Jump to content
Awoo.

Sonic: An Ensemble Series


Kuzu

Recommended Posts

To say this series has acquired a large cast of characters would be a massive understatement, starting off with only two characters to ending up with over two dozen, including one offs. 

 

Naturally with such a large cast, they would get their own amount of focus and fleshing out in the game often having their plotlines to go through in the games. But wait, what about Sonic? Our protagonist, what about him? Well, focus gradually began to drift away from Sonic starting in Sonic Adventure where he was only 1/6 of the game(admittedly he did have the most levels, but his completely dwarfed by the total of everyone else's) and in the sequel he shared the story with Tails & Knuckles. This cultivated in Sonic 06, where Sonic himself, despite having the game named after him and being billed as the main character, was only 1/3 of the game, and his story arguably the least relevant.

 

Naturally, people weren't happy and wanted focus back on Sonic, and we got that starting with Sonic Unleashed. However, the focus seems to have shifted mainly onto Sonic(with Tails occasionally tagging along) while everyone else is mostly reduced to cameo appearances with little to no role in the plot. Many rejoiced because the Sonic series finally was focusing on Sonic, while others lamented at how the extended cast are repeatedly punted to the side with no attempt at giving them any spotlight.

 

 

So how do you solve this problem? How do you give the other characters their time in the limelight without losing too much focus on Sonic himself? Well, what if the series tried to establish itself as more of an ensemble? What I mean is, the series would put its attention on the cast as a whole instead of just Sonic and whoever. The series would basically be everyone's story depending on the plot as would be Sonic's, with neither really overshadowing the other too much.

 

 

However, since people generally have second opinions on this type of thing, how would you guys go about solving the large cast problem so that its easy to accommodate everyone without anyone losing too much focus and attention.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, there are a number of options, one is go back to the ninties, and do a smaller spinoff usualy with a different style of gameplay focused on a supporting character, generaly this ends up on handhelds, but could give some other characters a chance in the lime light

Another is integrate them more into the story, and make them useful, and make sonic slightly less powered, but not nessecarily make them a main gameplay style, but make them usable in multiplayer, and perhaps give them some specialized bonus levels, and perhaps even unlockable in main levels

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What Warp said ,since Colors weve had two "Sonic and Tails" games, and by the looks of it from Lost World we may have a "Sonic and Eggman" game. Why not have the next game be Sonc and Knuckles? Or Sonic and Amy? Or Sonic, Tails and Knuckles? I think we wouldn't have much to lose by rotating the roster around in that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So how do you solve this problem? How do you give the other characters their time in the limelight without losing too much focus on Sonic himself? Well, what if the series tried to establish itself as more of an ensemble? What I mean is, the series would put its attention on the cast as a whole instead of just Sonic and whoever. The series would basically be everyone's story depending on the plot as would be Sonic's, with neither really overshadowing the other too much.

What does that actually entail, though? And how does making it "everyone"'s story not inherently reduce focus on Sonic?

Simple: Don't include each and every one in one game: cycle between appearing characters, minus Sonic himself of course.

This is basically the correct solution, I think. You can't focus on every character at once, so you alternate. Write a story with some sort of hook for a non-Sonic character, write a way for Sonic to get involved, bring in a few related characters for support, then repeat with a new character in the next game.

Like, quick example. Espio is a ninja. So have evil ninjas attack. Sonic tries to fight them but they're tough so he goes to Espio for advice/backup. Tails (via Sonic) and Vector and Charmy (via Espio) tag along. Maybe it turns out Eggman tried to steal the ninja's sacred mystical such-and-such. Fill in the details and there's your game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does that actually entail, though? And how does making it "everyone"'s story not inherently reduce focus on Sonic?

 

 

What I mean is the series wouldn't focus on one important character with everyone else as backup support, but rather everyone contributes something meaningful in the overall conflict; basically everyone gets a chance to shine without anyone overshadowing another too much.

