Jump to content
Awoo.

Would Sonic benefit from more of a backstory?


Monkey Destruction Switch

Recommended Posts

As it is, Sonic doesn't really have anything in the way of a "backstory" other than events actually shown to have happened in the games. Some might argue that the addition of a backstory would make him stronger and more fully realized as a character, while others disagree, and still others probably think that Sonic doesn't need to be a fully-fleshed out character. Do you think a backstory would make for a worthy addition to the character, or do you think he's better as-is? (Keep in mind this doesn't have to only pertain to the games - it's also feasible for Sonic to be given a backstory in other media, and you're free to discuss that too.)

Personally, I don't really think Sonic needs a backstory or would really benefit from one. Not only do I have a massive personal appreciation for clean, simple, and uncluttered things, but I also feel like his motivations and character already make perfect sense (and are really enjoyable) as is, no further explanation required. We may not know where Sonic came from, but we do know a lot about who he is as a person: he's independent, bold, very self-confident, fearless and even rash, loves adventure, loves freedom, is loyal to his friends, etc. Based on these traits, it makes perfect sense that he would do the things he does - fighting Eggman, saving the world, et cetera. After all, Eggman's actions and his world domination ambitions directly affect Sonic's friends (such as the animals who get put into badniks) and his own freedom (if he were to succeed). He's not like a typical "superhero" who goes around doing random unwarranted good deeds. Eggman affects his own personal interests and his friends, and on top of that, he simply enjoys kicking his butt. It's honestly a bit of a "no-brainer" for him. He's a pretty straightforward character who doesn't need anything particularly special in his past to motivate him other than just, well, being who he is, if that makes sense.

I guess further explanation could be provided for why Sonic developed the traits he has, but I honestly don't see the necessity, especially since a lot of his personality characteristics tie into his physical characteristics and abilities. It's no surprise that someone like him would be so confident and bold, and his love of freedom and independence seems to tie into his running abilities. As for his loyalty to his friends, it would seem to me to sort of be a counterpoint to his independent nature - I mean, he may like doing his own thing, but like most people he probably doesn't like feeling lonely, so he may develop close bonds in order to "compensate", sorta. I dunno, I guess I'm just saying that I don't feel his personality traits need an explanation or would even benefit from one. It's just sort of the way he is, and it makes sense.

Well, that's enough incoherent rambling from me - I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts.

  • Thumbs Up 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It may be my obsession with detail, how me just liking the character of Sonic in general, but I wouldn't mind seeing more about Sonic's past being explored. Especially in the games considering that I don't pay much attention to the Archie Comics.

I'm not asking for a lot, and I'm certainly not looking for anything like how Shadow's backstory was treated, but a nice simple look into Sonic's past would be something I would appreciate in my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the record, I should probably add that I do think it could be possible to add a bit of backstory to Sonic and have it turn out well. It's just that, overall I think it might not be "worth it" because I feel there are a lot more ways to mess it up than to actually help the character, so I personally would rather not open up the possibility. I can see why others would like it, though.

One thing that I definitely would never want to happen is explaining how Sonic "got his powers" or anything like that (which is rather ironic considering I once wrote a fanfic offering a bit of explanation xD). It's best to just leave it as some Mobians (just using that obsolete term for convenience ;P) have powers that are pretty far beyond the norm; it's just something about their physiology that is special. I really don't want Sonic to be a "superhero", honestly, especially considering explanations for how superheroes get their powers are usually just silly excuses to begin with xD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You could just say Sonic was born with that ability. End of discussion.

No one questions why characters like Knuckles have super strength or why Tails can fly, or heck even why Shadow has Chaos powers - the simple answer is than they were born with them, whether through natural or artificial means.

You could just say Sonic was born with that ability. End of discussion.

No one questions why characters like Knuckles have super strength or why Tails can fly, or heck even why Shadow has Chaos powers - the simple answer is than they were born with them, whether through natural or artificial means.

