Jump to content
ShadowSJG

How is Pontaff's writing viewed now?

Recommended Posts

43 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

I was mostly thinking of other heroes (mostly Sonic and Tails, since they actually get enough focus post-'06 to compare with earlier), but even Shadow, well, how much demon-facing does he actually do? Like, he's "evil" in SA2 but not of his own free will and he's basically immediately forgiven once he remembers to be good and switches sides. In Heroes fuck all happens. In ShtH who knows what he's canonically supposed to have done for most of it, but in the end he's on the side of good and again he's basically forgiven for whatever the hell he did. And in '06 he doesn't face shit, satan just tells him that humans will betray him (in a future we'll never see) because people are dicks basically. Nothing bad he does ever really sticks, he's just a poor boy manipulated by Gerald or Black Doom, cruelly rejected by humanity, but he always does the right thing at the end.

It's like, how many times did the heroes have something to overcome that wasn't just a bad guy, how many times did they make mistakes with actual consequences, how many times were they even allowed to have weird little quirks or minor flaws?

The answer isn't zero, sure; Tails gains more confidence and independence in both Adventures and Sonic has his rivalry with Shadow and getting tricked into the capsule in SA2. But that's...kind of it, for them? Sonic just sort of wanders through most games not really dealing with any obstacle that isn't solved by homing attacking it. He knows the "right" way to deal with Chaos when Tikal's just going to seal him away again. He's the manic pixie dream 'hog who teaches Elise to love life again. He's literally incorruptible in Unleashed, keeping his personality intact at night unlike others possessed by Dark Gaia's minions even though he got such a concentrated dose of darkness that he physically transforms. And even when he does fail, it's not really his fault; when he gets trapped in the capsule in SA2 or drained at the start of Unleashed or killed in '06's last story that's not really because of any personal failing, it's just because he's not omniscient. And as for Tails, he...just kind of stops mattering as a character after SA2? Like, he's in Heroes, ShtH, '06, and Unleashed, but if he hadn't been not much would change. He has no story to himself and doesn't contribute anything important that I can remember. He's just another furry pinball to throw at robots and the character model they stick in the Tornado's pilot seat.

And so compare to the P&G era. Colors' lighter tone and more casual story let Sonic and Tails loosen up a bit and act more like real people. They can goof around and tell dumb jokes, and sometimes (I emphasize: sometimes) that's okay because the corniness can be endearing. In Lost World, the "real" plot kicks off because of Sonic's mistake; he's cocky and impulsive, so he punts the conch away without realizing he's unleashing 6 powerful assholes without the kind of restraint that Eggman has. Shit gets worse as a direct result of Sonic's actions. And Tails has his own, personal issues to deal with; he's hurt by Sonic trusting Eggman, he gets jealous, and starts acting out. There isn't really a strong resolution to this and you can argue all you want about whether or not it's appropriate or in character or whatever, but I'm way more interested in a story that tries to explore Tails' feelings and allows him to act poorly sometimes over one where he's just...sort of there.

Well, you did have that whole thing with the Commander having a vendetta against him in his game, but nothing really came from that and he basically sweeps it under the rug anyway after Shadow saves the world.

But I see what you mean, its just that I feel saying the characters were "incorruptibly pure" isn't right, but rather they just didn't do anything of note post-Adventure 2. Which I get, because the focus wasn't on characters like Sonic & Tails post Adventure 2, Shadow had the lion's share of plot intrigue around that time while Sonic & Tails just faffed around. So seeing Sonic & Tails actually be the primary focus after being shafted for so long is indeed better, especially since they're the primary duo of the series.

The reason I generally don't give much credit to Pontac and Graff's writing is because it undercuts itself with how insincere it tends to be a lot of the time. It's like, they want us to be invested in what's going on, but then it immediately subverts itself with a joke as if to say "Relax, none of this actually matters". Its not that I don't mind levity in my Sonic games (lord knows we need some of it), but I feel a lot of their levity comes at the expense of the narrative rather than being a tension breaker and it creates an extreme dissonance with tone that you commonly see in the series. 

So you get things like Forces where the story wants you to take it seriously, but then you have Sonic cracking jokes about his body odor during the big confrontation with the villain. It just feels jarring and takes you completely out of the story. The games always have these moments to an extent, but they're way more prominent since Pontac and Graff started writing.

 

This is why I prefer games like the Storybook series`. Yea, there's not really a lot of exploring the Sonic's flaws, but it does reinforce things about him that aren't usually focused on a lot of the time. And more importantly, it had a good balance of levity and knowing when to let things be serious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Kuzu the Boloedge said:

but I feel a lot of their levity comes at the expense of the narrative rather than being a tension breaker and it creates an extreme dissonance with tone that you commonly see in the series. 

This right here is a good way of saying why humor often doesn't work for me with Pontaff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This all does largely depend on what you view the intention behind the direction of what's happening in the story is. I have fondness for a lot of the older stories because they all felt like really cool and fun adventures despite growing older to realize that more could be done to spice up the character dynamic so that they could act more like real people. My initial reaction to Colors was a bit of a mixed bag before I grew to despise it later. As I said not but a few posts ago, the series did seriously need more of the characters acting more interesting towards one another. Especially when it came to Tails. I appreciated the attempt and the idea behind it and I was able to, at the time, get over the fact that I didn’t really get an adventure because the game was possibly treating itself as a break from the action. I didn’t know then that it was a sign for even less to happen later on.

