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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)
    56.0%
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    67 vote(s)
    53.6%
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    17 vote(s)
    13.6%
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    14 vote(s)
    11.2%
  5. Other

    14 vote(s)
    11.2%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. This is a part of Sonic's character that I think is very commonly misread; a LOT of people generally assume that his "attitude" translates to him being kind of an ass to people because that is how many people interpret the term "attitude". While that is true, it's a very a surface level definition of the word, doesn't really scratch the underpinnings of Sonic's character.

    Yes, Sonic is a smarmy asshole at times, but as @ChaddyFantome pointed out, its less that he's just being an asshole for the sake of it, and more just trying to get to the point or trying to be flippant about a dangerous situation. It's a small detail, but it makes a world of difference in making Sonic either come off as impatient yet endearing versus just being obnoxious for the sake of it. And that is a point that I think a LOT of writers miss the mark on in trying to interpret Sonic's "attitude". He's not an "asshole", he's just a person who gets to the point and has no patience for anything that will slow him down.


    I'd argue this is also an issue with how Tails has been written too; to contrast with Sonic's impatience and irreverence, Tails is supposed to be much more cautious and humble; it's his fundamental function as Sonic's primary foil in the franchise. But Pontac and Graff write him similarly to Sonic, just making snide remarks for the sake of making snide remarks regardless if it fits his character or not.


    It's like Joss Wheadon's Avengers, where everyone just has a snarky one-liner in almost every scene they're in together.
     
  2. Laura

    Laura

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    The reason Tails gets mad is because Sonic assumes they can't turn off Eggman's machine without him despite the fact Tails is a mechanical genius. And Tails is right, they didn't need Eggman.
     
  3. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    The "problem" with everyone's characterization in Lost World is that the game was pretty bad and most people didn't play through enough of it to get to the "redemption arc" :V

    Or that the writing was so terrible that most of the people that did play that far just tuned it all out.
     
  4. If that was the case, then what was the point of the whole team up plot point if it was ultimately meaningless?
     
  5. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    Yeah, I mean don't get me wrong, as I've said before, I do think Lost World has an awful story. The writing in particular is extremely melodramatic. And while I am a bit sympathetic to the gameplay, it's clearly very janky and incredibly inelegant. I disagree with the previous posters about the Deadly Six, they are so shallow and two dimensional that I think they are awful villains. Zeena is also an incredibly sexist portrayal of women and is the worst female character in Sonic. Zor has some amusing lines but they are very simplistic and dumb fun. If I would say anything is uniquely awful in the game's story it's the Deadly Six, especially because they are defeated in such an underwhelming way.

    I just also think the game is strawmanned a lot online, especially with the way people say Sonic is characterised as an unlikable jerk when the plot is centered around him realising his arrogance and learning to trust Tails. I'm fine with people saying the execution is badly handled (I think the game's plot is too short to really do the redemption arc justice), I just don't like the way people pretend it doesn't exist.

    I actually think discourse around the game has degraded over the years because when it came out people focused criticism around the Deadly Six, the lackluster Eggman betrayal, Amy and Knuckles' non-entity appearances etc, which I think are far more substantial weaknesses. People used to acknowledge that the game gave Sonic a character arc, even if it is superficial. But now criticisms of the game seem to focus almost entirely on Sonic being a jerk and not a nice guy. I remember TelekinesticMan (I like his videos otherwise) making claims about this and encapsulating what a lot of people feel about the game and it all seems very strawmanny to me.

    I honestly think they did that largely so Sonic and Eggman could have a lot of on screen banter. But it's also that Tails recognises that Eggman would be helpful in defeating the Deadly Six and has no problem with that in itself, but he dislikes the way Sonic relies on him to turn off the machine when he knows he can probably do so himself (and he does infact do so).
     
  6. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Supposed to be? Based on what, your preference? Or do you have something to back that up?

    Cause I mean I like Tails being a smarmy little git, even to Sonic. It's a change to their dynamic but they are still clearly "best buds" which is pretty much the only important thing imo
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  7. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    I guess I should also note that while I think Lost World has a largely poor story, I don't think any Sonic game has had a good story and would rank it fairly highly. I don't remember Colors very well so won't rank it and Sonic 3 has a good 'story' (if you can call it that) but it's not comparable to the 3D titles. But if I would rank them they would go:

    - Sonic Adventure 2
    - Sonic Adventure
    - Lost World
    - Sonic Heroes
    - The rest (I think are all absolutely dreadful)

    So yeah, I defend Lost Word even though I think it's bad because I think in the context of the Sonic series it's one of the better stories :V
     
  8. @Laura but they didn't need Eggman for that either because Sonic beats all of the Deadly Six by himself, and as I pointed out, at no point does Sonic ever express explicit trust in Eggman over Tails before the latter accuses him of such.

