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Dr. Strangehog, or How I Learned to Stop Being Cynical and Just Enjoy Sonic Games (aka The Cynicism Topic)


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All right, SSMB bros, I gotta get this out there once and for all. We're in a dark place. A dark, dark place. And since we're starting to speculate about the series' next move, I feel like we've got to address this darkness. Indulge me for a moment, won't you?

 

It's no secret that SSMB is very, very cynical about the series' current direction, which has been much to the chagrin of the more idealistic members. Even when we aren't making wisecracks about how far down the crapper this series has gone, how close we are to cutting ties with the series altogether, or how little we still even care, there's a bit of a cloud that hangs over a good majority of non-nostalgic Sonic discussion - especially with regards to the series' current state and its future. It's not a new development either. The "Sonic sucks" attitude at least traces its roots to 2012, as I can recall - ironically not long after the release of the well-received Generations, but possibly in light of the widely panned Sonic 4: Episode II. Then Lost World and Rise of Lyric happened, and, well, here we are now. And of course this isn't factoring individual members' opinions of these games into account. There are members who enjoyed S4:E2, a handful of adamant defenders of Lost World (myself among them), and even a couple here and there who consider Rise of Lyric to have received far more hate than it deserved. What we're looking at here, however, is the big picture.

 

So how did we get here? What really went wrong? We came through the fallout of Sonic 06 and the fallout of Sonic Unleashed - and even Unleashed has its fans. Why is an expression of any positive Sonic-related desire followed by a sigh of resignation? Why is there so little faith?

 

We have the obvious reason, of course. Lost World disappointed many and Rise of Lyric had a reception comparable to 06 itself. Then there are the other smaller but no less significant reasons. People enjoyed Generations, yes, but it seemed to imply a stagnation. There was nothing to appeal to those who wanted deeper storylines, more playable characters, or more varied gameplay - and the attempts that Lost World and Rise of Lyric made to assauge any of those complaints were seen by many as botched. Colors was received well in its day, but is seen as very mixed in hindsight due to its unorthodox design and power-up emphasis. The general opinion seems to be that the only time this series succeeds is if it's very safe - if it even succeeds then. Many were excited by Lost World's change of pace only to be let down by it on release. Some were even looking forward to Rise of Lyric's character-switching and greater plot emphasis only to be let down even more severely. The writing quality of the series is hotly debated, and those who want Sonic to be anything more than a silly cartoon are left wanting. 

 

With it all laid out right there, it's really not hard to see why we, as a forum and as a fanbase, are for the most part quite cynical. Those are the general statements. So I guess here are the personal questions: Do you think this is deserved? How much faith do you have in Sonic right now? Do you agree with the cynicism, and if so, what would it really take to restore your faith? Would it just take a good game on the level of Generations - polished, pretty, well-designed, and fun, but ultimately safe - or do you need something more ambitious and grand to reignite your interest? Do you think that the supposedly well-received games like Colors and Generations were ultimately part of the problem in and of themselves, or that they simply weren't enough? Or do you think they marked a renaissance and that what came afterwards didn't negate it? Is there anything specific you want from the series that you think you will get at some point in the future? Did you, perhaps, enjoy Lost World and/or Rise of Lyric, and therefore very little of this applies to you at all? I guess what it all boils down to is: Do you think the cynicism is justified (wholly or partially) or not, and why?

 

Personally, I have higher hopes than many. The Boom games slipped off my radar fairly easily, and I turned more of my attention to the show, which I do enjoy quite a bit. I see them basically as very poor spinoffs - spinoffs that unfortunately carried a lot of importance, but spinoffs nonetheless. Safe or not, I love Generations to death, and Lost World left me pleasantly surprised (my grievances with the story notwithstanding). If anything, I feel like Lost World showed that Sonic Team are willing to experiment with new and creative ideas, and while flawed, I believed the experiment was nonetheless rewarding. (I would go into more detail on my SLW thoughts, but that would probably be better suited to another topic.) That gives me more faith that whatever comes next will branch out a bit more, but I also think that the current-gen technology might encourage Sonic Team to go for something a lot bigger than Generations. Sonic Unleashed, I feel, is representative of what Sonic Team can really do when they go all-out for a next-gen experience, and I think they learned enough from that game's flaws (and maybe even Lost World's) to know what not to do. Plus, the fact that the next Sonic game will (evidently) go for a completely new gameplay style intrigues me. In the end, I guess I'm prepared to at least indulge whatever they throw my way, as long as it's not, well, broken. I took to Lost World, after all, so I guess you could say I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to Sonic.

 

But those are just my thoughts. What about you guys?

