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What Sonic can learn from Mario

#16 User is offline Yeow 

Posted 27 November 2017 - 04:47 PM

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View PostPengi, on 26 November 2017 - 11:03 PM, said:

View PostYeow, on 25 November 2017 - 06:25 PM, said:

Sonic Team completely flew off the handle in regards to making Sonic Adventure and proceeded to threw away virtually everything they learned and built with the preceding Genesis games; whatever material they kept was hardly meaningful to the source material. Because I like to come up with analogies that I feel best represents what happened: the studio got so caught up in trying to reinvent the wheel and reinvent Sonic, they took an entire rulebook they previously used to build the original Sonic games and tossed into a wastebasket, and replaced it in favor of a novella. Then they threw that out shortly afterwards and replaced it with a picture book, which had stipulations so superficial and loose, it gave the studio carte blanche to make literally any game they fancied. And every Sonic game since then --the 3D games, the 2D games, the games made by Sonic Team in-house, the games outsourced to other studios like Dimps, Backbone, BRB, and Sanzaru-- were in accordance to that picture book.

It's absolutely cathartic to have Mania, a game that feels like it was made by designers who managed to recreate the original rulebook from scratch, and were somehow allowed to make a game that followed upon their custom-made rulebook. Meanwhile, Mario has at least three rulebooks (for 2D, sandbox 3D, and linear 3D) that all share some key critical chapters.

I think that's a bit too harsh on Sonic Adventure.

It's immediately obvious that Sonic Adventure was created by a creatively fertile, passionate, experimental Sonic Team. So many ideas made it into that game and as such many of them ended up half-baked. It was a platformer, an RPG, a platform shooter, a platform racer, a virtual pet, a fishing game, a treasure hunt, pinball, a rail shooter, snowboarding, whack-a-mole... It's an unprecedented and kind of remarkable mish-mash of ideas.

But despite all of that, at its core you could still see a sincere attempt at translating the Sonic of the Mega Drive games into three dimensions. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles generally behaved the way you expected. Knuckles had more of a Mario 64 open environment scavenger hunt thing going on, but it was still the Knuckles you'd come to expect from the 2D games.

*rest of post*

I do think that Adventure 1 did retain some principles of the original games, I only meant to refer to Adventure 1 as the starting point of when they began disregarding what they laid down with the Genesis games; rather than the point they completely threw out everything and the kitchen sink. I should had been more clear in connecting the two with my analogy, but when I said that Sonic Team threw out the rulebook for a novella, I was referring to Adventure 1 (and Advance 1) in that regard. As far as I'm concerned, Adventure 2 and Advance 2 are when the novella games ended and where the picture books began.

#17 User is offline Fadaway 

Posted 25 December 2017 - 10:36 PM

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Short answer is....don't release half-assed games.

On the surface, unnerving decisions and iffy game design have lead Sonic the franchise down bizarre roads. Super Mario games, nearly always, are made with quality standards in mind. It seems most (all?) decisions made in Super Mario game development land have likely been second guessed and put through the mill multiple times before being green lit. There seems to be more effort put into meeting those standards.

Below the surface, I suspect this is due to a few contributing factors. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Sonic the Hedgehog never made the impact in Japan it did elsewhere. I seem to remember that being noted a few times throughout the years. Although, I'm not one to speculate, but I do think that aspect can't be glossed over if true. The early games are pretty damn great and I'm sure the popularity in foreign markets helped the franchise stay afloat much longer than it otherwise would have.

Once the transition into 3D began, it became more of a niche series. Popularity waned and more risks were taken. Sometimes, risks pay off. Sonic Mania is a risk that paid off in the best sort of way. It makes all those catastrophic Werehog-esque decisions almost worth it.

Innovation isn't always easy. Experimentation leads to innovation. I'm sure Sonic Team did a fair amount of market research and were all in on steering the series in a less treacly direction than Mario. This was inherent in Sonic's design since the beginning.

I think it's important to know why some of these decisions were made. Trends in key demographics, such as the 18–35 crowd, probably play a large role. Mario's devs kept their hooves in it and that's commendable. Iizuka-san, quite possibly, has been looking for the main nerve for the 3D canon. He hasn't hit paydirt with that yet, but I can't fault his team for experimenting and playing to old demographic cues. A genre-bening slash-em-up? With the right kind of execution, could have been gold. More often than not, execution has hindered the whole ordeal.

What can Sonic learn from Mario: if the water gun seems like a bad idea, make it a fucking fun game anyway and play it as often as humanly possible before releasing it and tweak and correct until it's interesting and fun.

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