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The Many Styles of Sonic the Hedgehog: Round 2 - World Design


Jack / Joker

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DING DING DING

sonic_thinking_by_brianamcginnis-d4niv8h

Sonic the Hedgehog has had a hell of a lot of different styles and directions. Being around for twenty goddamn years probably helped that along. Some directions were good, some not so much. Some made us want to rip our hair out. For the next few weeks mad uncle Joker proposes a game, choose which Sonic games got what styles right, and which... didn't, and do tell us why. This game will work just as Soniman's legendary Sonic Unleashed vs. Sonic Colors topic did, but with more explosions!

RULEZ
-Have fun.
-Don't feed them after midnight.
-Pick a group of Sonic games listed by yours truly and tell the world why its the best at what it does!
-Try to respect others' opinions on the topic. But I don't need to tell you that!
-give me some money

Without further *Apu*, let's get this show on the road!

Story

Let us start on a bombshell, eh? Sonic isn't exactly renowned for stories of high-quality, but dammit if there isn't a few golden nuggets in there. The series seems to follow a couple of specific patterns for story, now which do you prefer?

Style 1: Grand Epic Adventures (Sonic Adventure (duh), '06, Unleashed)
This kind of Sonic story involves a big-ass scope and a lot of balls. Be it Eggman blowing up the planet, blowing up a city or blowing up the moon, he's blowing something up and he's being assisted by the God of something or other. Basically, there's a high emphasis on Gods, time and space as we know it, and a LOT of new characters, be they a mass of NPCs or new furballs to play with. Focus is shared between Sonic and the others with no specific spotlight character. Cutscenes are many, drama is high, cheese is... plentiful. Characters die, learn things, are reset to their previous flanderizations so they go through them again... or all three.

Style 2 - Character over Story (Classics)
These games may lack the Cutscenes and scope of their successors, but they sure as hell tell a story. The bright, colorful characters, the mysterious level quirks, you name it. Essentially they tell a silent story through means other than Cutscenes.

Style 3 - Characterization comes first! (Heroes, Colors, Lost World)
Not a lot of actual things happen. The emphasis is clearly on bringing characters to life. Exactly by how much is up for debate. Cutscenes are few, plots are thin, but hey, they're entertaining.

I've probably said enough. So now, I hand over to you, the little people, for a week of fun, mischief, and uh... yeah. Until next Sunday, the dawn of round 2, Let The Games Begin!

Joker out.

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In terms of story, I've been a bigger fan of the cheesier stories, such as Heroes, Colors, and Lost World. While their main plots are sub-par, the character interactions and characterization save them. Hell, Lost World made me laugh when it came to the interactions with Eggman and his two "geometry bots," as I call them. :) The humor is pretty good for this style, and I think in some ways, Sonic works better with comedy. 
As for the "Grand, Epic" stories... look, I don't mind them. I like where Adventure went with it's story, and I love the later runs of the Archie series, since that series is able to mix both serious moments along with good comedy, and same goes to Unleashed. Games like Adventure 2, Shadow, and 06 irritate me this way, since they take themselves so god damn seriously, that the fun and cheesiness of Sonic is gone. How can you take a anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who runs fast seriously? You can't, and it annoys me when games like Adventure 2, Shadow, and 06 come off as pretentious more than anything.

For the "Classic" stories, I've been okay with them. I can see them as silent films of the early 20th century, with stars such as Lon Cheney Senior. Sure, it's not a horror actor like I mentioned, but I can't help but feel the pantomime and silent actions add to a silent film. This style comes off as the most artistic because of that aspect, in my opinion.  

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I'd say you can make two subcategories out of grand epic adventures.  "Full" and "Lite".  I'd describe Adventure 1, 2, 2006 and Shadow as being the "full" variety.  The plot constantly progresses with new situations arising every 3 or so levels at the least.

 

Meanwhile Heroes and Unleashed are more "Lite", with all of the biggest plot points happening near the start, at the end, or at a SINGLE specific point in the middle, with the rest of the story just being travelling from place to place and taking out Eggman's forces in specific areas.

 

 

Colours and Lost World sort of crossover into this category but have the difference of including cut-scenes where cut-scenes aren't really required for the sake of having funny little "scenes".

