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Sonic and the Monkey's Paw


Blacklightning
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The Monkey's Paw is a pretty old concept, first written in the very early 1900's and has spread around in various parodies and references since. It goes a little something like this - you have an enchanted monkey's paw with three fingers, and each finger represents a wish for its owner. The problem is that it has caveats - it does grant wishes, but in such a manner that the end result is ultimately undesirable if not downright horrifying. For example, in the original story, the first wish is for £200 to make a final mortgage payment, but rather than simply summoning money out of thin air, his son dies at a factory and the factory owner pays him the £200 out of pity - he technically got what he asked for, and in the Monkey's Paw stereotype that's all that matters to it, consequences be damned.

Some of you might be wondering why I'm bringing that up in reference to Sonic of all things, and that's because it's the perfect analogue for how Sega handles critique and demand - they're known to make games and mechanics in direct response to these, and yet do so in a way that misses basic, fundemental points behind the implementation thereof. They have a pretty long history of this now, stretching back to the days of '06 if not even earlier. Shunting other playable characters to the wayside as a means to alleviate genre roulette, and then pulling the same bullshit in the very next game anyways with the advent of the Werehog. Making more games in the same vein as the classics, and failing to recreate even the most basic concepts of inertia that made them fun to play. Trying out parkour, but by means of mechanics and handling that somehow manage to be more janky than games made a decade prior. And more recently, kowtowing towards demand for a self-insert character, but accomplishing that on an aesthetic level alone and slapping every character regardless of context with a gun.

Now obviously, as far as we know Sega isn't explicitly cursed to interpret requests in a way that specifically pisses people off, so it begs the question - how do they consistently manage to fuck that specific part up every time? Are they just lazy? Is there a language barrier involved? Does the executive branch just simply not care about the end result as long as there's money involved? I doubt there's a solid enough look into the company culture lurking around to give us a cement answer, but I thought it might be interesting to discuss the factors that could lead into that. For as much shade was we give Sega and Sonic Team for simply missing the point, I don't think it really gets discussed enough around here. What do you think?

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I'd say the biggest problem is that the team doesn't seem to understand their own franchise anymore. Everything they do screams of a group who only has the most surface level understanding of what everything means or does, or just simply doesn't care to understand anymore and just wants to churn stuff out in hopes that something appeases what they might see as a relentless horde of hostility.

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1 hour ago, SenEDDtor Missile said:

I'd say the biggest problem is that the team doesn't seem to understand their own franchise anymore. Everything they do screams of a group who only has the most surface level understanding of what everything means or does, or just simply doesn't care to understand anymore and just wants to churn stuff out in hopes that something appeases what they might see as a relentless horde of hostility.

This especially, like everything happening in forces screams of it. A bunch of interesting ideas that could be their own video games ( one already is in the form of mania ) thrown together in an unfitting manner because... it doesn't seem like they understand any the individual elements both gameplay or narrative that make things things tick

On top of their non understanding, or denial of the situation their in. Whether it trying to shield incompetence or genuinely trying hold an air of mystery, the mystery they are attempting to create no only seems to be failing unearned. Teasing a mysterious game is earned when you are putting out good enough on a consistent basis to draw that it. Sega isn't doing that.

And they had this interview where they want people to ask why, but all the why's people seem to be asking seem to be in question of the questionable quality of this game, rather than interest in the product. People ask why classic sonic is in the game and why is shadow a bad guy, the developers say they want you to ask these questions, but people aren't asking because that's draw. They are asking because next to the real classic sonic game you released, classic sonic in this game is showing you complete non understanding of what made classic sonic work. And its been a while since characters besides sonic have been important and did cool shit, and you made one bad guy because you are so not confident in your abilities to create new interesting content like a new not shadow boss fight to stand on its own you broke out two " bad guys" to inplace of having to create one. This whole game seems like a " greatest hits " but being played through a broken record player creating a distorted warped sound vaugeley reminding you of tunes from a better time, but its so warped you regret even trying to take that trip through time. 

