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So... What's so Bad About the Series' Current Direction?

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my biggest issue with how the games are handled is that it seems so obvious that so many very small details aren't fine-tuned to a smooth state. lost world had the somewhat rigid control and wonky execution.  generations had mildly stilted controls that seemed arbitrarily changed just to be different from unleashed, while still making it harder to simply turn around. they essentially removed elements of control (or situations that might be even slightly demanding for precision) at least we can edit gens ever so slightly to solve that factor to our liking. stage gimmicks and trying new things does not hurt at ALL, but easing the concept to a natural experience takes effort.

 

second biggest issue is that, at least for me, it doesn't seem like sonic team has ever fully learned anything. i was desperately hoping for just one more boost game for them so show that they actually understood what it was that had been working and what could be improved. i'd seriously hoped for them to support gens with DLC back in the day, but of course they dropped it (or any extra content) without consideration after the first patch or so, and followed orders to create something entirely different.  from what i understand, lost world was originally their first concept after restructuring the team, but it got pushed back after the wii version of gens was driopped very early on and colors was designed.

 

i do not believe that iizuka cares about the games so much as they at least get released, or so much as about spreading the character to a wider audience. his ambitions are not his team's. his team is capable, but there's no flexibility, and promotional efforts seem to create the air of a false sense of confidence with me. the best sound team in the world is at their disposal, and it's a shame that several of their best works are associated with some of the more notorious games in the franchise.  naka left because he disagreed about the direction the series was headed (i feel adventure 2 was the most damaging in the franchise, ignoring its positive aspects), and as a hardass sonic fan, i still think the series would have been good fodder for sega to have sold to nintendo ten years ago. if sega were to be bought by nintendo now, they would at least fully rerspect the character (which sega still does, though they seem to experiment the most with onl y him and not their dozens of untapped classics and forgotten heroes pre-MD). yes, we have unique entries and a sort of succession of great stuff, but their next release will tell whether that was a fluke or not.

 

sonic is something special, as a concept even, and i think he will thrive no matter what, even if it's every once in a while.

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I'd have faith in a leader who is experienced but is motivated enough to give the series that fresh spin it needs. Not that Iizuka needs to beat it, of course not. I'd love for him to stick around as well as whatever veterans of the original Sonic Team, but I'd rather he take role of supervisor or something smaller.

 

Actually, that sentiment alone makes me feel worst about how Yoshihisa Hashimoto left Sonic Team after the creation of Unleashed. It seemed like his direction was in the right place, at least for the time.

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I'd have faith in a leader who is experienced but is motivated enough to give the series that fresh spin it needs. Not that Iizuka needs to beat it, of course not. I'd love for him to stick around as well as whatever veterans of the original Sonic Team, but I'd rather he take role of supervisor or something smaller.

 

Actually, that sentiment alone makes me feel worst about how Yoshihisa Hashimoto left Sonic Team after the creation of Unleashed. It seemed like his direction was in the right place, at least for the time.

 

everything about that game worked, with the exception of the filler elements, and perhaps an over-reliance of QTEs. with a few changes, not even major, that could be the best in the series. it was the riskiest game they'd attempted at a time when they probably should have played safe, and it's a gamble that almost paid out in full (you know, for people who were able to play it with skill; i actually understand back when they commented about critics 'not playing the games as they were meant to', but that's getting into accessibility vs. ability in the critique business which is another ordeal in itself).

 

perhaps by trying to appease too many factors unrelated to the game they intended to make to widen appeal/value, they suffered an equally thinned enthusiasm as the prideful work was smothered in necessary evils for the sake of being able to be published at all.

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I don't think Unleashed was made out of a desire to "Not play it safe" they made it because what they had at the time just…didn't work. A change was pretty much necessary at that point or else there was no chance for recovery, they really had no choice but to make a huge change. So they made a new Sonic gameplay based on the concepts of the only Sonic game that was very well received at the time (Sonic Rush) and threw in some God of War for good measure in a effort to make the game longer and try and emulate what was popular at the time to get good reviews, which backfired tremendously and it's what probably costed the game it's good reputation it probably would have gotten otherwise.

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To be honest...

 

Even though I loved most things about Unleashed and wished it got the praise it deserved, I also am somewhat grateful it didn't get loads of praise either. Drastically alternate playstyles aren't really suitable for Sonic no matter how high quality and well-polished it was (let's face it, the Werehog was surprisingly really well made), and Sonic's gameplay would've been ensured as a permanent fixture.. which would've been good fun, but regarding stagnation would've kinda blew.

