Single Status Update
Sometimes I forget that some Sonic fans have such tunnel vision about this series' storytelling that NFP calling Unleashed story bad legit confused some people
Even though it's not exactly that great outside of presentation compared to a lot of other games
I'd argue the opposite honestly. It was never valued enough, to the point where it just arguably got progressively worse over the last decade in this blind attempt at simplifying the series.
No Sonic story is worth writing home about when compared to the medium at large. But then again, not many games in this medium ever are. Even standouts like the LoU or something aren't exactly monumental when it comes to stories in general. With that all being said though, it can't be overstated how much a simply good story can resonate with a player and tie them to the game at large. How much a great one can even inspire people. I feel like that drive has been flat out lost in recent Sonic games.
People often look up to Unleashed because it was just a decent story that tied the game together. It was nothing fancy. Nothing overly dark like what we had before it and nothing overly meta or simplistic like what we've gotten since. It had a balance that, by this series standards, was pretty damn good. It isn't the best this industry has to offer and only someone who has never played anything beyond this franchise would even imply that but it isn't bad.
Let's simply keep perspective here and work from that. Learn to stand up again before we walk instead of sitting on our bums and writing off the few examples of progress the series ever put forth. Critique? Absolutely. Learn so that we can move to greater things. Stop trying? Well, they already tried that.
Sorry to rant a bit here but I see arguments like this and I'm instantly brought back to the time around Color's release where this whole decade long dry run started. Only this time, there really isn't anywhere lower for the bar to drop *knock on wood*.
All I want is a story that ties itself to the game. Even the stupidest stories, like SA2, can still be compelling in how it's used to carry the gameplay.
What I specifically mean is that fans value the stories over the game they're meant to service, like the story is a separate thing.
And if I may theorise, it feels like this has been because the only Sonic content we've been getting are the comics, where the story takes centrestage. With all that happens in the comics, Sonic fans are taking that discussion back to the games where the story doesn't serve that same priority or purpose.
If that makes sense...?
I see what you mean but I also can't say that I really see that as a bad thing. Things like the IDW comics represent a real breath of fresh air for anyone who's only been experiencing Sonic stories through the recent games. It's only natural for people to want the good they see in them reflected in the medium they're most concerned with. Hell, I'm still in the camp that is pulling for Sega to bring Ian on for the main games.
Though, I do think that it's great for a person's main connection to this series being through the characters, settings, stories, ect. For a while, the series put a lot of effort into that stuff, even if a lot of it ended up being flawed. To me, it's no different from people enjoying the series mostly for the music. The games can and have catered to all of these groups before as, at the end of the day, they're all different aspects worked on by different talents within Sega and ST.
I guess my overall argument there is that while a game's story should, first and foremost, serve the game level-by-level; not everything in a cutscene needs to tie back into the levels specifically. There's a balance to be had there and I think only ever having a narrative that ties directly into gameplay is rather limiting.
To give an example from Kid Icarus Uprising because I'm never going to pass on the chance to talk about Kid Icarus Uprising (did I mention I love Kid Icarus Uprising), there is no reason the player needs to know that Pit can't read. There is no gameplay system that takes that into account. Though, it's a funny trait that adds to Pit's character and has become an enduring joke past the game. That's only one example of this from the game and I'd honestly love to see this series start doing things like that as well.
Building up a likeable character can also add to the player caring about what happens to them in a level. Which leads to greater impacts from story beats, stronger connections to the music being played, better memorization of the actual level environment, ect. ect. That coexistence, to me, is what can often excel a simply fun game to an amazing one.