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What has kept Sonic alive after all this time?


Razule
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As you know, Sonic has had a rocky time over these past 26 years, with games like Rad Mobile, Sonic Eraser, and Sonic Labryinth. The games have even dropped in sales in recent years. With the latest game out, Sonic Forces me to consider.. what exactly it is that has kept Sonic alive all this time?

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His design. Literally that is what's kept him above water all this time, him being an established icon and a worldwide phenomenon similar to The Simpsons is what kept him from becoming a Bubsy or a Gex.

In the early nineties more kids knew who Sonic was than Mickey Mouse. It was pretty clear he was sticking around for a while no matter the quality of his media. 

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> When even a SSMB topic starts with “Sonic has had it rough these years”. :U

Anyway, it’s his appeal, cast & aesthetic, despite the quality of the games, many fans show loyal devotion to the series such as music, fanart, game projects, which are the tip of the iceberg.

There’s also plenty of other media such as the comics and tv shows which many get into to enjoy the characters, humor etc.

The characters themselves have great and colorful designs with loads of charm to a lot people including me.

As Shroom himself said, Sonic has great charisma and character which are why many and remain by him.

Spoiler

also twitter memes

 

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Why the heck are an obscure puzzle game that barely anybody has heard of and an otherwise unrelated racing game where Sonic appears as an easter egg the first games that pop into your head when you think of bad Sonic games...?

Anyway, I'm thinking it's a combination of Sonic initially being huge in his early years and the dedicated fanbase.

If Sonic debuted to lukewarm reception and struggled to catch on for example, he'd probably be seen as just as obscure as the likes of Bubsy today.

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8 minutes ago, Ernest-Panda said:

Why the heck are an obscure puzzle game that barely anybody has heard of and an otherwise unrelated racing game where Sonic appears as an easter egg the first games that pop into your head when you think of bad Sonic games...?

That's the joke

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I was gonna just issue a "he has the odd good game" statement here but

3 hours ago, Razule said:

As you know, Sonic has had a rocky time over these past 26 years, with games like Rad Mobile,

Diss Rad Mobile again.

I dare you.

I double dare you, mothe- 

Anyway, yeah. The brand itself is relatively strong (I swear Sonic's more of a fashion icon than a game character over here nowadays) and it's arguably still SEGA's biggest series in the West. That, and what Dio said. Heavily-character driven series leads to lots of attached fans, regardless of game quality.

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Honestly, it probably mostly the concept. Even with execution issues, its hard to deny that "blue hedgehog goes fast, beats the crap out of evil scientist's robots" is a highly effective formula for attracting and engaging an audience, judging by how Sonic caught on like wildfire when his first games came out, especially in, though not limited to, regions that were ordinarily too poor to afford Nintendo consoles. Its quite a malleable formula as well-- if it exists, Sonic has probably got it officially for you to play and if the franchise doesn't have it then the fandom will happily provide it for you.

Its also quite evident that Sonic as a mascot and a character is brilliant-- cocky and full of attitude, but caring and friendly enough that he doesn't come off as a complete jerk. There's a reason that of the video game characters spawned from the fad Sonic started of sassy anthro animal protagonist mascots, only he and Crash are really around in any significant sense. Both of them, while obviously not without character flaws and quirks, are clearly caring and value much more than just themselves and being cool, which rounds them out and prevents them from being relegated to obnoxious relics of the 90s. Even in the worst written Sonic games-- may it be Sonic 06 or Sonic Lost World-- I never get the impression that Sonic is completely selfish or just a series of memes and catchphrases. Compare to Awesome Possum, whose personality is 90s "radicool" catchphrases. Or Bubsy, who comes off as very rude, annoying, and selfish as the games do little to suggest that he really cares about more than just himself.

Given how a lot of platformers tend to derive a lot of influence from Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario 64, it can also be refreshing to see a different take on the platformers, one that's more about maintaining your flow and getting top speeds than precision platforming. There's not a lot of franchises like it either that are still going strong after the collapse of the Sonic clone fad, which makes Sonic all the better as an option. I find that this tends to be most pronounced with the racing spinoffs-- all of the Sonic Riders games as well as Sonic and Sega All Stars Transformed take strides not to be Mario Kart clones, and that can make them interesting and refreshing to play even if they have some problems. But other Sonic games, such as Sonic Rush, are aided by this as well.

And there's usually something to tide fans over when they're faced with stuff they don't like. Comics, animated television shows, merchandising, fangames, and buying something different from Sonic's very, very long line of games/comics/animations/merch/etc. usually does the trick. All of which, through being something many fans enjoy, continually remind fans that Sonic is not inherently bad, has not always been bad, and is not completely and forever irredeemable.

