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'Dark' and 'Serious' takes on Sonic: Why are They So Taboo?

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6 minutes ago, ShroomZ said:

Wraith already said it but I really want to know how animals using semi-cartoony weapons manages to be more cringeworthy than Sonic standing next to a bunch of realistically proportioned people using realistic weapons on a fucking blob monster. 

Because in a relatively serious situation, a Sonic-styled cartoon animal police force feels more out of place for me than human police. As it is, it's got a bit of a schlocky monster movie vibe, and I don't think that would carry over if they were a bunch of cartoon animals.

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How about just using humans that look like they're from the same franchise as Sonic?

I mean, Looney Tunes has about the same human/anthro ratio, the reason it doesn't look out of place is because the humans have the exact same stylisation as the anthros, rather than say every human besides Elmer Fudd being photo realistic and serious.

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22 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Because in a relatively serious situation, a Sonic-styled cartoon animal police force feels more out of place for me than human police. As it is, it's got a bit of a schlocky monster movie vibe, and I don't think that would carry over if they were a bunch of cartoon animals.

Actually I can see your point with that of the scene having a b monster movie vibe which I've never really thought about before. I'm not actually against the idea of having the human police (as long as they aren't super realistic looking like in that SA1 recreation, fuck no to that, also their weapons should be at least a tad more silly) at all, I don't think it would be impossible to still make it have that sorta cheesy vibe with animals though but I see where you're coming from. 

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I've seen many shows where using laser guns to shoot does make a situation seem more dangerous depending on how the scene is. I have to agree with Dio that maybe putting laser guns would make it more serious since well, laser guns are more advanced than handguns and if you need that much power, the situation must be dire.

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The presentation is indeed the biggest issue with that remake. Cops/Military with weapons does not seem out of place in the Sonic universe. No one cared when Sonic X did it, no one cares whenever Archie does it. The only difference between them being that they actually looked like they fit in the world. I think a fan made SFM remake using preexisting models should not be a part of the argument. Games like Sonic Unleashed show that Sonic Team knows how to blend Sonic and Humans in the same world. Hell, the entire purpose of Light Field in the Hedgehog Engine was to make Sonic's appearance in environments more natural looking.

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57 minutes ago, Mikyeong said:

I've seen many shows where using laser guns to shoot does make a situation seem more dangerous depending on how the scene is.

Actually... that's not why they do it. It's an age rating thing.

If you have a cartoon which shows 'guns' being fired, it can't be broadcast at certain times, but lasers are usually ok since they're completely fictitious.

It's like how in the 90's spiderman cartoon, aside from the super villains, technology is quite '90's except for the police who are armed and readily fire laser pistols. I think the 80's/90's turtles suffered from this, for some reason I think in an early episode a machine gun is fired, then in later seasons the bullets are replaced by lasers. 

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3 hours ago, Mayor D said:

Actually... that's not why they do it. It's an age rating thing.

If you have a cartoon which shows 'guns' being fired, it can't be broadcast at certain times, but lasers are usually ok since they're completely fictitious.

It's like how in the 90's spiderman cartoon, aside from the super villains, technology is quite '90's except for the police who are armed and readily fire laser pistols. I think the 80's/90's turtles suffered from this, for some reason I think in an early episode a machine gun is fired, then in later seasons the bullets are replaced by lasers. 

Same thing with Sonic X in america and Yu Gi Oh I believe. But either way lasers are more powerful even if they are seen as kiddy. In scifi series like Star Trek or Star Wars you'll see them used for the actual sake of being futuristic, but thats about it. That's the only time you really see lasers used as a serious thing.

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Something I feel is worth mentioning for the sake of conversation is that every series comes with a number of expectations when it comes tonality which stem from a variety of places, including but not limited to historical precedence and cultural perceptions of the ideas.  As mentioned, the original TMNT comics may have been dramatically darker than the subsequent TV show, but those particular comics never reached mainstream appeal.  Thus, the expectations for Ninja Turtles in the mainstream is something generally lighthearted and kid-friendly, because when most people think "Ninja Turtles" they think the cartoon from the 1980's.

Batman was also used as an example in the OP, but actually, despite how dark the comics may be, even Batman has some boundaries that people think is going too far.  The Joker cutting off his own face in the New 52 was criticized by fans as being too dark (as well as too ridiculous) to the point where many fans hoped that DC would just silently retcon it out of existence.  Some of the violence in Flashpoint was also criticized as being a little too heavy, particularly the violenced aimed at children.  Can't speak for everyone, but I certainly thought the New 52's original take on Batgirl started out okay until they started forcing a Silent Hill-esque horror comic direction EVERY issue, making it less adventure-oriented and more about the characters going through the most grim and unpleasant of violent situations with little in the way of rhyme or reason.  Granted, I feel that a lot of my perception is shaped by the way I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and not the comics, but still.

