The Untapped Potential of the Deadly Six

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Starduster, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. Starduster

    Starduster

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    So this is something I've been doing some thinking on lately, and after wrapping up the latest arc over in the comics it's something I want to share here.

    Since their introduction in 2013, the Deadly Six have been a rather controversial group of characters in the Sonic franchise, due to their unconventional designs, limited characterisation and uninspired introduction to the Sonic world, both in terms of the quality of their debut game and their rather slapdash insertion into the story with little worldbuilding or contribution to the general mythos. Despite this, Sonic Team has brought them back time and again, with Zavok and Zazz in particularly popping up in spin-offs such as Sonic Dash, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, Team Sonic Racing and of course the Olympic Games, to the confusion and apathy of many. However, I think that these characters, when applied correctly, could play a compelling role in the ongoing Sonic story.

    I feel that, in some ways, the Hard-Boiled Heavies parallel the Deadly Six as a hexad (heh) of distinct antagonists with their own traits, interactions and design gimmicks that end up rebelling against Eggman to become a third faction in the Sonic-Eggman conflict (or at least the Heavy King does). Of course, the HBH have been far better received by the fanbase for several reasons; they fit better into the design conventions by way of being a novel take on a previously established enemy (being the Egg-Robos from Sonic & Knuckles), they're introduced into the world in a less abrupt manner with the use of the Phantom Ruby, and are more closely linked to the plot they debut in, and one could argue that, due to the lack of dialogue in Sonic Mania, potentially limited personalities are not exposed, and their identities are instead explored through their boss fights and mannerisms (with Heavy Magician being the best example of this in my opinion).

    This is all to say I think that the success of the HBH proves that the Deadly Six can work as villains, given the proper attention and effort. So what are the merits they can provide?

    • As outsiders, the Deadly Six can act as a compelling third faction with their own goals and means of achieving said goals. This is an idea that has been at least present since Sonic Lost World. Broadly speaking, the Zeti don't necessarily have the investment in the Sonic-Eggman conflict as the other two factions do. Until Eggman enslaved them, they were seemingly quite content keeping to themselves on Lost Hex, likely terrorising the local wildlife but otherwise not really being a huge threat. After Lost World however, they seek revenge on both Sonic and Eggman for their humiliation and abuse at the hands of each of them. I think this is an adequate setup to allow the Deadly Six to continually reappear in future games as a wildcard that can help or hinder either side. For example, I think they could have had a compelling presence in Sonic Forces where Zavok and co. have witnessed Infinite's power, acknowledge it to be a threat to them, and set about to try and sabotage him and Eggman. While initially they would of course butt heads with Sonic once more, their involvement in such a plot could have been a vital factor in Team Sonic's success, presenting an interesting relationship between the two factions in the form of a temporary truce where the Zeti still seek defeat Sonic, but realise that it's in their best interests to help him stop Eggman.
    • The powerset of the Zeti has the potential to force other characters to approach problems in new ways. In Lost World, the Deadly Six became a threat when the absence of the Cacophonic Conch allowed them to unleash their powers over electromagnetic fields and control Eggman's machinery. However, I feel this is a very surface level exploration of the concept and one that doesn't change how Sonic dealt with them compared to how he deals with Eggman and rather than doing something interesting as a result of this development, Eggman was relegated to doing pretty much nothing at all that contributed to the plot as a whole. In the Archie Comics in particular, Eggman has proven himself to be very canny even without access to his usual resources, employing unconventional technology such as the Egg Beater Mk. II (a reinforced ceramic mech that ran on pulleys and chords rather than circuitry) and Hard-Light Armour, the latter of which allowing Eggman to get his hands dirty in a bare-knuckle brawl. One merit of the Deadly Six's introduction is that their powers were clearly defined and as such this allows other characters to adapt to those powers in organic ways. Furthermore, it should be noted that Sonic's side also relies on technology to an extent, both through Tails' skillset and the existence of characters such as Omega and Gemerl. As the IDW comics have shown, this creates the opportunity for Sonic and co. to employ different strategies when fighting the Zeti that wouldn't be considered against Eggman.
    • Their straightforward personalities could be used to explore new and interesting level locales. While I wouldn't argue that the Deadly Six have very well-rounded personalities (I mean how many Sonic characters do?) I think that the simplicity of their character traits could allow for strongly themed levels if they were to ever return as a primary antagonist. For exmaple, Zeena's vanity would lend itself well to a level themed after a fun-house inspired mirror maze, a locale which has not been explored in a Sonic game previously and that would allow for new and creative mechanics. Zor's dark personality and pessimistic philosophy would tie themselves nicely to a locale that draws from illusion sequences such as those scene in the movie Spider-Man: Far From Home. While this idea has been played with to an extent, I feel there is a lot more that could be done with it than simply having a level made out of sweets in Des(s)ert Ruins because Zomom likes food.
    I know this has been a bit of a ramble but I'd be interested to hear what ideas other people can bring to the table in this regard. Evidently Sonic Team are going to keep bring these characters back, so I think it'd be worthwhile for us to consider how they can play into the strengths and idiosyncrasies they have and what we'd like to see from them.
     
