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Sonic in the 2010s.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Sonic5993, Jun 14, 2024.

  1. Stink Terios

    Stink Terios

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    People that think "Meta era" is a bad term don't understand what "meta" means at all, thinking it means the same as "meta humor".

    Sonic 4, Generations, Lost World, Mania and Forces are all metareferential to various degrees, with Generations being the most (literally all old levels) and Lost World arguably the least. Colors is the one that breaks the pattern!
     
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  2. Meta in what sense tho? Itself?
     
  3. Stink Terios

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    Well, yes. Most of the meta era games focus on material from the franchise itself instead of bringing in new ideas. Four games with GHZ, classic sonic coming back, etc. Meta humor doesn't define this period, but it's constant self-reference does. And it's not even over, but we're out of the 2010s :V
     
  4. Palas

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    Even Sonic Simulator bringing back kinda obscure level layouts shows a certain degree of brand self consciousness that feels different from the way Sonic games would reference past ones before (which basically amounted to Green Hill or music callbacks that didn't happen because the brand was self-referencing, exactly).

    From 2008 on, more or less, Sonic did start acknowledging its own history and heritage, and incorporating it in itself. From the very idea of a "classic Sonic" becoming official to the "signposts amd big rings" joke, it's actually not that common for a fictional game world to acknowledge some of its elements are abstractions that only have meaning to an external agent. Think about it. When Mario lampshades its own game syntax, it normally still treats its elements as things that have meaning for the characters in that world, or is addressing the player very directly (think the Paper Mario quote that I think @charcoal used to use in the signature I think).

    The meta humor is a symptom of the commentary some elements in Sonic make of themselves and their history as a game. It's not full blown of course (Classic Sonic is still "younger Sonic"), but it's definitely something that wasn't always there.
     
  5. Snub-n0zeMunkey

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    yeah but let's be real, when most sonic fans talk about the "meta era" they're usually talking about the writing or they conflate the term with extraneous media like the Sonic social accounts being "too self-deprecating".

    I kind of think it's a bit silly when Sonic fans complain that a popular youtuber is being too mean to Sonic, but then I found out that the reason vocal themes were mostly absent was because it was requested by SEGA of America
    upload_2024-6-14_23-39-52.jpeg
    The idea that "youtubers and reviewers are responsible for making sonic boring in the 2010's" sounds like a crackpot conspiracy theory until you find out that it might actually hold some weight lol.

    I think some younger people are looking back at the 2000's a bit too fondly, Black Knight and '06 are really not the underrated gems people think they are. They were bad games then and continue to still be bad.
     
  6. I feel like the self-referencing was mostly a cost cutting measure after a while. It's a lot easier to reuse older assets than coming up with entire new ones.
     
  7. Jaxer

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    You want to talk about the overuse of Green Hill and how "meta" it is?

    Green Hill is a secret unlockable level in Sonic Adventure 2 from 2001, and not only is it almost a 1:1 3D recreation of Sonic 1's GHZ1, it also doesn't even try to translate the level's visual elements to fit SA2's artstyle. Instead, all of the terrain, foliage, enemies and textures were deliberately made to look as close to the original 16-bit game as possible.

    Is this not "meta" as hell, or does that word only apply to games you either don't like or did not play as a kid?
     
  8. Stink Terios

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    Of course it's meta, it's just not part of a decade+ pattern of reused content.
     
  9. Jaxer

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    How about all SA1 levels being parallels to S3&K levels? Or the second 3D Sonic game ending on a deadly space station, just like the second 2D Sonic game? How about Sonic Heroes being initially conceptualized as an excuse to reintroduce obscure characters? ShTH bringing back almost all of SA2's level themes? '06's levels all being parallels to SA1 levels? Riders Zero Gravity having a whole course themed after real promotional Sonic material from the 90s? All of Black Knight being just a lie that Sonic came up with to justify its weird premise?

    It's a decade+ pattern alright. In fact, this pattern has existed since this series' beginning.
     
  10. Palas

    Palas

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    Most of these examples are fairly weak though. Themes, places and characters making a comeback don't at all mean a consciousness of the franchise as a product incorporated as language. Besides the example from Zero Gravity, they are on a completely different level from, for example, Sonic 4 breaking the previously established notion that all in-universe evolution was natural. What makes Sonic 4 "meta" is not even that it reuses tropes from the first games, but the fact that it's entirely predicated on the idea that there was some sort of conceptual gap between the Mega Drive titles and the Dreamcast titles. This notion only exists in our world, and never existed before because Sonic Adventure was made and seen as a natural sequel to the Mega Drive games. So the reason why Generations makes callbacks isn't the same reason why Sonic Pocket Adventure makes callbacks.

    SA2's Green Hill can absolutely be considered a meditation on the differences between 2D and 3D in all respects, and a testament to everything the series went through. But it's also a very secret unlockable, for which you have to basically 100% the game, and so it's expressed as something "outside" the game. Self-awareness has always existed, sure. I can be convinced of the contrary, but right now I don't think the way it's codified is the same that started around that time, to varying degrees.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2024
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  11. KaiGCS

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    This is pretty much how I feel about it, too. It had its ups and downs like any other period, but the fruits we're enjoying now were harvested by all the good work Sonic did to recover itself and put a better foot forward in the 2010s.

