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Scritch the Cat

What exactly defines "Classic" and "Modern" Sonic?

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I'm asking because it seems to get quite a lot of talk here and here.  Certainly, Sonic Generations introduced the idea of them being officially distinct entities, and in the case of Classic Sonic, he's pretty clearly Sonic from before the redesign he got for the Adventure series.  Going still more retro, present day depictions of Classic Sonic seem to favor more of Naoto Oshima's original vision for the character than the sort of adjustments the late Greg Martin made to him in America, while a lot of the things Martin introduced, like darker blue fur and more prominent facial bones, have carried on more in Modern Sonic.  On that note, though, what's Modern Sonic, exactly?  It isn't exactly convenient to say Modern Sonic is Sonic since his redesign, because...which redesign?  There have been several since the first on the Dreamcast.  So if "Modern Sonic" refers to anything other than "The design used for him roughly from Sonic Generations onward", then what, exactly is it?  Is there a definitive gameplay trope that defines Modern Sonic?

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In terms of gameplay tropes, Modern Sonic is typically 3D and has a homing attack. And Modern Sonic is from Adventure 1 onwards. His design from Adventure 1 onwards, compared to Classic Sonic, is slimmer and taller. And he has green pupils, and his shows have grey soles.

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Classic Sonic is the Sonic from the beginning to the Sonic Underground cartoon and include Mania into there and I guess Generations and Forces too. What makes Classic standout is that he's primarily a 2D gaming character that has some experimentation in 3D with subpar results, most promising was the Sonic World miniworld in the Saturn's Sonic Jam compilation. Classic Sonic has a strong and well established gameplay design that puts a fine balance between speed and platforming with bits of exploration to intrigue and reward the player to take the time to explore the level.

Modern Sonic is much more vague than Classic because Modern has went through various iterations in not just media (I'm not including Boom since it was pre-established as its own entity and is marketed as the third branch of the Sonic brand) but in the main series games itself. But if we have a pin a point where Modern began, it started with Sonic Adventure (I guess Pocket Adventure sorta counts but it was a pretty forgettable handheld Classic throwback game that barely anyone played at the start so is it really necessary to consider that the beginning of Modern?) and it's been going still into Forces (again, not including Boom). Modern has went through atleast 4 gameplay styles in its run so far in the MAIN SERIES GAMES ALONE, it'd be more if we're considering major spinoff games like the Storybook series and the like. The four gameplay styles is the Adventure Sonic gameplay, which is akin to the Classic gameplay but still a relatively young gameplay style that has yet to be fully explored IMO and is still in its infancy. There's the Heroes gameplay that returned in Shadow and was also done in 06, while it mashed the Adventure Sonic gameplay as well. Heroes' gameplay, team mechanics aside, focused a good amount on combat with limited moves with flatter and very lengthy levels. Then we have the Boost gameplay from Unleashed, Generations and Forces with Colors being the most different take on the style while including the Color Powers. Levels are almost always focused on going fast with very little platforming in Unleashed but got more platforming focus with Generations and Forces, from the looks of it, but Colors brought that platforming focus as the forefront to the Boost gameplay. And I guess what could consider as another spinoff take of the Adventure Sonic gameplay like the combat-heavy Heroes/Shadow gameplay, we got Lost World. Lost World was a very experimental game so it's a tad bit difficult to clearly define what was its main gameplay but from most of its major 3D/2D levels and ignoring the varying one/two-off extra acts, it follows the same level structure of Colors in its 2D stages while its 3D acts are more expansive but still follows the general level structure of the Boost games' 3D levels. It also introduces a Parkour system that sadly isn't given much focus given how Lost World's levels were designed.

But if we're going for a more a stylistic point of view of the 2 branches, that's a lot less words to describe.

Classic is mostly portayed as more cutesy and colorful but still relatively grounded and realistic, never going extreme in either direction. Just that right balance of surrealism. Because of technical limitations at the time, Classic is relatively light on plot has a sizeable amount of characters, thanks to the spinoff games of that era. But while it may lack on plot, its visual presentation was done exceptionally well to cleverly tell a simple story through gameplay alone ingeniously! 

Modern follows a lot of the more modern standards of gaming. For the most part, a pretty big focus on plot and graphical presentation. A wide variety of characters, some might say too wide but each to their own. And its art style tends to vary from game to game, it can take realistic locations but add a cartoony twist to it like the Adventures or be super realistic with it like in 06 and not gonna lie, Unleashed as well. Or it can be very cartoony like in Colors or Lost World (at times). Again, it's difficult to fully pinpoint on what is Modern Sonic when there has so many variations of Modern.

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If you're going for visual design and behavior, Classic Sonic is short, stubby, cute, has rubber red soles on the bottom of his shoes, has no colored irises, tucks his hands in when he runs and likes to curl into a ball alot. Modern Sonic is tall, lean, has longer spines, has gray soles on the bottom of his shoes, green irises, and throws his arms behind him like a ninja when he runs, usually uses parkour moves instead of rolling.

