Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Sonic5993, Oct 18, 2022.
Fair enough, thanks for clarifying. I see where you're coming from here and agree with you:
I really don't have much to say about Sonic 'retrospectives' because most of the time they are just fans saying they liked something as children and that they aren't happy the series has gone in a different direction. Which is fine, but often they don't really try to explain why what they liked is good. And with 2000s Sonic it's a big ask. You just get this dogma of multiple routes, characters, serious story, etc, with no explanation why any of this is good. As @MrMechanic has said.
@Shaddy the guy's meme is pretty funny but it's also essentially correct. In the same way that retro Sonic fans attacked the 2000s era, the 2000s era have now attacked the Boost Era. It's just very tedious. In a decade we'll have Boost Era fans criticising Frontiers Era Sonic (if that becomes a thing). It's so often just childhood nostalgia expressed as 'critique'.
I've thought about making my own critique of Sonic 1 one day and actually detailing why the game is so well designed and continuing on going through the series. I really do think most Youtube critiques of Sonic are very poor.
For a good critique I would use Rewan on Total War Three Kingdoms as a good example. I don't think we have anything in Sonic on this level of depth and critique frankly:
Ahh gotcha, I'll let you make your point next time.
In my experience, its mostly less that these things are actually good and more about how it made people feel as I said before. Which is fine, but people confuse that for logical analysis it seems like.
I agree with this to an extent, but I'm just not sure how effective something like P-06 can actually be for this sort of purpose. The creative sensibilities of P-06's creator(s?) is (are?) baked into it by the very nature of the beast. Movesets are fleshed out and the behavior of certain moves have been changed. It's unclear how close this is to Sonic Team's 'original vision', and how much it strays. Like, sure, it's possible that Sonic not being able to damage enemies by jumping on them, for example, was the result of time constraints; but it's also possible that was a creative decision the team made. The project doing more than merely fixing bugs and load times, and re-adding things left on the cutting room floor, results in muddier waters.
I'm in a similar boat. I'm in the middle of getting my MA in Philosophy, and I've longed to give a thorough and rigorous analysis of the series, which would be up to the standards of academic philosophy. There's a lot of untapped potential, there. While there's practically no chance my thesis will be about Sonic, I am hoping to write about games in general, and ideal game criticism/analysis in particular (which would fall under the sub-field of "Aesthetics"). Such a thesis would make a good jumping off point for the series-wide analysis I've got simmering in my head.
I actually have a PhD in Classics. I definitely wouldn't want to do any more academic writing
But I am thinking of writing up a critique of Sonic 1. Outlining what I think it does well and poorly. Especially because I think Sonic 1 is very misrepresented online. It's also a short and simple game. Easy to write a critique.
My master’s thesis was actually about Sega lol. Don’t think I mentioned Sonic at all except for maybe a brief comment when introducing the firm. It was MSc. Business, Language, and Culture though, so the paper was 80 pages on development/localization/marketing strategies for improving the sales of high budget games like Yakuza or niche games like Project Diva outside Japan. My GF just got her MA in Art History so she’s dealt with aesthetics (A E S T H E T I C /s) a lot. Maybe something like Japanese vs Western approaches to design, or how the declining Japanese market for console titles has led to a change in Japanese game development in order to appeal to Western judgments? Topics along those lines could let you really hone in on games like Sonic where the marketing and presentation in each region can vary greatly. Just a thought.
^This. People are allowed to have preferences… I just wish folks would admit that they’re preferences. Enough with vague claims that certain games had ambition. Either use analytical skills to elaborate on why you feel a certain way or just respect that others feel differently. At a certain point this never ending factionalism has to stop.
Fans from the 2000s praising the existence of multiple playable characters almost make me forget that most of them were terrible to play.
That's the part that gets conveniently ignored amongst all of this endless praise and was part of the reason they stopped doing it.
I think that's an unfair characterization -- I haven't fully-finished note taking for SA1, but the impression I've come away with more than anything is that characters like Knuckles and Tails were split from Sonic's form-factor because they kind of break SA1's stages and limit the challenge significantly. Not that that's a justification for anything other than building more-accommodating stages or nerfing them (they're already overpowered compared to their genesis selves), but with the struggle that came with developing the game, I understand it. With Tails and Amy in particular, I don't feel any hatred for their styles, but that they were lacking in room to really breathe or flesh out the stages. They feel like bonus modes with a bunch of cutscenes hogging playtime. Gamma and Knuckles fare better, and I'm guessing that's why their styles stick around in SA2 (Big's fishing, though, yeah, unamibguously sucks).
In SA2, they iterated on those styles enough to have them compete in a full game, it was just the way they chose to that created problems -- mostly by the logic of "more = better". Bigger treasure hunts, more shit to find, more enemies to shoot, more dire platforming to do. It's wrong, but I see why they did it, and I still think there's fun to be had there. You could convincingly make the argument that all this was eventually being condensed into a more unified style that could support at least three characters in a standard linear Sonic stage, and well...
