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Dr. Mechano
41 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Eeehhh, Mario characters are static by design so they don't have to worry about continuity or whatever. It means their personalities and characters are open for interpretation by the fanbase, but Nintendo themselves have never actually given then any sort of character or developmental role. You might get hints here and there, but nothing really substantial. 

I think you're selling Mario a bit short.

Let's look at Wario for example:

  • Debuts in Super Mario Land 2 as a full-fledged villain, motivated purely by jealousy and greed.
  • Becomes immediately popular and goes off on his own game, Wario Land; still motivated largely by greed, but acting as an antihero instead of an outright villain.
  • Begins getting gradual character development in subsequent games; Wario Land II shows that he deeply cares for his pet hen - enough to give up chasing pirates (who had stolen his treasure) to rescue her at one point.
  • Wario Land 4 goes on to have Wario bother to save a cat (actually the cursed Princess Shokora, but he didn't know it at the time), with seemingly no material benefit to him, continuing the established soft spot Wario has for cute animals.
  • The WarioWare series goes on to give Wario some actual friends as well; He has a complicated relationship with them. True, he does try to exploit them for money sometimes, but he's also shown to genuinely like them, and it's mutual. 

We see Wario go from being a one-note jerk to a fun oafish antihero with some redeeming qualities over the course of his tenure in the series. In a way, it kind of parallels Shadow's own development - starting as a suspiciously similar-looking villainous counterpart to the hero, and getting more humanizing elements over time.

I also think that the RPGs do (or at least did in the pre-Sticker Star era) a pretty good job doing genuine character development as well; both with one-shots like Mallow or the Paper Mario partners as well as franchise mainstays, like getting to peer into Luigi's subconscious in Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, where we get to see some of Luigi's thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.

We've seen Bowser - in the platformers and RPGs alike - shift over time from being a straight villain motivated purely by conquest to a caring father with a one-sided crush on Peach. We've seen him willing to give his life to save Peach - as well as all worlds - by holding up a crumbling ceiling in Super Paper Mario. That's a pretty noble sentiment for the main villain of a long-running mascot platformer series to have, and it definitely wasn't one he would've had back in the 80s before his character was more fleshed out. 

I think the Mario series is inconsistent about how far it allows this sort of thing to go, but then, so is Sonic. Both franchises are handled by lots of different people with opposing, contradictory visions for how the characters "should" act, who often don't bother consulting with each other or trying to match each other's writing. But I don't think it's fair to say that either series doesn't have character development or continuity. They both do, it's just sloppy and all over the place.

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Wraith

Princess Peach getting kidnapped is quite literally a joke in universe as far as how much it actually matters at this point and Luigi doesn't even get play in the main series anymore unless it's a bonus campaign.

In terms of story/ main characters I don't think any franchise should take after Mario really. I guess Bowser is pretty consistently funny? That's it though.

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E-122-Psi

I think people are mistaking individual characterisation with core dynamics and roles.

This isn't about character development, which admittedly Mario is pretty damn bare bones with, it's about what place each character has in the core story. How do characters besides Mario and Bowser feel vital to a story where their rivalry is pretty much always the centre piece?

This is my issue with a lot of Sonic characters, they can get as grand a character arc as possible and yet still not have much of a long term functioning role within the core Sonic dynamic. Hell most of them are just designed to be variants of Sonic with a cool extra power.

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Wraith
15 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

I think people are mistaking individual characterisation with core dynamics and roles.

This isn't about character development, which admittedly Mario is pretty damn bare bones with, it's about what place each character has in the core story. How do characters besides Mario and Bowser feel vital to a story where their rival is pretty much always the centre piece?

This is my issue with a lot of Sonic characters, they can get as grand a character arc as possible and yet still not have much of a long term functioning role within the core Sonic dynamic. Hell most of them are just designed to be variants of Sonic with a cool extra power.

Well, countless characters have wandered into and out of the core "Mario and Bowser" conflict too. Dig just slightly deeper into Mario fandom and you'll find a few people complaining that those characters didn't come back aside from being sports roster fodder so I wouldn't use that as a mark against Sonic.