Edited by JezMM
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Hmmm, I think I will do an elaboration on a classic title, but one thats often overlooked: Knuckles' Chaotix

 

of the classic stories, its the one with the most deviance without a complete gameplay change(like tail's adventure), as not only does it pull multiple characters into the main gameplay, but its also the first game to take place entirely in a theme park, and unlike previous stories, eggmans not simply trying to build his ultimate weapon, its already built, he is using the park to gather the energy need to charge it to its full form, and if you dont manage to get all the meralds, its not just that eggman got away, but that a giant robot is causing a volcanic eruption and mass chaos, which adds a little more depth to it. But yeah, it had a couple interesting story changes compared to other 'classic' entries

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The classic style is probably my favorite, at least as far as Sonic 3 goes, since it told a decent story without me having to stop playing at any time for very long to watch sub par cutscenes. They were just far more creative in giving a sense of progression. The Adventure style would probably have more appeal to me if the dialogue and cutscenes were actually all that good, but that can't be helped. Shit was happening, I guess. 

 

Colors and Lost World don't have much going on but they're the most I've enjoyed watching the characters in forever so there's that. 

 

If I were to list them in order it would be Classic>Characterization>Grand Adventure. Mix the latter two and we'd probably have a winner.

Edited by Smoky Progg
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I like the Grand Adventure stories (I'm not including '06 or Shadow even though they probably fall into this category).  When it comes to excitement, I feel that a good mix of comedy and seriousness can pull in the player the most.  Sure, the Adventure titles aren't that well-written, and Unleashed kinda goes a while without much interesting plot points happening, but they still kept me invested in what was going on.  They made me want to beat the bad guys and save the world.  That desire just adds that little extra something to a game that I think really makes a difference.

 

The Classic style is great too.  The main reason is that it's a good setup, but it's very easy to tell what's going on.  Bad guy turns animals into robots, stop him.  Bad guy does it again on a bigger scale and now has a space station.  Bad guy is using a powerful gem to fuel his new plan to take over the world and has tricked a new character into helping him.  Easy to understand, but just enough to suck you in.  

 

The Characterization style has its moments, but overall is probably my least favorite.  When dealing with Colors and Lost World, I just don't see a whole lot of great stuff.  My main problem is that it all feels like a cheesy kids' cartoon.  Don't get me wrong, previous games were cheesy too, but they were at least trying to be bigger.  These games just settle on being silly, and nothing more.  The jokes are hit or miss - more often miss - and the plot events are almost never interesting, even when they are attempting to have dramatic moments.  Honestly, the only thing I like about these games is Sonic's character, who got a lot more attitude that he was somewhat missing in some of the games before.  Everything else just strikes me as lame kids' stuff.  

 

I think that's what sets the first two styles apart from the last one.  The first two, while not always succeeding (at least in Grand Adventure's case), tried to be enjoyable for players of all ages.  The stories in the Characterization style just seem like they are pandering to easily-amused children and no one else.

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Wow this topic is good! Well I enjoy stories that has alot of character, it's one of the reasons why I enjoy the Storybook series and Lost World's story. I like moments when the characters have moments where their personalities really stand out like in Black Knight where Sonic helps a kid out despite not having much time to finish Nimue's tasks, it's moments like this that gives

me a strong emotional connection to the character making me like said character. As for the classic game's storytelling, I enjoy it about as much. It definitely went for "actions speaks louder than words" approach and it was pretty good, certain moments like the opening of Sonic 3 or the ending of Sonic 2 were very memorable. As for the Grand Adventure toned stories yet again I enjoyed them as well, I like when the characters explore new areas and meet new people like in Unleashed and I don't mind a dark tone on the story like in SA2 as long as it doesn't go overboard like in Shadow and 06.

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As a fan of a character who usually isn't playable anyway, the bulk of my Eggman time comes from boss fights and cutscenes. Naturally, for me, the more over-the-top and boisterous these cutscenes are, the better. It should come as no surprise that I put characterization and dialog way above the actual plot. I do care about plot, but it certainly takes a backseat.

