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Fan Attitudes to Eggman

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Here's a topic that's bugged me for a while, but I don't seem to know anyone else who agrees with me on this. Well to put it simply, I think there are a lot of people in the fanbase who want Eggman to be really villainous. I'm not going to back this up with statistics since I don't have time and this is just a forum post, but I think you all have had experience with this anecdotally. Maybe some, or a lot, of you want Eggman to be dark and genuinely dangerous yourself.

I think it goes completely against the classic games and is ridiculous. I think Eggman should be primarily goofy and comedic. Let me break this down quickly. 

Eggman is consistently presented in classic media as goofy and silly:

Image result for classic eggman

Image result for classic eggman drift

I mean, sorry, but I just can't see a really dark Eggman fitting in with this design. Yes, he does kill the player in the classic games, but it's never entirely clear what 'dying' in the game even is, and I always assume that just to be game mechanics over story. In the classics, Eggman supposed to be goofy and funny. I am aware that 'Robotnik' was marketed in a much darker manner in the West, but I actually don't like this portrayal of him personally and blame it as an influence in future games. If he really is evil and wants to kill everyone, then why don't Sonic and company just kill him and stop him doing serious damage. Or at least take some serious action? I think this is particularly egregious in Sonic Adventure, where in the final Tails level Eggman decides to shoot a missile and kill everyone in the city. It's even worse in the English dub, where he announces that he will destroy Station Square in a really dark way. I've heard somewhere that apparently the city is evacuated, not sure, but this isn't communicated in the game regardless. It's effective in setting him up as the villain but, it's just such a stark departure from what he was in the classics. And again, if he is really a potential murder, shouldn't Sonic and company be taking him a little more seriously?

There are other egregious examples of Eggman's darkness which I really hate. Eggman attempting to blow up Sonic in Adventure 2 is a great example. Again, Sonic is supposed to be in mortal danger around Eggman, yet he never acts like he is. Even after Eggman tried to kill him. And it's not just because he underestimates him, it's because there's this bizarre disconnect between Eggman being a potential murderer and the remnants of his comedic, genuine Eggman character from the classics. This isn't the case with Shadow in Adventure 2, for example. You always know while playing that h'es genuinely dangerous, fuelled by vengeance and unpredictable. If he tried to kill Sonic in Adventure 2 I wouldn't be surprised or find it contradictory because he's consistently portrayed as dark and dangerous. Eggman, though, is almost schizophrenic, jumping between comedic and full on murderer. And this could be interesting if it was intentional and played on, but it isn't, it's just design oversight.

Another is when Eggman has Tails plane shot down and almost kills Tails in the opening episode of Sonic Boom. It's played up really seriously, and as though Tails could actually have died, yet Sonic never takes serious action against him and just laughs along with him throughout Sonic Boom. It would be more realistic to try to get rid him of him somehow if he really is that dangerous. And I know Boom is supposed to be a comedy, and it's usually well written to be fair, but I don't think it being a comedy lets it off the hook for bizarre narrative contradictions.

One of the serious moments in Sonic I actually like, and is in a storyline most people genuinely dislike (and is greatly underappreciated narratively for Sonic standards I think), is Lost World:

The Deadly Six capture Tails and Sonic doesn't fuck about, he doesn't crack jokes and waste time, he immediately presses Zor on where Tails is and wants to save him. This actually makes sense, and while Zor still acts goofy, Sonic isn't cracking jokes and laughing along at his weirdness. The Deadly Six, while eccentric, or always portrayed as genuine bad guys. Sonic wouldn't be friendly with them. If Eggman did this, I fucking guarantee that Sonic and Eggman would be making jokes between each other before Sonic's all 'okay, I need to save Tails now'. (Oh wait, see Sonic Boom previous example where he acts like that in the entire show, I just made that example up on the top of my head, and it's literally already happened). And it isn't just because most Sonic narratives are terribly written, it's because Sonic and Eggman's rivalry is popular, and their friendly banter is also popular. And so this friendly rivalry is emphasised. If Sonic became genuinely angry it would again cause a disconnect between Sonic and Eggman having a friendly rivalry, yet Eggman also being dangerous and capable of killing people. Because, why would Sonic want to be friendly with him? Lost World attempted to explain this by portraying Eggman as complicated and weird (his infamous Zetti cutscene), but I find it just ridiculous that Sonic would be on a friendly rivalry terms with someone like that, even if Lost World did at least try to explain it (games like SA2 leave it untouched).