I'm not really sure what you're trying to praise about Mario here specifically. Sonic has a regular sidekick, a regular rival, that rival has lackeys etc. doesn't have a recurring "damsel" I guess but that's pretty objectively an improvement. Sonic and Eggman fight because they disagree about the way the world should be philosophically and both of them are powerful enough to do something about it. It's not about another person being a prize. That's more interesting, more flexible and doesn't come off as dated.

 

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31 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

Sonic only really puts effort when there's an individual arc involved. In terms of dynamics and synergies and making distinctive roles for each character besides 'another protagonist' it's actually MORE bare bones than Mario.

There's more to a character besides just their individual personality, there's also their dynamic within the grand scheme of things. How many characters are actually foils for Sonic or there to do a job he can't most of the time?

Pitting him with a smart strategic assistant (Tails, Sally) or a rival (Knuckles, Shadow, Jet) is about it and even those have waxed and waned due to not fleshing them out much more than they have to.

 

I mean sure fine, but I don't get how that somehow makes them more shallow than Mario characters, who don't have arcs of any kind.

What are you even praising here?

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E-122-Psi
19 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Well, countless characters have wandered into and out of the core "Mario and Bowser" conflict too. Dig just slightly deeper into Mario fandom and you'll find a few people complaining that those characters didn't come back aside from being sports roster fodder so I wouldn't use that as a mark against Sonic.

I'm not really sure what you're trying to praise about Mario here specifically. Sonic has a regular sidekick, a regular rival, that rival has lackeys etc. doesn't have a recurring "damsel" I guess but that's pretty objectively an improvement. Sonic and Eggman fight because they disagree about the way the world should be philosophically and both of them are powerful enough to do something about it. It's not about another person being a prize. That's more interesting, more flexible and doesn't come off as dated.

 

I don't mean as a prize but in terms of what they contribute to the conflict inside or outside.

Peach isn't just a damsel, she is the ruler of the Mario universe and often supplies Mario with resources like power ups and helpers (which also plays into the Toads' relevance). Her being a damsel is often how the formulaic way she is involved in the conflict but she does actually supply in different ways as well, and even as a damsel there are more stakes involved due to the role she has. She has a role Mario can't supply because Mario doesn't rule his universe.

Amy meanwhile has often struggled to have the same distinct relevance. Even when she is kidnapped it's not really vital to the grand scheme of things, She holds nothing of importance in most plots. Eggman usually only captures her to get Sonic's attention, he's done that with Sally, Tails and many others before, it's an interchangeable role. Amy branching out of that role in that regard works, but she still only sporadically plays a key role others can't. She's mostly just an annoying tagalong or another low-tier powerhouse. She's hinted to being 'the heart' but is even less developed in that regard as Peach outside odd cases like Boom.

People act like I'm praising Mario for being well made in cast building. It isn't. The fact it isn't yet Sonic is even LESS developed in this area is meant to my point of concern. Isn't it bad if Amy is even less impressive than Peach within the core dynamic?

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32 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I think you're selling Mario a bit short.

Let's look at Wario for example:

  • Debuts in Super Mario Land 2 as a full-fledged villain, motivated purely by jealousy and greed.
  • Becomes immediately popular and goes off on his own game, Wario Land; still motivated largely by greed, but acting as an antihero instead of an outright villain.
  • Begins getting gradual character development in subsequent games; Wario Land II shows that he deeply cares for his pet hen - enough to give up chasing pirates (who had stolen his treasure) to rescue her at one point.
  • Wario Land 4 goes on to have Wario bother to save a cat (actually the cursed Princess Shokora, but he didn't know it at the time), with seemingly no material benefit to him, continuing the established soft spot Wario has for cute animals.
  • The WarioWare series goes on to give Wario some actual friends as well; He has a complicated relationship with them. True, he does try to exploit them for money sometimes, but he's also shown to genuinely like them, and it's mutual. 

We see Wario go from being a one-note jerk to a fun oafish antihero with some redeeming qualities over the course of his tenure in the series. In a way, it kind of parallels Shadow's own development - starting as a suspiciously similar-looking villainous counterpart to the hero, and getting more humanizing elements over time.

I also think that the RPGs do (or at least did in the pre-Sticker Star era) a pretty good job doing genuine character development as well; both with one-shots like Mallow or the Paper Mario partners as well as franchise mainstays, like getting to peer into Luigi's subconscious in Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, where we get to see some of Luigi's thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.