  • Thumbs Up 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm of the opinion that if he does have a backstory, it's probably not going to be a tragedy-filled one like Shadow or could be considered particularly sad like Tails' early life. If anything I personally think that he'd probably have one of the most normal backstories out of the entire cast, much like Amy, Cream and the like (although on a personal note I tend to think of slightly darker backstories for Amy and Cream/her mother as a means to explain Amy's obsession with Sonic and for why Vanilla is a single mother, but that's just headcanon stuff). As for his speed, I just like to think he's always been a quick fella even as a kid, but constant running throughout his life and exposure to Chaos Energy (ESPECIALLY from Sonic 2 onwards) due to a headcanon regarding the nature of the islands in Sonic 1-3 (and Little Planet in CD) help augment him to the point he became capable of running at sonic speeds. Basically Charles Atlas Superpower with a bit of outside empowerment.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm somewhere in the middle on this. I'm fine with leaving things open, but I wouldn't mind if there was an official backstory for Sonic himself. It wouldn't necessarily have to be that complex, either.

And yeah there doesn't need to be an explanation for his speed. I wouldn't be against some sort of backstory explaining the existence of the anthros themselves and why they all(?) have superpowers. This sort of thing would be perfect for like, random collectibles you can find in levels--ala Unleashed--and some of 'em are history books or whatever that give random worldbuilding info and stuff. Not really important to the plot but just there for people who are interested in that sort of thing.

Edited by Celestia
dang ass 502 errors
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because I'm a fan and a huge sucker when it comes to lore, I love to know every little thing about every character! Sonic is no exception. I love how Sonic's backstory was handled in the original Archie comics (Everything from the Great War, Sonic's parents, being raised with his Uncle, etc...), the Fleetway origin was very neat (especially the whole going back in time bit), and the Underground one was interesting too! I enjoy every interpretation so far, and if he were to get a good backstory in the games as well, and handled the right way, it could be cool. My favorite Sonic games were ones with a lot of story (SA2, Unleashed), so in my opinion I wouldn't be against a backstory in a future game :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Considering how many times characters alluded to how Sonic's habilities are impressive and ask him about it, only to either get a random answer or nothing at all(Think Shadow during SA2 before their final battle, or Zik during Lost World), it would be interesting to see some sort of explanation to how he got this way. It doesn't need to be something amazing, heck, just saying ''He was born with it'' would clarify it enough for me, after all this is Sonic, you don't need to be too complex or logical with it, but just some actual clarity about his powers would be an interesting development for the series to delve in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any potential element of storytelling that's going to be focused on in a specific tale- things like lore, detail, setting, plot, motifs and themes, etc.- is going to depend upon the story's purpose or motive for existing. Sonic is pure action-adventure entertainment fiction, almost pulpy and serial in ways, and thus lends itself more to characteristics based on the present events and proceedings of any plot. This doesn't mean things can't be backed up by lore; instead I would argue even just sprinklings of lore like all of the ancient civilizations all over the place give a nice sense of scale and awe to things. However, Sonic's storytelling isn't really missing anything without exploring the characters' pasts. None of the characters seem particularly concerned about it anyway. xP

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Chaos here. If Sonic wants to be mor eof a three-dimensional character, he needs more context behind his actions, and to explain why it is he's the person he is.

Another thing too, is that you said before how you like that Sonic is a simple character, here's the problem with simple characters: you can only do simple things with a simple character. You can't really develop or grow a character like that in the long term, because there isn't anything to develop.

Like I said before, it doesn't have to be particularly in-depth, complex, or even particularly dramatic. He just needs something. I'm perfectly fine also with him just being "born" with his powers. Personally, that kind of comes off as rather lazy and hand-wavy to me, but I can get over it. I'm more interested in Sonic as a person than I am as Sonic as a thing with superpowers. The only thing I'd say is, "Why is it that this character arbitrarily can go really, really fast while random anthro X can't"..

 

Edited by shdowhunt60
Text duplication bug.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd also like to know how does he go that fast. Him being born special is ok, since there is no need of some event that gave him powers like most superhero stories have, but having some explanation like using rings or Chaos energy would be nice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some sort of a backstory wouldn't hurt if it's done the right way. Since he is supposed to be a free spirit, he doesn't need a reason for doing what he does, but I'd like some more details on his past and powers. Perhaps it's more about background info than a backstory.

A good example of what I mean is Amy's backstory. She doesn't need an exact explanation for her chasing of Sonic, since she is clearly a preteen who is a fan of him, but at least they explained how she predicted the encounter with Sonic, who was her hero ever since she heard of him.

