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Scritch the Cat

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Scritch the Cat last won the day on December 30 2020

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  1. The odd thing to me is that every game nowadays that goes open-world is called a Breath of the Wild-ripoff, despite that this mold of game design is much older. Before that these games were Grand Theft Auto ripoffs, then after some time they got called Skyrim ripoffs. Breath of the Wild itself is so widely inspired by Bethesda's take on Fallout that it almost feels more like those games than it does most other Zelda titles. Look; sometimes people keep making a game in a certain format because that format works. Usually that goes so far that the genre falls out of style, but some brands really do fit well into that niche. Zelda was an easy choice because it's an adventure series set in an iconic, big world, and has always had a lot of exploration. Likewise, Sonic moves fast, he pulls stunts off of terrain features and his games also often feature exploration, so what can go right by putting him in an open world warrants an attempt, accusations of unoriginality be damned.
  2. I don't know how many companies do this, but I think an "early access" approach would be a good one for SEGA to take right now. If anyone doesn't know, this is when companies release games that aren't finished; except unlike Sonic 06 the company is honest about that and is supposed to keep working on them, reinvesting the profits and noting the feedback to improve the game and get those improvements into the game via downloadable patches. Now, early access has its skeptics, and since so does SEGA, it might seem like overkill to combine them, but I counter that skepticism is not inherently bad. It can create a nearly incoherent storm in cases where people are blindly whinging while they don't know much about the upcoming game, and also if it turns out the game doesn't meet with their approval. But if people get little tastes of the game at more stages of its development, and they know to expect it to be rough, that means SEGA gets more well-rationed, focused doses of player responses. Also a big issue with early access games is that they're often slow to go anywhere, with many of them being unclear when they'll get an update. That issue is real but it's to be expected when they're indie games. Such games are released that way because their creators might not have a lot of money, so in order to make it and continue investing in getting their game finished they must start selling it before it is, but if it turns out they don't make enough money doing this then they can get stuck. Of course, you might also get unethical fly-by-night developers who take the money and run, with no intention of actually finishing the game once they've made it. However, those risks are lessened when it's a AAA company. SEGA's development of a Sonic game won't bog down just because not enough people bought it in early access, because they have myriad other ways to fund it. Likewise, taking money and running isn't a likely move for a company that can't just vanish after people hate them for screwing them over; SEGA has a lot else on the line so the suspicion such a move would earn their other venture outweighs the potential profits from swindling people in one.
  3. What I get out of this, and Iizuka in general, is that Iizuka doesn't really have faith in his own ideas--or whoever's ideas they are that are getting made into games. I figure that's also what his "continuity bubble" policy is actually about; it makes it easy to back out of a game mold if it doesn't go well. And after all, SLW was essentially one-and-done aside from the constant reuse of Zavoc. But I feel a big reason they haven't yet figured out what Sonic should be is that post 06, they're still obsessed with avoiding what Sonic should NOT be.
  4. It’s one thing to sneer at the “SEGA HIRE THIS MAN” meme when it’s just reacting to a fan choosing to do something SEGA chooses not to do. I don’t fault them for enjoying the fangame more but that doesn’t prove anything about how competent the fangame creator is in comparison or whether he or she would do good work if employed by SEGA. However, it’s quite another when a fangame creator/hacker repeatedly demonstrated an ability to do exactly what SEGA chose to do, except better. This is the official port of Sonic 1 on Game Boy Advance: Now here is a port of the same game to the same system, made for free by Stealth, who went on to work on the mobile ports and then Sonic Mania: Yes; sometimes hiring fans is the right move.
