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Sonikku2k

Why are you really into Sonic?

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Personal research time, your input appreciated greatly

I am asking the question here because I want to personally reflect and find out where we all stand with the Sonic fandom. First and foremost it is quite obvious we are all here because we really like the blue hedgehog but I want to delve a little bit deeper and find out what the various reasons are. For me personally, after 20 years of ups-and-downs with SEGA and their mascot its been a bit of a ride, but there is something there, that makes me just realise sometimes why I like this gaming character so much. Everyone's reasons are different and I'd like to learn more, if possible.

Sonic, is, to me, what some people feel their therapist, guru, or other is. Basically like the character, Wilson, from the film, Cast Away, there was a period of great difficulty in my life, and being surrounded by a nice Sonic game at the time, really just touched me, I guess. I was very alone, with no support at all, and I went through it, on my own, and with my furry pals from my game. From then on its been a personal thing, combined with my real enjoyment of the character's personalities for the most part. I also fell shoulder-deep into the magic of Sonic Adventure, at the time, we could not afford, or even attempt, to buy a computer that could produce that kind of graphics and gameplay. That, with an interesting story, and an exciting phase in the fandom is likely what sealed my fate.

Of course I am aware that folks are into this franchise for different reasons. I have even seen some strong opinions here, and for the most part I also agree with some of those, but, I am trying to go deep, what is it that brings us together here?

I thank you for your time very much.

 

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I want a comic that's not too sad, that has adventures, that can be long, and IDW Sonic fits this pretty well. It's always good to also see the other members debate about the comic.

Right now I only like the comics, but not the games, I only like the games fron 1991-2010, everything after that is soulless.

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Its funny you mention that, because a comic is exactly what I am contemplating, but if IDW fills the gap, then there's no need for me to do it, is there?

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Because I'm having fun.

Even if the game are kinda lackluster and not perfect since at least 15 years, the franchise is full of life and creativity. Be it the IDWComics or other derived product, fan-created content, I've got with Sonic a big dose of new and fun content, and I'm simply still enjoying my experience of the franchise. For me, a franchise like Sonic is way more than just an IP. My experience of Sonic isn't just my experience of the flawed last games, it's also the experience of stuff like Sonic Robo Blast 2 and its derivative games, many romhacks, etc. I'm simply still having fun with Sonic, and enough fun for still wanting to create my own games based on this "universe", for still wanting to explore this universe and create things for it even though I've got my own universes to work on.

 

( and TBH, even the last few game were kinda enjoyable for me, and are part of why I'm still into Sonic. They were flawed, yet full of small ideas and reference that where enough to make me have a good moment with the games. Sonic Lost World was pretty lively and had fun ideas and used diverse gameplay better than other boost games, and Sonic Forces was kinda fun even if a mess in many place. For me, it's not really that different of how I enjoy Heroes and Shadow even though they are pretty mess on many account. )

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For the gameplay.

Platformers are my favorite games, and I like when a platformer tries something different. There are many Sonic games now so it can't be called innovative anymore, but Sonic is still unique among the platformers.

I used to like Mario as well, but it became very stale lately, so I'm losing interest in it... though, despite all its flaws, I'm still interested in Sonic, because the franchise is still trying to find the right formula, experimenting with new ideas in each new game.

I still like Kirby though, even though recently it's getting a bit stale too (star allies was very bland and unoriginal, luckily the DLC characters saved it for me... I'd like Sonic to take that as an example of how to use the old characters in newer games).

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Sounds like an easy question for me. The answer is pretty much the same reason I'm not looking forward to the Sonic Movie. For the purposes of your research, I'll try to be as detailed as possible.

sonic.jpg

Bright Colours, Characters & Varied Environments:

Maybe it was because of the limited technology, but many games back in the 90s were bright and colourful. You'd need to be able to identify your character in the environment they reside in. The earliest characters I can remember from that age is Sonic and Bomberman, I think I became a Mario fan a couple of short years later. The variety of environments was quickly apparent in every game. One second you are in an open field area with waterfalls in the background and islands visible in the distance, then your suddenly in a plant, with dangerous blue chemicals and bright pink water, progress more and your in a city modelled around a casino. No zone looked like a previous zone.