The one recent Sonic media I think genuinely gets their rivalry correct is Sonic Mania Adventures. Sonic and Eggman are against each other, but they are also on friendly rivalry terms. Eggman pulling puppy eyes in Episode 1 shows that he knows he can play to Sonic's good side, because he knows Sonic wouldn't want to harm him if he didn't have to. But this is best emphasised in the brilliant attention to detail of Sonic looking at Eggman when he escapes from the flicky trap, showing he cares enough about what Eggman thinks to see his reaction when he escapes.

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It seems obvious to say, but you wouldn't do this if the guy wanted to kill you. In Mania Adventures, Eggman goes after Sonic quite aggressively sometimes, but Sonic and Eggman are never shown as wanting to kill each other. When Sonic gets hit at point blank range with a huge drill, he simply loses rings and gets back up. When Eggman gets blown up by the capsule, he nevertheless is alive to continue searching for Chaos Emeralds. It makes sense in such a cartoony universe that they can be at each other so much yet have a friendly rivalry.

This helps maintain the idea that Sonic and Eggman fight each other constantly, yet somehow can respect each other and on at least Sonic's case care for each other on some level. Because Eggman never actually poses a genuine threat to Sonic, because he doesn't try to kill him.

Opinions?

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Posted (edited)

Honestly, I am a little surprised there are not people who speak out against the whole dark Eggman thing. I do see his goofiness as a necessity myself. It shows he has a sense of humor and a playfulness to him. Which does humanize him, without taking too much of the threatening factor away. But Eggman was never a threat on a level where it was truly risking Sonic's life, or his own life.

I am going to make a guess, and I could be wrong with this. But I think a lot of those who want Eggman to be 'Darker', are most likely in the younger crowd. Ones who grew up with some of the more Modern Sonic games and were never introduced to the goofiness of the original Eggman of the classic series. Well, sans Generations. If that honestly even counts.

Edited by Ashwalking Bat

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I think a healthy balance of the two is where Eggman shines the best as a villain. Sonic Unleashed is a good example of this.

And yes, I really do like what Lost World set out to do with the characters, even if the cohesion, development, and overall execution was not that good.

Also, if there's any character I wouldn't call goofy, Zor would be one of them. 

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I still think AoStH Robotnik is one of the best out of all the Eggmans and catches everything that Eggman should be perfectly. He's clearly a malicious villain who wants the entire planet under his control but this is undermined by how god damn goofy he is. This is what most other Eggmans are missing on the most context sensitive level of what Sonic is about; he's clearly twisted and fucked up but due to how the universe works he's very silly and comes out ineffectual, and what seems like totally laughable plots you can tell in his head are perfectly sane as he's so screwed up. He feels like a legitimate threat despite being so hilarious.

His relationship with Sonic is a lot like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner resultingly. He wants to get rid of Sonic permanently but it comes off a lot more like a game and a rivalry than anything else. 

It should also be said that one of the big times his plans goes through and he finally is ruling the planet, basically all he does is force people to respect him, and not wiping out all life like how SatAM or some generic dark sort of Eggman would probably try to do. 

