Monday, January 2, 2012

The Twelve Stages I'd Pick for Sonic Generations 2

After months and months of eager anticipation, I finally got my hands on Sonic Generations this Christmas. Last night I even managed to finish the game and boy was it a treat. Sega certainly knew how to appeal to the fans, the whole game is one big love letter to everything Sonic. Each level is loaded with love for the source material, references to other Sonic stages and characters and the expert level design from Sonic games past.

This is what dreams are made of. Also nightmares.
Although the game is almost perfect in every way, especially stage design, I can’t help but wish there were more stages. I personally wouldn’t have chosen Seaside Hill to represent Heroes nor would I have likely picked Speed Highway from Adventure. Not that either of those are poor choices, they just aren’t what I would have picked. 

So I got to thinking about what stages I’d put if I could develop Sonic Generations 2. Now, this is all completely hypothetical. Obviously, it’s unlikely we’ll get a Generations 2 as this was a celebration of Sonic’s 20th anniversary not to mention Sega has expressed no interest in it. But, I have so I’m going to list off 12 stages I’d like to see in a sequel. That’s one from each game represented in Generations as well as a stage from Sonic 3, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 4. The only rule is that it has to be a stage that was no included in any version of Generations, console or 3DS, so no Casino Night Zone as much as I’d like it. Also, this list is just in chronological order so when I get to number 1, don’t take it as that’s the one stage I want more than anything ever.
12. Marble Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Sonic Generations needed more lava.
Obviously, when it comes to the very first Sonic the Hedgehog, no stage was getting in over Green Hill Zone. It’s the single most iconic stage in the whole series and deserves to be the first stage, no questions ask. However, since it was in the first game, I decided that Marble Zone would be a fitting replacement for it if they did a sequel. I know it seems cheap to pick the second stage if I can’t pick the first but honestly, when you think of Sonic 1, what’s the second stage you think of? Marble Zone was all about platforming and puzzle solving so it would obviously work very well for classic Sonic. It’s modern Sonic that I’d be most interested to see, however. How could they make a zone like Marble Zone which was all about dodging obstacles and jumping on platforms and make it work in the boost-filled modern Sonic mode? It could be very unique and very fun to see.

11. Mystic Cave Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)

Also Tails should follow you again.
This was a hard choice. When it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, there was no better option than Chemical Plant Zone. The only Zone that even would come close is Casino Night Zone but oops, that made it into Sonic Generations on the 3DS. So what to pick instead? Well, Emerald Hill Zone is just a carbon copy of Green Hill, Aquatic Ruin isn’t interesting enough, Hill Top is just Emerald Hill will lava. It ultimately came down to three choices; Mystic Cave Zone, Oil Ocean Zone and Metropolis Zone. While I’d be curious to see what they did with any of those zones, I ultimately decided on Mystic Cave Zone because it’s my personal favorite of the three and I think it would look absolutely gorgeous with the Generations graphics engine. All the crystals and stalactites would just be so stunning in HD. Not to mention they could do some pretty interesting stage design. None of the stages in Generations really took place inside a cave but Sky Sanctuary came close with a few sections that were pretty neat. I imagine Mystic Cave Zone could act out similar to that but with more things trying to crush you. Also, there’d have to be a pit of death in each act just on principle alone.

10. Angel Island Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 3)

Nothing says "Tropical Paradise" like hellfire.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 didn’t get any representation in Sonic Generations, instead they opted to go with Sonic & Knuckles for both versions of the game. While I don’t think that was a bad decision, they do kind of go hand in hand, I think Sonic 3 has some pretty great levels of it’s own, not to mention it was a separate release regardless of it’s original intentions. While Ice Cap Zone would have been my first choice for Sonic Generations, if I was in charge of Generations 2, I would go with Angel Island Zone. The first Generations already had enough green island themed areas but a sequel wouldn’t have so many and Angel Island is easily a great way to fill that void. Angel Island is the most iconic location from the Sonic 3 for so many reasons. First of all, it’s huge, much bigger than either Green Hill or Emerald Hill. Second, it isn’t entirely your typical first green stage. Several areas have water you have to work your way through and the entire second act, the stage is on fire or already burnt up. That could make for an interesting change of pace halfway through each act or it could separate the Classic Sonic stage from the Modern. Either way, Angel Island is the perfect choice from Sonic 3.

9. Flying Battery Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)

At least there's no exploding starfish.
Sonic & Knuckles really doesn’t have very many zones to choose from. Other than Sky Sanctuary and Mushroom Hill, both of which were already used, there’s Lava Reef Zone, Sandopolis Zone, Death Egg Zone and the one I chose to go with, Flying Battery. Why Flying Battery? It’s simply the most memorable and the most fun. While I’m sure any of the other three stages could be turned into something grand (Though Sandopolis would need a lot of work), Flying Battery is already a great stage and has the potential to be even greater. Blasting through the different section of the fortress as Modern Sonic could be a blast, maybe even with some parts involving fans or climbing across those monkey bar things. Maybe there could even be a Rooftop Run cameo since apparently the two go hand and hand now. Not to mention, the music would be amazing with a remix.

Oh and if you’re one of those people who’d rather there be a Sonic CD stage over both a Sonic 3 and a Sonic & Knuckles stage, I’d go with Stardust Speedway. Sometimes the most obvious choices are the best ones.

