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How is Pontaff's writing viewed now?

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Seeing as Sonic Forces story is.....divisive and wasn't written by Pontaff, I was wondering, how do people now view Pontaff? Personally, I still dislike them as they make Sonic like Bubsy tone or something.

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I can't say I'm a big fan of their writing. Their work for stuff like the 3DS Boom games aren't that good (especially Shattered Crystals) and while they didn't wrote Forces, stuff like the torture and Tails saying "True Dat" don't really help the writing to me. With that in mind, I'm starting to realize that I can be too harsh on them. 

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They’re still pretty bad, even as localizers. They’re obviously not the blame for Forces mishandled and wasted potential in storytelling except for their bad localization lines.

But I’ll take any corny Japanese writing that actually bothers to put in some effort over their mess of childish jokes, lazy characterization, and overall half-assed writing any day.

I also find it amusing that people bashed Forces’ tone for the torture line before they were aware that Pontaff was the one who did the line in the first place, in the original script Sonic was only imprisoned so they unintentionally started to realize how terrible Pontaff’s dialouge is. :lol:

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Still don't like them. As undercooked as Forces' story was, I highly prefer it over Pontaff's stories which seem to progressively become worse every game.

I tolerated them with Colors, very disappointed with Generations and I said beforr how much I fucking hate Lost World's story. Let's not forget the Boom games which also fall into the trap of not explaining shit.

(Who could forget our good ol' pal, Cliff? What do you mean you don't know who he is?)

Pontaff seems to give less and less of a shit about the story as time goes on, while at least whoever wrote Forces tried to a degree.

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Forces biggest problem is that it can deliver what it promises, while dialogue can be really dry.

Stories by Pontac make fewer mistakes because they don't even try. And their dialogue isn't dry, just made of cringe-worthy jokes.

There are things I like in Forces. Epic Battle as the sun falls on us. The parallel between Infinite's origin and Avatar's arc of overcoming his fear. The premise itself. I have nothing nice to say about Lost World story.

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2 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

I have nothing nice to say about Lost World story.

I will admit that the way they tried to deconstruct Sonic's cocky by having it backfire and focusing on that was interesting. 

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4 minutes ago, RedFox99 said:

I will admit that the way they tried to deconstruct Sonic's cocky by having it backfire and focusing on that was interesting. 

....one good thing about Lost World.

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Forces' dialogue is far and away better than anything Pontaff has churned out since they started writing for the series. Besides a few questionable lines here and there, I think their script for Forces was a near-perfect mixture of seriousness and snark. If they can give us more work like this and less "Baldy McNosehair", I welcome their continued writing with open arms.

If not, they can hit the bricks.

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4 hours ago, Failinhearts said:

Still don't like them. As undercooked as Forces' story was, I highly prefer it over Pontaff's stories which seem to progressively become worse every game.

I tolerated them with Colors, very disappointed with Generations and I said beforr how much I fucking hate Lost World's story. Let's not forget the Boom games which also fall into the trap of not explaining shit.

(Who could forget our good ol' pal, Cliff? What do you mean you don't know who he is?)

Pontaff seems to give less and less of a shit about the story as time goes on, while at least whoever wrote Forces tried to a degree.

Why are you including Console Boom? They weren't involved with that.

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Just now, StaticMania said:

Why are you including Console Boom? They weren't involved with that.

They weren't? Could've sworn they were.

Okay, I take it back.

console boom still sucks, though. but that goes without saying

you can bet it on cliff's life, whoever he is

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19 minutes ago, SenEDDtor Missile said:

A friend of a friend got them in I think, if Roger van Der Weide's interview of Pontaff counts.

Wait, he actually interviewed the duo?

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Similar to what the voice actors over the years have experienced, I think the criticism they get is often far too harsh from the Sonic fanbase. They're decent writers who have made earnest attempts to tell interesting stories with the characters, and I think their ideas for Sonic Lost World have merit. What's hurting them is the pacing of the story, balancing the tone and how very little the story intersects with the gameplay, and beyond that, their general lack of knowledge of Sonic lore. It often feels like they're trying to cater to both kids and adults at the same time, but are going about it in the wrong way; Sonic Lost World in particular suffers from serious mood whiplash, and Sonic Forces has the same problem.

