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Writer's Blah

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  1. It's hard to internalize how quickly Sonic Forces came and went, how it managed to drag us back to ground zero after the brief euphoria that came with Mania. The proclamations of Sonic's "death" and hysteria have been left at the door, and it's almost depressing to note how it looks like we can barely muster up the energy to even get upset anymore. The Hollywood film provides its own sense of dread, where Sonic's ridicule has been extended to the film scene as well, instead of simply self-contained within video games, but even that looks like it's only caused some passing suffering. Granted, there's very little to talk about, as we have no idea what the next "big" Sonic game is going to be, but it feels as though even speculation has little enthusiasm for it anymore. For a moment, I want to talk about us. It's clear that we aren't totally divorced from this franchise; otherwise, we wouldn't still be here talking about it. But it is clear that the more time passes by, the more difficult it is for us to get excited for Sonic content. Is it only because the games continue to nosedive in a negative direction? Is the fanbase stagnating in membership, or rather, are new fans simply not a thing anymore? Are we just getting older, to the point where we have less time to worry about the direction a franchise we once loved is going in, when it continues to stumble and fail to learn from its mistakes? Is it all of the above, or perhaps even something else? I suppose my question for all of you is, do you still have any modicum of hope in this franchise? Do you still dare to dream that one day, SEGA will finally produce a Sonic game that is not simply good, but great? And if you don't, then why are you still here? Could it be that SEGA passing the reigns of the franchise over to Whitehead is an inevitability at this point, and we're all just waiting for that to happen? (I don't subscribe to this theory, but I'm at a loss at this point.) Speaking personally, I think it'd be fair to say that a very large part of me has lost hope. I've learned to love other franchises, on levels similar to the love I had for Sonic. My childhood attachment keeps me from completely taking my fingers off the franchise's pulse though, if only for the morbid curiosity of knowing what they'll try next, even if I don't end up buying it. I suppose the real reason I haven't left completely is because I WANT to love Sonic again. To experience that euphoria of playing a title that proves to end up of shaping my tastes all over again; not merely a game to compare against, but a new measuring stick to compare other games to, I'd give almost anything to have that again. Do I know that I won't? I know that at this point, there's an almost-zero percent chance that it will. But so long as this franchise continues to have new content made for it, I don't think I'll ever be able to truly step away from this stupid blue rat.
  2. I remember when I used to ADORE the Sonic franchise. I was introduced smack-dab in between the classic and modern eras, so I was experiencing Sonic 2, CD, and 3&K at the same time I was experiencing SA1 and 2. It was never a question of preference for me back then; I played the 3D games more because I was better at them and I had a preference for 3D games on the whole, but I never viewed the Genesis games as inferior or as "a different Sonic." It was the coexistence of a fantastical cartoon world infused with realistic environments and a common connection through the Chaos Emeralds that intrigued me so heavily. In a funny kind of way, the speed was only novel in the first Sonic game I played (SA1) because of how different it felt from other 3D platformers I had played (Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, DK64). And I stuck with the franchise even throughout its dark era. I even kind of enjoyed 06 and Shadow before I got older and started directly comparing them to the older titles. It was sometime after Sonic Generations came out that I started losing interest in the franchise. I was incredibly hyped for Gen's release and ate it up when I got my hands on it, but then when Lost World got announced and had trailers released for it, I kind of just glossed it over and decided to pass on it. Rise of Lyric got me excited with its initial trailer and a returning playable Tails, Knuckles, and Amy, but the more I saw of the game, the less I wanted to play it, and thank goodness I skipped out on it too. I think my passion for Sonic kind of died alongside Rise of Lyric. Mania looked cool, and it plays excellently, but it's not what drew me to the franchise in the first place. And the less said about Forces, the better. I got a bit of a second wind after reading Ian Flynn's run on Archie Sonic, but was always let down by the forces outside of his control that caused arcs to be aborted prematurely (Mecha-Sally and the Shattered World Crisis aftermath come to mind), but the two branches of Sonic are now going in directions that don't have me all that excited. If the next game Taxman works on is all-original and actually attempts to do some semi-serious storytelling, I'll probably be able to get on board, but I unfortunately kind of doubt we'll ever get anything on the level of 3&K's storytelling again. Sonic isn't dead to me per se, but it's kind of like a really disappointing zombie.