A big part of why it’s hard to stay appreciative for me is the fact that I hated who they were turning into more than I hated their admittedly drier dynamic. I already liked their characters and had a good handle on who they were supposed to be. I love the idea of seeing that get played up more and I feel I eventually did find avenues where that worked well, like the Boom cartoon, some of the issues of the comics, and a lot of the cutscenes in Lost World (again, when you disconnect them from the overall narrative because gluing those scenes together makes it all fall apart).

Seeing Tails develop into an asshole who bragged about helping when he did nothing substantial or get mad at Sonic for no reason ended up summoning an angry emotional response rather than one that simply longed for more to be done with his personality. That, on the whole, has proven to feel a lot worse because it was now hard to say I even liked who he even was during those moments. Before I could say I liked him and wish that more bits of his personality were capitalized on and explored more often but I don’t want the Tails who appeared in Lost World to have his personality explored more. He’s a bitch.

I’d have loved it if instead, the Tails in Lost World felt like an extension of the Tails I had already known and the feelings he had felt more genuine. I love, love, LOVE the idea of Tails and Sonic getting into fights and arguments with each other but the foundation for why it happens, needs to work in order for it to be fully appreciated. I’ve grown past the point of giving slaps on the wrists just for having the idea that it should be attempted because I’ve seen it fucked up more than once by this point.

The cutscene where Sonic decides to team up with Eggman shows Sonic as the one whose most against the idea. Everytime Eggman tries to speak, Sonic cuts him off or sneaks in a tiny insult. I think Tails only got in one during that scene and Sonic used it as a bonding moment with him when he said it, prompting Eggman to tell Tails to “Man up” which is great. Then the scene ends with Sonic saying he’s going to need to take a shower after they’re done.

Literally the next cutscene is Tails getting mad at Sonic for trusting Eggman more than him.

It’s not even like a subtle issue. It’s glaring and obvious and it takes you out of it like an anvil being dropped on your head. The character ceases to feel real and I’m instantly taken out of it because the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings, just made the stage cave in on itself. You’re not paying attention to the fantasy of the play anymore. You’re searching for the big red EXIT sign then.

It’s not as bad as when the Archie comics tried to tell a story about Sonic and Tails fighting. That still, to this day, is the absolute worst written story I’ve ever read in association with anything Sonic. It stands as a shining example that having “character development” isn’t instantly better than having a standard likeable character.

God. Even still thinking about that House of Cards story still angers me. The things Sonic said about Tails behind his back directly to his parent’s face. The ludacris reason Tails wanted to fight him in the first place. Ick. It’s just gross.

I could never see myself preferring that over how comparably standard they came off in something like Heroes. You know at least there’s cute little moments like Tails getting scared when Knuckles suggests that Shadow might be a ghost. I can at least look at that and go “That’s cute.” and not feel sick.

Like I stated before, the reason I consider Lost World their best effort and also the one that frustrates me the most IS because it had the potential to be one of my favorite, tightly written stories in the franchise and they just… dropped the ball so fucking hard on things that were EASY to fix.

I still love going back to watch those cutscenes on their own. It’s easy to do that and imagine them all in a flowing narrative that took advantage of the events within them. The scene where Sonic kicks the conch away, the scene where he confronts Zavok, ANY scene where Eggman is being a tyrant to the Zeti… they’re probably some of my favorite scenes in all of Sonic and it makes me mad that they ended up being strung together in a such a sloppy mess.

I think another thing to consider is that Generations coming out a year after Colors didn’t really help with people still trying to get a handle on their first impressions of them even though it feels obvious that what happened with Generations was hardly their fault at all. I don’t blame them one bit for not being able to do anything with a game where fuck all happens. TONS more happened in Heroes and that’s a game where people say very little happened. I tend to disagree; I think the events were just comparatively downplayed, especially considering the game that happened before but the story-TELLING is often something one needs to take serious note of too. It can make or break how people view your story, even if on paper it’s a good one.

For instance, on paper, a lot of the stories in the past few years could have been good. ESPECIALLY Sonic Forces. It has the literal, hands down, best basic premise out of them all in my opinion and it turned out… like the rest of them.

So in short, I guess it just comes down to expectations and what you feel you appreciate more about the series when it comes to its characters and its narrative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can make Sonic & Tails have an interesting dynamic without it coming off as either too generic or too...cynical. If nothing else, I didn't mind Sonic & Tails in Colors. My problems with that game are more with the narrative than the characters. Sonic & Tails are pretty good there...it's just later on where things kind of fall apart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm gonna be the odd one out and say I'm actually tired of games that focus on Sonic and Tails's friendship. I am sick to death of them examining the dynamic between Sonic tails and Eggman, well done or not.

There's nothing wrong with it, but we got 10 years of that now. I would like to see Sonic's relationships with other characters(maybe even new ones) fleshed out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Josh said:

I'm gonna be the odd one out and say I'm actually tired of games that focus on Sonic and Tails's friendship. I am sick to death of them examining the dynamic between Sonic tails and Eggman, well done or not.

There's nothing wrong with it, but we got 10 years of that now. I would like to see Sonic's relationships with other characters(maybe even new ones) fleshed out.

This.

 

We need a game that focuses more on the dynamic of side characters, like Knuckles and Sonic, Blaze and Silver, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Josh said:

I'm gonna be the odd one out and say I'm actually tired of games that focus on Sonic and Tails's friendship. I am sick to death of them examining the dynamic between Sonic tails and Eggman, well done or not.

There's nothing wrong with it, but we got 10 years of that now. I would like to see Sonic's relationships with other characters(maybe even new ones) fleshed out.

We got exactly 5 games of such a thing...and it would be nice still, to actually use the other characters, exploring dynamics might not even be a thing.

Weird how in Sonic Forces, the game where everyone interacts the most, we still don't get much of a feel for the type of dynamic everyone would have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×