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Sonic: Should Story Matter?


Ryannumber1gamer
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I definitely do agree with much of what you say, although I also think another point is the issue of what Sonic supposedly should be allowed to tackle and what he can't do before he supposedly becomes too "un-sonicy". Using SA2 as an example, there are people who say that SA2 is too unsonicy because of Shadow's backstory, the corrupt government and government conspiracy, and the more realistic appearance of locations/"realism" in general. I of course find this notion somewhat baffling since frankly it isn't some chore to reconcile the fact that the world of Sonic could have elements of the surreal, fantastic and realistic/down to earth in his world, and plus SOMEONE'S gotta be running things in the background.

What does this have to do with the story though? A lot actually, since this question of what exactly constitutes as "Sonicy" also affects what kind of stories can be told, and my opinion is that this fixation on what is Sonicy also greatly limits what Sonic stories are capable of doing. Now granted that's not to say Sonic should be able to do ANY type of story, since there are some subjects that definitely would not fit so well or can be worked into the Sonic Universe so easily, but I don't think Sonic being a cartoony hedgehog battling an egg-shaped scientist should limit the stories Sonic can be in to only a narrow set of stories that are only lighthearted to the point of being uninteresting, detached, and boring (and excuse bad writing on that basis alone).

Additionally, realistic elements should not be treated as some kind of taboo due to said cartoony hedgehog, but rather something that can be used to examine where things fit in the world of Sonic. Like Eggman could be manipulating things behind the scenes via bribery, blackmail, secret businesses linked to him and media manipulation to get money for his machines or to cover up his crimes to those gullible enough to believe him (Zero Gravity sorta did that with the businesses part). Or it could be used to examine why it seems like Sonic and friends are the only animals around by implicating that there might be some past racial tensions or incidents that occurred between anthros and humans to the point they try to stay away from each other, and Sonic and friends are breaking down the barrier between both to a point. Or even that Sonic's adventuring and rebellious actions might cause public opinion of him to be mixed or have the consequences of seemingly innocent or cool actions on his part become apparent later.

Granted most of the above is unlikely to happen, but hey just saying.

Edited by SenEDtor Missile
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I have this criticism/praise that for me encompases a lot about a story, or at least how successful it is, I refer to it as a story "being about something".  It's essentially a question if a story has a real theme and has a real point.  It's not a question of being serious vs lighthearted, it's a question of what makes this story worth telling, and it often isn't intuitive to the story's content.

Take Predator, it's a movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger fights an alien in a jungle.  However, it's a story about reckless bravado collapsing the moment it encounters something it doesn't understand.  That's what set it apart from all the knock offs that followed.  

My favorite video game example of this is Demon's Souls.  It's a story about greed.  It blurs what's good and evil till they can look the same.  It's my favorite example because it permeates everything.  

If I were to try and do the same for a Sonic game, Sonic 3 would probably be the easiest and best candidate.  Its major theme is how far the struggle between Sonic and Robotnik goes.  It's not much, but it's something.  Even though it's a fairly short game, you feel the ground you've covered, culminating in the battle in space.  

I definitely do agree with much of what you say, although I also think another point is the issue of what Sonic supposedly should be allowed to tackle and what he can't do before he supposedly becomes too "un-sonicy". Using SA2 as an example, there are people who say that SA2 is too unsonicy because of Shadow's backstory, the corrupt government and government conspiracy, and the more realistic appearance of locations/"realism" in general. I of course find this notion somewhat baffling since frankly it isn't some chore to reconcile the fact that the world of Sonic could have elements of the surreal, fantastic and realistic/down to earth in his world, and plus SOMEONE'S gotta be running things in the background.

