Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog Robotic Blasters Episode II

This will be an article for a particular Sonic the Hedgehog fangame that I'm sure nearly everyone will have seen or heard about: Sonic Team Junior's Sonic Robo Blast 2, a 3D platformer built on Doom Legacy's engine that has been in development for almost a decade and a half. And since it was based on Doom, it has FPS-inspired gameplay in multiplayer, where you use the rings you normally pick up in a Sonic game and lob them at opponents to damage them. It's quite a wild experiment and it will keep players entertained and addicted.

In a nutshell, the game is reminiscent of the original Sonic sidescrollers on the Sega Genesis. The single-player game takes the player through eight zones each with two acts and a third act containing a boss battle against Sonic's arch-nemesis Dr. Eggman, while the multiplayer contains things such as a cooperative single player (but locks out players from unlocking additional levels/modes), and several competitive game types, seven to be exact. While the online multiplayer is probably the one selling point I myself enjoy, there are a few issues I have to address regarding online multiplayer:

*Lag everywhere and delayed controls up the wazoo in some servers, making the game operate ridiculously slippery.
*Lack of three/four player splitscreen options.
*Lack of a third and fourth team option, the Green Team and Orange Team, represented by Jet the Hawk (or Bean the Dynamite if we're only concerned with classic Sonic) and Miles "Tails" Prower respectively.
*Use of CTF maps in Match and Team Match game types (they could work).
*Not able to use spin dashes and spin jumps as a melee attack against opponents.
*Not able to have non-admins host the server if they have the stronger connection with less lagging issues.
*The overall rudeness of some of the users that use the online mode. A particular group of individuals like to call me "Justin Bieber" (I've gotten over it, but still it aggravates me), and there's this one time where someone suddenly declared "whoever finishes this level fourth is getting raped" let alone me being unable to go quick since the server was laggy and the controls were slippery for my tastes. There's another person telling me to "get out" because I disagreed with someone playing on an overplayed map (Meadow Match) or gametype (CTF). People in the game are so rude IMO, but then again I was a bit rude with that statement. -_-
 *Speaking of Options, the inability for me to assign controls to my keyboard, mouse, and gamepad with 100% freedom, much in the same way MAME does. For instance:
  *Reversing the conform/cancel options in the menu (so Joy 2 accepts and Joy 1 cancels)
  *Pure analog controls when using an analog joystick/gamepad, so the less you tilt the move/look sticks, the slower it goes.
  *When playing with analog controls ON, tilting the joystick that's intended to move the camera horizontally instead makes your character run left/right respectively, rather than just turn the camera.
 *Additionally, a way to modify the manual game resolution and switch between windowed/fullscreen mode directly through the in-game options menu.
*Server admins pausing the game because of lags. Pausing does nothing to help lags, from what the SRB2 Wiki showed.
*Server admins putting their RP servers in "Standard" instead of "Casual".
*I noticed the mystery monitors in Race mode by default don't regenerate several moments after being hit. I believe they should respawn, but only in circuit maps.
*Before starting a new round, players should always be distributed into the teams based on their scores in the previous round (scoring is based on successful attacks and flag captures).
*Whenever I intend on joining a game with mods, there is a good chance the download will die halfway through with big downloads or in a few cases, not even start at all.
 *Let's not forget 4shared's brutal methods of flaking adds everywhere and requiring registering just to download a mod for a game.
*When attempting to join a game, any wads/cheats should be disabled/deactivated before loading/viewing the server list.
*Auto-aiming doesn't work as well (IMO) as say, Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch. This especially considering how I'm using a gamepad to make the platformer parts a little easier and not as teeth-grating. But then again this is Sonic and Sonic has been known to out-run gunshots in the canon Sonic titles, and there are some good snipers in net play I encounter on occasion. I think I may bring this up since it only seems to do auto-aiming at a very close range.
*Maps? Everyone seems to have a fetish over the "Meadow Match" level. Nevermind it's small and very simple with not too many spots to gather rings for more ammo and to keep yourself alive. You're always out in the open, you can run, but can't hide.
 *Capture the Flag is easily the most played gametype in multiplayer, and it's quite sad how half the maps available aren't really the best for that gametype.
  *Cloud Palace Zone is okay. Not as good as LFZ, IFZ, and TTZ since there's bottomless pits everywhere, but still playable once you get used to it.
  *Silver Cascade Zone only has one path to the other team's base, through a narrow underwater tunnel. What easily makes this map brutal is getting into the hideouts where the flags are stored, which require a well-executed jump from the edge of the waterfall. Don't forget when carrying the flag, you're unable to thok/fly/glide, making entering your own base to capture the enemies' flag more tedious. There also need to be spawns outside the area where the flags normally spawn, since let's just say some opponents really love camping at your team's spawn zone.
  *Nimbus Ruins Zone. Pits everywhere. One hard hit and you're guaranteed to be knocked off and bumped back to your base. And what if you're only a few steps from capturing the other team's flag? Too Bad! Time to capture it again!

