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

    57 vote(s)
    58.8%
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    51 vote(s)
    52.6%
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    13.4%
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    13.4%
  5. Other

    12 vote(s)
    12.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. I used to think Amy was annoying too, but I've grown a lot since then and seeing how bland she is now just made me appreciate how she was before.

    I'll echo what Psi said and think what happened to her character before was the result of the writers simply not caring about her in favor of the "serious" storylines they were going for, and Amy just devolved into comic relief.

    So her recent incarnations have attempted to address that, but rather than reinforcing the personality traits she already had, they just surgically removed the parts that people didn't like and called it a day.

    The biggest problem with Amy that I can see is that writers simply don't care about her at all. Before, the writers couldn't organically fit her into the large scale storylines, so she came off as an unwanted nuisance to the main characters. Nowadays, they do try to make her feel part of the action, but they still don't really do anything with her except smash some robots with her hammer.

    Even in Sonic Boom, you can tell the writers preferred writing for characters like Sonic, Knuckles, or Eggman over her, with Amy being portrayed as a wet blanket more often than not.

    Amy's always been one of the more mundane characters, with no particular background to explore. I don't think she'll ever really feel like a main character until the writers start giving a shit...oh man, its literally no different from how most Shonen series treat their heroines.

    Ripperoni Amy.
     
  2. BadBehavior

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    Sonic Team in a nutshell
     
  3. Wraith

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    My only problem with Eggman's modern characterization is his lean toward inactivity. They've taken him in a few different directions since SA1, but he never struck me as the type to hang back and let Sonic operate basically unopposed as much as he does in Unleashed onward.

    In the Adventure series, he had his classic tendency to try and stay ahead of the heroes the entire time, but it manifested in a different way. He wasn't always a boss fight, but the characters would have to adjust a little bit or overcome him a few times to progress. In "the discourse" this was overshadowed completely by the fact that he never got to be the last fight, but this is hardly a big deal to me compared to him being an active presence in the narrative.

    In Unleashed onward he tends to just hang back and scheme until Sonic is on his doorstep. Whatever roadblocks he does put out there are usually impersonal and not nearly as challenging to deal with, both narratively and mechanically. His dialogue has improved, but even that comes with the asterisk that it varies heavily from game to game. In Lost World a lot of his jokes and one liners felt "off" and Forces seemed to have reigned him in dramatically despite the premise.
     
  4. Frostav

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    Bowser is funny in the RPG's and the like, but he's a really bad villain. He's never threatening outside of a few things like Fury Bowser and is a borderline joke. As I said: in Paper Mario and the other RPG's, he's usually just sidelined completely in favor of an actual villain. Mainline Mario games basically never have any strong narrative pull driving you forward, they succeed through their mechanics and level design alone. I like how Sonic has...

    ....used to have even a threadbare plot driving you forward. Even the classics had a more compelling drive than their Mario contemporaries because Eggman was a villain and did bad things, and built these massive polluting mechanical hellscapes like Scrap Brain. Sonic actually having coherent places and not taking place in utterly meaningless obstacle courses helped too, frankly.
     
  5. Aerosol

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    Why does a villain have to be threatening? Literally the only requirement is that they have to be an antagonist. I get that's what you like, but him not being threatening doesn't make him a bad villain by any stretch.

    I do like it when Eggman is threatening, but I also like it when he's a comedically grumpy old man with delusions of grandeur.

    The only times I don't like Eggman so much is when he's relying on strange supernatural prophecies to accomplish his goals. I feel like it diminishes his capabilities as an "evil scientist" and turns him into an "evil archaeologist" which is a lot less compelling for me.
     
  6. Frostav

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    Yeah, that's...what I mean? I love how Eggman is this perfect mix of this goofy cartoon villain yet can also be legitimately a threat at the same time. He can threaten to kill Amy unless Sonic delivers him a chaos emerald...and he can build these demented amusement parks. He's a very versatile character in that regard.
     
  7. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    The Mario series also benefits from a deliberate lack of characterisation. There isn't really much to...anyone.

