Just from reading the title of this article, you already have a thought, an impression in your mind. A feeling of disgust? A feeling of power? Like it or not, this weapon is the most well known, and possibly most well used in the entire game. Fortunes are won and lost by this weapon, possible friendships lost and won on it too--weather Sonic Team planned it that way or not.
The Needle, hacked or not, is a powerful gun. True, unhacked needles are far weaker then their counterparts, but do you doubt, that if you were to find one in c-mode, that you would not clean up with a good time? The bullets are self guiding, you can hit things and not even be pointing in their direction. It hits multiple enemies, but fires as fast as the weapons that shoot only one at a time. There’s no ‘shot-style’ slow combo to weigh it down. However, a totally percent-less needle is as tough to come by as a Durandal, so it’s out of the picture. Everyone that uses a Spread Needle either has a 60 or a 180 against the area they’re using it in so these are what you’ll deal with.
The Theory v1
In version one, there was a mass outcry against Spreads. Why would Sonic Team make such an awful, game ruining weapon? Surely, it would be eliminated in future versions, or made so weak as to be useless. However, no one seems to realize what the intention really was for this weapon. Three words are all it takes: One Character Army. Although no one but ST knows their real intentions (hey maybe the thing was one big experiment) it’s logical that this is a gun to use when there’s no one else around to back you up. It will get you through things you’d take much longer, and much harder to get through otherwise. Sometimes, things that would be -impossible- for one person to handle alone, get done with this gun. It’s the loner’s gun. Perhaps there was no theory, as obviously rares were intended to be so rare, that no one should have any. If the game went as they had intended, you would never have even seen a spread needle.
The Theory v2
To many, Sonic Team failed to see the error of their ways and not only brought the needle back, but an even more powerful version of it as well: The S-Rank. While Ultimate Mode rendered version 1 Needles useless, the S-Ranks are more then their match. And to top it all, they’re available to anyone with enough persistence to get through challenge mode. That’s not where everyone gets theirs though…
If you ask anyone, they’ll say a Spread is the stupid choice. Anyone can mow down a room with one in their hand. And often times they do. It doesn’t take much effort or skill to wield one in this way. This EXP stealing image is the one most people have of Spreads. The hot-shot who comes into the game and just blows away the whole room before anyone can get a shot off, or a decent spell. It’s incredibly annoying, especially if you can’t get them to stop. And to combat this, several guilds and organizations have even been formed, such as SPAN (Skilled Players Against Needles) who run around and PK any needle user, steal the offending weapon and delete it. However, while the EXP stealing crazies are NOT right, neither are the Needle-Stealers. If you don’t like what’s going on in the game, leave it. No one is forced to play in a game, offender, nor offend-ee. It’s not your right to take things that aren’t yours NO MATTER WHAT. If enough people simply walk away, leaving the offender alone to get bored, they’ll stop, or fight alone. Naturally, the Spread stealing ‘cops’ have their own fanatics, people who kill others for mentioning they own one, or who kill and steal a v1 spread, being used by an android to tag ULT enemies and do 0 damage because they lack multi-hitting spells and are not leveled enough to gain many traps. There are ALWAYS extenuating circumstances that you may not understand. Ask politely if they abuse--if they don’t stop, leave the game. If you think you might be abusing a Needle, switch weapons, or ASK the team. Are they OK with it? Forces can fire off a nice fast Razonde, and you might be surprised. Always consider the good of the team, consider other people you’re playing with, and everyone can generally have a good time.
However, what takes REAL skill, is using one correctly if you’re on a team. Done right, a spread can be one of the best weapons a team member can have.
*If it’s weak, it can be used to ‘tag’ all the enemies for little or no damage, ensuring EXP as other people wear them down with stronger weapons. Great for trap-less, spell-less androids.
*If it’s stronger, such as 60%, it can be used in **moderation** (1 or 2 ‘soft’ hits) to tag as well, while others finish off the enemies for their own exp.
*If it’s perfect 180, it can be used AFTER each team member casts a big spell, sets a trap, or uses a weaker needle to clear the room with EXP for all. The key words being ‘hold your fire’ until everyone hits first!
The problem is, it seems like no one knows how, or is willing to use theirs right. But it CAN be made to work. I fight with a needle on my team all the time, and every single person gets 99% of the experience points, and doesn’t die either. And mine are 180. The key to it is watching for everyone else to strike first, and then shoot. The use of discretion comes into play as well for that last 1%, you can’t just ignore a Chaos Sorcerer with a raised Gee because no one hit it yet. It’s part of how to use it to protect both yourself and your team. A careful balance between protection of team members and efficient killing must be struck. When it’s wielded correctly, and under proper coordination and cooperation, this shunned weapon can be an awesome EXP gathering force for the whole team.