Heroes is where things could've gone very right, with stages that are definitely built for Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. Tails's flight is not overpowered, nor is Knuckles's climbing...but the problem is, they've been nerfed into the fucking ground. Now, Tails is pathetically slow and can't fly hover very high or very far. Knuckles can't climb at all, and his glide is reduced to context-sensitive stage objects. This would all be fine, of course, just use Sonic. Except...you have to use every character to beat any stage. These aren't paths that characters can access with their unique abilities, they're locks which character abilities are the key for, and the door is the entire level. The game is still fun in a lot of ways, but its way of implementing characters is to make them mandatory solutions to problems, rather than a preferred option you can play with if you want.
But the common theme among all these is that I think the way multiple playable characters were implemented was the problem, not necessarily any of their individual sets of controls and structures.
Only in Sonic 06 would I say that playing as someone other than Sonic himself is the problem. There was always a feeling of development being stretched too thin over multiple styles which ended up taking more time and effort to be less-fufilling than simply dropping a slightly-different set of controls and actions into an existing level, (even without updates, like modding Tails into Sonic's SA1 stages) but this took it above and beyond. It was a lot of Heroes's context-sensitive characters, but without the control of the player factoring in, and also attempting to force them into SA1's form-factor, without understanding what made the fun you could have with that game fun in the first place. You switch automatically to Knuckles or Tails for a section built specifically for them, and they feel like shit to play (so does Sonic, but less so). Knuckles has to find shit, Tails has to awkwardly fly around. If that were it, they could have made something out of that, honestly. But the game had to support even more characters. So Shadow had to do dull flippy combat and be slow. Rouge had to be an awkward combination of Knuckles and Tails and find shit with no radar. Omega...is okay, honestly. Since you always want to use his air attack, he's kinda the same as in Heroes. Silver, a character with so much potential, had to be broken down into a weak bore because the stages couldn't (and, as P-06 proves, still cannot) support a character as versatile as proper psychokinetic gameplay would provide. The less said about Amy, the better.
It was just the team un-learning every iteration since SA1 and producing a product so half-baked in the process that it fucked everyone's brains into believing multiple characters themselves were the problem, simply by being so bad at being a game that nobody could even articulate what was really wrong with it for at least a few years. The playable characters were never the problem, it was the constant insecurity over either the level design not supporting them, or players not wanting to just do what Sonic does with someone else.
Which doesn't mean I support all the crowing for them to come back, to be clear, I just think that it's making the exact same mistake that SEGA did to just say the problem is with multiple characters and not whether they fit naturally into Sonic's structure. What implementations we've gotten since then have ranged from mostly like-Heroes (S4E2, Boom) to something that's actually pretty close to what they should be (Forces). I think with Frontiers on the horizon, it makes sense to reexamine the concept, as the new mechanics can essentially just make "another character" be someone specialized to one action over another. Sonic can fight and climb, but maybe Knuckles can fight and climb more efficiently. Maybe Sonic's air dash and the rather-flat design can take him almost anywhere, but Tails's flight can get him there faster. There's puzzles and challenges, so maybe every character can complete them, but figuring out which one is best-suited for the job is something that can actually challenge the player. Hell, give Shadow that weird compound homing attack from Lost World, use that as one way he can clear some platforming sequences faster since Sonic's homing attack is now slower. These are all deliberate things that don't necessarily require balancing the game around them. It's just that these should be optional variants of Sonic, above all else. And I dunno about you, but they're good variants.
Pretty much this. The 2D games figured this out by the 3rd game and stuck to it since, but the first attempt at it in 3D was too overpowered and Sonic Team took the wrong conclusions from it. Forces was a great step in the right direction since the Avatar largely played like Sonic but used Wispons (and the grappling gun but absolutely nothing was done with that) in place of the Boost. The Wispon routes were pretty lame but the fact that they exist at all is a good sign that this new Sonic Team has a better understanding than 00s Sonic Team of how multiple characters can work. I get why Frontiers is Sonic-only but hopefully whatever comes next will finally start making serious efforts with bringing back other characters in a playable capacity.
That's the thing though. If you understand that your development time and resources are limited, is it really responsible to plan a game to have so many characters? Wouldn't a smaller number that you can take more time to polish up or make changes on it a concept doesn't work make more sense? I understand what people are trying to say when they say the way they were implemented is the problem but I think overscoping also plays a huge part in it. The problems you have with Tails in SA1 may have been caught and addressed if they didn't also have 5 other characters to worry about.
Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations have short dev cycles like the 3D games before them but they're way more polished. I believe directly addressing the feature creep that was affecting the series in the 2000s is a big part of why.
