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Was Sonic Ever Good? - A discussion of the popular narrative


Apollo Chungus
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I've been thinking for a while about doing a video about this whole idea running around at the moment that Sonic as a series was never good. That somehow, we were all duped and allowed a pile of filth to become so popular. That the series has such a bad reputation these days that the idea of it having simply fallen from grace seems unfathomable; no, it had to have been terrible from the start. However, every time I think about it, I can't form my thoughts into a coherent manner and I end up scribbling gibberish. So I thought I'd ask y'all to chime in on the topic, and possibly help me out.

For what it's worth, I think Sonic earned (and continues to earn) its fame. It's not flawless, no; it's had problems maintaining consistent gameplay direction and quality. But the series has had good games for most of its run, and at its worst is simply really divisive. I get that it's not for some people (which is absolutely fine, speaking as someone who's never enjoyed Mario), but it's the whole trying to impose a subjective opinion as objective fact that really pisses me off.

I may be cynical enough to believe that something crap can be successful if it has a popular name attached to it. But I'm not cynical enough to believe that something crap can become really popular without any prior fame. To become one of the most widely recognized names in gaming, Sonic had to have been good at some point. By that logic, the first few seasons of The Simpsons is total crap because most people don't like most of the seasons that came afterward.

Also, if Sonic was never good, why are we still talking about it? Why does this forum, along with many others and fansites, exist? Why do people make fanart, fanfiction, fan music or stuff inspired by this series? Why are games, comics, TV shows, merchandise and loads of other things still being made? We could be talking about literally anything else, but it's this series we choose to discuss. It must have struck something enough to remain in the public consciousness, instead of being forgotten long after the fact. Just a thought.

One more thing: if you try to shame people who enjoy the series in any way (yes, even sexually), you are a complete wanker.

Let the topic begin!

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I agree that its a false narrative. But maybe try to avoid the gibbering anger-- folks like the guys at Game Scoop want you to do that so they can get views. Instead, you should take a deep breath, go outside for a bit, then try to deduce the intent of the person expressing it. If the person is merely ignorant, feel free to engage. You'll probably get a good discussion out of it, if nothing else. If you have any reason to believe that the person is trolling, however, don't. That just encourages them, and you'll likely inspire future trolling attempts.

When its not trolling, however, its probably laziness. The average gamer isn't really putting a lot of research into Sonic nowadays, but still want to give an opinion. So they look at what popular users are saying and base their views on that. They also might not remember every aspect of their experience with Sonic when they were 90s gamers and thus base their assessment of its quality on what they like now-- this mostly affects titles like Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, which were great for their time but have aged horribly, though the classics get affected a bit as well. As a result, they lose sight of what makes Sonic so good and start to think that he's always been bad. And since they're not seriously considering their thoughts or researching, that thought sticks around and metastasizes. Alternatively, they're thinking of Sonic from a comparative perspective-- its not uncommon for gamers to claim that the only Sonic games worth playing nowadays are Colors and Gens, and believe me, any Sonic game is going to look slow in comparison to those titles. Therefore, Sonic has always been slow, and thus, bad. Even though that doesn't really make a lot of sense-- just because Sonic is faster in Colors than in Sonic 1 or Sonic Adventure 2 doesn't mean that he wasn't actually fast or satisfying to play as in S1 and SA2 at all. Judge games on their own merits, people. :P

I sometimes question just how bad Sonic's reputation is too. If you'd listen to the media, you'd be under the impression that Sonic is a horrible franchise and nobody in the gaming community likes him (except for morons). You'd think that Sonic makes Mega Man look squeaky clean by comparision. But provided that the game is properly advertised Sonic Rush Adventure and doesn't screw up too horribly Sonic 06 Rise of Lyric, Sonic still sells really well, which wouldn't happen if it were truly hated that much. Heck, if Sonic does truly well, Sonic products can still sell despite poor/limited advertising Sonic Colors Sonic Boom TV. Not to mention that Sonic still gets hype when the franchise does something great almost immediately rather than having to work for it, as demonstrated well by Sonic Mania. If the franchise as a whole had a rock-bottom bad reputation, it would have to work super hard to get any sort of excitement at all rather than collective sighs. You also have, as you mentioned, lots of forums and discussions relating to Sonic. And stuff still being made too. I mean, I'm not denying that Sonic's reputation isn't good, but I don't think its as bad or bleak as some would like you to think.

And yeah, shaming people for liking things you don't is bad. Don't do that.