  2. Xiao Hayes

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    I have yet to play Lost World to give you a full answer, but I think you're referencing comics too much for what should be solved only in games. Another thing I see here is quite a generic "Sonic Team did a bad work as usual, better writing could have made those characters good", to which I would probably agree, but just because you could say the same thing about a huge part of what has been added to the games in this century.

    Now, from my little knowdledge of the setting of Lost World, Lost Hex being somewhat similar to Little Planet (a smaller world in the skies of the actual world), along with the pseudo-classic treatment that game received (it has little animals, badniks and prison capsules), could have allowed it to fit well in the classic lore even if it's not the best way to approach it. The Zeti could have been added as some tribe, and their ancestors could have been the "gods" that punished the civilization of West Side Island for the misuse of Chaos Emeralds, or the Deadly Six be the exiled remains of that civilization, heavily corrupted due to divine punishment going worse over the ages.

    All that said, their design doesn't fit well in Sonic games, they could use some rework in that regard.
     
  3. Starduster

    Starduster

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    My intention wasn't to say that Sonic Team should lift Zeti writing wholesale from the comics, rather that the comics shows what *could* be done with these characters. That said, the comics are still a part of the franchise and I think when they present good ideas there'd be nothing wrong with adapting/reworking those ideas for the games.

    On the topic of design, I do think they stray too far from the series conventions but I think that also contributes to their outsider position and makes them more like aliens to the world than anything. Definitely interested in your idea of making them more integrated into the mythos of the Chaos Emeralds however.
     
  4. Crappy Blue Luigi

    Crappy Blue Luigi

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    I personally feel the Zeti are unsalvageable without radically retooling them. Their uninteresting and unfitting (for the world & art style) designs are strongly tied to their trying and stale personalities, acting as shorthand for how the player/viewer should expect them to act. Zomom is fat with a slightly wonky expression, and his personality revolves around being slow, eating food, and being dumb. Zeena has styled hair and Is A Girl, and she spends all her time focused on her and others' appearances. These stereotypes suck, like so much. I can't express enough how depressing and frustrating they were to see in 2014 and how much they are still exactly that in 2020. The Seven Deadly Six need to be entirely different characters before they can be likable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  5. Overlord

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    You already know which Zeti is which from the above words, despite the fact there are exactly as many words as there are the Deadly Six. They're dull, one-dimensional and I wouldn't mourn them not being used again (despite a semi-fascination Sonic Team has had with one or two of them).
     
  6. Speeps

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    Just watch Japanese Lost World, they rewrote a lot of their lines. In Zor's case he was rewritten entirely.
     
  7. Swifthom

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    This is much of the problem, but it's worse than that. Part of the appeal from the original post was the desire to have a third part (group) - rogues neither on Sonic or Eggmans side. The HBH did this in mania, but so did the babylon rogues in the riders games, so did Team Dark from Heroes to 06.