If you're going for gameplay, Classic Sonic is almost exclusively 2D with momentum-heavy platforming physics and pinball mechanics that blend together with a simple move-set (usually never more than 2 buttons) to create a gamefeel where you bounce on things and roll around through loops, slopes, ramps and corkscrews; speed is earned by timing jumps and avoiding obstacles skillfully. Modern Sonic is a mix of 3D and 2D running with guided setpieces in place to create a 'spectacle' experience where the flow is determined by near-QTE levels of stage design, gameplay ranges from extremely fast to dead-stop, following a "stop-and-go platforming" philosophy; 2D is often used for tight and meticulous platforming, 3D is often used for high speed boosting.

If you're going for aesthetics, Classic Sonic has the checkerboard hills, wacky alien-like environments, bright and colorful levels and usually keeps things believable without going too far into surreal or nonsensical worlds, save for Special Stages. Modern Sonic takes a bit of Classic's aesthetics but leans more towards real-world locations, usually with lots of cities, but sometimes goes extremely far to the other end of the spectrum and has completely bizarre locations with little context.

 

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7 hours ago, Azoo said:

Nothing.

Or at least nothing should define one from the other, but they do it anyway. You know how it is.

^Pretty much this.

Sonic Generations was a mistake.

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2 hours ago, Waveshocker Sigma said:

^Pretty much this.

Sonic Generations was a mistake.

Uhh no, both 2D and 3D sonic was actually well represented in Generations.

The different gameplay is understandable as classic sonic plays like classic and modern sonic plays like modern.

Generations is a great game and is the best of the 3D era, sure it has its flaws but its better than the motion control games or the Wii only titles.

Sonic colors is stuck in Wii land unless you emulate it.

No stupid werewolf, no guns, no having to hit a button to make sonic run like Lost world and no brokeness like 06.

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12 hours ago, Azoo said:

Nothing.

Or at least nothing should define one from the other, but they do it anyway. You know how it is.

I'd say that Classic and Modern exist because Sega hasn't been able to evolve the franchise successfully (also: hi, Sonic Boom!), unlike Nintendo with Mario or any other. If Modern Sonic didn't have so many average/mediocre games, his look wouldn't be identified by some fans as "the bad Sonic".

The classic gameplay was totally abandoned for a long time and replaced with new gameplays that were disappointing to many fans. And then came Sonic 4 promising a classic experience with modern Sonic design (like trying to tie both worlds). We know how that ended. Many fans took it as if Modern Sonic was messign the classic "perfect" essence.

Sonic Generations existed just to give some peace to the fandom, but it wouldn't have existed if Sega had found a proper gameplay that appeals to any Sonic fan.

The Classic and Modern stuff is a sign of old Sega's failure. And I say "old" because I want to believe they're changing now. Hopefully they find a way to join both Sonics. I'd embrace a new Sonic re-design, kind of between Modern and Classic, and I'd kill Classic, Modern and Boom forever.

Waveshocker Sigma and FFWF like this

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10 hours ago, MadmanRB said:

Uhh no, both 2D and 3D sonic was actually well represented in Generations.

The different gameplay is understandable as classic sonic plays like classic and modern sonic plays like modern.

Generations is a great game and is the best of the 3D era, sure it has its flaws but its better than the motion control games or the Wii only titles.

Sonic colors is stuck in Wii land unless you emulate it.

No stupid werewolf, no guns, no having to hit a button to make sonic run like Lost world and no brokeness like 06.

You're jumping to conclusions there, buddy. I didn't say Generations was a bad game. It was definitely good. (Though I don't consider it the best 3D game by a long shot.)

I said it was a mistake. By that, I mean the classification of "Modern" and "Classic" Sonic it introduced was a big mistake that's only done more harm than good ever since it came up, which is a big part of why this topic even exists and why Forces is considered such a mess.

Before, I only ever saw the two Sonics as merely two different art styles or two different ages, but they were ultimately the same character and I could see either doing whatever gameplay style.

I could imagine the Classic style Sonic in a 3D game like Adventure easily and I had no problem seeing Adventure Sonic in 2D thanks to Sonic Advance, which is a very good game.

But then Generations came about and tried to say "Classic Sonic is Genesis gameplay only and Modern Sonic is boost gameplay only", thus removing any potential for either to do anything else other than those two things at all. It's a huge shame, really.

It's like a not-so-accurate Genesis playstyle and mostly 2D and incredibly restrictive boosting playstyle are the only things Sega, Sonic Team and Iizuka can come up with because whenever they try to do anything else, like Lost World, they screw it up just by making some really bad yet really minor design choices that could have been avoided if they had just thought things out and planned better.

Maybe once they figure out what needs to be done, this whole "Classic vs. Modern" farce can finally end and they can go back to being one in the same thing and doing whatever they want, so long as it works.

But as much as I'm interested in Forces, if it's anything to go by...we just might need another outside team to do a 3D equivalent to Sonic Mania.

Lord-Dreamerz likes this

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