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Sonic Team's message to the fanbase

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by SonikkuForever, Mar 28, 2009.

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  1. SonikkuForever


    Be cool, be wild, and be groovy! Member
    Gathering information on Sega World Sydney and collecting Sonic merchandise.
    I found this inspiring little article on The Sonic Stadium's blog and felt I had to share it with the Retro community. It was written by Dreadknux, and contemplates the meaning of Black Knight's storyline. Is Sonic Team trying to tell us something? Original article here.

    "A recent trend in Sonic games seems to be the increasing outreach to the online Sonic community, with today's Sonic Team no longer the closed in studio it once was. There have been some good throwbacks to past games before - Sonic Heroes was a mish-mash of both classic and modern gameplay, with Chaotix (minus Mighty) making a welcome return. But Sonic Chronicles on the Nintendo DS marked the first time SEGA were willing to stretch a hand towards the community in terms of a game's development.

    BioWare produced a pretty sweet fan service in general in Sonic Chronicles’ dialogue, story and impressive knowledge of lore/filling in the blanks. The cherry on the cake was the studio allowing the online community to name an alien race in the game. On the back of that success, Sonic Team seem to have taken futher steps, by including easter eggs in Sonic Unleashed in the hidden Dreamcast, and acknowledging the chilidog as Sonic's official favourite snack.

    The Japanese studio took another step with Sonic and the Black Knight, but it's more than the obvious. SEGA held a contest around the world to include some pieces of fan artwork into the latest Wii adventure. The result is an awesome set of slideshows that feature a bunch of American, European and Japanese work. Even the outcome of a discrepency in one of the European entries resulted in a fair and responsive reaction from ArchAngelUK, which really just adds to how far SEGA and Sonic Team are willing to go to put things right.

    But it's in other things as well. A lot of fans had lamented the lack of Crush 40 and Jun Senoue in their Sonic games, and while it never detracted from the sublime Sonic Unleashed soundtrack, many still felt like it had been too long between hearing that familiar guitar twang. As a result Crush 40 performed two tracks as if the game was canon, and invited Richard Jacques (Sonic 3D on the Saturn, Sonic R), Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim) and even Howard Drossin (Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3 & Knuckles) to complement them. If sat in a room together, it would provide the ultimate audio tag team for sure, and a testament to how far Sonic Team want to go to impress the fanbase.

    But dig deeper in Sonic and the Black Knight and you'll find some of the biggest reaching out to the fanbase is in the semantics of the entire story. In one of the final cutscenes, you see Merlina in a twisted, deformed state, trying to maintain the ‘perfect image’ of the land of Camelot. When Sonic confronts her, a trade-off reveals that generations before her failed to keep the peace, and without the intervention of the evil King Arthur, things would have fallen apart anyway given rivalries between the Knights.

    The only way to restore the land to a perfect kingdom for Merlina, is to recreate it in her (now jaded) image. Sonic jumps in and screams that nothing lasts forever, and questions the meaning of life if nothing ever changes. “Sounds pretty lame if you ask me”, he retorts.

    This moral not only speaks to the kids enjoying the game in a way that only an Aesop Fable can, but it also connects to the older players. Those who enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles on their Mega Drives as kids, but now only seem to react to modern games with a sneer. The jaded, older Sonic fan is Merlina, wanting to recreate Sonic in their vision - it might not always be distorted, but it's a natural reaction given that the comparable loss that the Sonic fan feels is in Sonic 06.

    Just as Merlina feels her past generation has failed her, and finds that she must think of her own way of reviving the land, so too must older Sonic fans feel that the old Sonic Team has failed in providing an enjoyable experience. While the quality of Sonic Heroes is debatable but forgiven due to the successes of the Adventure series, many fans feel that since SA2 it's been “all downhill from here”. It doesn't help that the ‘Knights of the Round Table’ in this case - Yuji Naka, Naoto Oshima and Hirokazu Yasuhara - all disbanded just as Lancelot, Galahad and Percival once did, leaving a struggling Sonic Team to cope with the demands of a next generation title with great expectations.

    As an older fan, playing through modern games can be a fun experience but that ultimate loss felt has a near-permanently negative impact - seen in various damning comments made against Sonic Unleashed (an altogether pretty good game, but game quality let it down in various departments). As a result, any future Sonic title - regardless of actual objective quality - will be seen with negativity and calls of “Sonic with a Sword? I can do better than that”.