  5. I suspect less people would be coming here and white-knighting for Iizuka if the title of this thread wasn't so needlessly insulting to him...but yeah; I agree with you. With Iizuka being tasked with building a new Sonic Team out of virtually nothing in the USA, success or failure should be laid at his feet even more than before. A game still under development being badly programmed might be the fault of a bad programmer, but it's Iizuka's job to make sure it's not still badly programmed when it's finally released, whether that means pressuring the programmer to work harder or get better or firing the programmer and hiring a better one or even doing the programming himself if he can; it's Iizuka's job to do whatever is needed to get the game presentable by the time it's supposed to release, or if he can't, delay the release until he can, and if the game does release badly programmed, it is his fault for not preventing that. Oh, and while the "monkeys" exaggeration is obviously unfair and I hate that expression, period, it's understandable for Iizuka and Sonic Team to be under scrutiny when a small team of former fangame- and hack-creators up and made a better professional Sonic game than they could. If Iizuka's smart, he will at least try to hire some of the Sonic Mania staff to be in the new Sonic Team. If he can't, that's a shame, but he should not only try but also share with the fans that he tried, because this would demonstrate that he acknowledges their concerns.
  6. I'm curious how you would define "a chance" or "find his footing". I'm not going to join an Iizuka gangbang right now but believe it or not, more is on the line than just whether he can avoid making another game like 06 or RoL. If IIzuka made the call to rush those out unfinished, shame on him, and if he didn't but couldn't stop that rushing out, how competent and/or ethical is Iizuka is a moot point anyway, but my real question is not what all Iizuka will choose to do, but whether he will choose to do at least the things I feel this series really needs. This refrain of "Iizuka made the Adventure games" is not meaningful on its own because it doesn't explore whether Iizuka values what I and many others value in those games, or things we weren't too keen on. As I stated before, the trend those games started of making it easier for Sonic to gain all the speed he needs, skimping on actual physics, has gone nowhere except further. So if Iizuka believes that was the important innovation of those games, then he has certainly lived up to his ideals as the Adventure creator, but that is not what I would consider a positive aspect of the Adventure series. The truth is that the Sonic Adventure games were divisive even when they were new; particularly suspect to fans of Classic Sonic. However, some aspects of those games have made them more popular in retrospect because when SEGA decided to burn off a lot of what was in the Adventure era, they also burnt a lot of good things that had lasted from the Classic era. A lot of fans had issues with how Sonic had been done in 3D, but many also saw the potential of 3D as a great way to expand on Sonic's proud heritage as a character whose speed, physics and deep level design facilitate a lot of tricking and exploration, and even if we only got sparse glimpses of what that could be in 3D we still wanted more not less. So it feels like a bummer that newer 3D Sonic games aren't even allowed to be 3D a lot of the time. Sonic games are supposed to feel liberating but SEGA has built a lot of constraints into them because they don't want to deal with the hardships that come with designing levels around such free motion. Likewise, a lot of people had issues with a lot of characters in the Adventure series, and some of that even related to how Tails and Knuckles played, but very few people ever objected to keeping Tails and Knuckles as playable characters. Retool them so they're tighter sure, don't lock Tails in a mech sure, make levels less breakable by flight sure, but I don't remember many people saying just take them out. I don't think it's a great idea to experiment a whole lot with Sonic gameplay because again, I don't think it's good for the series to create different subsets of fans who will contradict each other and make it harder to pick an optimal direction for future games, but I personally am willing to tolerate a lot of different approaches so long as they meet certain base criteria. If Tails and Knuckles are playable, then I really don't care whether a fan-made character with a gun is playable, but that such a character gets to be playable and they don't is a problem. If the game has good physics and Sonic's base movement feels good then I really don't mind too much what gimmick they add to his abilities, but that they've kept adding these frills to compensate for mechanics that are frequently clunky and/or dumbed down is a problem. Circling back to Iizuka, I sort of see his relation to Sonic as akin to Kevin Eastman's relation to Ninja Turtles. That is, he seems more like a happy-go-lucky cheerleader for the brand than anything else--which is not a good thing when the brand's fanbase is fractured. To those who aren't too familiar with that franchise and fanbase, this comparison may not innately mean much, but the gist is he says everything Ninja Turtles-related is great, which means that his opinions have become meaningless for the fans. Eastman saying an upcoming Ninja Turtles thing is great