    It's partially why people bicker about continuity in the series too cause the depth to the characters kind of invites that expectation. The problem is that the characters are already deep enough for it, but Sega wants us to pretend they are not.
     
  8. By the time 06 rolled around, Eggman
    While I get what you're saying and understand it. Sonic is still a video game series, nothing about its narrative pull will change that.

    Mario characters are versatile and can be fit into almost any kind of role to suit whatever Nintendo wants. While the same isn't completely true for Sonic as you said, it's kind of obvious Sega don't want to be too restricted by continuity when they just want make a video game idea.

    So it feels counter-productive to criticize Bowser or Eggman as "non-threatening" when their primary function is to be video game bosses in series for children. No, this is not some insult towards children and how "they deserve better", I'm calling a spade a spade. Sonic & Mario are platforming video games first and narrative pieces second. There's only so many times you can make one character "threatening" before the suspension of disbelief starts to kick in. Mario and Sonic are three decades old at this point, anybody that has grown up with either franchise shouldn't be taking their respective main villains too seriously at this point.

    That's not to say they shouldn't try mind you, and I agree that Eggman's lack of presence in the recent games and over emphasis on his comedic and hammy side haven't exactly helped in how stale the games have been as of late. But I don't need to "take Eggman seriously", but rather he needs to be an active participant in the plot and engage with the protagonists like he used to do in the Classic titles up until the Adventure titles. People criticize his use of outside sources to achieve his ends, but that's honestly window dressing. Eggman is clearly the one running the show in Sonic Adventure despite Chaos being the bigger threat, and the same was true for him and Shadow in SA2. Things only started to go downhill once Eggman stopped being an active factor in the plot, which has been the case since Sonic 06; and no him being the final boss hasn't alleviated that problem. Unless you can sit here and tell me that Sonic Forces had a great and effective use of Eggman despite taking over the world finally.
     
  9. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

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    I have to agree that he seems to be taking more and more a backseat as the games progress. Despite how Eggman supposedly takes over the world in Forces, we don't really see him doing all that much until the final boss fight. If anything, we should be seeing a lot more of him since he is supposed to have such a significant role in the story. I hesitate to compare it to SatAM since I haven't seen too much of it, but Robotnik had a lot more presence, and rightfully so since he too had taken over the world and had a personal vendetta against Sonic. A lot of that is taken up by Infinite who, while being the Dragon to Eggman's Big Bad, is squandered by the cliché gloating and usurping by Eggman for the sake of Eggman being the final boss. It's something that's only gotten worse as we progressed from Colors and Lost World. They need to double down on him being the primary villain with active presence, but I don't think that means he has to be menacing necessarily. A competent, legitimate, and active threat sure, but he's always had that element of goofiness that he would feel wrong without.

    As an aside, I think this is a good example of Sega taking fan criticism a little too far. They want to have another threat be the big bad of the game but they don't want to upset the fans so they shoehorn in Eggman as a boss and reused the same boss fight twice.
     
  10. Forte

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    I know we are talking about games in this thread, but I would like to take a moment and appreciate the characterisation of Flynn's Eggman in Archie comics - pre Rebbot.

    I feel like this Eggman is a great character, a mix of threatening and mad scientific genius with a megalomaniac, goofball side. I remember reading the comics a few years back, and enjoying his character.

    Back to games - Eggman just feels weird in new games. I really enjoy his goofy side, which Mike Pollock introduces, but I also miss his more sinister side, which was apparent when he Was portrayed by Bristow. I feel like his characterisation in Forces fits Bristow Egmman better.
     
  11. Beamer the Meep

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    I'm not opposed to discussing spin-off media, it's why I added the "other" option lol. I think there's some good stuff we can take away from it that could be applied to the main series.

    There's one scene I read during the Megaman/Sonic crossover that really surprised me that involves Eggman pushing Dr. Light out of an aircraft with sadistic glee. I was incredibly shocked by how menacing he is and actually shared sentiments with Dr. Wily when he tore into Eggman over it. I haven't read all of it, but the moment he stuffs Snively into an animal capsule also comes to mind. That version of the Doctor was quite menacing and pure evil even with all his traits carried over from the main series. It's a Joker-esque approach that fits surprisingly well.