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An obsessive fanbase who can't seem to let go of the blue blue.

Somewhat joking aside, many of you have to remember of the materials like comics and TV to keep Sonic alive. Unlike Mario, Sonic is actually a fairly diverse franchise. I was genuinely suprised when I found out how big he was outside the gaming fandom. Plus, when you have a company who acknowledges things like fangames and actually is completely fine with it(Nintendo kappa) youve basically made a quite open fanbase for everyone to express in many different areas without a large fear of mass censorship. 

I personally think it's a miracle Sonic has lasted so long even in the early days of his career. Had a lot of shit games, games released on systems that failed, games that failed in general etc.

I say a major player was the rise of his merchandise, marketing and TV appeal. Probably would have died without that.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Shaddy the guy said:

Many of the games are good?

Many of them are not. 

@Diogenes really hit the nail on the head. The character of Sonic is very easy to recognise and enjoy, and the games don't actually have to be particularly good to succeed in giving the player a thrill. Job's done, audience is hooked. SEGA can cash in on the nostalgic aspect of the series too, and have done so successfully for over a decade. It's that goodwill and quick turnover of younger fans in particular that keeps Sonic alive, even if not relevant.

It's not going to last forever, though. If Sonic doesn't actually get good and stay good, the longtime audience and newer fans are going to move on to something else. In this year alone, I feel like Mania setting the bar for what Sonic can be when it's actually good has kind of damaged Sonic's ability to get by on mediocrity. If new Sonic games can be great, then why would you want to play a new game that's average at best? SEGA won't keep Sonic alive of they keep dishing out rubbish.

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The brand itself is still recognizable enough to attract potential customers, even though it has fallen off dramatically. And the Sonic series has always had appealing character design. Not well written stories, not excellent gameplay (for a long time, barring Mania) but literally just the Sonic character design.

That won't continue much longer however. Most people (i.e. people other than sonic fans) do not want to continually buy bad or even mediocre videogames and the series sales will continue declining as long as they have the current stigma that they do.

Edit: I kind of just repeated Blue Blood. But there you go.

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Id be harassed and insulted by mods if I posted this. 

7 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

The brand itself is still recognizable enough to attract potential customers, even though it has fallen off dramatically. And the Sonic series has always had appealing character design. Not well written stories, not excellent gameplay (for a long time, barring Mania) but literally just the Sonic character design.

That won't continue much longer however. Most people (i.e. people other than sonic fans) do not want to continually buy bad or even mediocre videogames and the series sales will continue declining as long as they have the current stigma that they do.

Edit: I kind of just repeated Blue Blood. But there you go.

Except even garbage Sonic games sell well. As long as the series doesnt add lootboxes they will be fine

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19 minutes ago, Sega of Japan said:

Id be harassed and insulted by mods if I posted this. 

Except even garbage Sonic games sell well. As long as the series doesnt add lootboxes they will be fine

"Well" is relative. For a supposed AAA franchise, Sonic games have not at all been performing strongly in recent years.

He's recognizable enough that on some level(niche), the games will always sell. But on a large scale? No. That is not guaranteed.

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6 hours ago, Sega of Japan said:

Id be harassed and insulted by mods if I posted this. 

How dare you express an opinion, you little tapioca-brained marmoset.

Seriously, though, it's not appropriate to say something like this in a public, unrelated topic. If you want to complain about how staff are handling things, please do so privately. PM a moderator or administrator. Don't drag it out in public.

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On 11/25/2017 at 1:59 PM, Diogenes said:

A rapidly fading stock of goodwill from his earlier, better games, a fanbase that's more loyal than the series deserves, and a fair amount of inherent appeal in the characters and gameplay concept.

To elaborate, exactly this. I think most kids and even adults pick up a Sonic game not because they think it'll necessarily be good so much as that it's unique and it COULD be good. Sonic is fast as Forza, but then he can also jump and bash into enemies and do crazy loop-de-loops. It's so unique, really. And with the dearth of 3D platformers over the years, Sonic has lucked out by being one of the few. However this year has given us much better 3D platformer options and a much better 2D Sonic itself, so being 3D and/or a Sonic game in itself just isn't enough this time. It has to be GOOD. Sonic Forces has very little going for it. But I digress.

As for the characters themselves, audiences can look at them and know immediately what they're all about, even if Sonic Team loses sight. Sonic is free-spirited and reckless. Knuckles is more reserved and tough. Tails is a cute underdog who always pulls through. Fuck, even Vector the Crocodile communicates his leadership role through his design alone. In that way, they're very marketable. Also notice how half of these descriptions no longer fit the characters because Sega fucked that up too. 

