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Jhreamer

Is there any merit to a "mature" Sonic story?

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No, not mature as in...yeah, you know; let's move on.

I've been following a lot of the recent threads here, and hopefully am not just rehashing a tired thought. 

Regarding the more serious takes on stories in Sonic games, I see a word being thrown around with gusto: "edgy". Perhaps only due to the inadequacy of the stories themselves, darker-toned plots with detailed and serious events tend to be berated and lamented by many fans (truly; they have all been quite inadequate). I see many assertions that Sonic, a world that is rather cutesy and whimsically absurd in nature, was not meant to be portrayed in such a way, and thrives when presented in a way that is true to this mold.

However, throughout my thus-far limited interactions here, I have not seen such comments made toward the Archie Sonic series. A world that clearly tends toward very deep, challenging, mature themes; quite consistently after the reigns were passed to Flynn. Aside from nitpicks about aspects of character, dialogue, and plot; I have seen no specific comments about the tone and feel of the world being unsuitable for Sonic. Even with the presence of death, war, politics, and widespread emotional turmoil.

It seems that a very fine target must be struck for the presentation of a Sonic world to be..."correct". I, personally, see a great deal of potential in the exploration of adult-level theming with this plethora of characters. There's so much to be tested and discovered. On one note, to this day (excluding the brief Archie arcs), I have not seen a high-quality depiction of a story with the characters themselves being at least 5-10 years older. Many of the fans of Sonic are now adults. Would it interest you to see a story that gears more toward these fans?

I'm not talking just about things like blood and swearing. Those things make ANYTHING absurd when not properly used to create effect. The Legend of Korra proved that you can get an adult story out of family-friendly programming (which was debatable in moments). But...does Sonic fit the bill? Would it require a lot of adjustment to work? And if so, what do you feel would need to be adjusted, in both the Sonic atmosphere and/or the way the mature aspects of the story are approached? My biggest question: what is the difference between "EDGY" and "good", and...why?

Yes, this is more or less a last-minute elaborate survey regarding my own story. Recent threads have given me deep concern about my nine-year worldbuilding journey.

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It would be quite interesting for Sonic to handle such themes though I feel past games have touched on some quite well IMO.

I think it's quote obvious Sonic at the beginning was dabbled a bit on the environment, technology vs nature and all that jazz. Unleashed and Black Knight made it well known that a person should make the most out of their lives since you don't have much time in the world and I'm sure there were other themes that were apparent as well. But those 2 stood out to me the most and felt quite fitting for the series so yea, hit me up with more of that stuff.

Though Pontac and Graff might not have the experience to tackle such themes but hey. they could always strike gold if they do it well.

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that would be a nice touch for Sonic these times..(or last years)

its been a while since Sonic game plots are very light hearted (or it seems like it) compared to Unleashed and Black Knight.. that point of "midly violence" would be nice to see again on Sonic.. considering this character looks so nice on epic battles when he gets harm and still keeps fighting...

but of course i like that but not excesive edgy.. it has to be something you can enjoy too... it should be a good balance between violence and  lightness on the story.. ^_^

 

 

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If by mature, you mean touching upon real world issues, I think it can work. Many family/kid-oriented stories can have a good moral, while still being fun. If a Power Rangers season can talk about our prejudiced society through a tragic villain, Sonic can talk about pollution.

Then again, there have been serious lessons in the games before, such as it being a bad idea to cover up lies (SA2) or that light and dark are part of balance (Unleashed), even that generally, many things come to an end (Black Knight). Some people don't always fully accept these lessons, even as adults, so they can be mature in a way.

 

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4 minutes ago, JohnTheDreamer said:

Is there any merit to a "mature" Sonic story?

Nope!

I don't mean to say that the series' stories should be completely without content, that they can't ever touch on themes more complicated than "beat up that bad guy!". But the vast majority of attempts to make the series "mature" come off as wildly unfitting and contrary to the nature of the series.

Look back at the start of the series. Here's what we had at the beginning: Our protagonist, a Mickey Mouse-esque talking animal, he's a bit of a punk, but still cute. Our antagonist, a rotund man named "Eggman", an archetypical mad scientist who kidnaps animals and uses them to power animal-based robots. Our setting, a stylized Earth-like planet, a place that's a little bit sci-fi and a little bit magical fantasy. Our story, a cool dude bops robots and collects magic rocks to save his friends and protect the planet from the greedy, self-absorbed mad scientist, who always gets away to cause trouble again.