does not rest on any frame of reference because he has never stated an opinion on what is a not great way to do Ninja Turtles. And this, right now, is the problem with Iizuka; in fact it is the problem with everyone who determines and speaks on this series' path. I hated their attitude post-06; especially with how they marketed Sonic 4, but back then I knew where I stood on them. Back then they at least admitted that the series had gone through a bad phase and that they were working to address it, even if I disagreed about how. I could make educated decisions on whether to buy a Sonic game because I knew what they saw as ideal for the series was not what I saw as ideal. But now, while people can try to extrapolate where the brand is heading based on trends, we mostly have no idea because SEGA no longer states any clear opinions about what Sonic games are good or bad; thus also no opinions about what is or is not a good act to follow. Much like Kevin Eastman, it feels like they (not just Iizuka) are afraid to say anything that might alienate any of the fans, but as a result none of the fans have a good reason to be optimistic because SEGA doesn't seem committed to anything they really like. And while I won't pretend they owe the fans a game, if they truly are afraid of saying anything that would irritate the fans then it feels like they've fallen for an unfair stereotype of Sonic fandom as a bossy, whiny hate mob, which is probably based more on a noisy minority than a quiet majority. Yes; Sonic fandom is divided and many of the fans are a bit particular about what they want from the series, but I don't think many of them are as mean as the stereotype suggests. It says a lot about the real character of this fandom that when its extremely negative--but also comedic--reaction to the original Sonic design in the movie prompted the creators to revise it, one of the first reactions Jeff Fowler got was "Don't overwork your employees to rush the redesign out on our behalf; we can wait". And also that even when he did delay the movie to make it work, fans still called them out because apparently the studio was still somewhat overworked and then closed. Most still went and saw the movie and most liked it, but there was reason for concern. But it still goes to show how kind this fandom actually is when creators simply act like it matters. The movie almost completely turned its reputation around from negative to positive because its creators acknowledged that fans weren't happy and did something, and because they did this fans were totally fine with waiting a bit longer. The big difference with the games is that SEGA hasn't really acknowledged that fans aren't happy, and if so it hasn't made any statement as to why, and thus, fans are impatient. At this point they aren't even impatient for a game--since it's established that a game is still coming--or even a concrete release date for that game; so much as some evidence that whatever game finally comes out will have been worth the wait. Until this happens, it's not like fans are storming their headquarters like villagers in a horror film, but don't expect them to have a high opinion of the series until SEGA gives them a reason to.
  7. This really isn’t a good comparison. First, the first game was controversial; not unanimously “thrashed”. Second, it was a crowd-funded game and crowd-funding is notorious for quality control problems. This is because it allows companies to make a lot of money before they prove anything to anyone, and thus don’t work as hard to deliver a good product. Third, Playtonic is its own company founded to make YL so whether anyone will hire them is irrelevant. Whether or not they ended up making a better second game is, too. They opted to do it and good for them, but that does not mean anyone owed them the money. What do I think of Naka in light of BW? I certainly wouldn’t give him money to conceive a game concept. I might be willing to hire him on to program a Sonic movement engine, but I would likely have someone else on call too, as a backup plan.
  8. Getting new people in Sonic Team is more or less what I'm assuming is happening, and maybe even trying something new and different. SEGA wouldn't dissolve what was left of the original Sonic Team and order Iizuka to move to the USA to form a new one if they didn't want to alter their approach to Sonic in a big way. But I'm not sure it's the best idea for Sonic Team to try to do new things when last we checked they haven't quite remembered how to do old things; nor am I convinced that an almost completely new employee roster is of benefit. Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania being released around the same time really highlighted just how much they've slipped in terms of programming basic Sonic mechanics, and without getting that core right I think quite a lot else will suffer. Also, I can't tell you how hard or easy it is to program that; however I suspect it really won't help that they're starting with new employees. A new approach to the series will get people talking, certainly, but not necessarily with optimism, and for the sake of this fandom and the series' future I don't think we should have another game that is lacking in areas the series once delivered, and compensates with new gimmicks. Such have factionalized this fandom already, and we don't want that to go further. A solid vision of what Sonic "should" be is not a good thing if much of the fandom disagrees.
