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Scritch the Cat

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  1. Scritch the Cat

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    As funny as that is, I don't think it's a very good idea for the core series at this time. Continuity is so flimsy already, so much is subservient to Rule of Funny under Pontaff, the cast is so dispassionate even in serious circumstances, that we don't really need another thing in it that just reminds us that it's all just a game where nothing really matters because even the characters know it's not real. Besides, with every new game being a potential retcon, they could probably just add Sticks in and say "In this game's continuity she was always there." Not sure why they would, though, since when they're hesitant to put in more playable characters they have a lot less reason to add to the cast. Then again, there's probably nobody involved with Sonic these days who doesn't have a number of detractors, haters, and skeptics. However, I'm operating without any great familiarity with Flynn's work, and my familiarity with Pontaff is limited to Sonic Colors and their Sonic Boom episode.
  2. Scritch the Cat

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    I really find me saying, why not? I’m going to steer away from addressing opinions of whether his writing can make the games better, and whether Pontaff are as bad as their detractors say; all that is a matter of opinion. What is objectively true is that Pontaff had no real history with or real passion for the games, by their own admission; getting the job merely because Pontac’s relative worked at Sega, while Flynn signed up to write Sonic because he was a Sonic fan. Also objectively true is that Flynn is writing these books based on Sega mandates to keep it closer to the games than Ken Penders did, and so it would seem Sega has a lot to gain in establishing that parity by having Flynn write both.
  3. Funny how merely letting us play as other characters would override the technicalities of plots not really needing them, especially when plots take a backseat in general. Now that I think of it, you could exclude Tails from the plot of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and very little would change. Some of the gameplay would be different, but aside from the plane stage, the whole scenario could work with Sonic only. But playing as Tails offered new experiences (at least in multiplayer), even if back then, he couldn't fly when under human control.
  4. Here's the rub, though: What sort of actions are cool? Running fast? If that was cool Sonic would be super-popular again. Exploration-heavy platforming? Maybe, but modern Sonic games don't do that much. Memes? Probably are cool to some people, but relying on memes for attention hasn't necessarily made Sonic sell any better.
  5. No, but then, I thought even worse was coming. When they were boasting about removing characters, even when they were only specifically referring to them being playable, I was predicting they wouldn't even be present anymore. I did suspect characterization was going to get bad, given the precedent set by Shadow the Hedgehog. As to Mighty, Ray, and Classic Sonic, I hadn't really expected to see either of those again, after the unenthusiastic response to Sonic 4. Well, moving right along, the haunting question Sega might have to consider is, "What if making Sonic cool again isn't the best way to make games profitable?" Tastes change, so in order to keep up, they either have to rely on a different character to keep up with the times (Shadow The Hedgehog was an attempt; it failed), revise Sonic's own personality to fit new trends better (arguably it's been attempted many times, with debatable success), or just focus more on making games good.
  6. Speak for yourself; I saw that coming way in advance, because I was downwind of critics and other whingebags who were making an enormous stink about the extra characters; it was impossible for Sonic Team to ignore, so all it took was one indication they were catering to that to tell me where things were headed. I'm not sure what you mean by "dad jokes". I remember Roger Van Der Veide using that term to refer to the Sonic Boom cartoon, and there I assumed he meant "referring to things only older people who remember past incarnations of Sonic will find funny"(i.e., Tails ascribing "blast processing" to his invention or Sonic mentioning SonAmy fanfiction). Why you'd call the same thing "kiddy, faux-Mario-esque" also confuses me, though I'm not sure whether the main series has the same sort of humor. Pontaff has a reputation for not knowing enough about Sonic's past, instead. However, speaking of Mario, it's funny how Nintendo doesn't ever worry about him being overshadowed by other characters in his own series; even though Mario isn't conveyed as a "cool" character.