What does this have to do with the story though? A lot actually, since this question of what exactly constitutes as "Sonicy" also affects what kind of stories can be told, and my opinion is that this fixation on what is Sonicy also greatly limits what Sonic stories are capable of doing. Now granted that's not to say Sonic should be able to do ANY type of story, since there are some subjects that definitely would not fit so well or can be worked into the Sonic Universe so easily, but I don't think Sonic being a cartoony hedgehog battling an egg-shaped scientist should limit the stories Sonic can be in to only a narrow set of stories as dictated by...some groups.

Hmmm, a world where one person's plan is to take over the world via mad sciencetm and be taken seriously for doing so doesn't exactly jibe with one where you might seize power by enacting a military coup d'etat.  I don't exactly think the president from Sonic the Movie needs to worry about being overthrown by a political rival and executed via firing squad.  

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You forgot the Sonic OVA movie, dude...

Now regarding those examples, you've gotta bear in mind that some of the cartoons in the past don't always age well to today's standards. Example being the slang Sonic uses in both SatAM and AoStH, which can come off as rather dated. They were great for their time, but nowadays a lot of their fondness can be attributed to nostalgia among older fans - as much as I like both cartoons, if I were to put myself in a newer fan's place and watch them, I'd cringe.

Now, regarding Penders' run with the Archie Comic, it seemed less that Penders ignored Knuckles' backstory and that he instead went along with the backstory before bending it into the direction he wanted. Last I recall, he kept the part about Knuckles being the last of his kind, but that he turned it into a matter of perception. That's not excusing all of what he did, but rather that instead of saying Penders ignored Knux' backstory, it would be better to say that he made a huge mess of it instead. If you ask me, Penders at the very least had some interesting concepts (Enerjak is one of his best ideas), he just didn't work with them well. Nevermind the legal mess he brought about. 

Now, I for one disagree with Sonic Colors being where things went downhill. Not to the extent you're saying at least. Colors was more inoffensive, but underwhelming than anything. Yeah, it was definitely the start of where things started to become a bit more joke heavy, and the plot less intense with the handling of the antagonist, but it was only until later on when things started reaching that critical mass. Colors is a bit hit or miss if anything.

 

Regarding the overall storytelling, there's very few things Sonic is incapable of telling. We've had bad, if not near apocalyptic future dystopias alongside the idyllic good future utopias with Sonic CD. We've had ancient kaiju monstrosities destroying cities with Adventure 1, and we've had genetic experiments and military cover-ups in SA2, with both of them being stories about revenge and forgiveness. We've had Sonic literally traverse the pages of old fairytales in the Storybook games, and we've had Sonic transform into a werehog and face demonic (albeit cartoony) fragments of a god-like force of nature with themes of duality in Unleashed. And we've had Sonic in stories about rescuing cute aliens in Colors, and one with basically a quirky boss squad of rather flat entities in Lost World. And this isn't even getting into the cartoons where he's a Bugs Bunny-esque trickster in AoStH, a guerilla fighter in SatAM, a warrior prince in Underground, an adventurer in the OVA, a layabout in Sonic X, and a sitcom-ish character in Boom.

The point is, Sonic is diverse. You can't pick one of these things and say they don't belong anymore than the other, and doing so is just being arbitrary about what Sonic is and isn't. What Sonic is is a blue, supersonic hedgehog who fights a rotund mad scientist scheming for world domination and/or conquest - anything else is just an added ingredient to that stew, no if, ands, or buts about it. 

Now it's understandable that some will have a preferred flavor of one over the other, but at the end of the day, genetic experiments aren't any more out of place than water kaijus or dark gods in the earth's core.

 

Hmmm, a world where one person's plan is to take over the world via mad sciencetm and be taken seriously for doing so doesn't exactly jibe with one where you might seize power by enacting a military coup d'etat.

There's a game called Megaman Zero where the entire setting and background happens to be all of that word for word.

Mad scientist has a plan to conquer the world (or at least the only city left in the world) and seizes power by a military coup and political manipulation. Then the bastard turns everything into a dystopia that people run away from, and he tries to kill those people by shooting a laser beam from space at them before dropping the laser weapon onto them. And this isn't including things like genocide and terrorism (that the hero is cast as by the antagonists) that are part of the series' plot. It's practically the same in essence as SA2.

