Sonic Lost World Trailer
IGN posted this trailer for Sonic Lost World earlier today. Aside from looking strangely similar to Sonic X-Treme, it also brings to mind values that have run through Sonic's entire career.
The entire franchise stands on the shoulders of Green Hill Zone with its classic structure: the middle path is safe and fast, the top path offers tricky platforming, and the bottom path has hazards and obstacles aplenty. These three paths offer different moods (for instance, the middle path is safe while the bottom path is dangerous), yet they inhabit the same stage. Sonic games don't always follow this formulaic sense of top-middle-bottom paths, but they have always been about exploring a variety of moods within thematically relevant areas.
With 2D platforming, it comes easily; gravity drags you to the bottom path and challenges you to the top path, so moods come out naturally. You're generally not forced to one path or another. In 3D, drawing out different moods takes more nuance. In Sonic Adventure, the solution is to have different characters explore the same areas with different missions; in Sonic Unleashed, the solution is to put two characters with completely different play styles in the same setting.
It's appropriate to say I'm jumping the gun here--this is just a 1:21 trailer, after all--but it looks like Sega has happened upon a new way to explore the idea of different moods occupying the same space. In the trailer, you can see that worlds are in full 3D, but paths sit next to each other discretely on their own tracks. Running down a pillar, taking a track to the left may have different platforming from the path you're on now.
To this end, I was interested by one note made by IGN:
[. . .] by default, Sonic doesn’t burst off with a tilt of the analog stick. He walks – until you use one of the GamePad’s triggers to engage his running speed. This too is actually not full speed. Holding down the second trigger will pull Sonic into a ball, giving him access to his full momentum, which Iizuka likened to the ‘Boost speed’ from previous titles.
A common way to explore mood in Sonic platforming is by speed. In Green Hill Zone, you'll be much faster on the middle path than the top path, which features demanding platforming where you'll take care. Giving you such explicit control over your speed means you'll be assessing when a section is fast or when a section is slow; in other words, you'll be observing its mood.