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I'm actually going to disagree a little with the OP - while I think that you're right that Eggman should be goofy rather than serious, he even in his classic incarnation was clearly trying to kill Sonic during the games, with obviously lethal traps and robots. Even in Mania Adventures, Eggman tries to kill Sonic - his little pocket pad that falls out shows his goal as a cartoony dead Sonic with X eyes and flies buzzing around him. Furthermore, while his schemes were zany, they still often involved potentially lethal collateral damage - just look at the Death Egg, which despite being goofy, was ultimately designed to cause a 'global catastrophe' so that he could rule the world.

I think you can have a goofy villain who's still evil and a mortal threat to the protagonist - the obvious example would be Wile E Coyote, who despite his comedic schemes, ultimately does aim to eat the Road Runner. Sonic is always relatively chilled when facing Eggman as it's in his nature and he is always confident in his ability to stop him; he'd never 'permanently' take care of Eggman due to his personal morality, anymore than Batman would kill the Joker despite the potential threat he poses. The situation is muddied somewhat due to the cartoony setting meaning that characters often survive things they shouldn't, but if Eggman is no longer a dangerous foe on some level, it diminishes his effectiveness as an antagonist. I'd argue that any portrayal of Eggman needs both goofiness and danger to him - a lack of either takes him out of character.

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I don't mind Eggman being goofy or clownish since that is what gives his character that charm that earned him a lot of fans. Neither do I think that is something that would undermine how dangerous he is since this is a villain who does stuff that affects the lives of others without caring in the least, and who like similar characters, is motivated out of maliscious and petty reasons.

If there is one single thing however that does ruffle my feathers, is when Eggman, out of all the characters in the franchise, is portrayed as the voice of reason, since it changes the entirety of his character context... and not exactly for the best. He is supposed to be a self-centered and immature character that acts like a spoiled manchild who is quick to throw tantrums whenever he doesn't get his way with things, not some dude that suddenly develops the capacity to give advise to the other characters, wether it is telling Tails to be himself when he had a thing for Zooey, or telling Chris Thorndyke to grow a pair. I don't think that there is a justification to throw Eggman's character out of the window to get that couple of moments just because some writter wanted to subvert some situation.

That kind of character de-railment is as bad as when Amy was portrayed as the stereotypical feminist just to make Knuckles look good at her expense in Boom. 

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3 minutes ago, Skull Leader said:

 

That kind of character de-railment is as bad as when Amy was portrayed as the stereotypical feminist just to make Knuckles look good at her expense in Boom. 

To be fair, Boom!Amy always had something of a self-righteous streak that would pop up on occasion and would make vaguely similar boasts.

If anything, that particular joke just made fun of it as well as indirectly engage in some self-depreciation considering the entire point of that incarnation's concept.

6 minutes ago, Skull Leader said:

 

If there is one single thing however that does ruffle my feathers, is when Eggman, out of all the characters in the franchise, is portrayed as the voice of reason, since it changes the entirety of his character context... and not exactly for the best. He is supposed to be a self-centered and immature character that acts like a spoiled manchild who is quick to throw tantrums whenever he doesn't get his way with things, not some dude that suddenly develops the capacity to give advise to the other characters, wether it is telling Tails to be himself when he had a thing for Zooey, or telling Chris Thorndyke to grow a pair. I don't think that there is a justification to throw Eggman's character out of the window to get that couple of moments just because some writter wanted to subvert some situation. 

Mm....I can sorta see that.

Though Eggman is a romanticist, as you know. :lol: And at least Chris's hangup was kinda obvious--Eggman was just one of the few mean enough to actually call him on it.

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I've never been disappointed with any incarnation of Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik. He has always had a balance of goofiness and deadliness that marks a good Saturday Morning villain, from Wile E. Coyote to Bowser.

At the end of Sonic 2, when Robotnik leaps into a wacky gigantic mech suit* accompanied by the riff from "Psycho", what are you supposed to think? Especially when it kills you in a single hit?

If you played Sonic CD outside the U.S., then the same game that gave you Toot Toots and clownish boss themes also gave you chilling dystopian futures.

Innocent animals are trapped inside machines to power them. Is that cartoonish, or horrifying? It's both, brother!