While I think it's true that more serious stories have become taboo as a result of Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic '06 bombing, I don't feel like some of the disdain from that direction was exactly far off.  It's not that I'm against some of the subjectmatter that was presented in Shadow the Hedgehog; in fact, I think Shadow the Hedgehog's overall message (that Shadow's past does not define him) was actually the better part of the game.  I do think it's easy to see where the discontent comes from, however, when it's such a radical shift in tonality from a series that is generally colorful and relatively lighthearted, even in the grimmest moments.

The story book games and Sonic Unleashed, in my opinion, provide a decent middle ground for dark and lightheartedness, but then I may only be saying this because they're more light than dark.  But I feel like the fact that these games were weighed down with badly-programmed gameplay mechanics made any game with weight and reasonable duration seem critically and financial domed for failure from  the perspective of the developers.

Basically, what I'm saying is, I'm not against "serious" stories, but I do think  there are limits to what defines it.  There are certain things that people look for in certain media, and I feel like Shadow and '06 sort of betrayed that expectation.  At the same time, I don't think that's justification for some of the blunders the more recent stories take on.  Even as a fan of modern Sonic, I still find it questionable when a plot point is introduced and immediately dropped, or when the plot becomes relatively black and white in terms of characters, and that's not exactly something that recent games have really improved upon.

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6 hours ago, Nepenthe said:

Looney Tunes managed to feature human cops with real weapons without anyone complaining about a tone clash, and they're still funnier than Sonic games are.

One of my favorite looney toons shows is..." the looney toons show" which featured young granny in wwii fighting nazi's.

You can do weird tone shifts correctly, looney toons does ir alot.

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It comes down to what series you're trying to sell with what tone. Sonic more or less started as "Speedy cartoon hedgehog who fights against fat manchild scientist." Bright and colourful backgrounds are how half of the game looks, with some more, for lack of a better word let's say, more serious places where the stakes are up still have some vibrant colours to them. A good story can balance different kinds of tones even when sticking to the one tone. So all the Mega Drive era games are always fun and simple looking games, and as the games progress, the stakes raise a bit. (I would hope any of that makes sense. I'm not that great explaining things)

Sonic Adventure tried telling a full story, because why not? It's a big event, so you want it to be a big(ish) story. So some of the usual story stuff you'd come to expect and some big serious story elements in places. And Sonic Adventure 2 was meant to be seen as "The last possible Sonic game" at the time, so they went with all the stops with what people liked in SA1 and expand on that kind of element more so. If these stories were just the exception rather than the norm, that might've been fine. People wanted it to be the norm, and you know how that worked out.

I might also be remembering this wrong, but I think what they were trying to focus on at the time was attracting their older teenage audience who grew up with Sonic/or latched onto SA2 thru the Gamecube, rather than attracting more kids to play these games. (Also, a lot of these people grew up with SatAM, SA2, Archie, etc, so I guess the serious and dark storytelling was the norm for them rather than the exception) So it was all adding in all the stuff the teenage audience wanted in their games (forums, polls, comments, stuff like that) so they tried to appeal to their audience. Mixed reactions came out of that. It's also good to mention that this was mainly reserved for their big console games, as the odd spin-off (especially handheld) barely touched on that tone or go into story in general.

(I'm starting to feel I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make)

Bad story writing and presentation was a problem for those games, yes. Lots of people kept complaining they didn't like them. So a change in tone was needed, and everybody praised Unleashed, Colours and Generations for having a better presentation befitting Sonic (nothing grim like, a lively atmosphere, some serious moments mainly reserved for the end of the games, all that). It's only after Lost World came out (with a story fully written by the people who mainly just wrote the dialogue for the previous games) that people started to feel like they're not getting anything out of it. And the "Super Mario" settings threw people off a lot. And it's that game that sparked this whole debate. (That, and maybe Boom and Runners. One can say Rise of Lyric tried to be the kind of tone we're talking about here, but you know.)

(Also, some examples of shows with different tones people were talking about probably don't work with Sonic here. Ninja Turtles was talked about. Batman is the rare exception of a character who can do both, but even then that's mixed. And its main premise is a man in a costume fighting all kinds of crime. Transformers is the same, mainly because it's about war in general. Same with Avatar. Secret of Nimh and Watership Down are used as examples of with animal characters taken in a serious setting, but that was the setting it started out and put itself into, if that makes sense. They tried doing that for Looney Tunes with Loonatics, and that was a real big tonal shift, it threw off people, due to the general premise of Looney Tunes to begin with. It all kinds of depends on the premise and how it started out, one could say.)