It can jibe much better than you think. And I fail to see how it doesn't jibe any more than said mad scientist awakening an ancient god of destruction from a lost age that risks destroying the world.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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Why didn't you talk about Sonic X and the sonic boom cartoon?

Should story matter in sonic? Yes besides the gameplay the story in a sonic game is why so many people are invested in sonic and his friends. My complaint about the story isn't so much the tone but the context that they're giving me. If your going to do a plot in a sonic game or any media please do your damnest to give context, explain the stuff and try not to make things feel empty or one note.

 

Knuckles: It's stated that he's the last of his kind. How is that? What happened to his race and why the heck is he protecting the master emerald if he pretty much has no idea why he's doing it in the first place(?granted SEGA has pretty much ignored the M.E. at this point) It just doesn't make sense to me. Sonic Adventure tries to go into that (from what I've been told correct me if I'm wrongwith what happened to his people but in the end that was thousands of years ago and angle island wasn't even a thing sooo what?

Sonic Adventure: Yup Im going there. As much as I think it's one of the better plots in the series there is no denying that this plot has flaws. For starter's why did professor Gerald even make the eclipse cannon in the first place? It was established that he made it before he went insane so what was the point of it? Yeah shadow explains that he made it to defeat the black arms(which is fucking stupid) but if that's the case why the hell didn't he tell the G.U.N. about this? Speaking of which why did G.U.N. even attack the ark in the first place the game never goes into dept as in why they did just instead it was "just because" and they pretty much had no reason to kill anybody. Another thing when and how did Gerald mess with Shadow's memory and find away to connect the ark from crashing into the world?

 

Sonic Lost World: What the heck is the Lost Hex? Who the heck are the deadly six? More importantly what happened to them in the end? Did they die?(I doubt it) did they just run away? We don't know. Another thing is when Eggman's machine was sucking the life out of "Sonic's World" it didn't feel all that the stacks were high. It's implied that the entire world was being drained but we really didn't see the effects of world we only saw knuckles and amy nobody else. I mean look at SA2(despite the fact that I just bashed it) when the world was being threatened we saw people from all over the world being scared and it felt like the stakes were high ya know?

 

Rise of Lyric: This game 's plot is the very definition of lack of context. Yeah the character interactions were amusing but overall it didn't accomplish anything. This is a whole new universe in the sonic franchise and nothing is established. Who are the heroes? Why are they a team? Who heck is this shadow character and what's with his chaos moves? What's egg man's goal? Who are the ancients the game keeps blabbering about and more importantly what lead the what was once a world that was so dependent on technology for peaceful things lead them to evolve backwards? That kinda sucks that I was interested in the new take on the character's but ultimately it just serves to give them redesigns so people won't get offended when they do something different.

 

So what I'm trying to say is yes the story does matter it's just that they should give us context and hopefully a good representation of the characters

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Sonic Adventure: Yup Im going there. As much as I think it's one of the better plots in the series there is no denying that this plot has flaws. For starter's why did professor Gerald even make the eclipse cannon in the first place? It was established that he made it before he went insane so what was the point of it? Yeah shadow explains that he made it to defeat the black arms(which is fucking stupid) but if that's the case why the hell didn't he tell the G.U.N. about this? Speaking of which why did G.U.N. even attack the ark in the first place the game never goes into dept as in why they did just instead it was "just because" and they pretty much had no reason to kill anybody. Another thing when and how did Gerald mess with Shadow's memory and find away to connect the ark from crashing into the world?

Honestly, the whole Black Arms thing just throws a monkey wrench into everything SA2 had established, and that's less the problem with SA2's lack of context than it is ShTH making a mess of things. Were it not for that, most of the flaws in SA2 could easily be fixed.