    Doubtful it'd ever make it into the main series, but it's an interesting take either way.
     
  12. Flynn really plays up the villainous and monstrous side of Eggman. I'm torn about it because on one hand, he's incredibly fun to watch as he actively makes everyone's lives miserable and you really wanna see him taken down.

    On the other hand, the inherent nature of the series as a Neverending narrative calls into question why the heroes just don't off him. It's the same idea on when fans start wondering why Batman won't kill his enemies despite the amount of chaos they cause. The Doylist reason is that obviously you can't permanently kill off popular villains in your ongoing comic.

    But then you have to justify that within the series. IDW calls this into question with the whole Mr. Tinker conflict between Sonic and Shadow. I know IDW!Shadow is uh...unpopular to put it mildly, but Flynn gave him a legitimate point here, to the point where I think it was unintentional.

    Because yea, Eggman has done terrible shit and it would be easier to just get rid of him. And Sonic has no real rebuttal to it, and Eggman does inevitably cause more trouble and Shadow was rightly pissed off at Sonic about it. And all of that was just swept under the rug when Shadow pulled his infamous moment and the whole thing was just dropped by the end of the Metal Virus saga.
     
  13. E-122-Psi

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    Like a lot of Archie characterisations, I'm kinda hit and miss about Eggman, since while I think a mix of humorous and threatening works, I think they sometimes went too far in terms of making Eggman dark and monstrous. While I wouldn't call Eggman in any form 'kind', one key aspect of games Eggman is that he is at least somewhat sympathetic, a total egomaniacal jerk but he has SOME restraints and noble qualities, in his own words 'a complicated guy'. Making a villain threatening isn't always the same as making them totally monstrous and sadistic.

    It also sometimes has the problem of severe mood whiplash. People mention the Joker but I think the more consistently dark and mature direction of the Batman series usually allows that black comedy to work better, while Eggman switching between cartoonishly light hearted to morbidly sinister is more imbalanced in a work like Sonic, making it harder to appreciate either. It SOMETIMES works but not nearly as often as the comics indulged in. Not to mention it leaves Eggman more cleanly committing 'moral event horizon' and demanding a more ultimate comeuppance that he can obviously never have.

    I feel this is something post-reboot got a little more on the mark, since while he is still more malicious and dangerous than games Eggman, he isn't swanking it as atrociously as his SatAm/pre-reboot Archie counterparts done, and even shows pangs of restraint or at least pragmatism without feeling too dumbed down (eg. being confused but intrigued that he has genuinely loyal subordinates).

    Granted overall I kinda prefer Eggman having some MILD underdog elements to him, not pathetic or the clear bottom of the rogues gallery like he was for a while in the games, but not the full opposite either. Eggman feels a little subdued in a role of constant power like he is as Archie's overlord, he's a guy who gets as much character from seeing how he miserably he fails, no matter how good a fight he puts up, while nearly every Archie story had him on the winner's seat. As underwhelming as Forces was, I think it done better to have the overlord thing a one off. Have him keep factories and fortresses to demonstrate some level of threat on the world, but not supreme power.

    I guess I kinda endeared to those versions of Eggman that are sympathetic 'losers' to some degree, but can still be a real threat if you turn your back on them. I mean, even Boom Eggman had moments of being 'not so harmless'.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
  14. BadBehavior

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    I think Forces Eggman, where he shows up abruptly at the end, usurping the villain to become.the true rinal boss, is hilarious because its literally the exact opposite problem people had back in the Dark Ages where it was the monster of the week who usurped Eggman to brcome the final boss.

    Fams complained so hard that the complaint wrapped around to become something just as bad. Hope it was worth it.
     