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Speaking for myself, I'm going to say that anyone willing to make a case on why they feel the series was not all that it was cracked up to be, is an case I would be willing to give their narrative the time of day. Granted that their arguments are rational, I would be able to understand and respect their points, even if I (agree to) disagree with them (regardless on if it's a lack of compromise in the overall argument or specific points in their case).

Needless to say, it's those who don't adhere to this and declare "Sonic was never good" as if the public (at large) unanimously agreed on a long time ago, that you'll have to watch out for. Personally, I'd not really bothered to give those comments the time of day.

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This whole "sonic was never good" is really just a popular trend. Usually the people who are saying it don't know exactly why. Most of them are just being parrots, mimicking what a popular internet star/reviewer said without understanding the context of it. 

Secondly, it's cool to say negative stuff about sonic. It's what gives you views on YouTube and attention. Kinda like how it was once "cool" to hate on Twilight. 

 

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Look, anyone is free to hold the opinion that Sonic was never good, but like Kabalni said, there has to be a huge semblance of quality for why the franchise is so beloved today. People always like to come up with bullshit claims like "Sonic was only popular because of marketing", or "The only people who like Sonic games are autistic and/or furries", but it's not like Sonic was ever always this taboo thing that people have no idea how it was/is popular. People come up with such claims for clickbait, or to be offensive towards the fans.

If it were only marketing that drove Sonic to become an icon, I have no doubt that he'd be totally irrelevant today. Characters created for the sole purpose of competing with Mario/Sonic, such as Bubsy, have long since bit the dust because their games were trash and had no lasting appeal. Some may like to argue that Sonic is irrelevant, but it's hard to believe that opinion when he's been making cameos in major motion pictures and crossover video games lately, with great enthusiasm from fans and non-fans alike.

Yes, Sonic has bad games, but he also has good ones. So does every other franchise. It's like me saying "Mario was never good" and citing Mario Party 10 as proof. To me, it even seems blown out of proportion how "bad" certain aspects of Sonic games supposedly are. People say that the Knuckles missions in SA2 ruined the game, when that's far from the truth. Again, it'd be like me saying "Mario Galaxy was ruined because sometimes I have to use motion controls." I dunno, it's just frustrating sometimes that Sonic can have one or two bad aspects about an otherwise solid game, and just because it's Sonic, will get all kinds of shit for it.

tl;dr: Sonic has been bad, but it's also been very good. You can't say it's always been bad when there's so much preventing that from being true. Every franchise has its ups and downs. It just so happens Sonic has had quite a few downs.

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1 hour ago, Mayor D said:

I think some people take some YouTube personalities way too seriously.

eh? I think on some level there is merit. Youtube is as of currently what may publishers believe to be the most influential place in terms of sales of video games. Gaming specific sites have been on downtick for quite a while. So if a bunch of super influential people kept pushing the narrative that thing you liked was never good, and you littrally can't get a word in edgwise, because of how youtube works. Then, On some level its cause for concern..

Particularly if you are fan of certain aspects of the franchise that people continue to say suck with out explanation, whilst people eat it up.

I'm not saying take everything egoraptor says seriously, please god no. But I get being worried about it, and I don't think its something to be brushed off. Its a narrative being told to people. And subsequently affecting the product you have. And you can't change it unless you and everyone you know with simular thinking take to youtube, but you can't because welll... you might actually have shit to do during the day.

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Pardon for my bad typing as im on  mobile and had to respond. 

Yes Sonic has its bad points as well the dark ages being one of them and Lost World beeing seen as mediocre. However, Sonic has mostly been good. Most Sonic games have been critically acclaimed by most professional reviewers. He was referred to as a faster and better Mario. So to say Sonic was never good is a stretch.

also why are we still making game scoop relevant?

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While no, I do believe it's root games are genuinely good video games (whether or not for it's time or still holds up is still argument), I fully believe Sonic has been able to skirt by based on design alone. Sonic himself is a pretty masterful piece of design to tell you the truth. He's insanely iconic on image alone, and his core design (not talking about his 2 handfuls of design variants throughout the years) is incredibly likable by many. He's a striking balance of cool and cute and just in general aesthetically pleasing. Add this with 25 years of nostalgia and add the icing that he's from a still infantile era of video games, and we have this creature that's able to stand the test of time, no matter how good or bad his games are. Now that he has legacy, I'm pretty sure Sonic will stand throughout gaming history either until Sega goes under and decides to bring their company mascot with them to the grave, or video games are finally phased out of our culture for good. Though as I think, I guess if a generation of people come along and Sonic is not latched onto in the slightest, it could spell his death as well (ex. Popeye or Felix something of similar caliber, and even then they still lurk in the shadows).

