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Kuzu

Classic and Modern - More than just a Stylistic Choice

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Alright, this is my first topic in a while, but I feel like its appropriate given we're getting two new games and the distinct reactions I've been reading, so without further ado.

 

Classic_Sonic_JPN.pngsonic-generations-modern-sonic-4.png

 

Let's take a look at these two, Classic and Modern Sonic. Initially, they were basically the same character with no distinction between them aside from aesthetics and nobody really contested that. Then around 2010 when Sonic 4 came out, there was a loud outcry of backlash for not using the classic design of the character for the game, seemingly because some fans felt that his modern design should not be associated with the classic era of the franchise. Although there was probably a few subset of fans who felt that way before, this was the first time there was really any distinction made between the two.

Then in 2011 we got Sonic Generations, in which the entire gimmick was the different designs of the two, and they even made distinct playstyles and "eras" for them. At this point, Classic and Modern Sonic were no longer the same character but with different designs, they became their own entity whilst sharing the same name. And to this day, Sonic Team have continued to separate the two and made them unique from each other. Classic Sonic and the classic era were no longer simply an aesthetic and some design preferences, he had literally become his own sub-series that people associate with him, and the same is true for Modern Sonic and the games post-1998. 

 

Nowadays, people generally associate Classic Sonic and his era with:

latest?cb=20130331110926chemicalplant11.pngSkysanctuary.png

 

While Modern Sonic is generally associated with:

sadvreview-01.jpgCity_Escape_01.pngrooftop-run-14.png

Both Sonic Team the fans seem to have made it a point of separation between the two, to the point where both are regarded as two entirely different styles (But neither better or worse than the other mind you) rather than the latter simply being an evolution of the former. So why is that? Why is the period before and after Sonic Adventure generally regarded an entirely different series altogether by fans and developers alike? If you're a fan of either the Classic or Modern aesthetics and nuances, what do you generally associate with the two that makes them so distinct from each other and why do you feel that way? Should the series have made an effort to separate them at all? 

 

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I certainly don't mind making classic his how sub series, it's not hard to see why Sega would want to capitalize more on a game series that was genuinely good and unique and appealed to a lot of people. My worry is that it's going to slowly overtake Modern abd I don't want that, because despite its faults the modern Era Sonic has a lot of appeal for me and I'm sure for others as well 

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9 minutes ago, Kuzu the Boloedge said:

Why is the period before and after Sonic Adventure generally regarded an entirely different series altogether by fans and developers alike?

Sonic Team is incompetent and long ago forgot or abandoned everything that the series originally built itself on. Some people actually liked what Sonic used to be and wanted more of it, but because Sonic Team cannot or will not understand it they can't integrate it into their conception of Sonic.

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2 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Sonic Team is incompetent and long ago forgot or abandoned everything that the series originally built itself on. Some people actually liked what Sonic used to be and wanted more of it, but because Sonic Team cannot or will not understand it they can't integrate it into their conception of Sonic.

So do you just feel there's nothing from anything past 1998 worth keeping in the series?

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There are certainly bits and pieces worth salvaging, but most of it is rotten. I'm certainly not interested in an endless parade of Mania-esque games, I want proper evolution of the concepts and styles that made the Genesis Sonics some of the best games out there. But Sonic Team has failed to take anything more than surface-level inspiration from those games since around SA2/Heroes.

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Classic and Modern Sonic being separate entities is probably for the best at this point.  They have almost completely different appeals in both playstyle and often aesthetics.  I'd rather we get both in different sub-series than have one replace the other.

My problem is that it got to this point in the first place due to years of poor decisions.  Rather than simply evolve by refining mechanics and trying out new features and stories that followed any sort of logical progression, Sonic Team instead has given us a collection of games that in many ways don't even resemble each other.  It's easy to see how Mario has gotten to where he is now, with ultra-refined platforming mechanics and a sub-set of 2D games that, while fairly unimaginative, still use the normal character designs and feel like they belong in the same series.  Then there's Sonic, in which we have Classic, Modern, Boom, and over the years have gotten 2D platformers, 3D platformers with a million gameplay styles, 3D action platformers with vibrant aesthetics, games with overly dramatic stories, games with blazing fast arcadey action, games with slower paced platforming challenges, etc.  There's variety, and then there's just having no idea what the series' identity is.  By now it'd be pretty much impossible to please every kind of fan by consolidating Sonic into one single entity again, even if some of us (including myself) would prefer that.

