tightly enough.
- It's even possible to beat other Ninja to the punch and throw a Kunai at them into their hiding place - they'll never get seen seeing as they were in invisible hiding spots to begin with.

It's worth noting that several of the close-quarters stealth kills now utilize Quick Time Events, utilizing motions with the Wiimote and Nunchuk to complete the kill. Quite frankly, these feel unnecessary in practice, and sometimes even frustrating, as failing them yet again causes the guard to counter, spot you and usher your ass back to the beginning of the stage once again. In some instances, the QTEs just add to the satisfation of catching some fucker off guard and snapping their neck - the actual movement of flicking the Wiimote and Nunchuk in opposing directions works well and feels in-character with the rest of the scene. What really irritated the hell out of me, though, are the stealth kills that require a thrusting movement.

Now to be honest, at first I had it down that these movements in particular were incredibly unresponsive, most notably because I'd perform the action indicated onscreen in excess of three times within the generous timeframe that was offered to me... but as it turns out, the problem wasn't the reponsiveness of the controls, as strange as it may sound. To demonstrate my point, I'll use a Hissatu from a bush as an example, where your character drags an enemy in and stabs them out of sight. The game shows an image of a Wiimote thrusting into the screen to compliment the QTE, which consequently, I failed 4 times out of 5. Right near the end of the game I learned what the problem was - it was the wrong input. I was supposed to thrust downwards.

Just in case you thought there was a typo there, I'm going to repeat that last bit for emphasis. There was an onscreen prompt that indicated to thrust towards the screen. The REAL QTE required me to thrust into the ground, as if the victim was lying there.


And as it turns out, this isn't even the only example. There are other QTE inputs in the game which hardly resemble the real, working solution at all, and sometimes require educated or even random guesses contrary to the button/flail prompts and closer to that of the animations of your protagonist. Never in the history of all of videogaming have I ever seen a game that expects you to outright ignore an onscreen prompt and instead do something completely contrary to the game's instructions. This is easily one of the nastiest fuckups I've seen in the gaming biz, let alone the genre, and can single-handedly ruin the whole experience if you can't figure out how to decipher the vauge onscreen prompts. It's a good thing I told you first then, isn't it?

Defining Points
- The soundtrack for the game is simply amazing, and aside from an odd out-of-context usage here and there, it benefits the situation no matter where it is used. The sound effects are also suitably retro and fit into the game surprisingly well, despite their dated and even somewhat cheesy nature.

- The sheer amount of methods that exist to kill your targets is surprisingly large, to the extent that you can practically kill an enemy whilst doing anything, no matter what it may be, and get a completely different stealth kill for each context. Pulling one off in itself after careful planning is a feeling of satisfaction in itself, and the main selling point of a game of this kind.

- There is plenty of potential replay value for those that look for it - you can replay the story missions to improve on your initial ranking, which in turn unlocks a series of 50 side-missions which are graded seperately and give extra incentive to play the game. There is also collectable pieces of a mysterious map and a host of secret, extremely potent items to find if you look hard enough.

- The defending mechanic in the swordplay combat is a very good idea, and in fact is one of the best swordplay mechanics in a Wii game I've seen in ages...

What could've been done better
-...but it still doesn't change the fact that the rest of the combat completely sucks ass. Reducing the fighting down to turn-based block-attack schemes and reducing the actual attacking to generic waggle is one of the worst ideas imaginable, however good the guarding phase may actually be.

- Even without loss of progress, restarting the map over and over again because you got spotted is needlessly frustrating, particularly when the solution to a problem isn't immediately obvious. There is no justification, at all, for robbing us of the ability to flee from a confrontation and hide instead, either.

- The prompts for ingame QTEs are sometimes outright inaccurate, and the game in these cases expects you to perform an action completely contrary to the instructions displayed on the screen. It is simply unbelieveable that any developer could make such a fucking retarded mistake in this day and age.

7/10: There is a great game hidden somewhere in here, but it is buried under some extremely infuriating mistakes in the conceptual and development process, resulting in a game that rewards only the perfectionist player. To veterans of the franchise and/or genre, this can prove to be an experience enjoyable enough to warrant a purchase, but newbie players will be too busy tearing their hair out to make any ends of it. For fans of the franchise or the stealth genre only - everyone else should steer clear and buy a Splinter Cell game instead.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

RANT: Why Sonic shouldn't listen to his fans

Just as a present for those who can't stand my tl;dr mongering, I'll give you guys a short version. Here's four reasons why Sega/Sonic Team shouldn't listen to you:

1. Fanservice alone doesn't improve the quality of an already crap game.
2. Sonic Team has a habit of twisting fan demand into unusual and nonsensical directions - a trend which should've been obvious the moment Shadow was resurrected.
3. Nowadays there is a massive gap between nostalgia-themed games and entries designed with modern intentions, making it completely impossible to make a universally acceptable game based off your word alone.
4. Because you're most likely a complete moron with no game design experience of any kind and no understanding of the possible repercussions your actions would have on the franchise.

Get it? Good. If I seem overly blunt about it, you should realize there's good reason for it - this crap has gone on for TEN YEARS almost uncontested whilst fanboys prance under the hideously mistaken delusion that they somehow know better than Sega AND Sonic Team with absolutely nothing to show for it. To say I'm absolutely sick of it would be a fuckin' understatement.

I could probably finish this post right here and still have a worthwhile topic to go off, but that's not what you guys know me for, is it? Let me go into a bit greater detail here, and perhaps finish it all off with a great big list.

Perhaps we should start with how this silly trend started in the first place. Let's go back to the days where point # 2 (fanservice twisting) was less extensive - between the original Sonic Adventure and Sonic Heroes. This was also (to mere coincidence, mind - don't start getting ideas, fanboys) back when the games where debatably good, but undeniably liked by most. It's pretty obvious to me how these entries could be labelled as fanservice, what with SA1 having a six-character roster (complete with unique movesets, stage ladders and fucking theme songs), SA2 introducing the more "serious" approach to the franchise (and subsequently Shadow, an instant fan-favourite) and Heroes having debatebly the largest playable roster in the history of the franchise. But the problem isn't what these games did to please the fans, at least in these select entries - rather, it was how the fans themselves recieved them.

I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest expert in fanboy psychology, even if I have a habit of boasting about it occasionally. But this is what I see as a major milestone in a fandom - the point where fans quite simply stop caring what the game itself is about, and just start mindlessly buying everything that has the mascot's face on it. To be fair, this isn't limited exclusively to Sonic (matter of fact, this is an incredibly serious problem as far as the Zelda fandom is concerned), but nonetheless, it's still the first spark that would later trigger the raging, never-ending inferno that would later become the modern Sonic fanbase.

To my experience, the one way of destroying this mentality is to take the series along a route that isn't the one they've been following for the majority of the franchise's life previously. Which brings me to the next main game in the series - Shadow the Hedgehog. And boy howdy, did they deviate the shit out of that approach. What started as the simple prospect of bringing closure to Shadow's storyline and making him the main character in the process, ended in all manner of gimmicks, plots and designs completely alien (pun intended) to nearly every ideal the franchise had previously established. That they did this without changing the game engine from previous entries is quite a feat indeed. And this is coming from somebody who LIKED the prospect of guns in a Sonic(esque) game.

Yet despite all this - the game inexplicably featuring games, the plot somewhat darker than can be tolerated from a kid's franchise, the game overall turning out to be arguably the worst entry in the series even today (second only to you-know-what)... Sonic Team still did exactly what the fans asked of them. They made a solid effort to conclude Shadow's role in the series and finally explain his mysterious past instead of hiding it behind the lame plot device known as amnesia, and to top it all off, they made one of the most popular characters of the series the main character and never let him out of it until the game was finished. It's not the developer's fault if your demands don't a good game make - if anything, it's YOURS.

In any case, Shadow's game was what eventually led into the convulted mess that was to be 2006 Sonic and consequently, today's fanbase. For this there was two reasons - as mentioned above, the sudden break away from traditional methods is one of them. The other is a common belief across nearly every franchise greater than five years of age - that they can do better by creating Sonic games exactly as they were in the "olden days" (subjective as that term might be). These two phenomenoms don't work well together, and eventually create the infamous "modern vs classic" debate that will likely persist until the end of fuckin' time. A debate for another time, to be sure.