  3. I'm convinced that the two worlds concept was a hastily thrown together excuse from SoJ to explain the discrepancies in artstyle between Sonic games while still appearing to care about lore and continuity. They're really wishy-washy on that honestly; I think they realize that the Sonic franchise holds some soft continuity between games and that's just the way the franchise has been built up until recently, but they also kinda wish that they didn't have to deal with that aspect of the franchise and could eliminate narrative/lore continuity from the series while still holding onto characters and settings from past games. It's clear to me that they really don't care about this aspect of the franchise, but what really irks me is the fact that they pretend like they do. Nintendo, for all my complaints, has outright stated that Mario games do not follow any kind of continuity and that it's best to think of them more like actors who can fit a variety of situations. It's not the way I wish things were, but it's a concrete decision that's better off than what SEGA's doing, which is pretending like there's some huge super secret continuity via giving this Sonic world/human world parallel dimension nonsense, which of course, is never going to be brought up in-game, because it's a dumb idea and the dev team knows it. Not saying the idea can't work under any capacity, but I certainly don't trust Sonic Team to pull that kind of idea off well.
  4. It's honestly really hard to tell at this point. I haven't actually played Forces so bare with me, but from the footage I've seen, the entire project seemed very cynically calculated. Inclusion of Classic Sonic and the Custom Hero to appease two very distinct sections of the fanbase, returning villains from more popular times in the franchise (who only appear in cutscenes apart from Zavok, so I'm told), and an edgy plot that's not too edgy and leans back on Colors/Lost World-essque writing to create a hollow drama. And then to top the entire thing off, the entire game's only about three hours long and has some of the most lackluster level design and music in the entire series. I bring up these facts because it feels like the direction the franchise has been heading in since Colors. Not since Unleashed have Sonic Team given us a game that felt ambitious or like it had any kind of passion or TLC in it. They've been learning the wrong lessons from their mistakes since at least 1998, with notable flukes that turned out to be actual successes in Colors and Generations, and I'm not gonna lie, Forces feels like rock bottom. Because at least with 06, we could laugh at how horrendously bad it was. For all its numerous failings, they clearly had an idea. A terrible one, but an idea nonetheless. Forces doesn't make me laugh at its expense, it makes me feel depressed and empty. Because this is what Sonic Team thinks we want. So, returning to the original question at hand, of what's next for Sonic Team, I can''t say for sure because, I mean, they're Sonic Team. But I have two potential outlooks: a hopeful one and a cynical one. Hopefully, Sonic Team just stops for a while. They take a good look, a REAL look at the situation around them, and design their next project around simplification. Not necessarily throwing out baggage, because they've already tried that multiple times, and it's never made things better. I mean they go back to basics. And when I say "back to basics," I don't mean classic era. I don't mean Adventure era. I don't even mean Boost or Boom era. I mean they set out to make a simple, speedy, 3D platformer. No frills, no intricate narrative, MAYBE an alternate gameplay style to pad out game time, but one which compliments the main gameplay instead of distracts from it; hopefully something that is also both fast and 3D platforming-centric. Really, it doesn't have to be that ambitious a game. What matters is that they get the details right; fine-tuning physics, cute character interactions, making the player feel good about going fast. They don't need to make a huge game. They just need to make a good game. One that has clear passion and effort behind it. Maybe bring in a new, younger team. Have some of the old guard be a little more hands-off. Don't make it about clearing Sonic's name. Just making something Sonic Team sincerely WANTS to make. Cynically, they could just make yet another boost game with more nostalgia pandering and Wisps added in for no good reason because hey, people loved them in Colors and totally didn't hate them in Lost World or Forces! Basically just Forces 2 with an even more bare-bones plot. And more quippy one-liners, because we definitely need more of those.