8. Red Mountain (Sonic Adventure)

This stage has rockets AND spiky balls.
Although Marble Zone already covers the lava level trope, Red Mountain is still my pick from Sonic Adventure. It was either this or Twinkle Park. Why’d I go with Red Mountain? Well, the music would be awesome in a Generations game but also I just think it has a lot going for it. It’s one of the few cave stages were you actually start outside the cave and make your way inside. Not to mention it’s loaded with all kinds of traps and tricks that classic Sonic could really use to some good strength in level design. I really don’t know what else to say about this stage except that I’d like to see it.

7. Metal Harbor (Sonic Adventure 2)

Also it has planes. Planes are cool.
Metal Harbor is one of the most memorable stages from Sonic Adventure 2. The music is great, the stage looks great, it’s fun to play, it ends with you hanging off of a rocket and then jumping off and sliding down a tube, it’s great! City Escape was the obvious choice from SA2 and I would have picked it too but Metal Harbor is easily the runner up although almost any stage from this game would make a good choice. Metal Harbor has plenty of good speed moments as well as few decent platforming moments which is good in the case of Classic Sonic. Though I’d ultimately like to see how they handle the graphics, I bet they’d look amazing. The rocket launch at the end would also be cool to see played out with either of the two hedgehogs.

6. Hang Castle (Sonic Heroes)

The most creative stage is also the worst.
Alright, look, I don’t like Sonic Heroes and I sure as hell don’t like Hang Castle, it’s easily the most frustrating stage in the whole game however, it’s also the most unique and interesting and that’s why I think it’s a good fit for a game like this. Flipping the castle upside down and walking on invisible paths are things that would truly be unique for a classic Sonic stage and could also be really cool for Modern Sonic as well. Not to mention there were no “haunted” levels in Sonic Generations. It might be bad in Heroes, but with the expert level design of Generations, I fully believe it could be turned into one of the best Sonic stages ever.

5. Westopolis (Shadow the Hedgehog)

Talking tentacle eyeball things need not apply.
When it came to including a stage from Shadow the Hedgehog, I tried to pick one that Sonic actually made sense to be in. He was Shadow’s partner in three of the games stages, and although that didn’t prevent Sega from including Radical Highway in Sonic Generations for the 3DS, I figured it made more sense this way. I ultimately went with the game’s very first stage, Westopolis, just because I feel it has the most to offer of the three available. It’s a city stage, for one, and those are always fun, not to mention it’s practically crumbling beneath everybody’s feet so that could lead to some interesting mechanics, similar to Crisis City in Generations. Hey, just as long as they don’t give either Sonic a gun, I trust they could make it work.

4. Kingdom Valley (Sonic the Hedgehog 2006)

Wow is this screenshot misleading.
None of the stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 are any good and Crisis City is easily the most memorable so I’m going with the only other stage I really remember, Kingdom Valley. It’s basically just a greenish area with some temples that occasionally collapse. Also it takes like 15 minutes to beat it and sometimes there are eagles that take you from place to place. ADVENTURE! Admittedly, the eagle thing could be cool, like the rockets in Speed Highway. Not to mention, if they can make Crisis City work, an equally broken stage, then I’m sure they could make any stage from ’06 work. Even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense for them to be included to begin with.

3. Cool Edge (Sonic Unleashed)

I'm not sure snow works like that...
Rooftop Run was the best possible choice from Unleashed. It’s the best visually, the music was great, the stage is great, everything about is iconic and fun. So picking a second stage from Unleashed was no easy task. It was between Dragon Road, Skyscraper Scamper and Cool Edge. Cool Edge ultimately won out because I feel we need an ice stage and if we can’t have Ice Cap, than it should be this one. Although slippy, slidey ice stages aren’t always very fun, Cool Edge was a beautiful looking stage that had a lot of neat features. You could run on glaciers, there was penguins in the background, you could run on water which is always cool. I just feel a lot could be done with this stage and a mandatory ice/water stage always seems necessary so why not from Unleashed?

2. Casino Street Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 4)

They made sure you knew they were using cards.
All the stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 4 are carbon copies of existing Sonic stages but with new names. Honestly, this is the only stage that really sticks out in my mind plus we could use a casino stage. Casino Street had some interesting gimmicks like running on moving cards, timing your jumps on cards that were flipping over, bumpers, pinball, cannons, it was a pretty uniquely designed set of stages despite just being Casino Night Zone. The running on cards gimmick is where I really think they could get creative with the stage design. If the cards constantly move and change positions, it could make it tricky for Modern Sonic to use the boost or just be a platforming puzzle for classic Sonic, much like in Sonic 4. 

1. Sweet Mountain (Sonic Colors)
The ONLY stage.
Sweet Mountain is one of the most ridiculous stages ever put in a Sonic game and that is why it absolutely should be seriously considered for a comeback. The platforms are surrounded by ice cream, cakes and donuts! That is fantastic! The look of the stage alone warrants it a place on this list. Not to mention, there’s one part where you have to make your way to the top of a giant hamburger. Imagine all the ridiculous things they could do with both Classic and Modern Sonic in this stage. Throw in the fact that they’d likely include some of the Wisps and you’d have one crazy set of stages. Planet Wisp might have been the obvious choice from Colors but Sweet Mountain would have been the right choice.

So there you have it. Now, I’m sure all of you out there are disagreeing or wondering why I would include something from Shadow at all. If this is true, feel free to sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’d like to see in another Sonic Generations.

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