Alright, history lesson's over, so let's get down to the meaty bits. One puzzling attribute I've noticed in today's fandom is that they cannot recognise the very things that they demand to see in a game, even when it is implemented into the game as a key feature. They blindly refuse to admit they're wrong about anything even in the face of such strong evidence and continue to request the same thing over and over, ignorant of Sonic Team's failure to produce a worthwhile game out of it. Well, I don't mean to be fuckin' blunt, but...

It didn't work the first time, dipshit.

So why should Sonic Team be expected to continually follow through with your retarded requests when your theory has been repeatedly been put into practice, fruitlessly, and when anyone else with even an ounce of common fucking sense these days will go way beyond the call of duty to take delight in reminding you that you're completely full of shit? Here's a word of advice, pal - parroting the words of other fanboys doesn't necessarily mean you or anyone else has the right idea of how to go about the issue - if anything it just proves you're a complete tool and you wouldn't know what a good idea was if it came around to your house, knocked on your door and told you to fuck off.

So next time you think about claiming Sega or Sonic team hasn't done everything possible to please their fans and undertake their requests, well, look no further than this handy dandy chronicle of all fanservice, right off the top of my head, since the invention of the Dreamcast:

- Sonic Adventure 1: Largest playable roster to date, featuring individual storylines complete with stage ladders, intros and outros, character themes and unique movesets. Boasted a deeper storyline that every game previously lacked. The design, visually, is still comparable to the more classic entries in the series.
- Sonic Adventure 2: Much the same, only the storylines where bunched between three seperate arcs instead of one for each char. Implements a long-requested "serious" outlook for a plot, along with two new characters to accompany it. One becomes a major fan favourite. Introduces rail grinding, which becomes a part of nearly every Sonic game thereafter thanks to the fans. Arguably the best story ever written for a Sonic game.
- Sonic Heroes: Fans asked for Sonic, Tails and Knux playable simultaneously ala Sonic & Tails in classic games, and ST delivered. Resurrects Shadow and Metal Sonic. Has the largest playable cast of any Sonic game in history, if you count the members of each team seperately (4 teams of 3 chars = total of 12). Special Stages and Chaos Emerald collecting return.
- Shadow the Hedgehog: Features Shadow in his own game and brings closure to Shadow's backstory at long last. The "serious" story style returns in full force. Players get to choose, to an extent, how the story ends.
- Sonic Riders: Is a Sonic racing game that isn't Sonic R. Careful what you wish for.
- Sonic Rush: Established a gameplay style more heavily oriented around speedy gameplay than any other game previously. Special Stages and Chaos Emeralds return again.
- Sonic '06: Is practically a spiritual Sonic Adventure remake right down to the sharing of level themes (most notably a chase scene directly ripped off from SA1) and a majority of the moveset intact (in theory, not excecution though). Features 9 playable characters (including a hedgehog that isn't a Sonic clone) and four story arcs. Hub worlds return. Upgrades return. Side missions introduced. Health bars are significantly nerfed.
- Secret Rings: Features only Sonic playable. Focuses on linear on-rails gameplay.
- Sonic Rush Adventure: Changes nothing from the original, except level progression and special stages. Takes place in Blaze's dimension. Eggman is actually the final boss for a change.
- Sonic Unleashed: Basically Rush 3D. Sonic-only gameplay again (in a technicality). Water-running returns. QTEs are implemented (yes, believe it or not people actually ask for this shit). Human chars are more cartoony now.
- Whatever else I couldn't think of in the space of 30 minutes (go ahead, add your own! Don't be shy!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

REVIEW: IGN "Sonic and the Black Knight" review

Yes, it's IGN on Sonic again, folks, so I imagine you're already having preconceptions of where this is going. Sad to say, you're probably right on most counts - whining about pointless gimmicks and classic days, listing virtually every example of such as if it were to prove some kind of point, and then finally concluding, as usual, that this outing is the worst addition to the series yet. You're probably not surprised that IGN still holds to this same template for practically all of its reviews on the subject of Sonic, but what might very well surprise you is that this was all just the first paragraph of the review I described there. And it doesn't get much better from there.

Naturally, they do praise the game for its visual and aural qualities, but that's to be expected - it's about the one thing you CAN'T talk shit about in some way. It certaintly ain't Sonic Unleashed, but for a Wii game the graphics are incredible, and the voice acting follows up from the slow-but-steady curve of improvement that Unleashed helped to start up. They also mentioned that the dialogue was pants, which did seem to make sense before I'd tried the game personally, but I can't find any sign of what they're talking about. Unless they have a problem with the way people actually spoke back in those days.

But you don't read a review just to hear people talk about the graphics do you? Of course not, we can already tell from a glance whether or not the game looks good. So now we go over to the gameplay critique, and even though Matt Casamassina does poke apon a decent point every now and then, much of the remainder of the review screams of ignorance and hypocrisy - not like you expected any less from IGN.

Naturally, the first thing Matt picks on is the lack of speed. Now I don't know why speed should be a defining factor in a game featuring swordplay combat, but even so, I get the impression Matt wasn't even trying. Why should working up a decent amount of speed be an obligatory part of the game as opposed to something that requries some actual skill, built apon over the course of the game (however short it is) to use effectively? It's almost as if they just want a single "go fast" button to go through the whole game.

Oh, wait.

Moving onto the control scheme. I suppose it's to be expected that Matt would complain about generic waggle controls, and ordinarily I'd forgive that kind of complain in most circumstances. But what really strikes me as odd here is that Matt himself has reviewed two games previously (Zelda: Twilight Princess, Sonic and the Secret Rings) with virtually identical attack methods and made them out to be some kind of godsend - on the latter game, I might add, he mentioned that the shaking, quote, "feels great - much better than pressing any button". So what's the deal? Is this kind of waggle control a good thing or not? This kind of redundancy only serves to confuse readers, particularly the ones who regularly frequent or even subscribe to IGN, and I can't say it's good for the writer's credibility either.

And even all that said, the reviewer tends to make it out that all you have to do is to waggle furiously to get anything done, again quote "all you have to do is shake continuously and you'll lay waste to your enemies before they are done with their opening dialogs". For many standard stages early on in the game, this is actually true, as most of the initial enemies die in a single hit before they can land a hit. The chances of this approach actually succeeding rapidly falls in probability as the game progresses though, as the game throws lances (making it impossible to do this kind of frontal attack), giants (who grab you if you get too close within slashing range), and of course my favourite, the bosses (who will literally kick your ass 30 times if you attempt to waggle-mash them).

It all makes me wonder if Matt actually attempted to hold the control stick in a direction other than up when attempting to attack - yes, that's right, even though the motion control has the approximate depth of a button press, the control stick still yields completely different attacks if you tilt in other directions whilst attacking, so in a manner of speaking it's exactly the same control scheme as Twilight Princess. So if you enjoyed Twilight Princess, go ahead and get the game anyway because obviously this complaint doesn't bother you all that much. Point is, you'd be lying if the combat was defined by the rate at which a player can shake a Wiimote if only for this reason alone.

And all of that is even ignoring the possibility that the game was built for a casual audience, who probably couldn't care less how indepth the motion control is - they just want to flail a wiimote about and watch a character onscreen swing to the rhythm, simple as that.

I've also heard some complaints of input lag as far as the Wiimote swinging goes. This, again, is actually true, but only partly - whenever two characters clash swords in a boss fight, the game requires specifically timed shakes to parry the opponent's strikes and break the clash (it deserves mention that this process both looks and sounds absolutely fucking awesome, by the way), but I found with the clash inputs that the shake not only has to come well in advance, but also still has to be inputted within the time the shaking Wiimote appears onscreen, making the area of opportunity deceptively small and incredibly confusing. For this reason I have NEVER won a clash outside of the King Arthur fights (and even that was bloody annoying), and it really baffles me as to how I'm expected to get this done.

Outside of that, though? Almost nothing. The swords swings themselves are occasionally slow and slightly unwieldly (even then, it only takes a level or three to adjust), but I've never noticed any actual input lag in the main game throughout the entire playthrough. Did me and Matt actually play the same game here?