 

The games with the best dialog and interaction were - in my opinion - Lost World, Colors, and... surprisingly, Adventure 2. Yes, one of the "grand adventure" games actually had a really complex, nuanced take on the characters, Eggman included (Notice his wider range of emotions, his reminiscing about his childhood, etc.). This shows that such a game can have the "best of both worlds," as it were, and that not all dark games have to be awful like Shadow or 2K6.

 

I like light and dark, tonally speaking, so I'm fine with either. Whether the plot is as bright as Colors or as dark as SA2, I just want good characterization and dialog (particularly where Eggman's concerned) to be happy. That takes precedence for me, regardless of what kind of plot we have.

 

As a final note, I like it when cutscenes exist for more than just moving the story along with exposition. I always see cutscenes as a treat, especially when they show my favorite characters talking and interacting with each other. If the entire cutscene is basically just "Okay, guys, the bad guys got the thing, let's go do the thing to stop them," then it's a bit of a disappointment. Pepper that exposition with some clever dialog, or even have little-to-no exposition at all at times! Sometimes, just developing the characters' relationships with each other (which Lost World excelled at) is all you need to do.

Edited by Dr. Mechano
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3. Characterization comes first.

 

I enjoy the character-driven narrative of Colors and Lost World. I feel like the characters should envelope the plot, since the way they react to things helps to push forward the story. Sonic's sense of justice, and lack of reasoning before acting, helped major events in Colors and Lost World to happen (i.e. Sonic kicking the magic conch out of Eggman's hand= ZETI ATTACK). This way, we get a true sense of character while still getting an ongoing story.

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I'm forever a fan of the grand epic adventures, or at least mainly the way the Adventure games did it. They had a continuous sense of mystery and discovery in regards to the overall plot and how each of the characters fit into it. They also served the gameplay extremely well by giving the levels and areas a reason for being, whether you were rescuing someone, following someone, or had gotten sidetracked and needed to get back to business. Rare was the stage that had no immediate purpose for playing it, and it's something sorely missed not only in the series but in platformers in general. Add onto that the high stakes of the conflict, and they felt the most encapsulating of the adventurous tone of the series and character up until that point. The characters weren't as bombastic in their personalities as they are now, but I feel that is made up for both in actually being more active in the plot, getting things done, and confronting problematic plot points and characters on the regular, which also helps serve to define their personalities as well. Overall, I just miss feeling like I'm doing something or playing with a purpose. Hopefully it won't be too long before we start seeing these kinds of plots again.

 

As for the classics, I feel the strength in their style lies in the fact that they were serialized from game to game. One or two silent, 10 second cutscenes using in-game assets was probably the most you could hope for at the time, and frankly it's negligible by today's standards of full-blown cinematics, especially if the game is to be standalone. But what was interesting was that the story was given enough treatment to possess some level of continuity. Even in the simplest of days, there was a reason to get invested in the characters and plot starting from Sonic 2 onward, and it was unlike any other platforming series at the time. If nothing else, it just lends credence to my belief that Sonic is supposed to be more plot-centric than other competitors. But nevertheless, it would be really cool- if Sega were to ever gear up for another handheld-exclusive or digital download series- to use this style but in a more extensive manner. Longer, better directed cutscenes, but still silent of course. It would be absolutely charming.

 

As for the last style, it's my least favorite, as I feel the plot and events therein are extremely important to the handling of Sonic's narrative. These are active, gung-ho heroes going up against a very ambitious mad scientist with a veritable military, thus it's highly off-putting to have stories where nothing happens. It definitely needs characterization to push it over the top, and I feel they only got it right in Lost World. The characters are defined far less by their generic personalities taken up to 11, or the tongue-in-cheek, obnoxious fourth-wall trappings of the whole thing, but how they would react to the situations at hand if they were to, well, simply take them at face value for once. It also helps that the writers were allowed to actually stretch certain conflicts to their limits and give Sonic and Tails significantly better emotional ranges. Third time's definitely the charm.

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Characterization-prominent stories. Because whenever characterization has been of a very high standard i.e Storybook games, you see the stories develop well partly as a result of splendid character portrayal. Character's believable actions drive the plot and the manner in which their personalities are portrayed makes the game's narrative for me and which charms me immensely.

