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Sonic Frontiers Thread - PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by MykonosFan, May 27, 2021.

  1. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Yeah, it was a big problem in Adventure 1. Things got slightly better in Adventure 2 largely because the rivals did somewhat speak to each other as rivals. But still had many problems.

    It wasn't really until Pontac and Graff that the writing approached anything near professional in terms of the quality of the written dialogue. Flynn's writing is still superior to anything Sonic Team themselves have written. He's clearly very good at coming up with good concepts for a story. They were just not well realised in Frontiers.
  2. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    Sonic was best when he didn't talk because dear lord these arguments about who was the better/worse writer make me wince
  3. SuperSnoopy


    I like Sonic Advance Member
    Lyon, France
    Improving my art and studying Japanese
    I realised I might've been a little bit too toxic in my initial post, and I was editing it to reflect that. And then my browser crashed.
    So instead I'll reply to you, but I pretty much wanted to edit my original post to say it :V

    First of all, I think it's important to say I do not hate Pontac and Graff; I'm a huge fan of their work on Happy Tree Friends. These guys are professional, they know what they're doing.
    And I will agree with you from Colours onwards, the characters, in English, started acting like actual people. However, I don't think the problem with the old games was the exposition dumping more than the abhorrent localisation, coupled with the subpart voice acting (imo!)
    Adventure 2 in Japanese has my favourite plot of the entire series, it's barely coherent at time in English. lol
    Going from this to a script written by Americain writers specialised in writing cartoon characters probably felt like a huge improvement, but...they've said it themselves; they don't know anything about Sonic.
    Putting aside the quality of the writing, seeing the characters I grew up adoring acting like completely different people just made me sad and miserable, lol. Kinda ironic for such a lighthearted plot!
    Generations was whatever, and Lost World and Forces were definitely...better?
    But the thing is, and I know it's purely personal opinions here, I do not think their jokes were actually funny. Like, the actual funny thing here is how aggressively shitty most of their attempts at humour was lol, I guess they're great at writing hilarious body horror but fall flat when it comes to writing actual one liners. idk.
    And if you don't like their jokes...what's left? They're a one trick pony, that's all they have.

    To answer your post more directly, I don't agree that it's unfair to say the plot is better simply because the characters are written, well, in-character. Isn't that the most important thing for long running series?
    People complained about The Book of Boba Fett because the main character was acting nothing like his old self in this series, despite the dialogue itself being pretty decent. Are these not valid complains?

    No, I don't think the plot is perfect, far from it. Yes, it suffers from massive exposition dumps; I'm not trying to imply it's elegantly written.
    But yes, I do think it's better than anything we've gotten these past 14 years because the characters are acting the way they're supposed to again. Because there's an actual plot this time around.
    And, imo, these are valid reasons for preferring it over the Pontac and Graff stuff.

    (Yep, that's yet another cringy essay about Pontac and Graff! No, you don't have to read all of it! I just like discussing Sonic stuff :V)
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2022
  4. For a series like Sonic, I feel characterization matters more than the plot itself. The plots of these games are honestly pretty unremarkable. At its core, its a Good vs. Evil story in the end.

    Its the characters that carry these stories, so if you fail on that, you're gonna have a hard time enticing the fans of these characters.

    Sonic Adventure 2's plot is honestly stupid as hell. But who gives a fuck, it has cool rival battles between Sonic and Shadow.

    Its why I feel like the idea of streamlining and simplifying the plots when Pontaff came on wasn't inherently bad. If the characterization was better, it'd probably be more ideal for the series than attempting an in-depth plot but be kind of shit at it.

    Ita why Black Knight is my personal fave. Stakes are low, but the characterization is on point
  5. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Nah I like reading your posts @SuperSnoopy.

    I will say that Frontiers has good concepts and tries to tackle themes. I think it does a poor job of doing so, which is frustrating, but I think it could easily be a problem of writing for an open world game. I've been careful not to slam Flynn as a writer and do the inverse of what many Pontac and Graff detractors do. I'm sure he's talented and thinking about the potential his concepts had, I can understand why he has a cult following.
  6. Wraith


    I wonder what one does from the position of writer when a third of the game has to be cut? Adapting to a change like that can't be easy.

    I extend the same grace to Pontaff. A lot of problems just come from Sonic Team's narrative design not being up to snuff. These games have to be planned and built with narrative in mind. It's not all on the writing team.
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  7. Starduster


    Sonic Retro's resident IDW slut Member
    Art...always art...
    Honestly I think Pontac and Graff had their moments, particularly in Colours. Those PA lines in particular are brilliant and perhaps codify Eggman’s personality a lot more than we give them credit for, since he didn’t have much of a sense of humour before Colours, let alone one so soaked in black comedy as what he has now. I’d say Flynn’s writing in Archie also played a part in this, but I largely didn’t read those comics at the time they came out so I don’t know how one developed in relation to the other.