Well, no, it's not responsible to plan for 6+ radically-different characters, that's why I'm saying they should just be more similar to Sonic with adjusted stats. But I also think that even if SA1 just had the big 3, they still wouldn't necessarily have figured out how to make each stage accommodate for them. Splitting your development across way too many playable characters is totally a bad thing, but I don't think the argument is over that, it's over a return to multiple character options at all. Even in Forces, you still can't take Sonic and Avatar into each other's stages, and Shadow is only allowed in like three or four of Sonic's despite being a literal reskin.
My hope is that with Frontiers looking okay, the old "we need to get Sonic's gameplay right first" meme can actually come true. If they do what I'm suggesting and just make Tails and Knuckles variants on Sonic's existing stats without having overpowered unique abilities, they could comfortably slot into what we've already seen as DLC.
If we want to have them be even as different from Sonic as in the classic games, that takes more work, obviously. I have a suspicion that the "random Sonic objects placed on mostly-flat open world" look of Frontiers comes from it being a source of complaints during focus testing, and that were the next game to be designed as "an open world that plays like a Sonic level" from the start (rather than bland terrain shoehorned into playing like Sonic), it could have a more circuitous, labyrinthian design, kinda like the first Dark Souls. This would limit the areas that Sonic could travel on his own, and open up the possibility for characters with different mobility types to fill the gap. But it all depends on what the vision is and how they go about developing the followup.
Though all that said, even if every single character were a completely unaltered Sonic reskin, that would literally be enough for so many people just by virtue of them still having a reason to be in the game. Sonic Team could have been doing that this whole time, and I guarantee not nearly as many people would be complaining.
I am personally not against additional playable characters at all, and wouldn't mind them returning either. But Sonic Team have yet to actually figure out how exactly should they be implemented in an non-intrusive way. I sympathize with the people that just wanna play as their favorites, quality be damned, but just shoehorning them in with no rhyme or reason as to how they should play will just lead right back to people who aren't die hard fans to just start hating them and call for their removal again.
It was simple in the 2D games because you just had to take Sonic's base and slap a new ability on them and call it a day. That logic does not apply in 3D and there's just so much more you have accommodate for and not understanding that is part of the reason things got out of control as they kept adding more and more characters to the mix. Something had to give eventually. It's a logistics issue because there's only but so much time and resources you can devote to these kind of things.
I wouldn't mind them trying to experiment again in the future though, but they really need to start think about this type of stuff more than they have.
personally I'm fairly against other playable characters in Sonic games- rather, I feel it'd be wiser to hire another team and do character spinoffs. I'm not fully interested in playing Amy who just plays like a Sonic variant, like in Heroes- and making her more unique is more resources being used. Give her a mid-budget game by a hired external team though? Then you're free to make her as unique as you want.
Spin offs are basically the main way you're going to be seeing them used yea, as I would much rather the developers focus on the main games and making sure they're as well-developed as possible.
Sonic Team had a real nasty habit of making decisions that weren't feasible long-term, and constantly introducing a new character while still trying to keep all of the older ones was going to catch up eventually. Hilariously, it is in many ways similar what Pokemon is going through with having so many Mons that they simply cannot fit them all anymore and had to start cutting them, with...the expected reactions from the fanbase.
Eh. I don't think making alternate playable characters work in a 3d game like in S3K/Advance/Mania would be that hard. SRB2 did just that. It's just that for better or worse, ST prefers to include alternate play styles, so they use the secondary characters to do it. And after they removed those characters following the backlash, they kept doing it with alternate versions of Sonic (Werehog, Classic Sonic).
I'm not talking about fan mods, I'm talking about the official products that we get. And most fan mods suck anyway.
I don't even count Classic Sonic because that's still Sonic gameplay at the end of the day.
I always disagreed with the notion that 06 was some tragically-misunderstood game. It was just another jumbled mess of weird mechanics and bad level design, only way glitchier and more-unpolished than usual. Its "ambitions" were just scope creep (trying to maintain too many characters) and misguided trend chasing. I have no faith in the game being good even if it were properly finished—it's a mid-2000s Sonic Team project at the end of the day.
Videos like this take lots of unnecessary shots at those who dislike "ambitious" games like this. The notion that I want these guys to "give up" and "stop trying" is just absurd. I don't want them to give up and I do want them to try. I just want them to try and make a game I'll like.
I think two or three alternate takes on Sonic's main kit could add some great replay value, so I'm for alternate playable characters in the main games, but the way I would implement them probably wouldn't be super popular.
I think they should focus on newer characters instead of trying to make the entire backlog playable in every new game. I don't think Tails and Knuckles have abilities that translate over to 3D easily and I wonder if it would be worth it to come up with new abilities that suit the dimensional shift more and build characters around that. I also just would like the feeling that Sonic is a nomad that's constantly running into new people to return, and that can't happen if he's always hanging around the same group.
Character spinoffs are a fun idea but I've always wondered how successful that would be outside of characters that directly evoke sonic like Shadow. I guess if they went low budget it wouldn't matter too much.
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