 

I like to see the characters make the story. Which is why the Storybook games hold such lasting charm to me personally.

 

'06's 'epic' feel to me is very much undermined by the incompetence of the storytelling.

 

I disagree that Colours had characterization or even story come first. More like 'humor' came first.

 

I like the stories to have a balance of lighthearted elements and dark ones without feeling like they lean too far in either direction.

 

I think that Sonic game stories have been made more dimensional by having an inherent theme i.e SA2's optimistic message despite it's dark themes.

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I want something grand and epic like Adventure and Unleashed without the stupid "monster of the week" idea behind it, but I also want strong characterisation like in Lost World. What's the point of a grand adventure when you feel your characters aren't developing with it, or an adventure where your characters are developing to one-dimensional dull situations which you already know the answer to?

 

I feel like Sonic needs to mix all three of the proposed story styles listed in the OP to pull off something amazing.

Edited by Symbotic
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I'm going to argue that Lost World is something of a hybrid between the first and third styles. Some of these spoil certain plot elements from SLW, so it will be hidden for those who wish to bypass it.

 

 

Grand Adventure elements:

  • The stakes involve planetary destruction for much of the storyline.
  • "Villain of the week" antagonists are introduced for the game.
  • Inevitable team-up occurs between Sonic and Eggman against these new villains
  • "Darker" or "heavier" emotions come into play, particularly when Sonic fears for and even grieves what he believes to be the loss of his friends (and even enemies, in Eggman's, Orbot's, and Cubot's case)

 

Characterization First elements:

  • Many cutscenes exist solely for character development and interaction, not to exposit or drive the plot along.
  • The monsters of the week have varied personalities and are a bit more than just dark, brooding forces of pure evil for the heroes to thwart.
  • Eggman does end up getting the main antagonist role back after all, and the stakes switch to world conquest (of a decimated world, granted)
  • Sonic is the sole playable character, not including Tails (and Cubot) in the Circus stages.

 

 

It is my opinion that Lost World is at the very least a good proof of concept that the melding of these two styles can and does work. Switching some of these elements around in future games could certainly work as well (More playable characters, etc.). I'm certainly optimistic about the current writing style expanding rather than being wholly abandoned, and being used to flesh out the characters and the storylines themselves more over time.

 

Of course, I still welcome simplistic Colors-esque stories from time to time too, as I feel there is a place for that in the series. Every now and then, Eggman's just going to launch a world domination plot with no gimmicks, no mystical ancient powers, and no monsters. And that's okay. It's what he does. It doesn't have to be every game, and it shouldn't be every game, but surely people don't want or expect these kinds of plots to stop altogether.

Edited by Dr. Mechano
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I prefer Sonic stories that are generally cheesy, light hearted romps that contain their own moments of tension and threat, while not slacking off when it comes to character development. Still, I don't mind when Sonic stories go a little darker as long as it doesn't come off as forced like *cough* Shadow the Hedgehog. For instance, Black Knight had a villain with a really dark agenda, but it made sense with her motivations and backstory, and all the characters generally acted true to their personalities, even if a lot of them weren't technically Sonic characters we know and love. I love Unleashed for its Pixar-inspired cartoony art style and moments of humor, but it adds a lot to it that I like, such as Sonic and Chip's friendship. My only real problem with it is the almost non-existent middle act.

 

The saving grace of any Sonic story is usually the ending. As much as I have my gripes with the plots in Sonic Adventure all the way to 06, they usually contain an ending that closes up the plot nicely and ties it all together. Unleashed is still my favorite ending in the series, it felt really emotional with Chip sealing himself in the planet's core, and incredibly satisfying with the booming orchestral core and the planet being saved from Dark Gaia. As much as I hate to say it, because the story was surprisingly great, Sonic: Lost World's ending was easily the most disappointing in the series: It just ends out of the blue, it isn't exactly horrible but we get no explanation of what happened to the Deadly Six and we don't get much emotional payoff.

 

So, in shorter words, a Sonic game that feels like it embraces the cheesiness of the series, has enough substance to it, and contains a superb ending should be a superb story in my book.

