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Sonic's character design and aesthetic

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by High Fidelity, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. I hope it's not! I think it's time to move on from modern Sonic, he's starting to look dated. I'd like to see a more daring game to really make an impact!
     
  2. Endgame

    Endgame

    Formerly The Growler Member
    They already tried that. We got Sonic Boom.
     
  3. No that's not what I mean at all! There was nothing daring or visionary at all about boom. My vision for a 'modern' Sonic is to take the best of the 90's (Japanese) art style, add great graphic design (when's the last time we've seen strong graphic design in a Sonic game?) and turn it all into an psychedelic neon future retina burning paradise. I have the vision in my head. It's amazing. None of this adventure/uncharted influenced bullshit. Really bold and hard hitting design. The Japanese really nailed it in the 90s, especially with their take on UK rave culture with CD.
     
  4. VectorCNC

    VectorCNC

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    Seconded.
     
  5. TheKazeblade

    TheKazeblade

    "Our Life is More than a Side-Effect" Member
    That's one thing that the Classics (even post-classic era I would say up to Fighters, R and Jam) had that Sonic Team has gotten so wrong since Adventure. Strong, iconic UI and graphic design. The fact everything was so uniformly following a neo-Art Deco theme with hints of psychodelic and post-modernism in the Genesis titles despite hardware limitations of the 16-bit era is freaking impressive. But then with Adventure, despite promotional art that would totally benefit from that kind of art combination, we got sterile gradients and tech-inspired fonts (and so much Comic Sans, still can't wrap my mind around that) that were so prominent around Y2K. The franchise lost its sense of brand identity. Even with Generations which attempted to harken back to Classical presentation style, still can't nail that cohesion. I want my art deco fonts back. None of this Arial Rounded business (seriously, what is up with the series' use of run of the mill default fonts? Even something like Futura Condensed Medium would have felt significantly closer to what they were doing in Generations).

    In my reckoning, the only piece of promotional/marketing/graphic design that the series has created in the modern-era that somewhat approaches the timelessness of the Classic series' presentation was the original Sonic Adventure logo. I love this logo. It perfectly encapsulates the general idea of "Adventure." Questionable ground texture aside.

    [​IMG]

    I geek out over fonts.

    + - Hire me SoA, I love you   :v:/>
     
  6. Deffo. I think we are on the same wavelength, although I'm not with you on the Adventure title screen. More in line with what I am thinking is your (awesome) profile pic (under your user name) or the early JP box art/ridiculously cool 90s fonts, but turbocharged and emphasized. More neon. 90s is back (and has been for a while), just look at most chart music at the moment. The new Bieber shit. Korg m1 & Roland D50 flutes and crap all over that (like the JP CD soundtrack) If I worked at SEGA I'd hire someone to just pump out awesome graphics all day instead of memes (they've done their job now), to start bringing back some kind of brand identity.
     
  7. VectorCNC

    VectorCNC

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    I've been saying this exact same thing about the design and aesthetic forever. Check out Memphis-Milano design as well, that is probably the most apt design description of the classics. Your criticisms are well founded, it's as though Sonic Team was trying so hard for realism that they lost any design identity. I really don't think they even have a design direction anymore. Just look at how Robotnik's tech has gone from a consistent grunge diesel-punk style to ultramodern or whatever it is. It's devoid of personality now. It can be modern tech and still have a specific look. Consider the movie "castle in the sky", it shows how you can have futuristic tech without making everything into slick transformers. I'm just using this as one example...
     
  8. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

    A wise guy eh. I know how to DEAL with wise guys. Member
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    No one working for Sega has any sense of Sonic's original style. They seem to view the classic series in this casual, superficial, and "video gamey" way, they don't take Sonic seriously at all. They don't even interpret the original assets correctly; for example, the checkpoint is a lamp post, but all they seem to see is a blue ball on a stick.
    Even at their best, they don't understand what they're working with. The Generations interpretation of Green Hill for example is very nice looking, but misses the point so hard in so many ways, as does their view of classic Sonic in general. Sega's overall view of the Sonic series is some empty "brand image" that they can plaster on anything and sell, and give it a TWIST to make it FRESH. Sonic's failing? Quick what's popular, zombies? Make a game about Sonic and zombies! Have it out by Christmas! Doesn't matter what it's like, the quality, the consistency with anything else in the series, it's just a "brand" to sell to people.

    It's gone from a series handled with care and consistent artistic style and depth, to a bland plastic shell without any substance or soul that looks simultaneously try hard and effortless. This thoughtless treatment extends to everything, from the art to the gameplay, the music, the stories and presentation, etc.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. @VectorCNC @Lange you are both spot on! I'm glad this discussion got brought up, because imo it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Vector that website is awesome! Cheers for the heads up. And completely agree with you on Generations Lange, I thought that was little a bit of a missed opportunity art-wise (although kinda fun to play).