    EDIT: And my problem with the term "meta era," aside from how corrupted it's been by people using it in extremely bad faith to tear down things and people they don't like for years on end, is that it conveniently excludes the game I think actually kicked off everything that defined the next decade of 3D Sonic games, that being Unleashed.

    So I'll always stand by "boost era" as the better term, if we absolutely have to sequester off sections of the Sonic chronology like this. At least it's a term that actually comes from the games it represents, and speaking of, I always hated the term "dark age" for all the same reasons.
     
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  12. Battons

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    The series itself was kinda boring after 2013 because all content around sonic just dropped off the face of the earth unless you liked Archie or boom. So I mostly stuck around and lurked because rom hacks had a huge boom in that area as well as the memes that were around made being a fan kinda fun again. This was THE era where you just had to be there as a sonic fan. So many of the fan communities were fun to be in and a lot of the mass picking-on Sonic fans stopped.
    Best I can say is that the era was great, not perfect but no era has been so far. 2020s are shaping up to be pretty good too.
     
  13. MH MD

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    Except it’s not.
    Amy thinks Sonic made that excuse to ignore his date with her, but the implication was not that he actually made it all up, he just got isekai’d like Secret Rings
     
  14. Deep Dive Devin

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    This all seems like a big stretch to recuperate a term that I'm pretty sure was just made up to get salty about "it's been Generations since I've seen you" (didn't it start with some youtube content slop producer anyway?), but even if I accept it as true (which I definitely won't, people for years have been saying Mania doesn't count as a "Meta era game" because they like it better), those parameters are still way too porous to really define much of anything. The amount of examples of Sonic referencing its own legacy as a franchise is pervasive enough and subjective enough to cover every decade of the series, and even if it wasn't, it would still be a really dumb way to define the 2010s, both because every franchise likes navel-gazing at some point, and because those traits haven't left this series at all. Frontiers certainly fits the bill and Sonic X Shadow's Oiled-up Twerk-off Generations isn't even out yet, and if you let me bullshit as hard as people do for Lost World I could probably come up with a reason that Superstars and Dream Team count too. I feel like if you want to call a game released between 2010 and 2020 uncreative, just call it uncreative instead of trying to construct some pattern of behavior localized entirely within your kitchen a specific set of a few years.

    Also, like, I feel like every previous name for an era has at least something to do with gameplay? And that should probably be relevant when this one demonstrably does not. I suggested going with something like "platform era" a while back, because both halves of the 2000s distinguished themselves by having Sonic and friends do a whole lot of stuff other than platforming, and the 2010s were a definite return to form in that regard, minus maybe Rise of Lyric's beat-em-up gameplay.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2024
  15. KaiGCS

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    I'm pretty sure it was made up because Aaron Webber was using the official Twitter account to "shit all over" (by which I mean "make extremely benign references to") Sonic 06.

    And yeah, even the YouTuber who came up with the term regrets it now for the negative impact it's had, and wishes people would just judge individual games on their own merits.
     
  16. HEDGESMFG

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    Honestly, I don't say this lightly, but the Sonic fandom has endured more verbal abuse than almost any other, so seeing the brand surge now, with even many of the lesser liked titles being celebrated for things people love about them, gives me some sincere joy. I may consider 06 an awful game, but even back then I knew there were good things about it (I liked a lot of ideas in 06's plot, namely stuff from Shadow's campaign), so seeing titles like Project 06 surge makes me happy. The most awful parts of the franchise are getting a second look now...

    ...and they're still not good, but people are more supportive of one another's tastes in this fandom. There's still online toxicity, but the nature of it has changed to be more interfactional conflicts, less outright mockery for enjoying the brand at all.

    It's normal now to be a modern sonic fan. A classic fan. A shadow fan. Even a fan of something like the boom cartoon. I can objectively talk about the good and bad in everything and not get socially ostracized now. Sonic's "buttrock" music ended up being generationally acclaimed for a lot of people and does insanely well in their tours, and the rest of the music in the franchise is rightly hailed as some of the best of the industry, in all eras. Instead, I find myself having to talk to 'other' younger people about Sonic stuff to keep up with their interests, which is hilariously ironic to me, but welcomed.

    Edit: Okay, except for Sonic 4 Episode I and the Boom game. And maybe Labyrinth. No one defends those. I'll somewhat defend Ep II as lost potential that the fans should try to fix one day... but not those.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2024
  17. The turning point was definitely the first movie trailer and the subsequent reactions to it. That was probably the first time, in a long time, where everyone was united about Sonic, both in and out of the fanbase. Even the most ardent Sonic haters had to admit that first design was ass and needed to be changed.


    It was the first biggest sign that, despite everything this franchise has been through, it still held enough fondness that people didn't wanna see it mistreated on such a massive scale.