    I don't think the games have a track record of doing well with these kind of intricate plots, doesn't meant it can't be done, but by and large the best plots in Sonic Games tend to be ones that have a fairly direct call to action - unless we ever get the open world multi quest game (which I would love, but I think unleashed is likely to be as close as we will get) there's not a clear role for recurring anti hero antagonists... Not in a world where we already have Shadow and Rogue who have more established staying power and actually fit within the established world.
     
  8. Xiao Hayes

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    Some new game with multiple factions trying to get to the same goal for different reasons which involve consequences of different moral levels would be cool, indeed. Not just a single anti-hero faction of the day along with Sonic and Robotnik (and additional filler characters more often than not), more of what happens in fighting games where each character/team is in for a personal motivation that can be moral or not, but ultimately is an obstacle for the rest of the cast because only one can get the prize.

    And I really think there can be a place for these characters in the games, but only because I have an eco-friendly creativity that lets me salvage a lot of shitty stuff. :V
     
  9. Starduster

    Starduster

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    Pretty much my thinking on the matter. They've made these characters so if they're going to keep using them they ought to try improving them. And while there have been other tertiary factions in the past none of them can offer what the Deadly Six do imo in terms of challenging the technology both sides rely on. The early days of the series had it rooted in ecological vs technological trappings which I think the Zeti could genuinely bring something to. And this isn't to overlook their failings. Yes, they're unfitting in design and come from a heavily contested game where they weren't well utilised, but I don't think that should hold them back from what could be done with them.
     
  10. SpeedStarTMQ

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    I dunno, I feel like I’m mirroring what others have said here, but really what you’d be trying to do is reinvent something to be effectively different to what it is to serve a subjectively better purpose, the general concept of which I feel you could apply to pretty much anything you want in order to alter it to suit your own wants or needs.

    The untapped potential of using cacti as masturbatory aids: what if they were more durable and less prickly?

    The real questions are who thought the concept was good idea in the first place, and why out of any other ideas in the world did they settle on this? (I’m talking about the Deadly Six now btw :ssh:)
     
  11. Crappy Blue Luigi

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    I'd go further than one-dimensional; they're reductive. "Fat" is not a personality, "old" is not a personality, and "girl" is definitely not a personality. The writers effectively used these words as the entire basis for each character, so it's really clear they think "is very slow and imperceptive" is what "fat" is as a personality, or "is narcissistic and obsessed with personal appearance" is what "girl" is as a personality, and that says the most about the Seven Deadly Six's creation and the intent behind them. They are unsalvageable without massive retooling.
     
  12. Xiao Hayes

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    Well, the untapped potential of the D6 is they aren't developed characters yet, just early concepts. :specialed:
     
  13. Swifthom

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    The trouble with saying 'we can change the characters and do things with them' is it will inherently annoy people who care about continuity between games, or actually did like the Deadly 6 in their first iteration. If the concept is that fundamentally broke the changes required to fix it are likely to cause more problems than they caused.

    However... if we were to go down that line, two simple fixes would make them tolerable for me, and it wouldn't change the design much just the voice actors. And it would solve SO many problems that I had when playing the original games.

    Two small changes in voice actors:

    The team would be 'slightly' better if Zor was a girl... I mean the design almost fits, I assumed she was when first booting up the game - its only when you hear the voice and you go 'oh, goth dude, how boring....'
    ... yeah, there's nothing I love more than a game antagonist who doesn't want to be there, really sucked the joy out of those levels.
    Having two girls on the team, one narcisitic and the other moody, at least means the reductive 'single girl' trope isn't there, and it would make the composition of the whole team a little more balanced. I'm modelling this of the success of the 'original' power rangers - its less in your face to have one be pink and girly if there's another girl to make them more unique. If Zor and Zeena had something in common, and those two actually spoke on each others level and had some interaction, it would salvage both of them.

    Them Zozom should have a voice modelled on Gimli in Lord of the Rings. Going for a fat man trope, make him a mean, badass, joyfull man who delights in causing chaos and carnage (but one who does it knowingly as aopposed to Zazz's chaotic tendencies. If he appeared big and slow from a distance, but then spoke really eloquently and excitedly about how he was going to wreck Sonic and enjoy doing it, charging in with a battle cry, it'd actuall make him seem like a threat.

