Was the 90's Sonic fandom in the west really dominated by the cartoons and comics?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Frostav, Sep 27, 2021.

  1. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

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    1. There were Sonic boards on AOL communities with posts dating back to 1994. I remember browsing those, likely tied to the alt fandom boards of the day.
    2. The Sonic fangame community grew pretty quickly out of the year 1998 when a lot more US citizens got widespread internet access at home via dialup and clicktool engine piracy became widespread.
    3. Furry fandoms did indeed have some crossover with the comic/SATAM side of things. There were entire text based MUCK (Multi User Chat Kingdom) communities dedicated to Sonic text based roleplaying back then, and they generated sizable communities of people creating their OC characters. It turns out that it was largely furry communities who hosted these servers, but they attracted a lot of normal young internet users who just happened to be Sonic fans too.
    4. The Games fandom was still quite robust, but with Sega system sales already in major decline, there just wasn't much to actually talk about. The 1996 OVA was gaining some traction as well through very early video/filesharing methods, but it was never even subtitled until the official home video release in 1999 (2 days before the Dreamcast hit US shores). AOSTH and SATAM were in syndication at this point, and there was a big push to continue them, but we got Underground instead (which aired early in France, meaning early video files leaked online in french only).
    4. There was a lot of hype for Sonic Adventure 1 leaks and previews across the entire fandom, however.
    5. Genesis games were getting harder to find in the late 90s, and were often already out of print or were being clearanced out. Saturn games were also harder to obtain due to many big retailers outright refusing to carry them. Game Gear sales flatlined quickly by 1994-95, so no one owned or played it anymore. This meant that all the early internet fandom had to talk about was Sonic 1, 2 and maybe 3&Knuckles, but both games sold much less than S1 and 2 did. Almost all other titles were games that a much smaller audience played. After 1993, Sonic games as a whole sold very poorly compared to Mario. Sonic's peak American popularity of the 90s was 1992-early 1994.

    All of this mess is a result of Sega of Japan slowly overtaking the brand and kicking the USA influence back out over time. Unfortunately, it was precisely Sega USA's marketing campaigns that made the brand so big in the USA during the early 90s at all. Otherwise, it never would've truly been considered Nintendo's rival (and even then, it only competed with Nintendo on equal terms for 1-3 years at best).
     
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  2. Yash

    Yash

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    This is probably just as true today as it's ever been, really. Feel like there's an Internet gamer bubble thing where I see people act like Sonic is a dead franchise all the time because the release schedule has dried up since Mania and Forces in 2017 (just TSR and now Colors Ultimate in terms of packaged software as well as Mario & Sonic), but then you have stuff like the movie (which did extremely well at the US box office), all the cartoons are readily available on streaming in one way or another, the comic book is still ongoing. I think the series' secret ace currently is also its presence on mobile, with Sonic Dash having been downloaded a gajillion times by now. But that's outside the purview of most hobbyist forums, so it just gets ignored.

    Sonic 1 and 2 were the only new releases that saw comparable software numbers to say, Nintendo's flagship series (Mario/Zelda/DKC in the SNES era), and that's just as much because they were bundled in with new Genesis consoles as anything else. Despite that, Sonic's always been a gaming icon.
     
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  3. Roller

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    A good metaphor I've settled on in recent years for Sonic's status is "king of the underdogs". He can't truly go toe to toe with the heavy hitters in the way our hearts want him to, but you root for him anyways, don't you?

    (I unfortunately can't comment on most of this topic cuz I was born too soon to remember *anything* about the 90's but it's lovely learning about a part of fandom history that doesn't usually get talked about in detail!)
     
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  4. Ted618

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    At least almost always in terms of the console/home software race, that honestly goes for Sega in general, with only brief bursts of widely-renowned excellence (e.g. the MD/Genesis era in the west + last year's successful titles). Hiroyuki Miyazaki certainly agrees:

     
  5. DesertWarrior

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    Sonic for me as a kid in the US during the mid 1990s were the awesome games, and also merchandise. I had the Sonic handheld pinball game, a Sonic shirt, and two pairs of Sonic sneakers back in 1995-1996.

