Bonus Stages you know ’em, you love ’em, but are they really needed? I mean sure the definition of bonus means extra or whatever. Just are they any good? Is it any fun for anyone? See take a look.
No! Not that Bonus Stage. That show was awesome. I’m talking about good ol’ Sonic 2 Emerald Half Pipe bonus stage. Yeah I didn’t even have to link the picture. If you know, you know. Though there is the first big question. If the Bonus Stages are required for game completion like in Sonic the Hedgehog are they really bonuses? Or would the phrase challenge stage be more fitting? Does it matter? Well when you try and act like this is optional when it most definitely is not.
I don’t mean to just harp on Sonic here, but I hate how they just make a habit of having the absolute worst emerald stages that are needed to get the good ending. That the two they made I enjoyed get cast aside and they keep pulling out the Half Pipe and the UFO Chase ones. Here is a tip for all you game designers out there. If there is a specific set of people learning how to cheat and break the game stage to skip it, it’s a sign that what you made isn’t fun. That’s not always true, speed runners are a thing after all. Just those, and I use this term loosely, people have a different definition of fun. So let’s just ignore mandatory extra stages and move onto real bonus stages.
That’s feeling a bouns, sorry, bonus round should give you. Crash Bandicoot hits in the middle spot of needed but not. Sure it’s a tricky concept between if 100% completion is necessary to say you beat a game. Just I feel with a game like Crash the ease at which you can go back to challenge each stage individually after beating the game justifies them as extra content. It’s no different than padding out the game with an item checklist or beastiary. The Crash bonus rounds tend to be more in the “Stupidly Specific Skills” section of extra stages. Taking the skills and techniques you learned so far and giving you a challenge to show that you not only understand, but have mastered them. These kinds of stages are alright, nothing well for lack of a better term, special. They can be enjoyable but still just feel like the rest of the game to me. No, what I consider a bonus stage is the little breaks you get that depart from the rest of the title. Like let’s say you just been fighting a few guys across the world on a quest to avenge your sensei. You are stressed and nervous and barely staying ahead of these technicolored weirdos. Then you see it.
The next fight is not E. Honda it’s A. Honda. That’s something that sticks with you. Mortal Kombat had the strength test minigames. Mario 3 had the card matching item stages and those cycling picture 1 Up rooms. None of those are needed. It’s either to boost your high score to help you hold onto that leaderboard spot, or drop you some extra goodies to keep your game running smooth. They are getting to be a real rarity nowadays. All to often they feel obligated to be there because it’s a video game. A bonus because you should is not particularly a bonus. That’s just called stages. So keep your eye out for the few rate treats of a perfectly placed bonus stage and appreciate it for what it is. Like the smoke break of the NES era. A little two minute rest for your brain so you don’t get overstimulated focusing on the same thing over and over. Maybe appreciate that it’s not fundamentally draining all the joy from the main game. Why do you do this to me Sonic?! Everytime I play your games you insist on hurting me. Yet I always come back. Honestly this article was written as a bonus stage for my Sonic 2 play session as I keep missing the last emerald by one or two rings and I am running out of chances before the Death Egg pops up. Well guess that’s that. Back to the Sega selection of Nintendo Switch Online titles. Be safe out there, catch you around later.