With the characters and the bright levels, the games felt very stylised. I've never been interested in realism and would often actively avoid it. That sense of toonish fun was always present in Dr. Eggman.

robotnik.png

Comically exaggerated moustache, simple round body and stick legs, tiny glasses, a toothy grin and a shiny bald head. Every time you beat him, he is engulfed in explosions and is clearly frazzled by the experience. But insists on coming back to try again. Right then and there, you already know that this world is not about realism. Considering the original trilogy, Eggman must've fallen out of orbit and survived, several times. And I haven't even mentioned his crazy over the top gadgets and robots. None of which ever look truly menacing. Except for maybe one...

Spoiler

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Comic's Expanded His World:

Back in the day, story telling was limited due to what developers could work with. When you wanted to learn more about the characters and world, you'd have to wait until the next game, but not when the series was expanded into comic form. Back then, there were two. (Though I didn't know that at the time.)

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The one that I grew up with will be referred to as Fleetway Sonic The Comic. During the Saturn era, when Sonic games were few and far between, with no real plot or adventure to them, the comic helped bridge the gap. They also helped to introduce me to characters from games I was never able to originally get at the time. So because of Fleetway, I became a fan of Chaotix, Mighty and Nack/Fang.

Sadly, Bean, Bark and Ray never appeared (To my knowledge anyway.)

...Have to cut this post shorter than I wanted. If I can, I'll continue from my post with the Adventure era, next time.

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My favorite games combine a in gameplay loop with enough work on the artistic side to create a world I want to see more of. The best Sonic games fit the bill on this perfectly. The better classic games have some of the best examples of level design you can find. The Adventure games trade a lot of these mechanics out for a tighter emphasis on world building setpieces and characters that still had me hooked. Even with how far removed the "Boost" trilogy is from everything else it's explosive and satisfying in a way that makes me smile. 

And I really do think there are fun Sonic games all over the place, or at least more than this fanbase will give credit for. If something it's going for it's own thing I tend to judge it on it's own merits and when I do that a lot of Sonic games don't come off as all that bad to me. Annoying sometimes for sure but I can't say I regret the time I spent on the Rush series, the Adventure series, the Boost games etc or finding the occasional oddball experimental thing that was actually really fun like Riders.

I'll be blunt and say that I love the Sonic cast to pieces also. They're a combination of top notch character design, cool powers that have endless amounts of application in terms of both game design and action sequences, and having just enough of a strong personality that it should be fun watching them all bounce off of eachother. Any time the gang gets together I'm there for it even if I mostly have to rely on the comics for that now.

Even the Sonic games I don't like as much remain interesting because of how much talent has been on these games over the years. On the artistic side Sonic was honestly fucking glorious even during it's roughest times. This series has had top notch character designers, composers, environmental designers, animators, etc come through. The constant talk of 'ambition' comes from this. You can feel the talent coming through on these games despite the crushing reality of harsh deadlines and a management that doesn't care. Even now the Sonic Comic and Sonic Mania have some top notch artists composers and animators on it, some of them being directly inspired by the Sonic talent of yesteryear. 

It's a series with a lot of heart and a lot of people who care working on it despite everything.
 

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To put it quick and simple. I think i'm mostly into it for the overall art style, characters and insane surreal fantasy worlds and imagining it all in new ways... I am also super fond of long running series that can keep me company across my life which I can keep returning to instead of always having to hop onto new short lived media.

Going into more detail. I like many of the characters, especially their designs and I love the art style in general. I enjoy both drawing Sonic characters and other people's art of them a lot... it is amazing seeing the different interesting ways artists put their own spin on the characters and concepts. I love it when Sonic media focuses their worlds and concepts more on the artsy surreal otherworldly side of design... and I hate it when they try to make Sonic's world closer to real life such as they did on Sonic-06 and Unleashed... I'm absolutely not a fan of Sonic media trying to emulate real life simply with cartoon characters tossed on top... I desire fantasy worlds that doesn't resemble our world whatsoever and want to explore and discover things that you only can in crazy far out there fiction.

