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Characterization in the Sonic Franchise

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Beamer the Meep, Apr 2, 2021.

What style of characterization do you prefer?

  1. Classic Era Characterization

    70 vote(s)
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    67 vote(s)
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    17 vote(s)
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    14 vote(s)
  5. Other

    14 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    I don't think anybody said Sonic was never compassionate though.
  2. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    No, but it's the implication when people say Sonic turned into a massive jerk after Colors. I often hear people say 'i wish Sonic was nice again'.

    I just think a lot of people have a very simplistic view about Sonic's new characterisation.
  3. ChaddyFantome


    I typically agree or at least sympathise with you Laura, but I'm gonna have to stroooongly disagree with you for a change.

    The idea that people have a simplistic view of his writing in modern games is very weird to me, because, if anything, his character in newer games itself, or at least the ones Ponatff were involved in, is a lot more surface level understanding and interpretation of the character in general.

    I have massive issues with Lost World's story in general, including and not limited to its fundamental lack of understanding of the point of Sonic as a character in the context of the series' narrative, but when it comes to the characterization in general, I think the idea that he comes off as a needless jerk has some merit due to how his behaviors are well as just how its expressed in general.

    If I had to boil down the issue to a simple adage, it would be something along the lines of "it understands what Sonic is instead of who Sonic is".

    Take this scene for example at 9:38

    Eggman has just finished calling Sonic out for creating the mess they are in.
    What's Sonic's response? A quip about how maybe the mess wouldn't have happened if Eggman didn't go using ancient artifacts to enslave people? A cocky but reassuring statement about how even though things are pretty bad, they'll win the day so eggman should keep his pants on? How about a sarcastic remark about how the zeti will make things more interesting than Eggman now? Oh! How about he calls Eggman out for not keeping a tighter grip on his ancient artifacts?

    No.... he just starts telling him to get lost and calls him names?
    When people say he is too much jerk in these games, what I think it comes down to is there is nothing redeeming or reinforced about his more "jerkish" moments in them.

    Typically when Sonic is being a jerk in past games or media, there is usually some form of either karma in play that makes it either so Sonic is at least somewhat justified in being critical of the people he is making comments towards, or Sonic isn't necessarily being mean spirited or petty about it for its sake but to make light of a situation and be flippant about it. I'd say this even for the OVA remains true.

    Here though, Eggman calls Sonic out for creating the mess they are in, and instead of sniping back at him with a remark of some kind that plays on his character, he just childishly fires meaningly prattle that only serves to deflect how at fault he supposedly is in a way that only served to make Sonic look like an asshat over it.

    Similar thing happens earlier in the game when Tails is fixing the biplane and he just dismisses all of Tails talking and then when Tails finishes he replies with "You didn't have to tell me your whole life story".

    Its "jerkishness" for its sake as opposed to underline or underscore a dynamic of any real sort in regards to the characters. Sonic is just "being a jerk".

    Take for instance his snarky comments towards Knuckles in SA1. Knuckles has once again been duped by Eggman and Sonic rightfully calls him out for it.
    Or in SA2, when the Master Emerald pieces fly out of the back of the shuttle, Sonic is very flippant and inconsiderate of how important those are to Knuckles, telling him "don't worry, its just the Master emerald pieces", which of course leads to Knuckles flying off the handle and almost crashing the shuttle.
    There's proper karma there, but most importantly, Sonic's jerkishness isn't for its sake but coming from his irreverence and impatience.
    He makes light of situations in general or wants to get into the action, etc.

    I could list more examples, but i think i've done a decent job illustrating my overall point.

    In general, its as if the writer understands Sonic as a list of surface level characteristics and writes him in a stock manner in accordance to them.
    Sonic is cocky and cool, so he is a boneheaded jerk who thinks he is hot shit and needs to be condescended to by "actually smart people" that "know better".
    Sure he gets upset that Tails gets captured later, but its also very much in the same vein, being a tool that's just kind of mad that he doesn't get his way. There is an overall lack of "earnestness" for a lack of a better term in regards to how the character is handled that makes him more sympathetic even in his less than wholesome moments.
    Which is why I brought up being "inconsiderate" earlier.

    Im kinda rambling, and typing this from my phone at the moment, so maybe the ideas getting at are a bit scrambled.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  4. RDNexus


    Didn't someone say Pontac & Graff knew little of the franchise and just wrote as they felt like?
    As long as it checked the dots for each scene or so, as far as I barely remember...