    I also wouldn’t say that what they wrote was entirely devoid of character. To be frank, the comedy they pitched just wouldn’t work if that were the case. With that said, I do feel the characters became quite superficial under their pen, an issue compounded by plots sidelining characters like Tails and ignoring previous character development in the process (I’d attribute the blame for this to SEGA, given that they ultimately gave the plot outlines). I don’t think that they the frauds some others seem to view them as but I also understand and empathise with a lot of the dissatisfaction their contributions to the franchise caused.

    Frontiers is not the best showing for Flynn. Whether or not that’s due in part or in whole to factors outside of his control is something I can’t say with any authority, but the final product doesn’t quite measure up to his work on the comics. Despite this, I strongly believe that Ian has given these characters the most depth they’ve had in years, maybe in the franchise’s existence. Each character displays various facets of their personality which stem from consistent motivations and perspectives that not only flesh them out in a vacuum, but paint their interactions with others in a way that I just don’t feel was there particularly towards the end of Pontac and Graff’s run. Sonic Forces is particularly bad with this (though I believe only one half of the duo contributed?), with dialogue that could large be executed to the same effect with any combination of characters in a way that would just break Frontiers’ writing.
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  8. kyasarintsu


    Been exploring Chaos Island. Further thoughts:
    • Some of the recent cyberspace stages are an interesting change of pace from the usual but still have some problems, like the drifting feeling really bad. I think the biggest problem with Cyberspace is that they feel short despite their speed, not because of it. If I were blitzing through these areas at high speeds and had a quick little roller coaster it would be one thing, but as these are now they're just mostly-automated platforming segments with tons of homing attack chains, tons of springs, tons of grind rails, and tons of boost pads. And in all of this, it feels like I'm not even moving fast unless I'm doing that one exploit that cancels homing attacks with a boost—which is not only clearly not intended but too unwieldy to be of regular use.
    • The constant forced 2D sections are pretty bad, yeah. For clarity's sake I understand why they're here (they make vertical climbing easier) but it's too easy to accidentally wander into one of these things with no quick way out.
    • I made my way up that long vertical climb and got a Chaos Emerald. Then I had to deal with the island's titan introduction sequence, which I honestly found kinda frustrating and died a lot on. And now that that's over, I'll have to climb allllll the way back up there and talk to an NPC I missed. Annoying.
    • I think that my ultimate issue with the controls is one of trust, as the rules are either inconsistent or constantly changing. Why does Sonic's speed fluctuate so much? Why does the game sometimes make me stick to the terrain and at other times let me launch off as expected? Why do tiny little rocks in the ground send me flying into the stratosphere, disrupting my combat and Cylooping? Why does wall clinging feel so completely random with whether it works? Why do some maneuvers let me carry speed into the air when a regular jump doesn't? Why does Sonic's air control range from stiff to super-twitchy? Why is the homing attack this inconsistent? Why do my combat buttons seem to just literally not do anything (no response from Sonic) when I'm fighting certain enemies?
    • I still don't like the super-genius Tails. I don't like listening to him spew out some convoluted techno-babble to me. I don't think he needed to be elevated to godhood like that. He's basically just Eggman minus any of the character flaws.
    • I think Sonic's interactions with Sage and Knuckles are interesting, but the rest of the conversations bore me.
    • The terrain is just not very interesting here compared to the previous island. Kronos was pretty basic but at least looked pretty and had an atmosphere I enjoyed. Ares had some areas I really enjoyed, like the tunnels and the crevasses. Chaos Island just feels awkward in every sense.
  9. corneliab


    Isn't it about time you played some VIDEOGAMES? Member
    Zero Mortals
    Frontiers is the first time since the Adventures (specifically when I first played them as a kid) that I'm happy with the voice direction and writing of a Sonic game. It's been a horribly long-time coming to get here, and I disliked virtually everything about the last decade of games on those fronts (Eggman aside). Feels like I actually have a good reason to be optimistic about these things going forward, provided they keep Flynn around.
  10. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    See I think this point is very valid but also very complicated. Frontier's definite strength over Pontac and Graff's writing is that it is much stronger conceptually.

    I like that Amy wants to have a more mature understanding of love, Knuckles wants to come to terms with his lonliness and find comfort in his friendship with others, and that Tails has insecurities about his inconsistencies. It's all very good stuff and I like that each of the characters' arcs are tied to a Koco in the world.

    I just think it's blown. For a start because most character interactions are mostly exposition about the island or even what the player should be doing. But even above that, the implications of the arcs aren't often drawn out. Amy's story builds up to her seeing true genuine love which triggers her changed attitude. But it just kind of ends then. No real resolution or reflection. I mean there is a resolution. She says she'll show true love. But the fact she learns true love from seeing the Ancients' reuniting isn't clearly conveyed or reflected upon. And I think this problem plagues all of the arcs in the game.

    Sage's arc is very confused and poorly written, to such an extent I think it's very possible that the game's rushed development is mostly to blame.
  11. Snub-n0zeMunkey


    yo what up Member
    I didn't really have a problem with any of the dialogue tbh and I've also really come around on the voice acting. I think Sonic's voice just took some getting used to.

