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Sonic's character design and aesthetic

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

  1. I like a bit of both to be honest, Collision Chaos good future in motion is actually my favorite level art of all time. It's just so bloody gorgeous, and the fantastic JP soundtrack just adds to the shimmering metallic wonder. I actually have a save state just for that level :v:/> I can spend hours of bliss in there. Although I'm not keen on wacky workbench's good future art (it's a bit castle of illusion), the bad future music is just an outright stone cold classic!! That dominator rave stab!! Fucking awesome. On a side note when I was at primary school, I saved up 50p every day for a month, just so I could buy Sonic CD second hand for the music. My parents couldn't afford to get me a Mega CD (who could!), so I just played that soundtrack to death and dreamed what it was like to play. I still have that disc!

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    But yeah, some are better than others, Metallic Madness bad future being among my faves, and again the music adds SO much to it (Rave megamix style intro is just fantastic - wyeyeyeah!)

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    And just for the sake of it:



    EDIT: Also, it took me ages to realize that the upside down landscapes in the backdrops where Mobius (or whatever the true name is)! confused the hell out of me at first :v:
     
  2. Ryuki

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    I look at this and all I can hear is the US Stardust Speedway Zone - Bad Future. ;-;
     
  3. Ritz

    Ritz

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    VectorCNC's nailed the visual aspect, and I want to thank him for introducing "Memphis-Milano" to my vocabulary so that I'll have a real world analogue for the Sonic aesthetic (beyond just "art deco") to cite as an artistic inspiration in case anything less might make me look like a putz. As for the introduction of a human woman, there's this allure to the hyper-Japanese Madonna concepts that I always wanted to see explored- I think there's an alternate time and place where a fanged Sonic could comfortably stand in the palm of an 80s chic model's hand, as she whispers secrets into his ear during a Kodak commercial.

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

    So long as we're just throwing images out, though I think his work is a bit too stark and moody for a game that needs to look like a shopping arcade, the color, scale and geometric design of Paul Lehr's illustrations come real close to being the sort of worlds I'd love to explore with Sonic.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Also, there should be a constant, rhythmic motion on the screen at all times. Spinning pinwheels, pulsating peaches on trees and throbbing motors. That dynamism might be more representative of Sonic's world than anything.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Ritz

    Ritz

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    From the Sonic 2017 thread:
    Seems better suited to this thread. Sonic's green eyes have always been the linchpin of the design debate, because it's really the only notable change that's been made, save for the addition of teeth (when classic Sonic often left the mouth out altogether). It gets handwaved away as something too minute to discuss, and while you can still argue the case against that, I'm just now realizing that the problem has little to do with how Sonic is drawn, so much as how he's presented:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I think classic Sonic's defining trait is his dignity. When he's standing, he looks sturdy and alert with his legs evenly spaced, ready to spring into action. Else, he's just chilling lazily. He keeps his mouth closed.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    When he's in action, he moves with purpose. He's either coiled up or thrusting his legs out. Classic Sonic either exhibits total apathy or complete focus. Modern Sonic doesn't really touch on either the laziness of the character, or this conservation or release of energy- he's just in this perpetual state of happy-go-lucky athleticism. He's a monotone character. What's more is that this goes a long way towards clarifying why classic Sonic was so unappealing to me in Generations, as he really doesn't hit either of these notes either, instead tending more towards the rarely seen cute Sonic mode. Also, surprised myself at how a gesture as iconic as that curled-up spin attack is so easily forgotten. It's like if Mario stopped jumping with his fist in the air.

    I'm not just here to bitch some more, though- realizing this made me think, "What would happen if we posed modern Sonic like classic Sonic?" And while I was digging for those pictures, I came across these concept sketches for Heroes that I've somehow never seen before:

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    Shit, man. Isn't that cool? Aren't they nailing the classic vibe here? I'll live with the eyes if we can have that posing and determination again.
     
  5. stescoedw

    stescoedw

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    Classic Sonic has natural swag and he doesn't have to run his mouth to show it.
     