  9. Absolutely not worth the cost it'll have on this brand, though. We've seen it repeatedly demonstrated that a bad game won't kill Sonic, but it does tend to dissuade SEGA from doing more games in the style, no matter how much the style has potential. A lot of the problems this brand faces are a result of SEGA's tendency to amputate flawed things rather than fix them, even if those things have a record of being done without such flaws.
  10. Something people might point to as a huge mis-step at that time was signing a deal with Nintendo pledging to make three Sonic games exclusive to Wii-U. This did not absolutely predispose those games to sucking, but it should be recognized as essentially accepting a bribe as quick cash to sacrifice profits that might be made from broader releases--almost as if SEGA didn't have enough faith in the games making big profits! To what degree Sonic Lost World's flaws owe to that deal is debatable. It's been charged with messing with Sonic to cater more to Mario fans--just as Sonic Colors, another Nintendo exclusive, was before. I have to concede that Zavoc does resemble Bowser; I'm not sure I agree that the rest of the Deadly Six look like Mario characters, and I can't say to what degree the gameplay resembles Mario since I've only ever played the demo. I'm not a boost supporter so the game's abandonment of the boost doesn't bother me but it seems generally agreed that what it made Sonic into wasn't an improvement. On the other hand, there's no doubt that SEGA's honoring this deal is what ruined Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Once the prettier and more ambitious Sonic Synergy and planned for other consoles, its developers were forced to butcher, rebuild and retool the game for Wii-U. SEGA also forced its once separate plans for Sonic Boom onto the game. The game became widely known as "The New Sonic 06", though in this case, many who said "Never again" really meant it; the game bombed financially as well as critically. People had a good laugh at it, but the subtext is just tragic: SEGA had big plans to expand Sonic as a brand and introduce it to a whole new generation, but its shortsighted thinking in making deals and jerking developers around to keep those deals sabotaged those plans from the start. Decisions like those are why people still don't have faith in SEGA, even if Sonic games have never gotten that bad since and in fact had one brief bright spot. It's not just customers; investors will look at a company that funds an ambitious project and then ruins it with one trigger-happy brain-fart and think, "No; I'm not investing in this. Even something that looks sound could plummet at any moment."
  11. I may have been somewhat hyperbolic when I said critics would be riled up. Maybe they'd give off that interpretation, but then a lot of game critics seem to be into trolling to some degree or other, so who knows what they really think or how passionate they are about those opinions? It's easy to get genuinely angry at a game so badly made that it is accidentally very difficult to play, and I felt that about 06 constantly; as did many gamers and critics. Hell; the same is true of the level Security Hall in SA2 for many people. But with a creative decision some people don't like, such as, say, giving a playable character slot to Cream in Sonic Battle instead of Espio, the worst I and many could feel is disappointed. Even if it convinces us not to buy a whole game, a choice people don't like won't usually make them mad. There are exceptions, naturally. I, like many people, got outright mad at the original ending of River City Girls, because it really did feel like an insult to the Kunio series and its fans, especially since it utilized meta-humor based on logic that many fans understood was not valid. I only got really heated about it when debating it online and explaining to its defenders why it was so wretched, and to be fair Wayforward did patch the game so people could unlock a better ending by completing the post-game content. Their metahumor is still there and still shit, though. A big part of the issue in that case is, the game was a massive hit and many people felt wary of such metahumor and bastardization of characters seeping into the rest of the series if fans didn't put their foot down. And yeah; I think there are good times and places to put one's foot down angrily at the Sonic series, too. I didn't pitch a fit when SEGA boasted about how there were no other playable characters in Sonic 4: Episode I, but I did feel very insulted, as did many fans, including those who weren't keen on a lot of the Adventure era editions but still considered playable Tails and Knuckles a vital part of the classic series, and so I would have boycotted the game in anger, but at the time I was already boycotting the whole series after 06, as I was not going to trust SEGA not to botch games yet again. Lo and behold, this proved a wise policy when they did, in fact, botch the mechanics of STH4EI, despite only having to program one character. With critics, though, when they have crossed the line to declaring that Sonic was never good, their opinion should be irrelevant to SEGA. And again, it's impossible to know how much of that is genuine opinion or just being trendy. But if they're back to "Sonic was only good in the Genesis era", well so far SEGA hasn't done much to address that since Sonic Mania. If critics are still hating on the Adventure era, arguably SEGA is getting bolder against them in that they're calling back to that era more in TSR, the IDW series and cartoons, but that doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot, as those are for people who love Sonic enough to consume things that aren't games.