 

Still a shame that the amount of effort and love put into that game went largely unnoticed, though. I don't have to have a return of hubworlds, but I'd do anything for a game that reimmerses me into Sonic's world like that one did. 

 

To have something like that but with the crazier worlds of like what we saw in the reimagined classic stages in Generations or something like that.. good lord. Give me eighty billion copies.

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I think for me, one of the most depressing things is when I realise that 2009 was five years ago, meaning that it's been half a decade since we had a Sonic game that (in my opinion) had anything close to resembling good writing and characterisation (Black Knight- which, ironically, is one of the strongest cases of writing the series has had).

 

As I've said before, one of my biggest issues with the series overall now is that it's never felt more like it's 'just a game'. Since Colours, I just haven't been able to feel invested in the characters, stories, or the world in which they take place in at all. It all just feels so bare-bones, half-arsed and throwaway. 

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in my opinion, the delivery of much of that story (black knight) and the much of the game itself wasn't on a level i'd call great, though nitpicking can be confused with whining so i'll do neither. i prefer colors in delivery and tone, even if it was a bit cheesy here and there. i think the new writing team and actors had a lot of fun and playing the game front to back just feels easier without heavier emotional investment or concern.

 

i don't need to be moved or anything. i just want the experience to feel somewhat cohesive. if a story aims to be taken seriously, then i want it to work or at least meet me halfway. they are games, and in an age of 'the last of us' and other such emotional sabotage, some 'point A to point B' plot is a nice reprieve.

 

not everyone likes the simpler style (some still want to delve into darker territory) it's just that there is a unified direction starting with colors, and that's what they're going for right now.

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Now that the character-discussion has simmered down a little, I'll just shamelessly move my insanely long post over here (because it kinda got buried back there and I feel like I need attention).

 

What's so bad about the series current direction?
 
The story is told in a way that makes any of the previous installments almost completely meaningless. It's not only shallow, with neither known lore, nor newly established lore to back it up, it's not even coherent in itself. 
The way some of the scenes are played out makes them astoundingly difficult to follow: The characters jump from one emotional state to the next, while Orbot and Cubot do all sorts of nonsense in the background - and you better not forget the witty punchline! It barely leaves any time for things to sink in. 
Whenever people talk about the storyline in this forum, it seems so much richer and far more interesting than the game manages to convey, it's confusing. 
 
Without knowing any details about the development process, it feels to me like SEGA wanted to make a game that everyone could comprehend in terms of story-content, while simultaneously throwing all sorts of things into it that older fans might somehow relate to: There's omochao, lots and lots of 16-bit era badniks, little animals and a bunch of Wisps. 
Oh, and Chaos Emeralds... right. 
However, none of these thrown-in elements are connected to the story or setting in any way, which I find horribly untypical for the series as a whole. Usually, in Sonic games, everything is there for a reason. But not so in Sonic Lost World. Not even the stages/zones are in any way connected to what is happening. There is no coherence whatsoever, and I can hardly believe that today's gamers, new and old to Sonic, are overburdened by the idea of having a game universe with a bit of lore behind it. 
 
How complicated would it have been to have Knuckles and Amy not sit on Earth, but on Angel Island? And Eggman would be like: If I can't get the Emeralds/M.E., let's drain the entire island instead! Now Knuckles has a reason to be in the game; but he can't be playable, because he has to somehow warrior-monk-style protect the Emerald shrine from being drained, too, and Amy maybe needs to defend him while he does that. Now Sonic goes and fights the Zeti and all the SLW stuff happens, but he's overpowerd by the last boss, of course. So, for the Emeralds to actually play a role in the game, he has to make way (by whichever crazy bonus stage) for their energy to reach him through Knuckles' barrier and turn Super. 
Maybe.
Like that. *shrugs*
 
 
As for the gameplay: It seems to me that SEGA somehow can't prioritize. Sonic has a lot of moves already in store, now including a few parkour elements, but instead of making them perfectly usable and tailoring the zones to their needs, they kind of stop halfway to put Wisps into the game. Now the parkour just controls OK, and the Wisps break the gameplay neatly in two. 
 
Personally, I miss the momentum-based physics greatly. I can't even begin to count how many jumps I failed, just because I expected Sonic to have a certain trajectory. Instead, he falls down like lead as soon as you stop hitting the D-pad. That's just awkwardly wrong! 
Also, it's very hard to recognise the direction the spindash is facing, and it bothered me quite a bit that Sonics feet move so slowly within the 8-animation. From afar, it seems like he's speeding like maniac, while he somehow still kind of unhurriedly slides across the ground. Up close, the figure-8 encloses leisurely jogging feet. Both don't fit his movement speed at all, and I just dislike it when characters in games don't look like they're actually moving on a surface. It makes them look less substantial, and their creators come off as lazy. 
 