  15. ChaddyFantome

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    I don't think that's the case at all. Amy's attendance is actually pretty high, sometimes even making an appearance in games Knuckles does not, such as Unleashed. She also got the most attention in terms of redesign in SA1, and got her own lead role in a story in Heroes, etc. If anything I think they liked her quite a bit, as she is present in most every game in some fashion since SA1, or even since R if you wanna roll back a bit. Rather, her being a bit of a wrench in Sonic's scheme, a wild card factor that adds a bit of turbulence I believe was very much part of the point of her character, as it adds an extra dynamic to the cast. You had Tails who more directly complimented and assisted Sonic, Knuckles who would butt heads with him, and Amy who would be something Sonic had to somewhat adjust/reassess the situation in accordance to her presence. She brings a lot of energy and that makes her a bit of a handful.
    Saying it like that though, perhaps that could play a role in people, especially when you are younger, developing the perception she is annoying, as you are more likely to adopt whatever stance on something Sonic himself has.
    Amy is very much an "uninvited party" by design in the earlier days. One that continues to try and prove she is worth inviting. I once had a conversation with a friend about this, and I compared her to Jacob in Jacob Two-Two and his desire to prove he was worth being a member of Kid Power. (sorry if the reference is somewhat obscure, it was a canadian show.)
    It's a nice dynamic imo that had room for interesting progression. It's more that it just kind of got put on hold after 06, along with many other things.
    Amy was pretty integral to the more "serious" stories if you ask me, as she brought some sunshine and levity to the whole thing that made it less heavy and more digestible, as well as reinforcing some of the more heartfelt elements at the heart of those stories.
    Really, I think Amy being somewhat disruptive is kind of necessary to keep at the heart of the character, even if she isn't actually disruptive. They are on better terms now so I would just have her keep her energy and be a bit pushy, but more or less have it to where the gang is used to it and show she contributes plenty in her own right.
    Not really hard I would say.

    On another note, I will say that a bigger hit against her is how they never seemed to properly cement what her gameplay appeal is meant to be. I would personally say its her whole "not curling into a ball"+ "using her Hammer for interesting things to compensate thing", but it's never been done in a way that I believe has been an adequate sell to a bigger swath the playerbase, and having a good time playing as a character is a huge part in what endears a character to people. So that doesn't help.

    I never understood what Amy was supposed to be or bring to the table in Boom. She was just sort of the token girl of the group I guess kinda? I'm not the biggest fan of Boom, but I do at least get a kick out of how they more or less corrupt the traits of the characters for the sake of jokes. You would think Amy as a character would be easy material to work with, but I guess not.

    I will give Forces credit in that regard in that Eggman did show that he learned from his past mistakes just as he said he did in the game. Whatever he did to Infinite very much put him under Eggman's thumb if his obedience towards him, as well as Eggman being able to drag him away after he had failed show. Eggman thought ahead in regards to him being betrayed by his creations or the monsters he discovered that time. Points to Forces for what it's worth.
    Overall though, I do agree Eggman had become less active Since Unleashed. Which is something I can't even say about 06 of all games, even though what he actually did in that game was very... uninteresting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
  16. Wraith

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    I don't like the idea of Eggman having empathy or honor. Almost every time the games tried that angle in the 2000s/Maekawa era it felt really tone-deaf and disingenuous to me. Sonic CD was one of the first Sonic games I played and that shaped my perspective of him as someone who really doesn't have any good in him. His shtick in Lost World fell completely flat with me and it was only redeemed somewhat when the "twist" confirmed it was completely disingenuous and he was only keeping Sonic and Tails safe for his own gain.

    Now, Archie/IDW do add a few wrinkles to the character I wouldn't. I didn't think it was a huge deal, but I thought it was strange when Eggman implies that he could have finished Sonic off a long time ago but he wants to destroy his ego or whatever first. That is the type of Batman/Joker shit I don't think really fits, since Eggman has never pulled any punches with Sonic in the old games and seemed pretty pleased with himself when he did think he finished him off.
     