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There's a game called Megaman Zero where the entire setting and background happens to be all of that word for word.

Mad scientist has a plan to conquer the world (or at least the only city left in the world) and seizes power by a military coup and political manipulation. Then the bastard turns everything into a dystopia that people run away from, and he tries to kill those people by shooting a laser beam from space at them before dropping the laser weapon onto them. And this isn't including things like genocide and terrorism (that the hero is cast as by the antagonists) that are part of the series' plot. It's practically the same in essence as SA2.

It can jibe much better than you think. And I fail to see how it doesn't jibe any more than said mad scientist awakening an ancient god of destruction from a lost age that risks destroying the world.

 

He's imposing his will through Omega, not followers from a standing army, which he had just dismissed, based on a plot synopsis.  That's not a military coup.  I've not actually played much Megaman Zero, because of its self defeating design.  

You also can't really compare a world where high ranking individuals in an army are super powered robots with animal themes to a black ops military organization who arms their forces with MP5's.  Those means different things.  

Also...

>Implying I think Dark Gaia jibed.  Implying I think any of these stories were any good.  

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He's imposing his will through Omega, not followers from a standing army, which he had just dismissed, based on a plot synopsis.  That's not a military coup.  I've not actually played much Megaman Zero, because of its self defeating design.  

You also can't really compare a world where high ranking individuals in an army are super powered robots with animal themes to a black ops military organization who arms their forces with MP5's.  Those means different things.  

If you haven't played much of Megaman Zero, don't try to argue with someone who has because you're just shooting yourself in the foot over details you blatantly admitted you don't know.

It wasn't just Omega he had control over. It was the Eight Gentle Judges he turned over to his will who were part of his military, and who were part of the political structure of Neo Arcadia who joined under his command after he essentially purged the original generals through his manipulation of the city's ruler. That is a military coup. Nevermind the Elf Wars in the backstory and the Maverick Wars of the previous Megaman X series, both of which doubled as a military insurrections that lead to the apocalyptic setting in the first place.

And yes, I can compare a world with high ranking individuals in an army are super powered robots to a black ops military organization who arms their forces with MP5s, because they do the same exact thing in their stories. Militaries massacring entire groups of people to cover up a government secret they don't want the world to know? How is that not comparable? The only thing different about them is the aesthetics, with one being realistic and the other being cartoony, but that difference doesn't make them incomparable to each other given the actions both GUN and the Neo Arcadian Military are massacres against innocent people regardless.

Also...

>Implying I think Dark Gaia jibed.  

I was actually talking about Chaos, FYI. Where was Dark Gaia called a "god of destruction" in Unleashed?

EDIT:

Implying I think any of these stories were any good.

And that's completely irrelevant.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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If you haven't played much of Megaman Zero, don't try to argue with someone who has because you're just shooting yourself in the foot over details you blatantly admitted you don't know.

You're always this way, why?  So confrontational.  If I'm not also familiar with it it's not proof because you can't demonstrate anything.  It also doesn't prove that it was any good.

Oh yeah, and Inafune himself said that he never made a concrete connection between classic and X because the tones don't match.  

Edited by Phos
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Honestly, the whole Black Arms thing just throws a monkey wrench into everything SA2 had established, and that's less the problem with SA2's lack of context than it is ShTH making a mess of things. Were it not for that, most of the flaws in SA2 could easily be fixed.

Ok fair point but if you ignore shadow and you just think about the games plot there are just some missing elements like I said earlier 

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You're always this way, why?  If I'm not also familiar with it it's not proof because you can't demonstrate anything.  It also doesn't prove that it was any good.

If you're not familiar with it, it's proof that you don't know what you're talking about compared to someone who does and is familiar with it.

Whether or not it is any good isn't the point considering how subjective it is, because anyone can easily counter that it doesn't prove that it was any bad and lead nowhere. So what exactly is your point?

 

Oh yeah, and Inafune himself said that he never made a concrete connection between classic and X because the tones don't match.