When it comes to Sonic's powers, the theory about rings would fit into pretty much the whole series.There is Ring Energy in Unleashed, he uses rings to become more powerful in Satam and Sonic X and in comics, Eggman states that using many rings over time made him more resistant to attacks. But they never officially acknowledged that he uses rings for his speed, did they?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, FFWF said:

I'm going to come out in complete opposition, I'm afraid; I would not want Sonic to have a backstory.  While this is partly anxiety about the fact that it would inevitably be handled badly

Right, and this is where I get incredibly frustrated when I try to talk about this subject to anyone. Basically what's being said here is "I don't want this to be done, because it'll be done badly". What kind of crap mindset is that? I hear this reasoning a lot in the fanbase regarding a lot of things, not just this, and it's a horribly defeatist mindset.

, I also think that one of the great strengths of the series is that the best characters are instantly accessible, self-explanatory. 

And you can have that while having a character that's fully developed. These things are not mutually exclusive. Not everything has to be a binary switch between having a character as flat and shallow as a milkless pancake to be a royal clusterfuck of overlapping details like a Square Enix game.

Sonic himself is famously laid-back and straightforward; he's not hampered by conflicting motives or tangled allegiances, he just takes down wrongdoing wherever he sees it. 

Yes, these are character traits that he has. But why does he have them? That's the thing I'm concerned about. I want context. I want to know why Sonic's the person that he is.

Giving him a backstory I feel would not only tie him down to a more specific character interpretation, but would actively undermine our ability as players to judge him on our own terms;

Umm, why? No, really, explain this to me, because I'm completely lost here.

once you give a character a backstory, everything becomes about the backstory (see Shadow). 

... Christ, there's so much wrong with this.

Firstly, don't use Shadow as a basis for your argument. What happened to Shadow wasn't the fact that he had a backstory, it's the fact that Shadow was heavily victimized by incredibly bad writing. Let's not use the 1000 monkeys working on typewriter at Sonic Team as a basis for this please, because they fucked up with a ton of things back then. Hell, they're STILL failing at basic fucking storytelling.

Secondly, what are you basing this off of? Shadow was not all about his backstory. The only reason why it got reiterated and expanded upon in his titular game was because it was logical to do so after it was revealed that Shadow was an amnesiac in the previous game. That's how you follow up your plot elements, that's shocking I know in the context of the Sonic series in recent years, but that's pretty much how that works. The problem was, was that back then the writers did this in the most asinine ways possible. But quite literally, that's really the last game his backstory got any focus. 06 even acknowledged that he's moved on and is in a position in life where he's perfectly content.

So to me, a backstory for Sonic wouldn't add anything - it would just detract (and distract) from what he already has. 

You... You didn't really explain this. You just said "Oh, well, then it would just be about his backstory". You didn't even mention why that was even a bad thing.

The story shouldn't be about Sonic but rather about the experiences he participates in;

Then why is he the titular character and the center of attention of every game if it's not going to be about him?

he and his personality traits are vehicles for plot to happen because he will always want to get involved.  Self-reflection is, strictly speaking, a process of nothing happening; suitable for a more contemplative style of game, but Sonic is an action-adventure series about a fast protagonist.  You shouldn't be stopping for long.

... In which case you're using Sonic's personality traits to justify making him a shallow character, and everything else should just follow suit. Seems legit.

  And for what it's worth, I certainly don't think his "powers" need explaining, given that they've never been presented as at all unnatural - especially early-series, back when things were more humble and localised.

Not going to touch this one again: like I said before, I don't mind if they're not explained, I'm more interested in Sonic as a person than I am as a thing with superpowers.

As a secondary point I'd also like to add that the mere fact of having a backstory is something important in distinguishing between Sonic and Shadow.  Shadow is Sonic's dark counterpart, and I would say this is achieved by the fact that Shadow is essentially Sonic were he produced as a result of later trends in storytelling.

Oh, so I guess one gets to be the complex and fully developed character, while the other gets to be flat and frankly uninteresting one. Got it, makes sense.

... Wait, weren't you also just saying earlier about how this detracted from Shadow, even though according to you that this is what Shadow is fundamentally about. So I guess that means too that one gets to be the bad character while the other gets to be the good character, by your definitions. Got it.