  6. Very awesome Paul Lehr references. Those kind of cities would give a really otherwordly, yet still familiar feeling to Sonic. I love it.
    Feeling inspired now.
     
  7. stescoedw

    stescoedw

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    I think I finally found what really bothers me about Modern Sonic's design. It is his long spikes.

    I keep looking at his spikes from Sonic Runners. That is how they should look.
     
  8. Chimera

    Chimera

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    Castlevania prettyness
    Aaaaaand this. Your entire post was spot-on.

    It also brings up something else that I feel to be a perpetual problem with SEGA's in house design direction--not specifically where they want to bring the series (which is nowhere, since they don't even fucking know), but how they even present what they fucking have. A lot of their work today is either flat or just goddamn fucking boring and makes the series as a whole feel like an unprofessional mess. There's a lot that goes towards overall design desicions being inherently flawed, proportions being their biggest problem, but in terms of just PRESENTING their work correctly, they have a serious problem with one thing that could make Sonic and co. look infintely more alive an active, and it's specifically their posing.


    I'm gonna make a megapost detailing Sonic's pose design over the years starting from Adventure, and tracking what the series was trying to do at that time and see if/how that worked. As far as I'm concerned, right now the series is in the absolute shitter of creativity, and that's very apparent in how they present their characters. I don't think this immediately happened, because the series at least knew what it was TRYING to do to begin with, but at some point there just seemed to be a creative drain in what made characters look alive/cool.


    big wall 'o text commin :')))))


    Detractors of the series, especially lately, point out that Sonic was born from competition and not for art's sake, so he's inherently a shallow character. I would agree that he wasn't created BECAUSE someone wanted HIM specifically to exist, but because he was necessary for SEGA to compete; I would disagree with the notion he's inherently devoid of originality or character, however. While many aspects of him were calculated to be an appealing icon to 90's culture, the original designers had a plan for him that was born of a grown passion for the project they were commissioned for. They *gave a shit.* AND there was actual talent behind the design and presentation of the character to begin with. While SEGA keeps the character alive by having him be "cool for coolness' sake," at least in Japan he was just intrinsically cool not because he tried to get attention, but because he was made to be a confident go-getter with personality. And as you've pointed out, Ritz, this is simply tied into the pose design.

    You look at those images of Sonic and you FEEL the character's confidence. He does what he does not to get attention but to have fun. There was an understanding with those original designs that "confidence = cool."


    Now, while Adventure 1 pushed hard the series' new direction, with lanky proportions and kewl-guy expressions, being less confident and more "radikkul," there was at least an idea behind what those designs were trying to do.

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    Sonic was about being wild and with energy. They wanted to present the character as carefree and joyful, with a bit of an edge to it because of course they did in 98. What was lost in translation, his "I'm gonna get shit done" attitude, became his zany nature. Along with that, his colors became a bit more saturated (if you don't count the best renders of the character ever and the additional green to his eyes put him in the direction of being more lively than before. Apart from his design change, what really pushed the new direction for him was that iconic pose, that circular arm-between-legs look-at-my-flow attention grabber of a pose. Along with the redesign they gave to the character, that pose encapsulated what the series wanted to be from that point onward: flashy.

    While may would say his design and pose were a very superficial way to gain attention, and seem like a gross misunderstanding of the original series, and I would agree, it's undeniable that the series knew what it wanted to be at that point and knew how to convey that. While Eggman's SA artwork is probably the stupidest thing I've ever seen, the pose direction gave a clear understanding of how the series wanted to be seen as alive and energetic, which I would say the series always was--this just brought that aspect to the characters in an easy to digest manner, rather than intrinsically being part of the world. Either way, it worked.

    Adventure 2 was a step in then-lead artist Yuji Uekawa refining his style and the series finding a bit more self-control; it was a transitional stage in design, but the general direction was less flash and more straight-up "anime," with characters having less crazy poses and looking more generally in-control. Adventure 2 would do a lot of things to the series, and one of those things other than telling SEGA they can pump as little money into a project as they can and have it sell would be setting the standard for the 2000's era design schema, prominently posted on "Sonic Channel."