 

Focusing on everyone includes Sonic himself into the equation, it does reduce Sonic's focus but only to be about on par with everyone else's. He would still be a major player, just not the major player.

Simple: Don't include each and every one in one game: cycle between appearing characters, minus Sonic himself of course.

 

Well do you think we can get more than three characters at a time?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it would be cool to see them return to what they did in the 90's like someone has mentioned already, having Tails and any other character in their own side game but for handhelds or even maybe consoles. It'd be pretty cool to have another game based around only one character IMO, but it could tie in with the main games that come out around the same time as said spin off games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Include only some in a particular game, depending on "style" of game.

 

Sounds silly but if you want a "speed" game, get Sonic, Shadow, Tails and Blaze involved.

Plaformer like Unleashed? Sonic and Knuckles / "chatoix" for the wearhog style smash stages

Sonic Labrynth style (slow) game - Amy, Cream, Big, Maybe Silver

Chornicles "clue" style? Rouge, Omega, Knuckles

 

 

Any other suggestions to gameplay style and appropriate characters feel free ti sugggest!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, I would just streamline the franchise back down to Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Robotnik. Give Amy a bit of a redesign, keep the other characters for party games and such. I get this probably won't be agreed with especially since I want the likes of Shadow and Silver gone, but cutting down the cast and focusing on developing their characters and them interacting with one another could be a blast to see each game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, I would just streamline the franchise back down to Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Robotnik. Give Amy a bit of a redesign, keep the other characters for party games and such. I get this probably won't be agreed with especially since I want the likes of Shadow and Silver gone, but cutting down the cast and focusing on developing their characters and them interacting with one another could be a blast to see each game.

And how would this not get boring just Lille how the games only focus on Sonic, Tails, and Eggman.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do what the comic's did. Give the games their own "Sonic Universe". Like some sort of spin-off series where each game is focused on a different character, like Tails' Adventure, Knuckles' Chaotix and Shadow the Hedgehog

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how would this not get boring just Lille how the games only focus on Sonic, Tails, and Eggman.

This idea that the games will get boring if they don't have a huge cast is kind of ridiculous at best, and implies massive underlying problems with the series at worst.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how would this not get boring just Lille how the games only focus on Sonic, Tails, and Eggman.

Well if I was going to take thoughts to myself:

  • Improve the quality and tone of writing from previous games - I haven't seen Lost World's story yet, but it seems to be a little more advanced than Colours and Generations at least. Sonic has full voice acting, and it can use that to its full potential. Stories can be funny and serious while not being a trainwreck like a lot of other games in the franchise have seen.
  • I'm not against introducing a new character or two for one game, but not for that character to gain a permanent cast presence (unless that character is overwhelmingly well done and popular among fans and critics alike). Shadow is a good example of this. He was great to watch and see unravel in SA2 and his ending was great. They then brought him back. Over and over and over. And now he feels like this one dimensional "I'm an anti-hero with tragic past boo hoo" character you always see in everything.
  • Knuckles and Amy should also be part of the main cast. I didn't just say Sonic, Tails and Eggman~
  • Sonic and Tails' friendship can be explored so much more and their interaction with one another could be so much better. The two have known each other for a long time and they've had a lot of adventures - not only can this provide great moments for the characters but also for the fans ("That purple water makes me really nervous for some reason..."). They're like brothers and Tails is just as acrobatic as Sonic and is very smart, but needs looking after too and is still a kid. There's more for these two.
  • Knuckles is a character who has lost of lot of what he was to becoming the dull, dim-witted comedic relief. He's the last echidna, guardian of one most powerful relics in existence, lives atop an island (which has a lot more potential to look at) which falls to sky whenever the Master Emerald is taken... he was probably lonely for a long time. This could all be driven into his personality. Don't take away his humour, we don't want another anti-hero. He's a tough, head strong guy who's a rival to Sonic and also a good friend when the time comes for it.
  • Amy just needs some individuality. Please. Give her more than "a happy go lucky girl obsessed with the hero". And the redesign comment still counts, I think she'd benefit from it. Take some inspiration from Classic and Modern versions. 