  17. ChaddyFantome

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    Interesting. How's that? Eggman always came off as less a evil for the sake of evil villain and more a megalomaniacle man child, with his destruction and negative consequences being more out of apathy than an innate desire to see death and destruction.
    Never had an issue accepting Eggman would work with the heroes because of that, or that he had a certain twisted code of "principles" as a result of his own hubris and ego.
    His conflicts with Sonic for example I always saw as a sort of personal bitter rivalry for example.
    I mean, I personally can't think of a time where Eggman was content with Sonic's utter defeat that wasn't in some elaborate scheme by his design made to end him once and for all.
    Immediate examples that come to mind is his dropping Sonic into Scrap Brain act 3 in Sonic 1, trapping him in a Room with Mecha Sonic and the Death Egg Robot in Sonic 2, the famous scene where he drops him in a capsule in Space in Sonic Adventure 2, etc.
    I will say I'm not a fan of the claim that he let Sonic land on earth on purpose in Unleashed. That's pretty dumb. I personally look at it more as him making excuses in that scene just to make it less dumb in my head, lol.
    In the case of IDW, I actually didn't have a problem with that at all. Especially given its trailing off of Forces where the whole reason Eggman didn't end Sonic after 6 months was he wanted to gloat to Sonic by showing him his conquest of the world first. Which, your mileage may vary with that one, but given how easily Sonic was defeated, I personally can buy.
    Would certainly make things like him gassing Sonic and Tails and bailing with their emeralds in SA1 seem less dumb at least.
     
  18. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    Thanks for the memories. Last thing I expected on Sonic Retro was a Jacob Two-Two reference.

    I've always been bothered by Amy's lack of rolling/spinning ability. She's a hedgehog, and should be biologically capable of that just like Sonic. It just doesn't make sense to me. I suppose it could be that she just doesn't like rolling, but it often seems as if she can't.

    It's common to see people say that Boom Amy is the best version of Amy, and I just don't know what they're seeing. Boom removes or reduces her personality traits to the point that she really is just the token girl character. She fulfills whatever they need a woman in the script for, and she really isn't very interesting as a character. Now, I don't like Boom anyway, so no surprise that I don't see much value in how the characters' personalities are written.
     
  19. Boxer Hockey

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    I like Boom for what it is, but the characters were bent to fit the sitcom model. To say Boom Amy is the best version of Amy is strange to me, because it's a different character wearing Amy's skin. People like to say Knuckles has been done dirty in recent years, but I truly don't think it compares to what's happened to Amy. This total fear of letting her be sweet and caring because those are stereotypical "girl" traits.
     
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  20. E-122-Psi

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    I think Boom had some good ideas in areas. I do at least appreciate it took things like her pushiness and temper and actually had stories where there were repercussions or development for it, compared to her X era characterisation which largely just played them for laughs and got away with her bullshit non stop. Same with the fact that Amy could sometimes actually put other characters in their place when they were acting up or try and stop them killing themselves, something the games take dabbled in but not as fully. It was probably their best attempt at more methodical Amy in the modern era, over a blandly 'smart' and well behaved character or a dim witted violent tempered brat.

    I do however agree that Boom Amy doesn't quite work in the schematics of how Amy worked originally (at least outside maybe the first few episodes where she was a bit more bubbly and less of a buzzkill). As said, she kinda feels more like a comedic take on Sally at times.

    That's an interesting take. I admit I feel a lot of the problem was that after a while, they just shoehorned Amy in as comic relief most of the time, and punctuated her negative qualities, thus a lot of the time it didn't feel like Amy vindicated herself in this regard. In the X era especially, she sticks as "that one friend no one really likes", same as Knuckles, only unlike Knuckles, who they openly mocked, the cast actually fear Amy's nasty temper so often double take their grievances with her when around her. She feels more like a character that 'earned' her spot via bullying and tantrums rather than genuinely winning people over.

    In hindsight the X era wasn't all too great at showing the group actually LIKED each other. Like they cooperated but sometimes it felt like they didn't really have much affection for each other. What was likely just meant to be PLAYFUL banter and headbutting at first became the majority of their dynamic, compared to even Boom where despite all the bickering, they do hang out and seem legit friendly otherwise.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the whole 'kept Sonic for six months to torture him' element something the English script added to Forces to make it 'grittier'?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021