Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by DefinitiveDubs, Jun 8, 2023.
"I'm not referring to presentation"..."ok well maybe a litttttttttttttle bit"
I don’t think even the biggest Frontiers fans like the game because of the art direction (I’ll detach that from presentation as the game’s music is beloved and part of the “presentation”). I love the game but my number one peeve about it, besides the general janky feeling, is how the game looks.
Both Frontiers and Superstars seem equally generic for the style they’re going for, IMO. Frontiers went for the “post-BoTW open world” vibe and Superstars went for “family-friendly 2.5D platformer.” I think Superstars’ issues are a bit more egregious as 2D Sonic games always had very strong visual identities compared to their contemporaries. 3D Sonic never really had that outside maybe SA1 and Heroes.
The 90s era of Sonic (both classic and early modern) were heavily inspired by anime/comic influences, particularly 80s and 90s fantasy and shounen style titles. That's why Junio Sonic has remained such a popular style for a long time, even if it deviates from the rest of the games looks a bit, because it's distinctive, expressive, and has cool fluid movements and really captures the heart of the media that inspired Sonic Team in the first place. SA2 is when that feel started to disappear (though Shadow still screams "cool shounen rival"), and with Heroes, it transitioned into a more Nintendo-esque generic modern Mario vibe that's... not bad... but not nearly as distinctive. Just very standard merchandise marketing default look that you can safely (and cheaply) put on any item you want to sell.
Superstars blends that more generic merchandisable look with some of the classic aesthetic. It does a good job of blending them overall, but it's still not quite the same. The prologue animations are more expressive and unique, but the game visuals don't really reflect or match that art style, and that's obviously bothering some people here.
I still think this will be a beautiful game once we take it all in at 4K60FPS, but it seems 2D sprite Sonic may finally be a lost art outside of the fandom. There's no desire to ever fully return to it.
I wanna know where else the people saying this art style is generic can find games that look like Superstars because I see absolutely nothing that looks like it on HD consoles from the last 15 years. Everything is cel shaded or looks like clay or looks like cel shaded clay. Even Nintendo stuff doesn't look quite like it.
I like Superstars' style, but it's probably due to looking kinda like a lower budget version of the modern kirby stuff.
I think it looks pretty good, especially in motion (although I can't deny I wish the fidelity was higher - but that's not a reality we live in for this franchise. These are mid budget endeavors and I've accepted it), but anyway even though I like it, I can see where the generic complaints are coming from.
I still don't understand the generic complaints.
Now if you said it looks cheap, I'd be on the same wave length.
Regarding complaints about Superstars' graphics and comparisons to other games, I've personally seen some comparisons with Superstars to Sonic 4 Episode II, with the people making the comparisons believing Episode II looks better.
I'm split on that thought because I do think Episode II looks cleaner and more polished as a whole; but I also think Superstars easily clears it in terms of actually following the MD aesthetic. By that I'm not referring to the character designs--any complaints of a 2D Sonic game looking "generic" apply much more to Episode II than Superstars IMO.
Luckily for you, I think it looks pretty cheap too lol.
As for being generic, I think the posts from @charcoal and @HEDGESMFG capture my thoughts. The game just looks like a Kirby, NSMB, or something to me. Just simple, smoothed-out geometry with pretty standard level themings and no pizazz. The prologue we got was pretty slick but none of that style is present in the actual game.
You can put Sonic 1-3 and even the Advance and Rush games side-by-side with games released at the same time and see how unique and high-quality the art is. If you just showed someone an environmental asset in Superstars and one from another game, I doubt they’d be able to distinguish them. I don’t think that’s possible with any other 2D Sonic game.
Superstars isn't the most intensely rendered game ever, but that's fine. It's detailed where it counts, it's colorful, and is recognizably "Sonic". You can call it "cheap" if you want, but it's where reasonable production and decent art design intersect. It's the polar opposite of Frontiers, which is trying to impress with it's big open realistic environments, and can't sustain them. Going for rigorous graphical fidelity isn't just a fool's errand - it's killing the industry. When that bubble bursts, games like Superstars that stay in their lane are the ones that are going to survive, and I guarantee these visuals will have aged way better than Frontiers's will have ten years from now.