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Yes, the cynicism is very much justified considering what we've had to deal with for over a decade, mixed with a company that seems almost completely disconnected from its audience in terms of its wants and needs. 

 

 

Personally, I find myself not really being that invested in the games anymore aside from a passing glance and just moving on to other series I feel deserve my time. If a game is good, I might check it out but I've long grown past my hype for a Sonic game. 

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I guess I fit into the disappointed crowd and I used to be a very optimistic guy. But Lost World kind of destroyed my excitement for new games, because it was the first time I actually set my expectations high and the game was nowhere near of fulfilling them. Even if I had some fun with it.

 

Boom was just kind of a confirmation that I should set my expectations low in terms of Sonic Games, something I don't want to do. I want to believe in Sonic Team, that after Generations they can do a game just as fun or even better. That's why I'm hoping for a release next year, because I want the next game to actually have the development time a great game deserves.  

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To be fair, Sega doesn't give much reason to have hope, and has been doing such for way longer than 2012.

 

Some people are still waiting for the series to get back to being great again instead of settling for anywhere between "pretty good" and mediocrity (if we're lucky). And although everyone has varying opinions on how good the current games are, the consensus is still that at least in some way Sega manages to mess up a certain major aspect of the game.

 

It makes everyone cynical because you can't just look at a single game and how it did one thing and say that it's legitimately good because there are just as many people who disagree and find it either horrible or just plain not-as-good as how another game did it.

 

And that's partially at fault for Sega never delivering any sort of consistency in their games. Nor do they seem to care to pour extra love and effort into ideas and concepts they bring back. They have a ridiculously long history of new ideas that don't benefit the games, scrapping ideas that were really good (or even mechanics and ideas vital to the games that made them big to begin with), and then whenever they do try to bring it back they usually half-ass it.

 

And this is coming from a guy who hates being so cynical about Sonic. I wish I could just enjoy the games, but... well, I have standards. The games fall short in at least one way or another every single time, it feels like, and as much as I dream of the day we finally get the undeniably great Sonic game I've been waiting for, I'm being honest to myself: it feels less and less likely with every release.

 

Does it make me want to lose hope? Yeah, absolutely. How have I not? What can I say, I die hard. *snrk*

 

But no really, it has got on my nerves over the years, but I keep holding on anyways for some reason. I guess I just know that a great Sonic game could be one of my all-time favorite games ever, and simply investing in other franchises full time isn't going to fill that void.

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I'm not brimming with optimism because I'm a more than a bit underwhelmed with recent releases - and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be jumping up and down with excitement if a new addition to the series was announced, but all in all I guess I just have a childlike hope for the future in spite of having good reason not to xP That and I wasn't just completely aghast with a few of the more recent releases, but I wasn't necessarily pleased either.

 

My hopes are high, but my expectations are low. That'd would be a good way to put it.

 

I won't go around saying HEY MAN DONT H8 or any of that shit because I find it to be certainly more than understandable why some would have no hope for the future of the franchise, but I don't really feel like all that shimmered has faded into darkness just yet. 

 

The more I type this, the more I feel like this guy:

 

 

But hey, I do honestly feel a bit of hope in spite of what logic would dictate.

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After Sonic Colors happened I actually lost the ability to be disappointed in a Sonic game ever again. :v

I'm very excited to see what the next Sonic game is. Honestly the only thing I want from it is SHADOW (whether he's playable or not, I just want to see him again in a main game lel). Honestly Azoo's latest topic got me very excited despite not having any new info. I hope they announce something at E3 or something. :D

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Gotta be honest, I've never saw Lost World as a disappointing game as other people make it out to be. To be fair, I've played the demo of it so.. :P

 

I won't put myself in the group of people who are sick of Sega's decisions but at the same time I'm not the type of fan that accepts everything they put out. I think Sonic Team are decent developers, not the best around, but they just have so much potential to make something truly amazing. 

 

But I'm still excited to see the next Sonic Team game despite Lost World's reception. I might end up liking it or not. It's pretty unpredictable. 

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I think my avatar says it all, but I'll go into deeper anyway.

Since I started my Sonic journey with the Dreamcast era of games, I'm one of those who prefered the multiple characters. Heroes, despite its massive flaws, managed multiple characters in a 3D world in the right way, I felt. They had core abilities for their type, with special moves depending on characteristics.

Is that the only reason I'm cynical, because there have been no multiple characters recently? Of course not. The gameplay factors in as well. Recent games have been lacking core gameplay elements. Namely - speed. Generations, Unleashed, even Colours, had the speed element. The Adventures, the Advances, even the classics, had it. Boom, Lost World, Sonic 4 - these are the games that felt stripped of speed. And not just speed - flow. Lost World's homing attack was jarring to use, since it cuts the flow of movement. Boom with its combat cut the flow. Sonic 4, my least played of games, had that awkward speed build up, and dropped that speed fast - sometimes for no reason.