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    Promotional art for Sonic Adventure 2

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    Eventual Sonic Channel artwork

    What's consistent between Adventure 2's work but is a bit more refined in the eventual Channel work is the pose design, while for the most part being rather generic, being on the whole *solid* and properly capturing the characters as they've been mandated to be presented. Sonic is for the most part a "hero" character, and as mentioned by Ritz a happy go lucky athlete. While that's not exactly the best use of the character, the way that's portrayed is done well in his images, where he gives a cocky smile to the "bad guys" and does what he wants, stopping the devil chao from moving by pressing his finger on its head as it flails angrily. His channel artwork, which I honestly find to be the weakest out of all of them (as later revisions have done the same thing but better and more interesting), still is done well by presenting Sonic as an icon of "good" and fun, with his thumbs-up and his appearance of being airborne, as a superhero character often is.

    Shadow meanwhile is supposed to be edge incarnate, which is shown clearly by him being pissed off at Sonic for some reason, head reclined but chest forward--not a fan of having this jackass' head in his face but keeping himself on guard. His channel artwork is admittedly a "guilty pleasure" type image for me, in that it's stupidly edgy, but in a way that works and looks, i guess, kinda cool (*hack*). Shadow gives a glare at the viewer and points his finger in your face, with his chest angled forward showing he thinks he's in control. His arms and legs are slack, but there's a natural flow to where they're placed and where they point, to which this simple illustration of an angry teenager pointing at us actually has a bit of visual interest to it.


    So this is all well and good, but now your probably wondering "so what?" Well, in recent years it's become clear that SEGA has given less and less of a shit about everything making their characters actually look like they have any weight or energy to them. Most of their promotional material, including lately their CG promotional material AND BOXARTS have made their characters look flat, uninspired, downright boring, and lacking any finesse to how they're presented--on no fault of the model's designs either.


    beginning with Heroes, for many the beginning of the end (even if the end came long before), the box art already shows us that things are starting to look pretty fuckin awkward.


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    yeah, design-wise it's clear SEGA didn't nail 3D just yet.

    To their credit, 3D animation on lower budgets was still pretty crude back then, and the best looking video game CG we could probably compare to (that used cartoon characters at least) was Melee's opening. That was incredibly well done, but some parts of it still make characters look a bit off, the zoom-in on Donkey Kong still being notably uncanny for me. Nevertheless, other than Sonic who's just got a generic YEAH FLYIN IN THE AIR hero pose, tails and Knuckles, just by a pose design standpoint leave a lot to be desired.

    Regarding Knuckles specifically, his expression is dull, his limbs contort weird, and he doesn't even look like he's throwing out his fist in victory or anything. he's just showing off his defining aspect: his knuckles. Oh boy.

    What would a good shot of Knuckles punching look like?
    [​IMG]

    Now this isn't in 3D of course, and is using a slightly different design of Knuckles (in how his main features are proportioned), but strictly in how he's presented, the pose and angle to show his action, this does a much better job at making Knuckles look like who he is. Maybe SEGA didn't want him frowning on the box art of Heroes, but here you can read a lot more about Knuckles as a character rather than just "guy with the big hands." He's tough. He's irritated. When he lands a punch, he puts his weight into it. He won't just stop at one either, as he's got another fist ready for you if you wanna fuck with him. All that, and his facial expression is a lot more indicative of who he is and how he'd react if he was about to fight someone. Pissed. He'd be pissed.

    Sadly, this trend of awkward 3D art kind of continues for a while throughout the series, with characters being positioned and presented in more generic ways that range from barely conveying anything about them to just being poorly made.
    Thankfully, the box art tends to be pretty solid, with Unleashed pretty much *nailing* it overall.

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    Probably one of my favorites as it perfectly shows the divide they wanted between the two gameplay styles, even if one ended up far outclassing the other and there was really no need for the werewolf to even exist. Regardless, the presentation alone just sells you on the idea of this being something cool, even if a liiittle stupid. Sonic's got that look of determination in his eye as he runs, whereas his moon-half is less determined run-towards-danger and more leaping-for-the-kill, which, had the werehog been *anything* like the promotional material made him out to be, would have been absolutely perfect.