The Sonic side cast these days interest me more then Sonic himself honestly... with Blaze being my current favorite Sonic character... don't get more wrong I still love Sonic too... Sonic from the OVA movie is my favorite portrayal of him. It's fun to imagine what the characters do in their day to day lives and what adventures they go on and how they interact with each other... furthermore the Sonic series in general is just a very fun series to reinvent and expend upon for fan made media.

The classic style games for me definitely contain the best overall packaged deal when it comes to art design, gameplay and their fun vague implied stories that allow your imagination to run wild. I really love Sonic music too obviously, both of the Sonic CD US & JP music sets being among my fave Sonic music... I am a fan of the Sonic OVA music and the Sonic Rush music too along with some others. Even tho I enjoy enough of the music from modern games... I prefer the classic Sonic games music styles more overall as I find many of the modern games rock and orchestra music pretty generic and dull often... I think I prefer more unusual style music... luckily there is tons of amazing fan made Sonic music out there too with enough even in the music styles I personally enjoy most.

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Coming from a person who's played and liked a lot of games in their day, when a Sonic game gets it's shit together, I don't think there's any other platformer touching it. It just has this draw in it's style that just pulls me in. It honest to god helped shaped my artistic and musical tastes growing up. That's a very powerful influence that not many other games can say it did the same for me.

I also blame Sonic CD's animated intro. That one scene swept me by the foot so hard that it keeps me hoping we'll get something like that in a video game one day.  I always felt like that was the blueprints to the ultimate platformer =P. 

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Okay, I've got some free time. I'll try to go into detail about the Dreamcast era and beyond.

The Rise and Fall of a Dream:

dreamcast-sonic-adventure-01.jpg

Having grown attached to Fleetway Sonic, jumping to mainline Sonic games with a more complex story was not unwelcome. Though it would take some adjusting, I warmed to this more fleshed out world pretty quickly. Characters from the comic's were still around, just different. The exclusive comic characters were largely hit or miss with me, but in the following years, Fleetway Sonic would end and though it was disappointing, the games managed to fill the void that they left.

Sonic Adventure 2 continued the trend that the first did, but took the story into a darker setting. It was all still good fun and the often never mentioned Sonic Shuffle was a charming outing and perhaps the last time Sonic would emulate that mascot rival of his during the consoles war. For as the Dreamcast falls into eternal slumber, for the first time, Sonic will appear on the same console as that of Mario. No big deal in this day and age, but back in my youth, such a thing was considered impossible.

Because Sega wanted to bring the Dreamcast Adventures over to GameCube, it would be several more years before Sonic got a new outing. One that would be significant to me as I already mentioned that Fleetway made me a fan of the Chaotix and that is Sonic Heroes which would bring them back.

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The team itself practically represents why I love Sonic on there own. Brightly coloured with zero realism and so diverse in appearance and personality, they also have a toonish charm to them. While it's not perfect, I still have much love for Sonic Heroes. The handheld games also giving me that same joy, something I personally overlooked in the previous era of games was the awesome music. Once Sonic Adventure came along, the music became more prominent to me and are a staple of the franchise.

When you examine the game, Shadow The Hedgehog and why I dislike it, it becomes even more clear why I like Sonic. Shadow The Hedgehog managed to have many things that Sonic is known for, completely absent. Makes sense since it was a spin off, I suppose. Though it's the only Sonic game I can remember in which I actually traded it in before the console expired. With the entire English voice cast changed, ugly aliens and a darker setting, it just didn't feel like Sonic. Even when Sonic was on the screen. The music was the only thing that made it still feel like a Sonic title, but even then, most tracks were forgettable. At this time, I was very close to giving up on Sonic as a fan and follower of the series. It might surprise some that Sonic 06 managed to fix that problem slightly.

Being Real, Ain't Cool:

So even though Sonic 06 was trying to add more realism, it was still able to bring the typical Sonic elements into the game. Even with the realistic environments, the world was still bright and colourful with very varied types of levels. Thankfully, they didn't keep one of the major changes they did for this specific game.