    Seriously - having a character whose whole trope is i'm big and dumb devalues the whole group, and also the fact Zeena is both 1) the only girl and 2) completely narcisitic (becuase she's the only girl) and 3) doesnt care about anything the others care about also devalues the whole group. The deadly six would have been better off being the deadly 4 and cutting those two out - but if they just changed the VA and backstories of Zozom and Zor it would rebalance the whole team. It gives you natural pairings:

    Zazz and Zozzom - the front line, both malicious badasses but one remains the chaotic jester and the other hardened badass
    Zor and Zeema - the girls can pair up, one narcissitic the other angry/depressed.
    Zavok and Master Zik - remain the only two members of the deadly six who actually like each other, but now you aren't wondering why they tolerate the others hanging around.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  14. Dek Rollins

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    I don't think the Deadly Six have any potential at all. Boring characters with no dimension made worse by terrible designs. I think anything that can be done by changing them in future games would be served better with a new character.
     
  15. Laura

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    I admit to liking the designs of the D6. I really like the way Zeena looks for example, even though I can't really explain why I do.

    But I really hate their personalities, and as CBL says, they are very reductive. I think Zeena is the only misogynistic character in the entire franchise. Sonic Team can be pretty sexist with Amy chasing after Sonic and thinking about him all the time and her role as damsel on occassion. But at least she had other sides to her personality, like using big hammers and her story in SA1.

    Zeena is literally just a misogynistic stereotype of a girl: all she wants to do is file her nails and look pretty. She perfectly represents why I don't like the D6, because I thought she looked cool and was looking forward to seeing her, then when I played Lost World I saw one of the worst characters in Sonic history, which is saying something.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  16. Starduster

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    You’re not the first person to express such a sentiment in this thread and I’m gonna be honest I don’t really see where you’re coming from. What I’m advocating isn’t a complete rework of these characters, simply using and expanding upon what has been established to improve them.

    Several people (myself included) find their personalities to be reductive but that doesn’t mean improving said personalities means getting rid of what was there before. You can still for example have a Zeena who’s very narcissistic and somewhat flirty but adding other characteristics to offset those generic traits can improve the character as a whole while still retaining what was there before. Make her deceitful or perceptive or careful or anything else. Character traits aren’t mutually exclusive.

    And I get it, particularly here a lot of people don’t like the Zeti. I’m not super keen on them myself both in design and personality. I’m making these arguments because I’m the kind of person who enjoys working with what has been established and seeing how it can be explored.

    I wouldn’t particularly miss the Deadly Six if they never returned, but I also think they could and should be used better if they’re going to have a continued presence in this franchise.
     
  17. Laura

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    You know, in a way I get what you mean, because I do like Zeena's design, even though I really don't know why I do. But what you are describing is similar to Rouge the Bat, and while I'm not a big fan of her character, she's already a lot better than Zeena, so I don't really see the point.

    If anything, the one thing I think the D6 had going for them was that they work as a team, which is one aspect which separates them from the other antagonists in Sonic. But Lost World completely squandered this, and the future games have almost completely ignored it, just featuring Zavok on his own.

    If we got to see Zeena flirting around and being sassy with, say, Zor and Zazz as some kind of team banter, that could be mildly entertaining.
     
  18. SuperSnoopy

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    Yeah, they interact like three times in Lost World, it's lame.
    They have a bit more banter in the comic and it's kinda cool (Like Zaz mentioning Zavok beat the shit out of him one time), but overall they don't really feel like a team.

    On that subject, why are they even together? Do they like each other? Are they the only Zetis remaining? We don't know anything about them and it sucks.
     
  19. Laura

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    They could be subversive and make Zeena secretly like Zomom, despite how superficial both characters seem to be, as an example of making the team dynamic a bit more substantial. But we know that would never happen :V
     
  20. Xiao Hayes

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    Honestly, I always saw them as some incarnation of the seven deadly sins, wondering why is one missing. If you assign a sin to each one, everything makes more sense about why are they so flat and act as a team despite not having that much in common. Who knows, if once we had six chaos emeralds, then we had seven, maybe one day we see the whole team... and their master.