Slower Paced Obstacles - Creating contrasts in level design

In Brief

  • Slower paced obstacles occur regularly in the classic games
  • They help to add variety
  • They create a contrast that:
    • Increases the impact of Sonic’s speed
    • Prevents the speed from being taken for granted.
  • Obstacles in the modern games tend to be fast paced
    • modern_good.png This maintains the flow of speed
    • modern_bad.png It also causes the speed to become repetitive

Slower paced obstacles regularly occur in the classic games. These require Sonic to abstain from running at super speeds and instead apply a modest amount of cognitive effort to overcome an obstacle.

▲ Despite being one of the fastest stages
in the classic games Chemical Plant Zone contains many slower paced obstacles

▲ Ice Cap also contains plenty of slower paced obstacles
The integration devices ensure that the speed does not come to an abrupt stop.

Benefits of slower paced obstacles

The pleasure principle of Contrasts The slower paced obstacles create contrasts, which has several benefits:

1. Appreciation
The slower pace of the obstacle creates a contrast with the speed. This retains the impact of speed and allows the player to appreciate it.

2. Reward
After completing the obstacle, the player is usually able to accelerate to Sonic’s top speed. This positions the speed as a reward, increasing its value to the player.

3. Variety
The obstacles add variety by preventing the speed from becoming repetitive. The obstacles are carefully placed to occur when the speed sections start to become repetitive.

Slow paced obstacles in modern games

In newer games, thoughtful obstacle sections are virtually non-existent. Obstacles that do exist usually consist of using the homing attack to cross a path of enemies or destroying a squadron of robots to open a door.
modern_good.png Such sections help to keep up the speed, as Sonic’s homing attack helps to produce pleasurable jolts of acceleration.
modern_bad.png However, they do not offer enough variety to the level and ultimately become repetitive.


  • Modern games need more slower paced obstacle sections.
    • This will help to add variety, make the speed more rewarding and allow the speed to retain an impact.
  • To work successfully, the obstacles need to be carefully integrated.
    • Integration techniques are examined in the next section

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Contrasts (Section Index) Contrasts Methods for integrating obstacles


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