We've seen Bowser - in the platformers and RPGs alike - shift over time from being a straight villain motivated purely by conquest to a caring father with a one-sided crush on Peach. We've seen him willing to give his life to save Peach - as well as all worlds - by holding up a crumbling ceiling in Super Paper Mario. That's a pretty noble sentiment for the main villain of a long-running mascot platformer series to have, and it definitely wasn't one he would've had back in the 80s before his character was more fleshed out. 

I think the Mario series is inconsistent about how far it allows this sort of thing to go, but then, so is Sonic. Both franchises are handled by lots of different people with opposing, contradictory visions for how the characters "should" act, who often don't bother consulting with each other or trying to match each other's writing. But I don't think it's fair to say that either series doesn't have character development or continuity. They both do, it's just sloppy and all over the place.

I'm mainly referring to the main games here. The RPG's and stuff are treated as side materials and rarely get referenced as far the main brand is concerned.

4 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

I don't mean as a prize but in terms of what they contribute to the conflict inside or outside.

Peach isn't just a damsel, she is the ruler of the Mario universe and often supplies Mario with resources like power ups and helpers (which also plays into the Toads' relevance). Her being a damsel is often how the formulaic way she is involved in the conflict but she does actually supply in different ways as well. She has a role Mario can't supply because Mario doesn't rule his universe.

Amy meanwhile has often struggled to have the same distinct relevance. Even when she is kidnapped it's not really vital to the grand scheme of things, Eggman usually only captures her to get Sonic's attention, he's done that with Sally, Tails and many others before. Amy branching out of that role in that regard works, but she still only sporadically plays a key role others can't. She's mostly just an annoying tagalong or another low-tier powerhouse. She's hinted to being 'the heart' but is even less developed in that regard as Peach outside odd cases like Boom.

People act like I'm praising Mario for being well made in cast building. It isn't. The fact it isn't yet Sonic is even LESS developed in this area is meant to my point of concern. Isn't it bad if Amy is even less impressive than Peach within the core dynamic?

I honestly think you're really overselling or looking too deep into things. Peach does none of those things you've mentioned, at all. She's a passive character who's only purpose is to be a prize for the player and has never played a larger role in anything else outside of the RPG's. And as mentioned, the entire joke is how often She's kidnapped.

 

How you interpret Amy as being worse than that is so damn baffling to me.

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E-122-Psi

It really feels like people are getting sidetracked by the analogy here.

Okay, just IGNORE the comparison to Peach or any other Mario character and put my statement about Amy on the table here. WHAT specific role does she add that can't be done by any other character? How is she distinct as a foil and contributor outside 'Sonic's annoying stalker', even at her most active and best developed? Ask the same for almost any other character besides Tails and Eggman.

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Wraith
10 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

I don't mean as a prize but in terms of what they contribute to the conflict inside or outside.

Peach isn't just a damsel, she is the ruler of the Mario universe and often supplies Mario with resources like power ups and helpers (which also plays into the Toads' relevance). Her being a damsel is often how the formulaic way she is involved in the conflict but she does actually supply in different ways as well. She has a role Mario can't supply because Mario doesn't rule his universe.

Amy meanwhile has often struggled to have the same distinct relevance. Even when she is kidnapped it's not really vital to the grand scheme of things, Eggman usually only captures her to get Sonic's attention, he's done that with Sally, Tails and many others before. Amy branching out of that role in that regard works, but she still only sporadically plays a key role others can't. She's mostly just an annoying tagalong or another low-tier powerhouse. She's hinted to being 'the heart' but is even less developed in that regard as Peach outside odd cases like Boom.