  5. Except that's exactly what classic fans did when this came out. This game is totally reminiscent of the classics and serves as a proper sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. You don't need Sonic Mania.
  6. What point are you proving? Sonic Lost World could've at some point been codenamed SA3. I know it wasn't, but just for the simple fact that it could've been, does that make your argument hold more water? The fact that those games you listed off were, for whatever brief period of time, codenamed SA3, legitimize them as versions of SA3 to you? Nice of you to completely ignore the other part of my post where I stated, You know exactly what we want, and no, it's not explicitly a game called SA3. And before you mention, "look at how many games tried to be SA3 and completely failed, why should they keep trying?" realize that Sonic's track record as a whole during that time period was underwater. Secret Rings and Black Knight were also received poorly, and they're clearly not based off of the Sonic Adventure formula. I could say the same for Sonic R, 3D Blast, Rivals 1 & 2, Rise of Lyric, and Lost World. I heavily suspect that the intention of bringing up this piece of trivia over and over again isn't to inform or enlighten us, it's exclusively to piss us off. I get it, we're a blight to the Sonic community. Thanks for the reminder.
  7. But that's the problem right there. Pontac and Graff may not care, but more importantly, SEGA doesn't care. If they did, there's no way they would be able to get away with publicly saying that they're unaware of what has happened continuity-wise within the franchise. SEGA specifically chose Pontaff as the writing team BECAUSE they wanted to distance themselves from their own past. Bringing in a couple of schmucks who are unfamiliar with the franchise and don't have any baggage was the perfect way to get away from the scars of Shadow, 06, and (at the time) Unleashed. But they didn't outright tell them that they were writing a reboot JUST in case SEGA decided that it wanted to bring back some old elements to please fans, as they tend to do. SEGA is notoriously bad at sticking with their decisions and seeing them through; the writing team and their attitude towards the franchise is just another example of that.
  8. Pontac and Graff have gone on record [circa 2013] saying that they haven't researched any of the games prior to the ones they wrote for, so those of you wondering whether Tails' character arc is going to somehow coincide or conflict with the development he got in SA1 and 2, it's kind of a moot point. I think it's easier to just think of everything past 2009 as its own continuity that is only inspired by the old one, instead of directly influenced by it. This version of Sonic, Tails, and Eggman are, for all sakes and purposes, different from the ones in Black Knight and prior. Granted, the series has always struggled with finding a consistent writing style for the franchise, so that point's a bit contestable. If anything, this stretch starting from Colors has been the most consistent Sonic's been in terms of writing, my dislike for it not withstanding.
  9. I swear, if this actually ends up being the game's setup, it's gonna make the House of Cards arc look like Shakespeare by comparison.
  10. Who can say at this point? It may have led a little more credence to the "uniting all parts of the fanbase" idea, but even then, it probably still would have looked like a mess. The gameplay wouldn't be any different, minus maybe some stuff involving the gadgets, but that's not scratching the surface of the issues this game is facing. It really does feel like a parody of the Sonic franchise, rather than a genuine product. I'm actually quite tempted to make a thread regarding Sonic Team's inability to figure out the root of these problems on their own. Is it really that difficult for them to parse through? Is there some unknown factor limiting what they can do in a given game? Why do fans like Mania's dev team have a better understanding of Sonic's core appeal than SEGA themselves do?
  11. Hmm, I think the reason for that is that people were never asking for a CaC specifically. Think of it like how Mii Fighters became a thing in Smash 4. Nintendo received countless e-mail requesting characters like Goku, Luffy, SpongeBob, and the like to become included in the next Smash Bros game. Realistically, there was no possible way those characters could be included in the game, considering that they're not even video game characters. But to quell those desires, they decided that the character creator already included on Nintendo devices, Miis, would be the perfect framing device to have fans of those characters be able to play as them in some capacity. Analogously, SEGA wasn't receiving requests for a create-a-character system in the next Sonic game. What they WERE getting was an email from Shadowfan96, saying, "Hey SEGA, I have an idea for the newest character in the next Sonic game! His name is Cruise the Hedgehog, and he's a badass who has time traveling powers to defeat all his enemies," yada yada. Now think hundreds, if not thousands of similarly worded e-mail, all requesting their character to be placed in the game. Obviously, SEGA isn't actually going to include Cruise exactly as requested. But what they can do is allow the next Sonic game to have a playable avatar character who becomes best friends with Sonic and helps him save the world from a dangerous Eggman. CaC is the system that SEGA is using to allow all these fantasies to come to life at once. I might be putting this bluntly, but I think you're giving kids too much credit. There are honest, intelligent, mature ones out there for sure, but I think the ravenous one with unrealistic dreams and goals far outweigh them.