    The best example I can come up with that ties in with this is the series Wipeout. Do you think that game would have made as much of a big impact without the Designers Republic? (awesome name change to wipE'out btw) Of course not, that was the backbone of what made the game cool. After Wipeout 3 and the Designers Republic left, they never captured that magic again. 3 things I was obsessed with as a kid - the Designers Republic, Sonic and awesome dance music. Kids are not much different today.

    The Designers Republic

    Same thing has happened to Sonic (although to be fair in the classic era there where many times the art-style was ignored or wonky (the Americans had their own - and horrendously generic imo) thing going on.

    I'd love to see a great design company take over art direction, if SEGA could afford/allow it that is.
     
  10. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    So in other words we're all wanting Sonic to go into a pretentious art pop direction and for things otherwise to be exactly the same as they used to be, or else we're being fed mindless shlock. That's all I've really read for the past page or two, at least.

    I mean, Memphis-Alano? Really? Look, I love the JP box arts to the classics, but some things are better left to certain decades.

    And I get that Lost World was just too simplistic and cartoony for Sonic in many bad ways (minus some of Frozen Factory and Silent Forest which I thought were just fine), but I highly doubt that no one at Sonic Team has no idea what a Sonic game is supposed to look like, since it's style is more of an outlier to any of their recent outings than anything. Lost World's entire end product was just bizarre from head to toe, anyways.

    But yeah even with that statement, I liked the art direction of Unleashed, Colors and Generations quite a lot since I thought it married the geometrical fantasy look and the organic quasi-realistic look pretty well. You guys may probably view it as some sort of unfathomable uninspired shit or some other hyperbole, but whatever I suppose.

    Plus I can't get my head around how modern Sonic's design has apparently 'aged' whenever shorts like Night of the Werehog or any of the other Unleashed cinematics shown it can be just as expressive and lively as classic Sonic when used well. That's also to speak as if it hasn't changed at all since the Adventure era, which it has. Sonic hasn't looked gangly or overly radicool since pre Unleashed, and he's only got more classic-esque since.

    But I digress. Don't really know why I'm putting up the argument.
     
  11. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

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    No, we're wanting Sonic to go into the vivid and creative art direction that established its audience to begin with because it was good, and to not be fed mindless shlock instead.
     
  12. I don't see how any of the design we've posted is pretentious design, it's GOOD design. And that Memphis-Alano link you posted is fucking great. What an awesome room.

    Modern Sonic definitely does look dated. What mainstream pop culture considers 'cool' these days is most certainly not Sonic Unleashed. Yes some people will still love it but it is not what most people consider to be the epitome of coolness. Far from it.

    Sonic was a pop culture icon of the 90's, and if SEGA wants Sonic to be relevant today then they need to look at what's 'cool' currently in music, fashion and art, and take influence from it. That's why I was suggesting to look back at the old JP designs of old, because the 90s are back in the mainstream. Kids that loved Sonic in the 90s are now in their 30's, the creators in the position to bring back all their childhood influences to the mainstream. They are also the people that buy Sonic games for their kids, thus influencing a new generation to the Sonic legacy. The circle of life is complete.

    Sticking with the Unleashed era art style would be an absolute fail. I really don't need to explain why.
     
  13. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    The reason I said I shouldn't have bothered is only proven by how much it went in one ear and out the other. This argument could be summed down to "sorry you like garbage bad mindless sheeple design while we like good creative artistic masterpieces", which doesn't fall anywhere short of self-important.

    Besides, if the argument was really for Sonic's qualities to be timeless, wouldn't we not be arguing that Sonic sticks further to current (or 80s/90s) fashions and trends? Isn't that the opposite of keeping from being dated? Because it reads off like "I want Sonic to be absolutely like this specific string of 90s aesthetic or it's garbage" instead of "I want the Sonic series to focus on it's timeless qualities".

    And if you don't think you have to explain yourself then there's no reason to argue it in the first place.
     
  14. TimmiT

    TimmiT

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Member
    I think the style used in recent Sonic games is fine, certainly not mindless shlock. Sonic doesn't need to keep using the same style it started with 25 years ago, and I like the look used in Lost World, Generations and Colours. But I do think that there has been too much of a reliance on nostalgia lately. There hasn't really been a mainline Sonic games with that many new environments or tropes since Sonic Colours. With Generations it made sense because going back through old zones was its entire thing, but the majority of Sonic 4 and Lost World was basically just old zones with new names slapped onto them.
     
  15. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    Now this I can get with. The nostalgia bone has been thrown way too often lately. I'm really looking forward to seeing locales that aren't trying to remind you of the first two games repeatedly; something fresh in their current direction would be really nice.
     
