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Do Sonic Team even know what makes Sonic good?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Laura, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. TheKazeblade

    TheKazeblade

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    I think this was a fantastic move. I looked back at my last post in this thread from 2 years ago and was amused by the fact that not only has my opinion remained entirely the same, but has been made significantly more relevant by the information we have been presented about Forces.

    Sonic Team knows Generations was successful, but they have made it apparent that they don't know WHAT made Generations successful. So they are replicating the most prominent elements of Generations hoping to re-capture that magic.

    They don't realize that the reason Classic Sonic was so successful previously was because of the drought of Classic Sonic experiences that was in the franchise in 2011. In 2017, we have tons more Classic representation, and specifically PERFECT representation in the form of Sonic Mania, that actively not only makes Sonic Force's classic segments look redundant, but genuinely makes them look bad by comparison.

    Sonic Team is too isolated from its core audience (Sonic always has been and will be more successful in the west than in Japan, so it's development remaining in Japan will continue to lack the communication needed to create something that will fully resonate). Iizuka being relocated to Sega of America seems to have only been a token gesture, as nothing seems to have changed from a development standpoint besides better PR which, while I give Aaron, Gene and the rest of SoA's PR team tons of credit for the good work they have done to give Sonic's public profile a huge boost, the fact of the matter is, it's sleight-of-hand to distract from the fact that at Sonic Team, it's business as usual and will continue to be so.

    Thank goodness Mania exists and that Taxman, Stealth and Pagoda West's involvement is purely contractual because if it was being handled by Sega's internal teams, history leans toward the result being just as tone deaf as the rest of Sega's Sonic Team ventures as of late.

    Don't always want to point to my videos in every response, but my "Sonic Forces: The Problems We Are Ignoring" video has my in-detail view on this entire matter.
     
  2. Lozicle

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    I have actually watched the video, and I like it, but there are a few points I want to reply to.

    First though, I want to say that I don't think Sonic Forces looks good, at least in terms of the level design. I pretty much agree with what everyone else is saying regarding how forced the speed and ridged the movement seem to be. Green Hill Zone is Sonic Forces feels like proof that SonicTeam has, at best, a very shallow view on what makes Classic Sonic fun: speed; platforming; alternate routes. All segmented from each other. No sense of fluidity appears to be there. I get that you can't achieve the same kind of momentum from the classics as you can in this 3D engine, but Sonic Forces doesn't even make an attempt. If Sonic Forces turns out well, I'm betting it'll be on the merits of Modern Sonic or whoever the third character is.

    Anyway, in regards to Modern Sonic never standing on his own and having to be paired with combat/2D platforming/Classic 2D platforming, it makes sense to do more with what they have. SonicTeam builds miles and miles of terrain for Sonic to blast through, so why not take those assets and make a slower gameplay style that lets players appreciate what you've made? As long as it fits with Sonic's style (like Classic Sonic did). And if you're making another gameplay style, you might as well put in the effort to make sure it's fun. And if you're putting in the work to make sure it's fun, then it might as well get top billing with Modern Sonic. Adding Classic Sonic or any other slower gameplay style feels less like SonicTeam not thinking Modern Sonic can stand on his own so much as wanting to give more game based on the work they've already put in. At least Classic Sonic is thematically appropriate.

    In terms of lack of brand identity, I'll save what I have to say about that until we find out more about the third gameplay style of Forces, because there is something I really want to say, but that third character might prove me wrong. Besides that though, I agree that calling a Sonic game a "Sonic" game doesn't really tell you much anymore. At best you can expect speed in some form, action, humor (usually self-deprecating), a great soundtrack, and a lack of polish. Not great.