 

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I also think it is the design and the overall presentation of the characters. The characters in general are actually one of the biggest reason, that kept fans interested in the series. The design of Sonic is really appealing to a lot of people. Kids, teens, young adults, girls, boys, furry fans, people who are in to characters with big feet etc. The design that Sega created for Sonic speaks to a lot of people. And because of that I think that this is probably the biggest reason, the series is still alive.

 

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Thinking about what would happen had our situation been different leads me to thinking about a lot of unfortunate implications for any future scenario I can come up with.

If Sonic were to go to a different company or development team, permanently, for instance, there's a high chance we'd lose a lot of what we like about the series's aesthetic and the way we individually feel it should or could function. The idea of giving it to Nintendo gets tossed around a lot by people whose thought process only goes as far as "Nintendo makes good games. We give Sonic to Nintendo then they'll make good Sonic games". Suffice to say, I wish that were how it worked but even as someone who doesn't play a lot of Nintendo games, even I can tell that the thought process that goes into making a good Nintendo game that works off of everything their world and characters have to offer is far different from what I grew up with wanting out of a Sonic game. I often site that the differences between my experiences playing Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Super Mario Sunshine are the reason I became a Sonic fan in the first place. It's true that Sonic Team hasn't been able to replicate that feeling to a T for YEARS now but with them handling the series I'm at least semi-confident that the way it's set-up is relatively something that has the potential to stick around even if they don't know how to fully capitalize on shit anymore.

Changing hands tends to lead to a lot of things getting lost in the shuffle though. The fate of those IDW comics goes up in the air. The potential for more TV shows goes up in the air (petty concern I know. Just let me worry about dumb stuff okay?). The potential for the characters, I feel, may actually decrease to a point where it's far worse than what Sonic Team is doing. They don't even put Luigi in main series Mario titles and he's basically Mario's version of Tails right? However, there's always rumors getting put out that if you press this button here or go to this location you can find Luigi in Super Mario Odyssey. Or if you jump through this arbitrary hoop you'll find Luigi in Super Mario 64. Or if you spray this point on the wall you'll find Luigi in Super Mario Sunshine.

No you won't though. You'll find Mario, Peach, and Bowser. That's it. There was that one time they put Bowser Jr. in a main series game but that was just to introduce him so he could do nothing but appear in spin-offs from then on. Granted, Mario has a much wider range of beloved genres he dives into that allow for them to actually shine in those spin-offs on top of the fact that no one (as far as I can tell) really gives that much of a shit about storytelling in a Mario game and in turn (I have to assume) probably don't care too much if they're not used in the main series titles a whole lot because of it. Maybe when it comes to the RPG series but... I wouldn't know. It might just be that seeing them appear is a novelty in and of itself and... I'm sorry but when it comes to Sonic, that's just not happening. I refuse to accept that as the thing I have to look forward to when it comes to them all, especially after growing up with so much media that capitalized on story-telling (good or bad) to get across to me that these were the kind of characters that were supposed to be used in actual narratives and not as pin-up models for your marketing.

It's kind of one of the things that infuriates me about Forces so much. That's exactly how the characters were used. As pin-ups for the marketing. On the outside looking in, you'd think they'd have more in store for us considering the bad guy line-up and the good-guy line-up. All these characters with all this baggage and potential for back and forth, betrayal and hi-jinks, going at each other in a war for the ages. It sounds like something that no matter what, even the laziest of development teams would have no choice but to utilize for something interesting. Or at the very least try and be something that felt grand and epic even if it wasn't that good of a narrative.

But they couldn't even do that.

It's one of those unfortunate situations where they have EVERYTHING they could possibly want and need to create something cool and they just don't do it. Why? I dunno. It's too much hard work I guess. We're Sonic Team and we're sick and tired of Sonic. We just want to be complacent now. Design a bunch of beautiful environments for the player to speed right by and not fully appreciate because we've got this boost formula that "works". It definitely "works" alright. Before Forces it at least felt like it was doing a little more than "working" though. Now it's just... functioning. That's it. 

It's seriously the most frustrating thing imaginable. It's like if I was sitting on a literal gold mine but I didn't want to do anything with it because the process to convert gold to money sounded like it was a really hard thing to figure out how to do. 

I mean... there's a small chance that should it be given to someone else they could start where Sonic Team left off and just make it better but the chances of that happening are blegh. The chances of them losing Sonic are even less than that. 

Ironically, the chances that Sonic Team could actually get their shit together feels more plausible than anyone coming by and saving this franchise to me. And that's an incredibly dismal feeling because the chances of Sonic Team getting their shit together are less than 0% for me after I was treated like a fucking puppet leading up to Sonic Forces. 

It still astounds me just how useless and arbitrary and pointless all that arguing and discussion about Forces leading up to it's release ended up being. It amounted to almost  nothing. 

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