This...is kid's stuff. This is not something designed for mature, challenging themes. This is something designed for cool action sequences, a few jokes, and some simple morals. I think you can still tell plenty of fun stories within the series' framework, but for it to tell a story that I would describe as "mature" would involve beating it wildly out of shape, distorting it to fit a new context rather than working with the material that actually makes up the series.

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12 minutes ago, Drawloverlala said:

but of course i like that but not excesive edgy.. it has to be something you can enjoy too... it should be a good balance between violence and  lightness on the story.. ^_^

This is a great point. Many stories, all over the storytelling world, beautifully attack some very hard issues, but have absolutely no humor to bring the viewer out of the sulk. This plagues most of the young adult based-on-novels dystopian movies you see every year. It's what separates Marvel movies from the rest. Humor; BALANCE of emotions. It's so important.

8 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Nope!

I don't mean to say that the series' stories should be completely without content, that they can't ever touch on themes more complicated than "beat up that bad guy!". But the vast majority of attempts to make the series "mature" come off as wildly unfitting and contrary to the nature of the series.

Look back at the start of the series. Here's what we had at the beginning: Our protagonist, a Mickey Mouse-esque talking animal, he's a bit of a punk, but still cute. Our antagonist, a rotund man named "Eggman", an archetypical mad scientist who kidnaps animals and uses them to power animal-based robots. Our setting, a stylized Earth-like planet, a place that's a little bit sci-fi and a little bit magical fantasy. Our story, a cool dude bops robots and collects magic rocks to save his friends and protect the planet from the greedy, self-absorbed mad scientist, who always gets away to cause trouble again.

This...is kid's stuff. This is not something designed for mature, challenging themes. This is something designed for cool action sequences, a few jokes, and some simple morals. I think you can still tell plenty of fun stories within the series' framework, but for it to tell a story that I would describe as "mature" would involve beating it wildly out of shape, distorting it to fit a new context rather than working with the material that actually makes up the series.

This is the viewpoint I had in mind when creating this thread. I feel that, aside from Archie, mature themes ave not been done well. We don't know what it's like for there to be a objectively sound and riveting plot structure in a Sonic game that goes a few zones farther into the darkness of theme. That's why I still feel an emptiness -- I want to see it. I want to see it done right. I want to DO IT right in my own story. In my view, the characters have way too much potential for them not to be maximized and highlighted in challenging ways.

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I never understood why fans want Sonic the Hedgehog to be a springboard for "mature themes". Where does it come from? The best plot for a Sonic game was Sonic Battle and Chronicles and to be frank, they're the only great plots. Every other Sonic stories have never been great or even good, just entertaining on the likes of Dragonball Z. No body watched DBZ for stories, but fun over the top cheesyness. Thats exactly how I feel about Sonic.

Sonic Adventure 2 plot was fun as hell not because it was great but how over the top it got. I remember seeing the preview to the Last stary chapter, and I was like, "What fuck was that? Am I still playing Sonic?"

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It depends on what you mean by "mature".

You have to know where the line is. I think you really could fit deeper, mature themes into anything if you do it right. Superhero stuff like Spiderman that's about outlandish scenarios like a guy with Spider Powers fighting a guy dressed like a goblin flying around on a hoverboard still ends up having deeper themes about commitment, adolescence, etc which make it resonate with an older audience. 

But when you put these themes in, you have to know when to draw the line. Part of the appeal of Spiderman is the struggles the characters go through as they cope with the world where the guy with spider powers is fighting goblin men on the daily, but another part is that a guy with Spider powers is fighting goblin men on the daily. There's an inherent humor and lightheartedness to it that needs to be preserved. Writers have been able to pull something deeper out of it, sure, but the good stuff never lost sight of what made Spiderman popular in the first place. Quirky action and humor in ridiculous settings. Whenever they'd drift too far from this and tried too many adult themes nobody liked it, and when they leaned too far toward the other direction(the quirky action and humor without any of the depth and nuance of the characters) the kids liked it but nobody else did.  The Archie comics strike the same kind of balance with Sonic(or at least, now they do.) They'll go into deeper stuff sometimes, sure, but it's still about Super Powered animals that fight robots with lots of humor. They don't bog it down by making it some kind of romantic soap opera or whatever like it was during the penders days. 