You know, this is kind off topic, but you know... It would be really nice if Shadow's existence didn't have to spin around Sonic's own. No shipping him with Sonic, no making him destiny prophet warriors with Sonc (and Silver), and no other arbitrary crap that he's forcefully crammed into and forced to stay in because of SEGA and the fandom's arbitrary meta expectations for him. Let Shadow be his own person.

  He's an antihero, he's dark and edgy, he's mysterious, his motivations (and, frankly, his history) are forever changing, and everything important about him boils down to things which happened in the past rather than things which are happening in the present.  Games in which he plays a major role are always more about explaining who he is than what he does (even in '06, where a major plot point in his storyline is his mysterious (and ultimately very shallow) relationship with Mephiles).

... Because, again, expanding on his backstory due to fan request and following up on a plot ball left in the previous game means that is all Shadow is about. His backstory almost goes completely unmentioned in 06.

  Sonic is refreshingly free and uncomplicated - a breath of fresh air, if you like.  There is nothing about him to be explained.

Wait, are we talking about Sonic 06? He was flat and boring. Completely devoid of any personality.

And I feel like there's a general misconception about the function of giving him a backstory. It's not just about "explaining" him. It's about expanding him. It's about giving his character a direction, and having the ability to actually DO something with him. Sonic's been effectively stagnate. That's not a good thing for your main protagonist.

 

Quote

If Sonic had a backstory, frankly, it's pretty obvious from both his personality and from what little context the early series gives us that it would be as simple as the character himself.  He's a hedgehog who was born with the ability to run very fast.  There is absolutely nothing more you could possibly need to know; what we are given on the surface is completely self-sufficient and allows games starring him to be perpetuated endlessly.

And I feel the need to harp on this again: The problem with a simple character is that you can only do simple things with him. And Sonic will be doomed to just that, to be perpetuated endlessly reiterating the same basic things, and being completely unable to do anything. It's dirty, green-watered stagnation that completely kills a character like that. And this is all because the fandom is afraid of failure.

Responses in bold, because the reply system is high.

Edited by shdowhunt60
duplication bug ftw.
  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Him having backstory does beg the question of what it will be,how it will be implemented or how it fits into the timeline, for sure. I guess that's up to Sonic Team anyway but...I think Sonic's character is very much about the present, and that does complicate things a tad.

Largely agreed with Nepenthe. I'd say a simple character isn't neccisarily the same as flat, either.

Most Sonic game plots aren't referenced much,that doesn't neccisarily make them pointless, but maybe it makes it a bit too unsafe considering?  I don't even know to be honest. Maybe it would help give direction internally so he's not different every game. (But then there's staffing changes that contribute to this and there might be lenience so to avoid forcedness or perfectionism traps.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 22/01/2016 at 9:49 AM, shdowhunt60 said:

Right, and this is where I get incredibly frustrated when I try to talk about this subject to anyone. Basically what's being said here is "I don't want this to be done, because it'll be done badly". What kind of crap mindset is that? I hear this reasoning a lot in the fanbase regarding a lot of things, not just this, and it's a horribly defeatist mindset.

Hence why I outlined that this was only "partly" my objection; "Sonic Team would muck it up!" is insufficient as a sole reason.  Nonetheless, one has to be realistic.  I'm not going to demand something if I don't believe it can be provided to my standards.

And you can have that while having a character that's fully developed. These things are not mutually exclusive. Not everything has to be a binary switch between having a character as flat and shallow as a milkless pancake to be a royal clusterfuck of overlapping details like a Square Enix game.

Yes, you correctly accept that adding complexity is not a virtue in itself.  However, even if you could have a fully-developed character who was "instantly accessible" and "self-explanatory" - I am dubious of this hypothetical character who has a rich backstory which the player can ignore completely, but no matter - that does not mean that all characters have to be this way, or indeed would benefit from being this way.  So, let us consider the specific example of giving Sonic a backstory.  What purpose does this serve.  To make us understand him better - why?  What is there not to understand?  This is especially significant in the case of backstory as it entails no change whatsoever to the status quo; the backstory must ultimately result in what we already know.  If what we already know is perfectly sufficient and needs no explaining, then the backstory is simply redundant frippery.  We never needed it before.  Wherefore the urgency?