Eggman06.png

They shifted the realism to a more appropriate level in Sonic Unleashed. Sonic Colours was like a return to form in some aspects. The boost formula has never been an issue for me. Though I feel like it does relay heavily on reaction time and memory, rather than any skill. When I play them, I tend to bump into everything. In recent years, they have been trying to expand on the world that Sonic and his friends are inhabiting, it's just that most attempts have been poorly executed.

But I love the characters, the music, the personalities. I want to see them at there best and I'm hopeful in seeing it again at some point.

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Well, there were a couple of things really. The music, locals, ect. Though, if I had to boil it all down into the three main things that, without them, I'd probably up and quit it all... it'd be the spectacles this series employs, the characters themselves, and the sheer sense of speed it gives.

I know the term "spectacle" is a bit taboo around these parts as it's often linked with on-rails sections. Moments in a level where control is taken from you, physics don't matter, and you're not really #playingthegame. Though, the thing is, this has been a thing for the series since GHZ in the very first game. The series has always pushed the current hardware it's on and nothing really showcases that more than these sections. They are often jaw dropping moments that no other platformer can really pull off. Now, too much of a good thing can be bad and I really don't like how automated games like Forces have become but I do very much disagree with even the notion that such moments need to go. Re-work them a bit so that most of them are playable is my preferred path. It's all a game of balance.

As for characters, to keep this short, I think there's a whole lot of untapped potential in the cast. Whether it be from bad writing, bad plot, bad animation, or a mixture of all three, these characters are rarely ever given a chance to shine. Though, for those brief moments where some amount of effort manages to slip through into the script, there's just so much there that it's hard not to care about the cast more than Sega and Sonic Team tend to. Add in the killer designs most of the characters have and I really do hope that Sega and ST can get their shit together and improve the narrative and story telling of this series.

In terms of the sense of speed... well, it's simply just that. Nothing brings me more joy out of these games than speed running levels. Being able to weave Sonic and Co through structures in the quickest way possible with little down time is simply euphoric for me when done right. My approach to platformers has always been more of a "how to get from point A to B in the fastest way possible" sort of deal and this series seems catered to specialize in that play style. To remove that underlining core trait would be to remove what makes me play these games over all the other platformers out there. It's the backbone this series was built on and I feel as though it should be embraced instead of covered up.

Though, of course, there's a balance needed to all of this. I'd just rather not see it stepped over in any regard.

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I like the series because of its:

1. Platformer based gameplay. I grew up playing several platformers such as the Pac-Man World series or both the 2D and 3D Mario games, so Sonic was totally not far off from what I expected of most adventure based platformers. Regarding the specific gameplay styles, while I do like the Boost gameplay, I still think Sonic and Tails' gameplay in Adventure 1 was arguably the closest ST had ever gotten to successfully translating the classic 2D gameplay into a 3D world. 

2. Outside Media

Another thing that has kept me attracted to the franchise is its various non game media. Archie Sonic and Sonic X, despite their many flaws, were the two things that got me interested in whatever else the franchise had outside of games. Even the fact that Sonic had the longest running comic book series out of any video game character is pretty cool, and I think he should be given more credit in that regard. As IDW Sonic continues to progress, it's been my most favorite thing to have come out of Sonic in recent years and I can't wait to see more of what's in store for this year. 

3. Music

Of course, it's agreed that the series in general has some of the best video game music of all time, and I agree with this sentiment. I even have some soundtracks from a few of the games on my phone's music app and listen to them for time to time.

4. Aesthetics and character designs.

I LOVE most of the character designs in this franchise, whether they be Classic or Modern. The diversity in species, color, and outfits really shine out, and it's one of my most favorite things about the characters. I also think the human NPC designs in Sonic Unleashed were the best fit for how humans other than Eggman should always look in Sonic media. The realistic designs they had in certain games prior to Unleashed just  completely looked out of place with the cartoony designs of Eggman and the Mobian characters. The diversity in environments is pretty cool too, and I hope to see more of it in future games.

