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

    69 vote(s)
    56.1%
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    66 vote(s)
    53.7%
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    16 vote(s)
    13.0%
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    14 vote(s)
    11.4%
  5. Other

    14 vote(s)
    11.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. It's just something I've resigned myself to at this point tbh, as frustrating as it is. It's like how DC and Marvel portray their characters widely differently across their mediums, with only the vaguest of traits keeping them consistent with each other. The longer a series goes on for, the more people start writing and interpreting these characters. At some point, you just gotta roll with it lol.

    In fact, Sonic's own comics are a great example of this, because there's a whole wealth of differences in how the characters have been portrayed long before Ian Flynn came on board, and even now we have Evan Stanley to compare him too in terms of character writing.



    That said, I may not like how Tails is portrayed nowadays, but there's at least a core there; he's the smart one; him and Sonic are a Brain and brawn dynamic. Its simple, but it works. Same thing with Shadow really; sure he had his whole big story arc of self-discovery, but that's not conducive to an ongoing brand identity, so it's just easier to portray him as a grumpy rival towards Sonic. Its not about telling a story with these characters, but put them into an iconic role that can be used for any medium. Sonic's the idiot hero, Tails is the smart sidekick, Eggman the bumbling Villain, or Shadow the grumpy rival. Easy roles to work with and gives writers plenty of leeway as long as they stick to that foundation.


    Characters like Knuckles are kind of screwed though because their foundation (guarding the ME) isn't relevant to the current direction of the series, so they're just left with no direction. Like, he USED to be Sonic's rival, but characters like Shadow and Metal Sonic serve those functions better nowadays. Which makes me curious on how the movie will portray him, and how that's going to affect the character going forward. Depending on what happens, it could define Knuckles' character for a while.
     
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  2. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

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    In these simplistic characterizations, Knuckles should be some kind of knight or bodyguard honoring the tradition of his people. Not that I want the boilerplate tribal warrior, but that's something they could stick to, and it would have made more believable to have him in Forces as the leader of the resistance now as a protector of a bigger land who has a new tribe to care for.

    Btw, for general purposes, I prefer a bad take on a character's identity rather than a talking plushie on the shelf like Knux and Amy were in Lost World, where you could have substituted them with Vanilla the Rabbit and Omochao and the scenes would have looked the same, or maybe even better because third line characters would at least have gotten some spotlight.
     
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  4. This is no offense to you or the uploader of that video, but man am I kind of tired of watching "X character was good before, but Sega ruined them in the META ERA"

    Probably like three or four channels about this that literally argue the same points.
     
  5. That's fair
     
  6. Josh

    Josh

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    I hope the meta era ends soon. Sonic hasn't been good since 1994.

    upload_2021-11-12_17-52-46.png
     
  7. BadBehavior

    BadBehavior

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    idk, if so many people are uploading videos of something they don't like, isn't that an indicator of an issue that needs to be looked at? Would it really be good optics to just ignore them outright?
     
  8. No, its an indication that people just piggyback off the popular opinion and regurgitate it over and over and think they're being original.


    Contrary to the popular belief, the loudest voice in the room does not in fact speak for everyone; there are plenty of people who are just fine with the characters as they are now, or they just don't care either way. This is one of those subjective issues with no "correct" answer, just a bunch of people shouting in an attempt to be heard.

    Are their severe writing issues in the current games? Absolutely. But guess what, there were severe writing problems in the older games too that people never shut up about. There are always going to be people complaining about how these characters act because we're literally three decades into this shit and everyone has their own idea on how these characters are "supposed to be".




    I'm at a point where I'd rather just speak about the parts about these characters I like and wish to see more of as opposed to endlessly complaining about how much they suck now and how much better my vision about them are than everyone else's.
     
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  9. Josh

    Josh

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    Yeah, I want to recommend a video by Hazel:



    I used to click on pretty much every bit of Sonic analysis I came across. But I am, for all the reasons we've been talking about, SO incredibly hesitant to click on Sonic videos on YouTube nowadays. Especially if it's someone I'm not familiar with, and ESPECIALLY if it looks like it's going to espouse the virtues of early 3D Sonic games, because 99 times out of 100, the whole thing comes across like an exercise to glorify "old Sonic" at the sheer expense of "new Sonic." I got more than enough of that when "old Sonic" was 16-bit and "new Sonic" was everything 3D, and I still can't quite believe we're really doing that shit again. :P

    Hazel's video isn't like that. She's perfectly self-aware of how SA comes across, but that makes her no less sincere about how much she loves it. She's crafted a great tribute to what Sonic means to her through the lens of this game, WITHOUT being mean-spirited or dismissive.
     
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  10. BadBehavior

    BadBehavior

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    When has talking about what people liked ever got anywhere? Classic fans complained about the 3D games for 20 years and they were rewarded with Mania.
     
  11. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    Or, get this, they might actually hold the same general opinion as all those other people, and want to explain their own thoughts about a topic many others have discussed.

    I haven't watched the video Rhythm Raccoon linked, but anybody talking about the decade long character assassination of Tails is good in my book, even if I don't necessarily agree with all their ideas about the subject.

    I would think that you'd be upset by these kinds of videos if you actually disagree with what they've argued. In which case you would have at least outlined a basic counter argument about what you disagreed with.

    But all you've done is come into a thread for discussing characterization to bitch about people who are talking about characterization.
     
  12. raphael_fc

    raphael_fc

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    I thought it was a consensus that Knuckles, Tails and Shadow have been poorly characterized for the past 10, 15 years.
     