And that's from a perspective where I don't hardly consider myself much of a Sonic buff anymore. Games are much more than the games themselves; they're pretty much a mashup of variant art forms to create something new with the level of immersion video games can offer. That said I don't think it's unfair to say that his design has been perfected enough to rival that of Mickey Mouse (and we all have heard before that he was even more recognizable than Mickey for a period of time).

So was Sonic ever good?

As of subjective as that is of course, I'd personally say yes. I think his combination of being unleashed to planet Earth at optimal timing and presenting an exhilarating new and fresh game we haven't seen before mixed with his stellar design has resulted in a well done product. The games aren't a broken mess by any means, are fresh and new for it's time of mixing pinball and platforming, and are visually/audibly unique. The thing is however, if you'd ask me, is Sonic was able to carry this momentum through design and nostalgia alone to coast out the rest of his history. Is that saying none of the games after the classic sets are any good? No not at all, but he hasn't been able to reproduce this "planet aligning phenomena" since, whether that be on wish-washy core gameplay, lack of advertising, change to the video game market, Sega dipping out of consoles, or even just being plagued by Sonic's own success story and failure to ever live up to it. Whatever may be the problem from game to game, his design has allowed him to stay relevant throughout maybe failed to mediocre attempts (in the mass public's eye mind you, I really don't mean to trigger anyone haha). Other 90's animals of the week that sought to replicate him hardly kept up, yet Sonic still sells pretty dang decently and managed to pump out games on a regular basis.

I guess all in all Sonic's problem has just been adaptability. I can't imagine every game is created equal in the sense of ever-changing technology, and it's impressive that Sonic can still manage to still hang on after an incredible list of games that try so many forms of gameplay. I guess that's the fun part of being a Sonic fan, is you have this underdog that you know isn't really going anywhere any time soon, and it's fun to sit on this roller coaster to see what is tried next and if Sonic will truly have worldwide phenomena ever again.

My two cents anyway, I hope it wasn't too deep looking or wordy or not really answering the question lmao

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I'd say you're on to something Tracer, I mean some fans have their preference on what they want Sonic to be but there are others like me who's more welcoming to different ideas to what SEGA has to offer in the next outing. After all, Sonic did do a lot of weird shit in terms of gameplay styles, story tones, art styles and SO MUCH MORE! All with their good amount of fans that like that certain idea, just sucks that some fans have to be up in arms that other people might not like what they personally enjoy instead of embracing all these styles over the years. Of course, some ideas are more flawed than others (06/Shadow/Storybook series, might as well add Boom and Lost World as well since those have been the most polarizing) but I don't think that really discredits that because it's severely flawed that they shouldn't be used ever again. Because if we're using that logic, then people shouldn't ask for game that's like the Adventures since let's be real here, the Adventure games had some serious flaws. But it's the Adventure fans that have been the most vocal but I guess that's because fans that like Boom, Classic and the Modern styles all got their fix but Project 2017 is shaping up to unify Modern and Adventure fans, which should've been the first place (because the Adventures are technically part of Modern Sonic) but hey, better late than never.

Definitely sure what I just said made no sense whatsoever but I put it out there and if people disagree with any of it, I don't really care to be honest. It's just how I feel.

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Video game critics and video game personalities will say what they want, and they will have an audience who listens and agrees. So they can say the stupidest things, and their audience will back them up. This results in our issue with Sonic. They say Sonic was never good, and the audience listens and agrees blindly. And their audience is usually pretty big. So therefore, everyone says Sonic was never good.

And because they blindly agree to these people, doesn't make them right. IGN shits on Sonic so much, yet they have positively reviewed quite a few of his games (Colours, Gens, etc). And YouTube personalities jump on the bandwagon and also say Sonic was never good so they can get views, likes, etc etc.

Really, the whole cause of this is attention. They want to be heard. And when they're heard, they'll say whatever grabs people's attention so they will continue to be heard, even if they don't know the topic. And it becomes pretty easy to notice it (cough GreenHillfromSonic2 cough).

In my opinion, Sonic was good, and still is. He has his ups and his downs, all franchises will. He was not "never good", it's just that his bad games stick out more than his good ones, because people always bring them up. Me, I couldn't care less, I'll play what I play. And at the end of the day, I'll likely talk more about my good experiences than my bad ones.

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11 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

Post

No there really isn't,

1 or 2 popular youtubers started saying it because they run a comedy show, people/fans of them took it seriously and now others are joining the band waggon for views and clicks.