  12. The pessimism is mostly extrapolated from trends. The last few Sonic games have either been mediocre or good but small. I think what fans really want is for SEGA to say or do something that restores hope. As overdramatic as that sounds, it's fair to say that SEGA isn't cultivating a positive image of itself by not saying much about Sonic at a time when many feel it needs something to swing its reputation back to positive. Granted, the movie was well-received but it feels like some golden opportunity was missed to capitalize on that, much as the pandemic makes that understandable. I'd love to believe that the reason SEGA isn't showing something isn't actually that what they have planned isn't very impressive, but they haven't given me much else to work with. And with regards to the "move on" bit, bare in mind that for over a year a lot of people could reply, "To what?" Not a lot of people desire to live a life shut up indoors, but a lot of them had to do it and so some good video games really could have brightened people's lives. Even now, there isn't much positive to look forward to in the world, even if the pandemic is getting nipped most places.
  13. An update: So, I wanted to give this the benefit of the doubt. A work in progress game is bound to have some rough spots, and I'm willing to see them through for the sake of assessing the full product. But upon getting to Waterfall Chase and repeatedly being killed by something, I couldn't figure out what, I gave up, and now I am ready to say that this game is not very good at all. Let's start with what many consider to be its good point; the presentation. I will agree with the general sentiment that of all Sonic fangames, this is the one that "feels" the most like an actual, for-profit game; whatwith its voice acting, animated cutscenes, and worldbuilding. However, it really doesn't feel like a Sonic game. Maybe that sounds about as subjective as opinions get, given Sonic has been a variety of different things by now, but aside from the occasional jokes from Sonic and Tails, the tone seems all wrong. Honestly, if this reminds me of any Sonic game that game is Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, except that game was at least more humorous. This one's too wrapped up in being some sort of serious fantasy epic where the main narrative focus is just figuring out what is going on. While past Sonic games have incorporated some Lovecraftian elements, they didn't compromise almost all levity for their sake, and while there were maybe one or two tracks I liked in this game the rest of the music I found a generic, forgettable bore. I'm not a big fan of ambient game music in general, but if there's one series I think it's particularly ill-suited for, it's Sonic. I feel music in this series needs to set a pace for the level it's in; since that has been its usual policy from game one it inevitably feels wrong when that's abandoned. Finally, whose idea was it to make characters' pupils reflect light but not their irises? For lack of a better word, that looks creepy. Now in terms of gameplay, while a lot of 3D Sonic fangames have some issues this one does feel worse than most. Another thing I'll admit to not being a fan of in general is the boost, and I have, many times, but there are games using the boost that play, at least, cleanly enough. That may very well be since they have a lot of forced 2D sections, invisible walls, maybe even pre-scripted paths Sonic snaps to when he boosts. In games where Sonic is given full freedom of movement, I'm not saying I'm sure boost can't work but this game sure doesn't convince me that it can. In truth, a lot of it doesn't seem designed to use the boost; some levels don't even seem designed for fast running except for some steep sections placed as obstacles but again since those are obstacles and one has to use the boost at some points, it must be observed that it feels very clumsy. Sonic veers off-course too easily, especially when paths are narrow and at their far right and left are cliffs or walls that Sonic can run on, and the quick-step also seems like it doesn't really move in lengths that are useful for these environments. The homing attack also seems comparatively weak, and I think it might be worsened by how the trajectory is made too fast by the combination of boost and freedom of movement. I had a few too many times when the attack couldn't hit what it was supposed to. The first boss seems unfair with its combination of attacks that chase Sonic and Egg pawns scattered around; that is because