Now, I foresee the objection here, that the backstory can be interesting in and of itself.  (I'll set aside the potential debate over whether other suitably notable retroactive prequels, the obvious example being Lord of the Rings, existed solely for the purpose of being interesting in and of themselves rather than as part of a wider program of world-building and picking up of loose ends; in any case, a novel is a very different piece of work than a speedy platformer.)  Why object to a backstory if it changes nothing about the present save to be purely interesting?  Well, I'll generously lay aside the point that "lack of necessity" is a perfectly viable criticism.  Well, depending on what our hypothetical example looks like, the answers are twofold: One is that a story which changes nothing about the present might as well be set in the present rather than adding an unnecessary historical aspect.  The other answer is that a change to a character's past necessarily changes how we see their present; we will always see that character in the context of their history from now on.  To you, this is an advantage; Sonic is a richer, deeper character.  To me, it is a disadvantage, a shadow and a chain which hangs over every one of that character's future decisions and actions.  Rather than the character's actions being made because of the sort of person they are, it is instead an inevitable reflection of the past events which formed them.  Of course, for the purposes of storytelling, no character ever has any character features innate to them, the product of nature versus nurture; they are always the sum of the impressions received from their environment.  How weak and wishy-washy!

Yes, these are character traits that he has. But why does he have them? That's the thing I'm concerned about. I want context. I want to know why Sonic's the person that he is.

What sort of "reason" do you imagine?  Why does there have to have been some dramatic crisis which formed him rather than a sequence of smaller incidents?  Quite frankly, the answer to the unfathomable mystery of Sonic's conduct is implicit.  Sonic runs fast.  He is an animal, he enjoys his freedom.  He enjoys it particularly because he is speedier than others and therefore more free.  First impressions.  Would he want to be confined into a mechanical armour and forced to obey the whims of a mad scientist?  I rather doubt it; who would?  He would like it all the less for it being more of a contrast to his ordinary state than it is to the other simpler animals who Dr. Eggman confines.  But like them, Sonic is an animal; he has natural empathy.  Not wanting to be imprisoned, he frees others from imprisonment, and undoes the schemes of the one who imprisons them.  All perfectly, beautifully explained in the first zone of the first game, without a jot of dialogue.  This is Sonic's backstory.  You've played it and understood it.

Umm, why? No, really, explain this to me, because I'm completely lost here.

I hope I've outlined this above by now.  Really, though, isn't this your own logic?  If a character needs explaining, the explanation therefore must always be in mind whenever he takes any action.  We look at Sonic's behaviour and ask why he is who he is, and the backstory explains it; it is never unimportant, and therefore always present.  Sonic no longer exists at face value, but rather is defined in relationship to the formulating events of his backstory.

... Christ, there's so much wrong with this.

Firstly, don't use Shadow as a basis for your argument. What happened to Shadow wasn't the fact that he had a backstory, it's the fact that Shadow was heavily victimized by incredibly bad writing. Let's not use the 1000 monkeys working on typewriter at Sonic Team as a basis for this please, because they fucked up with a ton of things back then. Hell, they're STILL failing at basic fucking storytelling.

Secondly, what are you basing this off of? Shadow was not all about his backstory. The only reason why it got reiterated and expanded upon in his titular game was because it was logical to do so after it was revealed that Shadow was an amnesiac in the previous game. That's how you follow up your plot elements, that's shocking I know in the context of the Sonic series in recent years, but that's pretty much how that works. The problem was, was that back then the writers did this in the most asinine ways possible. But quite literally, that's really the last game his backstory got any focus. 06 even acknowledged that he's moved on and is in a position in life where he's perfectly content.

An amusing claim, but Shadow was not the "basis for [my] argument"; merely an example which I felt was self-explanatory.  I don't claim that giving Shadow a backstory was a bad idea, but the fact that he died at the end of SA2 frankly makes my argument for me: His story was over.  Once we understood him, there was nothing left for him to do.  That's why they had to add to his backstory when they brought him back for both Heroes and Shadow ('06 I'll discuss below), but I'm sure you've noticed that, once he reaches that "position in life where he's perfectly content," Shadow never appeared again as a main character?  As I said, his story was done, and once his story was done, he had nothing to contribute.  I'll go into a bit more detail about this farther down.

You... You didn't really explain this. You just said "Oh, well, then it would just be about his backstory". You didn't even mention why that was even a bad thing.