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I honestly wonder if there's a way to mix them all together effectively.

 

Like make it a grand scale adventure with some pretty serious underlinings, but often break the ice with the various character personalities (without going fully settling into a noon time slot type bad Saturday cartoon). Do all these without completely drowning the player in so many cutscenes and trivial things so it still stays a bit basic like the 2nd option "classic" style games; so in short use them only when completely necessary and even then don't dwindle too long in them. All together would make you honestly care about saving the world and being a hero while at the same time not being pulled from the heart of gameplay too often, and never crossing that line of the game taking itself too seriously.

 

That said I don't think I have a definite favorite, seeing as actually all my favorite Sonic games are at least one of every category (Sonic 2, Unleashed, Generations, and Lost World). I think all of them can be done correctly and be effective, but I'd like to see what I suggested some day. I'm sure there'll be an argument to saying there's already one like that, but any that I think of don't meet all 3 of them fully I don't think.

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I also think we shouldn't underestimate the importance of using the gameplay to help service the narrative, just as the narrative should be servicing the gameplay. When it comes to creating an engrossing experience, both are important to the point that I'd argue the style of story and cut scene isn't enough because you're going to be playing a game for the majority of the time. Making the game world you're playing through feel alive helps a great deal in making the player empathize with the events, whether that's through simple connective transitions between the stages to give context of where you're going, along with proper escalation of aesthetics and difficulty, like in S3&K, or with the utilization of proper hubs and NPCs to put an identity on the thing in peril like in SA1 and Unleashed. I think something has to be there in the game itself, and it may be why I've not taken so kindly to games like Colors and Generations where this context was painfully lacking despite the things I actually like about those games' characterization. It may also be partly why I like Lost World's story so much; I've only experienced it in a vacuum of just its cut scenes. I've not played the game yet, so who knows how the whole deal is put together?

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I'd say you can make two subcategories out of grand epic adventures.  "Full" and "Lite".  I'd describe Adventure 1, 2, 2006 and Shadow as being the "full" variety.  The plot constantly progresses with new situations arising every 3 or so levels at the least.

 

Meanwhile Heroes and Unleashed are more "Lite", with all of the biggest plot points happening near the start, at the end, or at a SINGLE specific point in the middle, with the rest of the story just being travelling from place to place and taking out Eggman's forces in specific areas.

 

 

Colours and Lost World sort of crossover into this category but have the difference of including cut-scenes where cut-scenes aren't really required for the sake of having funny little "scenes".

 

I think "Zero Calories" would be the more proper term for Colors and Lost World's stories. I think Generations counts as a "Zero Cal." story as well.

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What I desire in Sonic stories? A mixture of #1 and #3. I absolutely love to see a story with high stakes, dark undertones, and a plot with a sense of scope. Part of the reason why Unleashed is my favorite game in the series has to do with my opinion that the story is really good. However, I am also a huge proponent of strong characterization. Games like Black Knight and Sonic Lost World really shined in this aspect and I felt that the suberb characterization actually helped to push the plot along a bit.

 

So, in my opinion, if a story could have this huge scope of plot with strong characterization and development, I would glady welcome it.

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I honestly wonder if there's a way to mix them all together effectively.

 

Like make it a grand scale adventure with some pretty serious underlinings, but often break the ice with the various character personalities (without going fully settling into a noon time slot type bad Saturday cartoon). Do all these without completely drowning the player in so many cutscenes and trivial things so it still stays a bit basic like the 2nd option "classic" style games; so in short use them only when completely necessary and even then don't dwindle too long in them. All together would make you honestly care about saving the world and being a hero while at the same time not being pulled from the heart of gameplay too often, and never crossing that line of the game taking itself too seriously.

Well of course there is. More specifically there's Mood Whiplash for having serious moments with not-so-serious moments (hell, slapstick comedy is more than welcome if you can blend it), and slice-of-life where you get to know the characters more. Blend all of that with a grand adventure to deal with a conflict, and there's your mix right there.

 

Of course that's just generalizing things, especially with slice-of-life since it's one of the few areas that can actually get away with having little to no conflict whatsoever as far as storytelling goes, and with its overuse can lead to trivial things drowning other elements out. But that's just where moderation comes in.