    And a video I posted of JP/EN dialogue changes clearly shows how the EN version screwed up time and again over time.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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  5. Yea Pontac and Graff went on record saying that they weren't very familiar with the franchise.

    I honestly wouldn't say that's a complete black mark against them, but if very much feels like they never really cared to learn more about the series either. Ken Pontac's interview recently kind of shed light on that; he was very much aware of his negative reputation within the fanbase, but he didn't really seem to care much.

    That's not to say he deserved half of the shit the fanbase was giving him and his colleague, because nobody deserves to be harassed like that. But his work in the series kind of reflects his feelings about the franchise.

    It never felt like any of the games they wrote that they were actually fans of Sonic, they just showed up, wrote what felt natural to them regardless if it fit the series, and then kept it moving. Fans may be fickle, but they're not stupid. We can tell when something is done with care and attention versus someone just doing enough to get a paycheck.

    Ian Flynn and Evan Stanley are good comparison points as writers, because you can tell they both know the series and actually like it.
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  6. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    I just want to add that you don't need to be a fan in order to write for something. While it certainly helps, it can just as likely hinder as well if they get carried away. That said, I have to agree that P&G never really seemed to put in effort when writing for the series and it very much shows. At the very least, you need a writer who will put in a good effort to understand the material they're writing for rather than settle for mediocrity.
  7. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

    size of a tangerine Member
    This goes back to what I was talking about in the Penders thread. Pontac and Graff clearly had no respect for or understanding of the Sonic series and these characters. They just took a surface level reading of the room and horribly misinterpreted everything they saw it seems. Everything they've written for Sonic makes me assume that they aren't very talented writers to begin with.
  8. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    @ChaddyFantome I'm quoting your name rather than the post so not to spam up the board with a massive post quote.

    Regarding Sonic's characterisation in the beginning of Lost World's story, yes he is an arrogant jerk to begin with, but that's the point. He ignores Tails, is smarmy around Eggman, dismisses criticism, etc. But he learns throughout the story that his arrogance is costing him, specifically in the turning point scene when Tails is captured because he rushes in blindly to the capsule and ignores Tails suspicions about it. I mean the scene is hardly subtle, with his famously melodramatic "I wasn't even fast enough to save my buddy" scene :V . It clearly signals that he realises he needs to stop being such a reckless jerk. From this point on, he stops messing about and making quips because he realises he needs to get serious and save Tails (as I have shown in the previous posted clips). After Tails is saved, he also admits he was wrong to doubt him when he is turning off the machine at the end. Tails' melodramatic outburst about Sonic trusting Eggman is hilariously ott but he's actually right: they didn't need Eggman to turn it off and he even knows how to re-engineer it for good.

    This is the problem to me, I mean at least for Lost World, is that people act like Sonic is this massive and irredeemable jerk but he just isn't. The whole point of the game's story is that Sonic is arrogant and doesn't believe in Tails' skill, but learns to stop being so reckless and trust his friend. It's light character development, but it's more than most Sonic games honestly.

    I'm not saying Lost Word has a great story. The writing is extremely melodramatic at times, the Deadly Six are godawful, and the Eggman betrayal is blindingly obvious, but when it comes to Sonic's characterisation I think it's one of the game's strengths and I don't think people treat it fairly or on its own terms.
  9. MykonosFan


    MODE CHANGE. Moderator
    Hello. I have removed some posts in the hopes that this thread can stay open to discuss things being discussed. Let's not let this go down the path it did again.
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  10. Josh


    So, maybe this is nitpicking, but I have ALL KINDS of problems with the delineations being used in this poll. Why does the "Adventure Era" only comprise three mainline games, when Shadow is a direct storyline sequel to SA2, and Sonic 06 is built in the image of Sonic Adventure more than any other game in the series?

    For that matter, why does the "Modern Era" start with Colors, and not Unleashed? That'd be like starting the "Adventure Era" with SA2 instead of SA1. Unleashed was the first game since 2001 to not center around (or even feature) Shadow, it paired back to focusing on a smaller cast of characters, it featured a snarkier, fourth-wall-breaking Sonic, the plot was self-contained and cut off from previous entries, the tone was much more lighthearted and cartoony, we started seeing more Western influences with Sonic's love of chili dogs... it even featured a scene where Tails was too scared to fight! And sure, maybe Colors and beyond turned up the volume on some of these, but the point stands, it was all just following-up on precedents established by Unleashed. (I've gone on about this before!)

