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Quantity vs. Quality - Is this Where Sonic is Failing?


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It's been a few weeks this topic came in my mind but in somewhat I forgot and now I'll try to write it.

So, I believe the idea in the title is pretty simple and objective. Is the low quality of most Sonic games belonging to the fact most of them has been overrunning developed?

Let's try to analyze this question back when Sonic got it firsts games, in early 1990's. I don't think it was ever revealed when Sonic 1 development started, but the most likely date was in somewhat mid of 1990 and the conceptualizing of the new character in mid to late 1989. At the time, games could easily take one year or two to be developed, specially assuming Sonic 1 got it first release in June, and it's 8-bit counterpart in October of 1991. Actually, the game can be seen as in somewhat mediocre to good such as the fact levels aren't much degraded by their difficulty, for the fact the game can't tell the story by itself (Being this one mainly told on the manuals), having only one character and mode playable or simply the fact levels don't seems to connect itself.

However, in errors and hits Sonic 2 fixed most of the problems. Sonic 1 was a banger and solving most of the problems SEGA had at the time, it was time then for a sequel. Sonic 2 came in a year and a half later. Still being way superior than it's precedence, all the time we're hearing about things which didn't made in the final game, so in somewhat the game still haven't beat the "quality" it was originally expected. However, it was the necessary for being the most sold game of the console. Developed in the same time by the Japanese headquarter, Sonic CD likely would be what SEGA ever expected from a Sonic game, without much final cuts but mainly removing most of the restrictions of the SEGA Genesis.

We reach then, what is likely the most complete Sonic game for the time, Sonic 3 & Knuckles. As known by many of us Sonic 3 & Knuckles would be a single game, but time and price questions made it be split in two (Which later became one of the best marketing tricks SEGA ever made). So I think we reached where I wanted, let's take Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a standard. It pretty much fixes all the problems of the other two games, it have 3 playable characters a 14 level game with finally a cohesive story and it haves both Bonus and Special Stages, so likely a complete game. Having Sonic 2 release as the start of the development of the whole thing, we can assume the game took 2 years to be finished, so as said earlier, taking S3&K as a standard, let's say a Sonic Genesis game takes 2 years to be finished in quality.

Passed this Genesis era, the Saturn era didn't gave anything significant for the series aside it's 3D reality. Sonic Adventure would be the real 3D Sonic Game debut. Assuming Sonic & Knuckles release as the start of the development of Sonic Adventure and Sonic X-Treme as a part of the game development, we can easily assume the game had 4 years of development, maybe a little less considering the scrapped ideas from X-Treme and other cancelled projects. Btw, following this logic, SA2 took 3 years in the making.

So at first, let's take this standard: 2 years for 2D games development and 4 years for 3D games development. (As of 1994/1998)

I'm not going to mention all time between games since SA2 because I think this would be in somewhat time loss.

Now let's get back into our actual days. If I'm not wrong, in an interview, Christian Whitehead said Sonic Mania's development started in 2015 and the game got released in 2017. I'm not much sure about Sonic Forces, but I believe I read in somewhere that, at least, the development of the new engine started even before Sonic Colors release. In my opinion, I still believe Sonic Forces was a very useless game in the meaning of commemorating a Sonic birthday, and Sonic Mania could do all the party lonely. Assuming then Sonic Forces development time could be a bit more well used, I believe that, if the game hasn't needed a new engine (But which of course, was something important), I'm pretty sure we could had an excellent main game done last year or this year not necessarily related with Sonic 25th. However, assuming those circumstance I think a year or two more for Forces would be enough.

Taking these parameters, let's assume a new game nowadays take 5 to 6 years to be done. As of Sonic Mania, the standard of the Genesis games still haven't changed much, with also 2 years of development.

There's also the Spin-Off thing such as the upcoming, Team Sonic Racing, as more they are important to let fans entertained until the release of a new main game, they also requires time and coast. Plus, I need to assume I'm very afraid many fans who already have Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed really want to buy a new game pretty similar.

But then, to not let this topic too long, I'm gonna take a single argument for the quality thing. Taking as Mario as Sonic's main rival and here a comparative, let's see how many Sonic main games we had compared to Mario in the last decade:

Sonic:

Sonic and the Black Knight (2009)

Sonic 4 Episodes I & II (2010; 2012)

Sonic Colors (2010)

Sonic Generations (2011)

Sonic Lost World (2013)

Sonic Mania (Plus) (2017; 2018)

Sonic Forces (2017)

So we end up with mainly 7 games in the past decade. From those, I only would say just Mania and Generations were really extremely good games. Colors and Lost World would be mediocre to good games.Forces, Sonic 4 and Black Knight I think are pretty much mediocre to bad games. This to not mention the money spent on the Boom series.