Okay, I'm not sure why you're valuing individuality as much as you are, but even in that context...peach isn't the only one that can/has done these things. There were other damsels before and after, lots of people have supplied mario with tangible help over the years, toads or otherwise, and most of the main games take place outside the Mushroom Kingdom at this point so her jurisdiction hardly matters. There's not much special about her in the context of the Mario universe aside from the fact that she gets kidnapped the most. Even then... I play Mario games because they're fun, not because I care whether Peach gets home safe or not. It's good that she does, but it's probably not a motivator for most players

Amy, on the other hand, has turned the entire trajectory of a few characters on it's head with her sensitivity. She's made me laugh more than Peach ever has with her brattiness. She's been playable a few times with her own quirks, like it or not. Her own impact on her own series has been thousands of times more substantial. Hell, the entire reason people even have strong opinions on Amy in the first place is because she's distinct and has an impact on games. Peach is inoffensive in a way that makes it easy to forget that she's technically why you're doing all of this to begin with. This is by design, and Nintendo is good at designing inoffensive, unobtrusive characters, but it's nothing praiseworthy and certainly not anything for the sonic series to strive for.

There are platforming series that use it's cast better than Sonic, but Mario really isn't one of them outside of a few exceptions. Even then, I remember thinking they could have gone further with a few of those exceptions anyway.

 

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8 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

It really feels like people are getting sidetracked by the analogy here.

Okay, just IGNORE the comparison to Peach or any other Mario character and put my statement about Amy on the table here. WHAT specific role does she add that can't be done by any other character? How is she distinct as a foil and contributor outside 'Sonic's annoying stalker', even at her most active and best developed? Ask the same for almost any other character besides Tails and Eggman.

I'm not sidetracked by anything, your analogy just makes no sense. 

You're saying that Peach plays more of a role in Mario games and that Amy doesn't have a role in Sonic games. I think your problem is that you're trying to rigidly define characters into specific roles when that's not how characterization works...at least on a fundamental level. 

You're talking about the most basic and bare minimum of writing here, and I  don't think this is anywhere near as much worth praise as you think it is.  

If you're actually trying to tell a story, then characters need more than basic roles to be defined by. Mario, rarely if ever, attempts any type of story at all a standard Damsel in distress plot. There's no motivations or conflicts, its just basic stuff. That's like praising water for being wet.

 

Amy plays different roles depending on the media because she's a dynamic character who's personality puts her in different situations. She gets involved because she likes the main hero but is also an adventurer in her own right and her optimistic nature brings out the good in villains like Gamma and Shadow.

That's not always relevant depending on the game, but that's besides the point. Certain characters aren't going to be relevant depending on the story being told.  I don't see Mario deserves any kind of praise for not telling a story.

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DabigRG
2 hours ago, E-122-Psi said:

I mean in fairness, I can kinda see why. Not just because of the 'too many protagonists' complaint in the past, but also the villain roster is incredibly underdeveloped compared to the heroes. For a long time it was just Eggman a bunch of one shot kaiju. Giving Eggman some henchmen and a comedic evil rival team in recurrent roles fleshes out the opposition long term (even if it's still pretty limited in execution).

There are so many good guys you can do as long term cast members that feel like they add much to the main dynamic after all. We already have tons of sidekicks and rivals for Sonic, and a lot of others they don't even bother adding a unique dynamic or chemistry for, no wonder the cast felt so bloated after a while despite not having THAT many additions.  They were just adding more and more 'cool new character' without thinking what they added to the mixture, usually making them protagonists outright to sap more limelight than having much importance as supporting characters to Sonic (which even with desired limelight and development, is primarily what they're meant to be). Look how few actually have a role with Sonic as the sole main hero. Just as few on the evil side with Eggman as the sole main villain.

I really feel they need to develop what they already have here to have an individual role to offer before adding MORE to the situation, and it's kinda bad it isn't much better after over a decade.

 

No, you're definitely right about that. I mean, it's pretty obvious that some people flock to the comic's specifically because they have a better chance of rotating into and doing cool things with characters who are either too C-listy or fell to the wayside fairly quickly.

And speaking from a slightly more personal perspective, that's probably why seeing Tails or Shadow turn up in the spotlight does little for at least me, while the likes of Cream or Espio get more of an "oh?" when they do the same. That's probably going into another topic, so I won't lean into it anyway, but it's clear two of those are more recognized and realized.

2 hours ago, Wraith said:

I don't think the fact that they were adding new characters was a problem though. To me it was more like they would drop new characters into a game that already had 8 or 9 characters in it. Otherwise...I think new characters should just be a semiregular thing. Heroes. villains, civillians etc. If Sonic is a nomad he's probably going to be meeting interesting new folk all the time, right?