That has nothing to do with what we're talking about?

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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If you're not familiar with it, it's proof that you don't know what you're talking about compared to someone who does.

Who are you trying to prove any of this to, then?  What does an example that's meaningless to me serve to show?  

Whether or not it is any good isn't the point considering how subjective it is, because anyone can easily counter that it doesn't prove that it was any bad and lead nowhere. So what exactly is you're point?

If you're going to play that card I have to wonder why you're in this thread.  

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Who are you trying to prove any of this to, then?  What does an example that's meaningless to me serve to show?  

You, of course. And anyone else out there who's reading this thread. The example serves to show that there are things out there that do exactly what you say "doesn't jibe", and proves the point that these things aren't that rigid or incompatible with each other as you tried to make it out as by bringing them out for people to know. And it being meaningless to you doesn't make it pointless to bring up in this topic overall.

Or to put it concisely: It's to make people aware of things they don't know about and how they compare to other things. Such as stories with a mad scientist trying to take over the world in one where you might seize power via a military coup that both SA2 and MMZ happen to be examples of.

If you're going to play that card I have to wonder why you're in this thread.  

To explain whether story should matter and how, like the OP was asking. That's kinda the point of this thread.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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You, of course. And the example serves to show that there are things out there that do exactly what you say "doesn't jibe", and proves the point that these things aren't that rigid or incompatible with each other as you tried to make it out as.

You don't see the problem with trying to convince me with something that's meaningless to me?  I have not played any appreciable amount of MMZ.  The extent of my knowledge of Dr. Weil comes from a random wiki article and the  game in question is one I don't actually think is any good, and that's meant to convince me that it would be reasonable to write the President of Planet Freedom facing a firing squad, and that a cartoon hedgehog is meant to face the skeletons in the closet of a black ops organization, even when this franchise's plot has become such a laughing stock for this very tonal dissonance.  GUN is like the sort of thing someone might joke about Sonic going up against, that he's been captured by the CIA, but Tails and Amy are going to break him out.  Next time: Sonic's latest rival joins ISIS.  

But no.  Dr. Weil.  Whoever that is. He did basically the same thing.  

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You don't see the problem with trying to convince me with something that's meaningless to me?  I have not played any appreciable amount of MMZ. The extent of my knowledge of Dr. Weil comes from a random wiki article and the  game in question is one I don't actually think is any good, and that's meant to convince me that it would be reasonable to write the President of Planet Freedom facing a firing squad, and that a cartoon hedgehog is meant to face the skeletons in the closet of a black ops organization, even when this franchise's plot has become such a laughing stock for this very tonal dissonance.

No, I don't. I see more the problem in you calling it "meaningless" as an excuse to ignore a counterpoint being made to inform you of what you don't know, whether you've played enough of the game or not. I've played the entire MMZ series, and I'm saying that a story with a mad scientist trying to take over the world in one where you might seize power via a military coup isn't something that's unreasonable with this game being an example of such a story.

GUN is like the sort of thing someone might joke about Sonic going up against, that he's been captured by the CIA, but Tails and Amy are going to break him out.  Next time: Sonic's latest rival joins ISIS.  

But no.  Dr. Weil.  Whoever that is. He did basically the same thing.  

Replace GUN with Neo Arcadia, Sonic and Shadow with X and Zero, and Tails and Amy with Ciel and the Resistance, and yeah pretty much. All in addition to Dr. Weil in MMZ pretty darn close to the story of SA2. Both are stories with a mad scientist (Dr. Weil or Dr. Eggman) trying to take over the world in one where you might seize power via a military coup (Neo Arcadia or GUN), like you said "doesn't jibe". It's not an unreasonable story to make. Not so sure about that hyperbole you made tho.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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Because I'm not familiar with the story, from my point of view there's no difference between it and one that you've just made up, so it's not a convincing example.