Yes, this is the difference in our opinions.  To you, a character being just about his backstory is no bad thing in and of itself (and yes, this is the logic of the statements I'm replying to).  Likewise, I don't think you've answered why a character not having a backstory is a bad thing.  You've just trotted out a few perjoratives.

Then why is he the titular character and the center of attention of every game if it's not going to be about him?

The games aren't about who Sonic is.  They're about what he does.

... In which case you're using Sonic's personality traits to justify making him a shallow character, and everything else should just follow suit. Seems legit.

The winning formula that won the classics success and acclaim and went on to get the series through twenty-five years.  Yes, it is legitimate - though by and by, it's not that the games follow suit from Sonic, but that Sonic follows suit from the games.

Not going to touch this one again: like I said before, I don't mind if they're not explained, I'm more interested in Sonic as a person than I am as a thing with superpowers.

I'm glad we agree on something, though for what it's worth - not taking issue with you here, it's a general point - I would renege on my own characterisation of them as "powers," too.  Nobody goes up to Olympic athletes and asks them how they got their powers.  They were always good at running and they trained to make themselves better.  The Boost creates the illusion that Sonic has magical speed powers, but to me Sonic is just like those athletes; Eggman was born clever, Sonic was born fast.  Someone always has to be the best.

Oh, so I guess one gets to be the complex and fully developed character, while the other gets to be flat and frankly uninteresting one. Got it, makes sense.

Well, if you insist on doing it that way, perhaps one of them gets to be the overwritten and unnecessarily complex character, while the other gets to be the simple and straightforward one.  The words you're using are simply matters of perspective.  Saying that Sonic is "flat" and "frankly uninteresting" is not a subsitute for an argument.  But even then, though, I don't think character development has much importance to the speedy platformer.  Does being "complex and fully developed" change how Shadow plays, or being "flat and frankly uninteresting" change how Sonic plays?  Not at all.  The games are about what they do and where they go.  The reason the "why" isn't terribly important is because the reason why they're doing anything is because the developers and the player want them to do it.  You might as well ask why you or I want to romp about through these zones and defeat Dr. Eggman.  The reason is because we have an expectation that it will be fun and interesting to do so.  So the games have a protagonist and context for which that is sufficient.  Sonic doesn't need a series of lengthy cutscenes to motivate him to get out of bed each time.  Now, if it was the type of game for which lengthy cutscenes would be not just expected but appropriate, then I'd have no objection to lengthy cutscenes.  I play RPGs, the odd visual novel.  I relish this sort of thing.  But platformers are best-suited to a different kind of storytelling.  To characterise it as "passive" or "minimally intrusive" would be a bit broad, but I've always admired how much storytelling there is in the classics with no dialogue and cutscenes only a few seconds long.  They don't mess around.

... Wait, weren't you also just saying earlier about how this detracted from Shadow, even though according to you that this is what Shadow is fundamentally about. So I guess that means too that one gets to be the bad character while the other gets to be the good character, by your definitions. Got it.

Well, if the shoe fits...!

You know, this is kind off topic, but you know... It would be really nice if Shadow's existence didn't have to spin around Sonic's own. No shipping him with Sonic, no making him destiny prophet warriors with Sonc (and Silver), and no other arbitrary crap that he's forcefully crammed into and forced to stay in because of SEGA and the fandom's arbitrary meta expectations for him. Let Shadow be his own person.

It is a shame that he is limited to being "destiny prophet warriors" with Sonic, but that is what he was designed to be - visually, even.  He'll never be able to get away from being a counterpart to Sonic, because it was in his very appearance.  But also, as I mentioned above, you'll note that the places where Shadow is treated as just like any other character are also his most minor appearances.  Frankly, what exactly is Shadow's motivation these days?  He's discovered everything there is to know about himself, so that's gone as an interesting motivation, so his motivation now is... he works for GUN?  He's a hero because it pays the bills?  The character is played-out, and that's why he longer makes appearances as a major character.  He no longer has a purpose.  His backstory limited him.  Which would've been fine if they Sonic Team had just wrapped him up so he didn't have to appear again, as they'd originally intended to do, but betraying their original intentions created exactly the kind of mess you would expect.  But he's a great example of a character who had an ending implied in the fact that he was given a beginning.  Once you wrap up his themes, his personal anxieties and obligations, what is there left?  I couldn't even tell you what Shadow's personality is now.  His backstory was his motivation.