Back on the subject of speed again, I should probably reiterate - yes, I know we're talking about The Fastest Thing Alive here, but why should the game be expected to go fast in the first place when clearly the swordplay is supposed to be the main focus of the actual game? Regardless of that though, there are actually ways to play the game on speed, ranging from comboing a Homing Attack and spinning sword move together (which is an awesome combination that tears down peons like a set of goddamn bowling pins) to, oh I dunno, jumping over the enemies altogether. I strongly suspect Matt was so stuck into the "lol waggle" mentality that he didn't give the game any creative thought at all. By Matt's logic you could say the same thing about Devil May Cry - claim that the game is all about pressing X until the other guys die, and completely ignore any possibility of using any other method of attack. Why do reviewers always do this?

Defining Points

- Matt shows strong praise for the graphical and aural displays that the game offers without tying it into the game's overall score. Smart move - if we played games based on their graphical capability we'd all be hailing Crysis as a Halo Killer.

- Writing skill is obviously top-notch, with very few, if any, spelling or grammatical errors throughout the whole two-page review. He also uses some pretty colourful dialouge when he describes how much he thinks the game sucks.

- Actually acknowledges the amount of fanservice put into the game. Considering many people, fans and reviewers alike, bitch about the very same things they asked for years ago, this is incredibly rare for the franchise.

What could've been done better

- The review is overall incredibly inconsistent and bordering on outright hypocrisy. It deliberately overlooks gameplay components for the sake of making the game out to be generic and repetitive, and goes as far as to exaggerate flaws beyond their area of context to emphasise that view.

- It has actually been proven that Matt didn't finish the game fully (up to the secret final boss). To a person with half a brain, this won't matter - one doesn't search through a mountain of shit in hopes of finding a cherry sundae and expect even if they do find one that it still won't have the unmistakable taste and stench of shit all over it - but to less intelligent readers this comes off as obligatory, so they're bound to get the wrong impression easily.

- IGN still stand firmly by its template for Sonic reviews - reference roots, reference modern failings, make current game out to be worst yet. It's so predictable nowadays that it comes off as utterly pathetic and lazy.

- The text descriptions in the score summary was repeatedly edited after the review was published - come on man, if the review ain't even finished then why bother even posting it up on the net?


4/10: Briefely touches apon a good point or two only to twist the truth and make the game out worse than it actually is, particularly to its actual target audience. This review is suitable only for deluded anti-fanboys who get a laugh out of people pointing and laughing at Sonic's shortcomings, but even then, you could get better material of that simply by watching Yahtzee's review of Sonic Unleashed.

This review is a PARODY written in the spirit of April Fool's and is not an accurate reflection of anybody's views. If you take anything in this article seriously, you are a complete fucking moron. Good day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

REVIEW: Sonic Unleashed

Now we all jumped into this game with high expectations, and admittedly, I'm no exception. Unleashed, having been hyped by the fanboys for months prior to release as yet another prospective salvation of the series, inevitably has a lot to live up to regardless of what it strived to accomplish in the first place. And while that's not what it achieves, it's much closer to it than Sonic's previous outings, and is still a pretty damn good game if you can learn to persist through its shortcomings.

The first thing worth noting is that, even in sections that directly resemble its gameplay, Unleashed doesn't play anything at all like previous Adventure-style Sonic games. To some, this is a big plus, as they all played like a piece of shit anyway. However, others will be completely thrown off by the new controls and mechanics for the majority of the game – and to make matters worse, Unleashed ditches some of the best things about previous gameplay styles and adds in a new set of problems to deal with. But first, the controls.

In Unleashed, the ever-(in)famous Homing Attack is now assigned to the X button instead of the A one. Now normally this would be an improvement, but now the homing attack clashes with the mach dash instead, which is assigned to the same button. To make matters worse, not only has Unleashed removed the ability to turn on a dime in midair, or for that matter turn at all (one of the major saving graces of Sonic '06s terrible control scheme), but later on you unlock the ability to mach dash in midair – which often leaves you completely overshooting your destination if you miss a homing attack or were just plain trying to use it as a platforming aid like you normally would. AND, if you jumped backwards to avoid an enemy attack, you can't homing attack it until you turn around, which you can't do while you're airborne. Most people won't recognize this early on, and instead do a homing attack backwards unwillingly, most likely into a pit of instant death.

I can understand re-assigning the control scheme, sure. But for christ's sake Sonic Team, do you always have to make two moves clash so badly on the same button? Why not just assign the attack to a general, you know, ATTACK button, so that I don't keep using the boost by accident? I know I could've been saved quite a few dozen cheap deaths if only the Homing Attack had been assigned to a dual function button that actually made sense.

To top it all off, daytime Sonic gameplay comes off feeling somewhat slippery on the first few playthroughs, probably as thanks to the new acceleration system. If Sonic simply moved at a static speed for the first few moments of acceleration, that could easily have been solved, and would've made the more precision based platforming not quite as frustrating as it has been at the moment. But regardless, any player can adapt to it over time.

What can't really be adapted to is specific Secret-Rings style sections in which the camera and movement is pretty much stuck forward. Some of these expect you to overcome a minefield of obstacles with the Quick Step function, which true to the name is a sidestep that reacts quicker than the control stick. The problem is, whilst the obstacles have at least three clearly defined “lanes” to define their pattern of appearance, your movement sometimes refuses to snap to these obvious lanes when you use a quick step. I've even had occurances where mines appeared in both left and right lanes, where I tried quickstepping to centre from the right lane but ended up overshooting it and hitting the mine on the left lane instead because the quick step didn't stop where it was obviously intended to. Fucking this up ends in INSTANT DEATH in some levels, which creates a whole new level of frustration when the game doesn't do something it was obviously intended to do (Adabat levels are a nightmare as far as this is concerned).

For that matter, what is Sonic Team's fetish with stupid instant deaths in a Sonic game anyway? Why punish us for falling into a hole or shallow water when it's repeatedly been proven Sonic at the very least can survive both? Hell, even if there's no other way out of a hole, they could at least not punish us by killing us instantly and give us a way back up instead. If I fall from the top of a street level building, why can't I just continue the level at street level? If I fall into a pool of water I can actually SEE THE BOTTOM OF, why can't I just run through the damn water until I get where I need to go? Just because Sonic can't swim doesn't mean he can't hold his breath until he gets back to the surface. It's simply baffling. That ST doesn't give us any early warning of some of these hazards until I've already fallen into is also maddening.

Don't let all that turn you off though – Sonic Unleashed is a game that demands utter perfection and punishes you with instant death if you can't provide as such, but if you survive well enough to reach the end of stage intact, it doesn't go unrewarded. Not only is it immensely satisfying to beat daytime levels with a high degree of success, you also get to keep the rings you earned from the level itself (and believe me, it'll always be plenty – Sonic doesn't lose all his rings on the first hit anymore. ABOUT DAMN TIME SEGA) as well as experience you get from defeating enemies from the level. “Experience”, you say? Yes, Unleashed has turned to an upgrades system again. But don't panic – unlike Secret Rings, this is very simple stuff, and you won't have to keep tweaking it before each mission – for that matter, upgrading is hardly a mandatory requirement of completing the game at all, so the player is free to improve according to their tastes and expect not to be punished for it. Which, however, brings me to my next point. The ever-controversial Werehog half of the game.

In regards to aforementioned upgrades system, the Werehog has more than twice as many fields to upgrade, but thankfully still basic and manageable according to taste. The problem is, without a decent “Combat” level (the field that dictates what kinds of combos the Werehog has), the Werehog is a complete piece of shit, to be blunt. He only starts with the most basic combos in the game (not much more than the XXXX and YYYY combos) and expects you to work your way up to additional techniques that, for all intents of purposes, should have been at least partly available to you right from the fucking start of the game. Getting new moves over the course of the game is cool, but that should NEVER come at the cost of early game playability – it should already be enjoyable the first time you play it. THIS was a mistake that Secret Rings made, and sadly, they haven't learned from it yet.

Another issue is the style of fighting that the Werehog is programmed in – instantly likable to any game in the Warriors franchise. While this is likely to please fans of the genre, the combo system comes off feeling incredibly scripted and cumbersome. Do I REALLY have to press 5 buttons just to get the ONE move I need in a particular combo? Why can't all the good moves be added as completely separate attacks, and left to the player to their imagination to string them together according to context? Okay, I'll admit that's a little fanboy bias on my part (I REALLY like Devil May Cry's fighting engine), but I feel adopting this approach could have earned the Werehog side of things an immense improvement. Flailing around waiting for the cool moves to show up feels nothing short of awkward, and probably should have been done away with. Not to mention it ruins the pacing of fight scenes and can sometimes reduce Werehog gameplay down to a “stop-go-stop-go” pace in terms of combat.