Not an easy topic to talk about or define what works 100% best. I personally feel that Sonic should still be a fun & lively game series, just a hedgehog and his friends having adventures and stopping a scientist from doing bad in colourful locations full of comical looking robots. Does it need deep story telling? Not really. Could it benefit from moments of risen stakes, drama, horror, heartwarming moments and the such? In small doses here and there, they'd help. So one would prefer the tone of say a Saturday Cartoon show or maybe even a Disney movie than trying to be a teen aimed comic book or epic blockbuster. Something for general audiences, if you will. For the whole family.

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Sonic's character design limits the boundaries of how serious things can be pulled off, not if they are done at all. ST's writers had no idea what they were doing when they had the characters pulling chaos emeralds out from behind their backs like Bugs Bunny with a sledgehammer. Like don't they understand that the whole reason Loony Tunes characters do that is because of how completely ridiculous it is? These were serious moments, ruined by misplaced cartoon antics. 

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Hammerspace is a trope almost as old as visual storytelling has been a thing and has been used in both serious and comedic context.  Using it to justify the comedic tone or discredit a darker tone is... well, not a very compelling argument, especially given that it's an element that's often overlooked by the viewer outright.

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2 hours ago, Tara said:

Hammerspace is a trope almost as old as visual storytelling has been a thing and has been used in both serious and comedic context.  Using it to justify the comedic tone or discredit a darker tone is... well, not a very compelling argument, especially given that it's an element that's often overlooked by the viewer outright.

I always thought it looked ridiculous and burst out laughing whenever I saw it, but to each their own. 

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On 8/18/2016 at 5:12 PM, Mayor D said:

What exactly is so edgy about the following titles.

Sonic 1

Sonic 2 

Sonic 3?

The sense of action, speed, and the atmosphere the music creates.

If Sega were going for a cartoonish, "Lost World" sort of deal with those games, the music would have had a more whimsical feel. Music plays a large part in establishing the tone and mood of a scene. The music in the Genesis era was anything but cartoonish.

Chemical Plant was a rockin' beat like something you'd hear in a club.

The Boss music in Sonic 3&K was loud, frantic and intense. 

Ice Cap, Star Light, Aquatic Ruin and Sky Chase were calm and serene, which, IMO, just adds to the epic scope of the story. 

Death Egg, Sonic 2 Ver. In particular, was the most dramatic. Almost operatic. That felt like music you'd hear during a fight to the death (Obviously, Sonic had no intention on killing Eggman, but it helped set an intense tone.) Not to mention the fact you were battling him in a place designed for a pretty diabolical purpose: The robotic enslavement of all life on Earth. (Or did he just have a big laser he wanted to blow up the planet with? Either way, not good)

The last few levels of Sonic 2 had it looking as though Tails crashed in his plane (Dick move just ditching Tails there, Sonic. LOL) Then the ending implied both Sonic and Eggman died in the explosion. (With a pretty mournful tune playing)

Eggman didn't mess around in the Genesis titles. He used Knuckles to buy time, and once he was of no further use to him, He electrocuted him, then left him to die in a pit with Sonic and Tails. Knuckles didn't just brush off the injury either. You'll notice Knuckles hunched over and panting in the scenes following, as though he was injured. (He also bombed the crap out of Angel Island)

They still had their cartoonish charms, what with Eggman stomping at the end of Sonic 1, and the overall cuteness of the cast, but the Genesis titles were still an action-packed experience, with some plot twists here and there, and some edgy music. 

For the record, I am not completely opposed to comedy in Sonic, it should just be peppered in small doses, not plastered all over the story.

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6 minutes ago, Myst said:

Post

Your whole post is "Well the music, and Eggman didn't mess around."

Erm...

Also you bring up lost world as a counter point to stuff you don't like.  Then list Sonic 2's plane crash as a thing you do like...

But Lost World opens up with a plane crash.

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17 minutes ago, Myst said:

Eggman didn't mess around in the Genesis titles. He used Knuckles to buy time, and once he was of no further use to him, He electrocuted him, then left him to die in a pit with Sonic and Tails. Knuckles didn't just brush off the injury either. You'll notice Knuckles hunched over and panting in the scenes following, as though he was injured. (He also bombed the crap out of Angel Island)

How exactly is this edgy? There is a difference between edgy and serious. This was considered a more serious plot point in the story. Not edgy.

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The difference being with Lost World, It was the start of the game. A game we all expected to have a cute and silly flair. It was also handled differently than Sonic 2. In Lost World, Eggman used a tiny Jetsons style ray gun, while bickering with his two idiot robots.