    So as it stands, Lost World consists of: Sonic screwing up for not listening to Tails, Tails accusing Sonic of something he never actually does, and a truce that was ultimately rendered moot because Tails can just do anything and everything anyway.


    If you or anyone else found some merit in this story, then I'm not going to tell you otherwise. But there are legitimate reasons why people do not like this plot and think its nonsense. Fans didn't just wake up one day and decide the game was bad. And it's notable because the writing of Colors was relatively well received just three years prior.
     
  9. Wraith

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    The deadly six feel like stand-ins for whatever the actual bad guys were meant to be but they just stuck until launch. I'm not sure if Sonic has ever been up against opposition so boring and one dimensional before. That alone would ruin the story, but the "plot" they try to do is just kind of melodramatic and awkward. Only one thing really happens and they don't lead into it well nor do they resolve it in a satisfying way.
     
  10. ChaddyFantome

    ChaddyFantome

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    Im sorry but how someone can come out of Lost World's story unironically thinking Tails' outburst was justified and Sonic was legititmately in the wrong here is baffling to me.
    The previous scenes have Sonic mocking the idea of even working with Eggman to begin with and treating having to work with him with contempt.
    (The way they arrive to this is....questionable all its own in regards to the characterization of the characters, but I went over this already.)
    And Tails comes out of nowhere and treats it as a personal attack against his intellect.
    Tails is acting like a narcisist here and the story wants us to think Sonic is in the wrong for it, and how it achieves that is by making Sonic act uncharacteristically jerkish and unsympathetic to mask it.

    I don't see how one comes out of this thinking this was either good writing or characterization for either character outside of themselves getting some kick out of seeing Sonic metaphorically spat on for no other reason than for the sake of doing so.
    This is a character who is known for casually destroying public property and obtruction of law, but can still manage to be seen as sympathetic at the end of the day in the past.

    Based on the history of the character's characterisation I would say. Tails is a pretty overpowered character from a writing stand point. His intellect and ability to make gadgets and machinery make him very flexible for the writers, especially when their main enemy is also a tech genius.
    What allows Tails to not veer into, and I apologize for using the term as it's become sort of cliche to use it, Garu Stu territory is his more humble nature.
    It allows the audience to root for him and want to see him push himself to succeed and reach his potential, while also fostering the dynamic between them of him looking up to Sonic in regards to his confidence and self assuredness and seeing him as a big brother.
    I was actually looking over the Japanese dub of Sonic Colors and its actually an immediate shift you notice.
    Tails in the English version is uncharacteristically skeptical of everything Sonic says for no real reason, whereas in the Japanese version he is more eager and humble.

    For whatever reason, Pontac and Graff seem to think that a character being smart means they have to be skeptical and condecending towards everything their ally says and talk down to them while being more up their own butt about things, when the heart of the dynamic between Sonic and Tails has always been Tails ultimately looks up to him and sees him as a positive influence.
    Not to say Tails can never snipe back at Sonic or "call him out" so to speak, but for example, in Colors when they get to Eggman's ammusement park, Tails expresses how he finds it hard to believe Eggman's park is an evil scheme...
    You know... Eggman...
    The guy who is always up to no good.
    This is noticeably absent in the Japanese version. Same with the scene where he doesn't believe the Wisps went into Sonic's body and powered him up with energy.

    Biggest one that comes to mind is the scene near the end where Tails is bragging about his translator being oh-so important to winning the day and how he deserves all the credit...even though it didn't do anything.
    In the Japanese version, its actually Sonic that thanks Tails for helping in what way he could, with Tails humbly accepting that maybe he was more helpful than he believed himself to be.

    Tails has always been a character about pushing himself by learning to see and appreciate his own potential and abilities. Its what has always drawn people to him and made him likeable and endearing, as well as made him more complimentary to Sonic's more cocky nature, in contrast to say Knuckles, whom Sonic butts heads with, and I would say something important is lost with the character if this is forgone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  11. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    You read it as humility, I read it as lack of self-confidence.

    He found self-confidence in SA2 without being expressively humble too. I just don't think it's that important a character trait.
     
  12. There's nothing wrong with Tails being more self-confident and assured of himself; we're primarily talking about how that manifests under Pontac and Graff. You can portray a character as confident without them coming off as unlikable.
     
  13. ChaddyFantome

    ChaddyFantome

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    How? He doesnt express doubt in his abilities in the scene at all. He just doesn't go out of his way to flex about how awesome he supposedly is for doing something that..quite frankly didnt do much to help in the grand scheme.
    Where is the lack of confidence?