What's interesting to me is that despite this, the dialogue and interaction between characters has seriously improved since they've been on board. It doesn't entirely outweigh the other issues, but I like how everyone sounds like... you know... people? Forces' cringey wartime banter aside, the confrontation between Sonic and Infinite (and the preceding clash with Silver) in the Casino Forest was one of the most enjoyable cutscenes I've watched in a long time; combined with Roger Craig Smith's experience as Sonic, it's given a glimmer of how I think a between-level cutscene should take place.

It's fast-paced, Sonic is loveably snarky and witty, it's moving the plot along and sets up the next stage in just under two minutes. The subject matter is a bit of a shame, but I still think Pontaff have the potential to make it work. I'm just not convinced it's going to happen in full.

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They've written some of the best dialogue the series has had and they seem willing to take a more nuanced view of the characters compared to the incorruptably pure heroes they were usually written as. The series' storytelling with them onboard has never reached greatness (which I think is only partially their fault), they definitely shoot for a lighter tone and some of their jokes severely miss the mark, but they don't deserve half the shit they get.

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Meh. They've got a couple of good jokes, but overall their writing tends to come off as insincere. I think it's worth knowing what they did and didn't write, since their level of influence on Colors and Generations was the same as Forces (Lost World and the 3DS Boom titles being the only things I know of that they've written completely alone), but the fact that they're to blame for stupid shit like "He's been tortured for months" and "Tails has lost it" makes me not want to see them back for anything but supplementary dialogue.

More stuff like Eggman's PA announcements? Hell yeah, but they haven't done anything good for the characters and their interactions. The best writer to have worked on the main games is easily Maekawa, penning SA2, the storybook games and such, but Ian Flynn is still the hero we need. Especially with Maekawa still having worked on the scripts for Heroes and 06 (was Heroes as cheesy and terrible in Japanese, actually?).

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The games feel less sincere now but when Sonic team decided to disconnect the cut-scenes entirely from gameplay and then decided that the cutscenes didn't need to take advantage of Sonic's strongest attribute: his design and that the characters should stand around and talk that was kind of bound to happen. I don't think a mere writer change could actually help how bad they're botching the story side of the series. Sonic characters are just not meant to stand around and a writer that doesn't have the full context of the game itself is always going to have a harder time. I almost want the writing to go back to japan just so more collaboration can happen.

That being said, the idea that Pontaff are much better or worse than the other writers is kind of weird to me. It's not worth getting up in arms around when the dialogue is mostly dry, uninteresting and kind of cringe no matter which Sonic game you're playing. These days I'd take some sincerity over bad jokes though, so stuff like the Adventure games win out.

I also don't like the idea that they're the first ones to capitalize on the characters's flaws when misunderstandings and character flaws drive Sonic Adventure 1, 2, and Unleashed pretty much entirely. Like..they had Sonic get too cocky once, big whoop. The flip side was Tails getting even more "boring and incorruptible" than he had ever been and hitting sonic over the head with this the entire time instead of anything interesting happening, anyway. Sonic's back to being hot shit in the next game they write, too. Where's the part where the characters stop being one note? That hasn't actually happened yet. 

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20 minutes ago, Josh said:

I almost want the writing to go back to japan just so more collaboration can happen.

It has. Pontaff localized Forces' script, but it was written in Japan.

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I love how Forces being a letdown for many people prompted this. I assumed it was another thread about looking back at Colors and asking is it really as good as it was at the time.

 

I honestly don't know what to say, really. I never really gave much thought to who's doing the writing so long as the story and the game to go with is enjoyable enough.

Colors was more or less a progressive throwback in that while it was definitely a new game with new concepts and improved mechanics, it was more in line with the good ol days of just Sonic and Tails stopping Eggman's latest plan for world domination. The story, at least at the time, was being written in a very lighthearted fashion despite the actually pretty dark implications that were splashed in areas and after games like Shadow's and 06 went a little too far with their darkness and serious tone, Colors' Saturday morning-esque story and corny jokes was humorous, refreshing, and somewhat charming. 