    A lot of Unleashed's art was actually pretty incredible, both traditional and rendered, which is an amazing step up in quality from 2006. Design wise, with how they rendered everything and posed their characters, it shows they had a lot of deep thought into what they wanted. I count this as a last-chance attempt at showing the world they can still make good games, though, as their previous main-series game almost cost them everything. Unleashed seems to be the exception to the rule as most work afterward starts to just fall flat.

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    Colors was a good game, and this artwork sells you on it being a fun adventure. However, what it doesn't do is tell you anything other than Sonic is the hero character and the colorful aliens are part of the game. Did it need to tell you any more than that? No. It is, however, all you get from the artwork. Sonic throws out a hero fist and smiles at the camera. To be fair, his trail behind him does give a sense of this being a snapshot of him moving at blistering speeds, not even running anymore as much as rocketing off. Pretty well done overall, even if it's not saying much.

    ...

    ...

    And then you have this shit.

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    Man, fuck lost world.

    Nothing in this image is interesting save for the environment. The environment looks great, in fact, so much so that I wish Lost World wasn't shaded/designed like a cartoon version of Mario Galaxy and instead tried to 1-up a WII GAME.
    That aside, the characters, besides looking out of place as all hell, are very superficially villains vs hero. In the back, you have the 6 antagonists looking pissed off just because they hhhhhate that hedgehog. And then you have Sonic doing his "parquor" by running on the side of the wall, looking at the camera with a... smile? He looks disinterested. Good way to sell the product, of course.

    This image says nothing other than the fact this game exists. I feel like that's insulting me.

    To its credit this promo art ended up not being the box art of the game, but for a while was used as the premier advertisement banner for the game, and we DO later get this:

    [​IMG]

    Regardless, while Sonic's expression and pose works well for what they're trying to do with him, show that he traverses OVER geometry with his new parkour ability, the 6 in the back still show very little change. Zavok looks almost unchanged save for a fist being changed to a claw (though he overall looks less active), he and his cohorts can all be summed up in words ranging from 3-5 letters. Emo. Crazy. Girl. Fat. Old. Boss.

    This is disappointing because you could EASILY improve their image so much by adding a bit of chaos to the characters as a group. As they are, the characters are all portrayed as individuals, all displaying generic aspects about themselves being insipid villains built around stereotypes to fit 6 character slots. You're given very little reason to care about them or even wonder who they are, other than "why the fuck are they on this box?"

    In-game they're touted as a group of villains, and they're all out to kill Sonic because hey he's the hero person gotta stop him. VERY EASILY you could pose the characters to fit not just who they are, but who they are in relation to each other. Granted, this is also assuming Lost World had a plot that was worth half a shit, but as a thought experiment, to just add more visual interest to the image, the Deadly 6 could be made as a dysfunctional group, even centered around Zavok having a bloodlust against Sonic for whatever reason, pushing his teammates out of the way to get to him first. He's ALREADY front and center of his team, so why not have his hand push Zor (purple) away while he looks dejected, while Zazz tries to catch up from behind Zavok and pushes Zeena out of the way as she shoots him a look of disgust. Zomom (yellow) could even look like he tripped from Zazz running past him. Have Zik (old blue) look upset at his students too while you're at it--rolling his eyes or facepalming.

    Does this fix the arcatypical nature? No, but it at least uses it to effect. As it is, lost world does NOTHING with its character, and both the box art and other promotional material is evidence of that.


    While Lost World CG was uninspired, it at the very least didn't look outright unprofessional, as much as just cheap. That honor goes to some 3D models of one of the better games in the series, actually: Sonic Generations.


    You guys remember the trophy room, right?