    But he was humble though.
    When he charged in, he does so with the knowledge that he needs to do so because Sonic is counting on him and people need him
    And after the fight, he wispfully says "Sonic... I did it..."
    There's no bragging or gassing himself up. Its all about Tails being confident enough in himself to get the job done and win the day, ending in him not patting himself on the back but moarning the loss of his friend.
    He very much has to talk himself into it and push himself to act in the moment, and its what allows the scene to have weight and be endearing.
    Imagine if instead in that scene, Sonic was presumed dead and Tails said "Wow, look what Sonic got himself into, looks like im gonna have to clean up his mess".
    Thats.... more or less what Pontac and Graff's Tails is like.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  14. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Oh I wasn't talking about a specific scene. Just Tails' history going back to Sonic Adventure and how it may inform criticism of his portrayals now. You're saying he was always humble. I'm saying he was always lacking in self-confidence and any expression of humility is rather an expression of self-doubt, in my opinion.

    Humility isn't the absence of braggitude. Just because he isn't bragging, doesn't mean he's being humble. At least, not as a virtue. But this is spilling into semantics a little...
     
  15. Its definitely semantics. But, just speaking as broadly as possible. Based on everything we know about Tails, and all of media portrayals after all of these years. He honestly doesn't seem like the type of person who talks down to people or make snide and aggressive remarks towards them, unless sufficiently provoked anyway.

    He's always been a very passive and reactive character; so it's kind of jarring at how willing he is to just...insult people. Character changes need a explained reason, otherwise it just comes off as rewriting character traits for the sake of the plot.

    I don't even like Tails all that much to begin with and think his recent portrayals haven't exactly done much for his reputation. Between Lost World and Forces, I've never seen him garner such negative reactions before.
     
  16. ChaddyFantome

    ChaddyFantome

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    But, as we just went over, in the same scene in SA2 when Sonic is presumed dead and Tails takes on Eggman, his motivation isn't his own abilities but in the fact Sonic told him he is counting on him and people need him. He is treating it like a responsibility and even a privilege he has to live up to.

    Even in the original SA1, when Tails celebrates his defeat of Eggman, the focus was on Tails' learning to push himself to act and succeeding because of it as opposed to just the fact he was able to do it. He treats it as a mark of pride he was able to prove himself and live up to his own expectations of himself.

    While yes, Tails has confidence issues, i would call it reductive to say it's all it comes down to as opposed to there being overt expressions of his humble nature. Even in victory, his satisfaction comes not from his opinion of his abilities, but the fact he was able to live up to his own expectations of himself.
    To me that shows that Tails' character is humble, confidence issues or not.
    In Sonic 2, Tails was bullied for his Tails and love of tech, but it was always framed as him just having a natural and innocent love of tech as opposed to him being upset people didnt apreciate his talents.
    To a degree there is semantics here.
    I'd say being humble is when you have a tendancy to not give yourself credit or see/stress the importance of your own contributions.
    Someone who brags constantly about their accomplishments, giving themselves more credit than they probably even deserve while putting others down is the strict opposite of that.
    I'm not saying the abscence of bragging is what makes one humble, but the overt presence and expression of it to the degree it is there in Pontaff's take on the character is a strict opposing of this.

    Take this scene in Sonic Riders for example at 8:20 and 12:26
    Here Tails gets rightfully mad that Wave is making fun of his tech abilities, but shortly after, his response is to be humble and say he will work twice as hard to make their gear the best it can be.
    Tails isn't expressing a lack of confidence in his abilities. To the contrary, he is even more motivated to put in even more work to show just how great at this he can be. But unlike someone like Knuckles who would express inate over confidence and tell the other person they dont know what they are talking about, he instead expresses desire to work even harder, seeing himself as not reaching his true potential.
    Generally when Tails is complimented on his contributions or successes, his attitide is to be gracious in receiving that appreciation as opposed to developing any sort of ego.
    It makes him sympathetic.
    Tails for as great as he is, doesn't really act like it and still isn't content with where he is and wants to reach higher, and it makes you want to not only get him to not be so hard on himself, but encourage him to reach said heights.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  17. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Yea I'm just not seeing it the way you do, which is cool.
     
  18. Nova

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    But he never does come off as unlikeable? It's just banter between friends and possibly understandable annoyance at Sonic's suggested reliance on Eggman. I don't know why you feel this is 'unlikeable'. Same thing with OVA Sonic having a bit of a temper on him. These are totally understandable, human traits to have.
     
  19. E-122-Psi

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    I feel like Lost Worlds' issue is they were trying to give Tails a more colourful personality after so long being a super passive exposition guy. I see this a LOT with modern takes on Tails, they're so used to him just being the somewhat boring tech guy who explains the details.

    I feel like Sonic Boom was like a WAY more refined rendition of what Lost Worlds wanted to do with Tails, a kid genius that is still kinda full of childish bluster and insecurities and needs validation all the time to the point of coming off a bit like a one track minded attention seeking kid. Boom did that while maintaining subtleties to connect it altogether properly and managing to make him a bit ego driven without turning him into an erratic jerk.
     
  20. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    In Lost World Tails acts like a narcissistic ass. That isn't Tails' character, and under the circumstances makes him unlikable.