So, yeah, it depends on how far you want to go with it. If you're pushing so many mature themes into it that it doesn't really feel like Sonic anymore and it's become something else, then you're better off just making something original and not using Sonic as a base. 

 

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39 minutes ago, JohnTheDreamer said:

This is the viewpoint I had in mind when creating this thread. I feel that, aside from Archie, mature themes ave not been done well. We don't know what it's like for there to be a objectively sound and riveting plot structure in a Sonic game that goes a few zones farther into the darkness of theme. That's why I still feel an emptiness -- I want to see it. I want to see it done right. I want to DO IT right in my own story. In my view, the characters have way too much potential for them not to be maximized and highlighted in challenging ways.

Well for your personal project, if that's what you want to aim for, then go for it, don't let me get in your way.

But like, do you ever wonder if there might be a reason why these things have so consistently failed?

39 minutes ago, JohnTheDreamer said:

This is the viewpoint I had in mind when creating this thread. I feel that, aside from Archie, mature themes ave not been done well. We don't know what it's like for there to be a objectively sound and riveting plot structure in a Sonic game that goes a few zones farther into the darkness of theme. That's why I still feel an emptiness -- I want to see it. I want to see it done right. I want to DO IT right in my own story. In my view, the characters have way too much potential for them not to be maximized and highlighted in challenging ways.

Well for your personal project, if that's what you want to aim for, then go for it, don't let me get in your way.

But like, do you ever wonder if there might be a reason why these things have so consistently failed?

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I could wax poetics about it all, but to keep it simple since I'm on my phone, if a game like Undertale can pull off some pretty dark themes with an underlying tragedy to it all, there's absolutely no reason Sonic couldn't.

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25 minutes ago, RappedinBlacX said:

I never understood why fans want Sonic the Hedgehog to be a springboard for "mature themes". Where does it come from? The best plot for a Sonic game was Sonic Battle and Chronicles and to be frank, they're the only great plots. Every other Sonic stories have never been great or even good, just entertaining on the likes of Dragonball Z. No body watched DBZ for stories, but fun over the top cheesyness. Thats exactly how I feel about Sonic.

I keep forgetting about Sonic Battle. I did enjoy that one. As far as why people want maturity, it's probably because they've felt the giant roller coaster of growing up, and they want to see their favorite characters explored in new ways that they've become attuned to.

22 minutes ago, Nepenthe said:

.... People were actually invested in the storytelling and character development happening throughout the Saiyan, Namek, and even the Android arcs of DBZ. If you were watching it just for the fights, you missed some things.

Yes. One word: GOHAN. Poor, poor, misused soul...

19 minutes ago, Wraith said:

It depends on what you mean by "mature".

...

So, yeah, it depends on how far you want to go with it. If you're pushing so many mature themes into it that it doesn't really feel like Sonic anymore and it's become something else, then you're better off just making something original and not using Sonic as a base. 

 

That's crossed my mind. I've wondered if I would get more mileage out of changing it into my own world, but after almost a decade of intense image-and-emotion-based planning, I simply can't break myself from basing it on my favorite universe. It'll make it a lovely challenge.

6 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Well for your personal project, if that's what you want to aim for, then go for it, don't let me get in your way.

But like, do you ever wonder if there might be a reason why these things have so consistently failed?

Of course; no worries. You strike me as open minded anyway. I do endeavor to please everyone, though; impossible as that is.

I do. And I HOPE it's just because it hasn't been presented in a fantastic enough way yet; enough to be digestible by a majority.

AMAZING topic so far, guys; thanks so much.