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    What's interesting about the trophies here is that every model is actaully based off of famous artwork they've been seen in, if possible. This is more true to the characters rather than some of the badniks and any of the items, though some badniks probably have a referential pose.
    This is both cost effective and a neat nod, as I see it, as the game already had enough of a drained budget as it was. A smash bros styled time capsule of the sonic series is a pretty tall order, but for the most part they managed to get everyone well represented, and even seemed to make models for characters absent from this game, giving modders and sfm makers a nice streamlined base to make their fan content (probably not the goal but definitely the result). SEGA ain't Nintendo, however, and Generations is CERTAINLY no Smash Brothers, in terms of budget and expected reach anyway. So, quality-wise, the way the models are presented wasn't as good as the alternative. This, however, would be an understatement, because as far as I'm concerned, ESPECIALLY when you compare to the original artwork, these trophies are just.... bad.

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    Here's Eggman in the trophy room, with a pose based on his Sonic Channel artwork where he triumphantly rests his hand on his hip while thrusting his arm up. Much like his nemesis, he's got his own attitude and knows how good he is at what he does. Honestly, a pretty cool model/pose all around.

    Until you compare it to the original.

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't even become a contest. Look at how much more ACTIVE the illustration by Uekawa is. he's not just holding up his fist, he's shifting his weight with it to emphasize the action, and show how he's in control and he's loving it. Not just because you can see his teeth better, but you can also tell he's grinning. He loves being who he is, an evil genius, and wants you to know he knows he's the best. This pose, and many like it, are one of the main reasons people love Eggman as a character. He's ALSO cocky, and an entertaining villain all things considered.

    When you compare the illustration to the in game trophy, though, you realize just how much the in game item was missing the mark.

    Generations' trophy sees the idea of the pose and doesn't go anywhere past that. It sees the idea of a powerful madman, of a villain who loves being a villain, and only emulates that. As far as emulations go, it's a pretty shit one to boot. The structure is flat and uninteresting, with his shoulders in fact NOT shifting with the weight of his arm, and instead makes him look like he's doing a mandated pose for a photo shoot, and has been holding that pose for a few minutes and got uncomfortable so he decided to relax his muscles yet keep to the reference image. Tldr, there's no emotion to this pose. It's simply the idea of the original pose. Quite honestly, the most interesting thing about the 3D render is the counter-pose of his legs.

    It'd be easy to say "well they can't match the image 1:1 because this is a 3D model and Uekawa made a drawing." That, and the model and drawing are built off of different proportions, his mustache being the biggest difference. I would agree with you... Except Unleashed already did the same thing.

    [​IMG]

    Look at that pose. Look at that damn-ass pose. That's a man who loves being evil and thinks he's hot shit. And that's the exact emotion we got from the original drawing by Uekawa.

    Much of the Unleashed promo art we see there (which for the life of me I can't find a full-body shot of anymore, which sucks because it's friggin awesome) is very much in-line with uekawa's original illustration, things only being out of place due to being a 3D model that's inherently more accurate about its spatial relationships than a human trying to capture 3 dimensions in their head. Everything from the weight distribution, to the direction his torso is facing, to where his arms and hands are in relation to his head and shoulders, is on-point, and doesn't just MATCH the original art... I personally think it's BETTER.

    This is another rare case of Unleashed being unusually good, in both its design direction and how it posed its characters. The textures on Eggman's clothing alone are a testament to how much work when into this game's CG scenes, and how much they were trying to make the promotional work look GOOD. That shot with Eggman looking at the world with the earth reflected in his glasses is still one of the coolest shots the Doctor's ever had, and is a side of him I really wish we saw more of: a man who sees the world as his for the taking.

    Sadly I doubt we're ever going to see that level of polish ever again.


    Just to show the stark contrast in quality between the Generations model, the Uekawa artwork, and the Unleashed promo art, here's a side by side comparison.

    [​IMG]

    Like I said, not even a contest.




    The point of all this is that, if you just look at how Sonic presents itself in general, you can tell the series gives less and less of a shit about how they want to present themselves, and part of that feels like they don't know how to. Just look at most of their 3d renders as of late, and you'll see pose quality has gotten lessand less consistent. Most of his iconography ranges from alright to just there to sell something with his image on it, and as SEGA gets more desperate for cash and 3D is a lot easier to just shit something out that works than drawing something, pose quality is going to be less of an issue, ESPECIALLY with his fucking mouth. Seriously, when they're not really careful about it, Sonic's mouth in 3D is bloody fucking stupid (you may notice im not too much a fan of sm4sh sonic's interpritation).