As many have already pointed out, the game has a rather surprising difficulty. For me, however, most of the difficulty didn't come from gameplay elements actually being challenging, but from a large amount of situations in which I plainly coudln't comprehend what to do or predict what would happen next in the given time. There were many, many occurences in which I lost a life just because the game didn't properly clue me in. 
Likewise there were many situations in which the controls, particularly the new lock-on homing attack, gave me a hard time, because it simply wouldn't lock on when I needed it to. If there's a gameplay element that deprives you of a certain freedom (like previously, simply choosing your target and attack-frequency by stick and buttons), it has to work perfectly; always!
I'm aware that almost every Sonic game gives you a whipping here and there on your first playthrough, but it's just too much in SLW, and when you finally make it, it feels more like having "beat the design" than having used your skills to best the game's challenges. 
 
If I had to pinpoint what the next game needs, I'd strongly propose a "less is more"-philosophy. Pick a few of Sonics very best moves and refine them until they work perfectly with his environment. Every gameplay element must support the preservation of a certain flow and momentum (even slower platforming should never make you come to a full stop, if you time it right), and the game must make it perfectly clear to you, how you can do it right: "Easy to learn, difficult to master".
Even if the story happens to be the simplest thing to imagine, it must provide a context for the things happening on screen; a reason, why you encounter these particular friends and foes and why you're speeding through this particular desert. Cutscenes aren't the only part of a game that convey plot. 
 
Well... this has gotten rather long, and I didn't even talk about the representation of the characters... but at least I got most of the frustration I've had with SLW off my chest, I guess smile.png.

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As I've said before, one of my biggest issues with the series overall now is that it's never felt more like it's 'just a game'. Since Colours, I just haven't been able to feel invested in the characters, stories, or the world in which they take place in at all. It all just feels so bare-bones, half-arsed and throwaway. 

While it's not a great situation, I do at least find it better just accepting the simplicity of the genre rather than being incredibly pretentious and trying to establish a sense of depth and complexity that isn't really there like the Shadow/Next Gen era did. Colors and Generations were shallow and corny, though I can at least respect the story didn't attempt to play itself as being anything better.

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So I'm gonna give this a shot. (CYNICISM AHEAD)

 

In gameplay terms, the series has a bit of an identity crisis. While Mario's 3D outings are slightly different but still true to their core since Super Mario 64, the feel of Sonic in the last few years has been sporadic. From Super Mairo Bros ON SPEEED to Super Mario 64 ON SPEEED to Boost2Win to Hardcore Parkour, Sonic has a habit of rejecting gameplay styles for radically different ones. And then when they follow a formula through to a certain point, they just up and drop it in it's near entirety. You'd think they'd just pick a style that works and stick to it, improving it through the years to make the games even better, but...

 

Storywise? Even greater. Barely-There 90's simple plots, to Light-Hearted-But-Semi-Serious, to Light-Hearted-Yay-So-Happy, to OH FUCK YEAH FUCKING FEEL MY FUCKING EDGE to NO FUN ALLOWED IN MY FINAL FANTASY FANFIC to Light-Hearted-But-Semi-Serious again... I mean, the Dark Age was in full effect at that time, but even now, characters and storylines are basically an afterthought. I wouldn't be surprised if they just made the stages, bosses, enemies etc. then designed the story around that, rather than the other way around.

 

So basically, as I see it (sepecially after Lost World's resounding "meh" from the gaming populace), the direction isn't there at all - it's just aimless wandering through a thick cloud, not caring if it finds a road or not since it'll soon get lost again.

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"All my friends are dead... Even my greatest foe has met with an untimely fate..."

 

During the next level:

"Alright!" "Yeah!"

It's SEGA's lazyness fault here.

As I said in another topic, it looks like SEGA already programmed the game, then put in the story without bothering too much to integrate it. Aside for Cubot replacing Tails in the circus, they did NOTHING to follow the mood of the story:

-the music of the world map is always the same happy stupid tune;

-Omochao is always there to cheerfully praise you for completing his challanges;

-Sonic has always the same voice clips anytime he jumps and the same idle animation.

 

In a nutshell, Sonic Lost World as a game and Sonic Lost World as a story are two completely different things united with duct tape

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I really hate when that happens. It breaks the immersion and just feels like "Oh pfffr since everyone hate story in a sonic game and kids are dumb, let's write something very simple so no one will be angry".

If you don't want to write a story for your game then you need CONTEXT. Basically explaining who you are, who is the enemy, where we are and what is the goal.

