Below is an essay-esque article that I wrote. I plan to post it on my blog and it's in response to the negative opinion of Sonic these days. I apologize if it is kind of a long read.
Being Cool By Bashing Sonic:
A response to the bias and bandwagon mentality
A new Sonic game has been announced, and as such there are the skepticswhose mantra is "don't get your hopes up" and the optimistic people believe it could be really good. But why is there such a divide in the first place? Why is it that when a new Mario game comes out we don't hear such comments like "they should just let Mario be put to rest". Well a little thing happened in 2005 when Sega released a spin-off called Shadow the Hedgehog, which put one of Sonic's rivals in the spotlight for a change, while selling out everything Sonic was about. In the following year, Sega also released another game in the franchise, but this time in the main roster of Sonic games, which was named after the namesake of the hero: Sonic the Hedgehog (also known as Sonic 06). Now Sonic 06 got deservingly horrible reviews. But why would people hold just two games against a character? I mean, we don't hold "Mario is Missing" against Mario when it comes to spin-offs, but it's also true that no Mario game in the main series was as broken as Sonic 06...(though I am still wondering why people don't ask for the Mario Party games killed off).
Holding one or two games against a character happens from a little somethingcalled "Revisionist History". That is, the non-classic Sonic games that came before Sonic 06 and Shadow are now considered broken as well. Games like Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes. But were they all bad games? Well that is too subjective to answer, but considering that the first Sonic Adventure got a review score of 87.12% on Gamerankings, which is a website which combines many different reviews of a game into one comprehensive percent. Even sites like Gamespot gave it a 9.2, a site which also gave Mario 64 a 9.4. That's just the reviews, according to VGChartz.com, the original Sonic Adventure sold 2.42 million copies, plus 1.12 million copies when it was ported to the Gamecube. Let's look at its sequel, Sonic Adventure 2 got 83.71% on Gamerankings and an 8.6 on Gamespot, who gave Mario Sunshine an 8.0.While the second Sonic Adventure outing sold less than a million on the Dreamcast, it sold 2.49 million copies on the Gamecube port. Now for Sonic Heroes, review-wise it was a bit weaker than the other two 3D Sonic games; since on the Xbox it got 75.21%, Gamecube 74.06% and 69.18% for the PS2 version. On Gamespot, it got a "not too shabby" 7.5 for the Gamecube version. However it did also sell 5.19 million copies on all three systems. Now I won't even go about saying that these figures or review scores say that the games were good or that they were bad, that would be one's own opinion. But I think it does prove that other people regarded them as good at the time. Thus this idea that "oh the 3D Sonic games never worked in the first place" is complete rubbish, because obviously people didn't think that when the games came out. Let's not also forget that the handheld Sonic games have done well; on GameRankings the first Sonic Advance got a 83.42% and it's two sequels got 83.42% and 81.29%. The three Sonic Advance games sold, 2.24 million, 1.7 million and 1.17 million copies. Sonic Rush also got an 82.79% and sold 2.89 million copies; with its sequel selling almost half million but getting a 80.15% on Gamerankings. While these are not perfect scores or outstanding sales, they are pretty good considering the current bias attributed to these games as of late; thus the argument that Sonic's games have been regarded as bad since the Dreamcast doesn't work.
Now I would like to point out that this is more than just some Sonic fanboygetting upset over what people said about Sonic. If someone truly didn't like Sonic that would be just someone's opinion and it would be useless responding to it because I believe they're entitled to it, but I am more responding to a recent trend of people either misinterpreting the facts or forgetting that the games actually did well. It's not that someone's opinion is a fact, but one can compare many opinions of people empirically. Now there is a list of statements I've heard quite a few people say as of late, that I would like to respond to:
""...Any new Sonic game since the Sega Genesis has sucked"
A subjective argument, but as shown by the sales figures and review scores these games were not regarded as bad when they came out. The only games did truly horrible was the Shadow spin-off and Sonic 06.
"...The Sonic games keep bringing in a bunch of new characters"
While this is true up to Sonic 06, Sega has actually been focusing more on solo-Sonic gameplay. At least with home console Sonic games, like "Sonic & the Secret Rings" and "Sonic Unleashed". Games which let you only play as one character regularly: Sonic (well actually one and a half characters in Sonic Unleashed if you count the Werehog). Yet while both of those recent games only have Sonic as the playable character, people want to repeat their mantra.
The Speed versus Platforming argument:
This argument seems pretty fickle. The initial idea was that Sonic was not as fast in the new Sonic games as he was in the old games. As such, Sega listened, and in Sonic 06 and Unleashed they made Sonic really fast. In fact, in Sonic Unleashed they made him so fast that now people are complaining that there's no room to slow down and do actual platforming, like in the...the old games. Thus there is an imbalance between careful platforming versus fast pace gaming. However there was a Sonic game that balanced the two and yet wasn't an old Sonic game, and that game was Sonic Adventure: Just play the levels like Speed Highway-- in it you run really fast on loop-de-loops but then you're required to slow down and jump across platforms-- sounds alot like the old games.
""...Sega has never found a working formula for 3D Sonic gameplay."
This is the idea that no 3D Sonic has ever worked. While that is some people's opinion, I guess millions of sales and good reviews are an illusion. I also wonder why people say that Sonic needs to go completely 2D, yet they seem to ignore the fact that Sonic Unleashed had 2D sections and the handheld games were completely 2D.