    This isnt just in promotional work either, as it's in a lot of his game animations, cutscenes and gameplay alike. Generations has probably some of the best in-game animation the series has had pretty much ever, with Unleashed coming in a close second (it does many things right that Generations didn't and vice versa), but the cutscene work pretty much peaked at Unleashed. Since then, everything's looked either flat, dull, or just awkward. The climax of Generations is animated and choreographed incredibly poorly, and the whole scene feels like a mess even discounting the silly voice acting and dialogue. Past that, Lost World did nothing to address those issues and only created more of its own, with new in-game animations for THAT one feeling just... stiff and rigid.

    As for what's next, well... honestly the best looking part about Project 2017's trailer is the pose Classic makes when he pops up.

    Take another look at the trailer. It opens up with Sonic having an angry face, sort of, not really showing anything past the idea of an annoyed emotion. His stance isnt even particularly impressive, and as usual he runs like Naruto while his feet act almost robotically seperate from himself. His look of shock and smile at his younger self when he appears both feel restrained, the upset face in part because you only see part of it (since we can only do side mouths apparently since that's never been proven to work ever right), and the smile just looks... weird. He's not particularly surprised or overjoyed that his life was just saved, as much as just grinning with his teeth out going "good job."

    And this is their teaser trailer. Ho boy.





    tldr this series has slowly started to stop caring about what its trying to do, which is sad, because there IS some obvious care to this series when they not only hire the right people, but ALLOW their staff to give a shit. And the models they have aren't bad by any means--they've been shown and proven to look nice when used the RIGHT WAY. It just seems there hasn't been any real concerted effort to capture the spirit of what made the series such a catch in the first place. It could be laziness, it could be confusion, maybe the developers actually just don't get what worked and why. I chalk it up more to the publisher not actually providing their employees with the time and resources to actually make something worth being proud of. That's pretty sad.

    But I don't see it getting better. :/
     
  9. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood

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    Thank you for that brilliant post. You've just outlined every single issue that I've had with the presentation of the series through its art for several years. Stiff and dead 3D renders, and sometimes it spreads to the 2D art too.

    I've got another example, this time citing SatSR art that was retooled for Unleashed.

    http://media.sonicscanf.org//gallery/sonic-the-hedgehog/Sonic%20&%20The%20Secret%20Rings%20‘On%20Your%20Marks’%20Render.png
    The original (with a strange grin that looks like a piece of his muzzle was sliced out) has weak posing around his hips, knees and heels. He's quite limp in that position. And he's loosely holding his hand forward in a meagre attempt to draw attention to his ring. Look at his hand in the back. What's it even doing? Absolutely nothing. It's neutral.

    http://userdisk.webry.biglobe.ne.jp/016/179/03/N000/000/000/122956327595816229049_0807226263_5.jpg
    And the Unleashed version is only slightly different but happens to be my favourite 3D render of the character. His head is angled differently to better showcase his expression, particularly his eyes. When his eyes make up over 50% of his face, you would think that the artists would use them more like they do here. He's got more weight and power to his pose by holding his feet flat on the ground, with one leg straight and the other bent at a sharper angle (but still rounded as Sonic is still a rubber hose character). His chest is more puffed out and his mouth actually looks normal here. Plus there's his back hand, now clenched into a tight fist with his elbow drawn in close to his torso. Everything about it says attitude and cool, giving him a real presence. The SatSR version however looks ugly and says very, very little.
     
  10. Beltway

    Beltway

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    Agreed with the above two posts. It's such a shame about how the cast's poses and expressions have been so...homogenized and sterile ever since they switched to the 3D artwork (which even leaked in to the 2D artwork). Another thing worth pointing out is how up until one/two years or so, all of the Sonic Channel artwork of the characters were just static poses of the characters. Needless to say, the new artwork in which the cast partake in festivities is so much better than what came before it.

    These among other things is why I really can't stand how Unleashed got a handful of stuff incredibly wrong, because in other aspects, it was the breath of fresh air the series clearly needed in a lot of ways.
     