As for the single player, I do not have a lot to talk about. All I will say is this game seems to have a sick fantasy with cramming in as many instant-death traps as possible and whenever there's a body of water lying around, you can bet half the time there won't be a bubble generator, especially with two particular bodies of water in Green Flower Zone 2 and Deep Sea Zone 2, the later having no escape through a spring or zoom tube.

Any consideration on Time Trial for Race maps?

I was going to say the Special Stages are broken in multiplayer. If one person dies in a Special Stage, it shouldn't boot all the players out of the Special Stage; the level continues on until either the timer runs out, or all the players are dead. Players that die do not respawn. Then I remembered the Special Stages were going to be replaced by new NIGHTS special stages. In that case, I only hope there's a Time Bonus along with the Link Bonus, so the faster we do the level, the more points we get.

I find Castle Eggman Zone both difficult and (theme-wise) inappropriate for only the fourth world. If moved to Zone 6 after Red Volcano but before Dark City, it'd be a bit more of a fitting time for a dark castle level with pits and crushers everywhere. I'd also like to see a ice-themed zone somewhere along the final set of levels, maybe following RVZ, or a beach-themed zone between Techno Hill and Deep Sea, as a warmup for Deep Sea's ever-so-present underwater gimmick. There was also this single-act zone I played about a week ago; it was a space level where you navigated across a temple with rainbow pathways and lots of pits, and in one of the levels of the levelset it originally came from, you fought Eggman about two levels later, in a similar environment. Perhaps these could be templates for a single-act zone to link DCZ3 and ERZ1?

The only things with graphics; a new graphic for the fireballs in RVZ, so they're not the bland Mario Podobos, and the Sonic 3 non-italic HUD font in place of Sonic 2's.

Green Flower Zone 1 & 2 are fine the way they are. All they need is more bubble generators (especially with the lake at the end of GFZ2, plus a transparent surface) Don't take in a particular fan-concept to add raised land before the first bridge, thus making it impossible for Sonic players to immediately return to the top and instead have to walk all around the river just to try again if they miss). And don't take out the straightaway where the second checkpoint is located and replace it with this:

It's only the first level, and I best assure you many newcomers won't be able to clear this easily, especially before they discover the existence of analog controls in the options menu. Just stick with the straight path with a single bed of spikes. That was a fine obstacle.

Another recommendation I have is in regards to Techno Hill Zone. For being only the second level, there are quite a lot of OHKO traps (I'm hoping they get nerfed in Version 2.1 with the addition of the bouncy gel), especially all the pits and crushers. With Dark City Zone. I do not like the fan-created version from SRB2-Rock (which uses Sonic Advance's Egg Rocket's theme for DCZ2) since it was very lacking and bland. What I think would be the most appealing template for DCZ is the fan-made Drowned Downtown Zone from the levelset "Tortured Planet", while Sunshine Atoll from the same levelset would be the template for the beach zone described in the last paragraph. I'm still up for a "Final Battle Zone" that can only be accessed with all the Chaos Emeralds after defeating the boss of Egg Rock. The final thing I have regarding stages; you know how in the Game Gear games how the third act was not only a boss (ala 3D Blast), but before the boss there was a small pathway to the boss where you could get supplied with rings and find other secrets (like shields) before facing off against Eggman?

In conclusion, I'm not demanding or expecting these make it into the game. These are only my ideas to try and expand on the single and multi-player, making the difficulty for the campaign maps more consistent and wider in variety, and making the multiplayer more enjoyable.