    For the last point, the over-use of nostalgia, I agree with the general idea that abusing nostalgia erodes its value, but I want to give SonicTeam a bit more credit than that. They seem to think that because Sonic is building a force for taking on Eggman in this game, Classic Sonic should have a place on that force. Additionally, let's bring Green Hill Zone back, only it's experienced desertification because of Eggman's rule. They have reasons for bringing this nostalgic imagery back, at least in their own heads, which I think gives them a good excuse. At least, it does in this specific case. Things like the level themes in Sonic Lost World and Sonic 4 are what really show a lack of confidence in their own ideas. They bring back Green Hill Zone time and time again under new names to try and appease fans and make people think that this product will be great by associating it with the first game; in reality, we would rather just visit Washy Wetlands Zone, because we don't know what that is. We buy their new games to see what new ideas they'll give us.

    In conclusion, the homing attack is a crutch, and it always has been.
     
  3. Sean Evans

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    The sad thing to me is that Sonic Team is very capable of establishing a strong general direction for the franchise. Maybe not gameplay wise, but certainly in terms of visuals, sound, and style. They have a lot of flops and bad ideas, but they also have some genuinely fun and cool ideas. Sonic Colors to me exemplifies the foundation for a solid direction. More zany environments, and really out there level themes tied together by a surprisingly well thought out premise. The "game world" is developed by Eggman, meaning that each locale probably serves a general purpose to, "the bigger picture". So now all of the wacked out themes feel justified when you consider them to be a colorful distraction. In this scenario Eggman holds the cards, so now the motive is to take back what's already been abducted. In Colors case, the wisp home worlds. This lets them play around with the nature vs. technology theme without having to make it the focus. Since the wisp also benefit Sonic gameplay wise, the player has a greater incentive to try and help them. These zany worlds and utilization of the wisp gives the player a reason to want to explore these levels and worlds, and as a result they can hide little goodies, like Red Rings, that encourage the player for doing so.

    They had a really neat thing going there with Colors, and there were plenty of features and elements that they could borrow and expand upon to flesh out and develop the series. But they just took the elements that were the easiest to regurgitate, which ironically made the most sense in Colors exclusively. When it comes to ideas and concepts, Sonic Team is on point, but they always screw it up by throwing some creative wrench into the works. Sonic in the world of the Arabian Nights or King Arthur's domain actually sounds pretty cool. Too bad horrible controls, lackluster story, and ill conceived mechanics all had to be a part of it. If they were to continue using the boost as the core gameplay style for the series (which wouldn't be awful, but it'd already limit them severely), then it would rely on the series style to help keep the games interesting. Sonic Team can make a game look and sound pretty, but 9 out of 10 times they can't back it up with really solid direction that makes any of it matter, or keeps the player invested.
     
  4. DigitalDuck

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    I still stand 100% by my previous (main) post in this topic, and I'll bring the important quotes:

    The Boost-style gameplay is a good thing, and should be refined and improved upon. Classic Sonic gameplay is also a good thing, and should be refined and improved upon. Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces can exist side-by-side; the problem is that not only is a poor attempt at Classic Sonic in Sonic Forces, but also a poor attempt at traditional platforming in a style that doesn't fit it.

    Bolded is exactly what happened, and it's a very good thing. The problem is, it's still being shoehorned into the Boost games too; these are separate audiences.

    And this is the message I'd like to leave you with. Check back on that previous post if you want to know what I'd do, but I believe Classic Sonic and Boost Sonic have two different, largely non-overlapping audiences that should be catered to separately, instead of attempting to satisfy both and pleasing neither.
     
  5. Despatche

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    I wish I could understand why Sonic alone is held to such an alarmingly high standard compared to any other "big" game ever made. I could go on and on about how this thread sounds like NeoGAF-lite, where everyone thinks they're a longtime game designer or professional analyst or so on, but I'm just gonna ask about the most important bit, something that's been bugging me for years about this community.

    Nearly all games are rushed, especially the big ones. The old Sonic games were rushed in severe ways, requiring people to spend twice as much for the same game (S3 and S&K). In the past, the legends of things like Hidden Palace and wacky floor/wall glitches were praised, not damned. Why is this ever a talking point?