TL,DR; characters are vastly underdeveloped, with potential in terms of individuality and the way they interact with one another so clearly available. Games need quality in their writing to make gamers wanna play unless the gameplay is THAT good

 

btw these are all my opinions so if you don't agree that's a-okay too  

Edited by Symbotic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pretty much have to agree with the general consensus that you alternate characters for each game, minus Sonic himself.  Diogenes gave a great example of a formula which could be used to cover many different games.

 

Basically, I feel that there should be one central cast of characters that absolutely must appear in every game.  That cast, in my opinion, extends solely to Sonic and Tails. (Because I like Tails... yes, I'm biased like that.)  Then you have characters which appear fairly often, but can be sidelined or removed if necessary.  Those characters would be Eggman, Knuckles, and Amy.  (Now if you give the latter two more development, they can fit in with the Sonic and Tails category, and I'm only putting Eggman on here because I think the series could benefit from switching out villains every so often; he should still be the main antagonist, but taking a break from him every once and awhile won't harm anyone), and then there are characters that only need to appear once in a blue moon.  Those characters would be characters such as Rouge, Shadow, the Chaotix, and other side characters.

 

For this formula to work, you need to give the characters something to do.  What is the central conflict?  Once you've established a central conflict, you find a way to get Sonic and Tails involved.  Once you figured that out, think about who this conflict could possibly effect, bearing in mind that you only need to add as many characters as are necessary, while downplaying or removing those characters who are not inherently relevant to this particular plot.  Then, if the situation calls for it, you can think of a way to make this relevant to one of those "once in a blue moon" characters.

 

Going back to Diogenes' example...

 

Evil ninjas are attacking some village.  Okay, so how do Sonic and Tails get involved?  Sonic and Tails are coincidentally vacationing there, of course!  (Just roll with it for a second)  Now, how can we get another character involved?  Let's say that village just happens to hold ancient echidna artifacts or something related to Knuckles' clan.  Now, you have justification for Knuckles wanting to give these evil ninjas their just desserts.  But wait, they're overpowered!  The ninjas' mastery of stealth and speed proves to be too much for our heroes!  Who could the team turn to?  Well, luckily Knuckles was once part of a certain detective agency which contained a ninja.  So Knuckles calls up the Chaotix and asks for Espio to help them, so he does.  But wait a minute...

 

As it turns out the ninjas aren't evil.  They're merely upset because one of their jewels was stolen.  Who could have taken it?  Well these ninjas are convinced that this village took it because... ninjas.  But no, turns out it was Eggman eliciting intercity warfare again.  Oh, that crazy old kook!  Will he ever learn that he can't stop Sonic and his friends?!  So yeah yeah yeah, you defeat Eggman and get the jewel bac-

 

WOAH WHAT WAS THAT?!  OH MY GOD!  ROUGE JUST TOOK OFF WITH THE PRECIOUS JEWEL!  IT'S ESPECIALLY SURPRISING BECAUSE YOU DON'T SEE HER THAT OFTEN!  NOW YOU HAVE TO STOP HER AND RETURN PEACE TO THE LAND ONCE AGAIN!

 

Okay, fill in a few blanks, and it's not the best story ever told, but it's just an example of how it could work.  Someone with much better narration skills could probably do this more justice, but I just wanted to get my point across.

 

Anyway, basically repeat this formula, changing around the cast to suit the context of each scenario.  Maybe next time have something threaten Station Square and allow Amy to play a larger role while sidelining Knuckles since it doesn't involve him.  The possibilities are endless.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This idea that the games will get boring if they don't have a huge cast is kind of ridiculous at best, and implies massive underlying problems with the series at worst.

 

Well the current games are boring with such a minimal cast; I know the writing is ultimately to blame but still...

 

Portal gets along fine with a cast of 2.

