Mystic's Notes - Level Design

Level design, when it comes down to it, is all ROM hack improvements really do. Since the engine is already programmed, level design creates all the fun factor in a ROM remake. Important to any game, level design is something that one either hates or loves. Here are some things one must pay attention to when working with Sonic 2.

- Blind jumps suck. This is an incredibly easy mistake to make when designing levels, as the designer knows exactly where the platform on the other end is, as they made it. The thing is, the player will NOT know where the other end is. If the player cannot see the platform he is jumping to, either vertically or horizontally, then something must be done. If the jump is really nice, consider adding rings to allow the player to know that it is safe to attempt the crossing as there is something on the other end. Otherwise, change the jump to have the destination visible onscreen. Nothing sucks worse than jumping into an uncertain future.

- Align the tiles properly. I cannot stress this enough. When two tiles don't connect properly, it causes glitches and is the strongest example of bad level design. Although it takes a long time to align all of the tiles perfectly, the end result is a clean, good looking level with less glitches in it.

- Sonic is all about speed. Make sure to leave some areas for running fast. Also, it's a good idea to add the "correct path" into the level, allowing the player to run really fast. Although it's really a small touch in terms of design, it goes miles in making the level more fun to play.

- Mix up elements. Just running straight right isn't fun. Try making one move upwards and downwards a lot, or even backwards. Mixing up the design elements goes a long way towards making a level fun to play.

- Never underestimate the fun value of the badnik. Most of the badniks in Sonic are not hard to kill, but it changes the pace of the action if nothing else. Also, placing badniks over bottomless pits can up their efficiency at killing the player a LOT.