    I think Tails' technobabble is probably a bit much, every time he has to explain something in smartguy language it reminds me of this meme lol
  12. Starduster


    Sonic Retro's resident IDW slut Member
    Art...always art...
    Yeah, I can agree with that, and maybe I’m just splitting hairs at this point, but I’d argue it’s not so much an issue with the actual character writing so much as the game not providing more of it, insofar as what we get is good when we’re getting it, but there are instances where it’s either rushed or not quite taken to the finish line. KingK’s video, for all its faults, does state this eloquently in that the cutscenes just aren’t given the room they need to breathe most of the time. The execution stumbles because a lot of what’s happening is better suited to a slow burn.

    With the established characters, I feel like there’s a bit of a catch 22 in that Ian has been writing them in the comics for almost two decades and given them better characterisation than the games proper have. Unfortunately, not everyone reads the comics so going to this from Forces is quite jarring, I’m sure. At the same time, this is what people wanted Ian in the role for, and why should he limit himself from writing the characters in any way other than the one he’s used to and that he knows works?

    With Sage, things are more straightforward. Plain and simple, the foundation for her development isn’t thorough enough. We know why she is the way she is through dialogue, but the game doesn’t provide the opportunity for the emotional basis of this to really come through, so it ends up being largely informed. + - Basically, we really needed scenes of Eggman and Sage doing stuff other than talking about cyberspace and how to get out in order to sell the emotional hook of their dynamic. In particular, we needed to see more of Eggman’s developing fondness of Sage, not just for her ability, but for her personality, which would in turn reinforce why keeping Eggman safe is more than just a piece of code for her.  
  13. This is the biggest thing to me; these stories are simply not written with narrative in mind, but gameplay. So depending on when the script was written, and what changes happen in development, it can drastically alter the direction of the plot.

    One notable instance is when Shadow's intial designs made him look more like Sonic than his final design, so the doppelganger storyline made sense.

    But because they changed Shadow's design after the script was finished, the plot point barely makes sense now.
  14. kyasarintsu


    One thing I don't think I've mentioned is that I actually really like how the game opens up. I love somber, moody tones. I like how foreign everything feels. I like how quiet and sad the environment feels. I know the art design is controversial but this is something I like a lot about this game.
  15. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    Conversely, this is one of my biggest complaints about it - I play video games as an escape, real life is dreary and depressing enough without it being injected into a game starring brightly-coloured anthropomorphic animals. A large reason why I preferred Pontac and Graff's writing to the 00s before it.
  16. Sonic's just never going to satisfy everyone at this rate is it?

    If its lighthearted, there are complaints its not dark enough.

    If its too dark, there are complaints its too melodramatic.

    So the solution is to just cancel the whole fucking series. Nobody gets what they want, burn it all.
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  17. jubbalub


    Sonic Mania fanboy Member
    Sonic Mania: The Misfits Pack, The Binding of Isaac: Deliverance
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2022
  18. Sneekie


    Those exact kind of details are in the Egg Memos, actually. Things like Eggman laughing at a joke Sage told, slowly seeing her as a person than a program, relating her to Maria which itself reveals insight about Eggman we never seen before...

    Things you can't really tell in the story itself for various reasons. But I still think the skeleton of this development is more than present enough in the plot, albeit more heavily on Sage's end.
  19. I like Eggman and Sage's dynamic conceptually, but in execution its lacking.

    If you want the audience to buy into their relationship, don't put of said relationship into content that can be easily missed.
  20. foXcollr


    Previously 'Hanging Waters' Member
    Iirc didn't Flynn say the broader concepts for Frontier's story were laid out by SEGA, he just wrote for the characters?

    Also one thing I have to say about Frontiers is Tails still has some of that tropiness he's had for a while, and I kinda wish they'd go beyond that with his character. I've grown tired of the "Tails says 'big' and unnecessary words so you know he's smart" gag that comes up all the time in virtually every piece of media, and of course he does it again in Frontiers. And Sonic says the "I didn't understand any of that" line.

    It's just kinda one of those tropes I wish would end, it happens in so much all ages / kid-friendly media and it usually just makes me cringe because none of the "big" 2-3 syllable words they say make much sense. They never really do any world-building or establish any systems, so the random technical-jargon words they throw in are just nonsensical. There are some anime where I feel like they do it well, or they avoid the issue by choosing words that genuinely make sense and not being so hyperbolic. Not a fan of it here tho. Kind of a nitpick, but I just went into the game hoping Tails wouldn't do that lol

    Edit: I had this post written on my phone without refreshing the page and looks like people beat me to the same point in the meantime LOL

    Also, nuance exists. The 3 options aren't "goofy baldy mcnosehair emoji movie haha", "sonic kisses a human and the koroks fucking die", and "cancel the series". There are more options. I think Sonic fans sometimes get too wrapped up in this "wow they'll never satisfy anybody" thing, you'd be surprised how many people will open up to something they didn't want as long as it's executed well. Frontiers is a good example; Sonic fans aren't unsatisfiable, there are so many people who picked up Frontiers and liked it even though they wanted something different.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2022