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

    59 vote(s)
    58.4%
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    54 vote(s)
    53.5%
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    12.9%
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    12.9%
  5. Other

    12 vote(s)
    11.9%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Well they stopped trying, that's the point.
     
  2. SuperSonicRider

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    Honestly I've never been able to relate to feeling like the characters got suddenly irredeemably bad 2010-onwards. In the case of Sonic, Tails, and at least for the IDW series, Shadow, I can kinda empathize. Their portrayals are pretty significantly different, and I can think of at least a couple of moments for each of them that have puzzled me. But in the case of other characters feeling "one-note" or "dumbed down" it seems like it was more a case of SEGA or Pontac and Graff or whoever not giving them enough interesting stuff to do.

    Like take Knuckles for instance, it's often said he's just "stupid" now, but for the life of me I cannot think of a single game 2010-onwards (Boom notwithstanding) where this has consistently been the case. The only instance I can think of is when he led that plan in Forces that he thought of "in a minute and a half", that led to..."80% of their forces being wiped out", as Amy says????? That was a weird moment, and I'm not fond of it for several reasons. But again, this is the only example of such writing for him I can recall.

    I also think Amy, for what little we've actually seen of her this past decade, has had a believable progression as far as with her interactions with Sonic go. I like the idea that they've been on so many adventures together that she might still occasionally swoon over or flirt with him, but she can talk to him like a friend without constantly asking to date or marry him. I feel like the IDW comics have done a good job expanding upon what it seems like SEGA wants for her character now, based on Lost World, Forces, and Team Sonic Racing in particular.

    And then as far as the other characters like Silver and the Chaotix, again, they haven't really been given enough to do for me to say they're one-note. But what little we've seen of them since 2010 has never struck me as out of character.

    Of course, I'm not saying the 2010s stories were all masterpieces. There's definitely improvements to be made going forward, but I think a significant part of that would come naturally with just giving the other characters stuff to actually do in the stories, which I imagine has been a bit difficult since Sonic has largely been the only playable character in Modern Sonic games since Sonic and the Secret Rings. Basically I don't think the "heart" of most of the characters is missing the way some people may put it, rather they just haven't been utilized well lately. Sonic Colors DS made a good compromise with the "Sonic-only" thing by having the other characters explore Eggman's amusement park and allowing the player to complete optional missions from them. They helped add more life to the setting of the game, and there's pretty good dialogue from them. The last mission of Asteroid Coaster even foreshadows the extra boss in a pretty neat way.
     
  3. RDNexus

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    When it comes to Colors, Lost World or Forces, I'd rather focus on the japanese version for characterization.
    Given who wrote the english version's scripts, one can see why opinions diverge so hard. It's such a mess...
     
  4. Josh

    Josh

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    Aw, I apologize, I should have made it clearer that I was criticizing these distinctions being used to define Sonic's "eras" by some fans, and not YOU specifically for using them. I think they're wrong, but I know they weren't your idea!
     
  5. I think this is a good point; a lot of the characters simply haven't had anything to really do to judge their characters.

    In the case of Knuckles and Amy however...Knuckles was getting less relevant over time and was serving no purpose beyond comic relief by roughly Shadow's game, with most of his appearances being at the expense of his intelligence. Sonic Boom is pretty much the logical conclusion of that, where he really just a meat head. Not that Knuckles was all that smart, but there's a pretty clear shift from when his character had motives and was somewhat respected, to being just the strong guy who's only purpose is to say or do dumb things for laughs.

    Amy...well she just kind of got boring because people hated her chasing Sonic gimmick. YMMV on whether that's good or not.

    We already went over Sonic, Tails, and Shadow and some can agree that they've changed significantly.

    But everyone else hasn't really done shit at all to really judge them. I think people are mad because those changes did used to matter before being tossed to the wayside and left to stagnate.
     
  6. Frostav

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    I'm honestly really annoyed with Eggman's recent characterization because one of his best traits, IMO, is that he is the perfect mix of a goofy saturday morning cartoon villain while still being capable of being threatening and legitimately evil. It's a cliche comparison, but this makes him way more charming than Bowser. Bowser is a completely non-threatening joke; in the mario games that do try to tell actual stories, it's telling that Bowser is often sidelined in favor of an actual villain. Eggman is slowly becoming more and more of a Bowser, though I don't think he's quite that bad yet. Still, Adventure Era Eggman was the best.