 

*That thing was never "Death Egg Robot" until Generations. Not even in Sonic 4. Because it's not a robot.

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Yeah, can’t say I’m in line with the OP either. You continue this divide between goofy and serious that this fandom is notorious for not understanding that these two aren’t, nor do they have to be, diametrically opposed to one another.

Short story: being goofy doesn’t mean they can’t be serious or present a serious threat. The fact that there’s so many examples of this in cartoons outside of Sonic is really telling that Sonic fans are just making this artificial divide between silly and serious out of spite of the idea being considered, because I can show you a show, movie, or game will villains just as goofy as Eggman who can also get far darker and serious with their actions.

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I blame it on SatAM. He had a growly voice and said threatening things so people mistook that for being serious and scary. 

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57 minutes ago, SBR2 said:

I blame it on SatAM. He had a growly voice and said threatening things so people mistook that for being serious and scary. 

Which is funny because SatAM Robotnik was no more threatening nor effective than the cartoon versions of villains like Shredder or Cobra Commander.

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The problem is this franchise's severe inconsistency. Which leads to heavily divided opinions. While I grew up on the classics, I am someone who massively prefers the Adventure series take (which, between the two games, is somewhat inconsistent.) So, I prefer the darker take.

However, even in those titles, Eggman has been shown to be goofy. Adventure 1, Eggman is attempting to nuke Station Square  (and himself) but he has a playroom on the Egg Carrier (granted that's an easter egg) and Adventure 2, blah blah, gun to Amy's head, but earlier in the game, he's scratching his ass while watching the news.

I, myself, would prefer a goofy, but still highly competent Eggman. One that can be dangerous --  very, very dangerous. But still with a lovable charm. Maybe play up some dark humor here and there when he's really pushing out competent plans.

That's what I'd prefer. The real issues, right now, I feel like we've reached a point in the series where Eggman is practically a non-issue as far as the threat he poses to Sonic. It feels like he can't win. Not just doesn't, but he can't (that was more true with Sonic Colors, where Sonic could have gone home after the first boss fight and the rest would have worked itself out.) Which makes "adventures" feel like pointless messes. The guy has an empty villain credit bank account. He's no threat, he cannot stop Sonic, he cannot stop anyone. He gets trashed talked and they're proven right. His reputation, among a lot of fans, is pretty low, too. Feels like Bowser, who is also goofy (arguably goofier) feels like he gets more respect from the Mario fans than Eggman gets from the Sonic one. It's crazy.

I feel like if Eggman got more victories, actual victories, that actually have an impact, it'd help a lot. Whether he's goofy, menacing or somewhere in between, victories would help. And actually let his friggin' inventions do something. Sheesh. You ever noticed almost all his big doomsday machines he makes get cut down before they can even do something substantial?

 

Death Egg, most it did was woke up a volcano.

Egg Carrier, clipped the Tornado's wing. Wee?

Eclipse Cannon. Well, hey, that blew up part of the moon! That's cool! That whole scene was pretty badass! Wait, that was his grandfather's? Crap.

Egg Fleet. They... floated.

Egg Carrier of 06. It apparently could level a city. But we didn't see it do that.

The beggining cannon thing in Unleashed made the planet split apart. Which was a REALLY awesome scene. But uh... no one cared.

The hyper-go-on energy from the Wisps was apparently able to take over minds, but two full tanks of the stuff lasted, barely, a minute on Tails. That's... not effective. Two tanks lasting a whopping one minute on one guy? And he's supposed to blast the whole planet with that? Makes the Colors one seem even more pointless -- I mean, yeah, sucks for the poor cute aliens, but he ain't gonna take over anything with that pitiful source of mind control juice.

Lost Worlds had the "suck energy from the planet" thing. It didn't really do much but apparently make the Zeti stronger? But they were all beat anyway? I dunno.

Can't tell you much about Forces. But there's a trend of introducing big, awesome things and it falling flat.

