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What tone suits the series best?


TeeheeSamson
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The reason I brought up this topic is because I've been extremely disappointed with the direction Sega's been taking Sonic in recently. I feel like treating the series as a lighthearted comedy is incredibly offensive when we've seen great things like this in the past. If I could choose a tone for the series to stay in for the time being, I'd pick the tone of Sonic Unleashed, albeit without as much comedy. What about you?

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In my opinion, tone-wise the two Sonic Adventure games are spot on.

 

Enough to be taken seriously, yet at the same time without taking themselves too seriously. In my opinion, almost everything after Sonic Adventure 2 has been varying degrees of too fair either way. The only other games I'd say are spot-on are the two Storybook games, and perhaps the original Riders.

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In my opinion, tone-wise the two Sonic Adventure games are spot on.

 

Enough to be taken seriously, yet at the same time without taking themselves too seriously. In my opinion, almost everything after Sonic Adventure 2 has been varying degrees of too fair either way. The only other games I'd say are spot-on are the two Storybook games, and perhaps the original Riders.

I totally get where you're coming from. I really hate it when people say that Sonic Adventure 2 is too "dark", because it's not. As for the storybook games, I love the tone and writing in those, too, and wish that we could get a third one in the near future.

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In my opinion, tone-wise the two Sonic Adventure games are spot on.

 

Enough to be taken seriously, yet at the same time without taking themselves too seriously. In my opinion, almost everything after Sonic Adventure 2 has been varying degrees of too fair either way. The only other games I'd say are spot-on are the two Storybook games, and perhaps the original Riders.

 

-Mark- Said what I was going to say!

 

But yeah, a narrative that has a good balance of light and dark elements and is not uber serious to the point of narm and pretentiousness yet isn't juvenile and insultingly childish so you can't take it seriously. The Adventure games, Storybooks and IMO Unleashed got this down very well.

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There's nothing wrong with comedy. Most of the 3D games have had at least one or two moments of intentional silliness. However, I don't feel these moments should take center stage of the entire story. Sonic is an adventure series that plays with a lot of high-concept elements and large scale conflicts. Things should feel larger-than-life and suspenseful within reason.

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Sonic can be a very versatile series when it comes to tone, as long as it does it right.

 

My personal preference is when the series doesn't act too pretentious or take itself too seriously. The Adventure games, at their core, still felt like fun Sonic stories where every character felt properly developed, but their were still moments of tension and there was a big threat on the horizon to worry about. It was kind of like this with the storybook games, but better presentation did a much more efficient job on telling where the direction of their stories were going.

 

Sonic Unleashed definitely hits the mark for me, it tries to be more subtle with its humor by showing and not telling, and it takes real world locations in a cartoony environment so it fits in with a series about a speedy Blue Hedgehog. It only gets serious when there's danger about, and with some of the character interactions, like Chip discovering his identity and sealing himself in the planet.

 

Lost World is another example of nice tone: the art style is the most vibrant and cartoony we've seen, and it does its humor differently through witty dialogue and snarky character interactions. It shapes up when shit gets real, like Sonic feeling responsible for everything that goes down and blaming his self, and when the Villains need to be stopped. It's basically Sonic Colors' story tone done right.

 

There's some other good examples, like CD's use of darkness contrasting with light, and the quirks of the Sonic Riders plots, but I would have to go with Unleashed and Lost World for utilizing their tone best to compliment the story.

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I'll only say this: It ultimately doesn't matter.

 

I think Sonic can work with just about any tone, which might sound odd considering my past tendencies to deride certain games.

 

BUT!

 

I say it doesn't matter because having a certain tone in the story won't do any good if the story is crappily written, something which has plagued every Sonic game with a written storyline. Even now the stories are still struggling to get basic story structure and characterization consistent (YMMV).

 

That being said, if it's lighthearted, make it a bit more like Sonic Riders 1. If it is darker, go for either SA2 or Storybook series. If it's more balanced, go for Unleashed or SA1 esque.

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Sonic should be a big adventure with a bunch of big bombastic characters. It should always be exciting, and sometimes tense, but always end on an optimistic note.

I'm for this. I want something that compliments the characters. This can have humor, sentiment and drama and whatever, but it has to best for personality and depiction, and overall what makes Sonic 'Sonic'.

 

The reason I tend to be against dark Sonic interpretations is usually due to how ridiculously grandiose they are, as well as usually discarding most of the defining elements of the franchise and trying to hard to merge it into some classy 'mature' gimmick. I tend to stand games like Colors more since, despite being the opposite extreme and being a very light story filled with crap jokes, it doesn't really to pompously play itself off as anything higher and overall still at least appeals to lots of old Sonic lore. I'm not saying a good dark Sonic can't be done (stuff like E-102 Gamma's story comes to mind) but I feel it has a bad track record.

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That being said, if it's lighthearted, make it a bit more like Sonic Riders 1. If it is darker, go for either SA2 or Storybook series. If it's more balanced, go for SA1 esque.

These are the limits I recommend.