this attack requires Sonic to run towards the camera and thus players can't see what are in his path. Regarding Level Design, it's okay at best. Some of it would probably be something good if the game can manage to improve how it controls, but with them that finicky it feels like one has to be much too cautious in this game. The plane stages are generally unremarkable; it doesn't make sense that the plane can stop totally in midair instead of always moving forward, and while I don't demand realism on that front it feels like the levels are designed more around the plane being able to stop than the plane being able to fly quickly. That section where it has to enter spinning barrels through a gap and then wait for the gap to spin to the other side to go out is awful; confusing and boring. The worm boss I found much easier to stay totally still except for dodging. In other words, these stages do not feel designed for a jet fighter. I will second that the stage where you have to get up a tree via jumping and exploration, and one slip up will send Sonic back to the bottom, is awful. Utterly awful and if that was the first stage I wouldn't even continue playing it. It would be obnoxious but managable in games whose controls and moveset were made for such tasks, but Sonic's were not. The water at the bottom seems put there for no other reason than to prolong the level while players search for air bubbles. As noted, I didn't bother with that Waterfall Chase level since I had no idea what kept killing me. Oh, and fix that bit about starting the game and selecting a chapter; it's either glitched or badly designed.
  14. It's kind of ironic that for a brief point, people expected it to retire even earlier. Sonic was invented to secure SEGA's role in the console market, and with them exiting the market, it was a logical extensionn that Sonic would die with it. In fact, in many ways Sonic Adventure 2 feels kind of like it was written to be the end of the series. But of course, history went differently when SEGA decided to port it to Gamecube less than a year after its release, and in a twist that I suspect surprised many, Nintendo fans loved it. About that time much of the gaming press turned against the Adventure series but it was such a big hit, as were other ports, that I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there were actually more Sonic fans then than there were in the Genesis era. Maybe not as many who thought the series was the coolest ever, but there were a lot of people who liked Sonic and obviously SEGA was going to strike that hot iron if at all possible. In retrospect, though, their attempts were messy. You really have to hand it to SEGA; they were one of the most aggressively experimental game companies and this led them to a number of firsts, such as expansion packs and online play, but it cost them, too. SEGA didn't seem to have a clear vision of what it intended Sonic to be in the Adventure era, and it seems kind of like it bet a lot on people loving Sonic's world enough that they'd buy things in it, regardless of their quality, tone or gameplay mechanics. Maybe that was more true back when Sonic games were on the technical cutting edge, but in the early 2000s, not so much. There were already murmurs and debates about whether SEGA remembered what Sonic "should" be back when SA2B was the hip new game, but when Shadow the Hedgehog got revealed, that's when a lot more people came to conclude that considering oneself a Sonic fan didn't mandate them to buy everything Sonic, as doing so would go against the ideals of the "true" Sonic. Of course 06 also didn't help, as it convinced people that even if doing a game whose concept they'd made work before, they couldn't be trusted to deliver. The really sad thing, though, is that even if the game went on to be assailed by Sonic fans and Sonic detractor's alike, people were fooled long enough that it sold well. And that's probably the big factor here: It doesn't really matter how much hatred Sonic gets, unless Sonic gets so much hatred that all of SEGA suffers financially from its reputation. Apparently, there was a big enough concern about that for SEGA to pull 06 from sale but hardly the whole series. Again, critics were bashing SA2B even as it was topping the Players' Choice list. There is still clearly enough profit motive to keep this series afloat even with its naysayers. The one question I have is whether SEGA feels secure enough in its profits to experiment and risk riling up critics.
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