    Suddenly, around 1998 as a fan, it seemed like Sonic disappeared off the cultural landscape.

    Sega was the King of the World in 1992, 1993, 1994 and the first half of 1995. They did a lot to destroy their own reputation, sadly.
     
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  6. Sonic will never be the best, but he's got a tenacity to him that people love.
     
  7. Frostav

    Frostav

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    I like Sonic because my first console was the gamecube and my first two games for it were Sunshine and SA2 and Sunshine is legitimately one of the most insufferably godawful games I have ever had the mispleasure of playing.

    SEGA really got lucky: their first outing on a Nintendo console coincided with Nintendo releasing like, the worst 3D Mario game by a longshot. Nobody can be five or six in 2001, play SA2, and then play the fucking pachinko shine or the poison river shine or the watermelon rolling shine or the roller coaster rail shooter shine or the other 40 shines that are truly abominably shit and not think Sonic is better.
     
  8. Ted618

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    I wouldn't exactly put it that way, but around that time they were certainly on the verge of becoming an entertainment rival to the likes of Disney - that was Hayao Nakayama's ultimate ambition, after all, with his plans/hopes for 100 indoor theme parks around the world by the end of the 1990s and initial support of Kalinske's business ideals (which, for all their success, set Sega up for a bigger fall than the one that was already inevitable).

    Unfortunately, as I'd hope we all know, they never quite managed to come out on top in their home territory to begin with; Sonic not having the same impact and their arcade efforts being much more popular. Having said that, official publications like SegaJack and Sega Magazine did showcase some quite dedicated fan art and collections that had been sent in by their readers, which makes me wonder about the early "fandom" in Japan too...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
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  9. Laura

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    I think SA2 also just captured its own time really well. It was so 2000s anime pseudo-edgy in a time when that aesthetic was very popular.

    I think in many ways the memey Sonic is similarly a snapshot of the 2010s, it just never captured public imagination as the 1990s and 2000s Sonic did.
     
  10. Sonic 2 and Sonic Adventure 2 are pretty much the defining games for their respective generations, but the 2010 era didn't really have a defining game did it. Colors is probably the closest thing (which does explain the push to remaster it) but I dunno. Maybe in another 10 years, we'll have gamers looking back on Colors as the generation defining game for the 2010's.
     
  11. What irony lmao

    I'm the head of a super Mario sunshine community mod that is getting hundreds of thousands of views and articles written about it online, so seeing your unbridled passionate hate for the game is amusing XD

    But uh... Sonic something or other...
     
  12. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

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    I mean, that's fine, but I also think Sunshine is ass, so...
     
  13. qwertysonic

    qwertysonic

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    Sunshine is easily the least popular of the 3D mainline Mario games
     
  14. corneliab

    corneliab

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    I didn't even know that the Archie comics existed until I was gifted a random one as a teenager. When I was a kid the main piece of non-game Sonic media I had available was Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. To be frank I kinda hated it lol... I mostly watched it out of hope of seeing stuff from the games pop up, like Knuckles or maybe even the Chaos Emeralds. Imagine my disappointment when the latter DID finally appear and were almost completely different in form and function. That was some seriously weird shit and I don't know why they even bothered.

    When I got my hands on a piece of Sonic media I did like, the OVA, it was merely a one-off. I tried to like Sonic X years later but just couldn't lol. If there was anything good in that show it was totally smothered by the insipid localization.
     
  15. Frostav

    Frostav

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    This reminds me: since I only really started consuming media actively around the early 2000's, reading about things like this is always very interesting: by the 2000's, brands were far more rigid regarding their side media, but it seems that before that shit was a wild west where you could do damn near anything because no one bothered to maintain Brand Integrity™. Even Nintendo (who now is near-Disney levels of keeping a psychotic death grip on anything regarding their IP) let--okay, it was more they overlooked--shit like the Super Mario Brothers movie and cartoons exist, and SEGA was even more libertine than that.
     
  16. JaxTH

    JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    I also miss the time where Mario was still finding his footing, like getting arrested in the US Mario Party commercial or a character like Plum from Mario Golf who was supposed to be Peach's cousin.
     