And I mean, I don't mean to crush anyone's hopes, but if they had any further plans for characters like Blaze or Omega I think they would have acted on them by now. They genuinely seem disinterested in the old cast, so maybe they should try something new that they are interested in.

It is worth noting that Blaze and Omega aren't as popular or high profile enough to have gotten much usage or thought put into doing so.

2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

I get the complaint, but people need to realize that there's only but so much you can do with one individual character. I know we all want our favorites to be relevant forever and for them to always be around, but that's not realistic in the long term as we can see here. At some point, the creators are going to grow tired of trying to force new ways for an old character to be relevant, especially when its only being done out of obligation to said character's fanbase that just wants to see them.

The Sonic fanbase wants all of these characters to be relevant "like they used to be", but completely ignoring the fact that they already had  their time in the spotlight. Characters come and go...that's how it works in long running franchises, and trying to force them to stay relevant is only going to damage them in the long run. 

 

Yes, adding more protagonists is a GOOD thing. You want a series to develop in new and interesting ways, even if its coming at the expense of the old stuff. I know it sucks, but a series has to move on eventually if its ever going to grow, and I feel like Sonic has been stagnant for so long because it's constantly struggling at finding new ways to reinvent itself while catering to the loud fan voices that want their old nostalgia to be catered to. 

I feel like you're either sending mixed messages or contradicting something, somehow. If you're referring to "Knuckles is Number 3," that's one thing, but otherwise, I have to disagree with an asterisk.

Anywho, I do feel like having a new tagalong and/or focal character in a new game would be a nice change of pace at this point, but they also need to be mindful of just how prominent they should be, whether they're going to return, and balancing that first and foremost. And while they're avoiding the mistakes of the past, they can revisit the not as distant past(we've been doing Genesis and some Game Gear stuff nonstop) to see what characters would be suitable for whatever they'd like to do in a future game/story while also being open enough to benefit reusing.

If there's anything for Sega to learn from Forces, it's that people wanna see other characters used in effective ways rather than merely being around

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What specifically do you disagree with?

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DabigRG
59 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

It really feels like people are getting sidetracked by the analogy here.

Okay, just IGNORE the comparison to Peach or any other Mario character and put my statement about Amy on the table here. WHAT specific role does she add that can't be done by any other character? How is she distinct as a foil and contributor outside 'Sonic's annoying stalker', even at her most active and best developed? Ask the same for almost any other character besides Tails and Eggman.

That's exactly what's happening.

 

A better or least more relevant parallel would be how Mario makes better use of it's principal and/or recurring elements because it has the basics down pat and can therefore play around with them more effectively, while "Sola Sonic" has been the strongest status quo precisely because they can't find a solid base to expand off of beyond the Boost. 

That's not the cast as much as it is gameplay styles, but it gets the point across better.

4 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

What specifically do you disagree with?

Truth be told, that added after the following paragraph, so it doesn't exactly line up. Basically, I agree with what you're saying about being able to evolve while taking issue with the notion that they just shouldn't bother integrating previous elements in a more purposeful way.

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E-122-Psi
15 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

That's exactly what's happening.

 

A better or least more relevant parallel would be how Mario makes better use of it's principal and/or recurring elements because it has the basics down pat and can therefore play around with them more effectively, while "Sola Sonic" has been the strongest status quo precisely because they can't find a solid base to expand off of beyond the Boost. 

That's not the cast as much as it is gameplay styles, but it gets the point across better.

That is probably a better comparison.

I think it also gives reasoning to why there's still an uneasiness to branching out of 'Sola Sonic'. The core dynamic still hasn't been developed in all this time. The only guys they've proved can still have an assured agency are the same handful they always use (Forces was hardly done great in terms of character writing, but it got Tails, Eggman and Shadow's baseline roles right, I'm not sure if Amy and Knuckles' roles are meant to be ironic or not and everyone else just seems there for the ride).

Everyone besides the core handful still feel like they're trying to find somewhere to plug their power cord and turn on, and even those core handful are hardly in top condition. The way it is, it still remains a delicate dance to not go back to how it was before, just a chaotic mess of characters in an uneven plot trying to fight for the role of main character.

