Trying to start debunking the "Generations of Sonic Fans" perception.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Rhythm Raccoon, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. Pengi

    Pengi

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    My issue with the cut-scenes in Sonic Colours (for example) isn't that there's some exposition and some standing still, it's that there's practically nothing else, and nothing that relates to what Sonic is doing in the levels. In Sonic Adventure, Tails crashing his new plane is action that leads Sonic to Emerald Coast. For the most part, there's a clear sequence of events, a chain of cause and effect that pushes the story forward and takes the heroes from location to location.
     
  2. Frostav

    Frostav

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    I knew someone would bring this up. For the record, my following statements are my subjective opinion.

    I'm a writer, and one of the things writers talk about is this concept of the "eight deadly words", a phrase that is the absolute worst thing a reader could ever say in response to your story: "I don't care what happens to these people"

    And that's how I am with Colors. I don't care that Eggman captured the wisps and turned their planet into an amusement park. The wisps have no character or culture. They are glorified items that in-game Sonic uses for nothing but his own gain as power-ups. They aren't even cute like chao. I simply don't care about saving them or whatever because they're just mario powerups with the serial numbers filed off. You basically do not interact with them at all. They have no motivations or goals.

    Wisps are like if Nintendo tried to make, like, idk, mushrooms and starmen living beings that you're supposed to care about, but they did absolutely nothing in game but still give you powerups. That just plain wouldn't work. Even in the story-focused RPG's, they're still just items and the majority of sentient races are taken from Bowser's army in the mainline games.

    Compare this to say...Unleashed. There's not a whole lot of stakes there either, but the humans of Unleashed are charming and fun characters, and they're also people so we're hardwired to automatically care about their plight. Of course, non-human characters, like the animal Sonic characters, are human-like enough that we just kinda inherently care about them unless they are obnoxious (but even then we still care about them, just negatively, lmao). Tikal's father attacking the chao has some weight to it because chao are cute (and you can extensively interact with them on a level that isn't using them for powerups and then wordlessly discarding them, like wisps). Eggman blowing up the moon has weight because earth is full of people [citation not needed] and I'm a People too so I have some kind of empathy for them and wanna stop him (and Shadow serves as the other emotional core to the story, and is a character. With motivations. And thoughts. Unlike wisps.)

    This is what I mean: the classic games are all about saving cute woodland creatures from Eggman. Creatures you free when you defeat badniks, and stages like Scrap Brain the CD bad futures emphasize how Eggman's influence will corrode and destroy the environment. Also they're, like, cute woodland creatures, so you already are on their side by default. In Colors not only are the wisps just...nothing, the zones are so focused on the amusement park theme that...honestly, they look pretty cool. Like, Starlight Carnival does not make me want to thwart Eggman in the way Scrap Brain or him bombing Angel Island to a burning crisp does. If anything SC makes me wanna see Eggman just drop the whole evil bad guy thing and make amusement parks lmao

    And even then...Eggmanland in Unleashed is a perfect example of how to keep Eggman's whimsical amusement park theme while still making it very clear that it's a bad place made by a cartoon supervillain that has to be defeated. I don't wanna destroy Sweet Mountain or Aquarium Park or Tropical Resort frankly, I wanna go to that damn amusement park X3
     
  3. XAndrew

    XAndrew

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    Facts. Also love how you brought up Eggmanland from Unleashed. Not only did that stage look oppressive, but it's difficulty really drives home that fact. It's one of the HARDEST stages in the history of Sonic. And the music also helps sell it as well. And people really compared Unleashed to the modern games because it just has a lighter tone compared to the games before it. I have yet to see a stage in ANY of the Sonic games from the 2010's be as oppressive as that stage was.
     
  4. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    I think this is a very fair criticism. You are right that there is a lot of standing around in ethereal areas spouting exposition in Colors onwards. I'd say it's one of the cardinal sins in the writing of those games.

    I just also think it's important to acknowledge that while Sonic Adventure does have cause and effect in the way you say, a lot of the 'causes' in the cutscenes are characters just talking exposition at each other. At least in Colors onwards the characters actually have personalities and play off each other, even if it does aggravate people. They have actual conversations rather than just talking at each other.

