Gravity obstacles

In Brief

  • Gravity obstacles consists of small progression blocking devices that can only be passed if Sonic is at top-speed
    • classic_good.png The obstacles set a challenge which allows the player to appreciate Sonic’s speed.
    • classic_good.png The obstacles allow the player to engage with the speed and ensure that the speed retains its impact.
  • In modern Sonic games, speed pads are used before such obstacles allowing Sonic to automatically reach his top speed.
    • modern_bad.png This devalues the speed and makes it harder for the player to engage with it.

Gravity obstacles consist of level mechanics such as steep hills, curved paths and loop-de-loops. To cross these devices Sonic needs to be moving at top speed. If Sonic travels at normal speed, gravity will push him backwards making it impossible to cross the device.


▲ The loop-de-loops are the most famous example
of a gravity obstacle. (Video Example)

When travelling at normal speed, gravity pushes Sonic back down the loop.
When travelling at top speed, Sonic can overcome gravity to cross the loop.

Benefits of Gravity obstacles

The battle between Sonic and gravity offers four key benefits:

1) It gives meaning to Sonic’s speed
classic_good.png The pleasure principle of Superpower When travelling at normal speed, the device cannot be crossed. This allows the player to appreciate Sonic’s top speed as a ‘super power’, as the player knows it allows them to perform spectacular feats such as overcoming gravity.

2) It increases impact by creating a contrast
classic_good.png The pleasure principle of Contrasts Until the player overcomes gravity, the normal speed is more acutely experienced. This produces a slower ‘baseline’, which increases the impact of the top speed when it is achieved. It also enables the player to appreciate the faster speed.

3) It acknowledges the player
classic_good.png The pleasure principle of Player Choice The player has to apply effort in order to build up the required speed. These actions could consist of taking a run-up or using a jump to gain momentum. Although these actions are trivial, they require input from the player.

4) It increases player engagement
classic_good.png The pleasure principle of Realism The use of gravity helps to loosely add principles of real world physics to the game. Video game players live in the real world and so have first hand of experience of these principles. Hence the inclusion of the principles makes it easier for players to relate to and engage with the game.

Gravity obstacles in modern Sonic games

In modern Sonic games, Gravity obstacles non-existent. Although there are many devices that require Sonic to run at a top speed, these devices are often preceded by a speed pad that cause Sonic to instantly accelerate the necessary speed. Hence, the instant acceleration prevents these devices from being considered obstacles.

▲ Speed pads allow Sonic to automatically over-come gravity obstacles

The use of the speed pad removes all the above advantages:

  • Sonic’s speed looses meaning and it is taken for granted as the player no longer has to work for it;
  • The player is not acknowledge as they have little to do to achieve the top speed;
  • The player is no longer an active ‘doer’ but a ‘watcher’, which lessens the impact of the experience.

Hence, restoring these battles between gravity and Sonic is a key way to add meaning to Sonic’s speed and increase the impact it has on the player.


  • Modern Sonic games need to restore the gravity obstacles.
    • This can easily be achieved by removing the speed pads that occur before such obstacles.
  • Restoring the obstacles will:
    • Allow the player to value Sonic’s speed as a tag_superpower.png
    • Create tag_contrasts.png that emphasise the speed
    • Acknowledge the player, by allowing for more player tag_player_choice.png
    • Add tag_realism.png by making the speed seem more authentic

◄◄ Previous Section Index for this page Next Section ►►
Super Hero Situations Super Power Mechanics Choice Zone (Index)


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