Again you can't have a band made of hundreds of lead guitarists all playing over each other. Find a bass player, drummer, keyboard, etc, arrange how they all play alongside each other and THEN you can start playing music.

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If we're talking on a purely character front, Mario has not really done anything in the way of branching out or expanding on its core characters in any meaningful way. They're doing the same things in 2021 as they were in 1985. 

Like, I get it. Sonic characters tend to fall the wayside once their initial story arc is wrapped up and rarely have anything more to contribute to the overall series narrative. But so what? Does every character need to fit squarely into a basic and static role just so they don't fall to the wayside?

I'll once again reiterate that I don't think Mario characters deserve praise for doing literally the bare minimum of what every other franchise has done. I'm not saying they're BAD characters, but they do not evoke the same feelings that Sonic characters do for better or worse.

 

Sonic doesn't need a basic group of supporting characters that are just inoffensive enough to not ruffle any feathers. The entire series has always built its characters on having solid motivations and goals beyond just the bare minimum needed to tell a story. Its wants you to care about the characters and their conflicts and get invested.  It doesn't always end up that way, and some characters are more controversial than others, but so what? Not every character is going to be liked for whatever reason and that's alright. You don't need to turn every character into a basic archetype just so you don't ruffle any feathers.

 

Let Mario be Mario and let Sonic be Sonic. If you prefer one's way of doing things versus the other, fine. But Sonic isn't wrong just because it tries to get people to care and doesn't ways succeed at it. If that's the attitude you want to have, you may as well say no writer at all should ever try to get its audience to care out of fear of failure.

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E-122-Psi

I'm not saying they have to be dumbed down to Mario standards but more they need to at least have some core agency long term. Like you said most of the cast fizzle in importance once their arc is over (if they even get one). I get that not EVERY damn character can have a integral supporting role, but I feel like a LOT more of them should, especially if they still insist on making them recurrent.

It's hardly just the games that suffer this either, comics and cartoons routinely struggle with anyone besides a couple key characters. Most commonly the more strategic academically smart character like Tails or Sally becomes the only one of the main group who isn't just another interchangable sidekick for example, because that appears to be the only foil they can think up for Sonic that fills a slot he lacks. 

I think the fact a lot of characters lack dynamics and synergy unless the plot is tailor made specifically for them is why they usually feel like dead weight and the cast management feels so damn imbalanced. If they had at least SOME trademark role in a standard story it would be a lot easier to think up placements for them. They don't have to dilute them to just a basic archetype but they need to buff up some sort of 'core' to work off of within the main group to assist their default persona.

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Wraith

The Mario comparison muddled things a bit. Maybe we should just take after PSI's word and move away from it.

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E-122-Psi
2 minutes ago, Wraith said:

The Mario comparison muddled things a bit. Maybe we should just take after PSI's word and move away from it.

It's not even like I was using the Mario comparison as a compliment in the first place. :P

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Wraith
3 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

It's not even like I was using the Mario comparison as a compliment in the first place. :P

Apologies for the misunderstanding.

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E-122-Psi
13 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Apologies for the misunderstanding.

No problem. My arguments aren't often very coherent. :P

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47 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

I'm not saying they have to be dumbed down to Mario standards but more they need to at least have some core agency long term. Like you said most of the cast fizzle in importance once their arc is over (if they even get one). I get that not EVERY damn character can have a integral supporting role, but I feel like a LOT more of them should, especially if they still insist on making them recurrent.

It's hardly just the games that suffer this either, comics and cartoons routinely struggle with anyone besides a couple key characters. Most commonly the more strategic academically smart character like Tails or Sally becomes the only one of the main group who isn't just another interchangable sidekick for example, because that appears to be the only foil they can think up for Sonic that fills a slot he lacks. 

I think the fact a lot of characters lack dynamics and synergy unless the plot is tailor made specifically for them is why they usually feel like dead weight and the cast management feels so damn imbalanced. If they had at least SOME trademark role in a standard story it would be a lot easier to think up placements for them. They don't have to dilute them to just a basic archetype but they need to buff up some sort of 'core' to work off of within the main group to assist their default persona.

Or, just don't have so many characters in any given story? Its not like the Sonic series NEEDS a large group of "essential" characters in order to function properly.

If you don't need to have so many characters, then just don't use them. Unless you have a plan for them.