    One major thing I will criticize the Adventure Era for, though, is its female cast. It's dire, frankly. Amy is a completely obnoxious shitty anime joke of a clingy girl that does nothing, Rogue is a generic sexy spy that also does...basically nothing. Tikal is effectively fridged years before the era began, Cream is actually pretty decent but just a kid and can't do much, yeesh. Blaze stands out as a great female character in comparison which is probably partly why she became so popular so fast. And then she got stuffed with Silver for no reason in a hilarious retcon that is literally unacknowledged by anyone in-universe or out, and then she just fucked off forever and disappeared. Woof.

    The current era really isn't doing much better. Basically no new characters introduced at all, the characterizations are mostly static (Amy got a bit less sexist, though she just became an insufferable #girlboss which is like...okay, thanks), and the one new female character is that Deadly Six member who is somehow even more shitty than Adventure Era Amy.
     
  7. E-122-Psi

    E-122-Psi

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    But the thing is, wasn't the earlier Adventure-Unleashed era Eggman ALWAYS getting usurped by bigger meaner villains who outclassed him every way? Hell in Adventure 2 he gets used by EVERY SINGLE BAD GUY, even his own grandfather posthumously. Rouge outright lampshades his role as a gullible pawn for the smarter rogues gallery in that game. Hell this was the era that gave us Eggman Nega, a eviler 'better' version of Eggman. He was considered that much of a loser back then.

    The irony really is that while Eggman lost that more menacing facade about his general demeanor as games went on, his threat level actually increased and they became more liable to at least deconstruct this formula. Generations and Colours have NO actual betrayals (though his schemes do fall apart at the seams in other areas he didn't think through), Lost Worlds gives him competition in the form of the Deadly Six, but they are comedic equals who take turns usurping one another rather than blatantly being Eggman's superior. Forces has Eggman TAKE OVER THE PLANET, and while his aide foreshadows being rebellious and impudent, Eggman preemptively disposes of him before he can even try that old backstabbing game.

    Narrative and story handling may make Eggman seem more overwhelming in how he sets the stakes, but if anything they've made Eggman MORE of an unnegated threat in modern games.
     
  8. ChaddyFantome

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    I actually agree with this greatly. Its something I've seen said quite a bit and Knuckle isn't the only one either. I feel people have a tendency to mingle in whatever online mocking or criticisms of characters they like in with the overall direction of the characters in the main series, which is something to take into account when people pose issues with the way characters are handled.
    Shadow himself I'd argue was actually pretty solid in Forces itself.
    As for Operation Big Wave, I'd say people are quite uncharitable when judging Knuckles in that scenario. For starters, it was a plan that everyone including Tails (whom is supposed to be the resident genius) agreed was a good idea. While yes it fell through, it was an honest mistake due to a lack of information as opposed to a mark of "idiocy" on his part. I personally don't have an issue with how Knuckles was handled in Forces, and attribute most any issues people might have with him to just Forces story being,well...anemic, to put it lightly.

    My issues with how she has been handled apply less so to Forces than Lost World, but nonetheless still do. I can't help but feel Amy has lost a lot of her spunk and energy. She used to have a lot more attitude and be more forward and assertive, but now she is so passive. Can't help but feel it is boring. One of the main things Amy brings to the table to spice up the dynamics in the cast is how her advances on Sonic get very different kinds of reactions out of him compared to Tails, who is more agreeable with him, or Knuckles who is more confrontational. Amy is able to get under his skin.
    In the case of IDW specifically, I'm not much a fan of how Ian handled the character in his run of the book, though I have a much MUCH better opinion of Evan Stanley's take on her character. Couldn't help but feel like earlier arcs of IDW had Amy written more like her Boom incarnation than the actual game Amy. All things considered, Amy is very much supposed to be full of energy and a go-getter, acting first and thinking second, among other issues I had with how she was handled. In the case of Lost World, she's basically a wallflower, and it's pretty boring by comparison. Amy at the end of the day is still meant to be a character whose main trait is wearing her heart on her sleeves and going after what she wants, chasing her dreams, acting on how she feels, etc, while all the same being a tough enough cookie that she will tough it out when trouble starts. And I can't help but feel you kinda squander the concept of the character when you start making them more passive, or reserved, etc.
    EDIT: Also as a side note, I really love how they did her Classic self in Mania Adventures.