 

Portal has the benefit of good writers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well if I was going to take thoughts to myself:

  • Improve the quality and tone of writing from previous games - I haven't seen Lost World's story yet, but it seems to be a little more advanced than Colours and Generations at least. Sonic has full voice acting, and it can use that to its full potential. Stories can be funny and serious while not being a trainwreck like a lot of other games in the franchise have seen.
  • I'm not against introducing a new character or two for one game, but not for that character to gain a permanent cast presence (unless that character is overwhelmingly well done and popular among fans and critics alike). Shadow is a good example of this. He was great to watch and see unravel in SA2 and his ending was great. They then brought him back. Over and over and over. And now he feels like this one dimensional "I'm an anti-hero with tragic past boo hoo" character you always see in everything.
  • Knuckles and Amy should also be part of the main cast. I didn't just say Sonic, Tails and Eggman~
  • Sonic and Tails' friendship can be explored so much more and their interaction with one another could be so much better. The two have known each other for a long time and they've had a lot of adventures - not only can this provide great moments for the characters but also for the fans ("That purple water makes me really nervous for some reason..."). They're like brothers and Tails is just as acrobatic as Sonic and is very smart, but needs looking after too and is still a kid. There's more for these two.
  • Knuckles is a character who has lost of lot of what he was to becoming the dull, dim-witted comedic relief. He's the last echidna, guardian of one most powerful relics in existence, lives atop an island (which has a lot more potential to look at) which falls to sky whenever the Master Emerald is taken... he was probably lonely for a long time. This could all be driven into his personality. Don't take away his humour, we don't want another anti-hero. He's a tough, head strong guy who's a rival to Sonic and also a good friend when the time comes for it.
  • Amy just needs some individuality. Please. Give her more than "a happy go lucky girl obsessed with the hero". And the redesign comment still counts, I think she'd benefit from it. Take some inspiration from Classic and Modern versions. 

TL,DR; characters are vastly underdeveloped, with potential in terms of individuality and the way they interact with one another so clearly available. Games need quality in their writing to make gamers wanna play unless the gameplay is THAT good

 

btw these are all my opinions so if you don't agree that's a-okay too  

 

While its true the cast is underdeveloped, that's really all the more reason focusing on a select few characters isn't very great in the long run. I know there are games out there that are well written with a small cast, but Sonic isn't one of those series because when you're focusing on one, you're neglecting another. I know since the cast is so big characters will fall out of focus at times and go long periods of time without even speaking, so that's just more reason why there shouldn't be characters who get more focus than anyone else because then what about the rest of those characters that you could be exploring.

 

We've had Sonic & Tails for almost three games in a row now, the first one showing a great deal of their bromance. I know there's more you can do with it, but I don't think its something that needs to be renforced with every entry. The reason Knuckles lost what made him interesting in the first place is because they stopped focusing on his role as a protector. If you wanted to focus on that part of his character, he would fundamentally have to be bound to Angel Island and make only scarce appearances. And in order for Amy to be an individual, she kinda has to break away from Sonic somewhat to standout on her own.

 

There are far more characters to be focused on than just those four, not that I'm against the series doing so just not at the expense of everyone else which is why I don't really like the idea of the series sticking with one set of main characters and only that set.

Heroes was boring with a cast of 12+. It's just, it's not even a thing.

I did say the writing was ultimately to blame.

 

So you're admitting a series with a cast of 5 could work if it were better written?

 

Yea, but that doesn't mean I'd want the series to completely forget about everyone else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to assume that means the series wouldn't just focus on five characters, what I was referring to was Symbiotic's claim that the series should focus on only five characters while everyone else gets axed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I'm telling you is that forcibly wanting every character to have the same amount of attention will mean none will since for each game deciding what to do and how to integrate everyone would freeze the writing. You'd just end up with storyless games with a shitton of characters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not adverse with the swapping idea that everyone brought up before, with  focusing on a select few at a time before shifting to someone else.