    If any underlying message to fans is to be gleaned from this interpretation, it's certainly not one of deference, ignorance or “talk to the hand, because we're going to systematically ruin Sonic”. It is simply a plea of acceptance. The new Sonic Team know that they cannot recreate the ‘perfect’ life that the classic games (Camelot) once meant to you, but instead wishing for a return to the roots may cause more problems than it will solve. It's an offer by Sonic Team to make Sonic as interesting as possible, by attacking the perception of generic Sonic concepts that some may argue is held by classic fans.

    And if we look at recent games, you can see that - throwing gameplay and actual game quality out of the window - it's not been that bad. Sonic Unleashed provided an amazing plotline that, while Dark Gaia proved to be quite cheesy at the end, was made all the more enjoyable by the awesome intro sequence and the amusing introduction of Chip. Sonic Rush Adventure takes Sonic to a new world - certainly not the ‘Mobius’ many would like to see - but Marine is admirable, Blaze is still as cool as always and the premise for the handheld title remains the best in recent years.

    Sonic and the Black Knight, despite its actual gameplay, is not that bad a title in its mere concept either. Sonic with a Sword sounded like a bad idea at first (and we admit - and now retract - saying it was a totally crap idea) but in the confines of the Storybook universe - as a spinoff game, and as a premise in and of itself - it works perfectly well. The story is one that truly shines, especially since we're actually analysing it right now, while graphically and casually it's a game that you can really appreciate.

    However bad this appears to make the jaded, older fan be though, remember what happens at the very end of the game. Merlina is not persecuted and not totally destroyed by Sonic. Instead, she is comforted in her sadness and accepted as a friend. If we follow this idea that the older fan is Merlina here, this is Sonic Team's way of saying “You're not wrong for feeling bad about the series, you're not a real bad guy; a bad experience has simply taken you off the rails a little bit”. Sonic in this instance… well, it's open to interpretation, but I like to think it's the modern Sonic fan picking the classic fan up, dusting them off and saying “Hey, I know some games in the series have been crap, but it's not all bad. I don't hate you”. It's the perfect end to both Sonic and Merlina's relationship, as is the connection between classic and modern Sonic fan.

    On a personal level, I review Sonic games because I love Sonic the Hedgehog. I know that Sonic 06 was poor, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the latest releases with an open mind and a spring in my step. The dangers that I - along with many older fans - face is the possibility of believing that if we come across a poorly crafted Sonic game, that it means the series is declining into ruin. The danger of the modern fan, who frequently argues with the jaded fan to the point where flamewars escalate, is in becoming overly defensive and denying the success of “Camelot”.

    And in this, Black Knight gives us the greatest moral of all - although as a gaming experience it leaves a lot to be desired, in its story it's truly one of the biggest message Sonic Team has ever made to its fanbase."

  2. corneliab


    Isn't it about time you played some VIDEOGAMES? Member
    Zero Mortals
    That guy sure wasted his time.
  3. Cap


    The recent chances are the result of a management change. Sega are heading Sonic in a new direction, just as they did when Sonic Adventure first came out. The chili dogs, new gameplay. Reduction on the character front.

    I personally think this guy looked into things too much. The end of the story made no sense whatsoever.
    I mean, wut. "I don't hate you" That makes no sense, nor is it relevant.

    What Sega are doing now is trying a new approach with the games. Before Sonic tended to take himself too seriously, with the dark Shadow the Hedgehog and over dramatic Sonic 06. Unleashed was more like the saturday morning cartoon thing. Something everyone could enjoy, like road runner and coyote. How doesn't like Road Runner and Coyote.

    I think we should all stop dwelling on the past, and instead look forward to what Sonic Team will bring us next. Whats next for the handhelds is my big question.
  4. biggestsonicfan


    Model2wannaB Tech Member
    ALWAYS Sonic the Fighters
    This topic needed a lot of spoiler tags. I had planned on opening and playing the game at one point, you know.
  5. Chimpo


    Atomic Sonic Part II
    This has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever read.

    I'm not jaded because the new games aren't Sonic 2. I'm jaded because the new games aren't good. The franchise has constantly tried to reinvent itself rather than try to fix itself. The games have become consistently broken after each release until recently where they just shove stupid ideas to make up for their incompetence

    Dreadknux is delusional and looking way too much into this.
  6. Vaiz


    I'm still here for some reason! Member
    First of all, that's reading way too far into the game. It's just a fucking derivative storyline written to make money.
    Second of all, even if it really was a 'message' of some sort, I'm sure I speak for at least a few of us when I say we have no problem accepting change to a certain extent. What we don't accept are shitty games, sonic regardless, which is what The Black Knight is :argh:.