    Eh, I don't mind her not chasing Sonic around, but I do think it is a bit much to go as far as to say she shouldn't be forward with him anymore all together. Amy's forwardness with Sonic and being an open book in general gave her a certain level of agency that no other character really has. I wouldn't wanna get rid of that anymore than Sonic's own love of freedom.
    I think Unleashed actually had decent enough sweet spot for Amy, though I wish she contributed to the actual story in that game more. Didn't have an issue with her in Generations either.

    I'm..gonna have to disagree strongly with this. Can't help but feel this is rather reductive.
    Amy in particular offered a lot to the stories in regards to both offering a very different perspective in regards to the events, giving a more "on the ground" look of how people are affected by the kind of schemes Eggman causes, as well as showing a lot of heart and compassion, which adds an added layer of humanity to the stories. In SA1, Amy spends the whole of the story effectively touching territory Sonic not only never does, but really isn't well equipped to handle. While he is brash and strong, Amy is more likely to worry about things like the well-being of a baby bird or the feelings of a robot, which is rather endearing and gives a extra look at the conflicts with Eggman we otherwise really wouldn't get.

    As for Rouge, I can't help but feel this is being rather dismissive of the character purely on a surface level judgement. While yes, Rouge has a overtly hyper feminine design, I don't think this is some inherent negative that should be treated as a flaw, especially given how well it plays to her character and her dynamic with characters like Knuckles.
    Knuckles is a sheltered and macho tough guy, and having to deal with someone materialistic and hyper feminine like Rouge simply makes sense.
    Rouge is also one of the more overtly powerful characters in the series in regards to both her connections and career prospects. She is a part time freelance spy, but also owns a business in the form of CLUB Rouge. She is a career thief but also not without morals either. And her conversational skills and learning to develop a more evolved set of principles as well as empathy via her interactions with characters like Knuckles and Shadow I feel really humanize her.
    I find it interesting you list Blaze as a stand out great example. Personally, while I like the character enough, I don't really see the powerful draw that makes her so great or stand out relative to the rest of the cast, especially given how very underutilized she is.

    This...is actually quite a bit of a misconception. See, the thing about game development is games aren't make on their release date. A good example of this is Sonic Battle, which released before Sonic Heroes in Japan. The thing is devs have games being developed simultaneously, and in the case of Sonic Team during this period in particular, it was very common for the smaller handheld games to be made and released first.
    Sonic Battle is the perfect example of this, as Shadow is in the game and the events of the game are very much written as though it transpires after the events of both Heroes and Shadow The Hedgehog, which given Shadow was already conceptualised during Heroes' production makes sense as shown by the teasers and unresolved plot thread left up to that game to resolve.)
    To put it simply. Blaze being in 06, wasn't a "retcon" of her story from Rush, as it is unlikely to think both games were not in development simultaneously leading to a development like that of Sonic Heroes and Sonic Battle where the smaller, easier to develop game just happened to finish earlier. And given 06s legendary dev cycle.... yea.
    Um....uh... Amy wasn't anything of the sort though?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  9. Since when is being like Bowser a bad thing? Bowser is literally the best Mario character.
     
  10. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    Yeah that Adventure Amy and Rouge slander will not stand!

    Honestly I think Amy's crush on Sonic isn't a problem and isn't sexist or annoying in any way. People way overstate how clingy and obnoxious she was in the Adventure games. She has a purpose and a strong personality in those games and I think the more recent use of her character has been boring and fairly pointless in comparison.
     
  11. I think the negative perceptions about Amy are due to Sonic X, which was based on her Adventure era personality and flanderized to hell. That was Amy at her absolute worst and given how many people likely grew up watching Sonic X, I wouldn't be surprised if that's what colored people's opinion about her.
     
  12. ChaddyFantome

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    I would say that title goes to Sonic Free Riders Amy!
    That said, you make a good point. Sonic X does play up her temper to ridiculous degrees for example. That said, while I agree she is quite flanderized in Sonic X, I would say she is more good than bad in it.
    I particularly like moments like the one where she invades a base like a badass and is the one to save Sonic herself, and the more sweet moments like the episode where she made that bracelet to help his swimming, or even the episode where Sonic ditches her for a race with Sam. But yea, if you are only catching the show offhand as its running and all you ever see is her being angry and going on about Sonic, it probably paints an unfairly negative picture of the character.
     