Mario:

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)

Super Mario 3D Land (2011)

Super Mario 3D World (2013)

Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

Well, I'm not much a huge Super Mario fan so I can't tell which exactly are the main games of the series, but I think it would be something like this. Doing a little search, we can see none of those games have a lower grade than 9/10 and I pretty much believe this is something Sonic is missing.

As mentioned, only 2 games in the last decade for Sonic were well received, when compared to Mario, all of 5 games were well received.

Then well. I think that's all, do you guys believe is the big amount of Sonic games we're receiving that are making them mediocre? Do you believe a bit more time of development would make those games better? Spread your opinion!

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That's just one of the symptoms of a much larger problem with this series. There's a myriad of issues that Plague this series to just single out one.

Even when the Sonic team took a break between 2013 and 2017, we still got a half assed product. So it's not just a matter of development time.

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I don't really think it's a fair comparison, because you're leaving out several games on Mario's end, whilst keeping them in on Sonic's end. You listed Sonic 4 and Mania/Plus for example - both of those were done by two completely different teams (Dimps, and PagodaWest retrospectively). You did say it was only "mainline" stuff, but that doesn't change the fact you're looking solely at what was Nintendo developed for Mario, whilst not doing the same for Sonic.

If you wanna do that - Mario has also had in the same time period - 

  • NSMBWii - 2009
  • Bowser's Inside Story - 2009
  • Galaxy 2 - 2010
  • Mario VS DK Mini Land Mayhem - 2010
  • Mario Sports Mix - 2010
  • 3D Land - 2011
  • Mario Kart 7 - 2011
  • Mario Party 9 - 2012
  • NSMB2 - 2012
  • Paper Mario Sticker Star - 2012
  • NSMBU - 2012
  • Luigi Dark Moon - 2013
  • Dream Team - 2013
  • Minis on the Move - 2013
  • 3D World - 2013
  • Island Tour - 2013

I could continue on, but I think that alone has made my point clear. Even narrowing that down still shows games you haven't stated - such as NSMB2, and NSMBU, as well as Mario Maker, which all three of them would qualify as mainline, considering they follow NSMBWii's format, which you did list.

And I know you were aiming for main games, but the simple fact is - Mario might've had a smaller run-down of main stuff, but Nintendo had multiple developmental teams during the 2010s pumping out tons and tons of Mario games while they developed their own stuff in the background, to the point a common argument was that Mario reached a point of being developed well, but being spammed out with no real creative drive until Odyssey brought it back.

Sonic games on the other hand are way smaller than what Mario had, even including the spin-offs, especially during the gap of 2011 onwards, where even the spin-offs began being released about once a year, with smaller mobile games developed by different teams like Hardlight in between, and the mainline/spin-offs alternating every year, allowing at least a dev period of two years per game.

All this to say that in short though - it doesn't really matter because as Kuzu said above - Sonic Team had plenty of time between Lost World and Forces to develop it (In fact - it's developmental period - believe it or not - was more or less near the same as Odyssey, as both began development in 2013, following the release of 3D World and Lost World retrospectively).

In my opinion, the issue with SEGA is absolutely mismanagement. Forces was known to have undergone only a year or so of development because too much time was wasted developing Hedgehog Engine 2, which was already built on top of the wrong engine (It was built on Lost World's engine, as opposed to Generations' engine, which is why Sonic's boost controls in Forces aren't up to snuff compared to Gens, and that's likely why Classic also has so many physics issues). If you build a game on a bad management schedule, it's going to have a massive downward effect that will effect the game badly, especially if you misused your time, like it seems they did with Forces.

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I agree with Kuzu, it's too idealistic to assume that one aspect is cause of all problems. There is some truth to your reasoning, but it's not a core problem.

Obviously 06 was obviously  rushed, Forced was not and it's still underwhelming. Marvel Movies come out several per year and still get positive review. Sonic the Movie took years to make and will be garbage regardless.

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Yeah, I'd say there's been a fair bit of that going on.

What's odd though is that they've toned down on the game production as of late and yet the game's actually look & play simpler and feel less realized.

Though Forces plays with this up & down, forth & back.

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Even if you give Sonic Team 5 years and all the money in the world to make a Sonic game, they will still come up with a mediocre product.

So many companies can still create great games even with a low budget and a short time, but Sonic's problem is way beyond all of these.

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2 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Forces was known to have undergone only a year or so of development because too much time was wasted developing Hedgehog Engine 2, which was already built on top of the wrong engine (It was built on Lost World's engine, as opposed to Generations' engine, which is why Sonic's boost controls in Forces aren't up to snuff compared to Gens, and that's likely why Classic also has so many physics issues).