5. Story and character personalities.

One thing the Sonic series is known for is its heavy emphasis on storytelling, and while the stories have been hit or miss depending on the game (some being too light and silly and some being too dark and serious), I still think the storytelling aspect of the series is one of the best things about it. The story in Unleashed is a good example of one that is perfectly balanced between being funny and serious. Seriously, I wish P&G knew how to write Sonic better. *sigh*

The characterization of Sonic, when written well, is a favorite of mine. His cool, cocky, and quickwitted yin contrasts with Mario's happy-go-lucky yang, but he's still this brave character who is always willing to help out anyone in trouble, even if it involves putting his own life on the line.

So yeah, that's pretty much why I still like the series despite its mixed reception in recent years. While I have moved on to being largely interested in other game franchises, old and new, Sonic is one that I will always have a soft spot for.

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For me personally, it is more because of the chats. Sonic is a series, that you can talk a lot about. Good stuff, bad stuff, more bad stuff, mediocre stuff, extremely bad stuff etc. It is a topic that can offer a lot of stuff to talk about. More than Mario and Crash for sure. 

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Back when Sonic premiered, I liked it because it was shiny, new, and put emphasis on its characters and worlds being charismatic in a way that most Nintendo series didn't.  Nintendo won me back over with the Donkey Kong Country series being made as their answer to the Sonic series, with more high-tech refinement, but that would fade starting in the Gamecube era, after Nintendo lost Rare and Microsoft bought Rare, and then the Sonic series burst into the room and regained my interest. 

In the Gamecube/Game Boy Advance days, I loved it for its wide and colorful cast, which helped make it feel like it was a very all-accepting series and I believe was very beneficial to helping it be a hit with Nintendo players.  That feeling collapsed with Shadow the Hedgehog, epically failed to return in Sonic 2006, got bastardized with the Olympics games, and ceased to be a priority most other places.

Nowadays, Sonic products don't necessarily appeal to me anymore, but the culture surrounding them does because it's so full of deep and entertaining analysis of why things aren't going right these days.  For all that Sonic fans have become a running joke, many of them are pretty smart, and often seem more talented than the official teams working at Sega.

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Pinning down what exactly drew me to Sonic at the start would be tricky. I don't exactly remember. For one I've always been drawn to Speedsters when it comes to super heroes, for two Sonic fits the trickster archetype, another character type I like; (I was raised on Looney Tunes and there's a good deal of overlap between Buggs, Elmer, Sonic, and Robotnik. Especially the way Sonic was characterized in the 90's/AoStH/SatAM). You could say unlike a lot of video game protagonists, Sonic always seemed like his own inspirational character and not just an avatar for the player to personify.

The series action bend is definitely a part of it. The Mario and Kirby series have softened in comparison, while Donkey Kong Country never had the same level of ambition. I could never get into Metroid's atmosphere of isolation and solitude. Megaman isn't as experimental as I'd like it to be, or rather it's too neatly compartmentalized into split timelines, and Zelda has this air of stoic distance to it that feels like it limits what you can do in that space.

The classic era introduced me to a wide variety of game types. There's the mainline platformers sure, but also 3D Blast's isometric scavenger hunt, Sonic R. When you're a kid you don't really know, or care about concepts like spin-offs and "canon". It's all feels relevant to young eyes and part of the fun was in trying to connect it together. Even within the main games there are bonus games like Blue Sphere, Sonic 1's rotating mazes, and CD's UFOs that mixed things up and kept me engaged. Maybe that's partly why Sonic Adventure's range of game modes was never an issue for me. I like content and variety.

Despite the image of the fan base being divided among three camps: Classic, Adventure, and Modern fans I fall squarely into both the Classic and Adventure eras.

Constantly trying to reinvent itself has left this series with a lot of deep avenues to explore, and I have a lot of fun going down each and every one of them to see what changes, and what remains that their core.

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because his games, especially the boost games and the classics, offer something that isn't available anywhere else. Great graphics, catchy music, fast gameplay, complex levels, all rolled into one package.

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