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@Azoo I would even argue there's things in Teen Titans Go that make larger cultural or emotional points that would go over kids' heads anyway. Teen Titans Go at this point exists to satirize the nerds who take animation so seriously that lighthearted fare is looked down upon as actively harmful to the cultural fabric and childrens' well-being, which I outlined as a serious problem in another topic before as this kind of attitude hasn't actually manifested in the success of more mature and independent animation within the western sphere, and thus it comes off as a shallow, hypocritical assertion of what meaningful art is. This is a pretty big meta thing that I've never really seen western animation tackle before in any capacity, and the fact that it's being done by a show that deliberately sets out to be zany just for zaniness' sake just makes it all the more hilarious. But it hammers the point home that something that is as superficially brain-dead as Teen Titans Go can still say something- anything- that can be dissected and discussed by adults. However, Sonic is not nearly as wacky within the games but God forbid we talk about a moral or some shit with any kind of meaningful weight to it. S'gotta be all lame tongue-in-cheek humor and standing around. Fuck.

Edited by Nepenthe

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4 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

 

Well for your personal project, if that's what you want to aim for, then go for it, don't let me get in your way.

But like, do you ever wonder if there might be a reason why these things have so consistently failed?

Bad writing and a lack of will to improve? These things have succeeded in other mediums, and in similar franchises that started off like Sonic - remember how cute Megaman's fanchise was before going darker and edgier and more mature just like Sonic often tried to do? And people praised those darker things. Granted they did it with a new protagonist, but even so, Sonic remained the same character as we went into the Adventure series. And despite their poor aging, people still remember them fondly.

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11 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

hopefully I made some kind of sense in my explanation.

Absolutely beautiful. Every word.

Quote

remember how cute Megaman's fanchise was before going darker and edgier and more mature just like Sonic often tried to do? And people praised those darker things. Granted they did it with a new protagonist, but even so, Sonic remained the same character as we went into the Adventure series. And despite their poor aging, people still remember them fondly.

EXACTLY! The X series had its hiccups, but it introduced a ton of great ideas and pushed the new characters to their limit. The Zero series was just...a pretty gorgeous line of storytelling, and other spinoffs continued on that, some better than others.

Mega Man and its spinoffs proved to me that similar worlds can absolutely pull this off.

Edited by JohnTheDreamer
Addressing ChaosSupremeSonic's point

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32 minutes ago, Azoo said:

I think putting it as "this is a kids thing", "this is 'mature'" etc kind of constrains series' based on preconceptions about what audience they're aimed at.

Sonic feels looser than that, more like an all-ages kind of thing in it's ideal state. One that opens it's audiences for kids, but also gives room for teenagers, young adults and whoever else to also get into it.

If it was strictly for kids, it wouldn't take anything it does too seriously and never really find a need to (Teen Titans Go, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Gumball and the like), and if it did then it'd take itself far overboard for the action and toyz (TMNT, Transformers, and etc). Sonic as of lately has been a mixture of both with Sonic Boom, but the game series seems like it's sitting in the same spot, albeit sort of uncomfortably.

Sonic, despite being a colorful and cartoony series about an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog and a really oafishly large mad scientist, has room to grow with it's characters and mythos in ways that can matter to more than just kids who are in it for easy action and giggles. It started to leave room for that during the classic games of all things, and enforced it heavily in the Adventure games (with results anywhere from pretty good to meh, but you know what I mean).

It's got room for action, adventure, mysticism, motive-oriented comedy AND drama, room for character development, tiny bits and blobs of romance if necessary.. and all of this can be made more than appropriate for children to take in as well as be meaningful to the audiences who are there for a bit more than watching Sonic bopping Eggman's badniks and run fast.

I mean, even though I can't see it ever needing to get as drama/romance heavy ever, look at shows like the original Teen Titans, or Steven Universe! Those are pretty good examples of this working out just fine, despite pushing the suspension of disbelief in regards to concepts. Limiting the series by aesthetic appeal alone is in itself pretty limiting whenever so much more could be done with it.

I feel like a lot of people don't really limit it's potential based on it's aesthetics but the way Sonic actually presents itself. Sonic is pretty much written like it's  for kids and has been for a long time now(not for the entire series lifespan but it seems like it shifted somewhere around Heroes or something and rarely looked back) so I get why people have the "it's for kids" mentality when it comes to the series.(This isn't really a dig at the modern games either since Heroes, Shadow and 06 are the same way with a different tone. We basically moved from shallow anime for kids to a shallow cartoon for kids.)  It's rare that it gets  presented as more than that.  It could be more, but it just as easily could continue going down this road. People are going to keep saying its a kids thing until Sega proves it isn't, basically, and I can't really blame them for it either. 