While not contributive of my cynicism, I've always said that there are two major elements that every 3D Sonic game gets wrong. Camera and homing attack. Fix all of what I've said, have it all in one game, and I might let some of that cynicism go. Still, I always willing to go so far when a new game is announced to see if it will be good. And then for some reason, even if it's not, since I got back into the series in 2011 I've been buying them at or near launch.

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You know, I've been engaged in the Sonic community for over a decade and other people have been around for longer still. In that time I've seen repeated failures from SEGA and Sonic Team as companies and Sonic as a franchise, and far fewer things to be happy about.. When the series managed to hit it good again with Colours and Generations, it still fell remarkably short of the standards I hold for other games. And surrounding those releases were games like Sonic 4, Free Riders and some Olympics stuff. Even during it's best moments in recent years, the series still wasn't all that. It wasn't long before it all began to fall to pieces either. 

 

I don't even really know why I'm still around here. The best analogy is that it's akin to being in an abusive relationship. If you don't like that analogy, well, whatever. It doesn't really need much explaining at least. I'm gonna keep coming back because I still have this love-hate relationship going on with the series. The cynicism? Totally warranted, and then some. It's the some of the more extreme and deluded optimism and naivety that does my nut in.

 

Not that all optimism is unwarranted, it has to be said. It looked like SLW was going from strength to strength for example, and when it came out it wasn't all bad either. We also have the stellar ASR games. But when say RoL was getting bad press and looked like trash but people were still expecting it to change, I'm just sort of like "seriously?". You learn what to expect really. 

 

It's also that time of year when I remember that I am indeed a Sonic fan. If there's a new Sonic game on the horizon (can't say I'm 100% sure right now), then it'll be announced in the next month or so. And I'm stoked/bricking it to find out what it may be. 

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Personally, I don't mind how they keep changing the formula, with a moderate consistency, as it allows us to have more varied opinions that appeal to more audiences. For example: as a lover of duality, Unleashed won me over by being a beat 'em up and for the speed at the same time.

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I don't personally feel that my cynicism has transformed into anything akin to hate. To be specific, it's more of a self-preserving apathy. Why bother to get personally invested in seeing something that would be more in the vain of what I'd like, if what I like has been spit upon not only by the Sonic community but by the general public at large for around seven to eight years, if not longer? It seems foolish at that point to even bother hoping.

 

I don't think that Sonic will die, nor do I even think it's been close to some particularly apocalyptic scenario as much as people try to put across. And in general, I still like Sonic. I like the games I like, I like the aesthetics, I like the characters, I like some of the cartoons and Boom TV show, and I like him enough to devote enough time to arguing and creating art about him. I don't view this as being Stockholm'd; there is still genuinely a lot to like about the franchise regardless of one person's perceived quality of the current crop of games we're getting. I've just that I've had to step back from being invested in them.

 

In general, it's easier to crack jokes and be a grump than to deal with the fallout of excessive disappointment in a company that clearly doesn't care what you think enough to cater to you.

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All right, SSMB bros, I gotta get this out there once and for all. We're in a dark place. A dark, dark place. And since we're starting to speculate about the series' next move, I feel like we've got to address this darkness. Indulge me for a moment, won't you?

 

It's no secret that SSMB is very, very cynical about the series' current direction, which has been much to the chagrin of the more idealistic members. Even when we aren't making wisecracks about how far down the crapper this series has gone, how close we are to cutting ties with the series altogether, or how little we still even care, there's a bit of a cloud that hangs over a good majority of non-nostalgic Sonic discussion - especially with regards to the series' current state and its future. It's not a new development either. The "Sonic sucks" attitude at least traces its roots to 2012, as I can recall - ironically not long after the release of the well-received Generations, but possibly in light of the widely panned Sonic 4: Episode II. Then Lost World and Rise of Lyric happened, and, well, here we are now. And of course this isn't factoring individual members' opinions of these games into account. There are members who enjoyed S4:E2, a handful of adamant defenders of Lost World (myself among them), and even a couple here and there who consider Rise of Lyric to have received far more hate than it deserved. What we're looking at here, however, is the big picture.

 

So how did we get here? What really went wrong? We came through the fallout of Sonic 06 and the fallout of Sonic Unleashed - and even Unleashed has its fans. Why is an expression of any positive Sonic-related desire followed by a sigh of resignation? Why is there so little faith?