  12. Well, I dunno then. I can't think of a way to gather the demographics to see how many fan letters SEGA's gotten over the years requesting their character to be featured in an upcoming game. I imagine it's a lot due to the fact that the CaC is even a thing, but I can't really say for sure.
  13. This was basically my reaction, to be honest, Earlier in the thread, Nepenthe posted: I'm not 100% sure there was absolutely no way some form of official sanctioning of OCs could've been done. Like, if SEGA was producing a Sonic MMO, then there'd be a decently good reason for a character creator similar to what's seen here. The problem is the context. An MMO would mainly be side missions with the main cast only tangentially related in order to provide focus and agency to the players, but Forces is supposed to be another main entry to the franchise. An avatar character breaks the cast dynamic the games had from both a story and gameplay perspective, and to top it all off, isn't even that versatile a system, from what we've seen. Who knows, maybe the PC version will have ravenous modders making the customization options more numerous and creative, but that doesn't even count as official SEGA sanction anymore, leading recursively back to, "you might as well just do it yourself." The people I'm seeing getting excited for this are either OC fanatics in general who'll take anything if it means they get to self-insert their character into a canon Sonic story, or ironic memesters who associate the Sonic brand with its memes more than its history, finding it hilariously fun that you'll technically be able to make Coldsteel or Sonichu canon right next to Sonic in gameplay. I really don't get who this is benefiting either.
  14. From my own experience, most denizens of the Internet don't point out financial success or failure as their own definition of what's said when you hear the phrase, "[Blank game] is a failure," unless they specifically mention it beforehand, and even then, it's usually from a more mournful perspective, such as lamenting Okami as a game that was a financial failure, or the next Call of Duty game being a financial success. Most people who get in a tizzy about calling a game an "objective failure," usually comes more from a place of failing to live up to the commonly held rubrics of quality that constitute a good game, which can vary depending on time period and background. More commonly, people throw around the word "objective" very loosely in general, presuming themselves to have taste that falls in line with what's considered "objectively good." Let's not get sidetracked on this though, as this "objective vs. subjective" argument has been done to death before, and really isn't the point from all this. I feel like arguing these semantics at all though, misses the point of the discussion. Whether you can call games like Sonic 06 or Rise of Lyrics financial successes or failures, really doesn't matter in the end, because SEGA have proven to, time and time again, switch up a formula from game to game solely on the basis that they feel it either isn't interesting enough or wasn't critically well received, regardless of how much money they made back. They've always been kind of fickle like that, even back in their early days with their aggressive marketing campaign against the SNES, and their attempts at extending the Genesis's lifespan with continual add-ons. Even if you personally like one of these games, ignoring how they have affected the public consciousness in terms of how they view the Sonic franchise does an extreme disservice to both us and SEGA. It's exasperating too, because despite being eleven years old now, the fact that Sonic 06 was such a massive critical failure has eclipsed the entirety of the franchise, to the point that it is seen as a sort of "gaming boogeyman" that threatens the integrity of other franchises and precludes Sonic as a whole, within the minds of the casual consumer and non-Sonic fan. I mean, look at how many people have constantly been panicking about Super Mario Odyssey on the sole basis that it includes a realistic-looking city level that resembles Sonic 06, and could potentially be a testament to the game's quality, despite Nintendo having stated that the game is practically finished. It precludes potential discussion and creative avenues, simply because it failed really hard that one time in the past; people's reactions are just kind of honed like that, unfortunately.
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