 

Doom did it (You're this space marine, hell invaded the mars bases and you need to stop the invasion), Super Mario did it (You're Mario the plumber, Bowser invaded the mushroom kingdom and captured the princess. You must stop him and his armies as well as saving the princess). Work with that instead and don't bother trying to write something more complex because clearly you just can't do it properly. And that makes me kinda angry because I, too, want Sonic to have proper stories and a coherent universe, but the closest I can find that is in the Archie comics.

 

Coming back to Spin Attaxxx's statement, even freaking Super Mario has a universe on its own, and it's a coherent one, it's a universe that has been build exclusively FOR video games.

But Sonic?... The poor bastard derivated so much and has so many people having their own vision of Sonic and his universe it has become as subjective as Art.

I wouldn't be so bad if it was just the cartoons and such.

 

So at that point maybe rebooting the franchise story-wise won't be such a bad idea.

Edited by Daya

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So at that point maybe rebooting the franchise story-wise won't be such a bad idea.

 

Not to soon like a broken record but….

 

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Isn't that….kind of what we had since Unleashed? All the cutscenes since that game have been presented in generally the same style, the designs for the characters have all been consistent with a few alterations here and there, and the tone of the stories all share a general lighthearted atmosphere (even IF Unleashed had more mythos to it, the general cartoony tone was still the there), so I don't see why we just can't consider that game a reboot. It's the general tone the games have been following with thus far.

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I wasn't entirely talking about that. What I pointed was a need for Lore and an established universe.

 

Now maybe Lost World and Sonic Boom is an indication that Sega FINALLY found something they'll stick to, but I'm just gonna guess they're just gonna do a roulette every 3 games because they're so paranoid, while Sonic's still Video Game's punching bag despite their efforts.

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I don't want to be off the train of thought here, but I thought I'd chip in -- for whatever they're worth -- my thoughts on where Sonic is going.

 

Now the writing, I don't like it. I'm happy for there to be more comedy, it's great that there's emotion now, but for some reason, it seems that the writers working the series haven't been able to create tension since (opinion zone approaching) SA 2. Say what you will about melodrama and dark atmospheres, but Adventure 2 was able to capture a sense of danger properly, if not perfectly. There genuinely were times when I felt that the situation was dire enough for the world to have a real threat of coming to harm, enough for Sonic to take it seriously -- and therein lies the problem.

 

It seems that there are very few games where Sonic acknowledges danger properly. I'm not asking for him to shake in his shoes when he sees Eggman, but if all he's going to do is spout off one liners (Colours), or treat the end of the world as a sightseeing opportunity (Unleashed), then why should I, as a viewer, ever feel that the task is too large for our hedgehog friend to handle? I don't. It's impossible to take the threat seriously when your protagonist is behaving as if a challenge from a known terrorist is time to party (Heroes). It dismisses the scope of the conflicts, turning them into 'slice of life' adventures, which I guess are okay for spinoffs or a TV series, but I don't want to feel as if I've won the game before it's even started.

 

The characters interact well with one another to produce a range of responses, from humour to some serious anger, to some big brother chiding little brother action. The personalities are large enough, and differentiated enough to give everyone their own identities.

 

(Here, I could talk about how the now-peripheral secondary characters are under-utilised and their omission defies in-universe logic, but I don't think that's entirely the writers' fault.)

 

I worry for the gameplay; I worry that these geometric LEGO levels and gravity-gimmick maps will become the norm, as will the shoehorning of the wisps into where they aren't wanted. This is what I do not want from a Sonic title (I understand my opinion is not the majority, so ignore this little rant if you'd like); Sonic shouldn't be a testing ground for a control gimmick ala Kinect (Free Riders) or the Wii U touch pad. Sonic should, to me, be about bringing speed-based platforming to the whole family, even the parents (the series has been going long enough) -- after all, what use is a family-friendly mascot if only the kids love him?

 

With all that said, the implementation of parkour is a definitely good, if currently primitive in execution, move in giving Sonic a more platforming-friendly moveset that is in-keeping with the theme of speed. A few improvements to the controls and input commands, along with less blocky level design and an actual tutorial, should make it a feature worth having in the future.

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Now the writing, I don't like it. I'm happy for there to be more comedy, it's great that there's emotion now, but for some reason, it seems that the writers working the series haven't been able to create tension since (opinion zone approaching) SA 2. Say what you will about melodrama and dark atmospheres, but Adventure 2 was able to capture a sense of danger properly, if not perfectly. There genuinely were times when I felt that the situation was dire enough for the world to have a real threat of coming to harm, enough for Sonic to take it seriously -- and therein lies the problem.