 

We have the obvious reason, of course. Lost World disappointed many and Rise of Lyric had a reception comparable to 06 itself. Then there are the other smaller but no less significant reasons. People enjoyed Generations, yes, but it seemed to imply a stagnation. There was nothing to appeal to those who wanted deeper storylines, more playable characters, or more varied gameplay - and the attempts that Lost World and Rise of Lyric made to assauge any of those complaints were seen by many as botched. Colors was received well in its day, but is seen as very mixed in hindsight due to its unorthodox design and power-up emphasis. The general opinion seems to be that the only time this series succeeds is if it's very safe - if it even succeeds then. Many were excited by Lost World's change of pace only to be let down by it on release. Some were even looking forward to Rise of Lyric's character-switching and greater plot emphasis only to be let down even more severely. The writing quality of the series is hotly debated, and those who want Sonic to be anything more than a silly cartoon are left wanting. 

 

With it all laid out right there, it's really not hard to see why we, as a forum and as a fanbase, are for the most part quite cynical. Those are the general statements. So I guess here are the personal questions: Do you think this is deserved? How much faith do you have in Sonic right now? Do you agree with the cynicism, and if so, what would it really take to restore your faith? Would it just take a good game on the level of Generations - polished, pretty, well-designed, and fun, but ultimately safe - or do you need something more ambitious and grand to reignite your interest? Do you think that the supposedly well-received games like Colors and Generations were ultimately part of the problem in and of themselves, or that they simply weren't enough? Or do you think they marked a renaissance and that what came afterwards didn't negate it? Is there anything specific you want from the series that you think you will get at some point in the future? Did you, perhaps, enjoy Lost World and/or Rise of Lyric, and therefore very little of this applies to you at all? I guess what it all boils down to is: Do you think the cynicism is justified (wholly or partially) or not, and why?

 

Personally, I have higher hopes than many. The Boom games slipped off my radar fairly easily, and I turned more of my attention to the show, which I do enjoy quite a bit. I see them basically as very poor spinoffs - spinoffs that unfortunately carried a lot of importance, but spinoffs nonetheless. Safe or not, I love Generations to death, and Lost World left me pleasantly surprised (my grievances with the story notwithstanding). If anything, I feel like Lost World showed that Sonic Team are willing to experiment with new and creative ideas, and while flawed, I believed the experiment was nonetheless rewarding. (I would go into more detail on my SLW thoughts, but that would probably be better suited to another topic.) That gives me more faith that whatever comes next will branch out a bit more, but I also think that the current-gen technology might encourage Sonic Team to go for something a lot bigger than Generations. Sonic Unleashed, I feel, is representative of what Sonic Team can really do when they go all-out for a next-gen experience, and I think they learned enough from that game's flaws (and maybe even Lost World's) to know what not to do. Plus, the fact that the next Sonic game will (evidently) go for a completely new gameplay style intrigues me. In the end, I guess I'm prepared to at least indulge whatever they throw my way, as long as it's not, well, broken. I took to Lost World, after all, so I guess you could say I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to Sonic.

 

But those are just my thoughts. What about you guys?

 

I agree with this 100%. Boom is nothing but a spinoff series to begin with. It's not like it replaced the main series, so some people really need to chill. RoL was different, yes, but at least it tried to be different and adventurous. Also, I felt that Lost World wasn't so bad. I mean, yeah, Sonic ran a bit slower, but it was still a decent game in my opinion. I really don't see the need to get worked up about certain games. If you don't like something, then don't watch/play/read it or whatever. It's just that simple. But no, people feel the need to criticize everything always. So Sega and Sonic Team are having some trouble, but at least they're trying. You gotta take the bad with the good sometimes. No matter what though, I'll still be a Sonic fan & ignore all the negativity.

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I too have grown cynical about the franchise recently. Since Unleashed, I feel the series has taken a bit of a downtown. While I absolutely adore Black Knight and Generations HD, they both suffer from their fair share of issues, Black Knight's gameplay not being all that stellar (even if I still enjoy it either way) and Gen's having a sub-par, near non-existent story. Gens, Lost World, and Colors also played it far too safe, with Lost World the only one where Sonic Team actually tried to experiment with new concepts and the like. It would have been great, if the execution of said concepts weren't incredibly flawed. Sonic 4: Episode 1 is a lazily-designed piece of shit and I have no desire to play either Boom game after trying out the demos. So I can see where all the cynicism is coming from and agree that it is justified.

 

Yet it hasn't been all bad. Out of all the games I listed, (not including the Boom games) the only one I actually dislike is Sonic 4:E1. Generations and Black Knight are still among my favorite games in the series, and I did enjoy Colors and Lost World, despite their flaws. Plus, Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed is an awesome racing game.