    I guess I would say in short, that while the stories in Colors onwards usually have very poor plots, the characterisation in the Adventure games is usually woeful. People talk about Tails a lot in Sonic Adventure 1 because he's probably the best example of characterisation in it outside of Gamma, but can you really say the same for Sonic, Knuckles, and Big in SA1? They barely have any personality. I mean Big does, but just being dumb. It's Deadly Six level (the worst characters from the Modern Era). And even Tails honestly spends most of SA1 just explaining plot points to the other characters. And when you get to Adventure 2, I'd argue that Tails kind of goes backwards, becoming this dull exposition machine. The only memorable scene he has is right after Sonic is presumably killed. Otherwise I think Adventure 2 probably has better characterisation than Adventure 1, but it's all still pretty mundane stuff outside of Shadow.
     
  5. Pengi

    Pengi

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    I strongly disagree with this. You could mute the volume and set the subtitles to a foreign language and still follow most of what's happening in most of the story cut scenes. They don't just tell you that Chaos gets bigger and stronger with each Chaos Emerald it absorbs, they show you.

    Even in scenes that are standing and giving exposition, there's often visual story telling at hand. Which isn't to say that the game has good cinematography - it obviously doesn't. But they are still telling the story visually, through action. When Eggman orders the E-100 series to find the frog with Chaos' tail, there's a sense of location, they're in the Egg Carrier hall, Eggman is on a podium, in a position of authority, he displays an image of Froggy on the screen behind him, he gestures for the robots to leave, then they turn and do so. It sets up the next mission for Gamma (the player) and then there's a pay-off in the next scene, where Gamma is praised and his brothers are cruelly dismissed (which is also shown visually). It's all basic stuff, but it's there.

    Compare that to the Sonic Forces scene with Eggman and Infinite in Green Hill, for example. Sound muted, dialogue off, it's just the characters chit-chatting, in no specific location, just a level backdrop.

    They're both scenes of Eggman giving orders to his minions, but Sonic Adventure's is mindful of its visuals.

    Sonic Adventure has incredibly wooden dialogue and flat delivery. No argument there. That's a separate issue.

    Sonic 3 & Knuckles still has the most competent story-telling the Sonic video-game series has ever seen. After 27 years, that really shouldn't still be the case, but they do a poor job of at least one thing with every release.
     
  6. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    @Pengi you raise good points and I agree with what you say. I think we are really in agreeement. Sonic Adventure was better at handling the plot while Sonic Colors onwards was better at handling dialogue and conversations. I also think Colors onwards is better at handling characterisation but you might disagree with me there.
     
  7. One of my biggest issues with the recent games is that the cinematography is just really really poor. What I mean is the cutscenes don't really have much of a purpose beyond just...dialogue and talking, and the dialogue isn't really talking about anything particularly relevant, it's usually just for the sake of a punchline or two. In addition to that, the cutscenes are incredibly static. Look, some people might disagree with this, but Sonic IS a cartoon and he needs to be active to give off a sense of energy. I'm not saying that the Adventure games were perfect about this, as was mentioned, those games were about as bad as the recent ones were in terms of exposition, but where those games excelled in was still communicating personality through actions while the exposition was happening.



    This scene is an example of what I mean; Sonic just doing minor things like stretching in the background can add a ton to his character without saying anything. And even his tone and cheeky reply to Eggman convey that he's ready to throw down.

    The final Sonic & Shadow fight is another good example; most of the scene is just Sonic & Shadow stating their motives to each other, I'm not going to deny that. But the main purpose of the scene isn't for the sake of a punchline, but serves as a lead-in to the boss fight and is the culmination of a rivalry that's been built up for the entire game. At that point, Shadow has one-upped Sonic at every turn but now Sonic has cheated death using a technique that only Shadow could use and now they're on an even playing field. Shadow expresses his respect at Sonic's tenacity, and Sonic acknowledges it. All while the music is swelling up as both of them begin to pick up speed. Its not Oscar writing or anything of the sort, but I think there's a reason Sonic & Shadow have such a memorable and strong dynamic to this day.


    There's just...nothing like that in the Modern games at all. And if there is, it's extremely downplayed. Sonic Colors' first act establishes the conflict (Sonic has to save Aliens), and then just does nothing of any consequence until its time for the final boss fight. It sets up plot points, but then immediately drops them with no fanfare; Tails gets brainwashed to fight Sonic? Undone in the same cutscene. Yacker disappears and is potentially captured? Never resolved, he just shows up in the last cutscene no worst for wear. There's nothing the player knows or understands about the Wisps beyond the fact that they're just Aliens Eggman is kidnapping that Sonic has to stop. There's nothing wrong with that mind you, and out of all of the Modern games, I'd say Colors is the most consistent since while it does have the same problems as the later games, the scale is also significantly toned down as well. It's why I never agreed with the recent criticisms towards it as the "start of the bad writing" when it's probably the best written of the modern games. Sonic Colors knows what it wanted to be, and it never strived for anything more and that's fine. It may not be everyone's cup of tea and it's personally not mine, but I could enjoy it for what it was. And I agree with @Laura that the dialogue is much more natural as well. It's on the childish and juvenile side, but so was all of the Anime-esc dialogue from Adventure, and I'm willing to admit that as someone who prefers those games. Sonic is a kid's franchise, so it's going to have childish dialogue here and there. That's just something we're going to have to accept.