To add onto this is the “critical” attack, which is Unleashed's version of the finishing move. When an enemy is below half-health, you can grab them and, apon completing a QTE command or two, royally kick the shit out of them for an instant kill. The problem is, whilst some of these are actually cool to look at, most are underwhelming, and all have only one finisher assigned to the same enemy, which furthermore makes them unnecessarily repetitive. Not only that, but they completely destroy the pace of a fight whenever they're used. Quite frankly, I believe that this shouldn't have even been in the game at all, save for boss fights.

Then there's the platforming. A welcome addition to many, as it gives a break from the combat scenes which were bound to get immensely repetitive if carried out too long. The game never tells you you have to HOLD the B button down in order to grab a ledge with proper success, and this often leads to frustration in the early game, especially if the game yet again punishes you with instant death for fucking it up. But in general, once you get the hang of the platforming, it gives off its own unique pleasant feel. If you screw up a jump or accidentally fall off a ledge, you may find that four times out of five, you can simply stretch-grab the ledge you just came from and try again. And given that most of the platforming is hovering above instant death, normally you'd think the game is being unfair on you, but if anything it gives this aspect of the game its own tense, nervous feel. Sure, you'll fall in a few times and get angry at it, but once you learn to avoid it, it's a great feeling.

Now that I have the main gameplay out of the way, let's talk about the hubs. Now, I've never particularly liked hub levels, and Unleashed didn't change that much, but for what it's worth, it's an improvement. There's a lot to interact with this time around, and sometimes doing so can actually lead to interesting results sometimes, even giving you a side mission if you look hard enough. This however ditches a very useful function that Sonic '06 introduced with its version – it actually TELLS you what NPCs do without talking to them, so you could find important pointers and side missions without having to talk to every single fucking one of them. Why Unleashed didn't use this function, I have no idea. It certainly would've saved a lot of people a lot of time right off the bat if they had any idea of who was worth chatting to and who just gave you utterly useless banter.

Then there's the medals. Medals? Yeah, those shiny red and blue things you see lying around in stages and hub levels if you look hard enough for them. They've been in Sonic '06 before, and fans complained that they were completely fucking useless, rightfully so. Now, they've made the medals a mandatory requirement of unlocking new levels. Way to go fanboys, you've done it again. I really wish Sonic Team would just stop listening to you guys, because nothing good ever comes out of it.

But I digress. What's worth noting is that the medals come in two varieties – Sun medals and Moon medals. Sun medals unlock daytime stages, whereas Moon medals unlock nighttime stages. Was there really any need to have this ridiculous two-tier unlocking system for the levels? Why not just one type of medal that can unlock both levels? For that matter, you'd think the Sun medals would be most prevalent in daytime stages... but paradoxically, it's exactly the opposite. Don't get me wrong, both stages have both kinds of medals, but they always have far more of one kind than the other. It's simply baffling. Why do I have to play daytime levels to unlock more nighttime ones? Simple answer. It's Sega's excuse for forcing you to play as more than one side of the gameplay.

While I like both playtypes pretty much equally, this should NOT happen. An alternate gameplay type should be an option – NOT a requirement. What makes matters worse is, whilst daytime Sonic gives you barely anything in terms of experience and medals unless you stop and look for them (something the gametype STRONGLY discourages), the Werehog is a resource gathering machine, giving you easily 5 times as much experience (sometimes in excess of 10) without even trying, and naturally, the medals are much easier and less cumbersome to find, given that his type of gameplay is perfectly suited to exploration in the first place. That's just plain harsh on people who came to play simply for a speed fix, even if it was incredibly obvious you were going to have to play some Werehog eventually either way.

In short:

Defining points
- Normally, being more of a gameplay critic than anything else, I would never even comment on the graphics... but these? Fucking gorgeous, without any question whatsoever. The Hedgehog Engine is a work of genius, and I can't wait to see more games use it (Condemned 3 anyone? Those light effects would be incredible in such a dark game). All they really need to fix is the pop-up and occasional laggy moment and Sega's pretty much set.
- More to the point, the sense of speed you get from Unleashed is without any equal, achieving exactly what most people have been expecting out of a Sonic game as of late. Some might argue that Sonic Team's usage of raw speed has pretty much turned most of the game into an interactive cutscene in terms of linearity, but if this is the most enjoyable interactive cutscene ever made, then by all means sign everybody up.
- The replay value here is IMMENSE. Not only is there a lot of unlockable content to search for (including three particularly amusing shorts not featured as a main part of the game), but the levels themselves are enjoyable enough to warrant at least a second playthrough each. The decent usage of alternate paths and hub side quests helps this.
- The Werehog, whilst far from perfect, is still better than any of Sonic Team's previous efforts at alternate gameplay concepts, and has more than enough on him to make for a refreshing change of pace to Sonic's daytime stages as long as you're not a fucking fanboy about it. The puzzle sections, whilst somewhat basic out of context, will actually make you think about it the first time around.

What could've been done better
- Instant-death-centric level design. For ONCE, I'd like to see a Sonic game without levels that have death hazards with no warning or even any chance of seeing it before you've already fallen into it. If Sega aims to keep Sonic games this fast, they're going to have to take these out completely over time if the games are to be even remotely fair. Preferably replacing them with less than ideal alternate routes instead. All they really serve to do is to punish the incentive of going fast, which I might remind some of you is the MAIN GIMMICK OF THE GAME.
- The mandatory medal collecting, whilst even in concept an unwelcome aspect of the game, still could've been done much better than this. Having to play one gametype to unlock levels for the exact opposite gametype is incredibly stupid, and it doesn't help that one of them totally sucks for gathering resources of any kind. For that matter, there shouldn't have been two different medals to begin with. Make us use the werehog to get the nighttime key for the boss, sure, but don't make us use him or even the hegehog form simply to access each other's levels. That's just plain retarded.
- Some functions on the control scheme still clash with each other, namely the boost and homing attack but also the werehog's grab and finisher moves clash to a lesser extent. If the situation even occurs ONCE that I press a button expecting one function and instead getting another, it should be incredibly obvious that one of those functions don't belong on that button, especially if it gets you killed. While I've mentioned that finisher move, it probably shouldn't have even been in the game, or at the very least provided more than one finisher per enemy.
- Daytime Sonic, at least compared with the Werehog, feels unusually clumsy when it comes to slower-paced platforming. Quite frankly, if the acceleration aspect of the game didn't apply so much to the slower speeds of the game, this probably wouldn't be so much of a problem.
- At the risk of giving away spoilers... way to totally FUCK UP the ending, Sega. I didn't think it was possible to do any worse than Solaris.


7/10. Whilst it isn't quite a franchise revival, Unleashed is a great game for those who can persist through to the end, and will keep those people playing well beyond the 10-odd-hour storyline. Whilst it certainly isn't for impatient gamers, it won't fail to reward people for dedicating time and effort to it, and overall has more polish than any Sonic game since its reinvention in three dimensions.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CONCEPT: Sonic Revised

Ahem. Due to sudden RL workload, I haven't been able to find much time to work on reviews and general tl;dr ANGST. So to help bridge the time between now and when I find the time to do anything of such, I thought it'd be nice to copypasta my old unfinished Sonic concept doc from Concept Mobius... which in itself is delayed until opportunity to work on it is presented. If anybody has input to help me improve or complete the doc, either leave me a comment or pester me on one of my local boards - for reference, the original thread is located here:

