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Sonic, ideas and applicability


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So there's something I've kind of noticed about Sonic for a while...namely, why is it that suggestions of applying various kinds of ideas to the Sonic series, whether in terms of gameplay, style, or plot, and whether they're new or old, always seem to end up embroiled in debates or controversy as to whether it could work for Sonic or not?

 

Here's a short list of ideas that I've seen come under heavy discussion as to whether Sonic can or should even use or not:

 

- 'Dark' or 'deep' stories

- Open world gameplay

- RPG gameplay

- Using other currently sidelined characters like Shadow/Silver/Blaze, etc

- Humans as background or major characters

- Letting other companies develop Sonic games

 

This list is by no means exhaustive - I can't remember some of the others, but these topics specifically stand out in my mind.

 

Now, while I know every video game franchise and fandom tend to argue amongst themselves over all sorts of things, I get the feeling that Sonic is unique somehow, and not in a good way, in that these same hotly debated topics seem to be exclusive to his series, while every other game or media series I know of tend to simply utilize them one way or another without any real issue. The Sonic series is quite literally the only one I know whose fandom actually debates such things.

 

Why is this, exactly? Was Heroes, ShTH and 06 just so bad that it has really made that many people believe Sonic games should never consider or apply any 'new' concepts, and only ever stick to the ones he started out with originally, namely blazing speed and taking down Eggman?

 

Of course all this is just my own perception, and I know there a lot of open-minded Sonic fans too, but from some of the things I've read I just had to wonder and see if others have felt the same.

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Why is this, exactly? Was Heroes, ShTH and 06 just so bad that it has really made that many people believe Sonic games should never consider or apply any 'new' concepts, and only ever stick to the ones he started out with originally, namely blazing speed and taking down Eggman?

More or less.

I mean, let's remember. Sonic used to be one of the biggest names in gaming, one of the few that could compete with Mario at his height. And now, after years of questionable ideas and outright failures, he's become the laughing stock of the gaming world, whipping boy numero uno, the poster boy for a good series going terribly wrong. Given how often "change" has failed the series, it's not really a surprise that people are hypersensitive to it, and want to stick with what's proven to work.

That's not to say being stubbornly conservative on everything is what's best for the series. What worked 20+ years ago is not going to work in today's gaming culture. We can't just go back, make a "real" Sonic 4, and pretend that everything after ~1994 didn't happen. If the series is going to survive, it has to be able to look forward, not just insulate itself in its own past.

But I understand where they're coming from. Nobody wants to see the series fail again. Nobody wants to see the next werehog, or ShtH, or Chronicles, or '06, or...etc. So we pick through the ideas ourselves, trying to find where they'll fail before they're put into practice. The unfortunate truth is that we just can't trust the series, and the worse truth is that we're probably right not to trust it.

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The Sonic series is quite literally the only one I know whose fandom actually debates such things.

 

Why is this, exactly? Was Heroes, ShTH and 06 just so bad that it has really made that many people believe Sonic games should never consider or apply any 'new' concepts, and only ever stick to the ones he started out with originally, namely blazing speed and taking down Eggman?

 

In all honesty, I simply think that other game series have been a lot better at restricting themselves to consistently thematically appropriate subject matter and gameplay.  Either that, or their style was open enough - or, conversely, generic enough - that it didn't really matter what you slapped in there, because there was never a coherent idea of the founding principles of that series.

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I think just about anything could work for Sonic, provided people are open to it. One of the biggest problems is the tendency many people have to assume that if something doesn't work the first time, it won't work ever. Another problem is that, like Dio said, Sonic Team doesn't understand the concept of failing faster. They're so afraid of making mistakes that if there's a chance people will complain about something, they won't even consider it.

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What interests me is how often the fans DO debate these things. Topics like stories, why do fans debate this? If something is actually bad, about most people will agree it's bad.

 

06? Yup, almost every fan will tell you it's a bad game -- save a few stragglers here and there. Shadow? About the same, but to a less extent -- some who like it will claim it as a guilty pleasure.

 

Yet, despite heavy criticism by gaming journalism, topics like stories, characters, open worlds, NPCs, hubs, they're still debated on. Fans don't think in a large degree that these things are bad.

 

My take is that a lot of fans were just "brainwashed" by the review companies to think they're bad. With the likes of Heroes and Shadow being lackluster, fans wanted to blame something and reviewers decided to point the way: stories and "shitty friends" being the biggest pile of nonsense. So, they chose it. 

 

Doesn't help that Sonic Team likes to change the formula up a bunch of times -- even today. With these constant changes, the fans get divided up.

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