  16. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

    A wise guy eh. I know how to DEAL with wise guys. Member
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    You're making a mockery of our points and attaching personality traits to us that you concluded from your mockery version. This isn't an argument and it's arguably just insulting.
    We're saying what we think is good and bad and giving reasons for it, and you're spinning that into a personal thing like it's a superiority complex. No one is calling you plebian or anything, don't make it about that. If it helps, I can understand the appeal in much of the modern series and appreciate a lot of it, some of it is very good. I still find most of it lacking, often by a lot, in comparison to the classics.

    Mickey Mouse doesn't have to jump on every trend to be good or relevant. Timeless means it lasts permanently on its own fundamental merits without needing to leech off of immediate and superficial culture. Repeatedly doing so as an effort to remain appealing is like repeatedly taking ibuprofen as a cure for a fever.
    Sonic was born into the culture of the 90s and this formed part of its timeless identity. It doesn't need to change. While the 90s and its culture have passed, the old legacy of Sonic remains consistently good and appealing. The elements of 90s culture Sonic is infused with are not superficial marketing gimmicks, but rather something deep, an art, a soul, things not dependent on trends. The era of vaudeville and big band music is gone, but it continues to be appealing and resonate with the classic Disney series. The era of vaporwave and dance pop is gone, but it continues to be appealing and resonate with the classic Sonic series. I hope that makes sense, it's not all too plausible to debate subjective matters like this, especially when words like soul are thrown around. That's why it's good to examine the theory.
     
  17. The current art style is not good enough. Agreed it does the 'job' but isn't mediocrity a big reason why Sonic's in the state he is? Can you even call Sonic 'cool' anymore? I can't.

    I don't really have anything more to add to this because Lange nailed it so well in his last paragraph!
     
  18. Azookara

    Azookara

    yup Member
    I don't see 90s aesthetics as a necessity of the Sonic series, and I don't think of 90s aesthetics when I see the classic Sonic games. As much as I do enjoy those things and what they did, I can never for the life of me see how the series requires that of all things to be timeless.

    Sonic's longetivity and 'timelessness' to me comes from the actual meat of what those games had to offer. Colorful, detailed (and at times crazy) environments with a lot of room for lore. An adventurous and exciting tone. Interesting, cartoony characters with lots of personality and room to interact. Flowy and freeform gameplay based around spinning and running around slopes.

    90s graphic design and aesthetic are there in those games, but they don't make them what they are, not by any means, and keeping to extreme specifics on how they did stuff isn't what I think actually matters in the long run. Like the rad-radical late 90s aesthetic, the edgy mid 2000s aesthetic, and the chunky and overtly simplistic primary-colors cartoony early 2010s aesthetic in Lost World are all products of their time, and even if I liked some (90s classic and 90s Adventure) and disliked others (mid 2000s and LW), I'm more than willing to point out that these things aren't what make Sonic Sonic, at least not for me. And I genuinely don't believe they should focus on that to bring Sonic back to form.

    So of course I'm going to butt in and make that point, because it feels like you guys seriously are barking up the wrong tree for what you want, and then viewing everything that doesn't match it as simply "not (as) good" as if your ideals are some form of high art, which definitely puts the icing on the cake.
     
  19. TimmiT

    TimmiT

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Member
    Funny that you use Mickey Mouse as an example of timelessness there, seeing how he's gone through a lot of design changes over the years to remain appealing:

    [​IMG]

    There were a few decades where the last design was used, and it still is used in merch and shows for pre-schoolers like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But even then the most famous shorts from since then are the ones where they tried to go for something different. Runaway Brain, while it uses the same designs, is a lot more over the top and energetic than the usual Mickey short. And the Christmas Carol adaptation is pretty different looking as well. You could also say that the famous Fantasia short is nothing like regular Mickey Mouse either, yet it's one of the character's most iconic shorts.

    And three years ago they changed the entire style and design of Mickey for the new shorts, which have been incredibly well received:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCaxXQdkfPk

    There's nothing wrong with new and different takes on the brand's style.
     
  20. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

    A wise guy eh. I know how to DEAL with wise guys. Member
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    I'm well aware Mickey's design has changed throughout the years. But that there is more refinement than trying to be trendy. His design has remained consistent for decades now and it's not some radical departure from his essence.
    You don't see them doing this with Mickey's design:

    [​IMG]



    As for the new Mickey cartoon, that's a fusion of modern animation and very classic Mickey, and handled in a very tasteful way. It's equivalent to something like this:

    [​IMG]


    And while it's not exactly like classic Sonic was, it's still very good and tastefully handled, and I'd be more than happy with Sonic being like this after seeing what he's been through.
    It's not that it's bad to do something different. It's bad to do something different if it's worse or harms the essence.