 

Generations is probably the low point when it comes to their game scripts, though. The story itself was below simple and the fact that it was mainly focusing on just Sonic, Tails, and their Classic counterparts(one of which doesn't talk) trying to figure out what's up with the Time Eater. And every then, that really just some scenes--other scenes include Sonic and Tails noticing Classic's presence, the two Foxes realizing their traveling through time and space, , a mystery regarding Eggman being kidnapped by the monster twice, and indications that certain plot points/scenes are missing. Meanwhile, Sonic's friends and especially the Rivals(and Chaos) have almost nothing to do with the story, with most of the interaction being limited to brief non-rewatchable cutscenes after you save them and speech bubbles on the hub, neither of which has Sonic actually interact beyond either a silent reaction or just standing there. The intro, the official reveal that there are two Sonics, and the cutscenes around the final boss are easily the best and/or the only ones worth watching. Also,  I feel their later admitted lack of knowledge about the characters is the most relevant here, given that it's an anniversary game that mainly sustains itself on making a few references and tapping into character bio info whenever it does something with the friends besides maybe Silver.

Image result for sonic generations tails

Lost World was interesting in that it was allegedly a story that the duo were told to come up with themselves, with newcomers The Deadly Six and the Lost Hex to be included as the focus of that particular adventure. And while the story, like the game itself, was polarizing, I actually think the actual plot points, the tension, and especially the character interaction were the best here. The fact that they revealed that they didn't know much about the series shortly after this game is interesting considering, upon review and reflection, they clearly did more than just skim bios this time. They actually worked established personality traits of the characters into the story and even tried to delve into them for some character development. So they did some research, although whether they actually used that well enough is certainly debatable. Unfortunately, one key problem with it has unfortunately that Forces ended up continuing despite or rather because of overcorrecting--Tails. What makes both Lost World and Forces notable(or as some would put it, infamous) is that they actually try to have Sonic and Tails' relationship play into the plot and provide some emotional torque--something that hadn't really been done since Adventure 1. Again, Tails taking pride in his work, having a small rivalry with Eggman, getting a little too into his work, and feeling insecure when his capabilities seem inefficient are all traits that were established in previous games. Unfortunately, the problem with the way this game handled it is that all of these traits were played up to a point where it made him come off as uncharacteristically conceited, bratty, and insecure to the point of seeming aggressive. The fact that the conflict this caused rose up all of a sudden really didn't help, nor did the fact that Sonic apologizes to him at the end when this only came about because Sonic was trying to amend a crisis he recklessly enabled, something Eggman and Tails gave him shit for.  Outside of the foxboy, there's the Zeti themselves, who unfortunately just came off as borderline one-dimensional archetypes that were villains just because and were often seen as being more annoying, boring, or even offensive than they were funny, interesting, or memorable. The lack of much establishment for their existence and their resemblance to Bowser's race, Rayman/Pac characters, and even pokemon didn't really help on the onset. Going by the reflections of some of the more generous observers(namely Mr. Ian Flynn, The GreatClement, and myself), I feel like the Zeti themselves weren't inherently defective, just given a story that put little buildup into them, a gameplay purpose that resulted in them seeming like underwhelming replacements for what was traditional, and a sendoff that is not only somewhat anticlimactic and overly ambiguous, but also practically nonexistent. Not to mention the cramped conditions of there being six of them acting as one force with some very minor dissent and interplay between them. And just thinking about them in general, both before the game came out and in after revisiting the cutscenes recently in anticipation for Sonic Forces, I really can/could see what SEGA were going for with them and really do kinda appreciated them for the attempt, with Zavok in particular getting some of that recently.

Image result for sonic lost world eggman

So honestly, while they were I think they were prone to being mixed to increasingly negative with each game for a reason, I personally hold little ill will towards them. I just hope that if they write for another game or even write another story, I hope they largely do so with the appropriate level of weight the story and it's plot points actually needs while keeping their usual stuff both reserved from somewhat smaller moments where it can fit with some restraint occasionally being exercised.

 

 

On the topic of [one of] their writing, though, has anyone ever watched Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures? (I'll let that hang just to see what reactions the title gets)

 

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

On the topic of [one of] their writing, though, has anyone ever watched Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures? (I'll let that hang just to see what reactions the title gets

I did and it seemed lackluster to say the least. Apparently, they also did Krypto the Superdog.

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It's worth noting that Lost World is the only one they've said they provided the plot for, Colors, Generations, and Forces plots were all written in Japan and Pontaff only punched up the dialogue for them. So blaming them for Colors and Generations simplified plots isn't fair. If you have a problem with "baldy mcnosehair" "you got dis Sonic" "true dat" or any other cringey dialogue, that's perfectly justified though.