Basic controls
These are control schemes that are generally common between most characters in the whole cast. This is using the X360 control pad as an example.
Left stick: Movement. Tilt the control stick, and your character will move in that direction relative to the camera angle.
Right stick: Camera, lock-on (click). (See below section for specific usage).
A: Jump, Midair action. Pressing the button causes the player to jump into the air, and the longer it is held down, the higher he will jump and the longer he will stay in the air. By tapping the button again in midair, the character performs a unique action to further boost his acrobatics, ranging from double jumps to freeform flight.
X: Primary attacks. The basic moves at a character's disposal. They are typically ordinary and easy to use attacks with little penalty or risk for usage, but on their own are generally ineffective in the long run. Tapping the button repeatedly produces faster, combo based attacks, whereas holding the button down (without releasing, unless otherwise stated) will produce a stronger, directional attack, propelling either the character or the victim in a specified direction.
Y: Secondary attacks. By far the more spectacular attacks to use, not to mention the more effective sort, but much more punishing to use and again, ineffective when used stand-alone. The effects of these moves are much more varied than the Primaries, ranging from area-based attacks to linear charges, counterattacks and even movement assistance. The true flare of each character shows in these moves... especially when combined with Primary attacks.
B: Interaction, Pivot move. Push a button. Grab an item. Chat it up with the locals. Anything else that doesn't entail punching something in the face. This will also trigger a Pivot move when close to an enemy (will be addressed in a future section - for now, let's just say they're similar to a typical grab, but their actual applications spread far beyond that).
Rtrigger: Unique action. A single, gameplay defining action that can easily turn the tides of battle in your favour on its own. This is easily the most varied and valuable technique in a character's arsenal, and mastering it is key to becoming a true master of its trade (to get an idea how important this action is, consider how much Silver used this in Sonic '06).
Ltrigger: Speed move. Another character specific technique, this one more centered on assisting movement or traversal in some manner. Speed boosts or sudden leaps are common, but the effects can vary further between certain characters.
Rbumper: Switch characters. This is used when you have an assisting character tagging along (Eg: Tails with Sonic) to switch places with them and use the assisting character instead. Be wary that tagalong characters have separate statistics and equipment settings from the former lead character, and thus may be required to recollect rings or reorganise held items to the new tagalong character if necessary.
Lbumper: Team action. When nearby an ally or tagalong, use this command to regroup them into a cooperative action. The effects of this action may sometimes vary depending on context or the assisting character, but they are generally useful techniques and often a very effective action where all single-character tactics fail.

In the offchance that a Wii version is developed, the controls would be a little something like this:
Control Stick = Movement
IR = Camera
A = Jump
B = Primary Attack
+ = Secondary attack
Down D-Pad = Interact
Z = Unique Action
C = Speed Move
Left D-Pad = Team Action
Right D-Pad = Switch Characters
- = Camera Lockon
Of course, all of these are completely interchangeable to suit the tastes of the player. As far as button placements go they can be assigned to any button the player wants, and even a few motion controls for those that prefer waggling on the Wii variant.

Camera Controls
The camera can be used in one of three ways – each of them differs drastically to the ordinary camera controls you'd expect from a typical 3D Sonic game. These are:
“Speed” camera – the default Camera setup. Camera turns instantly relative to its own facing – if the camera stick is tilted left or right, the camera is instantly rotated 90 degrees, whereas tilting it downwards will quickly turn 180 and face backwards. This makes the camera stick work as a compass of sorts, with Up corresponding to the camera's current direction before the adjustment. Of course, angles between simple Left, Right and Down are more than possible, and allow the player comfortable time to fine-tune the camera angle before releasing the stick back to neutral and thereby setting the new angle. Because of the rapid camera movement involved, the Speed camera is perfectly suited to very demanding situations such as rapid cornering, midair combat, multiple enemies or otherwise fast-paced endeavors.
“Focus” camera – this centers the camera directly behind the player, causing it to control more like a console FPS – simply tilt the camera stick in any direction and the camera will scroll in that direction proportional to the amount of pressure applied to it. To activate the Focus camera, simply click the camera stick inwards without tilting it, and do so again to return to Speed camera. This mode, while nowhere near as fast to react as the Speed camera, is much more precise, and very useful for such feats as moving perfectly straight, aiming projectiles
“Lock-on” camera – this maintains focus on an enemy at all times, regardless of the player's actions. All the camera stick does in this state is deviate somewhat from the current target, so as to catch a glimpse of its immediate surroundings. To activate the Lock-on camera, click the camera stick inwards whilst tilted towards an object of interest to target that particular object. This mode is useful for maintaining focus towards an important object or enemy without having to readjust the camera yourself, or indeed many Zelda-esque situations out there. Worth noting is that the Lock-on camera does not automatically focus attacks, but simply positions the camera so that tilting upwards on the movement stick will guarantee hitting home with your attacks.

Stamina system
To prevent certain moves from being abused too frequently, a limit will be placed in the form of the stamina system, as an additional bar of energy adjoining the ring counter and score display. This stamina system is not nearly as limiting as it appears - it will drain every time the player performs an action, but will usually fill itself back to full the moment the player stops. While this does allow players to continue fighting once they break in between moves, it will in any circumstance enforce a strict limit on the extent of which they can chain moves for the sake of balance. That said, infinite combos, where they might possibly exist, will be literally impossible to perform infinitely, and players will have a definite limit to which they can spam the same attacks to decent effect.

Each action a player performs will consume a different amount of stamina - however, by chaining completely different attacks together, stamina usage will be drastically reduced, rewarding players who can compose unique patterns of attack depending on context.

Rings, Health and staying alive
Unlike previous games, Sonic and co will not lose all of their rings in a single hit. Instead, characters will lose portions of rings per hit, variable to the strength of the attacks they take in. For example, a very light, very constant technique will cause a constant string of single rings to stream out, whereas a heavier attack could remove up to 20 rings at a time. Coupled with this is the fact that the temporary grace period in which a character is invincible several seconds post-impact no longer exists - so if a player is tempted to pick up their own rings after they spill out, they are more likely to be killed in the process of an enemy attacking them in the process of doing so.

But even if a character is out of rings, they will not immediately die. In fact, the rings are merely a first defense against attacks, and characters actually have a secondary health bar underneath their ring count. If they are attacked with no remaining rings, the health bar will decrease instead until that exhausts and they are KO'd.

This does not mean players are free to prance about levels unprotected,however. Unlike ring protection, restoring health bars is a difficult, time consuming process. If a physically injured player manages to restore their protection with rings again, their health meter will slowly recover proportional to how many rings they are carrying. 1-10 rings could take many, many minutes to fully recover a near-empty gauge, whereas upwards of 50 or more could restore it almost instantly. Other methods of recovery exist (character specific healing abilities, health items) but they are generally very few and far between.

Furthermore, to prevent near-infinite potential defenses in this regard, a “Defense cap” is applied which varies depending on the base defensive capabilities of your selected character – for the sake of example, we will assume Sonic has a Defense Cap of 50 rings. The Defense Cap determines how many of your held rings count towards protecting your character, and if said character is carrying more than the Defense Cap limit – in the case of Sonic, more than 50 rings – the character will lose all of the additional rings except for those counted towards Defense Cap. In other words, in the case of Sonic, you will lose all but 50 rings if you're attacked over the Defense Cap limit.

As a guide to how many rings different types of damage will cause you to lose, here is a rough guide of examples -
1 ring – split-second rate attacks, such as miniguns, energy beams, lava pits or otherwise near-constant sources of damage.
5-10 rings – ordinary machine-guns, fast, combo-able melee attacks, or otherwise short bursts of damage.
20-30 rings – average explosions/missiles, heavy melee attacks, high-powered gunshots or otherwise slow, single shot sources.
50-100 – exceedingly rare, normally experienced only in boss fights or ludicrously slow attacks or characters. In a nutshell, the kind of damage that would knock a building down if you used it right. Oversize explosives, scud-size missiles, fully charged special attacks (where applicable) or otherwise mini-WMD equivalents.

Sonic – BETA sample moveset
Format: Action name – Button(context)
Machspeed Peelout – L (grounded)After a brief rev-up time, Sonic blasts off at mach speed, running so fast that typical laws of physics don't even apply. Unlike other characters, Sonic can run along walls both horizontally and vertically, rebound from wall to wall on the move, burst straight through most fragile objects and of course, leave enemies far behind in his wake using this Speed Move. Few can match or outdo Sonic's raw speed in this state, but Sonic's Speed Move comes with the added bonus of lesser Stamina drain, making it a very reliable and almost essential method of getting around. Like many other speed moves of this type, Sonic can lure foolish enemies into deadly situations (such as a crash into a solid obstacle) if they attempt to pursue him.