 

Sonic's well rounded enough that there are few tones that can't suit him. Something like ShTH is a perfect example of where Sonic shouldn't go, and Colors is an example of going to far to the other end.

 

If anything, Sonic should generally have greater tension and conflict balanced by some relaxed and easy going periods. Every tense and gripping moment should have a breather part after it. And there's nothing wrong with having a bittersweet moment so long as you plan to follow up with it latter.

 

I'm guessing that if I were to make a comparison, it would be use Megaman plots as an example. Classic for light yet tense moments, X and ZX for a balance of general tension, serious, but with goofy elements thrown in, and Zero is about as dark as the series should go. I'm of the X/ZX to Zero opinion, but so long as it's not cheesy or out of place, anything can go really.

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A lot of people tell me that the Adventure games have the perfect tone of "not too serious, but serious enough", but I honestly think Unleashed was the game to get that tone perfect. Don't get me wrong, Adventure 1 and 2 did get it right, but I feel that Unleashed goes underappreciated in that regard. The Dark Gaia plotline felt threatening and serious enough to actually be seen as a big bad villain, but at the same time the writers got the good tone of a Sonic game with dialogue and whatnot.

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Sonic should be a big adventure with a bunch of big bombastic characters. It should always be exciting, and sometimes tense, but always end on an optimistic note.

 

...This, basically, is what I like the sound of.

 

I'm for this. I want something that compliments the characters. This can have humor, sentiment and drama and whatever, but it has to best for personality and depiction, and overall what makes Sonic 'Sonic'.

 

The reason I tend to be against dark Sonic interpretations is usually due to how ridiculously grandiose they are, as well as usually discarding most of the defining elements of the franchise and trying to hard to merge it into some classy 'mature' gimmick. I tend to stand games like Colors more since, despite being the opposite extreme and being a very light story filled with crap jokes, it doesn't really to pompously play itself off as anything higher and overall still at least appeals to lots of old Sonic lore. I'm not saying a good dark Sonic can't be done (stuff like E-102 Gamma's story comes to mind) but I feel it has a bad track record.

 

But this, too, sounds fine to me.

 

Like E-122, I'm not saying that dark stories can't work, of course they can. They're just... something I'm not particularly bothered about, that's all. I prefer those kind of elements to be more "secondary" or subtle, like the Bad Futures in CD, or disturbing realisations that become apparent in the player's mind. I find those kind of darker elements to be not only more interesting, but also more complimentary to a Sonic narrative. smile.png

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I prefer my Sonic stories to have balance. I don't really think the tone is the thing that particularly matters, so long as it can be taken seriously and recognize that it's a series about a blue talking hedgehog. It's all about writing strong stories that can immerse you, whether you're laughing or at the edge of your seat.

 

You can have as many lighthearted elements or dark undertones as the story demands. If it's written well and doesn't go into unnecessary extremes on either end, I'll be happy.

 

The best examples I can think of are the Storybook Series, Unleashed, and the Adventure series.

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I actually think Lost World is a stellar example of this concept. We see how Sonic, Tails, and Eggman (and Orbot and Cubot!) interact as a team throughout the game. We see some amusing - and at times, even heartwarming - moments among their group, and this builds rapport with us as an audience. Then later, when Tails is captured, when Eggman apparently falls to his death after saving his longtime foe's life, and when Sonic's world is facing certain doom, it's easy to really identify with the distress Sonic is feeling.

 

And that's before the reveal of Robotnik inevitably betraying Sonic hohohohohohohoho.

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The tone has to be able to catch the silliness and bombastic craziness of the series, while capturing varying glimpses of Sonic's cast, world and the like at it's most genuine or "real" way. A tone where every new step is a big new adventure, with so much at stake, so much to explore and learn, so much to take in at once. A story that keeps you excited to play more, to laugh your ass off at the dumbest things, to feel stressed like there's no tomorrow, and feel the characters for who they are. 

 

And of course not every game has to feel like it's the biggest, baddest thing that's ever happened, no, but at least it should feel like you're fighting for something. I want a game that gives you that great payoff for completing it. Like you fought for the heroes, and won. Like you really accomplished something. You know what I mean?

 

I guess the people who described what I'm trying to say best were Diogenes, Nepenthe and Mechano.

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A nice balance of light and dark.

 

If you ask me, Unleashed has the optimal tone for the story of a Sonic game. There were serious moments, yes, but it never, ever took itself so serious that it was downright ostentatious. It also wasn’t forced down your throat like in Shadow the Hedgehog - it was presented in a well-done, natural fashion.

 

Same with the light-hearted elements. Humor was clever and genuinely funny and didn’t take precedence over the actual story, as it did in Colors. And it too, wasn’t forced upon you. It also never delved into outright childishness, as Heroes did at times.

 

All in all, the tone of Unleashed was presented in a way that was pleasantly balanced.

 

I also have to give major props to Black Knight and Adventure 1 for achieving this as well. Adventure 2 and Lost World are also worthy for me to note here, as their stories put more emphasis on a certain tone (SA2 being fairly dark and serious and Lost World being a bit more light-hearted), but without said tone completely overtaking the other.

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