  7. I've always wondered this; from the very first moment I heard it back in the early 1990s. There were probably other games at the time that had their victory themes in a minor key, but none I can recall playing and certainly none with a mostly upbeat tone like Sonic The Hedgehog. That sort of ending music would make sense if it came in a scenario wherein the hero won a victory, but at a cost, or without any reason to believe there would be more victories. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but to me it seems hard to fathom why a composer wouldn't make a victory theme sound happy unless there was some other factor besides it being a victim theme. Really, though, I might just be whistling in the dark. I'd like an answer but if nobody has one this is just something to think about. Either way, I'm happy the theme was replaced Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
  8. I would certainly like for Sonic Team to prove me wrong, but I feel like I won't like Sonic Team unless they prove me wrong. Proving me wrong, I must restress, isn't just about talent. Of course there are many, many people who are worse at making games than Sonic Team is. However, most of those people aren't making games, and when people make fangames, even if the fangames aren't good, at least I didn't have to pay to play them. Bad official games are different. The reason I'm so skeptical of Sonic Team/Sega is not because absolutely everything they've released since 2006 is total garbage; they've had moments of competence even if the concepts they tried for games aren't the ones I'd prefer. Obviously, they don't intend for Sonic games to suck. However, the more recent release of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric implies that if a game does end up sucking, on an objective, technical level, they're still willing to release it for money without fixing it, and act as though nothing is wrong. (Note: Because I'm talking about the bad ethics of releasing unfinished games, I can include games based on the Sonic brand even if Sonic Team didn't personally make them.) While having even one humiliating moment like that was terrible, I might have warmed to them since if only they genuinely demonstrated they were sorry and turned over a new leaf, but no; we got another humiliating moment like that. We may get another still. We also may not, but even if the next few games we get are decent or even good, that doesn't absolutely put Sonic Team in the clear to me, because people thought Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations were decent or even good, and then Sonic Team still went on to release Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. What would do much, much more to redeem them in my opinion would be Sonic Team becoming more transparent to consumers; doing a multitude of things to let people test early builds of their games and report bugs; not just to the game creators but also to the public. Even if the reports that emerged revealed a currently terrible game, making that known would do a lot to show Sonic Team was willing to be better instead of just look better. Note: I am aware that Sonic Team has been merged with another division of Sega, meaning it technically doesn't exist. I use the term out of convenience because it still encompasses "the people who control the fate of the Sonic brand". Saying "Sonic Team must take responsibility for Sonic going in a good direction" essentially means that the people or sort of people (based on company position) who handed Archie a list of demands for revamping their adaptation to prevent any more harm of the sort Ken Penders caused, need to apply that sort of oversight to the games, as well.
  9. No, that meme exists because its creator was a fucking moron who proposed that one could extrapolate a cycle on the basis of one game and that most of the fanbase still consisted of Genesis purists; a big fallacy when Sonic Adventure 2 was the best-selling non-Nintendo game on Gamecube and a lot of people still love its characters. Posting it is banned here for good reason. The ire about side characters was originally directed at very niche cases like Big the Cat; almost never at Tails and Knuckles, and while Sonic Heroes probably exacerbated the backlash against extra characters due to them being used to pad the game out, there was never a sense that putting in unnecessary characters led to a glitchy game. And it didn't with Sonic 2006, either; that game is a broken mess because they didn't finish it. Had they done so, it would probably have been well-received, but some fuckwad suits at Sega made Sonic Team rush it out for Christmas and Sonic's fifteenth anniversary, and Sega deciding to start sucking off the "shitty friends" crowd was a convenient way to downplay that their execution was what stank, not the concept itself. If you need any greater proof, just look at the Game Boy Advance port they made of the first Sonic game on Genesis; only Sonic playable, a very short game whose levels were already designed, and its execution was still fucked up. Same with Sonic 4: Episode 1. The problem isn't other characters. The problem isn't even other playstyles. The problem is that Sega is willing to release unfinished shit and charge full price for it, and needs to be brought to terms with that fact by the whole fanbase. How to do that? With those fangamers you wrongfully disparage. Remember that awful GBA port I mentioned above? Fans did it correctly the VERY NEXT YEAR! The same group went on to make the mobile ports of several Classic Sonic games, and then Sonic Mania. Sega itself has given lie to your notion that they're more dependable than fans when it comes to getting Sonic right, given that they hired those people and still aren't as good at replicating Sonic's old engine when they try. Most of the times, in their 3D games, they don't