 

It seems that there are very few games where Sonic acknowledges danger properly. I'm not asking for him to shake in his shoes when he sees Eggman, but if all he's going to do is spout off one liners (Colours), or treat the end of the world as a sightseeing opportunity (Unleashed), then why should I, as a viewer, ever feel that the task is too large for our hedgehog friend to handle? I don't. It's impossible to take the threat seriously when your protagonist is behaving as if a challenge from a known terrorist is time to party (Heroes). It dismisses the scope of the conflicts, turning them into 'slice of life' adventures, which I guess are okay for spinoffs or a TV series, but I don't want to feel as if I've won the game before it's even started.

While you could argue that some games have made him too flippant, cockiness is an essential part of Sonic's character. Keep in mind that SA2 is also a game where he took being arrested and transported by helicopter as an excuse to crack jokes and skydive without a parachute. Hell he's even still making wisecracks up into the Last Story.

Sonic's always going to at least start from a position of confidence, it's his nature.

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While you could argue that some games have made him too flippant, cockiness is an essential part of Sonic's character. Keep in mind that SA2 is also a game where he took being arrested and transported by helicopter as an excuse to crack jokes and skydive without a parachute. Hell he's even still making wisecracks up into the Last Story.

Sonic's always going to at least start from a position of confidence, it's his nature.

 

 

I accept that, but, for me at least, there is a difference in the effects the wise cracks have on the atmosphere nowadays. My problem isn't that he is cocky to the point of arrogance occasionally (I'm happy for the writers to explore such ideas), it's that in the recent games he seems to dismiss the idea of any danger at all with his jokes, whereas before we could chalk it up to Sonic being Sonic. In Colours, the often pointed-out talking to the robot scene is a testament to this. Sonic's cockiness is endearing, but when it drags out a scene and makes a possibly intimidating boss look like a complete joke, I think the writers have gone too far in lampooning the other side.

 

I mean, yeah, I want Sonic to be funny and cocky too. But I think it's just as important that the bad guys are taken seriously, if only to fill a quota for "villains that aren't dead-on-arrival laughing stocks" and make the story not feel inconsequential.

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I think that's more of a narrative problem than one of Sonic's, because he's gonna be arrogant no matter. Its the job of the plot for us to take the villains seriously.

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I think that it's up to the writers on how arrogant Sonic is, and whether that trait detracts from a sense of conflict in the story -- while it's true that it's partially the plot that doesn't connect with the viewer to evoke the tension, it can also be said that it was a conscious decision by the writing team for the villains to be ridiculed. IMO, it's the wrong decision.

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It's intriguing. You're almost treating Sonic as a living entity.

I'm not sure if you agreed with his statement or not, but he was perfectly right.

The writers have full control over every detail of a plot, scenario, narrative, personality and reactions.

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Not to soon like a broken record but….

 

Isn't that….kind of what we had since Unleashed? All the cutscenes since that game have been presented in generally the same style, the designs for the characters have all been consistent with a few alterations here and there, and the tone of the stories all share a general lighthearted atmosphere (even IF Unleashed had more mythos to it, the general cartoony tone was still the there), so I don't see why we just can't consider that game a reboot. It's the general tone the games have been following with thus far.

 

i like to think of unleashed upwards as the 'current' sonic (also with a somewhat consistent design since). in terms of presentation, i've preferred the games during and since with the tone, even if it borders on being whimsically light in more serious moments. gameplay direction is what i usually discuss in detail, but presentation-wise, i'm all for these games' approach since they work rather coherently and don't detract from the overall design.

 

canon-wise, i don't believe the canon is as strict as we make it out to be, with the exception of these past several games in succession. hell, the climax of colors and ALL of generations was due to beating the first boss in colors. the older games' stories happened... more or less. same story, different narrator if told today. even the "plot" of '06 could easily be softened through a modern lens, with many, many details omitted for the sake of maintaining clarity and cleaning up loopholes - a retcon, if you would. honestly, retcons don't hurt so long as the individual parts still define it.

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Kinda repeating myself from another thread here, but last time I checked there was about what... 8 different versions of the sonic storyline!? (4 cartoons, 2 comics, 2d games and the 3D games) it's one of the most inconsistent storylines out there I can think of only made worse by the fact that some storylines say they're on another planet, while on others they say they co-exist with us on earth?!

At this point imo unless you lay down ground rules of which storyline source(s) you're talking about it's pretty much impossible to make sense of the franchises Lore in conversation. Even if they did give the series a true reboot, it would be quiet a task to make sense of everything now, maybe if they hired someone with experience in making order out of storyline choas like... hmm... Udon for example?

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