With Sonic 2, it was the conclusion of the game. Eggman was retreating to his Flying Fortress, getting ready to carry out his plan. While it was offscreen, we can only assume He used some heavy artillery on Tails' plane, (given how large the lasers were, and how they repeatedly flew by at such a rapid pace.) The story was reaching it climax, so things were getting exciting at this point. We also didn't know what became of Tails until the ending.

28 minutes ago, Mikyeong said:

How exactly is this edgy? There is a difference between edgy and serious. This was considered a more serious plot point in the story. Not edgy.

Maybe 'edgy' wasn't the right word to use. I was trying to convey that Eggman was more devious then. Things had a different feel then as opposed to now with the focus on comedy and lack of danger.

38 minutes ago, Mayor D said:

 

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Maybe when you were 10 this was edge-of-your-seat stuff but nah nothing particularly dramatic happens in the classic games.  It's all pretty standard action adventure fair.  The twists and little cut-scenes in S3&K were good and I enjoyed them (I first played the game properly as a teenager AFTER getting back into the series via the likes of Sonic Adventure 2) but the point of this whole discussion was "Sonic has always been serious and dramatic!" and sorry but even Lost World is more dramatic than this.  S3&K is the overall better/more consistent story, but yeah if small events like Tails plane being shot down or Knuckles being betrayed by Eggman, Lost World can easily raise you the entire life being sucked out of the planet with Amy and Knuckles' fates unknown, and Eggman faking his own death.

As said the nuances of Lost World's story leave something major to be desired - actually makes me wonder if kids the age most fans were when the classics came out are much less discerning and really enjoyed Lost World's story.

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What makes the classics unique is that, for the relatively limited technology they had, they accomplished some pretty in-depth story-telling.  Lore was exposited subtly with background changes, and in a way similar to Half-Life (bar the fact that it's not from a first person perspective), many plot points are shown to you during actual gameplay.  For a 16-bit platformer, it was really inventive how they managed to convey the story without relying on text boxes (a la Super Mario World) or an overabundance of primitive cutscenes.

But for the actual plot itself?  There's really not much that separates it from pretty much every other action show in the late 80's and early 90's.  The "hero/major supporting character may be dead BUT IS HE REALLY?!" trope has been played out so many times that it's almost a cliche at this point, and it was cliche at the time Sonic 2 was released as well.  In fact, they played that trope straight in Lost World.  Twice.  If you want to argue how Sonic 2 handled the idea differently, though, we don't really know how Sonic 2 handled it differently, because there's no dialogue.  We don't have any reason to assume that Sonic didn't know Tails was alive, though it does make for a more interesting story to pretend that is definitely the case.

Basically, I feel like the Genesis games did a good job setting a tone and telling a consistent story, but the story being told isn't anything I couldn't get from an episode of Thundercats.

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Its 2016 and we still can't come to any agreement on an appropriate tone for this series, its great :V

So because I hate repeating myself, I'm gonna keep this short. I feel like people heavily define the series by which ever game they grew up with and mostly associate its tone with that point in time. So if you grew up in the 90's on the classics, then well of course you're going to prefer its grounded tone and straightforward plots as opposed to the more ambitious and complex plots that the series would become later on. If you grew up in the early 2000's (like myself :V) then you'd probably prefer those ambitious and complex stories as opposed to the simpler plots of old. So we kind of got this impasse of people trying to sell that their vision of Sonic is the "true" vision that Sonic Team should follow and not their opposition. And nobody wants to compromise...at all. Ever.

My stance hasn't changed if anyone has seen me post here for the past six years since I've joined. I just want something enjoyable that isn't offensively written and actually feels like an adventure starring Sonic the Hedgehog. But since nobody can still really define what that is, I'm just gonna indulge in some alternate media and comics books that satisfy my needs.

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19 hours ago, JezMM said:

Maybe when you were 10 this was edge-of-your-seat stuff but nah nothing particularly dramatic happens in the classic games.  It's all pretty standard action adventure fair.  The twists and little cut-scenes in S3&K were good and I enjoyed them (I first played the game properly as a teenager AFTER getting back into the series via the likes of Sonic Adventure 2) but the point of this whole discussion was "Sonic has always been serious and dramatic!" and sorry but even Lost World is more dramatic than this.  S3&K is the overall better/more consistent story, but yeah if small events like Tails plane being shot down or Knuckles being betrayed by Eggman, Lost World can easily raise you the entire life being sucked out of the planet with Amy and Knuckles' fates unknown, and Eggman faking his own death.

As said the nuances of Lost World's story leave something major to be desired - actually makes me wonder if kids the age most fans were when the classics came out are much less discerning and really enjoyed Lost World's story.

Whole planet? All we saw was a single grassy loam turn monochromatic and two bystanders get killed. We should have had more signs it was effecting the planet. Also, the lack of candy levels and world-weary jokes helped the old games.

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