Basically I don't like the separate Sonics that much, but it was sort of inevitable considering all the past blunders.  And if it means we get more Classic style Sonic games with the old character designs, I certainly won't object.

Classic and Modern teaming up in the same game again is beyond lame though.

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I think notable exceptions are that Heroes, Colors, and Lost World all had very classic-esque level aesthetics, tossing out the more grounded, realistic settings for the classic checkered hills, funky futuristic cities, neon lighting everywhere (in Colors' case), etc.

They were modern Sonic games that still very much looked like classic-era games.

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I've been playing Sonic since Sonic Adventure DX on the Gamecube, so I was almost always associated with the modern version of Sonic.  However, I love the classic Sonic games as well.  I love them all equally.  I think of classic Sonic as the child version of Sonic, while modern Sonic is all grown up as an adult.  I'm glad they made games like Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, Colors, Generations, and Lost World, because I absolutely loved all those games and SA, SA2, and SH were all childhood games of mine.  I don't know what I would've done without those games in my childhood.  Colors is my personal favorite Sonic game as well.  Yes, I love it more than the Genesis games as well.  And Generations was fantastic and Lost World was fantastic.  I don't get why so many fans got upset over last night's announcements.  They got what they've been asking for.  A game for fans of classic Sonic, and a 3D Sonic game using the same amazing boost gameplay from Generations and Colors that everyone loved.  I can see why some might not want a "generations 2", but I get why they're doing that same gameplay mechanic again as a anniversary game.  It will have a whole new story, while also celebrating the classic age of Sonic and modern Sonic.  I'm excited nonetheless, I'm just embarrassed by the negative "fan" reaction from it, cause the Sonic fanbase (IMO) really sucks and it seems pretty impossible to please them.

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I wrote a similar topic in a Brazilian forum. Something interesting, and for me the best example of the situation is Sonic R.

Sonic-R-screenshot.jpg

It's a 100% 3D game with Classic Sonic. Seems that the game have the Tails Doll taboo, it's interesting think about it sometimes. Alright, but you will say But Sonic R isn't a 3D action Sonic game, is a spin-off race game. Right, and is. Sonic doesn't have boost, homing attack, or something that Modern Sonic have. Other interesting game is Sonic Pocket Adventure:

ngp-sonic-pocket-adventure-1.jpg

Again, it's a 2D Sonic game (With Sonic 2 Style) but using Modern/Adventure Sonic. It's a cool game, but using Modern Sonic in 2D levels. But look, isn't all 2D games that works with Sonic Classic, look at Sonic Advance 3:

sonic-advance-3-usa-en-ja-fr-de-es-it.pn

It's a full recreated Sonic Adventure in 2D. You can't say that you can put Classic Sonic here. But yes, it's cool to think about Classic Sonic in Modern games and vice-versa, but you need to remember that Classic Sonic just aren't 2D games, and Modern Sonic just aren't 3D games.

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What separates Classic and Modern Sonic for me at this point is:

-Classic has abstract and surreal world design for the most part, rarely being even remotely grounded in reality. Looks like something out of a 90's cartoon or 90's pop art, and doesn't really need modern tech as such. Modern Sonic on the other hand, takes advantage of the newest tech to get some more realistic environments with some surreal undertones. Even in Colours, while that game is pretty surreal, the textures still have a realistic look to them.

-As characters, Classic Sonic is cool and generally pretty to the point. He doesn't even talk in most portrayals, so for him, his actions speak louder than words. However, he's also frankly, really adorable too, like a plush doll you could hug. This has been sort of capitalised on by making him come off as more naive and innocent than Modern Sonic, as well as not having as many abilities, leading him to look up to Modern Sonic like a cool older brother. For all intents and purposes, I don't view Classic Sonic as a 15/16 year old teenager, but as more akin to a 10 year old boy (even if he is technically supposed to be the same age as Modern, but honestly the whole age situation with Sonic has always been a bit weird). As for Modern Sonic himself, he is more slick and has more obvious of an attitude. While Classic Sonic is plenty cool, Modern Sonic is more outwardly brash and arrogant, never afraid to speak his mind as opposed to the more innocent and silent Classic Sonic. Modern Sonic also has more natural abilities that sort of complements this. For all intents and purposes, he's the "powerful shonen anime character" version of Sonic. These expanded abilities mean he has more reason to come off as arrogant, because most enemies would be less challenging for him compared to Classic Sonic who might struggle a bit more. So I guess I would say that Classic Sonic is more like a Western cartoon character like Mickey Mouse, while Modern Sonic is more like an anime character like Naruto or Goku (only way cooler :P).