I think they can be good, it's just that they aren't most of the time. Orbot and Cubot usually get good dialogue, and I liked Sonic and Tails' dialogue with each other in Colors, Generations, and Forces. Eggman's usually a hit, but he can miss on occasion as well. The rest of the cast is almost pointless to talk about given how little they've contributed to the plots lately. Forces is obviously the big exception, and I think Knuckles, Silver, the Chaotix, and Shadow all sound fine there. Amy and Omega too, but they're about as involved as Amy and Knuckles were in Lost World. Rouge has some noticeably bad lines where she suddenly becomes Sonic for some reason. Infinite's dialogue is one of his best things honestly, the handling of the infamous scene in Episode Shadow aside.

So dialogue wise, they're hit and miss. Lost World is where they actually get to show how their plotting would work and... personally, I hate it. The conflict between Sonic and Tails in that game was painful to watch, showing a lack of basic understanding of the characters. Characters like Knuckles, Amy, and even Eggman mostly stood around; further illustrating they don't know what to do with the cast likely from not knowing the source material at all. The Deadly Six aren't interesting characters on their own (Zavok and Zik aside), but I will admit watching them interact with each other can be enjoyable and their scenes were miles better than what Team Sonic was up to.

So as far as their plotting goes? No, I'd much rather get games like the Adventures, Unleashed, the story book games, or Forces than Lost World. As far as dialogue goes? I think the Adventure games are a lot more quotable, but I'll admit the characters have much more defined personalities than they did during 06 or Unleashed. But does that outweigh the negatives? For me, it doesn't.

Btw, since it came up - Pontaff actually have very little as far as credited works beyond Sonic. They're known for Happy Tree Friends, and that's kind of it. Occasional other stuff, but it's not like Sonic Team are choosing them because of a track record of hit works or something.

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5 minutes ago, GentlemanX said:

Rouge has some noticeably bad lines where she suddenly becomes Sonic for some reason

I notice that mostly for Episode Shadow with lines like "You two go together like chili and hots dogs" and "Do it to it". I find those kind of weird for her character. Not sure about the main story though because I didn't watched much of it. Is she any better with lines there?

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At the forefront, what I’m about to confess too is going to sound very strange to some of you all but I feel the need to bring it up regardless.

I know there are probably a lot of outside circumstances for why this is the case but it still feels rather ironic that the one console game storyline in the last couple of years that I probably do have a bit of fondness for wasn’t written by them. I’m talking about Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, which was apparently written by John Melchior and Christina Cantamessa as an attempt to go for something more along the lines of a tale you’d get from an old generic PS2 Action-Adventure game. You know, the thing that Rise of Lyric feels like it is.

Going back through that story, despite a lot of the really dumb and ridiculous shit that was flung into it for the sake of meeting a quota, the general execution of the story-telling (not necessarily the story itself) was kind of a throwback to what I’d wanted out of the Sonic series for a while up to that point. There were a lot of things that I found hard to get over like how embarrassing the fake-out opening cutscene is, Shadow bumblefucking his way into the game to look cool and do nothing else, and at the time the fact that the aesthetic wasn’t the usual one I fell in love with due to it being a spin-off for the TV Show.

However, just traveling from location to location, finding rare items, thwarting sections of the bad guy’s plan, discovering new things about what it is he’s trying to do, different confrontations with him and other enemies, multiple objectives within the story that led to different boss fights, different set-pieces, different characters teaming up with each other under certain circumstances, and all that jazz… it felt like I was going on an adventure again.

I was kind of hoping I’d at least get that, if nothing else, from Forces but they were severely limited in how interesting they could make the split-ups, team-ups, and interactions when only one of the three characters you’re able to play as can actually speak, nearly every enemy you encounter is a fake, the story elements leading up to a specific encounter have very flimsy build up or in Zavok’s case, had the right setting and the right point in the story but not enough time or focus to actually mean something, and very little time dedicated to SHOWING us things happening through the cutscenes. Rise of Lyric did that. Even goddamn Sonic 06 didn’t resort to fucking text-boxes and fades to black when interesting shit was going on.