Homing Dash – R (usable anytime)That's right – it's not an attack anymore! Rather than attacking enemies directly, the new Homing Dash merely performs a quick burst of speed, placing you directly in front of the nearest enemy in your line of sight ready to throw off an attack. This can even be used in the air, and in fact can be used to fly gracefully through the air between airborne foes when used right. However, a clever foe can just as easily use this to their own advantage, preparing an attack in advance just as Sonic is HDing towards them... The HD is normally automatically followed up by a Sonic Eagle, but this option can be disabled for people who want more freedom over what they do afterwards. HD's can also play a somewhat psychological game with some enemies, sometimes causing them to freeze with shock when they realize too late that you're right in their face.

Sonic Eagle – A (midair)Sonic performs a flip kick in midair, attacking foes and gaining extra height at the same time. Much like an ordinary jump, the Eagle can be increased in altitude by holding the A button down longer. In any case, the attack itself will jolt an enemy slightly upwards, allowing for more potential hits.

Sonic Falcon(?) - A (moving, midair)Similar to the Eagle, but Sonic performs a frontflip instead of a backflip, covering distance instead of height and knocking enemies downwards instead of upwards. If an enemy is close to the ground when spiked, it may bounce straight back up to Sonic for additional attacks. Again, like the Eage, holding A will increase distance travelled when using the technique.

Combo Attack – rapidly tap X (useable anytime)Sonic performs a flurry of speedy, elaborate kicks to deal constant damage. While the rapid nature of the technique can keep many enemies off-balance, some stronger or more durable enemies may not react to the move at all and thus find it very easy to counteract.

Sonic Flare – hold X (stationary, grounded)Sonic performs a breakdancing maneuverer, blasting back nearby enemies. Whilst the blowback distance isn't as great as other moves of its type, the Flare's wide angle of attack makes for a valuable panic move, albiet with long performance time that enemies can take advantage of from a distance.

Windup Punch – hold X (moving towards enemy, grounded)Sonic winds up for a powerful punch, causing heavier damage and sending enemies flying greater distances. Like all blowback moves, Sonic can pursue the blasted foe with a Speed move to keep up a combo and dish out the hurt. However, the move has a lot of follow-through time if it misses, making it easily punishable.

Backflip Kick – hold X (moving away from enemy, grounded)Sonic somersaults backwards, knocking foes into the air. While it isn't as damaging as similar moves from other characters (and as such, may not work on all enemies), it can immediately be followed up with more attacks afterwards, keeping the enemy off balance.

Dash Kick – hold X (towards an enemy, during Machspeed Peelout)Sonic suddenly changes the direction of his dash, performing a leaping kick towards an enemy. This causes the victim to fly at the same speed as Sonic's machspeed dash, allowing additional hits whilst running.

Sonic Boom – press Y (maintaining movement, during Machspeed Peelout)At the cost of extra stamina, Sonic increases his speed to break the sound barrier for a short period of time, causing shockwaves that will damage and trip up enemies caught in them. Anybody hit by Sonic directly during the attack takes insane damage, and in some cases Sonic even runs a hole straight through them for an instant kill move.

Spindash – hold Y (stationary, grounded)Similar to the Peelout in many ways, but can actually damage the opponent. After a brief spinning charge, Sonic rolls off at high speed, bowling over any enemies he runs into along the way. Unlike the Peelout, the spindash will slow down over time (even moreso on an upward slope), so it serves better purpose as an attack rather than an assistance towards movement. However, inertia can prove to be useful on a downward slope, which will greatly increase Sonic's speed as he rolls downwards...

Bounce attack – press/hold Y (stationary, midair)Sonic descends rapidly towards the ground in spinball form, slamming down enemies he hits along the way. Normally when the move is executed, Sonic will spring straight back upwards when he hits the ground, allowing him to repeat up to three times for additional attacks and extra height. However, if the Y button is still held down when Sonic hits the ground, the spring is canceled and instead replaced with a Spindash!

Copter kick - tap Y (moving, midair)Sonic performs a quick double kick by spinning horizontally in the air, leg extended. This serves not only as an impromptu combo addon in midair but also as a subtle raise in height where the Sonic Eagle fails.

Pivot tactics
What is a “pivot”? A pivot is another move that comes as standard across most (if not all) characters, which entails grabbing, hijacking, or otherwise, interacting with an enemy in a manner not possible with ordinary moves. To initiate a Pivot move, simply press the B button when facing an enemy, and your character will grab the enemy in his own way to start the move.
When a Pivot is successfully initiated, the character can execute a special contextual move to finish it. This can serve many useful tactics – from fooling enemies into shooting their allies, springing between them like stepping stones, physically throwing them, or brutally finishing them with a powerful finishing attack. To help demonstrate the potential these moves have, here are some examples, featuring the original Team Sonic.

Sonic – Stands on top of an enemy as a pivot. This alone is a useful tactic, as not only does this make it much more difficult to break the pivot, enemies nearby may try to attack you anyway, catching their ally in the crossfire. By tilting the control stick and pressing the Jump button, Sonic kicks off the enemy and leaps ahead, not only damaging it but also giving him a useful boost in speed and distance. Combined with a Homing Dash, this allows him to bypass enemies VERY quickly, and even traverse over hazardous areas and through the skies.

Tails – Traps the enemy with a gadget. Tails can simply leave the enemy be and move on to other things if he wishes, leaving it unable to move for some time. But, if he wishes, he can hack into mechanical enemies during this time, yielding effects ranging from reduced effectiveness, to complete shutdown or self-destruct, or even turning it into an ally. In some cases, he can even turn the enemy into a ride or a weapon and use it to help him further. When used in mid-flight, however, they are universally deadly and fearsome – he can either kick the enemy away as a living projectile, or holding it down and divebombing the unfortunate victim into the ground. Tails can even carry the victim around in the air if need be, or access the flying grab simply by jumping out of a ground Pivot.

Knuckles – Grabs the enemy with one hand, readying the other for a punch. This pivot has the potential to do insane damage, but is offset by the fact that it can easily be broken and countered by opponents. Knux can either rapidly jab the captive opponent with his free hand, or charge up for a lethal Hollow Punch, literally creating a hole straight through some enemies (robots only, of course). Finally, jumping out of the Pivot causes an uppercut attack, jolting the enemy upwards and setting up for a combo attack.

Thus, while pivots are commonplace among most characters, they all achieve vastly different effects, all working towards the overall gameplay prospect of the respective character. Whereas Knuckles sets up for high damage and expanse combos, Tails is a much more technical and tactical sort, and Sonic works towards a fast, moving pace with a combination of his usual smartass ego.

Ranking System
As per any recent Sonic game, this one will have a ranking system that determines how well the player performed when gameplay ends. The specific rankings are:

A – Near flawless.
B – Close, but made some mistakes along the way.
C – Somewhat average, what you'd expect from a recreational run.
D – Died at least once, but not without small merit.
E – Died repeatedly, had major trouble finishing.
F – Didn't even finish at all... or so close to it it doesn't make a difference.

To determine the rank that the player achieves overall, the following factors are taken into consideration – depending on the character used, some fields may be stricter than others (eg: Sonic on completion times)

Completion time – the faster the level is finished, the greater the ranking.
Ring/Item collection – rewards the player for grabbing plenty of goods along the way
Enemy annihilation – takes into consideration the damage and destruction caused to enemies during the level. Even partly damaged enemies still give a fraction of their score.
Damage / lives lost – penalizes the player for taking damage or outright dying during play.
Route taken – if the player completes a puzzle, traverses a dangerous area, uses a tagalong or otherwise use an unconventional method to take a different route through the level, bonus points are rewarded.

When the level is completed, these statistics appear as filled bars on the screen, as percentages of maximum totals possible (Par time for completion speed). These bars then empty into a new “rank” bar, which increases your overall rank for every time the rank bar overlaps and starts over. For dramatic effect, the countdown slows and a drumroll starts after a “B” rank is reached, adding intense anticipation as to whether or not the player achieves the elusive A rank.

Unlike other games, however, this ranking system is also available in multiplayer matches as a gauge of how well they played through the match. In most multiplayer modes, however, the ranking follows a very different set of factors to gauge the rank. These include:

Kill/Death spread: Number of KO's accumulated against other players as a percentage of the maximum KO limit (when one is used – otherwise, this figure is a percentage of the highest scoring player's KO limit instead) minus the amount of times they were KO'd themselves.
Combos: Players will rank higher for keeping up a constant string of attacks uncontested. However, a player who breaks a combo midway through and reverses it will also score extra.
Stamina usage: A player will be penalized for exhausting all of their stamina, or spamming stale attacks to create the same effect.
Special feats: Achievements such as multi-KO's, sprees, long distance KO's, objective completion, team assistance and more, will be rewarded with extra rank.