    If "Classic" Sonic and "Boost" Sonic have totally different audiences, then that is a false dichotomy being created by threads like this and by years of meme-ing about "bad" Sonic games more than anything natural. There is no real introspective of the Sonic series going on here. I promise you that the vast majority of this thread only exists because of the Sonic Boom games, which were not made by Sonic Team or Dimps at all, and barely had any involvement by Sega. The topic was started by someone who directly blames Sonic Team for the Boom games! It's another case of putting Sonic on this insanely high pedestal: they are the modern equivalent of Hotel Mario and The Faces of Evil, and we correctly identified the blame Nintendo deserved for those games. Why must Sonic be such a huge exception? If some wacky games like that can do so much damage to a community, then there is no hope for this series.

    (Best of all, the Boom show itself is actually very good, and the 3DS games and their developer have largely redeemed themselves anyway.)

    edit: You act like I didn't read the thread. I'm not going to apologize for disagreeing with general opinion.
     
  6. Beltway

    Beltway

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    Well then you'd be wrong, since the topic was created December 5th, 2013, and the majority of replies to this topic were made before the end of the year--a good while before the Boom games were officially revealed. Even when the thread was revived in 2015, most of the discussion was made about the viability of Boost gameplay and had little to with the Boom games whatsoever. Maybe if you actually read the thread beforehand, you would had caught that.

    The thread topic is about exactly what it says on the tin--if you think Sonic Team knows, or does not know, what makes Sonic good. If you're not actually interested in addressing that, you and your "unpleaseable fanbase" soapbox are free to go elsewhere in the forum.
     
  7. LockOnRommy11

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    This topic was started before Sonic Boom was even a thing, and has nothing to do with why the topic was started.

    Are nearly all games rushed? What does that have to do with anything? If pretty much all games are rushed then Sonic's on a level playing field, surely? :v:

    Sonic is held in high regard as the games from 1991 - 2001 were all pretty awesome. Since then there has been quite a variation in the level of success that many of the games appear to have, and the quality bungee jumps from excellent to poor one release to another for a myriad of reasons that could - but never seem to - be resolved.

    'Sonic The Hedgehog' has the hallmarks of a brand that wants to be big and cool and popular, but can never quite get there, and we as fans have a right to voice our opinions on why. SEGA seem to be pretty active on social media and happy to poke fun at other brands like some sort of unfunny playground affair, but they can't walk the walk. When SEGA are told that something isn't working, it's quite like they can't actually understand what they're being told. Examples:

    1) Gamers didn't want to play as 12 different characters, they were more bothered about the core characters.

    Since at least 2007, I cannot think of a main-line Sonic game where Sonic. You'd think they'd restructure their Sonic Team division and hire more new talent, rather than chasing down the same old beaten paths time and time again. This is a huge step back for the games.

    2) People weren't happy with the more 'realistic' or 'gritty' style that Sonic was going for from Shadow The hedgehog and Sonic 2006.

    Every game now has to include Green Hill Zone (not even a variation - THE Green Hill Zone) and has to be super light on story and kiddy-cheesy.

    3) People moaned about Sonic 4's physics.

    Sonic 4 Ep II was released and was better received. Episode III never materialized as they couldn't shake the backlash from the first.


    After the fantastic Generations, I thought the brand was back on to a winner. We then had the alright Sonic Lost Worlds, which seemed like it was heading in the right direction despite some teething problems. We now have Sonic Mania, which looks amazing if only for the fact it's taking the amazing stuff straight out of other games (Green Hill Zone again!?) and is being a bit more respectful to the quality of the older games.

    Then we have Sonic Forces, which straight-up rehashes the first level of Generations again (Green Hill Zone again!?) and doesn't appear to have refined the gameplay any further than Generations had done so some 5 years ago.

    Frankly, everyone in charge of Sonic doesn't know what the average gamer wants. We don't want the exact same Green Hill Zone every time. We don't want a mish-mash of random crap regurgitated year out, and we want some sort of quality consistency. How hard is it to look back at what Sonic great and translate that in to a new title? (In summary, that's good physics, fun upbeat gameplay, interesting and consistent art and sound, funky timeless music, and a 2P mode).

    The very fact that many games have "barely had any involvement from SEGA" is part of the problem.
     