try. Fanmade 3D games have actually gotten the physics pretty close to the ones in Genesis games; boost Sonic can pussyfoot out of that responsibility. They even showed it's possible to make Sonic 06 not suck. As to characters, 3D fangames haven't implemented them well-enough for my tastes, yet...but they're trying, which is far more than I can say for Sonic Team. Not getting it right yet isn't a valid criticism because almost no developers get it right initially; almost every computer program goes through a lot of crap mid-development; people test them, find bugs, report bugs, programmers fix bugs. Sega could make more ambitious Sonic games with more characters if they were willing to do more of that and not charge money until they've got it finished, and a big way to avoid a backlash would be to allow fans to come test early builds of games. Thus, no ex-post facto blaming it on ambitious ideas. Or if they have to blame it on ambitious ideas and scale back on them, they can at least save face by not releasing the game for money with those problematic bits still in. As to the excuse about needing to get Sonic's own gameplay right before adding other characters back in, look; even if that had been valid at the time Sega started saying it after 2006's wipeout--and I'd argue that it wasn't too valid, since Sonic played pretty great in Sonic Adventure 2--if they're still saying that over a decade later when they still haven't added those other characters back in, it's probably safe to assume Sega will never get Sonic's own gameplay right. The sad reality is that while now it is pretty obvious how to get Classic Sonic's gameplay right (though maybe still not obvious to Sonic Team), Modern Sonic's identity crisis is such that what "right" is for that is subjective. Boost is probably a bigger base-breaker than other characters ever were, and if it's not, it should be, since it's a fundamental change to how Sonic himself plays, and if successful, will necessitate a wholesale departure from Genesis-style Sonic gameplay. There are also entirely too many times when, as Roger Van Der Weide puts it, Sonic Team would rather burn down what isn't working than fix it. Having recently replayed both Sonic Adventure and Sonic Colors, a good example of this is camera. Granting that they never quite got camera controls working, completely removing controls and instead using automated camera angles that are often either too close or too far to interpret things easily was not an improvement. Moving along to Roger's other points, though, if Sonic Team defines "getting Sonic's own gameplay right" as making the game more straightforward, then I absolutely will not invite them to get it right before they add Tails and Knuckles back in, because that sort of design reduces the utility of such characters. Getting Sonic's gameplay right should mean his gameplay should utilize more exploration, too; except his specialty would still be speeding forward while Tails and Knuckles would be better for exploration. However, whether they're actually done, in their or other people's opinions, if Sonic Team thinks they're ready to make games with Classic Sonic and a character who uses grappling hooks in them, then they have at least some places that Tails and Knuckles can fit in, too. If not in their 3D segments, then at least in their 2D ones, of which for better or worse, there are still plenty. It's a start. It's not a finish, but it would be better than they've done in a main game for over a decade.
  10. I agree. One of the most absurd bits of news for me was that a lot of time and maybe money went into developing a new lighting engine for sonic Forces. Why?! I will grant that the resulting game is pretty, but do they really expect this series to make a big splash with great graphics when such are all over gaming today? Sonic games were already pretty; that was a dumb priority. The truth is that while Sonic Team or its ghost may not be as good at programming physics as Taxman, they still utilize platforming in their games. It's often in blocky, forced 2D sections, but that's enough for Tails and Knuckles to come back since they're good at vertical movement.
  11. I'd argue that unfortunately, the problem is deeper and older. The problem with Sonic Team, and furthermore, with the Sonic series, is that its primary concern has always been looking cool. I don't know how much Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima were looking specifically at Western trends when conceiving it, but these extreme sports dude trends happened to fit the series and character well, so that's what we got, along with a first zone designed to play up this specialty, followed by ones that...were spotty at doing so. Later Sonic games would get closer to this ideal of going fast through environments set up like skate parts, but they had the benefit of of being released when all of that was still cool. Trends change, though, and that's probably why they shat out Shadow the Hedgehog. Focusing on hatred of the supporting cast, and then on the mockery of the series and the popularity of memes, are just further episodes in this ongoing quest to appeal to what's cool, as opposed to investing enough in making a game that actually influences a broad consensus of what's cool. On that note. I need to ask: Does Sega not have faith in Sonic these days? Based on what I've heard, they seem to have been downsizing its development staff for a while and Sonic doesn't seem very popular in Japan. He isn't necessarily popular in the Anglosphere either these days, but he's still the first thing many think of when they hear about Sega, compared to Japan where people are more into Sega's animesque human characters. It may well be a blessing that now, Sonic is exclusively handled by American and Australian developers, but that is still hanging on their ability to fund a good game.