  13. Josh

    Josh

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    "Consensus" and "Sonic opinions" go together like apples and the hypothetical idea of what it would be like if humans had little hands on the ends of each of their fingers.

    By the time you've fully considered the latter, you've lost sight of how the former is even particularly applicable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
  14. This is such a gross oversimplification of what happened and I'm sad that you actually 100% believe it.

    So I went ahead and watched the video to give the uploader the benefit of the doubt, and it was pretty much exactly what I thought it was going to be; a run down of Tails' appearances in every game that talks up his appearances in Sonic Adventure (and to a lesser extent its sequel) and negative comments about him from Sonic Colors onward, with no real new points being talked about at all. If this is your cup of tea, be my guest, I never said you or anyone else aren't allowed to enjoy these types of videos and I'm sorry if you got that impression.

    But after an entire decade of it, I find these types of videos and discussions about "character assassination" to be exhausting at this point; every thing that can be said has already been said, so it comes off as repetitious to me and wish people would find new points to make. Even if I agree with the overall general points being made, I would be much more interested if people found different things to talk about. I admit, this is very much a me problem. People are free to talk about any subject they feel passionate about and I didn't mean to imply otherwise.


    Videos like this one uploaded by Badnik Mechanic are much intriguing to me because they bring up new points that nobody else is willing to even talk about, and in general, are more analytical than just listing off a summary of the characters they're talking about while badmouthing the newer games.




    So it's less that I disagree with people who upload these character videos, and more wish they had different things to talk about; because at this point, what can be said that hasn't already been said? We've been talking about how much Tails sucks for roughly eight years now lol.
     
  15. What have I started
     
  16. Josh

    Josh

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    This is actually related to why the whole "2010s was the downfall of Sonic" """movement""" flew under my radar for so long. When I'd see a video with a title like "Why Modern Sonic Stories SUCK," I would ignore it, because I assumed it was Yet Another Classic Elitist tearing into everything 3D, and, similar to the point Sonic5993 was making about Tails, I felt like we'd thoroughly exhausted that topic. Or at least, I was thoroughly exhausted of it.

    "Modern Sonic" was always synonymous with "Sonic with green eyes" to me, and "incendiary Sonic fans" had been synonymous with "people who only like the 2D games" for so long that I just assumed that was probably still the status quo and overlooked the whole situation for several years. :V Looking back, maybe ignorance was bliss!
     
  17. raphael_fc

    raphael_fc

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    And I honestly don't agree that Tails was poorly characterized in Colors. He was doing something sorta necessary that only he could do. Interestingly, Tails acted out of fear in Unleashed and this is often ignored.
     
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  18. John Chrysler

    John Chrysler

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    I think Tails was doing that in Unleashed because he never even encountered those monsters before. But with Forces he has encountered & fought Chaos at a more powerful level which confuses me.
     
  19. Tails in Colors is certainly the foundation of what he would become in later games of that decade, but Colors itself is so light on the story that I honestly can't bring myself to care lol. Like, he's not good in that game, but certainly nowhere near as bad as in Lost World and Forces. He's a plot device in Colors, just one that doesn't actually contribute all that much.


    Moving on from Tails into something more general, the video I posted actually brings up a point @ 21:46 that I don't think anyone has ever actually acknowledged. Sonic's cast of characters has bloated to really large degree, and most of these characters are generally presented as competent as Sonic. So this kind of presents a problem of scaling...if you have a cast that are all equally capable as each other, how do you reasonably challenge them????

    This is probably why the scale of the 2000's games got so fucking absurd by the time 06 rolled around, because at that point eldtrich interdimensional gods were the only thing that could actually challenge the cast. Eggman seemed small potatoes by comparison, and that's probably why he largely lost a lot of relevance. You can't really just go back to giant robots after fighting gods without feeling jarring. To artificially create stakes again, the series had to start downplaying the supporting cast's capabilities to make the threat seem legitimate and make Sonic feel that much more heroic and important.

    But you know of course, this comes at the expense of all of the development and foundation the supporting cast went through and well....we see the result of that. It's a case where I understand why it happened, but think it wasn't implemented all that well.
     
  20. Josh

    Josh

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    Yup, Unleashed was the game that re-balanced the main cast, shifted toward each game having a self-contained story, had said story almost exclusively revolve around Sonic, and solidified Tails' role as the sidekick/tech support. Tails' reaction in Forces might not have been perfectly congruent with his development in the Adventure games, but it's not particularly out-of-place with how he's acted in the past 19 years. Nonetheless, I think as usual the REAL problem is execution.

    You can read between the lines of Forces' characterization generously and it CAN make a lot of sense: Tails sees himself as solely responsible for what happened. He panics while trying to identify what Infinite even IS, leading to Sonic's capture. Months later, seeing the world fall under Eggman's control, he's wracked with guilt and too ashamed to even show his face at the resistance. No one else blames him, but he blames himself. To allude to his own theme from the Adventure games, Tails NO LONGER believes in himself, he's lost sight of something core to who he is... until Classic Sonic shows up, and reminds Tails of all the good they've done across the generations.

    Portraying this well would take writing more nuanced than any Sonic game has ever had. It'd be easy for this portrayal to fall into heavy-handed melodrama, or for dialogue to make it TOO on the nose. But as it IS portrayed, it has the opposite problem. It takes way too much reading between the lines to even START to see it this way, because it's never directly stated, and (to my recollection) never alluded to again once Classic Sonic shows up, meaning the entire setup comes across like it's just there to separate Tails (and Classic Sonic) from the rest of the resistance.

    This is hardly unique to Forces, of course... in-game Sonic characterization/plots since time immemorial tend to benefit from this sort of "generous" reading.
     
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