    EDIT: And this is the part where I actually read Chimpo's post and realize he basically already said this, rendering my statements redundant. Oh well.
  7. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood

    Odd. I read that article then proceeded straight to here to find a new topic on it.

    This "message" is more bogus than the analyses we do of every other sentence in random books in English. Oh lookie, one guy drew an allegory! It must be true! Fact is, the overall story of SatBK is very shallow and generic. It means nothing.
  8. GeneHF


    SEGA-ier than you'll potentially ever be. Site Staff
    Scenic Studiopolis
    Complete Global Conquest
    I don't think Sonic Team cares that much about the fanbase's division. So long as they get their money, they couldn't care less. Welcome to Business 101.

    So yes, once again another person on a soapbox overthinking something way too much. The plot's summary is just the usual sugary feel good message. Jeez, it's like people are trying to make things out to be more complex than they really are.
  9. Phos


    Going for the high score on whatever that little b Member
    Ok, imagining for a moment that there is a message in SatBK, the only message of this type that I can imaging being there is "Quit your bitching and lower your standers". That makes no sense, so it's not the case.

    So basically, the same thing everyone else has said.

    But wait - was Dreadknux seriously impressed by Unleashed's plot?
  10. TSSZNews


    First @ Something or Other Misfit
    The Update Desk
    Occasional JOURNALISM
    The way I see it, Dread's trying to "make good" to the new generation fans who tore him to shreds when he wrote his SBK review. These are the same groups of fans who tore him to shreds again when he and other Stadium staffers lashed out against the original SBK announcement during the Summer. All those things would have been nice to note in his review, but instead, he chose a path that he prolly knew would get him lambasted by those fans.

    I can only say that my theory is just that, but I feel pretty confident in saying that's the only reason the article exists.
  11. That read like a last-minute, forced-to-turn-in freshman writing comp. essay. In fact...

    Page 2
    Page 3
    Page 4
    Page 5

    is as silly as saying

    EDIT: Aw, I forgot to mark him off for using "impressive knowledge" on page 1. Oh well.
  12. Jan Abaza

    Jan Abaza

    This. can anyone just write that. I mean...seriously. O_o
  13. OSM


    retro is for losers! Member
    Doing absolutely nothing
    This part confused the hell out of me. Either he was sarcastic or being completely serious.

    Either way, :argh:

    EDIT: lol K2J
  14. The Pulse

    The Pulse

    You people just can't accept the fact companies are run by people, and not greedy demons that eat crushed dreams and bathe in money.

    Existential readings aren't about what was intended. Its about what you can see in something, when you open your mind.
  15. Fixed! All Sonic songs mean something. For instance, Live & Learn is about Sega's departure from hardware, His World supposed to be interpreted ironically, and What I'm Made Of is about Sonic/Metal Sonic slash fiction.

    True story.
  16. RedStripedShoes


    And I'm gone again. Member
    You mean just like how people in these businesses can't accept the fact that their consumers are people, and not simply mindless dogs who will eat up anything they're shown?

    It's a two-way street.
  17. RandomAvatarFan


    Sonic Slide and Punch! Member
    Businesses are run by people so they can get money. No one said that the Sonic Team bathe in money.

    But that aside, where I live everyone is allowed to expression their opinions and to believe what they want, and if someone believes that Sonic and the Dark Knight is truly a message, let him think that and have him be happy.

    Personally, I've been hearing mixed messages about the "game quality" My older sister who grew up with Sonic 2 played "Unleashed" and she loves it. Yet a majority here on the forums hate it. I don't have anything newer than a ps1, my newest Sonic game is Sonic 3D blast for Genesis, I don't have an opinion on the quality of the new games besides from what I've heard.

    I do know for a fact, however, there is something quite off with
    He's contradicting himself.
    (Maybe contradicting isn't the right word...)
  18. corneliab


    Isn't it about time you played some VIDEOGAMES? Member
    Zero Mortals
    Um, what?
  19. NintendoBrad


    Yeah, the game isn't exactly universally liked, but the general consensus around here is that it's a solid game, at least from what I've observed.

    EDIT: Regarding the 360/PS3 version.
  20. GeneHF


    SEGA-ier than you'll potentially ever be. Site Staff
    Scenic Studiopolis
    Complete Global Conquest
    I must have missed the memo on that one... unless you mean the Wii/PS2 version. :specialed: Regardless, Retro's been much more positive about Unleashed than it has for Black Knight.
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