  13. Dek Rollins

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    I like X Amy overall, though she is of course portrayed with a much hotter temper. Though the last time I watched Sonic X I was watching the good version, so I can't really remember if she was treated a lot worse by 4Kids.

    I enjoy a lot of the humor they play on her temper and rudeness juxtaposing with her acting sweet and cute.
     
  14. Characters like Amy and Shadow feel much more "Japanese" than Team Sonic, all of whom have had more appearances and portrayals in American media. So I'd imagine the contention around their characters is kind of a symptom of their archetypes being much harder to sell to a Western audience.

    Western audiences generally prefer female heroines to be much more....*sigh* "Strong" and generally prefer much more outgoing and expressive characters compared to Shadow's usually stoicness. Even in comparison to the other characters, Amy and Shadow are very much contentious because of that.
     
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  15. E-122-Psi

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    I think the problem was that after a while, the only remaining element of her character left besides her crush on Sonic was either her brattiness or her 'scary angry girl' anime running gag. She was pretty much just reduced to an unhumanized comic relief whose psycho bitchiness overpowered everything. It's not like it was ONLY X responsible for this take. Some of the spin off games did it too, along with even the Archie comics until around when Cream appeared (which contrasted even worse because Archie was known for its more earnest narrative most of the time, making Amy look EVEN MORE like a one note psycho by relation to everyone else).

    The modern takes toned this down, but to a fault, to the point of just making her another passively competent character that doesn't get in the way and is rather bland. The main issue wasn't that Amy had a bratty temper as a quirky foible, it's that they turned it into something that just made her a running gag with no sympathetic qualities. (Heroes held up the idea of Amy being a bratty loudmouth without it overwhelming her personality for example, hell Vector labelling her a 'little brat' after she snubs him is one of the funniest moments in the game). I think only Boom tried to 'promote' Amy into a more lucid and nuanced character while retaining her old quirks and temperament about it, and even then it sometimes feels distanced from the earlier Amy, sometimes more like Sally if she were in a more comical flawed light.

    I tend to find that the biggest downfall to the cast isn't them playing off them having comical quirks, but more how the writers tend to segregate them to one note comic relief because of it. "This silly character's just gag, we want badasses like Shadow with NO funny qualities whatsoever." The best Sonic characters if anything flourish from their whimsy, but they need to be within writing teams that know how to make them work. Hell even in cases like Boom Knuckles, I'd argue at the very least the writers seemed to LIKE their version and tried to make the best out of it, compared to the games or X Knuckles, where the dumbing down to a laughing stock felt more like apathy than anything else.
     
  16. ChaddyFantome

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    That's strange then. I would say Amy is a pretty strong character. Probably the character that has grown in terms of combat and abilities the most of any character. Not to say that I don't think you are on to something, but if that's the case, I think it's rather unfortunate so many people don't see how strong she is.
    And Shadow is overall the second most popular character period, at times having even competed with Sonic himself for the first place spot. I think Boom even made a joke about it.
    As for Amy, I don't have any numbers on me, but I do think last I checked, she was most popular after Knuckles and Tails herself. So 5th? Not bad at all. Pretty high considering the competition.
    If there is one thing the (sonic) boom in popularity of anime and japanese media in the 90s and early 2000s has shown me, its that these concepts aren't so foreign as to be unpalatable by people in the west, I would say.
    I think it would be more accurate to call these characters polarizing to westerners as opposed to less liked. It's more that detractors of the characters are more vocal in their distated of them, as opposed to westerners having a particular distated for them in general.

    That said, it is an interesting thing to bring up trends in perception of certain character types in the East vs West, as there is truth to it and it warrants exploration.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  17. They never shut up about it on Twitter, so I'd imagine so. (Not taking anything away from them, but jeez. Its good to be proud of your work, but half of the time the Boom writers post on Twitter, it's to pat themselves on the back on how amazing the show was)

    But yes, I can't disagree; that was something I've begun to notice about the old writing too; they basically dropped all of the old characters to one note roles once the new shiny character showed up.

    Yea, polarizing is a much better word, and you're right; its not that they're unpopular, it's just their critics are much more vocal about their dislike for them.

    And yea, its something I took notice of a while back. That Amy thread you posted actually gave me some insight because there was an interview with her creator and how they designed her to be "cute", but it just completely went over the fans' heads and they were confused by the answer. Amy's quirks are meant to be cute, but they're much more polarizing to a Western viewer, who generally finds those traits "annoying".
     