... Because, again, expanding on his backstory due to fan request and following up on a plot ball left in the previous game means that is all Shadow is about. His backstory almost goes completely unmentioned in 06.

One of the early scenes in Shadow's storyline in '06 is his first meeting with Mephiles, a scene in which Mephiles looks identical to Shadow and knows his name.  This is set up as a mystery and indeed is the major mystery throughout Shadow's storyline - the mystery of Mephiles's connection to Shadow.  That mystery plays out through other storylines, too.  The visual similarity and prior acquaintance indicates a link between Mephiles and Shadow's respective histories, implying that Shadow's backstory is significant.  It'd hardly be implausible, either, given all the amnesia muddled up in Shadow's past.  Now, the fact that this proves to be a red herring and the nature of their connection is ultimately rather shallow (Shadow time-travelled, they met once for like five seconds) does not undermine the intent of those early scenes.  It's one of the many reasons '06 wasn't a very good game.

Wait, are we talking about Sonic 06? He was flat and boring. Completely devoid of any personality.

And I feel like there's a general misconception about the function of giving him a backstory. It's not just about "explaining" him. It's about expanding him. It's about giving his character a direction, and having the ability to actually DO something with him. Sonic's been effectively stagnate. That's not a good thing for your main protagonist.

Not a good thing for their main protagonist?  As I mentioned above, it kept him going for twenty-five years!  And will continue to keep him going so long as Sonic Team and their associates can manage to continue churning out games which are at least mediocre.  The number of people who care about why Sonic is the way he is is miniscule, because very few people see any mystery here.  People like Sonic (if they do!) because he looks cool and runs fast.  Give the character a direction?  Why would you need to do any such a thing?  He's never had a problem needing "direction" before.  Do something with him?  They've thrown him into countless colourful adventures that have risen and fallen on fun gameplay in interesting environments.  The character stagnant?  The character's second to the gameplay, and that's where the complaints of stagnation have come in.  The character's motivation has never been complained about in numbers noticeable for me to see it outside of the occasional thread on this forum.

And I feel the need to harp on this again: The problem with a simple character is that you can only do simple things with him. And Sonic will be doomed to just that, to be perpetuated endlessly reiterating the same basic things, and being completely unable to do anything. It's dirty, green-watered stagnation that completely kills a character like that. And this is all because the fandom is afraid of failure.

Again, twenty-five years and still going.  It's not hurt Mario, either.  That's because the character isn't important; all they need to do is look pretty.  Playing well is what makes or breaks them.  And all the context that matters in these kinds of games is simply a function of, to put it bluntly, looking pretty.  Am I going somewhere interesting?  Do I feel motivated to continue?  I myself have complained about Mario games not having enough context to keep me going (specifically, 3D Land), but what I wanted wasn't more insight into the character of Mario.  I wanted enemies and environments which weren't predictable recyclings and which created a sense of progression through changing geography.  The classic Sonic games had that.  Now, Sonic's had a bit more storytelling in recent years, and I'm perfectly happy with that so long as it makes it interesting to keep playing.  But there are certain developments which I do not think would serve that function, either in and of themselves or in the future of the series.

Likewise, replies in bold, because of the awkward way quoting works on this forum.  Hmm, it's ended up a bit long.  I knew there was a reason I tried to avoid arguments on the Internet.  It just takes all day.  But if you put a strong opinion out there, it's important to defend it.

Edited by FFWF
Edit: Apologies for taking a day to get back here and notice my text had been duplicated again.
  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't quite agree there though. Sonic is supposed to have a defined character and Mario is not.

However, I feel it's Sonic's behavior that defines him, and showing how he reacts to a new situation will keep him from becoming stagnant. A change in direction might too, given it's believable.

I guess a backstory or whatever could just become another part of that story, but you could just as easily give him an entertaining character in the next chapter of his life.

  • Thumbs Up 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that because of the nature of the series, there's only so much that could be done with a backstory, unless a bunch of original characters were thrown in.
I've personally always dreamed of seeing something like a Sonic anime that really expanded on the game's stories but at the same could be considered canon, but the more I think about that, the more I think about how difficult that would be, especially considering the character of Eggman. Story-wise, the Sonic series can only play on so many cards, because Sonic is facing off against the same opponent over and over again, and neither of their characters develop very much. I'm not saying that a good back-story could not be done: I would love to see one, in fact!