  17. SystemsReady

    SystemsReady

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    Pokemon also had a very protracted "early installment weirdness" period, probably owing to its development hell in both gens 1 and 2 and the series becoming far bigger far faster than they ever had anticipated. You had TCG cards with real animals alongside the Pokemon (Weepinbell in the Jungle expansion), all the art in side media and merchandise was wildly different with regards to proportion and color even within the mainline games (not even going into the differences in gen 1 sprites, gen 2 had a significant amount of changes come Crystal), the 1st gen games and their GBA remakes make real-life historical references like the Columbia space shuttle and the exact year of the moon landing, their pokedex entries make reference to real-life places, and characters make references to recent historical events like The War that later games just pretend don't exist.

    It took them til like Gen 4 to get the sprites right for Pokemon colors and proportions (and even then a few got tweaked later in the gen), the battle system finally hit the consistent state it's been up to the present, and they worked out the world's/universe's backstory enough to introduce parallel universes two gens later without it being completely inconsistent. The TCG cards also stopped having overly-weird stuff like Secret Mission (??!) or referencing plotlines that died with the original Pokemon 2 concept. The anime also has almost entirely rebooted itself at this point too, which lets them sidestep all the weirdness in the early series, like, again, real animals appearing, and guns.
     
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  18. I was also a 90s kid and had many sonic comics. Read the "doctor kintobor" origin story and all that. Had the super sonic vs hyper knuckles comic when it came out. Still remember being in awe of the Mecha sonic arc, seeing sonic become roboticized was like nightmare I had to know the ending to.
    Also watched the AOSTH cartoon and SatAM. It annoyed me as a kid that neither had the chaos emerald lore; that was right around the time I unlocked super sonic for the first time and had no idea what it was.

    Tbh, while I enjoyed the comics and cartoons a lot, they didn't get in the way of the games and I prioritized the games a great deal more. I kind of agree that fans of the lore then, if they had been born 5-6 years later than me, would've been huge 2000s era fans. The lore just became more important to the fanbase (though no less sloppily handled by the franchise writers)
     
  19. My introduction to Sonic was through the Genesis and Gamegear, experiencing each game in sequence barring those that required add-ons. So the games hooked me and left me yearning for more. I only occasionally managed to catch SatAM on early morning TV, but watching it once was enough to permanantly implant the themesong in my brain and drive me to rent any available vhs' on family vacations. I may not have much love for the show now beyond nostalgia trips, but back in the mid to late 90's through to the early 00's I was about as eager to talk about it and absorb all available info as I was with the games.

    That show also turned me on to the Archie comics, which I collected and read with great passion. I ended up preferring the comics to SatAM, but also found that I had a distinct preference for issues that actually adapted plots from the games. The Flicky's Island adaptation even gave me a deeper appreciation of the Genesis game and still stands as my favourite issue. The "Battle Royale" event introduced me to the Chaotix, which eventually led me to procurring a 32X and a copy of Knuckles' Chaotix. Until I began exploring the fandom online more and came across Sonic CuLT, I viewed all Sonic media as one instead of distinctly disconnected branches. Even if the games had always come first for me, it wasn't until absorbing the research that CuLT, and eventually Retro and other sites had to offer, that I really put the games on a pedestal and became less and less interested in the out-of-game universes.

    Outside of the internet, such as at school or at friends' houses, most Sonic-based conversation were centered on the cartoons instead of the games or comics. Typically any conversation regarding the games focused on the lame Mario vs Sonic debates, with most people seemingly having far more knowledge of and experience with the Super Mario games.
     
  20. Quexinos

    Quexinos

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    Well I guess I have to pop back in since my name came up again, lol. I hope you guys know that isn't my website anymore. Chief runs it and aside from checking in once in a while, I'm not really invovled with it at all...
    but while we're on the subject, does anyone remember my older sites? Sonic Pandemonium and Perfect Chaos (My Chao can beat up Your Chao!)


    Just turned 40 this year lol... i hate it. But I haven't aged much so at least I got that going for me.

    I hadn't thought about rat.org in ages. I completely forgot about it. It's so nice to see stuff like this that brings back all these memories. The internet wasn't as fast or polished as it is now, but... damn I sometimes miss those old days