If you're gonna criticize that some of the characters should have never became recurring characters if the creators had no further plans for them....I don't really agree with that either. 

If a character is only relevant when the story is about them...I don't see what's wrong with that, that's how storytelling works. When the spotlight is on another character, the others will fall to the wayside. Even Tails isn't immune to that. If you're trying to tell a story and get the audience to care, it necessitates some characters being pushed out to make way.

 

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Dr. Mechano
4 hours ago, Kuzu said:

If you're trying to tell a story and get the audience to care, it necessitates some characters being pushed out to make way.

I think this forgets another factor, though: Audiences are often biased toward their favorite characters. And a good chunk of that audience is going to care a lot more if their favorite characters are there doing cool stuff regardless of how well the story is written.

I'm not saying that's the way it should be; I'm just saying that's the way it often is.

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E-122-Psi
4 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I think this forgets another factor, though: Audiences are often biased toward their favorite characters. And a good chunk of that audience is going to care a lot more if their favorite characters are there doing cool stuff regardless of how well the story is written.

I'm not saying that's the way it should be; I'm just saying that's the way it often is.

Yeah, I mean don't get me wrong, I agree that a big factor in the cast feeling bloated during the Heroes/Next Gen era was the devs not understanding character rotation and trying to stuff EVERYONE into each game regardless of whether they fit. 

However I think a key reason this was a detriment was also the fact that a lot of these characters lack a core dynamic or role to actually GIVE themselves a relevant role in a lot of stories. Shadow is a standout case. He's 'Serious McSeriousface' who doesn't bounce off of anyone, so having all the light hearted characters as sidekicks in his game just felt like a lost cause. They didn't even try to give most of them a meaningful chemistry with him, something that could have made their appearance more meaningful and the story mesh better. I think it's also what led to Shadow feeling like a spotlight stealing squad in this era, since so often the story had to be tailor made for him at the expense of everyone else besides the very select herd of characters he connected with. There's plenty of characters who appear in TONS of stories in other fictional works yet don't feel overbearing because they work off of other characters enough to still let them get a turn. When it's Shadow's turn, it's all about him.

In a lot of works the main character has chemistries with a good chunk of the supporting cast to give them all a recurrent synergy with the lead, as well as some good chemistries between supporting characters here and there to allow the world to flesh out besides the main character. In the Sonic series there's only a few chemistries and most of them between specific herds of characters. A lot of characters don't even interact meaningfully with the main character, making them feel like dead weight whenever the limelight isn't specifically built for them.

Learning to just....NOT USE THEM SOMETIMES is definitely a good lesson in balanced storytelling, but I think a good failsafe is also expanding a key dynamic for them to have within the series normally so there are more opportunities to use them properly in the first place and they at least get memorable roles when it IS their turn. Fans will complain less about their character not being in EVERY game if the ones they appear are actually worthwhile.

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I'm not saying you don't have a point, but let's consider the fact that Sonic isn't really a series that necessitates having so many recurrent characters to begin with. The most basic ass Sonic story only really only needs Sonic and Eggman to function, while everyone else is just there to add flavor. 

This is why everyone used to have more fleshed out motivations and goals beyond just helping Sonic out beat Eggman. 

You say a character needs a "purpose" to "fit in", but I don't think that's true at all. Audiences don't care that Tails is the sidekick or that he plays a very specific role, they care about his relationship with Sonic. Shadow is one of the series' longest and most popular characters by virtue of his story arc and rivalry with Sonic.

 

Characters don't need to have a specific role or function in the story to good, they just need to be likable and/or look cool in a way that best represents what people like about that character.

 

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Dr. Mechano
1 minute ago, Kuzu said:

Characters don't need to have a specific role or function in the story to good, they just need to be likable and/or look cool in a way that best represents what people like about that character.

Yeah, but ultimately they have to do things. And most of the characters outside of Sonic and Eggman have been reduced to commentating on the adventures rather than actively participating in them. In many cases - particularly noticeable in Forces, where Sonic's extended cast primarily showed up as interchangeable radio chatter - the game/story would hardly be different at all if they weren't there.

Obviously Mania's an exception to this trend, but we have no clue if it's going to get any sequels.

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