How Sonic Mania Makes a Level

♪ Sonic Mania may have made me wet my
pants… This was Sonic’s only game of 2017
that’s right the only one! And I’m not talking about this visual novel here we
only press one button to move through the story Sonic mania was a breath of
fresh air for Sonic fans everywhere – a tight platformer with callbacks to the
original trilogy with both old levels and new ones. A lot worked here and I
want to see why that is you know – take it out for dinner, get to know it, take it
home, strip naked and see it for what it is And I know Sonic is no stranger to 2D
outings but I’d argue Sonic Mania nails the core appeal of Sonic’s level
design. To put a shortly Sonic’s 2D level design is all about going fast and staying fast In ways such as gaining momentum on slopes or platforming superbly in order to keep your speed up. Now I know not all Sonic levels are like
this, some are more focused on platforming but typically we know a Sonic game is
good when it reaches that happy balance of platforming and speed – if you can
balance out the slow sections with fast sections that makes it sort of like a
reward. Too much of one or the other and the level can fall apart.
That’s why Sonic mania is a blessing you know, I don’t love every single one of
these levels but I don’t loathe any of them either. None of them are Marble
Zone, Sandopolis… Labyrinth son of a bitch zone – ya son of a bitch ya never
gonna be in a game again So today I wanted to look into what makes a Sonic Mania level So how am I gonna do this? Well it’d be easy
to break down a level like Green Hill Zone, being the first level and
establishing many of the things but tell me – how many times will they reuse
this level? Okay wow, This sentence is still going
isn’t it? So instead I’ll do something different.
We’re gonna talk about a level that I initially disliked upon its announcement
of being in Sonic Mania a level where the original I actually kind of despised… Yeah, it’s really weird – you come out of
Mushroom Hill a level all about speed and then you go to this Waiting: the level And I’d argue at least half the time you spend in this level is waiting for these elevators or switches Actually you know what let’s see that. Let’s see if I go on my software to edit this, let’s see we’re in this level of act 2 I
actually have to wait So after checking, literally half of the level is you
waiting for other things to happen Of course I did include that boss fight
with the laser where shoots his own ship because really that whole, the whole
fight you’re just dodging the slowest laser in existence. Do you really hate
your level this much my man Do you want to talk about some of the feelings you’re harbouring? I didn’t like it in Sonic and Knuckles and I certainly wasn’t charged about it being in Sonic Mania. So I’m gonna break down exactly how this level
came to life from the mechanics introduced in Act 1 to building upon
them in Act 2 Let’s begin with act 1 and what I really appreciate about this
level and as we’re gonna go through it shows you all of it’s levels unique
mechanics within the first two minutes of the level That’s it, it’s a concise valuable
skill So you get on the music’s all – And you see this thing – should you
avoid it? Should you step on it? You have no other way up so if you avoid it you got mad trust issues So you get on it and you launched to this curve if you don’t press any- You don’t press anything you should just roll through this most of
this part you know you see what’s happening and this part is exactly the
same as how it appeared in the original flying battery but after here they
change up a few things that really benefit showing the player what the
level is all about Unlike in Sonic 3 this one introduces you to one of the
levels main mechanics the monkey bars but it does it in a more linear way you
know these little foot measuring things that launch you? So you step on it and it
launches you into the monkey bar so now you know you can grab onto these things
and if you move to the left you move to the left then one drops you down and now
you can see how they work Also we see that these metal pancake sprinklers shoot fire And other than this flamethrower being and actually shows
you how the mechanic works better than it did in the first Flying Battery. This one you just run into it like how could you see that coming? Instead it puts you on the monkey bar so whether you’re here here or here it shows you man’s aren’t hot and we’re keeping it that way Then you descend into the ship with more of what we’ve already seen except now it mixes up these properties You can see that you actually have to dodge these sprinklers And then there’s these Mouses! Augh! Begone filth! what you know about these monkey bars
you can go down and all the way to the right but if you’re a little rascal you can
actually go to the left and get a fire shield and I also like to point out they
put this here so you can see that the fire shield makes you immune to the fire
shooter and the only way you knew there is a fire shooter there is if you
already went through there so that’s why they loop it! How are they this smart? But then you get outside and it’s kinda getting scary… There’s a drop there – you fall you’re gonna break
your ankle and that hurts! I remember in the first Flying Battery I’d always run really fast and then just fly off and die because I didn’t know that it was a
death plane Luckily we have these bars and rings above us to help us navigate our way through the platforms. It also shows us there’s these mesh cylinders again. As we continue it’s a pretty straight shoot to the foot measuring
thing but down here you’ll notice a little ring box – how do you get it? Even
if you’re speeding by the game will show you that it is there if you want to go
see it. It’s smart, it’s like “yo, you know you can go down here right there’s something here” But anyways we go up to the first checkpoint. Above and below the
mesh cylinders we actually have two paths, both that lead to the levels main mechanic, the magnets But, this is very smart, even if you slide to the left, slide to the right it always always gives you an eclectic shield and
immediately after you get it the magnets are attracted to because you’re really
cute guy you know – I didn’t wanna be weird And again you learn what the mechanic does
in a safe environment And you’re even rewarded if you manage to keep this
shield with an alternate path that just gives you rings Finally we fly to the
top of the ship with these propellers that were in the original Flying Battery.