    I don't think there's any real point in delineating any part of Sonic's history as the "Dark Era," and it seems to me the only purpose of it is to gerrymander the outright unpopular games of the 2000s (Shadow and 06 especially) from the merely divisive Adventure games.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
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  11. For what's it worth, my problems with Sonic in lost World is less his attitude and more the game never follows through with him redeeming himself from his earlier mistakes. I mean yea, he's obnoxious, but I honestly had bigger problems with the rest of the story and it's handlings than Sonic. In fact, Sonic is probably one of the least problematic things about Lost World hilariously enough.
  12. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    No arguments from me that Lost World has an awful story. It's just that when people say Sonic is a nasty jerk in it, they miss the whole point of the game's plot.

  13. I'd say that's a large part because the game never follows through or elaborate on its plot points. In general, it just looks like everyone is acting like an asshole for no reason.

    I understand what they were going for with Lost World's story, but I don't blame people for missing the point because it's so terribly executed.

    A lot of problems with Sonic writing and characterization at times is just the severe lack of context and explanation for things.
  14. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    Um, to be honest, I just used the classifications I've been seeing people using when setting up the poll. I wasn't really trying to put a negative spin on anything...
  15. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I just don't think that's true. It's very clearly communicated. 'I wasn't fast enough to save my buddy' is clearly referencing his reckless behaviour which causes everyone trouble. He then follows through with it by taking every situation seriously from thaf point on. He explicitly apologises to Tails and says he won't doubt him again. It follows up on Tails' complaints to Sonic by showing that he can stop the machine by himself (and in fact he re-engineers it).

    I think the problems with Lost World are the Deadly Six and the melodramatic writing but not the delivery of its key plot points.
  16. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    Got me wondering if it's worth starting a new poll: Classic vs Adventure vs Modern (meaning Boost and beyond)

  17. Well only speaking for myself, but the main points of contention for me are the fallout between Sonic & Tails, and the resolution of said fallout. When Sonic screwed up and him and Tails are forced to team up with Eggman, there's mutual distrust and dislike all around. Neither Sonic or Tails want to work with him, and are very vocal about that fact even when Eggman explains the necessity of it. Then in the following cutscene, Tails (who keep in mind is supposed to be the mild-mannered one between him and Sonic, and nothing has occurred to cause this outburst) makes a snide remark about Eggman, completely unprovoked and when Sonic tries to deescalate, Tails turns his anger towards him for "trusting Eggman more than him", in spite of the fact that as I pointed out in the previous cutscene, both Sonic & Tails were completely unwilling to work with Eggman. So where is this outburst coming from? Sonic didn't want to work with Eggman from the getgo, yet the story is taking Tails` side and acts like Sonic has performed some sort of betrayal of Tails` trust.

    That's the point when the story ceases being about Sonic trying to make amends for an earlier mistake, and about him apparently learning to trust Tails more. And most damning of all, if Tails could have just reprogrammed the machine to stop at any time, then what was even the point of teaming up with Eggman and all of the drama to begin with?

    I hope I explained myself as best as I could in laying out why this story doesn't work in what it's trying to do. I know it gets a lot of hate already, but I want my points to be as articulate as possible and not just come off as a blind hater. Lost World's premise is completely fine, it's just executed in the worst way possible and comes out making none of it's characters looking really good or likable.
  18. ChaddyFantome


    I will say that these scenes are being taken out of their actual context n the overall structure of the story of Lost World, which, at least personally, something I regularly see from people that assert its story to be, well, quite frankly, anything resembling well written. And if my general temperament when posting here is any indication, i don't make such overt and categorical statements lightly.