This recent bias is not only attributed to the non-classic Sonic games that predatedShadow the Hedgehog, but also the games released after Sonic 06. A good example of this was the game Sonic Unleashed as when many of the reviews or previews for Sonic Unleashed came out by some gaming websites, the authors of the articles couldn't help but donate a paragraph of how recent Sonic games have fallen on hard times, and then they'd they actually start talking about the game. That's like spewing a whole paragraph whenever a new Mario game comes out, saying how some fans only like the 2D Mario games over any new ones. The worst part of it is that the only "hard times" they could referring to is that they believe any non-classic Sonic game has failed.
As for harsh review given to Sonic Unleashed, a good example of this was thevideo review IGN did for the game; which started off by telling people to avoid the game altogether and that it was a "big piece of garbage" (that's some quality journalism right there), so much so that "pretty much every decision made in this game was the wrong decision" then the reviewer contradicts themselves and says that the daytime sections were actually very good. They just don't stop there, they even say that if the game had just the werehog sections and Sonic levels it wouldn't be that bad, but the reviewer did say that the worst part in the game are adventure stages, which aren't so bad, just really boring. So what happened to staying away from a "big piece of garbage" when, according to the reviewer himself, a good portion of it was actually pretty good and the rest was boring at worst?
IGN ended up giving Sonic Unleashed a 4.5 out of 10. Let's go back two years towhen Sonic 06 was reviewed by IGN, for gameplay the reviewer said this about Sonic 06:
"A mixture of camera and control problems, not to mention lackluster missions and faulty level design, detonate all the fun."
What was the reviewer's overall score for Sonic 06? They gave it 4.8, which washigher than Sonic Unleashed's 4.5. For Sonic Unleashed's gameplay the reviewer said this:
"The daytime levels aren't without fault, but are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the game is horrendous."
So some of it is fun...and the rest is horrendous...and if you read the review whenthey say "horrendous" they mean only that the bad parts are tedious and boring. Sonic Unleashed's levels are split about 50/50 between normal Sonic and Werehog levels, and so according to the IGN reviewer half of the levels are actually fun?? I'd take 50% of fun and 50% of boring-- over a game like Sonic 06, that is completely broken and glitchy, so much so you can't even complete a level. But I guess with Sonic a game with some fun and boring levels is worse than a game with glitchy and broken levels. In that same review, Sonic Unleashed's graphics got some unneeded flack. The reviewer gave the graphics portion a 6.5, saying:
"The daytime levels look great, but the other two-thirds suffer considerable framerate issues."
As for Sonic 06? It got a 6.5 in graphics too, the reviewer said this:
"Decent character animation and textures, but the environments could benefit from more attention."
So some frame rate issues in one game automatically equals lack of artistry inanother? I can agree with the Sonic 06 reviewer, the graphics were pretty bad in the game; if you play it you can see Sonic move very stiffly, and the environments could've used more style. I mean they do meet the next-gen requirements for graphics; like models with more polygons and higher resolution for textures, but that's about it. All you have to do is compare pictures, or even better yet videos, and I believe one would agree with me that there is a clear improvement in the graphics of Sonic Unleashed. The games are also in the same generation, so it is a fair comparison. Not to say that graphics should be a focus, but it is a very good example of how much bias Sonic Unleashed seemed to have gotten.Now mind you, I would not be able to say that Sonic Unleashed was reviewed unfairly if I did not compare it to Sonic 06 and show that it should be considered superior to its predecessor by just the reviewers' words alone. Just like how I would not be able to correlate a reviewer's opinion to how the Dreamcast Sonic games were regarded if I did not compare similar games that were considered good during the same time; in which I used the 3D Mario games of the time as my example.
Anyhow, I'm not here to whip the dead horse to repeat over and over that Sonic 06was a bad game, in fact I'm trying to do just the opposite. My point is that it just seems when the post-classic-Sonic games first came out people graded them honestly, but now it seems that people want to follow the trend to very haphazardly sign the games off as worthless. I admit, Sonic Unleashed isn't perfect, but to say that it is equal to, or even worse than Sonic 06 is ridiculous, and all one would have to do is to play both games to see that Unleashed is greatly superior, even in just strict terms of glitches and stability. I am also not here to bash IGN, but their very immature response to Sonic Unleashed was an overkill and needs to be pointed out as just one example of the recent and exaggerated criticism.
One would wish that some people could look past Sonic 06 and see that Segamade a vastly improved game in Unleashed, but that's not a very convenient thing to do. Not only is it a lot safer for reviewers to give newer Sonic games flack, it's also very easy for Sonic to be the butt of many jokes. Such sites like Industry Gamers, that you expect to be professional, had an article about Sega fixing Sonic (which is a perfectly legitimate article), but below a screen from Sonic Unleashed it had the caption "Nothing to see here folks... just another mediocre 3-D Sonic title". Another website, Kotaku, claimed in an otherwise-interesting article that if the Dreamcast did succeed that the Sonic games would still suck. However, this was done in humor, to which I have no absolutely no problem with, as I appreciate humor if it's clean, original and done in good taste. So instead of me telling people to not make fun of Sonic for the sake of my fanboyness, I plead with them that if they're going to make fun of something? Make it fresh and original. The tired joke of "Sonic had some sucky 3D games" is getting old, especially since that opinion greatly contradicts the initial reception that the Dreamcast Sonic games got when they came out. Even jokes can be smart and constructed cleverly. So being that the first truly "broken", non-spin-off Sonic game was Sonic 06, it all shows that there's a bandwagon mentality-- in that it's been very cool recently to bash Sonic.
Edited by Lava89, 14 September 2009 - 04:17 PM.