    The main badly written games of the modern era were Lost World and Forces, both of which upped the scale of the conflicts significantly, but still kept the same laid-back writing from Colors; it's like they wanted the conflict to be bigger, but didn't wanna put in more effort in making it FEEL bigger. So what you ended up with was a lazy ass plot that tries to take itself seriously, but actively refuses to give the appropriate setup and gravitas for it. And in terms of character writing, actively mischaracterizes a lot; I personally would rather Tails simply be "boring" than just being straight up unlikable like he was in Lost World. I know what they were attempting with him, but it's such a botched attempt that I actively came out of it disliking him and that seems to be a consensus. When it comes to simple, straightforward dialogue with some jokes littered in, the Modern games are fine. But when it comes to actual dynamic characterization? They show a gross misunderstanding of who these characters are.

    Was Sonic kind of boring in the Adventure games? Perhaps, but you also have to keep in mind that he was sharing the spotlight with 5-6 other characters, all of whom needed their own screentime to develop. Its only natural he would get diluted a bit to compensate for that. That excuse doesn't exist in the Modern games since Sonic & Tails are the only characters of consequence, but since the games aren't interested in exploring who these characters are, but rather just telling jokes it becomes much more apparent that the Modern writers just...don't get Sonic at all.

    If you want a game where Sonic is well characterized where he doesn't have to share the spotlight with others, the storybook games are right there. But beyond that, I suppose it comes down to what people are expecting from these characters to begin with. But personally speaking, I don't see Sonic as a comedian or somebody who tries so hard to be "the funny guy." To me, Sonic's character is pretty straightforward; he's someone with a compassionate heart who will stand up for what he believes in, but also has a bit of an impulsive and reckless streak. It's not the most INTERESTING personality in the world, but as I said, Sonic is a kid's franchise and that's a perfect personality for kids to look up to. Sonic's personality is pretty easy to write, but the Modern games weren't interested in writing Sonic, they just wrote a bunch of jokes and had Sonic say them. That's not Sonic, that's Ken Pontac or Warren Graff just writing their own style of characters and forcing it on to the Sonic characters.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  8. Pengi

    Pengi

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    Sonic Colours seemed like the first game where they really cared about punching up the English language dialogue and making it flow better. Like you said, it's more conversational. It also sounds like the English language cast had more voice direction, unlike the Sonic Adventure days where they'd be brought in to record all their lines in one weekend, with no context. That breathes a tremendous amount of new life into the characters.

    On a technical level it's better. I just also find it incredibly grating and unfunny, in the same way I find a typical CGI wisecracking animal movie grating and unfunny. That kind of humour and those kinds of characters just aren't for me, and seem incongruous with what came before where certain characters (Tails in particular) are concerned.

    And it all dips back into '90s anime dub territory when secondary characters like Vector, Big and Shadow get a scene.
     
  9. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    Yeah, I agree. I think the dialogue from Colors onwards was superior, but it wasn't like it became good either.

    I've been playing a lot of Persona 4 lately, and while that game certainly has its problems, that's got good dialogue. I know it sounds presumptuous to make that comparison, but if you are going to aim for storytelling in a game then you have to match the highest bars.

    And Sonic has never had writing on that level, including under Pontac and Graff, which is why I'm not sad to see them leave, even though I thought they improved the dialogue in some ways.
     
  10. BadBehavior

    BadBehavior

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    Yes, the actual dialog may be delivered better, but its effect is completely squandered when it's delivering such boring exposition in such a boring way. Like, why did they even bother if they're just going to drop the ball in other areas?
     