 

But you have to make plenty of room for all of it depending on what you're desiring out of it; you can't exactly do that with every single character due to the split between primary and secondary roles, and you can't fully expect to have an equal mix of the styles without one being more promient. Mixing a Grand Adventure with either Characterization or Character over Story will likely have one of them overpower the other, probably the one with the most conflict (which can be any of them) or the one that simply gets the most attention out of the narrative.

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I would like to see a mixture of all three, but that's less relevant than an alteration to the way the story is told or presented.  For the last couple of games the levels and gameplay themselves essentially had nothing to do with the story whatsoever - you were just running through levels for the sake of it, with no reason to start other than that they were there and no goal other than to reach the end.  Sometimes, as in Colours or Lost World, the excuse is that you're meant to be travelling from point A to B, but the levels don't really reflect that at all - you start and end in an arbitrary geographical position and the start of the next level has nothing to do with where you ended the previous (and what, did you just leave Eggman and Tails in the dust?).

 

As described above, I would like the gameplay to have more to do with the plot.  I would like one level to visually lead in to another, I would like you to have a travel objective which you can clearly see in the distance of the levels and which you eventually reach, and I would like what you do in the level and the obstacles you face to sometimes reflect an objective other than travelling from point A to point B.  This seems like it would work best with the Style 1 plot - events are occurring and you're actually responding to them - but it's really also a lot like the classics, in that the levels should be used to tell the story without the need for cutscenes.  Look at S3&K - the plot is essentially just "go from point A to B," or "run around for no clear reason," but the level geography itself tells a story - you see how the land changes around you, you see how one act leads into the next and how one level leads into another.  The geography is the narrative and it is a continuous one - as opposed to the style in Generations and Lost World where you have a random level, and then a cutscene that has nothing to do with what just happened in that level, and then another random level.  That's not even the only way to have story without cutscenes, though!  You can have in-level dialogue that's just happening beside you.  Look at Kid Icarus: Uprising - heck, look at Omochao!  (I think that's how Omochao works.)  The game isn't effectively paused while plot happens - you're still moving around and doing things.  There's nothing about this which is incompatible with Sonic's gameplay - instead, it's highly incompatible!  It's a Sonic game, you should be moving around rather than pausing every few minutes for the characters to yak.  This also makes it easier for people who don't like the plot to just ignore it, I think.

 

So that's the kind of story I'd like to see, I think.  Have the plot be whatever you want so long as it's written well, but have levels which start for a reason other than that they're there, have obstacles related to your objectives, have the story communicated through the geographical features of the level and the characters communicating while you play, have the levels end when you reach the objective, and lead geographically into the next level which you play.  And as far as where you go between levels, depending on the context you can have a hub and/or a world map - maybe a central hub near the start of the game (Colours could have had this, for instance), but world map dots leading outwards from it.

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The combination of Adventure and Characterization would be ideal for me in a story. Despite the lackluster middle, I thought Sonic Unleashed did a good job with its story and having this combination, for example as there are other games I feel do this as well. There was action, drama, suspense and dark undertones throughout the story while being balance with humor. I thought Sonic Unleashed gave Sonic and Amy good characterization along with others to a degree.

 

But if I had to choose one of the three choices stated in the OP, I would have to go with characterization. That isn't to undermine the Adventure stories as they usually bring a lot of things to the table such as dark undertones, action, suspense and excitement among other things. And as for the Classics, for what it's worth, as simple as it is, it's effective in getting it's message across without dialogue and an onslaught of cutscenes. One doesn't have to sit there and wonder what is going on. It has been said that "Silence is golden", and the silent portrayal that the Classics give is no exception to that.

 

As for characterization, I find it personally to be a huge draw in regards to Sonic. Characterization is what had drawn me to the series in the first place and was the same thing to draw be back into the series after unfortunately getting out of it for 15 years.

 

In Sonic Colors, despite the endless barrage of jokes, missed opportunities and not much of a story, Sonic and Tails' characters definitely came to life, especially Tails as he was sarcastic, intelligent and protective of Sonic. Sonic was snarky, energetic, and very protective of Tails. Dr. Eggman's characterization was great too, as this is usually the case.