  12. Fuck yeah; it's a detriment, but I think the OP is wrong about one thing. Based on every Sonic game I've ever played, alternate playstyles are necessary. Or if they aren't, at least Sega thought so, because this didn't actually start with Big the Cat; that's just the point when it got so alien to the core Sonic experience that it was the most noticeable example of forcing in an alternate, slower playstyle--it helps that it's a whole, separate story, which inherently fuels arguments that the game can be improved just by taking that out. However, from the very first game, they made excuses to slow the experience down, whatwith Marble Zone and the Special Stages being a totally different type of gameplay than the signature Sonic speed. They added to the slowdown in subsequent games by making you explore and play methodically to get the Chaos Emeralds/Time Zones/Good Future. Also these games were packed with "no going back" mechanics meaning that if you didn't get something write the first time, you'd have to replay a bunch of stuff to get another chance. I hated that part of Classic Sonic and hated seeing it return in Sonic Colors--especially since that game is full of invisible walls, speed pads and forced dimension shifts, putting me further at the mercy of the developers' insistence that I do things their way or not at all. The bottom line is that no mainstream Sonic game I have ever played is totally content to let you speed through everything to complete it fully. All of them demand some form of slowing down at points in order to complete 100%, and I think the reason for this is that being all speed would make the games too short; that or make them take an absurd amount of time to develop. Also, while some people say they'd love to see a Sonic game that was all-speed, all the time, unless Sega somehow discovers a way to give Sonic the same level of control while at full speed that normal characters have when going slower, it seems there's a very limited amount of things Sonic can actually do when going fast, which would lead to a very repetitive game. My take on the base concept of Sonic going fast is that its novelty wears thin if it's not well-rationed. You need some other sort of gameplay to break it up, but Sonic himself isn't as well built for platforming, combat, etc, so it makes sense to bring in some other characters who are better at it. The key for me is this: Other gameplay styles don't have to be as fast Sonic's ideal established in Green Hill Zone, but they have to be fun and the characters have to have some really impressive abilities to justify their existence The problem with Big the Cat is that his gameplay isn't what many gamers consider fun, and his athletic skills (at least originally) start and end at being able to lift heavy things, which is only used a very little bit in the game. Yet none of the ire aroused by Big the Cat, even when directed at other post-Genesis characters, ever hit Tails and Knuckles until maybe 2006 botched them, but it botched Sonic, too.
  13. I can't speak for the last two of those, but while The Shape of Water isn't a comedy, it shares with Who Framed Roger Rabbit that its central couple is still weird. It's not a film about an alternate reality where everything is super-different and interspecies romances are normal; rather it's a period-piece which exaggerates the 1950s' desire for conformity and sets the romantic leads against that. The film posits that it can work, but it doesn't pretend it isn't a struggle against norms. Moreover, while I have no familiarity with the others you mention, I can say that every well-received story I know of that has involved interspecies romance does this. The Frog Prince, Beauty & the Beast, Shrek, etc, all are about convincing people that interespecies couples are valid, but none of them starts assuming their audience is already convinced, and even though they're fairy tales, plenty of their characters aren't, either. That is because while the rational side of our brains can conclude that the key to a good romance is mutual consent, and thus this would be possible between different species if only they could communicate, and the idealistic side of our conscience says that true love is about more than sexual attraction, there's always going to be an instinct, formed in our world where multiple highly communicative species don't exist, that makes us understand the mindset of the "Gaston" figures, and accept that they're always a fitting obstacle in such stories. The only work I've found where interespecies couples are considered normal by default is BoJack Horseman, and these couples still go through turmoil calling their compatibility into question; I've read it argued that they're made different species as a metaphor for such personality clash. Sonic 2006 doesn't do any of this, though. None of the expected uneasiness of the relationship, based on either the leads' nervousness or opposition from elsewhere in society, is present. They just click together as personalities, Eggman and Silver complicate things but not because either shows any objection to such a romance, and if they weren't there the romance wouldn't have places to go because it was already apparently there. Beyond even that this relationship carries some inherent "yuck" factor for many people, it's just plain boring. The plot would arguably be better-received if there was never any romance to it and Elise was merely a damsel-in-distress; sure that trope is boring and cliche, and most such damsels tend to be really lame characters, but if Sonic wasn't romantically invested in such a character it would come off so much more as him doing this because it's the heroic thing to do and not because he has a self-interest in doing so. In fact, Sonic X had an episode with Sonic befriending a little girl bound to a wheelchair, taking her an a trip to see places she walways wanted to go but couldn't, no romance involved, and it's considered one of the better moments of the show. The thing about adding romantic relationships to Sonic's plots is that even if good enough writing could make almost any of them work, they're normally so absent from this series' premise that they'll face a wall of skepticism when they're introduced, in a way that they wouldn't in stories that are about romance by default. Sonic doesn't usually act like the settle down and raise a family type; he's a good guy but a very adventurous good guy whose good deeds take the form of charging in to save the day, falling in with allies who are already fighting the good fight or showing the depressed how to have a good time. All of such actions fit with Sonic's personality. Good writing might turn Sonic into a good romantic lead, but it might have to change so much in the process that he might lose some of what appeal he has. Not to mention how the gameplay would have to chance to accommodate this.