  8. Lozicle

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    Well, that was fast.
    People seem pretty split in terms of whether the custom character is a good idea or not, so I guess I'll just say what I wanted to say. Credit goes to ShayMay for this observation, but he kind of brushed it aside afterward anyway. Sonic is an unfocused franchise, and it would be very easy for SonicTeam to fix it by giving a clearer identity to it. Figure out what parts of the series are the most well-received, and use that as a road map for future games. They could do that. But then, where would they get to be creative?

    SonicTeam is only ever allowed to make Puyo Puyo, Phantasy Star, and Sonic games nowadays. So say one of their designers gets inspired and wants to make a new sort of play-style. Which of those three franchises are they going to be able to test it out in? They couldn't possibly make a new franchise. Lord knows that'd be too risky, and Sega wouldn't allow it. Sonic is their only creative outlet. SonicTeam is a Sonic sweatshop, and any potentially unique ideas have to be crammed into Sonic's next game. This is why Yuji Naka left!

    It's like giving an artist a canvas, but only letting them use the color blue. It can turn out pretty great when they work within that limitation, but always having that limitation can be suffocating.
     
  9. Sean Evans

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    I agree completely, and this is why it makes even more sense to hand Sonic off to a new team who really wants to work with the series. Or at the very least will respect it enough to apply zany ideas properly. I feel like Sonic Team always puts the concept over the content. They come up with a cool idea, but they pull it off in really shallow or lame ways that just cheapen whatever potential that idea had. They have creativity and they aren't bad developers, but they seriously lack foresight and consideration. They...well...spitball, a lot.

    Now hand the series over to new devs (at least partially), who have all these ideas for Sonic specifically, and have the knowledge and consideration to execute it in a way that will make sense for the franchise, and you potentially have a winning formula. Handing it off to any old joe schmoe with a business card and a studio obviously isn't the ticket. Neither is giving it to a trusted secondary dev team. So why not hand it off to serious fans of the series who are in the industry. And they definitely exist. Of course the Mania Team, but also artist and writers from the comics, musicians like Madeon or Cash Cash. They're out there, and I don't think they'd be against furthering the development of the franchise. It's a giant ass pipe dream maybe, but I think that's honestly the best course of action for Sonic. Sonic Team either isn't with it, or doesn't care anymore, so why not relieve them of their tedium and let some new blood jump in?
     
  10. Lozicle

    Lozicle

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    I'm not so sure if it's a problem with foresight so much as it might be SonicTeam understanding that they cannot go all out with their idea while still making it a "Sonic" game. The biggest problem I have with most Sonic games now is that they never go all the way with their new ideas, so they don't reach their potential (wisps, parkour, etc.). That's why the burden of Sonic the Hedgehog has to be lifted away.

    As for the rest, I completely agree. What Sega is doing now with hiring fans to make the next Sonic game is a very smart move. With Sonic Mania, Sonic Dash, and Sonic Boom Fire & Ice, Sega seems to understand that they can have other devs fill in while SonicTeam gets some rest (though Rise of Lyric seems to have taught them not to trust just anyone, or at least be reasonable with deadlines). The only thing they need to do now is let SonicTeam flex their creative muscles elsewhere, like with a new series or the revival of an old one.
     
  11. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    I still haven't seen enough of Forces to know if Sonic Team "gets it" anymore, but I can infer from their apparent lack of faith in the core gameplay that they don't think they get it.

    Seaside Hill. More of that level design. Bring back grinding controls from SA2, so we have less literal on-rails sections. Fiddle with the boost a bit to make it more of a challenge to use (if I can have an idea, so can ST).

    If the problem is you need more time to crank out levels for this playstyle, take that time. Or simplify the bloody artstyle Jesus. I don't need my Sonic games looking so cinematic.
     