  11. It's amusing to see the younger generations reactions to the games that everyone wrote off over a decade ago.

     
  12. Vanishing Vision

    Vanishing Vision

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    I've said this before, I actually like Black Knight as a game, but it's missing so many things that are staples of the franchise that it feels very distant from the rest of the series to me. Sure, there are the SA1/2 songs, as well as the odd (but welcome) choice of including the spinning goalpost in a 3D game, but otherwise:

    - No rings (outside of Legacy missions)
    - No standard mechanical gimmicks, springs, boosters, etc. (outside of Legacy missions)
    - No way to damage enemies with a homing attack or spin jump (outside of Legacy missions)
    - No loops beyond a single grind rail in Molten Mine
    - No Eggman beyond a logo on a playing card
    - Very, very few branching paths

    What I'm saying is, I like playing Black Knight, and I don't think that Sonic wielding a sword is some kind of unforgiveable sin, but on the other hand, why did this need to be a game with Sonic in it? Sales, obviously, but what if the game was called "Knight of the Wind", and starred a new character, a knight wearing powered armor that let him move fast (like Konami's Rocket Knight)? I feel that would actually be more interesting.

    I guess it's just odd for me to see Black Knight being championed as "the last real Sonic game" by some people, because of how wildly different it is. I don't have much to say about the story, it's not bad in any way, but I never found it particularly exciting either. I still think Griffith's Sonic is overall the most boring portrayal of him as well, lacking the (different kinds of) attitude Drummond and Smith bought to the character. People talk about wanting Sonic to be anime, but Griffith Sonic never came off as a cool, confident, hot-blooded anime hero to me, he's just too dull and restrained.
     
  13. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    I have seen these J's Reviews pop up and I kind of want to watch them but also feel like I'll hate everything in them lol. I know he made a video about how Sonic 2006 is actually enjoyable. Just nonsense as far as I'm concerned. I similarly think Black Knight is just awful to play, even I do think it's unintentionally funny. It has a good OST though! So I don't really see the point of someone probably grasping at straws to defend a mediocre at best game.

    I mean, I'm not that bothered by this stuff though. If someone likes something like Black Knight then, yeah, I definitely don't agree, but it's kind of inconsequential and harmless. It's not like Sonic Team are ever going to go back to the style of the 2000s. Let people enjoy awful Sonic games I guess.

    I think if there was a large movement saying Forces was secretly good and trying to move the franchise in that direction than that would obviously be a different issue, seeing as it's somewhere where the games could realistically head. Thankfully no one likes Forces.
     
  14. One thing I will acknowledge about J's reviews is that he understands WHY people hate these games and feel the way they do about them, but that doesn't really change how he personally feels about them. It's something that makes his videos somewhat more bearable, because he emphasizes that it's HIS opinion and nobody else's. He's not trying to convince people that they're wrong and that he's right that these games are underrated, he's just giving his perspective as a younger Sonic fan and what he enjoys about them.


    I think a huge problem older fans have is reconciling that some people might not feel the same way about these games, and might in fact feel the opposite. In fact, said video I posted actually acknowledged that when it talked about a clip he posted on Twitter that had mixed reactions that ranged from positive to negative.


    I know as an older fan, that it's just all too simple to just write off opinions like that as just a bunch of stupid kids who have no idea what they're talking about, but that's kind of type of attitude that fuels the fires of all of these online internet wars. As an older fan myself, I really gotta come to terms with the fact that people might in fact enjoy something that I don't really care about, and that's ok...
     
  15. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    I don't really think this is about age at this point. Anyone can like a bad game no matter what age they are at. If someone likes something which is bad then fair enough, but I start having a problem when they say it's secretly good when it obviously isn't.
     
  16. RDNexus

    RDNexus

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    To some people, that may be deemed as "guilty pleasure" ^^"
     
  17. But that's not universal though. Something you think is trash, is something others can find merit in.
     
  18. Laura

    Laura

    Brightened Eyes Member
    This approach to subjectivity is popular online but I've never subscribed to it. It's obviously true on a base level, but it's not the way we really view art.

    Just to take games as an example, if you bought a game which was buggy, filled with microtransactions, and had an unfinished ending, you and the vast majority of people would think it's bad. But I could argue that actually it's good for me, because I like those things in a game. If I subjectively like it then that's just true on a certain level.

    But when we talk about art, we really value it based upon communal ideas of good principles. And in this regard in the game world (good controls, engaging gameplay, good level design, etc), Sonic and the Black Knight fails badly. It's obviously subjective, but they are general design philosophies which most people can agree upon.
     
  19. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

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    But then again, what determines how good a game is at the end of the day is how enjoyable its gameplay is. Some people may find a game glitchy, unpolished, questionably designed etc., but still immensely fun. They may agree that it's flawed, while still finding that the good outweigh the bad. Nothing wrong with that.

    How bad the flaws hamper the experience in a game (or anything) is entirely subjective.

    Besides, when people say that they want more installments designed like x game, they don't mean that they want carbon copies that replicate the issues and flaws. They mean that they want future games to keep the parts they enjoyed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021