When the match is finished, an accompanying rank is placed next to the player's name on the scoreboard for all to see. Who knows, if you play right you may even A rank on the list without winning!

Over the course of their journey, Sonic and co will find many different kinds of items to assist them. These are often found in the form of capsules, monitors, balloons, crates, or otherwise usual encapsulating objects, and range from temporary powerups to ring bonuses, and some things in between. However, items don't always come free off the ground – sometimes, they may come in the form of vending machines, which require you to pay a ring toll before you can use them. Fortunately, when they do happen to require payment they tend to be in a very convenient position, optimal for their stored items.

To use an item or vending machine, simply interact with or attack its encapsulation and it will be activated automatically. Some examples of items include:

Ring bonus (not buyable): Instantly increases the player's ring count by an amount specified on the box. Typically these are 5-10 ring increments, but rarer versions exist that give 25 or even 50 at a time.
Magnet (30 rings): A magnet appears on the player, temporarily attracting nearby rings as they approach. While the magnet is active, the player can also walk along metallic surfaces regardless of gravity or other interferences.
Aqualung (35 rings): Gives the player a breathing apparatus that is activated automatically once he enters water. This gives him an extra breath supply, allowing him to breath underwater until the air supply runs out.
Hoverboard (30 rings): The box releases an Extreme Gear hoverboard which the player can ride. It is reasonably fast – just enough so to give slower characters a necessary boost in speed. However, the main quirk of the board is that it handles very sharply given its speed, and it hovers above any harmful surface until the player is knocked off, destroying the Gear.
Shield (20 rings): Absorbs a small amount of damage, grants immunity to certain types of damage, and gives access to shield-specific moves (see section: Shields)
Explosive (not buyable): Explodes violently when attacked, hurting anybody in its blast radius – including the player. Interacting with it, however, sets the explosive on a short timer, allowing time to escape to a safe distance.
Stamina Overcharge (50 rings): Grants infinite stamina for a short period of time.
Invincibility (50 rings): The player cannot be harmed for a brief period of time.

Yes, the bubble shields of old finally make a return. While they have similar function to their decade-old counterparts, they can now do things that originally weren't possible with them – and now there are additional types to come across. Generally, most shields will grant an immunity to certain types of damage whilst active, and absorb a small amount of other damage before they disappear again.

Shields will replace secondary attacks with a special move or two of their own. You can even throw the shield with the B button, much like an item as a projectile, for varying effect.
Examples of shield types include:
Fire shield – grants immunity to fire-type attacks and hazards, and allows diving into swimming-depth of lava. Special attack rockets the player forwards with a quick speed boost, damaging anybody nearby along the way, or causing a radial flamethrower-like effect around the player to damage nearby enemies. Throwing the shield causes a large, fiery explosion for heavy damage.
Water shield – grants immunity to many slower-moving projectiles, and increases the amount of breath you will have underwater. Projectiles will ricochet off the shield like rubber, and exchanges durability for breath underwater – this causes the shield to shrink or possibly even disappear over time, but can still be restored by returning to the surface. Special attack bounces off the ground underneath, attacking grounded enemies and gaining extra height, or causing a wave of water to sweep nearby enemies off their feet. Throwing the shield causes it to bounce between things like a pinball, damaging anything it bounces off along the way.
Lightning shield – grants immunity to lightning based attacks, and in fact attracts them like a lightning rod for various tactical uses. Other enemies are still damaged by the attracted lightning, so try positioning yourself so that they get caught in the path of it. Special attacks include bursting upwards into the air, zapping enemies along the way, or simply zapping them stationary in an area-of-effect move. Throwing the shield causes it to stick to a surface, reaching out with lightning bolts and zapping nearby enemies while it lasts.
Plasma (“normal”) shield: This shield does not grant any immunities or special moves, but unlike other shields it can withstand a much, much heavier amount of damage before disappearing. Throwing the shield hits a singular enemy like a boulder, causing just as much damage to them.
Ice shield: Grants immunity to cold attacks, and allows the user to walk on water. Just by being nearby, the shield freezes the surface of water, turning it into a traversable platform. Special attacks include creating an icy boulder around yourself to roll enemies over (like the spindash, you're at the mercy of gravity and inertia for this one) and freezing nearby enemies solid. The shield cannot be thrown conventionally, but attempting to simply leaves the shield behind as an ice boulder which can be pushed around – or by some characters, even picked up and thrown.

Multiplayer Modes
Freeform – Can be played free-for-all or in teams. Players play by either a time or KO limit and compete to obtain more KO's than each other.
Grand Prix – Free for all only. A number of checkpoints are scattered through the arena (usually in a full loop) and players complete to pass all of them in order before their opponents do. Infinite stamina may be enabled as a special condition to the gametype so players can use Speed Moves without penalty. Additionally, some extra checkpoint layouts may be available to specialise with different sets of characters (eg: flight routes, point-to-point, speed focus etc)
Super Duel – Free for all only. A set of Chaos Emeralds are scattered throughout the map. Players who collect more Chaos Emeralds gain not only a stat advantage but a point multiplier as well, but become a more obvious target for others as Emeralds are always visible no matter where they are – even through walls. If a defeated player was carrying more than one Emerald, all but one of those Emeralds will scatter across the map for the sake of fairness.
Capture the Chao – Teamplay only. Two Chao gardens are placed on opposite sides of the map, one for each team. To score points, players must take Chao's from each other's garden and add it to their own. Players can pick up their own Chao if needed, whether to recover stolen Chao or to temporarily hide them outside the garden where you'd normally expect them, but if left alone Chao will make their way back to their home garden on their own. Likewise, Chao can act differently depending on who they're confronted with – they will stay near an allied player on the way back to their home garden, and hide behind or even ON said player in the face of a threat, whereas an enemy player will cause the Chao to run faster away from the player, and even in their grasp will attempt to resist and escape.
Metamorph battle – Can be played in either free for all or team play. This mode plays much like the Freeform mode, but apon achieving a certain adjustable condition (by default, apon KOing another player), the player is transformed into another of the cast of player characters at random. This gives the gametype a very unpredictable WarioWare-ish style, and likewise can sometimes leave you only seconds to re-adapt each time.
Ring hoarding – Team play only. Opposing teams start in separate bases much like Capture the Chao, but do not start with any rings. Players must trek out into the level, collect rings scattered about the place and bring them back to their own base to add to their team's cumulative ring count – or in other words, score points for their team. To disencourage cowardly spawn-camping tactics, players will have their rings constantly drained when within an enemy base's area of influence, but receive a significant base health boost when within an allied base.

Unique Character System
Through extended play of Revised, characters gradually gain experience from their gameplay and, as such, are capable of improving their form and acquiring all-new techniques as they go. Whilst there are some abilities that are given to the character automatically (and thus, are often essential or at least very helpful in completing later levels), more often than not a player is given a choice of assisting abilities to help conform to the player's style of playing as well as add to the character's growing arsenal of attacks.
These new abilities don't come free, however – or even cheap, for that matter. To acquire new skills, or improve apon existing ones or stats, the player must first find sources of power for the character. Once acquired, these power sources act as a currency of its own, with which the player can “purchase” abilities for the character that gathered them. Players can do this anytime they are not in the middle of a stage – in other words, between stages, in the main menu or in hub areas.
What is a source of power, and where are they found? Generally, they are found wherever a skillful feat is performed. By defeating enemies, completing puzzles, unleashing combos, finishing levels or other such accomplishments, these sources can materialize and guide themselves straight towards the performing player – and generally, the greater the feat, the bigger and more numerous they come. They come in many forms, such as Chaos Drives, Light Cores, or depending on the feat or level theme, may come in more bizarre forms such as batteries or sentient blobs.
While their forms may differ, they all share a common standard of given power, dictated by the colour of the object. For example, the full range could be:
Black: Just above normal (1 point)
Blue: Small feat (3 points)
Purple: Not bad (5 points)
Red: Respectable (10 points)
White: Incredible (20 points)
Power sources add to the overall “level” of the character, dictating the specific amount of extra abilities and stat changes they can acquire at that point in time. Whilst abilities are not fixed and can be swapped at will, they can only use as many at a time as their overall Power Sources can handle, and some cannot be acquired at all until you have achieved certain lifetime amounts of power (unaffected by actual used power).