 

My main point was just focusing on only a select few that was brought up before, mostly because it kinda undermines everyone else if only a few characters keep getting the same spotlight and role.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So how do you solve this problem? How do you give the other characters their time in the limelight without losing too much focus on Sonic himself? Well, what if the series tried to establish itself as more of an ensemble? 

The solution to the problem is a matter of quality and balance, regardless of the number of characters present. The way I would implement it is in these 3 points:

 

1) Get better writers.

It doesn't matter if we have 1 or 10 characters at once, it's the writers at play who make the story good or bad. You can fuck up with 1 character (ShTH), and you can fuck up with a dozen characters (Heroes, Sonic 06), but conversely you can do excellent with 1 character or a dozen. People need to get through their heads that it is not quantity that's the problem, it's quality. Yes, quantity can influence it's quality, but quality is the main factor that makes or breaks the presentation of the characters, because there are writers who are capable of having a cast set in the double digits and the narrative is wonderful for it just as much as they can do so with fewer characters: 

  • Games like Mass Effect have even more recurring characters stretching in the 30s or 40s than the Sonic series could hope to reach, with characters that are all well-written with their own quirks and interests to the point that even the blandest character there is far more interesting than the blandest Sonic character.
  • Paper Mario: TTYD has more characters than Sonic in one game, and it is capable of having more well written characters than Sonic does to the point where even their minor characters are far more interesting than Sonic's major ones
  • How about Batman: Arkham series that had several other villains get in on the action to kill Batman while the entire plot was centered on the conflict between Batman and Joker? A narrative that made the more non-intimidating characters like Penguin or the Riddler far more bloodthirsty and terrifying than their previous counterparts? A narrative that, once again, makes even some of the most minor villains more interesting than most of the major characters in Sonic?
  • Kingdom Hearts? Anyone wanna take that? (Because I stopped playing the series in KH2)
  • Final Fantasy 6, now there's a game to look at when it comes to resources. It shouldn't matter the genre of the game is and RPG and precisely the game that revolves around a story, like Mass Effect above that game uses far more characters to deal with the conflict between Kefka Palazzo throughout the game, with each character having far more dimensions in character than the archetypes the Sonic characters haven't grown out of.
  • And this is just video game examples...

Balance is the key here, and yes you do want certain characters to lead and other characters to support those leads. But If you don't have good writers, it doesn't matter the number of characters you have present in the lead or support role. But we seem to have this part done so far with newer writers, so to the next point....

 

2) Alternate characters.

For starters, anyone (and I mean anyone, no exceptions, no "ifs," "ands," or "buts" about it) who isn't named Sonic or Eggman should be in the backseat, for the sake of fairness. I've seen enough to know that fans are too greedy to allow any other character changes their precious status quo by becoming a main, so if people aren't willing to share a spot and deny other characters a chance to appear as often as they can so long as they are well written, then they shouldn't have their piece either. This is one thing I'm actually grateful about with this Sonic-only direction, believe it or not.

 

I say we do away with this sense of privilege among characters. Characters like Shadow and Knuckles should appear when their presence justifies it through the narrative, and less because fans expect them to, and this should extends to characters that don't have much going on for them such as Amy. Tails is the only one unique enough to be able to be able to work around this as a sidekick that helps support Sonic, but even he isn't necessary and can be put in the backseat for a period.

 

And tying in with the first point, it depends on what kind of plot you're making: a more local plot, one that deals with crises in a small area like say Station Square to Mystic Ruins can manage with fewer characters, where as a global crisis can bring in the entire cast. But this isn't absolute, as if the writer is capable of bringing in the whole cast in a small area and make their presence believable, say for instance if he wanted to bring everyone to Angel Island to stop Eggman for whatever it is he's doing their, then I say go for it! Again, quality and balance is key here

 

Also tying into the first point is leads and supports. That should be alternated as well; of course Sonic should always get the lead as the principle protagonist (unless you're making a spin-off with a different character as the lead, but good luck with that nowadays), and Eggman the principle villain, but all other characters are fair game to br promoted and demoted between being a lead character and a support. If you think you can give Big the Cat a lead role in a game and make him likable throughout the narrative, ignore the naysayers, fucking do it; wait till after the game to hear criticism on the character later and consider any constructive criticism while ignoring the bashing. If Knuckles or Shadow needs a time out, then leave them be and wait until a later game where they can get involved. If you think you can pull off having Amy in a lead role over a character like Knuckles and Shadow, go for it.