Like many others have said though, maybe we're just better off without a back-story (especially with the current writing style of Sonic games, imo! I like them but please don't make anything as serious as a back-story with our current Sonic).

The more I think about how a decent Sonic story would play out while not straying too far from the original characters, the more and more respect I have for Ian Flynn. That guy is doing a fantastic job! I don't love all the comics and all his stories, but there are times when he totally rocks Sonic! So kudos to him.

I think that because of the nature of the series, there's only so much that could be done with a backstory, unless a bunch of original characters were thrown in.
I've personally always dreamed of seeing something like a Sonic anime that really expanded on the game's stories but at the same could be considered canon, but the more I think about that, the more I think about how difficult that would be, especially considering the character of Eggman. Story-wise, the Sonic series can only play on so many cards, because Sonic is facing off against the same opponent over and over again, and neither of their characters develop very much. I'm not saying that a good back-story could not be done: I would love to see one, in fact!

Like many others have said though, maybe we're just better off without a back-story (especially with the current writing style of Sonic games, imo! I like them but please don't make anything as serious as a back-story with our current Sonic).

The more I think about how a decent Sonic story would play out while not straying too far from the original characters, the more and more respect I have for Ian Flynn. That guy is doing a fantastic job! I don't love all the comics and all his stories, but there are times when he totally rocks Sonic! So kudos to him.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the want for Sonic to have a backstory comes from the idea that he's not as fleshed out as the other characters, and therefore comes off as more two-dimensional compared to everyone else. So clearly giving him a backstory will just solve that problem.

I'm just gonna operate under the "Is it important" rule. A backstory for a character only works if it ties into the current events of the plot or has a significant effect on the character. There doesn't really seem to be anything about Sonic that warrants a backstory so I don't particularly care if he gets one. I'd rather just see him fleshed out by dealing with future events in different ways rather than have  something retroactive explain and justify his actions.

Sonic is Sonic just because and that's all that's needed tbh.

 

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With the series nearing 25 years old and the character being the type to always look forwards rather than back, I can't imagine any backstory even being relevant.

With the series nearing 25 years old and the character being the type to always look forwards rather than back, I can't imagine any backstory even being relevant.

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@shdowhunt60 Totally agreed! Those are some awesome quotes and a really good read. Props to that first one especially for having a solid knowledge about what makes stories great.

@shdowhunt60 Totally agreed! Those are some awesome quotes and a really good read. Props to that first one especially for having a solid knowledge about what makes stories great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It probably would not be a very good thing to give fully detailed backstory but as a somebody who cares about things like continuety way too much I would definitely appreciate that 1. SEGA would even try to make some kind of continuation between games. I mean, between SA1 and ShTH regerdless of the quality of the stories it was clear that it was a one continuing storyline. In later games there isn't any kind of connection or continuety and that added to the severe lack of character development it just seems that nothing in the story didn't mattered in the end 2. They don't need to explain everything but at least they would tell something. Of course it probably would not be important in order to understand Sonic as a character (as opposise to for example Shadow, who is probably the only character with detailed backstory). But at least they should just flesh out him more than current games had (even in SA1 I think that from a character standpoint Sonics story is the weakest along with Bigs because there really isn't any development or anything new isn't learned).

If you ask me, there are characters to whom I would much rather give more information about their backstories than Sonic because with those characters I just have more questions than with Sonic.

It probably would not be a very good thing to give fully detailed backstory but as a somebody who cares about things like continuety way too much I would definitely appreciate that 1. SEGA would even try to make some kind of continuation between games. I mean, between SA1 and ShTH regerdless of the quality of the stories it was clear that it was a one continuing storyline. In later games there isn't any kind of connection or continuety and that added to the severe lack of character development it just seems that nothing in the story didn't mattered in the end 2. They don't need to explain everything but at least they would tell something. Of course it probably would not be important in order to understand Sonic as a character (as opposise to for example Shadow, who is probably the only character with detailed backstory). But at least they should just flesh out him more than current games had (even in SA1 I think that from a character standpoint Sonics story is the weakest along with Bigs because there really isn't any development or anything new isn't learned).

If you ask me, there are characters to whom I would much rather give more information about their backstories than Sonic because with those characters I just have more questions than with Sonic.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.