This same system is also available in multiplayer gameplay, albeit somewhat more restricted. Players can still swap abilities in and out of their favourite characters as they choose (and save said layouts as templates if they find the settings suit them), they are almost always set to a fixed amount of power sources, for the sake of balance between other players. There may be some exceptions to this rule – such as a gametype option which suits it, or when the match creator enables power source alteration for the sake of handicapping or plain having fun (whilst this can be kept within a certain area of usage, this is still generally not recommended for serious competitive matches).

Tension Gauge / Dynamic Music
What is the Tension gauge? The Tension gauge is a bar of energy not unlike the Stamina meter, but with another purpose in mind. Whereas the Stamina meter is restored in boosts given from active involvement in the game, the Tension restoration is a slower, much more gradual process that relies more on the situation as a whole rather than small tasks within. When the Tension Gauge is full, the player can unleash a devastating, game-wrecking attack by pressing the left and right triggers simultaneously at the cost of the full Tension gauge – for the sake of Sonic Battle similarities, we will call this attack the Ichikoro for now.

To fill the Tension gauge is to throw yourself in harm's way, and survive. And generally, the more challenging or desperate the situation, the quicker the Ichikoro charges. Some factors that can influence Tension regeneration include:

- Fast movement (rapid cornering and turning adds extra)
- Enemy presence (an outnumbering or generally stronger force adds extra)
- Combat (again, multi-combat for extra)
- Defenses (ring-less and low health can add a LOT of extra)
- Hazards (the more the better, plus non-static hazards and player movement)

As the action cools down and the player gets in obvious control of the situation, the Tension gauge will quickly DEgenerate over time down to a level fitting the current situation. To fill the gauge to full and thus, earn a chance at unleashing an Ichikoro, the player must stay in constant danger with the fewest amount of breaks possible. By utilizing this tension system cleverly, it's possible to overcome otherwise suicidal tasks just by being present long enough – and of course, surviving the whole ordeal at the same time.

The same situations that affect the Tension gauge, however, will also change various parts of the music to fit. While this is purely cosmetic and does not affect gameplay, it adds to dramatic effect in ways a static track can never achieve.

Of course, without an audiable example at the time of writing, this is rather difficult to demonstrate. But at any one time, the BGM playing during gameplay does not consist of just one song, but multiple patterns layered on top of each other to achieve the same effect. As the level of activity fluctuates, the game enables and disables various patterns of such so as to reflect the situation. Examples of music patterns and their applications could include:

- Percussion: Changes in intensity depending on action-heavy sequences, such as intense fighting, movement speed and pursuit and so forth. Without any of these, percussion does not play at all, whereas beats step up gradually on the level of activity, eventually building to Breakbeat levels with a heavy combination of said factors.-

Theme: Changes of instruments and tempo depending on the character being used. For example, Sonic could get faster rock-ish guitar leads in the main level theme, whereas a slower or more technical character like Silver would have a slower, Trance-based synth lead. It all depends on the feel of the character.
- Strings: builds up on the level of health/rings of a character, adding to a generally intense and epic feel in the midst of a particularly close fight. In some situations, namely boss fights and some multilayer skirmishes, the health of the enemy also causes this field to build, and at a stretch can even be used as an indicator of your foe's well-being.

Stage Layout Editor / Eggman Empire mode
To further add to replay value and online interaction in Revised, an in-built level editor is included to allow players to create their own unique challenges by changing the layout of objects in the level, including items, enemies, hazards and even just plain decor. This isn't even specifically limited to one type of map, either – you can edit single player levels, multiplayer maps and anything in between. In fact, it's even possible for players to transform one type of level into its exact opposite – single player levels can be changed into multiplayer maps, and vice versa.

The actual editing process takes place via a generic Eggman drone with a permanent fly/hover ability. It controls much like a typical playable character, albiet with some different button mappings:

Control sticks: Horizontal movement and camera, as per normal. Camera movement is locked in “focus” mode for the sake of precision.
A: Vertical movement. Hold A and up or down on the movement stick to ascend or descend with appropriate speed, specified by the amount of force applied.
X: Spawns an object onto the nearest surface that the player is aiming towards.
Y: Grab/release an object, similar to Silver's Telekinetic grab. Tapping Y whilst holding an object causes it to drop to the ground, but holding it for a second causes it to levitate on its own without the player's intervention.
B: Delete the currently focused object.
LB/RB: Cycle between objects to drop.
LT/RT: Cycle between object categories (items, badniks, scenery, level goals and sequences etc)

From thereon, it's up to the player to design a level layout as they see fit. Unfortunately, total freedom of creation is impossible, and thus there are limits to the amount of objects players can place in a level, each guaged by their maximum possible processor load (for example, a breakable box would be valued not by its initial processor load, but the amount of strain that its many individual fragments cause after it's broken by force). Otherwise, it's up to the player what they create.

Additionally, the level editor has an unlockable, surprisingly deep sub-game buried within – the Eggman Empire mode. Initially it controls in much the same way as the aformentioned Layout Editor, but subtle tweaks and mechanics work to transform it into a very RTS-like experience between two or more players.

To help demonstrate how such a game would play out in a layout editor, here is an example of how things could progress:

 First, the player starts out with nothing but a Layout bot (the earlier mentioned generic eggbot that does the layout editing) and a specialized badnik factory that produces said Layout bots. To start off, everything in the game needs resources in an RTS, and this is no exception. To add more capacity to create new objects and structures for their base, the player must scatter rings all about the level – the more they place, the bigger their maximum army and structure capacity. Using rings in particular manners – such as creating long strings, circles or compacted stockpiles – give additional capacity benefits.
 Now that the player has scattered enough rings to create a sizable force to their own section of the level, the player can use the Layout bot to create objects that benefit their own cause – badniks, vending machines, turrets, obstacles and whatnot. All of the objects that the player creates are tinted a particular colour to individualize it from enemy objects. Some objects – including badniks and some items – can be grouped to a single “commander” object or badnik, and while this method costs less ring dispersal, destroying the commanding object simultaneously destroys all objects linked to it and thus makes it a much riskier approach. Finally, the player must determine their defeat goal to give an advantage against attackers. There are a wide range of defeat goals available, and the more trustworthy they are, the more they cost. By default, the defeat goal is a mere goal marker that would usually occur at the end of a standard level, but more indepth goals include:

 A locked goal: Requires destroying a commanding badnik (cheaper) or a group of badniks guarding it (more expensive) to uncover the goal.
 Stealthed goal: The goal is transparent and thus difficult to see unless the player is nearby it. Objective goal: Scatter several keys to the defeat goal across the map, which the enemy will need to collect before accessing the goal. Number of keys can range from 1 to 10, and again more keys means more expenses. Objective goals are assisted by giving the enemy a Treasure Hunt style sonar to help track goals down.
 Boss goal: The goal is contained within a large, difficult-to-defeat badnik, and requires the enemy to destroy the boss before accessing the goal.

 Lastly, when the player is satisfied that his makeshift base will hold up against enemy attacks, they can shift into a character of choice (which is selected before the beginning of the match) at the expense of rings to take on enemy bases and thus, attempt to win the match by reaching the enemy's defeat goal. The badniks that the player created will react automatically to threats as they usually would in the middle of an ordinary single player game, and attempt to defeat incoming enemy players to prevent them from reaching the defeat goal themselves.
And that's just the basic gameplay, because like any RTS game there is a thick layer of strategic placement of items that can help secure victory. For example, a player could scatter numerous keys for an Objective Goal as far from each other as possible, then place turrets or badniks around each of them to hinder players that attempt to acquire them. Or, a player could create a simple Locked goal... then link it to a horde of stealthed, non-attacking badniks to make them difficult to find and thus, harder to unlock the goal.

And even at the basic level, it's all about knowing when to shift into character to attack the enemy base. Too early, and you could leave your base defenseless against a counter attack. Too late, and you may find an enemy impossible to overcome. At a basic level, it's all about knowing when to attack head on, but there are many tactics that can come through clever utilization of defeat goals, badnik combinations and formations, and overall hard-pointed structures to aid a player in motion.