 

And I still love the series overall. Sonic's one of my favorite characters in gaming, I love the world he and his friends (who need to show up in relevant roles again) inhabit, the music almost never fails to be great, and I still enjoy the fandom. Even if there's that minority that takes their scorn for the series' current direction a little too far. But I digress. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

 

I've been a fan of this series for over fourteen years now and it's one of my favorite gaming franchises. I may not be all that happy with it now, but I'm still intrigued about where the series is going from here. Maybe this time I can get a game I can be personally invested in again.

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It's fine you don't mind it (I don't mind some of the different gameplay styles either), but I'm not gonna sugarcoat. This isn't how you run a well-established game series. v:

 

It's one thing to bring some variety to the table. Take Mario, for example (I can hear the groans already). Mario's had games dedicated  to obtaining loads of extraneous power ups, riding dinosaurs, doing missions in sandbox maps, doing that plus a water jet pack, going into space and running on abstract surfaces, and the list will continue to go on and on and expand.

 

But even then, Mario has this.. consistency. His games are all about acrobatic jumping, playing with object physics, and stage puzzles that require taking advantage of the surplus amounts of power ups. Every Mario game is about this, and even if the games have minor mechanical changes made to them, you could almost jump from one Mario game to the next and not tell the difference. And that's good! Because all of Mario's game design philosophies make for a brilliant series of games! There's a reason it's such a success, after all, it's not all in the nostalgia.

 

Now, compare this to Sonic. What kind of consistent formula does Sonic follow?

 

Uhh...

 

He's blue. He runs fast. Jumps and homing attacks. Collects rings.

 

That's it. 

 

The series has this problem where it's constantly trying to change itself in fear of stagnation, whenever that's the reason it fails so much. It's a constant reinvention that has no idea what it was to begin with, and will either take superficial elements and apply them without knowing how they worked, or making something completely new that doesn't have the same lasting factor. And even if it does have lasting factor, it doesn't matter because they'll throw it out again!

 

The series hasn't managed to make a main game with the same ideals it had to begin with (momentum-based fluid movement, slopey level design, stages built around using your physics to your advantage) since Sonic Adventure 2, and the series hasn't managed to make alternate gameplay styles that compliment it since Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Did all passion for making something that works just blow out the window?

 

Why can't they go back to something like this and make their footing? It's my question above all else. Especially since it was the formula to some of their most critically acclaimed and financially successful games ever. If they can just go back to something like it (or just it would be nice) then maybe then they can worry about doing crazy things like making Sonic a werewolf, or putting him in space, or anything like that.

 

....

 

Sorry. This is a ramble that I've been needing to do for a while since my posts of me doing it before have been wiped. 

 

I just don't get it. I don't understand what's so hard about them grasping Sonic's positives and doing something with it. You know what, who knows! Maybe someday they will get it someday. Maybe. They're very unpredictable that way.

 

I don't know why I keep trying to convince myself they will one of these decades, but I guess it lightens the blow a bit.

 

Maybe because all ST hears is the negatives and they piss themselves in fear of another disaster (no, RoL doesn't count, nor does Lost World) trying to do something to appease their critics like they're high-profile food critics at a newly opened restaurant.

 

I dunno, I'm just speculating. Their crippling fear of failure is most likely why they "fail".

 

I put that in quotes because I liked Lost World.

 

I also question how people can accuse Lost World of being "too safe", when its biggest complaints are the drastic change in gameplay style and unnecessarily experimental level design. If they really wanted to be "safe", they would've stuck with the boost formula.

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It's most likely because of competing interests from multiple parties (which doesn't necessarily mean negatives; a person who likes hub worlds and a person who likes more streamlined games are never going to have a game that makes a good compromise) and also because Sonic is their most relevant franchise- which isn't saying much- and they feel they need to do things to stay visible in the current gaming market. I'm sure Sega knows that the platforming genre is far more niche now since trends have changed, and right now the public's presumption is that the genre either naturally is or simply needs to be antithetical to those trends for the sake of balance. So we see a genre that isn't revolutionizing itself or earning back relevance beyond control tightness, and if it is it's not being discussed or taken into account in the industry at large. Things are stagnant (although to be fair, I don't think this is exclusive to platformers). Mario is safe but not doing the numbers he used to on SNES, much less performing well a console rescuer, and you potentially realize the gravity of Sega's situation when you realize Sonic never actually competed with Mario in terms of raw selling numbers anyway. Donkey Kong isn't talked about all that much despite being amazing, Rayman has failed both times despite being amazing as well, and every other mascot is dead or relegated to the indie pile either in whole or in spirit. So what does Sega do? Hop on bandwagons by shoehorning in elements of other franchises or genres to cater to a bigger audience. It's frustrating, but makes sense in this context. If the genre is declining to some degree, then potentially making a splash with something that addresses the current tastes of gamers seems more alluring than recycling the same platforming tropes into eventual obscurity.