I don't know why you've decided that I should just take you're word for it that within Mega Man Zero and only megaman zero there was both mad science and coups (my wiki reading suggest the opposite), that what Weil did was actually a coup, that the story to a game I haven't played is any good, and that MMZ is representative enough to matter to Sonic (MMZ's nightmarish atmosphere seems meant for anything so long as it's horrible). 

I'm done talking about MMZ, and done derailing this thread. 

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Because I'm not familiar with the story, from my point of view there's no difference between it and one that you've just made up, so it's not a convincing example.

Which is why I'm informing you of the story, because I am familiar with the story and what I told you is exactly what happens in the games.

I don't know why you've decided that I should just take you're word for it that within Mega Man Zero and only megaman zero there was both mad science and coups (my wiki reading suggest the opposite), that what Weil did was actually a coup, that the story to a game I haven't played is any good, and that MMZ is representative enough to matter to Sonic (MMZ's nightmarish atmosphere seems meant for anything so long as it's horrible).

Maybe because, like I've said before, I've actually played the whole series to know that it's similar to SA2 in essence? That Weil is a mad scientist that overthrew the existing government and military of Neo Arcadia with his control of the Eight Gentle Judges and his manipulation (and destruction of) Neo Arcadia's ruler to establish his order, hence a coup? And, like GUN, the Neo Arcadian military has gone about massacring people to cover up government secrets? Seems more like you refuse to listen as you can go on youtube and see it in action, but whatever. You're done, and I've made my case.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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I just want a good game first. A universally loved one, like the classics. Generations was amazing, but since it's been... eh.

I take the John Carmack approach. If Sonic Team can do a good story then hell yeah I'm for it, but gameplay first. 

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To me, it's not just about story, it's about narrative. It's about experience. That to me is what videogames are about. While I'll agree that Sonic 3's minimalistic approach to providing a narrative is a good approach, I don't think it's the only game that's done it, and I certainly hate the mentality that it's the only way to go. The Adventure games, and possibly Black Knight, were every bit as good. Just because it's a different approach doesn't mean that it's the only way of going about it.

Ultimately the end goal is the same. Get the player invested by providing context. I never liked that whole mentality that "non-gameplay elements" are somehow not important.

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I probably won't show up in this topic again after this post, but there's one thing I would like to mention regarding the tone aspect. Namely, that I don't actually think it's as simple as saying "balance" and leaving it at that. Thinking about it realistically, I doubt that most of the opposing folk will really be on the extreme end of either side of the scale, or even right in the balanced center. To use myself as an example, I generally prefer things to be on the lighter side overall, so I guess that would logically mean I would be sitting on that side of the scale overall, but at the same time, that's not to say that I don't approve of any spookiness, tense moments and whatever else being present at all.

In other words, everyone will always have different percentages about this. I don't think the majority of fans are going to be sitting on exactly one side, exactly the other side, or exactly in the middle, so as a result, I think it goes a little deeper than the three main points of the triangle. This is also why I've recently been starting to think that using something else as an example of what Sonic should "be like" doesn't always work as perfectly as the person making the comparison would like it to be.

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It depends on how much it matters. Of course, gameplay should be above all things in terms of priority, but I think that the quality of the writing does bear some relevance. Personally, I would prefer it if they went back to the simplistic nature of the classics, rather than trying to create 'epic adventures' that only fall flat on their face (Lost World) or just don't age well (Adventure 2). 

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Lost World = Epic? What?

He put parenthesis around epic adventures, as he was being sarcastic about it. He's trying to say that Lost World's story tried to be too dramatic and somewhat edgy at times, and it came off as forced and stupid. 

So, about the topic. Yes, I think story is very important and it does matter (not as much as gameplay of course) but it certainly is relevant and adds to the experience greatly. I feel that what Dr. Crusher said is very important as stories are complicated, and there is more than just "balance". I personally prefer having stories that are more light than 50-50 also. 

 

 

 

Edited by Osmium
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