  12. Sean Evans

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    I don't know if I'd agree with that. If the solution were to tweak little things here and there and improve workflow, I doubt Sonic Team wouldn't have done it. They are competent game devs and I'm sure they can spot issues and niggles with their own games and products. Whenever there's a glaring issue it's generally the result of sloppy work due to lousy development restrictions like a lot of people point out. This is why I don't think that making tiny adjustments to the boost is key, if it were they would have done it already. This tone deaf nature has more to do with Sonic Team applying bad design principles and processes to Sonic as a whole. The shoddy visual design, the shifts in sound direction, the horrible story, and inconsistent gameplay. And when they do make changes, like with the drift or the stomp, they're kind of worse (the drift turns far too tightly on startup and you can no longer stomp while maintaining momentum via boost like in Unleashed). They've gotten as much mileage out of the mechanics as they can, which is part of why the levels take so long. I agree the art style could be simplified ( or at least changed to something cleaner), but it also needs to look really good, otherwise you lose half the appeal in the boost. You wouldn't get the same thrill running through Windy Hill for e.g.

    But if we're getting all game design in here, I personally think that they should take the principles of the boost gameplay (emphases on speed, crazy rollercoaster level design, really stylish over the top arcade-y approach, time attack philosophy) and try to apply it to a much more flexible, mechanically rich concept. A lot of people talk about bringing back the momentum play, and that sounds like a neat idea to flesh the concept out a bit. But given how difficult a game the caliber of Sonic 3 or CD would be to make in a 3D environment with this new inexperienced dev team, that would be asking for quite a lot. Not to mention that throwing the two concepts together would lead to a weird incompatible mess. Sonic can't really profit from slopes and hills when he can just boost everywhere, and why should he if the level design still comprises of narrow hallways. So why not take a page out of some of their franchise neighbors book? Super Monkey Ball has elements of physics gameplay, but rather than being a benefit towards the player, it's mostly detrimental. The same goes for games like Trackmania, where the physics can really screw you up if you aren't careful. They often apply terrain in ways that jettison the player into the air, where they lose control, or maybe they have to try hitting just the right speed so that they don't careen off the edge and lose a turn. They even play around with stuff like inertia and friction in trackmania to challenge the player. Imagine if they tried something like that with Sonic. Maybe that way they could apply the physics principles found in the classics and sort of turn them on it's head. This could also make developing levels a bit easier, since the game's no longer about running forward really really fast, but trying to balance that speed and control to keep moving.
     
  13. VectorCNC

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    I think reducing Sonic's speed is key. I know I'm gonna sound like a crazy old fart here, but I think Sonic should be speedy, with only moments of breakneck speed as a reward, and these could be the more automated sections. In the classic's these portions of super-speed seemed to function as rewards and momentum boosts which gave the player little shots of adrenaline. But as Sonic moved into 3D and continued forward the platforming elements which were previously core continuously eroded and speed for the sake of speed became the focus. This went hand in hard with advancements in hardware; the more capable consoles were at rendering in high speed, the faster Sonic's movement became. Naturally players can only provide so much input at a certain velocity, and the gameplay has become increasingly automated and linear as a result. This appears to be one particular area where Sega "doesn't get it" anymore.

    It has been revealed that during Sonic's conception they actually reduced his speed because it detracted from the players’ experience, but this wisdom was lost. Similarly the importance of a cohesive and identifiable aesthetic was also lost. As the hardware became more capable of producing realistic graphics, the graphics became more generic and lost their identity/sole. Now Sega is certainly making progress in regard to aesthetics, but they have yet to achieve a signature style, and what we see is more akin to Donkey Kong Country, Ratchet and Clank, or Pixar, and otherwise generic.

    I know it's heresy, but the speed has to come down to at least Sonic Adventure levels if Sega wants to create a more meaningful experience for the player. I think they have hit on a few good ideas, such as the parkour elements from Lost World, but they need to keep working at it. One element I would personally like to see tried out is a mechanic where time momentarily slows so the player can input more precision moves, like with Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This would allow for greater exploration in zones, or hubworlds, in which Sonic could slow time, and then execute bursts of momentum and parkour to take advantage of environmental elements, as to reach otherwise inaccessible areas and collect story relevant McGuffins. Maybe this could even replace the homing attack, which I've also found to be a superficial crutch.