 

Sonic Generations fumbled the ball pretty much in all occasions with characterization and story. From the cutscenes one was able to figure out the plot (if you want to call it that) was, but it did nothing in regards to telling a actually story, not to mention the characterization from the game was nearly nonexistent to even bad for Sonic anyway. The interaction that Sonic had with each of his friends aside from Tails after he rescued them really rubs me the wrong way.

 

As for Sonic Lost World, for consideration's sake, I am going to put my thoughts into spoiler tags:

Just to mention a few things briefly, Sonic was confident, expressive and witty among other things, yet on the other hand he had his moments where he admitted culpability, demonstrated anger, and even had a moment or two where he seemed to be sad.

 

Tails was intelligent, sarcastic, protective and forgiving to mention a few qualities.

 

Dr. Eggman was cunning, humorous and brilliant, as usual.

 

Even the Deadly Six had some good characterization among them, stereotypes withstanding. I loved Zazz's wild and energetic personality and the mutual respect between Zavok and Master Zik really impressed me.

 

Despite the uneventful and somewhat disappointing ending, the excellent characterization put Sonic Lost World's story in high regard for me.

 

I honestly value characterization so much that it allows me to be able to be more forgiving towards the flaws in Sonic games, even the glaring ones as long as I am impressed by the characterization. I also hold a high esteem for the characters in the series and it truly delights me to see them being brought to life with their endearing personalities as it causes me to adore Sonic and friends (and foes) even more. smile.png

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I haven't played Lost World, so forgive me as I withhold my judgment on that.

 

I am really liking the direction Sonic is being taken now, honestly.  Like Sonikku_Kiah, I'm much more of a "character" person than a "plot" person.  A plot can take some pretty serious missteps as long as the way the characters interact with it is believable and appealing.  Gone is the depth and deep-seeded motivations of the Adventure era, which is something I sort of lament, but I'm fine with it because I find myself enjoying the characters are a lot more than I did beforehand.

 

Adventure made great strides in attempting a Sonic story.  They successfully managed to reboot the franchise (to an extent) by giving more weight to the plot, while not being ridiculously dark and brutal.  In addition, the game did a splendid job establishing each character's unique personality and connecting the Japanese and American lores of the series.  But while I did enjoy SA1 and the themes and morals explored within it, I didn't find the actual plot to be all that enticing, and often found myself enjoying the scenes where Tikal would transport a character to her time.  In those scenes, we were given a very intimate look into her personality and her struggles.  That's what I liked.

 

The only other grand adventure game that I think had a story that was really enjoyable would have to be Sonic Unleashed, but again, largely because I enjoyed the companionship between Sonic and Chip.  Again, I like the themes of "opposites" and "self-sacrifice" and all that, but the plot wasn't what sold it, but how the characters interacted with it.

 

Colors and Generations, to me, had fun character segments.  Even the silly and often times flat out stupid jokes were happy and pleasant to me, which is a thousand times more preferable than the obsessive angst and big bad alien story of Shadow.  Seeing Sonic and Tails mellow out and just have a goofy conversation was much more gratifying than seeing a huge monster that you have to defeat, in my opinion.

 

The classics-style of story-telling works best in the 2-D games obviously.  The "cutscenes" which consisted of nothing but character exposition are just a bore in my opinion.  In the Genesis era, there was a high emphasis on the most important rule of story telling:  Show, don't tell.  Naturally, in some occurrences, you're going to have to do the opposite, but the type of cutscenes used in the Advance and Rush games are just insanely monotonous, and they leave next to no room for "showing."

 

I'm not saying the plot isn't important or that they should just make a Sonic game where the characters are doing nothing but sipping tea and making snarky comments.  I think a healthy balance of both plot and characterization should always be considered, but if the characters are likable and react reasonably to the circumstances that the writers throw them in, I usually won't even notice the glaring flaws that everyone always complains about. XP - But everyone is different.  Some people are very analytical of the narrative flow of a game or movie, and not only is there absolutely nothing wrong with that, but usually also comes with a voice worth listening to.  You should always put your heart into every aspect of a story, but if you don't at least get your characters right, then you've officially lost me.