    Sonic apologizing to Tails for not immediately kissing the ground he walks on is not a logical progression of the characterization or plot. It's just...bad writing. Period.
    The set up in the story is that they have to work with Eggman and all agree to do so, then Tails all of a sudden gets upset with Sonic for so much as thinking Eggman who made the machine, would be necessary to stop his machine in wanting to fix the mistake, making it about how Sonic is dumb and mean for not just assuming Tails can handle everything and taking it as a personal attack.
    Later in the story, Tails gets in an accident messing with Eggman's robots, showing he doesn't have as much knowledge of Eggman's stuff as he would think. Eggman even has to save him to show Eggman is needed and helpful here. The lesson then as per the writing's characters being them willing to admit they arent perfect and need to work together. ...but it ends in just Sonic going "Oh yea, I'm an idiot for not just bowing to your almighty genius Tails, so sorry" after Tails just fixes the machine and even adds the functionality to undo all of Eggman's damage anyway despite previous set up.
    Lost World is like this in general. There is no proper Karma or pay off to the plot points in play when it comes to the actions of the main characters.
    Even when Tails gets captured because of Sonic's reckless behavior again, Sonic doesnt get an actual chance to redeem himself by saving Tails. Tails just hocus pocuses his way out of it, completely defusing the potential of a confrontation or consequences over Sonic's mistakes.
    What seems like an obvious set up for a "have humility and learn to put aside your differences and work together" lesson by the end of the game devolves into a "Sonic is an idiot and should just learn to mindlessly do exactly what Tails says and expect him to know everything and do everything because he knows better and Sonic is an idiot". And its not a good look for Sonic OR Tails if you ask me. Especially given how its achieved is by making him act uncharacteristically unsympathetic.

    Its funny you say this because i'm the strict opposite. In my eyes, the Deadly Six are the best part of the game and the only part that was consistently written. I actually think they get FAR too much undeserved hate.
    They aren't exactly deep, but they do their job and even act as a parallel to the heroes by being an actual organized Team in contrast to the heroes who are squabbling to work together at all. Perfectly serviceable.
    Being honest, I don't even have a problem with how Eggman is written either. He's is pretty good form all things considered.
    But when it comes to Sonic and Tails in particular, I get the sense Tails is being used as a surrogate by the writers to condescend and take cracks at Sonic as a character at his expense, and a lot of that comes at the overt and explicit sacrifice of Sonic's actual character.

    The story has to make Sonic act like an idiot jerk in order to have Eggman and Tails rub in how much of an idiot jerk he is (regardless of it making any contextual sense), when this character was designed around the idea that he is a dude the audience is supposed to think is cool and who, while not perfect, his attitude is ultimately a net positive to those around him and the world at large. But instead, the game is more focused on making him act uncharacteristically dumb and then punishing him for it.
    I don't see how one can look at the way he is written, not the quality of the performance, but the writing, and call it anything actually good in regards to his characterization, let alone the actual structure of the story from a strict storytelling perspective after applying proper examination and scrutiny. And I again say this as someone who is generally very careful about being open minded to varying perspectives and opinions and tastes regarding storytelling.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  19. I definitely wouldn't say that the Deadly Six are the best part of the game, but at the very least, they serve their purpose and not much else and that's about the most praise I can give them.

    I do agree with your point that the game seems to take perverse delight in beating down Sonic's entire character and personality, but honestly, that's fine....if there was some actual pay off to it, and a moment for Sonic to redeem himself in the narrative. But that never happens, and as said, Sonic is the one who has to learn the lesson about how wrong he was to not trust Tails. The whole of Sonic's contributions in Lost World is just screwing up, and Tails having to clean up his messes.

    I can understand why fans don't like Sonic much in this game, because the game seems to go out of its way at being as mean-spirited as possible towards him and never letting him make up for it, and leave everything to the "smarter" characters. That's not to say that I'm against a breakdown of Sonic's character, but you need to build him back up to so that he gets the audience's sympathy back.
  20. ChaddyFantome


    I should stress that I say this while not necessarily having all that high an opinion of the Deadly Six in general. It's more a case of when examined, I see them as a solid and well executed idea, even if a tad undercooked and shallow in some respects. I'd go as far as to say they are let down more by Lost World's writing/story more than they are their own innate concept.
    But yea. I should also stress I do not have a problem with Sonic taking hits so to speak. My issue is more that its done through ways that dont even really attribute or stem form actual elements of his fundamental character.
    It's more just making him act generically bad to make him a punching bag and unsympathetic, and making everyone unsympathetic towards him. Like, at the end of the day, this is supposed to be a guy we as the audience like, right? And generally that's been because the core elements that underscore even his more unsavory actions were always rooted in something sympathetic or admirable. In my original posts I gave examples of the same scenarios where I feel better examples of Sonic's more criticizable actions or behaviors are in play in favor of just generally making him act contemptible or unsympathetic, because those would result in some actual form of pathos.
    But when you just make Sonic act like a stock "jerk" to make the audience see how wrong and an idiot he is, it comes off as incredibly inorganic and forced.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021