BlazeHedgehog, on 13 April 2012 - 10:46 AM, said:
Sparks, on 10 April 2012 - 05:09 PM, said:
This is just like the "Classic Sonic design doesn't work in 3D" discussion. Sonic and co had design changes just for the usual "westernization" bull going on in the 80s and 90s. It only gets funnier when Classic Eggman was designed intentionally to be easy for kids to draw. What's easy for a kid to draw is apparently too hard for professional adult artists to animate. Thank God for the OVA.
Eggman's redesign was just part of Sega's efforts to localize the character and his world for North America. And it worked. Sonic was more popular in America than he was in Japan. They did something
right. The change is sort of silly in retrospect, and I loathe arguments about which "design" or "name" is correct, but it made sense at the time and ended up being a good thing for them.
If it was up to Sega Japan, "Mister Hedgehog" would be the lead singer in a rock and roll band fighting the nefarious "Dr. Badvibes", whose minions included a scowling disembodied hand and an anthropomorphic exclamation point
. And we would've probably never seen a "Mister Hedgehog 2".
...I don't think it's as simple as you're making it out to be. Not to mention that isn't exactly what happened to begin with.
While there was some slight redesigning of the characters in terms of how they looked on American boxart, the changes were not as extreme as they were in the two animated series. The look of Dr. Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Saturday morning series weren't part of the public sphere until 1993, and by that point Sonic was already a success. The cartoons simply added to that, and they could have easily kept Dr. Eggman looking the same visually. The only reason they changed his look was because it was a set of American animators who wanted to animate like they had been doing, and changed the design so that he would be expressive. Even though they could have made him expressive in his classic design. But it was easier, and probably cheaper, to redesign him so that Robotnik's face is bigger and his proportions are all over the place and whatnot. The Saturday morning Robotnik was clearly based on the Adventures design but made to look more menacing, so it wasn't as important if he had the large eyespace or a prominent butt. But once again, these weren't seen until 1993. The Sonic franchise had already been established. And really, Sega should not have allowed two separate animated series to exist which were so vastly different from the games, because you would think it would cause brand confusion. I know it's clear they are different, but still...
But I think you are giving the American team a bit more credit than they deserve. Especially since what you described isn't what Sega of Japan would have done with Sonic? I am not arguing those early concepts existed, but Sega of America was not involved in changing them. That classic piece of concept art with the strange hands and exclamation points were simply early concepts. Yes, that one guy may have been in the earliest build, but they didn't get too far. And certainly were not ordered away by Sega of America. Sonic Team was working on refining the concepts they were coming up with, and decided that they should instead focus on he-who-would-be-Eggman, making him the main villain at that point. Even when the first build was shown off (in which the project was only two months old), they already had the name Sonic. More than likely, "Mr. Hedgehog" was simply a placeholder. Sega knew that their corporate mascot couldn't be named simply hedgehog. He needed something that would grab people's attention. I mean, it's possible that Ohshima really wanted to just call him Hedgehog and be done with it, but I somehow doubt that.
Regardless, the name Dr. Badvibes was never on the table? That is something Dean Sitton came up with while brainstorming names for Dr. Eggman. There's a whole list of them on the wiki, but either way he was already named Dr. Eggman and had been for some time by the team that was developing him. So if Sega of America had changed their minds, Dr. Badvibes would have been the name replacement instead of Dr. Robonik. Just like he could had been called Dr. What, or Dr. Fatty Lobotnik. None of those were ever on the table for the Japanese version, however.
And why is there such hate on the rock band concept? It's been established multiple times that Sonic was designed with a western audience in mind, but what many forget is that it was through the lens of an entirely Japanese development team. It wasn't the west making something for the west, it was the east trying their hand at it. And while this can sometimes go horribly wrong, for Sonic the Hedgehog, it worked. That filter somehow made a unique and interesting world that, yes, did appeal to the west, but was something that hadn't really been seen before, especially in a video game. The rock band concept was simply one of those elements the team identified as being western, that male fantasy of being the lead of a rock and roll group. It was never going to be a focus of the game or the story. It was really just to be something that was briefly mentioned in promotional materials and then used in the sound test. It was because of time that it wasn't finished, not because of Sega of America. But let me ask you this, who here hasn't had some sort of fantasy of being in a band? Being on stage in front of an adoring public, belting out your heart and soul...it's a pretty common fantasy, especially to adolescents, Sonic's primary target audience. If it had been included in the sound test, I don't think anyone would have really complained about it.
While Sega of America knew how to market, I would say that many of the changes were wholly unnecessary and would not have affected the game's success. If Robotnik had remained Eggman, if the Japanese artstyle had been retained, if the Dr. Kintobor story had never been conceived...Sonic would still have succeeded. The main bulk of advertising for the game did not focus on any of those changes. They focused on Sonic, his attitude, his being cool, his speed. They focused on how the game looked and felt. And the design of the game was not determined by Sega of America. They did not get rid of the rock band, they didn't give Sonic his final look on the Japanese box art, they didn't remove Madonna or the weird organic enemies. If they weren't so obsessed with changing the details of a product already designed for a western market, the game would still had done well and Sonic would not have gone through the identity crisis we were forced to experience.
Also, since Sonic was always targeted for the west, it shouldn't be a surprise that it didn't so all that great in Japan. They were wrong to think that just because Americans loved it, the Japanese would follow suit. Not to mention the continued dominance of Nintendo in the country. The Saturn only did well there because of Virtua Fighter, though it would have been interesting to see how the Japanese would have reacted to a proper Sonic game on a console they actually owned. Too bad we'll never be able to experience that.