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It's most likely because of competing interests from multiple parties (which doesn't necessarily mean negatives; a person who likes hub worlds and a person who likes more streamlined games are never going to have a game that makes a good compromise) and also because Sonic is their most relevant franchise- which isn't saying much- and they feel they need to do things to stay visible in the current gaming market. I'm sure Sega knows that the platforming genre is far more niche now since trends have changed, and right now the public's presumption is that the genre either naturally is or simply needs to be antithetical to those trends for the sake of balance. So we see a genre that isn't revolutionizing itself or earning back relevance beyond control tightness, and if it is it's not being discussed or taken into account in the industry at large. Things are stagnant (although to be fair, I don't think this is exclusive to platformers). Mario is safe but not doing the numbers he used to on SNES, much less performing well a console rescuer, and you potentially realize the gravity of Sega's situation when you realize Sonic never actually competed with Mario in terms of raw selling numbers anyway. Donkey Kong isn't talked about all that much despite being amazing, Rayman has failed both times despite being amazing as well, and every other mascot is dead or relegated to the indie pile either in whole or in spirit. So what does Sega do? Hop on bandwagons by shoehorning in elements of other franchises or genres to cater to a bigger audience. It's frustrating, but makes sense in this context. If the genre is declining to some degree, then potentially making a splash with something that addresses the current tastes of gamers seems more alluring than recycling the same platforming tropes into eventual obscurity.

 

You make a good point, but look where it's got them.

 

The problem is, and you probably don't need me to tell you, that they do it so haphazardly that it ends up alienating people anyway; and not just casual buyers but fans as well. It just seems like they're too busy panicking over another potential flop that they just put it in without really thinking about how they can make it work. "Okay apparently people like this in their games now, so put it in! Hurry! This game has to be good!" Thus you have a gimmick that at best doesn't really feel like it belongs and at worst doesn't work. I think what Sonic Team need to do is some hard thinking. And give themselves longer development time.

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Beneath my cheery, optimistic facade I confess I often have a lot of doubts.

I'm convinced that the success of Adventure was probably more of an accident than anything else. Sonic likes to be innovative... too innovative. The series needs to pick a formula and stick with it. Changing up the gameplay is what spinoffs are for; every game should not feel like a spinoff.

While I have no doubt there are some quality people working on the games, I don't think they're numerous enough or working under the right company to really change things.

SEGA corporate needs to either raise the budget to pay for more people per game, or allow longer time between games. It also needs to become more intimate with the game development process than simply seeing dollar signs; we all saw Rise of Lyric looking a lot better on other consoles, only for this Wii U deal to drop on it. Something tells me this is no different than the Challenger disaster where the people actually working on the product had their reservations overruled by management. Or the Ford Pinto. Or countless other examples in engineering.

Let the developers have some weight in the decision-making, I guess. Video games are a business, but they're also an art. Like all the other arts, the line between profit and quality needs to be finely walked.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think the developers can be entirely without flaw either. I have no idea how Big Red Button was run internally, but I get the feeling a lot of creative ideas that were good (as well as the bad ones we know about) were shot down by Sonic Team for the Boom brand, to name an example. Hence us getting a game that may as well be in the main timeline, except everyone wrapped themselves in sports tape for lulz.

I can't help but feel a little disinterest in the games as a whole though. I guess they don't draw me in like they used... actual gameplay aside, the aesthetics. Small things like the vocal themes really helped define the series for me, so it's no small wonder I care more about a Metal Gear Rising sequel than a new Sonic at this point.

I'm more interested in the characters and their possibilities than the games, so I guess that explains why I follow the comics (both British and American). Likewise, I cherish the community and fanfare, and am more on the edge of my seat for Sonic event news than the games themselves.

And of course, I'm all for lots of people liking Sonic. I need that in order to get paid.

:P

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With it all laid out right there, it's really not hard to see why we, as a forum and as a fanbase, are for the most part quite cynical. Those are the general statements. So I guess here are the personal questions:

  • Do you think this is deserved?
  • How much faith do you have in Sonic right now?
  • Do you agree with the cynicism, and if so, what would it really take to restore your faith? Would it just take a good game on the level of Generations - polished, pretty, well-designed, and fun, but ultimately safe - or do you need something more ambitious and grand to reignite your interest?
  • Do you think that the supposedly well-received games like Colors and Generations were ultimately part of the problem in and of themselves, or that they simply weren't enough? Or do you think they marked a renaissance and that what came afterwards didn't negate it?
  • Is there anything specific you want from the series that you think you will get at some point in the future?
  • Did you, perhaps, enjoy Lost World and/or Rise of Lyric, and therefore very little of this applies to you at all?