When it comes to the games that Pontaff touch up with their own brand of dialogue to make the script “spicier” or whatever, I feel as though those have been the absolute worst examples of what they’ve done. I remember my first time playing through Colors and acknowledging that the series needed more of what these guys were trying to do with it but at the same time feeling as though they overstepped their bounds quite a bit and went too far into the other direction. Nowadays I just straight up think it’s a cringe-ridden piece of shit as far as the dialogue is concerned.

Generations is something I don’t hold much against them for. What are two people with barely any knowledge of the Sonic series going to do to touch up the dialogue of a game without a plot? Even then, they still snuck in some massive groaners like the infamous “Enjoy your future. It’s gonna be great.” That line almost made my heart drown in its own blood the first time I heard it and that was around the time when hope was still alive. Can you imagine the reaction if he had said that to his past self after Forces? He wouldn’t have because his past self is from another dimension now but whatever. Fuck it. Iizuka’s headcanon makes no sense and it never will.

Lost World, the one where they were actually in charge of writing the story, is actually the one I consider their best effort despite it being the game whose plot I shit on the most.  I have more hatred for the Colors plot but I don’t talk nearly as much about that one because there isn’t shit to talk about. Not really.

Lost World should have been renamed “Lost Potential” because I still maintain that pretty much all the cutscenes in that game (with one or two exceptions) are entertaining and really great to go back to… on their own. When I disconnect them from the terribly handled narrative, the cutscenes on their own are great. I can watch the cutscene where Eggman has that really badass speech about how angry he is at the Zeti and watch him punch that wall of ice down and think “Eggman is fucking awesome!” while ignoring the fact that when the cutscene is directly connected back into the main plot, it completely falls apart. His desire to “strangle a Zeti” is never acted upon or even really brought up ever again. As it stands, his statement was a promise to do something cool that proceeded to not show him doing something cool.

The cutscene where Tails puts Cubot’s head on the broken crabmeat and gets attacked by it, saved by Eggman, and chewed out by Sonic is also one I loved! I loved it… in a cold vacuum where the circumstances surrounding the story are different of course. I can sit there and imagine this cutscene was in a game that probably built up towards Tails having resentment towards the team up with Eggman and gave Sonic a moral standing as though he didn’t totally just screw up before as well but it isn’t.

The cutscene where the Deadly Six take control of Eggman’s army after Sonic stupidly punts the conch away is brilliant. Everything about that cutscene I loved. However, when I see Sonic stupidly attack a capsule in the jungle and be responsible for Tails getting captured, his response should have been something that called back to his earlier fuck up and been the point within the game that acknowledged he was acting too fast and should listen to his partner’s inquiries more often. Instead he says “I WASN’T FAST ENOUGH!”

The scene where Zavok confronts Sonic and tells him he’s going to turn Tails into a robot is probably my favorite cutscene in the game. Probably one of my favorite cutscenes in the series honestly. The menace dripping in every word from his lips, the dark version of the Deadly Six theme playing in the background, his laugh as he jumps away from Sonic screaming “NO!” leading into the Sky Road Level with the beautiful and kind of chilling Dragon Dance music with him taunting Sonic in the background… THAT was good stuff! A character I liked was in genuine danger and the villain had a leg up on the hero in a way that I hadn’t seen done before in a long time. It’s one of the reasons why I absolutely cannot be one of the people who hate Zavok. He’s responsible for bringing about a cutscene that made me FEEL something after such a long time of not feeling anything.

But then the game SHOWS us the fucking cutscene where Tails gets out of being turned into a robot and strips all of that away. You know he’s going to be fine from then on so what the fuck is even the point? The tension’s gone. Who cares anymore. What Ass.

Lost World’s problems are so bafflingly easy to fix that it’s THE most frustrating out of all of them. Such a waste.

So, no. I still can’t say I approve of them. They’ve given me some really great Eggman quotes and they helped usher in a kind of attitude that the games truly did need more of but they overshot on their first try and didn’t bring it down to an acceptable level. They need to go for something more middle-grounded but instead what they do just comes off as juvenile and, in a way, it feels a bit worse than a lot of what we were getting before.

We need somebody who can come in and put the pieces of this broken puzzle together. Tone, characters, development, interaction, plot, story-telling, dialogue, drama, comedy, action, adventure; all of that needs to come together and work as a singular unit and these guys are not the ones to trust to do it.

I don’t trust Sonic Team or SEGA to care enough to get the guys right for the job anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter.

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