-In terms of story and tone, I don't think there is much difference, or at least, not in an ideal world. Though if I had to say, I think Classic Sonic should have simple stories with simple message told through level design, while Modern Sonic focuses on the more pure cinematic flair with cutscenes and has a bit more meat to the story with a few more characters, but also a sense of world building like Unleashed with townspeople and the like. Classic Sonic should have more cute moments, while Modern Sonic should have more action. Both should have a crisis and a sense of adventure though, and levity in spite of that.

-Gameplay-wise, Classic Sonic should be pick up and play, accessible to anyone. You can jump, Spin Dash, you have elemental shields, and that's the core gist of it. Modern Sonic should have more complex mechanics to allow for more complex worlds for 3D, and I'm even an advocate of hub worlds for his games (I really hope Project 2017 has this). I also don't mind it having some RPG elements like Unleashed did. Then again, I could that being interesting in future Classic Sonic games, especially something like the Skill System in Generations.

-Music wise, not much is different. Though I guess Classic Sonic should have synthesised music, while Modern Sonic has mostly real instruments, like rock bands, jazz bands, and epic orchestras.

That's about as much as I can think of.

Personally, I don't mind the two being split up with occasional crossovers. It pleases more people and it sort of means they have a Sonic for everyone. Boom is for the kids, Classic is for more casual gamers of all ages who remember him from the 90's who only want something simple to pick up and play, and Modern is more complex and involving, meant for the most hardcore Sonic fans. I think it's a good way of doing it. Nintendo sort of does this with Mario, as New Super Mario Bros. was made for casual players, while something like Super Mario Galaxy was a deeper, more involving epic adventure. Mega Man also did it before with Classic Mega Man and Mega Man X, and both franchises are beloved. So I think it can work for Sonic.

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There's no harm in seeing them as distinct, it's necessary as the franchise moved along with the times. That movement was necessary in order for the franchise to survive, and it hasn't been easy, but we wouldn't be celebrating Sonic's 25th if Sonic Adventure had never happened and the franchise had stuck with 2D. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, terrible games and highlights, and there's no need to be tribal about it, or try to get them to merge awkwardly.  

One alternate universe has Sonic Mania and Sonic 2K17 being the beginning of the franchise conducting itself a little more like Mario, with core titles that exclusively use 2D (NSMB Wii and onwards) and 3D (Galaxy, etc) in order to get the fanbase to shut the fuck up appeal to both core demographics who have sprung up as a result of divergent gameplay styles over a lengthy franchise. 

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I kinda doubt Mania will even be canon.

I kinda doubt it will have a story altogether. Like, they haven't even touched on it.

While with Project 2017, probably the most important takeaway from it was that it does seem to be returning to a more sincere tone with a real crisis.

I can see Mania just being a playground of level ideas just for the sake of it. With no real story other than "beat Eggman".

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There's a big difference between 2D Sonic and 3D Sonic, besides the difference in quality.

2D Sonic is nowhere near as realistic or as serious/cringy as 3D Sonic. Leaving aside the inconsistency of most 3D Sonic games. This is the big difference.

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The feel and tone are completely different, it doesn't even resemble the old Classic games.

Whilst the rhetoric is perhaps too simplistic, many of the 3D games have good elements, it raises a genuine point.

To be fair, Classic Sonic had lots of weird elements that I think would have made the public uneasy, such as Madonna, but it was cut out and softened into a more consumable product. I think if Classic Sonic kept these weird elements, people would have been unhappy from the start.

In short, Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic are very very different.

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1 minute ago, Sean said:

Trying to separate classic and modern into two distinct canons is ridiculous especially if all you're going by are the gameplay and art styles. We might as well regard SA1/2 separate from Heroes, Unleashed/Generations separate from Colors, and Lost World as its own entity. And then you have the Advance/Rush games. Sonic has historically had different gameplay styles throughout its run and it's certainly not the only series to change its art style (by that logic, you might as well consider there being three separate Raymans from 1, 2/3, and Origins/Legends). Like Azoo said I'm definitely all up for more classic-styled games like Sonic Mania, but they should all be considered part of the same series, and there's certainly nothing stopping Sega from releasing a classic Sonic game that takes place after all of the modern ones.

I actually do consider SA 1 and 2 to be very different to Heroes.