    And I think that was Sega's wake up call to realize that this franchise still matters to people and that they want to see it succeed. Its no coincidence that they started suddenly pushing the brand again after the movie dropped.


    More importantly, they're finally putting content out for multiple demographics. If you're a modern fan and hate Classic, you got Frontiers, Dream Team, and Shadow Generations.

    If you're a Classic fan and hate Modern, you got Origins, and Superstars. There are comics focused on both sides.


    I still think the games aren't particularly at a level I want them to be, but everyone else seems happy atm.
     
  18. HEDGESMFG

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    I agree that this was a turning point, though for me I'd define it as the moment the film came out and was actually successful. One of my last pre-pandemic memories was seeing it in theaters, and seeing how excited young kids got about the tails cameo at the end. That felt like a realization that the brand would survive beyond all of our internet cynicism, as Tails was 'my' childhood favorite character back in the 90s too.

    And the film isn't even that good, honestly. It's passable family entertainment with one really big celeb casting that carries it hard (Jim Carrey), but it turns out the Sonic name alone could carry it way further than I expected, along with some good will from SEGA fixing the design.
     
  19. Wraith

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    In hindsight it's a big 'mask off' moment for me. Sonic Team dropped all the gimmicks and flash, all the narrative ambitions and cinematic flourish, only to reveal that their core gameplay is dry, unseasoned baked chicken. Just homing attack chains and boost pads all the way down. Generations felt like there were sparks of life somewhere in there with a new emphasis on thoughtful level design but that went right back out the window with Lost World and solidified itself as dead with Forces.

    One of the chief complaints with the 2000s was Sonic jumping on any bandwagon that he could catch in time at the expense of gameplay integrity. I'd argue that that's still largely true in 2010. They've just turned inward toward their surviving 90s peers for guidence which might be an improvement for some, but flow destroying Mario Galaxy style power ups and poorly implemented spherewalking just read like the same cry for help in a different skin.

    I think the thing that really bothers me about these games is that I still don't feel a really strong urge to return to them like I do early Sonic games, so even though they're "technically" better than Unleashed or Secret Rings how much better is that really? Are they better in ways that are notable to anyone who's not a Sonic fan? Counting every small step toward an actually good Sonic game they make through increasingly wide release dates is a pretty misrable way to be. I'd rather just play a game that feels complete instead.

    I'm not even sure why people think it's a step up of quality from the previous era,. If we make it a point not to sidestep titles that were marketed, budgeted and positioned as main games that aren't convenient for us, what are we left with?

    Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
    Sonic Colors
    Sonic Generations
    Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2
    Sonic Lost World
    Sonic Boom: The Rise of Lyric
    Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal
    Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice
    Sonic Mania
    Sonic Forces


    This is a pretty fucking lame track record, and would be considered a low point for any other series. Letting in spinoffs like Transformed also necessitates letting in spinoffs like Free Riders as if some divine equilibrium must drive this series.

    I'm not happy with it. I wasn't happy with it at the time as a young fan who mostly accepted 3D Sonic as an excuse to engage with the characters, and I wasn't happy as I grew older and my ludo-palette expanded. There were simply better 'arcadey' platformers everywhere you looked, from major publishers like Nintendo and Ubisoft to indies, to Sonic Team's own back catalogue that these games are keen to constantly remind you of. It simply did not make sense to market Sonic on it's gameplay with gameplay that was still this unremarkable. The Dark Age's shlocky shonen anime angle at least meant younger fans could enjoy the series on that level. That's a microscopic niche compared to the classic era but it's still something. I'm not sure what the majority of this list has to offer anyone, if I'm being frank.

    The bright spot, of course, was Mania. I was fired up for a leg of the Sonic series that was uniquely focused on iterating on the classic formula, with it's killer combo of excellent movement and dense level design. 3D Sonic only ever sticks the landing on one part of that equation if it sticks the landing at all. the 2000s admittedly just don't have a Sonic Mania, so I could see the case for this decade over it for that alone, but I find it tiring and kinda pointless to discuss after that. There simply aren't many mechanically remarkable games here no matter what side of the fence you're on.



    Every Sonic game is a platformer. Even the "genre roulette" games are usually based off of other flavors of platformer like collectathon or action platformers. "Platformer era" doesn't make much sense under scrutiny. It's not distinct enough.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2024
  20. Deep Dive Devin

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    You've told me this before, I just think that specifying one decade as "more platformy" than the one that came before is at least something, which is better than "meta era" by default. "Adventure" and "Dark Age" don't exactly describe the 2000s whether you split it in half or not, since "Adventure" describes a maximum of four games and "Dark Age" leaves out anything that's actually good. The 2010s games all follow the lead of Unleashed, which is 3/4 beat-em-up, 1/8 2D platforming and 1/8 3D...survival racing game with a jump button, I guess? But they get rid of all the ways it drags things out or distracts you. "Purity era"? Sounds pretentious. "Decent pacing era"? That one might work for me, since the way Heroes-Unleashed artificially extended their story campaigns by making you fuck around a bunch is mostly gone in the 2010s (Shattered Crystal notwithstanding), but it's not exactly a punchy name.