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Eggman isn't meant to be serious to us, the audience. Both he and the world that he exists in are designed as caricature, absurd and exaggerated reflections of reality. It's a world of softer consequences and simpler problems, designed to be fun and exciting and fantastic for us to experience. This is not a world where we're expected to seriously consider the ramifications of Eggman's actions, it's a world where we bop his robot to chase him off so he can make a new robot for us to bop.

He can sometimes be taken seriously by characters within that same world, but only because they are just as much caricature as everything around them (and even this doesn't necessitate that a character take him seriously; Sonic, in particular, is designed to be flippant and cocky, it's not in his character to take Eggman entirely seriously).

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Honestly I argue actions speak louder than words and even in games where Eggman is goofy he still blows the planet to pieces, enslaves Aliens to juice them for batteries, enslaved other aliens to use as his personal army until Sonic freed them.

Eggy's done some messed up stuff when you really analyze it.

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Something I found odd with Forces is that, while the game is supposed to be Eggman's crowning moment, it also happens to be the one game with the less entertaining version of the doc.

In contrast, Mania Adventures and even Boom have provided some of the most entertaining, and have moments in which they actually get the upper hand (Eggman was winning in Mania Adventures' 2nd episode while in Boom, the doc can actually play the other characters, like the episode in which he takes on them one by one.

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Personally, I think that Eggman could be comedic and villainous at the same time, like his Sonic Adventure self. That Eggman could scratch his ass in one scene, and destroy the moon in the other. 

Because, really, the Eggman we have currently is not even a threat, really. While villains like Bowser or Doctor Cortex usually sit in the back and send their minions at you, this guy has so much self-confidence, that he takes Sonic head-on in almost all of the games and fails terribly. Honestly, with this kinda villain the whole adventure just feels meaningless, because, eh, it's Eggman, the stakes aren't set too high. Actually, now that I think about it, this could be the reason why Eggman plays 2nd fiddle to a different villain/group of villains in almost every game since Sonic Adventure 2. Eggman is incompetent, and frankly feels more like an annoyance, than a threat, so him being the main villain would just be boring and stupid. Heck, the only game in 17 years where Eggman took the main role was Sonic Colors, perhaps the most boring Modern game plot-wise.

In my opinion, the perfect Eggman would be a sort of mix between the Joker and the AosTH Robotnik. He's comedic and impulsive, but he's also a real threat, and has some plans that actually work. Or, Sega could stop pretending that he's the main villain and make him a support cast character, kinda like what they did with him in the 3rd season of Sonic X and in the Storybook games. And if they really want to keep Eggman as a boss, they could make him a rival to Sonic and give the main villain role to someone else. Think about it, Knuckles rivals Sonic in strength, Shadow rivals Sonic in speed, and Eggman could rival him in terms of intellect or something.

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I'm also going to have to disagree with OP on this.

I think part of the charm with Eggman, at least for me, is that his design is so deceiving. At face value you have this funny-looking man with a balloon-shaped body and a giant mustache. But beyond that you have a narcissistic and pretty evil guy that cares little for living creatures, and wants nothing but complete control of whatever he may lay eyes on.

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"I just want to enslave animals to build my death machines~"

Yes Eggman can be goofy, (not Boom-levels of goofy imo) but that's only part of his personality. He's Sonic's archenemy and supposed to be a credible threat to the heroes. Without that what is the series about?

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...I now increasingly think that Sonic's story doesn't translate well from its abstract and cartoony origins in the jump to 3D and high production values.  Once you add dialogue and more developed storylines, it seems increasingly clear that the charm of the original collapses in the face of concessions to conventional storytelling.  Perhaps they should've taken the Mario route and remained silent.  Or at least tried to retain some consistency, rather than swiftly handing off the storytelling to writers who one can only presume were not big fans of Sonic but just couldn't break into anime.

