Friday, 24 October 2014

Top 10 Zones in the Sonic franchise

With the release of the review of Sonic Unleashed, I thought it would be fitting to look at the best zones (in my opinion) from the Sonic series. The rules are simple for this.

1. Sonic Generations levels cannot be included unless it's alongside the original level
2. No game can occupy two spots on the main list (honorable mentions not included)

One final thing before the list is started, no, Green Hill zone or its clones is not on the list. While I enjoy the zone, its overused.

10. Tropical Jungle, Sonic's story (Sonic 06): 

I will always take better execution over ideas. The popular level from Sonic 06 is Crisis City... and the original level was awful due to its poor execution. Bug after bug for the snow board, questionable collision detection (worse in Flame Core) and a Mach Speed Section that almost made me take a sledge hammer to the game. Tropical Jungle may be a worse level in terms of ideas, but it's better execution makes this one of my favorite levels from the game (its not saying much, trust me). Elise as a gameplay mechanic works more often then not and the level design is fun to play. This is the only level in the game that I rarely lost a life in and when I did, it was because of my error and not bugs. I will say though that the level for Rouge and Silver are AWFUL. "When people are getting lost in a Sonic game, there's a problem, A BIG PROBLEM"

9. White Park Zone Act 2 (Sonic 4, Episode II): 

 Just Act 2. While White Park Act 1 is also a great level, I'm not a fan of Act 3 (its a water level, if you've played a platformer, then you'll know why). Yes White Park act 2 is mostly automated, but Sonic has always had a degree of spectacle to his level design and White Park is proof of it. The zone as a whole is gorgeous and Act 2 is the pinnacle of it in my opinion. The carnival theme of the level and the use of the carnival lights is just beautiful. Act 2's music track is also my favorite track in the Sonic 4 series... its catchy...

8. Night Carnival (Sonic Rush): 

I swear this looked good back in 2005... Sonic Rush was a early DS title (same year as the system's launch here) and for the time, it was good. Night Carnival has some of the best, fair level design of the game (I'll go into detail another time but lets just say Dimps's level design is well known in the Sonic community for all the wrong reasons) and its a joy to play through. If I'm going back to Rush, its to either play this or Huge Crisis (that one purely because of Jeh Jeh Rocket... yes that is the name of the track). I love the idea of the light acting as platforms, it could have been executed better, but it still holds its own.

7. Sky Babylon (Sonic Rush Adventure): 

This was the best video I could find, skip to 7:34 for the level

Notice how all the levels made by Dimps are grouped together... Both Sonic Rush and its sequel Sonic Rush Adventure have the gimmick of letting players either play as Sonic or Blaze the Cat, each one behaving similar, but with enough differences to make them both enjoyable. If you're going to play Sky Babylon though, do yourself a favor, play as Blaze, this video should prove to you why. Sky Babylon itself is hard, but I still think its fair as its the second last level in the game, I expect it to be hard. The level itself looks beautiful and its theme is beautiful. Boss is a royal pain though and is without a doubt, the worst part of the level.

6. Rail Canyon and Bullet Station (Sonic Heroes):

Rail Canyon:

 Bullet Station: 

Remember when I said I'll take execution over ideas any day, well to those who say I'm a hypocrite because of these two levels, I say "I didn't have a problem with them". I actually like the concept of Rail grinding in Sonic games, yes it automated, but dam does it look cool. These were the levels I really wanted to see in Sonic Generations as it would have been a nice change of pace when compared to what we did get in the end (seriously, enough with the green hill and city tropes). I'm willing to bet there are some people that are asking "Why do you not find this broken?" and to that, "it's because I didn't know there was a better way to switch rails then jumping with the flight character".

5. Stardust Speedway (Sonic CD):

Yes, the metal Sonic fight is a big reason why this is here, but I also like the level design of Stardust Speedway, its thrilling, the soundtrack for the Japanese version (aside from Sonic Boom, I'm not a fan of the US soundtrack) is a joy to listen to and the level design as a whole, while yes it can be confusing, the golden rule still applies "GO RIGHT". Again though, the Metal Sonic fight helped bump this up as its a fun boss battle.

4. Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2 + Sonic Generations):

Sonic 2: 

Sonic Generations: 

What can I say about Chemical Plant that hasn't already been said? Its Chemical Plant Zone, nothing I say would be anything different from the 22 years of praise it has gotten. The reason why its not in the top three isn't because its bad, but because I like the top three just a bit more. I will say though that Act 2 in Generations is one of my favorite acts to replay.

3. Skyscraper Scamper Day (Sonic Unleashed): 

WHY WASN'T THIS LEVEL PICKED? I DON'T CARE HOW GOOD ROOFTOP RUN'S THEME IS, THIS IS THE SUPERIOR LEVEL!!! Sorry... In case you couldn't tell from the review of Unleashed, I love Skyscraper Scamper Act 1, more so then Rooftop Run. While I loved the clock tower in Rooftop Run, running up Skyscrapers, to me, is more awesome. If the two levels would get combined then it would be perfect.

2. Starlight Carnival and Asteroid Coaster (Sonic Colours):

Starlight Carnival: 

Asteroid Coaster:

I'm grouping these two together as they share similar ideas. The thing about Sonic Colours is that there are really only three zones. Tropical Resort (which is very similar to Planet Wisp), Sweet Mountain (and Aquarium Park) and the worst offender of it being Starlight Carnival and Asteroid Coaster... But thankfully, they are still so fun. The main reason for this is Starlight Carnival more so then Asteroid Coaster because Starlight Carnival looks beautiful. The music is beautiful with Asteroid Coaster's being my second favorite set of themes in the game and both zones are fun to play. Sonic Colours was on the Wii, and if this isn't proof that games can still look good aesthetically wise on the Wii, then only one other game has a chance.

And the honorable mentions (in no order)

1. Palmtree Panic (Sonic CD):

2. Death Egg Zone (Sonic 3 & Knuckles):

3. Casino Park/ Bingo Highway (Sonic Heroes):

4. Spring Yard Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog):

5. Rooftop Run (Sonic Unleashed):

1. Speed Highway (Sonic Adventure and Sonic Generations):

Sonic Adventure: 

Sonic Generations: 
 I don't care what you people think, Speed Highway is awesome. I love the three tracks that play in the original level and what they did to the level in Generations is amazing. If you ask anyone I know, they'll tell you I was hyped the moment Speed Highway was confirmed for Generations, and it didn't disappoint. I think Speed Highway is the best Sonic zone I've played because of how much of a thrill it is to play. the platforming still has that sense of speed to it and the thrill moments in the level are real thrills.

Before I get any hate as to why nothing from Sonic Adventure 2... I haven't played that one yet... Feel free to post your thoughts on this, what do you agree with, what makes you hate my guts ect. Next week, not only will the "marathon" continue with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, but a new opinion piece. As for the topic, well that would be giving something away wouldn't it?

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