I guess what it all boils down to is: Do you think the cynicism is justified (wholly or partially) or not, and why?

Find it easier to address questions when they're listed. Now...

 

Do I think this cynicism is deserved?

Absolutely. And it's for several reasons, some already mentioned: constant changing and inconsistency, a factionalized fandom where people are greedy and spitting in each other's face over one another's interests (or even what they don't want), and the disconnect Sonic Team/Sega seems to have with it's audience, along with the shifting markets over game genres that interest people.

 

Why is it that ever game seems to take a step backwards some how? And why is it so hard for groups of fans with competing interests to find a goddamned common ground instead of a selfish zero-sum mindset where one group has to lose something they like because another group doesn't like it?

 

I'd call out the disconnect with Sonic Team/Sega over it's audience, but this ignores that 1) this was partially their fault in the first place for shifting things too much, and 2) as a result, they can't seem keep things consistent without disparaging another group. And there's little a fan can do regarding the shifting markets that people are interested in other than point it out, unless they were in such a ground breaking position to help innovate (lol) things and steer things back.

 

How much faith do I have in Sonic right now?

Well, that depends on what aspect of Sonic we're talking about.

 

The games? Very little, aside from hoping that Sonic Team take the failures as a learning lesson. Nowadays, I just study the parts that I find interesting and how they can be readapted to work better. I guess that's what helps me have fun.

 

The cartoons? Pretty high, even though I surprisingly haven't watched a single episode. I'm at least glad it's doing well.

 

The comics? So much faith that they have overtaken my interest over the games they're building off from. There's still awkward moments and material from the games I'm not fond of around, but even then there's always a silver lining here that makes me look at the comics with a higher regard than the games, and that is saying something.

 

Do you agree with the cynicism, and if so, what would it take to restore your faith?

I absolutely agree with the cynicism, to the point that I wholeheartedly embrace it.

 

But it's not one-sided for me to never give optimism a chance than it is to be skeptical as a defense mechanism. What would restore my faith isn't too hard, but it would take more than just a good game (or three) to restore it.

 

Consistency of lore, gameplay, and style, is another as every game seems to add to this universe, for better or worse, and now is the point where they don't need to constantly re-invent most of these things just to keep up with the audience's tastes. Even when trying things new, whether it's a new gameplay idea, shifting the tone to a softer or more intense atmosphere, or adding to the lore, things should have a feeling that it could be Sonic. Megaman was able to do this when shifting from it's much more cheery Classic series, to the more dark and dramatic X and Zero franchise without sacrificing its consistency, and Mario was able to have a demonic queen in its Paper Mario series. If these two franchise were able to pull it off without sacrificing what they are, Sonic can too, which is telling given how flexible Sonic can be compared to both of them.

 

Quality control is another, because that seems to be so unstable ever since ShTH mucked things up.

 

Consideration of fans. Without sacrificing the other two points above, if some fans spit in the face of other fans over what they like and think that only they should be satisfied, ignore them. I've learned throughout life that entitled bastards like that are the least deserving of anything.

 

And lastly, which is a real kicker, some goddamned balls to go along with all of this. Not just to brave the storm when people seem to cry foul, but to be able to power through and pull off their ideas with flying colors.

 

Games like Colors and Generations were a renaissance that still had their problems of being bare bones and unfulfilling. It was understandable for Colors, but Generations could have been much more than what it was.

 

Is there anything specific that I want from the series that I will get in the future?

Well, aside from being a non-interactive media, I already got most of what I want in this series from the Comics.

 

The games, I'm not so sure. I want to play as my favorite characters, I want more engaging and quality stories, and I want plots that are consistent with the characters and their backgrounds.

 

And I want all of this in a game that is fully engaging and deep in itself.

 

Specifically, I want things like the Master Emerald to have a greater involvement on not just Knuckles but the series, and I want the Nocturnus Tribe and Battle Bird Armada to re-emerge as additional villains to fill the rogue gallery. The likelihood of whether I get these things varies a lot.

 

Did you, perhaps, enjoy Lost World and/or Rise of Lyric, and therefore very little of this applies to you at all?

Well, I didn't get to play enough of Lost Worlds, and I have yet to play Rise of Lyric, so I'm in no position to talk about them.

 

But yes, all in all, I do think a lot of the cynicism is justified. People here are only getting mere scraps of the stuff they like, while waiting years and years for more. On top of that, the little we do want or have is bickered and fought over by those who want to take and throw away aspects other people enjoy.