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I also want to say it only seems like people say Eggman's not a credible threat because Sonic doesn't seem that worried but like that's Sonic. He doesn't worry about things because he's so sure he's going to win. He's confident so when he see's Eggman building another doomsday devices it's just like "Meh, 'Nother day 'nother world domination plot."

And even then when things get really bad he doesn't worry. He gets mad. A seriously underrated part of Colors IMHO is the scene where Yacker disappears and they find the Wisp's being drained. Sonic isn't cracking jokes. He's clearly violently angry about what he sees. He make's a single quip about the Robots not talking much but other than that he's all business after he sees just how bad the situation really is.

That speaks to how serious Sonic takes Eggman's schemes when he sees the real gravity of them. He takes the piss out of the Doc more often than not but as soon as it's revealed to be more than just sticking animals in easily breakable Robot shells he becomes more determined to stop him. 

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31 minutes ago, SBR2 said:

And even then when things get really bad he doesn't worry. He gets mad. A seriously underrated part of Colors IMHO is the scene where Yacker disappears and they find the Wisp's being drained. Sonic isn't cracking jokes. He's clearly violently angry about what he sees. He make's a single quip about the Robots not talking much but other than that he's all business after he sees just how bad the situation really is.

That speaks to how serious Sonic takes Eggman's schemes when he sees the real gravity of them. He takes the piss out of the Doc more often than not but as soon as it's revealed to be more than just sticking animals in easily breakable Robot shells he becomes more determined to stop him. 

Similar thing happens in Lost World: Sonic is legitimately upset at Eggman's suggestion to using Gravity to destroy the Lost Hex and get's pretty damn serious when his recklessness knocks Tails in a trap meant for him, to the point that he's very straightforward in threatening Zor and Zavok if they do anything to hurt Tails. Knuckles and Amy blacking out as a result of the Extractor's deliberate overloading even brings out some desperation in his voice. 

And once he's kicked Zavok, Zor, and Zeena down a pit, he's quick to deal with the fully charged Eggrobo Mech, which Eggman admits was the goal of his plans all along, even if he now has to compromise with conquering the parts of the world that weren't damaged by Zavok.

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21 hours ago, Ashwalking Bat said:

Honestly, I am a little surprised there are not people who speak out against the whole dark Eggman thing. I do see his goofiness as a necessity myself. It shows he has a sense of humor and a playfulness to him. Which does humanize him, without taking too much of the threatening factor away. But Eggman was never a threat on a level where it was truly risking Sonic's life, or his own life.

I am going to make a guess, and I could be wrong with this. But I think a lot of those who want Eggman to be 'Darker', are most likely in the younger crowd. Ones who grew up with some of the more Modern Sonic games and were never introduced to the goofiness of the original Eggman of the classic series. Well, sans Generations. If that honestly even counts.

Nah

All the people who want him dark are older fans who also want him to be called robotnik

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2 minutes ago, Shadowlax said:

Nah

All the people who want him dark are older fans who also want him to be called robotnik

Heh. The only problem with that is that he will be known as Dr. Eggman till the death of the Sonic franchise. The days of him being known as Dr. Robotnik in America are over sadly.

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9 minutes ago, Ashwalking Bat said:

Heh. The only problem with that is that he will be known as Dr. Eggman till the death of the Sonic franchise. The days of him being known as Dr. Robotnik in America are over sadly.

They felt as though it was more sinister and menacing. Which is weird, because a lot of those same older fans, well the old old ones because now adventure fans like me are in their early to mid 20's, but the older older fans don't like shadow or more serious sonic stories.

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Yeah, I'll give you that one. And the irony is that I am one of those older fans, but I have at least tried to keep an open mind to new stuff. Not everything has come off as appealing to me, but I honestly see nothing wrong with Shadow. Well, aside from his odd portrayals in some games. And with Eggman/Robotnik. I guess it can be a preferential thing. Though a lot is split down the middle with him, regardless of what side of the argument you are on.

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