  18. E-122-Psi

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    I feel like a sad downfall with Amy is that they seemed to just narrow down her hammer to making her an 'AMY SMASH!' type powerhouse, which I think just slowly played into being a brainless violent hot head that bullied everyone with her toy, when it actually seemed like the original mechanics of the hammer gameplay were to show off Amy's resourcefulness with it to make up for her lack of super powers. Amy was CLEVER with it, not generic coldly academic clever like they seem to try and push her as now, but someone who could be crafty in the right circumstance.

    I miss takes like this, when characters were allowed to be capable or not in different fields, and not 'all around' smart or dumb. Tails waxed and waned because they made his tech smarts narrow him down to being intelligent and level headed in EVERY field, essentially giving him the personality of a dully sensible and coldly summarising old man instead of a gifted crafter that was still childish and energetic in other respects.
     
  19. Frostav

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    Yeah this is pretty much what I meant. Amy in the Adventure Era definitely had an obnoxious streak of being defined solely by being a clingy psycho stalker and I find that kind of character insufferable, really.

    Amy's a cool character. She's a hedgehog like the main character and has a huge-ass hammer, her being a one-note idiot who cares about nothing in the world but Sonic is just...bad. I'm glad the VERY recent characterization has actually turned her into more of a character in her own right, though I find the angle they went for (deadpan snarker) to just be like...why. Sonic is the snarky one, Amy should be more earnest and sincere. Nothing about what little character she had for the first decade of her existing pointed to her being a snarker at all so this is like, lol where did this come from. SA1 and SA2 Amy was a childish wide-eyed idealist! Sonic isn't the kind of series where characters really grow up either so it's not like she just matured or something.

    (there is absolutely zero chance that that leak of a game where Sonic and Amy are the main characters is real, but I'd honestly really like to see that :V)

    I think one of the weakest parts about Sonic characterization as a whole is that the characters each have like, two or three that they interact with, and they just do not interact with anyone else. Like, what do Amy and Rogue think of each other? They barely have interacted despite literally being on the same side multiple times. Rogue interacts nigh-exclusively with Shadow and Omega (if the IDW comics do this better I wouldn't know, haven't read them, unfortunately). You have this cast and each one is stuck inside these 3-character teams and barely interact with each other.

    Like, damn. I kinda wanna see, say, Shadow and Knux just trash-talk each other or something lmao
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  20. ChaddyFantome

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    Im sorry but... did we play the same games?
    In the adventure games in particular, I would say her fascination with Sonic comes up once each games, with her character focusing much more on other things.
    ...They get on eachothers nerves as shown in Sonic Battle and Sonic Chronicles.
    Amy is an idealist/optimist and Rouge is a realist/materialist. Rouge sees Amy as delusional and Amy sees Rouge as selfish and deceitful. IDW even played this up actually.

    I couldn't have said it better myself. Things like Tails forgetting to put the landing gear on the Tornado 2 because he was so eager to make his new plane, he forgot to consider it are perfect examples that. And I also agree greatly in regards to your statement about Amy's hammer. Things like that made the characters feel a lot more fallible as opposed to just writing them in as "genetically competent at everything they do".
    There is a certain charm to these characters pretty much being homegrown and figuring this stuff as they go along as opposed to being portrayed as "certified professionals" or "veterans" for a lack of better description.
    In the case of Amy, it was fun that her main method of using it was things like using it to launch herself into the air or swing it like a propeller, or launch her friends at enemies, etc. It's a squeaky hammer and her use of it is more "improv", which gives it personality and her by extension something of an underdog feel.

    Oh, well I'm flattered you could take something away from the topic!
    To my understanding, in the east in general there is this sort of idea of characters or aesthetic being primarily focused around a central "cute" appeal vs "cool" appeal.
    Amy I would say is very much going for "cute". Same with Tails or Big as well.
    Whereas characters like Knuckles or of course Sonic are meant to be "cool".
    She is ultimately meant to be sweet and endearing, even if she can be pushy or even disruptive. But I'd say it's the balance of that sort of fallibility thats uplifted by ultimately admirable traits that makes a character feel more relaxed and whole as opposed to just 2 dimensional. Even if they are ultimately pretty simple.
    Thinking about it now, I do think that plays in to my issues with
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021