 

The Hedgehog Engine 2 had no bearing on the physics or the feel of the boost. Its purely a graphics engine and is separate from the coding that makes up the physics or governs the controls. Its only job is to make what is being put on screen look good. To further prove that point, Lost World was also run on the original Hedgehog Engine - Just like Gens before it. Same engine, two wildly different feels.

If your looking for something to blame for all that, then you want to point to the Physics engine - which would be HAVOK ... but even so that has been the engine of choice for most main Sonic games all the way back to 06, so its more of a problem with the dev's coding ambitions than anything else.

Forces boost was daft because that's exactly how it was designed to be. The director in charge of Forces has shown a consistent and deliberate lean toward gameplay that is more controlled and restrictive in order to maximize accessibility. That's all it is. He did it in Colors, and he did it again in Forces. Classic Sonic is busted because they made zero attempt to recreate momentum physics and rather designed something that could approximate it in basic hi speed situations. Those were choices, not limitations on the engine or development fails.

 

 

To answer the OP, Forces without a shadow of a doubt showcased that time isn't the problem here. Direction and Focus seem like much bigger issues in need of tackling.

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A solid, focused vision and direction is technically the bigger factor.

Someone mentioned Mario games and just how many we tend to get for how good they tend to be? That's because Nintendo generally figures what it wants to do and maintains the core of that to the end.

Though it probably helps that Mario is something of a founder and just tends to do whatever it pleases with gusto.

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8 hours ago, Kuzu the Boloedge said:

That's just one of the symptoms of a much larger problem with this series. There's a myriad of issues that Plague this series to just single out one.

Even when the Sonic team took a break between 2013 and 2017, we still got a half assed product. So it's not just a matter of development time.

Was going to say, it's really been kind of both. I honestly can't say Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Adventure 2 with complete trash like STH'06 or Shadow is necessarily worse than Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Generations by basically just not doing anything. I've been a fan long enough to deal with the latter twice; and at least when they were doing the former there were low key great games being released at a frequent clip to offset even the most execrable garbage.

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39 minutes ago, Tornado said:

Was going to say, it's really been kind of both. I honestly can't say Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Adventure 2 with complete trash like STH'06 or Shadow is necessarily worse than Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Generations by basically just not doing anything. I've been a fan long enough to deal with the latter twice; and at least when they were doing the former there were low key great games being released at a frequent clip to offset even the most execrable garbage.

I could really go for a Sonic Rush right about now. The three games in that series (I'll count Sonic Colors DS in there as well) weren't what I really wanted out of a 2D Sonic game, but compared to what Sonic Team themselves were putting out at the time, they were a breath of fresh air. If DIMPs ever gets involved with the series again, I'd rather them continue their work on that gameplay style and leave Genesis accurate platforming games to the Mania team. Sonic vs Darkness: Nightmare Revived (god that name is worse every time I hear it) is a pretty good example of what a Rush game could be like on console, and its definitely preferable to the dual-screen setup.

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1 hour ago, Tornado said:

Was going to say, it's really been kind of both. I honestly can't say Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Adventure 2 with complete trash like STH'06 or Shadow is necessarily worse than Sonic Team squandering the goodwill the series had following Generations by basically just not doing anything. I've been a fan long enough to deal with the latter twice; and at least when they were doing the former there were low key great games being released at a frequent clip to offset even the most execrable garbage.

The series was so much more flexible in the 2000's. People cry and moan about Shadow and 06 so much, you'd swear they were the ONLY games that came out from 2000 to 2009. That completely ignores the fact that games from that period ranged from good to passable and they all tried something different but kept the feel of the series. We got the Advance, Rush, Riders, Storybook, and Rival games back then. You rarely see shit like that anymore.

 

But because we bitched and moaned so much about those two games, Sega are just content to not give a shit and just release the white bread and vanilla games all through the 2010's while we sit here and scratch our heads wondering why this is happening.

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Saying that quantity is the reason for the franchise's blunders is a very crude oversimplification when these can be tracked down to other factors like ST wanting to implement new ideas just because with little consideration for gameplay, the execution of said ideas as well as other elements like level design (*cough*Forces*cough*), short-sighted decision making (comissioning projects to developers that have no experience with the development of Sonic games like BRB, the Nintendo deal, the movie deal with Paramount, management of their own development teams like it happened with 06, etc) and overall not having clue of what direction to take the franchise in order to truly exploit it's potential, since I fear that Sonic Team as developers are exhausted, particularly with being creative.

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1 hour ago, Legendary Emerald said:

 Sonic vs Darkness: Nightmare Revived (god that name is worse every time I hear it) is a pretty good example of what a Rush game could be like on console, and its definitely preferable to the dual-screen setup.

Wait, the what now?

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