 

Say it the other way, replace Sonic with any really popular franchise and you realise how stupid the notion is. Stuff which isn't good in gaming typically doesn't last 10 years, let alone 25. Even people who like to bash call of duty games or battlefield, for all the problems they have, you can't say they're not good, they are.

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1 hour ago, Mayor D said:

No there really isn't,

1 or 2 popular youtubers started saying it because they run a comedy show, people/fans of them took it seriously and now others are joining the band waggon for views and clicks.

...Do you think this just started happening now? Oh you sweet summer child. This has been happening for... a while now, years... maybe even a decade. The idea that this started now seems... a bit out of touch.

 

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Say it the other way, replace Sonic with any really popular franchise and you realise how stupid the notion is.

No people perpetuate the notion shit was never good all the time, I think some things were never good. But that's my opinion, its obviously good to some people, a great example being those transformers movies, something I don't think was ever good. Or are even good on a technically film making and writing level, but folks eat that shit up.

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Stuff which isn't good in gaming typically doesn't last 10 years, let alone 25

I can name some stuff that I don't think is particularly good or as good as something else that's lasted long, on the reverse, I can name stuff that I think is fantastic but has been changed/cut off before future products of the thing could be made. Longevity doesn't equal goodness. That's why( sorry if I did) never say those people are wrong, rather I argue their opinion.

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. Even people who like to bash call of duty games or battlefield, for all the problems they have, you can't say they're not good, they are.

considering a lot of cod fans seem to be bashing the newer games themselves and the sales have been on a steady decline for a quite a while, and battlefield the reverse. Not only is their own fanbase saying that in some regard, the people who were already saying that still are... its an opinion.

That's why my statement isn't " These people are wrong" its "Its a cause for concern" people can think whatever, their opinion is their opinion who cares. The only issue I bring up is those people have a venue to voice that to people and perpetate that opinion. And we are dealing with sega a company who deals with problems with a a hammer not a scalpel and sometimes not at all. And you could problably argue sega trying to desperately appeal to this " sonic was never good crowd" is how you end up with things like sonic boom and lost world, that latter really just trying to be a mario game in tone and in gameplay in many regards and the former trying to be the TMNT. And most recently all the disdain towards classic sonic in that 2017 trailer. And if you like sonic and don't like that, all i'm saying its a cause for concern. Because yeah ok, somoene doesn't like sonic... who gives a shit? But this narrative, is now you could argue effecting your product, sega effectively throwing you under a bus for an entire different audience who they would like to convince " Sonic was never shit" by... kind of making sonic something else. It directly effects the product you get in the end, and that's why I say its a cause for concern.

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Was Sonic ever good?

 

That's a redundant question. Any player born in the 70s or 80s who played the Sonic games released in the 90s had the same unforgettable experience with the games.

A bunch of retard kids bor in the 90s and 200s who only began playing Modern Sonic repeating incessantly that Sonic always sucked won't suddenly make it true.

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I feel like there's not really any use arguing with people on this issue. You can lead a horse to S3&K, but you can't make him play it. The only thing that's going to get people to drop it is Sega/Sonic Team getting their shit together and actually start putting out genuinely good games.

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25 minutes ago, Shadowlax said:

...Do you think this just started happening now? Oh you sweet summer child.

When you stop acting so condescending you might want to actually address my response instead of a long post which fails to even name a single franchise which has lasted anywhere near as good as Sonic where there is actual discussion as to if it was ever good.

And do I even need to ask you for examples as to when people where seriously asking if Sonic was ever good which date back to over 10 years ago as you claim?

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I don't think Sonic had any negative critics in the early '90s. In fact he rode this critical appreciation out well past his prime when both Adventure games and Heroes for frick's sake (which is an extremely average platformer) also got wonderful reviews probably because of the Sonic name. Sonic is most often cited as a series that took multiple missteps, but you really can't fall if you were never great to begin with, so... By acknowledging Sonic's fall reviewers are saying he was once great.

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2 hours ago, Mayor D said:

When you stop acting so condescending you might want to actually address my response instead of a long post which fails to even name a single franchise which has lasted anywhere near as good as Sonic where there is actual discussion as to if it was ever good.

And do I even need to ask you for examples as to when people where seriously asking if Sonic was ever good which date back to over 10 years ago as you claim?