  14. Incidentally, The Geek Critique made a video review of Sonic 2006 making a strong case that it is substantially different from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. See, even WFRR doesn't portray their relationship as normal because that's the joke. Even living all his life in an alternate world where humans lived and worked with cartoon characters, Eddie considered that marriage weird, and he probably still would if they were the same species but still very different art styles and personalities. That story element doesn't work if it isn't weird, and because it's a comedy it doesn't have to delve deep into how they make it work; a couple constantly feeling awkward is a funny couple. Sonic 2006 is not a comedy. Its central couple has no quarrels, no turbulence caused by their personalities, nothing to make the couple's affection for each other feel real or endearing despite all that, so it's impossible to overlook the inter-species factor that makes it feel icky; however much a better-written plot could rationalize it--and putting such a plot in that game would have hogged even more time. On that note, I have been on TheTechnodrome.com since even before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012, and trust me, the relationship between Donatello and April (if you can even call it that) was controversial from the start. Not just because they're different species, either. Besides his usual machine-doing ways, 2012 Donatello was basically Brief from Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt in how he handled his crush--with two exceptions. 1, while neither character really considers that his romantic fantasies about his first crush might be based on nothing more than shallow, potentially downright predatory lust, PSG itself recognized and lampooned those quirks, and 2, it was made for adults who understand the problem with that sort of thinking. TMNT2012 was made for children who don't inherently understand empathy or personal space, treating constant stalker behavior as a precious part of childhood to mollycoddle, rather than correct. They were not handling that anywhere near well-enough to sell people on the idea of interspecies romance, and tellingly they just gave up eventually. They didn't even do it in the predictable manner of getting April and Casey together, either; they just dropped the romance angle entirely. Are you kidding?! There is absolutely no indication in any game that Shadow sees Maria as anything other than a sister. In fact, I don't remember any indication Shadow has romantic feelings for anyone. He gets along well with Rouge by now, but compared to how she and Knuckles momentarily interacted after their second fight and how Amy sees Sonic, that simply isn't part of Shadow's character. I'm not saying it's wrong to ship him with...someone, but don't act like his motivations being tied to his only friend being murdered somehow sets an official precedent for a human-hedgehog kiss to feel normal. It doesn't.
  15. Scritch the Cat

    Change a character’s personality

    I have played a lot of Sonic 1, 2, and CD recently since getting them for my iPad, and something I notice is that the sprites convey more emotional range than the talk here about how inherently simple a character he is would make one assume. When you don't press anything, he gets impatient, when he nearly falls off a ledge, he looks nervous, and while official art has his eyes rounded, in-game they're often scrunched in a triangular shape more like Shadow's, implying he's angry and determined to set off to save the day. Naoto Oshima's art also gave him different expressions, as did the Toei cutscene in Sonic Cd. Only American box and publicity art seemed to focus only on smiles. The point of the above is that Sonic can feel negative emotions, and at some points he should. There's nothing wrong with Sonic having a sense of humor; in fact I think it's a big part of why the character has aged so well and one of the few official Sonic-related things I have enjoyed in the past few years. However, going too long without showing that anything the villains are doing ever makes Sonic sad, or mad, or worried, etc, eventually makes it feel like he's only in this for the thrills, and whenever evil strikes again, instead of having any real aversion to it, he seems delighted that it gives him another chance to have fun. That can get annoying, although a bit less when plots don't feel serious. The reason I don't accept the rationalization that Sonic acts all happy and comical because he's just that sure of himself, is because Sonic isn't the only person that exists in this universe and he knows it. Maybe he's not worried for himself, but he should at least worry for others. The others would originally be the animals inprisoned in the robots and capsules. Sonic may not be deep but in this case he didn't have to be; he was mad because he's an animal too. That he himself wasn't caught or imprisoned didn't stop him from empathizing with those who were. This was a simple plot and maybe subtly conveyed, but still it provided a precedent for Sonic as someone troubled by innocents coming under harm. Unfortunately, we shouldn't expect Sonic to treat anything as if it's at stake when his series doesn't, either. I'm not just talking about the Pontaff writing, either; also the irritating "continuity bubble" policy that prevents a large mythology from forming. Why care about saving the world when a world barely exists to need saving?

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