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5 minutes ago, shdowhunt60 said:

I could wax poetics about it all, but to keep it simple since I'm on my phone, if a game like Undertale can pull off some pretty dark themes with an underlying tragedy to it all, there's absolutely no reason Sonic couldn't.

Undertale was designed for it from the start. Everything within it was built with the expectation of fitting into that structure. Sonic was not.

Just now, ChaosSupremeSonic said:

Bad writing and a lack of will to improve? These things have succeeded in other mediums, and in similar franchises that started off like Sonic - remember how cute Megaman's fanchise was before going darker and edgier and more mature just like Sonic often tried to do? And people praised those darker things. Granted they did it with a new protagonist, but even so, Sonic remained the same character as we went into the Adventure series. And despite their poor aging, people still remember them fondly.

The fact that Megaman practically an entirely new series to push more serious stories is not a thing that should be overlooked. That is kind of the whole point; the characters and setting of the classic Megaman games could not support the kind of stories that MMX and later variants tell. It's like Sonic Boom, but a tonal shift in the opposite direction, and with a couple of breadcrumbs linking them canonically.

And I don't mean to say that every Sonic game has to be tonally identical to Sonic 1, but that it established a sort of baseline, and there's a limited range away from that that it can reasonably cover. SA pushes towards the darker edge. Most people seem to agree that it's still within a reasonable distance, but that's not proof that we can take the ball and run it arbitrarily further and still have things work.

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1 minute ago, Diogenes said:

Undertale was designed for it from the start. Everything within it was built with the expectation of fitting into that structure. Sonic was not.

The fact that Megaman practically an entirely new series to push more serious stories is not a thing that should be overlooked. That is kind of the whole point; the characters and setting of the classic Megaman games could not support the kind of stories that MMX and later variants tell. It's like Sonic Boom, but a tonal shift in the opposite direction, and with a couple of breadcrumbs linking them canonically.

Ooh, great points. Really great. I actually overlooked the fact that the series itself branched off to fit the new stories. So I wonder. Sonic has been a thing for so long, and gone through so many of his own evolutions. Could individual Sonic games have their own atmospheres? Like, could Dark Knight be a Mega Man X?

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10 minutes ago, Wraith said:

I feel like a lot of people don't really limit it's potential based on it's aesthetics but the way Sonic actually presents itself. Sonic is pretty much written like it's  for kids and has been for a long time now(not for the entire series lifespan but it seems like it shifted somewhere around Heroes or something and rarely looked back) so I get why people have the "it's for kids" mentality when it comes to the series.(This isn't really a dig at the modern games either since Heroes, Shadow and 06 are the same way with a different tone. We basically moved from shallow anime for kids to a shallow cartoon for kids.)  It's rare that it gets  presented as more than that.  It could be more, but it just as easily could continue going down this road. People are going to keep saying its a kids thing until Sega proves it isn't, basically, and I can't really blame them for it either. 

Right, I get that completely.

But man do I long for a Sonic that'll take itself more as a genuine experience again. Nothing about Sonic 1, 2, 3K, CD, Adventure, or Unleashed leaves me feeling "oh yeah, this is mostly for the kids". I feel a world that can take itself as seriously as it needs to, just as it can be as silly as it wants. There's room to care somewhere in those games, and I yearn for it again I guess.

And it's not like it's really deep or anything, just something genuine and well thought out and with room to breathe.

 

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Yeah, it would help if we actually had a foundation of do's and don'ts for comparing the games to other media when we're discussing what's appropriate and what isn't, because it's obvious everyone's standards are different. "For kids" just means there's nothing in a work that excludes developing children from being able to watch it without being confused and/or freaking the fuck out. A shitload of things are "for kids." Dora The Explorer is "for kids." The Force Awakens is also "for kids." The breadth of "kid-friendly" entertainment is so vast and inclusive that it's ultimately useless at ruling out anything potentially upsetting that isn't obvious gore, porn, or deep philosophical discussion...none of which dissatisfied fans are actually asking for anyway.

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