    Sonic's speed was a character attribute, but it never should have become his main purpose for existing, this turned the game into a racer which has to rely on way too much filler content for unified gaming experience or identity. By analogy, Mario is a plumber, but with the advent of 3D his purpose didn't become to plumb pipes, and navigate ever increasingly complex mazes of pipes, with ever increasing realism, akin to a 90s Windows Screensaver. But if Mario had progressed this way, I'm sure we'd have 100,000 - 2,000,000 people that enjoyed it, defended it, and tried to constrain the series to maintain this niche playstyle. They would even find it acceptable to pad each game with fluff. Mario would be destined to mediocrity, not routinely hitting 20,000,000 in sales as we see today.

    So ya, obviously Sega is on the wrong track, and has been for a very long time. They really don't realize the goldmine they are sitting on, and they don't know how to take advantage of it. Basically, they don't know how to make a "good" Sonic game, not at least in terms of potential.
     
  14. Laura

    Laura

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    When I started this thread, I was under the impression that Sonic Team were a talented studio who just kept constantly making bizarre errors in judgement.

    Now they are making such baffling decisions with Forces that I am certain Sonic Team have no clue what they are doing.
     
  15. Sean Evans

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    It's funny, I've wanted that to be a feature since Sonic Adventure 2. I think a "slow mode" or "bullet time" ability would be perfect for Sonic, and a great way to allow players to better react to things at high speed. In fact I'm surprised that the closes the Boost games have come to a feature like this is with a skill upgrade.
     
  16. VectorCNC

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    But can't it still be both? I blame management. It's like, on the one hand they have completely committed to a playstyle which is fatally flawed, and then to support this apparent LAW, they are completely non-committed to creating any unified vision, largely because the LAW requires secondary (and apparently tertiary) filler, which they never fully commit to past 1 or 2 games. This is The REAL SONIC CYCLE!

    I think the IP management is basically brain-dead, and the next level up are a bunch of suits that fail to understand the series and it's flaws at the depth only lifelong fans have been able to recognize and witness. I think they have internalized the mediocrity because the cycle has been running for so long. They think ardent adherence to the LAW is a unified vision. It's kept the doors open and the lights on, but it never really catches fire like it could. It's such a shame...
     
  17. Aerosol

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    FWIW, what I have in mind isn't "a minor change", but I can show better than I can try to convince anyone the playstyle isn't fatally flawed. Gimme 7 years.
     
  18. rebelcheese

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    Sonic has been an exercise in bizarre errors in judgment since the franchise's inception (Knuckles Chaotix, anyone?). And it doesn't matter who develops the game, something is always a little off. Need I bring up the glitches abound in Sonic 3?

    And even when it is not Sonic Team who develops it things still wind up off. See Big Red Button and Rise of Lyric. Promising platform game (probably only needed Adventure levels of speed to truly nail the experience), and it wound up becoming a tire fire.

    This is Sonic in a nutshell, and we love him anyway, because the appeal of the character and the good in his games still manage to outweigh the bad, even after '06 and Rise of Lyric turned out the way they did.
     
  19. Laura

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    Well Rise of Lyric is almost certainly down to the unreasonable shift from expected PS4 levels of hardware to Wii U's non support of Cryotek. If it wasn't for that I think Rise of Lyric probably would have end up quite good. Either way it's unreasonable to put the blame on the development team - we have no idea what they could have produced with hardware which actually supported their engine.
     
  20. Beltway

    Beltway

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    You're making an assertion based on an argument no-one here is actually saying. Is or has there been anyone in this topic who has pushed the narrative that everything from the classic era was perfect?

    Moreover, there's a clear difference in both quality and perception on how games from the classic games were produced and received compared to how recent Sonic games were done in recent times. I thought by now this was plainly obvious. Knuckles Chaotix and Shadow the Hedgehog are both questionable spinoffs, and Sonic 3 and Sonic 2006 have visible bugs, but the reputation that each game in each scenario has from the other could not be anymore stark.