 

And while we're at it, throw away this whole hierarchy thing in the incinerator, we can do better without it. The point is to make something more organic and growing with these characters instead of stratifying them so that they can't grow. That's not saying you'll be able to do this all the time with every characters, as characters like Knuckles and Shadow have backstories and occupations that can add far more worldbuilding than what Amy and Big are (currently) capable of. But hell, if you are capable of doing such a thing regardless, and it works, tell everyone your secret so they can learn.

 

3) KEEP SONIC IN THE LEAD!

I said it before in the second point, this is just to hammer it home. If you don't want any character to overshadow Sonic's lead role or you aren't willing to have Sonic share that lead role with another character, then Sonic must be the central character getting involved in much of the plot. Some things can happen off to the side where he is in the unknown, but Sonic must be the leader of the protagonists charging towards the antagonists and find out what's going on as he continues.

 

He doesn't have to know everything right off the bat; Sonic didn't know that the ARK was a secret facility producing WMDs until he later saw one being used, but he was leading the charge to stop it. Sonic didn't know everything about Chaos when he was reeking havoc everywhere he went, but he was there trying to stop the monster from causing trouble.

 

And this is where Sonic 06 fucked up, because Sonic was completely unaware of Mephiles being the true mastermind of the game. Not once did he face him, not once did he speak to him, or get involved in a fight to face him until the very last moment in the game when fighting Solaris. Whereas everyone at least came across Chaos, or knew what was going on with the ARK in the Adventures, Sonic was completely left out of the loop and treated almost as unnecessary in Sonic 06. That kind of thing feels cheap to your audience when you make a character who was one of the leads and leave him out of the loop of what's really going on until the last minute. Sure it's okay to have secrets in the narrative that the protagonist is unaware of, but the protagonist should at least learn enough of the secret as the narrative goes on.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonîc
  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3) KEEP SONIC IN THE LEAD!

I said it before in the second point, this is just to hammer it home. If you don't want any character to overshadow Sonic's lead role or you aren't willing to have Sonic share that lead role with another character, then Sonic must be the central character getting involved in much of the plot. Some things can happen off to the side where he is in the unknown, but Sonic must be the leader of the protagonists charging towards the antagonists and find out what's going on as he continues.

 

He doesn't have to know everything right off the bat; Sonic didn't know that the ARK was a secret facility producing WMDs until he later saw one being used, but he was leading the charge to stop it. Sonic didn't know everything about Chaos when he was reeking havoc everywhere he went, but he was there trying to stop the monster from causing trouble.

 

And this is where Sonic 06 fucked up, because Sonic was completely unaware of Mephiles being the true mastermind of the game. Not once did he face him, not once did he speak to him, or get involved in a fight to face him until the very last moment in the game when fighting Solaris. Whereas everyone at least came across Chaos, or knew what was going on with the ARK in the Adventures, Sonic was completely left out of the loop and treated almost as unnecessary in Sonic 06. That kind of thing feels cheap to your audience when you make a character who was one of the leads and leave him out of the loop of what's really going on until the last minute. Sure it's okay to have secrets in the narrative that the protagonist is unaware of, but the protagonist should at least learn enough of the secret as the narrative goes on.

 

I want to address this point personally; This is essentially saying, Sonic doesn't have to always be the protagonist that the story is about, but he does need to at least be the hero, the character that's able to solve the problems of the plot even if they aren't particularly about him.

 

06 Sonic doesn't really solve anything in the plot because he never knew what the fuck was going on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.