  11. +1 with Chimera


    Even though Mania rectifies some of the issues I've had with Sonic the past few years, I still think there's a long way to go with the modern series from looking at the 2017 trailer.


    EDIT: I had a dream about a new Sonic game a few months back (embarrassing I know) but it was glorious: First person, flat polygons (almost cel shaded/mirror's edge vibe) but with that classic big/bright/brash & chunky 90's SEGA arcade feel. It was awesome
     
  12. ELS

    ELS

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    I liked Sonic's Adventure era. It seemed like they really tried their best during that era and they wanted it all, a story, gameplay that still had the old games' mechanics as well as they could in 3-D realism and yet some of the coolest art around. It was rough around the edges but I wish they stuck to it.

    Now he's just really rounded and safe, no more round belly (ironically), no more cool poses, no more plots where it seemed like someone cared. Even the voices got downgraded. SA2/Heroes cast sounded real to me, now they're just sorta passable and forgettable (eggman aside).

    I also really dig that old school anime aesthetic in the old art/the OVA. That stuff is timeless. As well as the aesthetic design of the genesis games.

    Now we get the old Sonic - a lot of the edge, played up to be cute a lot and he can't speak all of a sudden and the physics aren't even close to a Genesis game but it's better than nothing.

    Sonic Mania looks like they might try to take the old school designs half way seriously this time and that's exciting. New project looks like they might actually write a plot I could get into so I'm hopeful.
     
  13. I haven't posted here in quite a while, but Sonic Mania has reinvigorated my interest in the Sonic franchise.

    But seriously, VectorCNC, what a post! So much of what you said resonates with me. That Classic Sonic model is as close to perfection as I've seen Sonic look in 3D. What I like about classic Sonic is that he doesn't give the impression that he's trying too hard (to be cool). He's cute, but at the same time gives you a "don't mess with me" impression.

    As for the art style, the surrealist geometric synthetic organic style is something that was so trademark (to me anyway) about the classic Sonic games. Everything was made of checkers and other regular geometric shapes, perhaps due to the limitations of working with tiles, but at any rate it looked highly stylized and impressive. For example, even palm trees in green hill that look as if they were paper cut outs folded neatly in the middle. I think that geometric look is definitely something they lost with the introduction of the Adventure series.

    I too am sick of the "generic monster thwarting Robotnik" plot. What I like about your proposition is the idea that his own desires run amuck and become a force that he cannot control, after all, Robotnik was all about mechanizing the world in the old games; again I feel this is a sentiment that has become a bit less explicit with more recent installments.

    I also like the idea of a character meddling with your progress mid-zone like Knuckles did in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I think a lot of the game's story can be told that way as apposed to cut scenes. That's something I really loved about Sonic 3 & Knuckles; it told a story without saying a word and kept you wondering what surprises may pop up next.
     
  14. Mask

    Mask

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    Funny, I described those feelings in the Sonic Mania thread, a few minutes ago. I really loved Sonic3&Knuckles' story, it was brilliant minimalism, and I do hope they try to incorporate that into Sonic Mania instead of playing it so safe (if they do play it safe, it will at least have fantastic levels and gameplay--something missing in a recent Sonic title).

    I think they did well in Adventure, and OKish with Adventure 2 with the monster taking over the plot. Heroes seemed sudden and forced, and other games have made it seem like Eggman just doesn't know how to build big, powerful robots anymore, relying almost entirely on magic and plot devices. This is mainly because they've made Eggman too comic. While he was always comical, he could still be a pretty nefarious guy in the old games, including Adventure 1 and 2. Kidnapping Tails, tricking betraying and painfully electrocuting Knuckles, trying to NUKE a City (I think so he could build his themepark there or something?), blowing up the Moon, trying to suffocate Sonic in space, constantly trying to kill Sonic and friends, and happily enslaving animals. Eggman is a villain even if he looks funny, so use him like one!