I mean that in more of comedic fashion, but hey its text sorry if it came off condescending. Also for an example... everything. Everything has that question lodged against it. Not to sound rude, but what kind of question is that. Hold on I can do it right now " I don't think Dead or Alive was ever good Ever" Are you asking me to provide examples of people genuinely discussion the notion of something they don't like it its entirety, because that exists it has existed since the beginning of time. There are people who think halo was never good, or dynasty warriors, an example I actually provided ( or at least I think I did ), or heck Pokemon, there are a large contingency of people who think the games largely the same and nothing changes or evolves. Are legitimately asking question that is " give me an example of someone not liking something" because strait up i'm sorry that's actually a dumb question. Just go to neogaf, gamefaqs even 4chan and start of a thread " what video game franchises do you think were shit the whole time and provide a reason why " and then you will get the answer of your question. Almost everything in the world has the question " does this have any merit or did it ever have merit in the first place" lodged against it. That premise, that introspection is the birth of... probably almost every religion in the history of the world... so yes all things forever always have this discussion through out all time. So the premise of someone asking this about this franchise that you like... cosmically a spec of dust compared to the things that its been lodged against since the dawn of man questioning the world around him and isn't out of the question.

That's why the statement you quoted includes the phrase " so what if they don't like it, who cares" because there will always be people who don't like and seriously discuss the quality of an entire thing. Heck I had discussion about all of rumiko takahashi's works. All of them, and she's been at it longer than sonic, I don't think they are good on an art or written level,  and there were quite a few people who agreed with me.  What are you trying to ask here? Give examples of life?

As far as sonic goes? Plenty, the giant bomb guys specifically, jeff gertsman, actually asks what is sonic. Patric klepic as well when he was there, on of his I think it was called skips and the wolf I cought. Jeff says when talking sonic on multiple occasions, " what is sonic" he asks does sonic the old classic sonic and new sonic does that actually have merit. And what would make a good sonic game, and is that worth trying to explore. Heck the whole giant bomb cast crew asked that about the concept of megaman after mighter no 9 was released. Asking whether something was ever good or had merit is in itself, not a bad thing. Its introspection, it trying to understand how something works from your perspective. On another note there are so many countless examples of people shitting and questioning sonic you and I both know trying to aggregate them all here is a futile effort. So please forgive me for my solitary giant bomb example, for I do not have That much free time.

Thanks

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1 hour ago, Shadowlax said:

That premise, that introspection is the birth of... probably almost every religion in the history of the world... so yes all things forever always have this discussion through out all time. So the premise of someone asking this about this franchise that you like... cosmically a spec of dust compared to the things that its been lodged against since the dawn of man questioning the world around him and isn't out of the question.

This nihilistic navel gazing you constantly throw into your arguments is tiresome and annoying. Never mind I've forced myself to read your posts numerous times and I can't help but think you're missing the point of what's being said just because you need something to add in your "who cares" attitude. Cut it out.

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1 hour ago, Zaysho said:

This nihilistic navel gazing you constantly throw into your arguments is tiresome and annoying. Never mind I've forced myself to read your posts numerous times and I can't help but think you're missing the point of what's being said just because you need something to add in your "who cares" attitude. Cut it out.

He asked a question, a broad question. I answered it. I don't know what you want me to cut out here, that question has been asked of everything and asking it about sonic isn't anything special at all.
If you don't like my comments personality that's fine, but I haven't a damned clue what you want me to cut out. The definition of nihilistic is to reject everything and to say its meaningless I specifically say in that post the parts that you cut out that the reason people ask these questions is to find meaning, I specifically give examples of these questions being asked of other things and I give plenty more examples of people questioning things but deriving how they feel about these things. I never said everything was meaningless, the closest thing that states that is " So what if someone doesn't like it who cares" outside of that, no. Largely my statement can't be called nihilistic at all. So if you don't like my post that's fine, but I ask you to actually talk about indepth what you dislike about the post specifically, because all you are doing is throwing the word nihilistic out there and using it incorrectly in reference to the post you are quoting.

Sonic isn't special in the regard of his quality and his merit being question, me saying that doesn't equate to in any regard everything being meaningless. And all its suggests is maybe in reference to that question maybe we should all calm down a bit.

 

Edit: also there is no "who cares" attitude for the most part. Because in the earlier posts, dont know if you actually read those or not, but in those im specifically saying why you should care. The other person is specifically talking about the op and many others taking youtube personalities Too seriously. And my argument was there is a cause for concern not for his merit questioned but because so many people are comming up on the tail end if their introspection negative. And how that may effect the franchise going forward. Acknowledging that he like many other peices of art, hell entire artistic mediums in the prospect of being questioned isnt exactly unique, explicitly implied he , sonic, matters and is worth questioning and being concerned over. So thats why I question your nihilism statement, because my argument by virtue of caring implies im not nihilistic about the subject

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