Definitely. My fiance looks at Frontiers and is like "what the hell is this game?", but when I showed her the trailer for Superstars she immediately says "oh, now THIS looks like a Sonic game."
Sonic Team really fail to give this series it's own visual identity. I think there's a QUOTE where they say that Frontiers has a more realistic art style to appeal to more people? But wouldn't the longterm solution be to me make this series stand out on its own so it can have an appeal like Mario, Animal Crossing, etc.?
I really just hope the next game is more visually appealing and has a more diverse range of locales. Spending hours on end in these desolate open environments is exhausting. Take a page from Mario Odyssey and make a bunch of smaller ones that are visually unique.
Worth noting that Star Allies (and possibly other Kirby Switch games but idk) uses Unity assets and materials. I think I heard something somewhere about Superstars potentially being developed in Unity.
I think Superstars has better art direction and goes more surreal with its environments, but 4 (both episodes but moreso II) has denser and more grounded environments (as in they look more like tangible places) compared to what we've seen of Superstars up to now imho (with the exception of Speed Jungle).
Nice to know that Fang goes for the head.
Love that they're running with the idea that Knuckles has moved the Master Emerald to the Adventure-era shrine between games - with Eggman, Heavy King and now Fang having all invaded Hidden Palace to steal it, no wonder he decided to relocate it...! Hopefully this is indicative that the strict divide of classic/modern elements we've had in recent years is being relaxed a bit - I'd love to see Fang turn up in a modern-era game to go toe-to-toe with Knuckles and Rouge one day.
Also, Fang ambushing Knuckles while he's carrying the Emerald through the jungle feels like a nice nod back to Mania Adventures, which also had him doing that. Even though the events of it can't really coexist with Encore Mode, it's a fun series and so nice to see it referenced in some small way. = )
I think that whole sequence is also meant to be reference to the places on Angel Island where the Master Emerald has been to: Hidden Palace as its original resting place, Angel Island Zone when returned by Sonic in the true ending of 3 & Knuckles and then the outdoor shrine from Adventure onwards.
While I don't like how Sonic 4: Episode II looked, I do think that it just happened to have a stand-out opening stage. A pleasant color palette with lighting that helps build a unique mood.
In all other regards, I do not like the game's visuals much at all.
I think Superstars looks good but it's so slightly off. Someone with better technical knowledge might be able to explain it better than I can, but something about the lighting feels a bit unnatural, with the brights being too bright and with the darker shades not being distinct enough.
I think Sonic can find a balance between looking generic (Superstars) and looking extremely out of place (Frontiers).
But as mentioned, the series just kind of abandoned its visual identity a long time ago and just started to ape whatever was popular in other franchises at the time.
I would say between this game and Frontiers, I'd prefer Superstars, but neither feel ideal as a central visual identity for Sonic imo.
They called him a sniper for a reason.
Superstars at least looks less generic than, say, New Super Mario Bros. With the NSMB games I'd be willing to bet after like one or two games they barely even needed to consult any artists. Here with Superstars you can tell that Oshima was involved in designing the overall look of the game.
So long as the music is bopping (which it seems to be!) I think it'll be a fun ride.
Sadly, that's barely a compliment as NSMB is so bland it's one of the reasons I've never really replayed 2D Mario titles released after 2006 even if I think they have a great gameplay engine. The utterly bland, uniform generic visuals and repetitive music absolutely rob the viewer of a more vibrant experience. Hell, I feel this way about a lot of 2D Mario in general. It's why I always vastly prefer Sonic. Mario games are indeed good 'games', and that does matter... but Sonic had fun gameplay and felt like an interactive, living Saturday morning cartoon every step of the way back in the 90s.
Ironically, it was more of an early 90s/80s anime, compard to say, western Sonic material, but the point still stands. All the NSMB games look... good. But none of them are distinctively 'memorable'. Super Mario Wonder may end up being the vivid revival that IP needs, while Sonic Superstars brings the brand back to a solid foundation, but will it be truly an eternally memorable experience for people?
I don't know. I think it will be solid fun and "good looking", at least. And it does have the potential to be great and inspiring. I'm just taking a wait and see approach, and none of the levels have visually gripped me just quite yet. I'm optimistic about the game, just cautiously so.
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