This is one of the last reoccurring objects or mechanics in the level and
they’re pretty straightforward in how they operate – they have rings to show
you the way also And did you notice? We did a full tour outside, back inside, down, through, up and to the top of the Flying Battery. The ink flows down into the dark
puddle, how can I write love into reality? I’ll tell ya: with this level and its
design If I had to teach a class on Flying Battery to you BAM this is the course syllabus and you got a good idea, you’re gonna pass this class and you’re gonna pass with FLYING colors. So what? SO WHAT?! They put all these at
the beginning of the levels so you can see how exactly they work in a safe
environment so later in the second half they can start remixing how they appear. Let’s take a look. The monkey bars are now used in different areas with enemies and platforming, these flame switches are used for going upward, we see a bunch
more of these meshes and more or less the level gives you harder situations to
navigate through, whether this means the bottom of the ship with the platforming or
the top of the ship with the propellers. That sentence was like the Flying
Battery like p-p-p-p-p +A act 1, you’re a class act! Now that we’ve seen what this levels
all about and mastered the familiar set pieces, it’s time to get serious. Immediately it’ll become apparent that
act 2 is split into two distinct paths but even here in the first minute of
each of these paths you’ll see all the unique mechanics introduced in act 1 So don’t blink 😉 But yeah it actually introduces all of
this to you in the first minute so it can get into the new stuff fairly quickly. Act 2 builds on the whole upper and lower decks of the ship with now an
exterior interior crocodile alligator But what’s soley “new” in this act? Well we have your favourite
animes categorised into heaps Electric fields powering the flying battery Wind outside on top of the ship These ball and chains and my personal favorite – “Look at all those chickens!” Now they don’t just throw these new things at you they ease into them similar to
how they did in the first act. Like the chickens, several of them have ring boxes
behind them in case you do get sniped by them so they don’t totally kill you if
you run into one of their bullets. These electric field things also give you a
freebie the first time you encounter them so you can’t see that you can
destroy them but they also emit an electrical charge that could hurt you. When I went through this a couple times it became very clear that they set up
each of these distinct paths so they had their own themes but when you collect
all of them together whether that’s the propellers, the chickens defending it, or
the bottom with the electrical system it’s very clear that they set all this
up to really bring to life this airship with all it’s working parts and the
theming is really good and I really respect this compared to the original
Flying Battery I’m glad you asked, Mr. Cat. No, I really wish you just got it
but I have to explain for your dumb ass but it can’t be helped Act 1 and 2
condition the player with mechanics, enemies, set-pieces, situations, so they
know how to handle them later This is done so they can eventually remix these mechanics and eventually… EVENTUALLY Make it so platforming and going fast are one in one and it’s really fun And some people don’t like this but Sonic levels are constructed so you go through the slow sections, the platforming so you can
get to the speed sections it punches you right in the gut with all this dopamine
and it just feels fantastic My absolute favorite moment is this: They show you can go on top of the ship, they show you you can go on the bottom of the ship and
that you can re-enter this ship. So now you can do ALL OF THE SHIP I think I need another bath And truthfully this whole level is constructed so much better than the
original Flying Battery. The original was just slow and tedious – you know what I’m
talking about – those dumbass elevators, Thank God they didn’t make a return And even the bosses are just …what is this? This guy is hitting himself because he
hates this level and Eggman… What is this pathetic shit? He’s all *Nasty Grunts and Tongue Noises* Shut up! Go away! ??: Bleh… RATSUKI: Who woke me up from my nap Augh! A common sewer rat! All in all Flying Battery is one of my favourite levels in Sonic Mania because of how it took mechanics
from the classic level and reworked them and organize them to make it work in a
speed based game. Of course that’s really challenging because many of these
mechanics force you into slow methodical platforming sections – It’s just by how
they’re designed. Yet the Sonic Mania team found a way to make these mechanics
work without overstaying their welcome. I know I’ve been spouting crazy stuff but
with a game like Sonic Mania the nuance is incredibly important. Not focusing on
it can make a tedious, slow, and arduous level but if you balance it, if you make
the mechanics not overstay their welcome and you make them work within a speed
based game it can be a very dynamic and enjoyable level and I just There’s nothing else to say – it’s good! Begone fiend! So next time someone says Sonic Forces is better than Sonic Mania, you hit ’em with the facts! MORTY: Wow, it’s so… *sensual moans* MORTY: My God, Oh Christ…. RICK: Uh, yeeeah. True level bitch. Whew, I really, really liked making this video guys. I don’t know, the editing, the humor, I got to talk about one of my favourite levels in Sonic Mania. It’s just a good time all around, so if you liked this video, thank you. If you liked the video, commented – Thank you! Just in general, thank you to everyone who watches and comments, talks about my content and shares it. It just, it makes me feel good that my stuff is resonating with you. Because, I feel like this is my true nature, and people like it and it feels good. Thank you to the Patrons as well, I know I talk to you on the server all the time on Discord but Thank you all of you for continuing your support into this following month. I’m thinking the next $10 reward will be keychains, and later in the year mugs? I haven’t decided If you’re interested in supporting me directly, Patreon is the best way – but you know I DON’T NEED TO SAY THE SPIEL ANYMO’ I’mma get outta here, thank you all again for watching and I will see you HON the flipside.

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