I hope i'm wrong, but i'll be damned if since teaser 1, nothing they have shown has made me feel better in the pool of unease this game caused. And its only gotten worse realizing that it was much deeper than i actually thought and i'm in the middle of an ocean dissapointment. 

I say this as a person who's favorite sonic character is now playable again

1 hour ago, Soniman said:

They're bad developers.

Not exactly news but im gonna predict this is gonna be the most given answer that will crop up on this thread lol

Also this

Time didn't help, not only did they make the same mistakes, they went back and made old mistakes. They brought out mistakes you through they had moved past, no they didn't learn from them, they just wanted enough time so you might fall for the okiedoke again.

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What really gets to me is ST's bratty and sarcastic way of addressing criticism. Once the formula for proper Sonic gameplay was wrecked by mixing in poorly fitting styles attached to select characters (Big, Knuckles, etc), players unsurprisingly complained. Sega or Sonic Team could not have dealt with these pleas any worse; they hear "we hate the new characters for how they play, original Sonic gameplay was best" and so they respond by excluding EVERY character except Sonic, with the rest of the hero cast there in small ways (all while having Sonic use the polarizing styles anyway). Then they go bring back about all of the hero characters at once into a game yet still only Sonic is playable. Outrage continues and Sonic Team acts cross-eyed, saying "hurr we don't understand what the problem is we did what you said hurr"

They overcompensate for the backlash against Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 (and to a lesser level the Sonic Adventure games) with their edgyness and focus on human characters (namely Elise) by making the Sonic franchise after sorta reboot Unleashed awkwardly self-aware or otherwise wonky in tone. Next we have the Two Worlds retcon (that also has doses of Iizuka being territorial).

They can't seem to swallow their pride and admit their passive aggression, bitterness, territorial behavior or whatever is pushing their actions. The key is careful moderation. The Genesis Sonic Trilogy each introduced one new character, who followed the more or less the same gameplay but had a couple of different tricks to spice things up. Eggman was a goofy villain but he wasn't getting upstaged by New Edgier Villian #3939 and could certainly present himself as a menace to the world. The games always had some silliness to them but the characters were still taking what they did seriously.

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1 minute ago, knuckles20 said:

I think it's a mix of Sega going to extremes with criticisms and being unable to understand their fanbase (not everyone loves classic pandering).

How will sega go to extremes next time? An official version of Sonic World?

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There's probably multiple factors working together, but I'd guess the two biggest factors are the series' lack of a coherent identity, and an inability to properly develop and refine ideas before they're finalized for a game.

For the former, we all know how divided people's opinions are on what Sonic is supposed to be, and how twisted the series has become both due to trying to meet those expectations and its own bizarre experiments. But it's hard to pinpoint exactly where they dropped the ball, and in some sense it may have been building up in the series from the start. We had a split in the Eastern and Western continuities starting with the original game, a divide in gameplay and aesthetic styles between 2 and CD, the Western cartoons and comics establishing their own radically different continuities, the lack of a core game on the Saturn encouraging the next game to be a sort of "revival", SA's heavier story focus and scattershot gameplay styles, SA2's severe shift in tone and storytelling, Heroes largely rebounding away from that tone, then ShtH and '06 and...well, you know the rest. Looking at it like that makes you wonder how the series held itself together for as long as it did. And now we're at a point where they seem to be trying to appeal to multiple groups with radically different expectations, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes in turn, and it just doesn't work. They've got no idea how to manage the fractured fanbase that they've inadvertently built up and no confidence in picking a direction themselves.

For the latter, regardless of high-level issues like identity, the series has a lot of problems just getting games that function properly. Whether it's apathy, incompetence, or just not having the development time to do it right, we're not seeing the effort and hard work that it takes to make good games regardless of what kind of game they're making. This has ranged from games which don't function properly at even a bare minimum level, to games saddled with bizarre gimmicks, to games that sound like they could work on paper but just don't come together in the end. With such a wide range of failures I have to think there's something deeply wrong with how they approach making games; fundamental problems just do not get caught and dealt with the way they do with any decent developers.

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