My Favorite Enemy in Platforming / by Dan Andre

To know me, is to know 3 characters from my childhood; Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Batman, and Sonic the Hedgehog. These characters helped shape me into the man I am today.

Today though, we're just gonna focus on Sonic, and a particular enemy within the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The Crabmeat.

It seems like a simple, rather stupid enemy on the face of it. He's kinda slow, doesn't move very far, and he really telegraphs his attacks. And if you encountered him on flat land, he would pretty much be trival to deal with.

But this never happens. The way he is designed is for very spesific scenarios and setups


Whenever he appears, he is almost always placed on higher ground, usually on a ledge, blocked on the other side by either a rock or another ledge.

This is because of a very important aspect of his attack, as well as a very important point about platforming enemies in general.

His energy orb attack shoots like a mortar, in an arcing shot that falls down on you. Him being in this position makes it so you pretty much have to deal with him. You can't jump over him because of the blocker on the other side of him, and in the position he is in, a wrong jump will make you run either into him or one of his shots, making it so you need to time your jump well. The nice thing about this setup, is that he is always placed in such a way that if you don't jump and hit the ledge, you are usually safe from the arcing attacks and can wait for your opportunity to strike. But the best way to deal with him the way Sonic concievably would, to attack quickly, bounce off his head and over the obsticle, looking way past cool in the process.

The bigger point is that enemies in platforming aren't about cool attacks, they often don't attack at all and are actually pretty dumb. It's their placement which makes them threatening. The entire point of the enemies are to make a less predictable form of hazardous terrain to make traversing the level more fun

I love the Crabmeat because he is so simple, and yet creates so many interesting platforming scenarios, and was one of my first insights into game design as a kid, since Sonic 1 was the first game I ever played.

If you read my other post about Naughty Dog, you know I'm incredibly enthusiastic about platformers, certainly so back when I was a kid, but I still love them today because they are such a simple and fun form of game design. One that I think goes unappreciated by people who identify as "Hardcore Gamers".

Anyway, we were just discussing platformers on Unity Forums, and it inspired me to make this post.