 

The lack of consistency clearly isn't helping either, because with each radically new thing, it fragments things into new group and makes others more cynical of even getting the chance to have the things they enjoy. And as a result people flock to where they can get it.

 

Yet, even in this massive deconstruction, I refuse to give up hope for some reason. Call in stubbornness or attachment, but given how Sonic was my absolute first franchise I've ever liked, it's hard to just part with it as it goes through all of what I just detailed. And even with the stuff I don't like, I think it can find a place with some touch ups to it rather than throwing it away for my own sake.

 

There's a mix of cynicism and idealism in my case - accepting things as it is while criticizing it for not becoming what you'd like, with hopes that eventually it will all turn up and deliver what you've been longing. I've stuck with this franchise during it's worst periods, moments that should have by all means flat out ended this franchise's life. Yet, here I still am, loving the franchise.

 

So for better or worst, I'm staying for the long haul. :P

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Personally, I think the cyncism is more than deserved at this stage. And I say this as someone who quite happily stuck with the series through the previous so-called 'Dark Ages'.
 
True, the series has been to the gutter and back once before, but in my opinion I think the series is in a much worse place now than it was in the aftermath of Sonic 06. Sure, Sonic 06 was the bottom of the barrel after a few years of a downward slide, but even so, most of us just chalked it up as a bad game and moved on. 
 
I think the bigger problem now is that the series has lost its identity, and this is large in part to arguably my biggest issue with the series at present; Pontac and Graff. I find their writing dull at best and intolerable at worst, and to be honest in my opinion they're pretty much the worst thing to happen to the series. Let me tell you something- even though it was a spinoff of debatable quality, Sonic and the Black Knight still feels like the last 'proper' Sonic game to me. It was the last game where Sonic actually felt like the same Sonic I'd known and loved since Sonic Adventure. Under Pontac and Graff's tenure, the cast don't even feel like the same characters any more. They've all been flanderised into hollow, one-dimensional caricatures, and then they try to step outside of this it just goes to show that they have no idea how to write the characters as anything but this. Sonic Colours was fun and Generations was great, but the stories and characterisation were pitiful.
 
They've made Sonic into a snarky, arrogant twat who does little more than spout painfully unfunny one-liners. They tried for melodrama in Lost World and it felt tantamount to trying to write serious drama into an episode of Tom & Jerry. The plots since Colours have been barebones and bad, and it just gives me much less reason to care about the series. I can't feel invested in the characters, their world, or the plots around them when they're so shallow and slapstick. 
 
I'd say this has actually killed the series for me more than recent games actually being bad. 
 
Sonic Boom was something amazing in that it actually managed to alienate most of the fanbase long before i even released. As broken and unfinished as Sonic 06 was, people were still pretty excited for it up until they actually played the thing. Between the redesigns and the setting, Boom was already giving itself and uphill struggle, but the games being bad were pretty much the last nail in the coffin.
 
I have little to no faith in the Sonic series at the moment, but I've kind of stopped caring. It's bordering on dead to me right now, sadly, and I've moved my attention back to other, better things more deserving of my time and money. I highly doubt the series will ever return to being something that appeals to me, but in order for them to hypothetically do so? Show Pontac and Graff the door, make sure it hits them on the way out and then weld it shut. Bring back the kind of characterisation and stories that we had in Secret Rings, Unleashed and Black Knight. 
 
Give me a game like Generations with the kind of writing the Storybook games had, and then we'll talk. 
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I am hella critical over this franchise's writing as of late, probably more than anyone else (...or not). But even I can't agree that Pontac and Warren are the worst things to happen to this franchise, partly because they're still hooked on a leash even when they were given the so called "freedom" to write Lost Worlds and that was still Sonic Team/Sega holding the the leash.

 

Have the former let go of that leash and let them write from the heart, and then I'll be able to judge them better. But at this point, it's hard to fault them without equally, if not more so faulting the people in charge of them.

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It's debatable how 'leashed' P&G are. They've done four games, and while Sonic Team has overall reign on it, I don't think P&G are without blame. They churn out line after line of incessant drivel, and the stories themselves are practically non-existent. Sonic Team designed the Deadly Six and said they have to use them in Lost World, but who's idea was it to give them absolutely no story at all? It's hard to say. So if we instead just look at the scripts themselves, well they're mostly pretty naff. They are responsible for Orbot and Cubot though (Orbot changed significantly after Unleashed) and insisted to Sonic Team that they should stay as they had proved popular, so I've got to admit they're not all bad. So long as they're on board I don't think the series is going to really do much of what I want though.

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