    Understandably, I doubt Sonic Mania will add in new characters as that may've made it hard to get a licence with Sega who are playing it cautiously of late. So no Knuckles equivalent protagonist, unless they reuse Metal Sonic or such. They can still have Eggman get back to his old villain self. This could include Knuckles style transitions. You could have some that make Sonic a bit more proactive, rather than falling into every trap (narrowly avoiding a deathtrap by jumping/running to the next stage is also interesting).
     
  15. Gestalt

    Gestalt

    Sphinx in Chains Member
    Alright, let's give this a try.

    I liked that too, it fit perfectly. Back then they made up a world that's supposed to engage the player to reach the goal as quickly as possible. Without coercion. I think they did that really - I mean REALLY - well. Sonic the Hedgehog had plenty to offer once you've started a game: the uneven terrains of Green Hill Zone, the shaking grounds of Marble Zone, Spring Yard Zone's bouncy floors, flooded shafts in Labyrinth Zone, starry nights in Star Light Zone and Scrap Brain Zone's industrial outback. Comical, yet visually appealing, Sonic 1 was easily the best game you could play at this time. It must have been hard work to create something which is both distinct and versatile at the same time from scratch. Best part about Classic Sonic's design? His conveniently shaped spines, the way he expresses himself with body language, his blue color and not to forget: his shoes.

    Sonic Adventure was the first time we had experienced Sonic's stunning modern makeover. Sonic Adventure had the right approach to something brand new, while maintaining the attitude essential to the series. Yuji Uekawa's drawings had a roundish shape that's somewhat reminiscent of traditional japanese paintings. I liked that a lot because it was in tune with time while referring to something from the past rather than just repeating itself...

    Nowadays, with plenty of games to look back on, Sonic appears to be capable of anything. Should we take it as a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I'm all for the direction they went for with Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. So I'm glad we'll get something similar to that in 2017. :v:
     
  16. kullenberg

    kullenberg

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    I posted this in the Sonic Mania thread, but perhaps it's more fitting for this thread instead.
    I am as a lot of you guys a big fan of the 90's aesthetics of the early Sonic games and I'm thrilled that the artist of Sonic Mania has improved the graphics in such a respectful and tasteful manner with real knowledge of pixel art.
    There has been no pixel perfect screen shots without compression artifacts of SM yet to the best of my knowledge, but I attempted to recreate the new improved version of the Green Hill palmtree to study the differencies.
    The colors are a approximation and a pixel here and there might be off, but it should be reasonably accurate.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. VectorCNC

    VectorCNC

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    I can't see much difference at all between those two besides slightly different colours and maybe an extra step in the shading. I'm really not sure. Mania clearly has a wider colour palette, but has the resolution been improved at all? Can't wait to get all these new assets available. It's such a dream come true to finally get new classic style art.
     
  18. Covarr

    Covarr

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    Trapped in my own thoughts.
    Two stageplays, a screenplay, and an album
    Is the Sonic 1 tree on the left correct? It looks like the trunk's art has been flipped upside-down.
     
  19. kullenberg

    kullenberg

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    The differences are subtle, but pretty significant. Those few shades make the difference of something looking like a arcade game or the genesis port of said arcade game... If that makes sense. Some assets appear to be entirely redrawn see this pic and compare to the original genesis screenshot below. The resolution has a different aspect ratio, it's wider and a little taller. But Sonic and most of the sprites remain more or less the same size from what we have seen so far.

    [​IMG]


    I agree, it looks funny. The tiles for the trunk do appear flipped in a few trees in the original Palm Tree Zone. I have no idea why though. See the tree to the far right here:
    [​IMG]
     
  20. VectorCNC

    VectorCNC

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    I found this article on Sonic's influence on fashion and design pretty interesting. It reaffirmed my own thoughts on Classic Sonic's iconic style and design philosophy, which unfortunately has been sorely lacking since the transition to 3D when the design shifted to "realism". I wish Sega would recommit to creating an identifiable signature aesthetic; I'm sure there are a lot of designers that would jump at the chance to work on this with Sega, and it would highlight some of the brighter aspects of the franchise. So much potential here... Link below.

    [​IMG]

    https://kotaku.com/sonic-the-hedgehogs-surprising-influence-on-fashion-1796889513