I would make it like this

Sonic 1 - Knuckles Era.

SA1 - SA2 Era

Sonic Heroes - Sonic Riders Era

Sonic 2006 (kind of on its own due to its massive failure)

Sonic Unleashed to Lost World.

Colors is only looks significantly different due to the hardware. Its the same DNA as Unleashed.

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Yeah to be honest, this distinction between modern and classic is so prevelent, that it's like no one can be just a Sonic fan. I mean we got Classic fans, Adventure fans, Boost fans, Modern fans etc etc and it feels like SEGA is trying to cash in on the fanbase trying to split the two. There is no need to make a seprate series for classic fans and another for modern fans because it would just split the base even more. 

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10 minutes ago, Sean said:

But why do these games have to be separate series or canons? Is it really too difficult to stomach that these are all in the same continuity and the gameplay/artstyle differences are there due to whatever the devs feel like doing?

In all fairness, it is legitimately hard to reason some games as being part of the same canon.

Case in point, the Rush and Rivals games. Because Eggman Nega's backstory is completely different in both. In one, he's Eggman's alternate dimension counterpart. In the other, he's Eggman's descendant. They fundamentally contradict each other.

Then there are issues with other games. Unleashed is supposed to be set on Earth (I'm fairly certain Professor Pickle and some townsfolk call it that, though my memory is a bit foggy...I am playing through the game as of late, though). But it doesn't match the layout of real-life Earth at all...which would be fine, only Shadow the Hedgehog actually used a real-life map of Earth in multiple cutscenes!

I dunno, I think Sonic is way too big a franchise to where everything can link up. I don't think Sonic Team ever intended it either. While there are definitely different sagas, that is sort of the reason why officially making Classic Sonic his own canon wouldn't ruin anything for me - the Classic games were a complete saga is it was. They're their own self contained story (that Sonic 4 poorly attempted to tie into).

Same with Adventure to '06.

And Unleashed to Generations/Lost World.

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It's one thing for there to be games that aren't canon to the story because they're just spinoffs but they're still nonetheless generic "Sonic" games, like the 8-bit titles or Riders. It's another to consider them part of a completely separate sub-franchise that is meant to cordon off unique gameplay and design features entirely and cater directly to certain demographics a la Boom. The latter comes with a lot more baggage and implications for how any given game is to direct itself going forward.

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2 hours ago, ChikoLad said:

I kinda doubt Mania will even be canon.

I kinda doubt it will have a story altogether. Like, they haven't even touched on it.

While with Project 2017, probably the most important takeaway from it was that it does seem to be returning to a more sincere tone with a real crisis.

I can see Mania just being a playground of level ideas just for the sake of it. With no real story other than "beat Eggman".

In Sonic, "canon" essentially boils down to "It doesn't contradict the other games."

As long as that's true, I see no reason not to say "Yeah, this game happened."

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10 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I think notable exceptions are that Heroes, Colors, and Lost World all had very classic-esque level aesthetics, tossing out the more grounded, realistic settings for the classic checkered hills, funky futuristic cities, neon lighting everywhere (in Colors' case), etc.

They were modern Sonic games that still very much looked like classic-era games.

I don't know about Lost World. Sonic 3 has somewhat realistic zones, 'cutscenes' even show moving from one to another. I never seen floating food in classic games. Too me Lost World is more abstract than anything classic games would throw.

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I think I can understand why Sega started treating Classic as separate rather than continuous around the Generations era.  The fact is that by that point, what would subsequently be termed "Modern" Sonic had diverged very, very far from its classic roots, mostly in gameplay terms but to a certain extent in aesthetic terms as well; the use of a design more closely resembling Sonic's early designs therefore instantly conveys a return to the root gameplay, whereas "Modern" Sonic's design at the time would bring expectations of either a Boost game (the gameplay style of both mainline and handheld games for several years previous by that point) or something otherwise involving high speed and linear gameplay with a forward-facing camera (like the Storybook games).  There was no longer any sense in which the series's modern gameplay resembled that of the classics; around the Adventure era, the gulf may have been solely "2D vs. 3D," but that gulf widened and widened - and Sega is showing absolutely zero interest in narrowing the gap.  At the point we've reached, using a separate design to convey classic-style gameplay is simply a necessity.  (And for me, I don't know that talkative Sonic bears much of a resemblance in terms of characterisation to the limited character he conveyed in the classics - though nor does the retroactive "Classic Sonic" of Generations, either.)

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