 

That being said, I know some people won't agree with me that the characters have had likable personalities in the recent games, but I don't know what to say there.  I'll agree that not all the characters have been utilized properly, though.

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I'm much more of a character person myself so I'd say Im a #3 person, but am fond of #1. because I do find the different interactions between them entertaining, and how they're going to interact. I guess my main problem is the lack motivation nowadays, there's nothing really pushing these characters to move along aside from very basic reasoning "These guys are bad, we have to stop them. I'm doing bad things because I'm bad" . There's also the fact that the only real character interactions we get nowadays are between Sonic, Tails, and Eggman, with everyone else just basically being treated like outsiders.

 

I guess I just miss the drive these characters had from the Adventure games; Lost World brought a little bit of it back, but it just kinda fumbled it in the ending, which is sad because it had a lot going for it. 

 

 

I guess if I had to outline my ideal type of plotting for the series:

 

Every game would be a grand adventure. Yea, you can say what you want about the "epic" games being played out, but they did a far better job of getting me gripped than nowadays. Characters would have somewhat more complex goals than just simply being good or bad, and the tone would change depending on what's appropriate for the scene. Every cutscene should tie into the plot in someway instead of just exposition. 

 

I really liked Lost World's direction, but it really could have benefited from having stronger writing for the villains, capitalizing on established plot points, and a much more satisfying ending.

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I also think we shouldn't underestimate the importance of using the gameplay to help service the narrative, just as the narrative should be servicing the gameplay. When it comes to creating an engrossing experience, both are important to the point that I'd argue the style of story and cut scene isn't enough because you're going to be playing a game for the majority of the time. Making the game world you're playing through feel alive helps a great deal in making the player empathize with the events, whether that's through simple connective transitions between the stages to give context of where you're going, along with proper escalation of aesthetics and difficulty, like in S3&K, or with the utilization of proper hubs and NPCs to put an identity on the thing in peril like in SA1 and Unleashed. I think something has to be there in the game itself, and it may be why I've not taken so kindly to games like Colors and Generations where this context was painfully lacking despite the things I actually like about those games' characterization. It may also be partly why I like Lost World's story so much; I've only experienced it in a vacuum of just its cut scenes. I've not played the game yet, so who knows how the whole deal is put together?

 

Indeed. To me, this is one of the things I felt Sonic Adventure 2 had going for it - the story gives a sense of purpose to the stages you go through. Tails needs to break Sonic out of jail? Prison Lane is what he goes through to get to that point. Eggman needs Chaos Emeralds? He has Rouge go through Security Hall, which happens to hold three of the Emeralds. Sonic and Shadow need to reach the cannon before the other? Enter Final Rush/Chase. Having the levels give context to the story makes the story seem more... alive, I suppose you could say.

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I'm a fusion for 1 and 3.

 

Grand Adventure gives characters motives, danger, stakes and scale, while Characterization allows you to get to know and enjoy the characters in between the beginning and the conclusion. Meshing this allows you to make use of what would be considered irrelevant. For instance, we all know Sonic likes to run around whether it's for the thrill or for stopping Eggman, why not have him run around for the thrill and have him smack right into the threat that would soon become the conflict?

 

Or say Team Dark is on standby at a GUN base, or they're on patrol somewhere. Things seem normal, with occasional disruptions. You have them talk about whatever's on their mind, have them engage in their usual quirks, but something (either independent or as a result of their quirks) awry happens and they take action to stop it. Like Omega's destructive attitude towards all that is Eggman causes him to misidentify a target as belonging to Eggman, he goes after it to blow it up, only for it to lead into a bigger problem that gets everyone else involved.

 

Something like Unleashed would have been absolutely perfect for this had they not cut down on the cast. But as far as I look at it, a Grand Adventure is not only interesting because of the stakes, but in the ways the characters react to it. If the stakes are major, but it will be a while until it fully manifests, they could take advantage of whatever downtime they have available and get into a few antics that wind up either helping or harming them more in the process.

 

All in all, it's to make things more interesting as far as the story goes...

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