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Detective Kaito

Should Morio Kishimoto Continue Working on Sonic?

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Nothing personal against this guy, but I have to say that every single game that he's been the Director or Lead Game Designer of has been...mediocre.

https://segaretro.org/Morio_Kishimoto

This is his Sonic Production history:

  • Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007) — Lead Game Designer
  • Sonic and the Black Knight (2009) — Lead Game Designer
  • Sonic Colors (Wii Version) (2010) — Director & Lead Game Designer
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 (2012) — Special Thanks
  • Sonic Lost World (Wii U Version) (2013) — Director
  • Sonic Forces (2017) — Director & Lead Game Designer

You could argue that the only good Sonic game he has worked on is Sonic Colors, and I probably would agree.

I think I see a pattern in his games, where the levels are very linear and under-designed, especially with the Story Book games and Sonic Forces. It's not a coincidence that he didn't work on Sonic Unleashed or Generations, usually these two games are considered the best in terms of the boost gameplay.

If I had to make a guess, he is most likely working on the next main line Sonic game, and over the years he hasn't shown any kind of improvement in his game design or direction, in my opinion.

Of course, it's unfair to blame him for all of these games' faults, but that's the only common denominator I can find.

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As lead game designer, I do think he probably has a hand in the overly linear level design. I think they should put him on another series that can take advantage of his strengths as he does not seem to fit Sonic. Although, all the blame cannot fall on just one person and there's probably more at play explaining the quality of the games.

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Short answer - no.

Longer answer - his portfolio speaks for itself. The only game out of the whole list that's considered "good" was Colors, and even then I feel like it's a fluke, since the reception at that time was a blind "it's daytime stages only, so it's good!!!". While yes, one person can't be responsible for all the shortcomings, game design and direction are 2 of the very important aspects of game development that subsequently divide into several smaller aspects, like level design, script, art design(probably), etc.

If he is the director and/or game designer for the next mainline Sonic game, I'm already writing it off as "not good" and probably won't even bother with it.

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1 minute ago, Bobnik said:

Short answer - no.

Longer answer - his portfolio speaks for itself. The only game out of the whole list that's considered "good" was Colors, and even then I feel like it's a fluke, since the reception at that time was a blind "it's daytime stages only, so it's good!!!". While yes, one person can't be responsible for all the shortcomings, game design and direction are 2 of the very important aspects of game development that subsequently divide into several smaller aspects, like level design, script, art design(probably), etc.

 If he is the director and/or game designer for the next mainline Sonic game, I'm already writing it off as "not good" and probably won't even bother with it.

I agree with you completely, especially the last sentence. I think it would be pretty boring to have the same director for three mainline games in a row, especially since the last two games he directed weren't critically successful at all. They need someone else already.

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Blunt answer: No

Slightly more nuanced answer: I'll let a few examples from his last game (with some added commentary) speak for themselves.

( i hope you liek vidyas and screenshots, guyz and galz )

ORZXYQH.jpg&key=58ab9f995d040c546e907ce9

^ First level shown. "Maybe it's a tutorial st-" nope marks the halfway point of the game.

And no the "3D" levels don't improve from here on out.

The game's ACTUAL first level is this, if you play it from a top-down perspective:

 

-

hxak9F8.png&key=35c34428afb1aae192be5516

olXGNGL.png&key=3b65afc36181e6dc2501f1fd

yo dawg i heard you like to go fast so we put a fast in your fast so you can go fast in the fast

118736_w_700.png

Great example of asset (re)use.

DJES_NLXoAEWNET?format=jpg&key=9f63d5f70

"There is no input"

CHE8ejb.png

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D4ZPnEu.png

lol

"(10:24) Many games feature complex and intricate gameplay. However with Sonic, it's more sloppy but easy. Above everything else, we wanted this game to be a non-stop action experience. Often with games, there are many moments where one must take time to aim before shooting. But in this game, you simply press and hold the button to attack. So you can really enjoy ultimately just dashing like a maniac through the stages. ... (11:24) Normally there is a button for switching between characters. However in this game, Sonic comes forward when the boost button is pressed, and the Avatar comes forward with the attack button. As a result, the player doesn't need to think about switching characters. Instead of sticking to Sonic's traditional style of gameplay, we decided to design the game to be as simple and enjoyable as possible; focusing more on the excitement of dashing through the stages, without having to think about, you know, complex game controls."

LOL

Last but not least:

lOZrnFb.jpg

The punchline of Forces, its four-year production cycle, and Kishimoto's gameography as a whole.

A Sonic Team Sonic game to me has as much worth as no Sonic game at all by this point, but I think that's especially true with Kishimoto in the director/lead designer's chair. If Sega isn't bothered to get someone other than Sonic Team to make Sonic games outright, than the least they could do is send Kishimoto and his shared group of designers off to other projects and get some new directors/designers who are actually competent at their job.

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55 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

He can keep working there. Just as long as he does better and/or let's the bigger vision be someone else's sometimes.

I think his design mentality works better for a mobile game, and considering he worked in conversions of pachislot and pachinko games with Sammy, it would make sense. Or heck, maybe let him work on a Sonic fighting game.

He likes to make everything oversimplified.

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TBH, it pretty depends of what he is doing, especially as the flaws of the last few games are pretty different, game-design wise. (especially as some of the last games are extreme reactions to the flaws of the preceding game… for instance Lost World felt like a response to the criticism of the Boost gameplay, while Forces is a bad try to go back to boost after Lost World and RoL)

It's mostly on story stuff and all that I would like someone else to be in charge, because darn. But either way, I don't really care about him much.

 

The problem with the Sonic Team are more complex than searching a "common denominator". Him "going away" wouldn't magically make the games better, or even solve the problem he "introduced". But I would be interested by a new director, in that I like fresh blood or something… but if the ST continue their way of "overraction to criticism of the last game", it wouldn't help enough.

( and it's not just because I'm salty that Forces removed everything that I wanted the Sonic Team to explore post-Lost World in order to go back to some kind of bad copy of the boost gameplay )

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41 minutes ago, Kazhnuz said:

TBH, it pretty depends of what he is doing, especially as the flaws of the last few games are pretty different, game-design wise. (especially as some of the last games are extreme reactions to the flaws of the preceding game… for instance Lost World felt like a response to the criticism of the Boost gameplay, while Forces is a bad try to go back to boost after Lost World and RoL)

It's mostly on story stuff and all that I would like someone else to be in charge, because darn. But either way, I don't really care about him much.

 

The problem with the Sonic Team are more complex than searching a "common denominator". Him "going away" wouldn't magically make the games better, or even solve the problem he "introduced". But I would be interested by a new director, in that I like fresh blood or something… but if the ST continue their way of "overraction to criticism of the last game", it wouldn't help enough.

( and it's not just because I'm salty that Forces removed everything that I wanted the Sonic Team to explore post-Lost World in order to go back to some kind of bad copy of the boost gameplay )

Yeah, Forces is almost nothing be overeaction.

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2 hours ago, Bobnik said:

Short answer - no.

Longer answer - his portfolio speaks for itself. The only game out of the whole list that's considered "good" was Colors, and even then I feel like it's a fluke, since the reception at that time was a blind "it's daytime stages only, so it's good!!!". While yes, one person can't be responsible for all the shortcomings, game design and direction are 2 of the very important aspects of game development that subsequently divide into several smaller aspects, like level design, script, art design(probably), etc.

If he is the director and/or game designer for the next mainline Sonic game, I'm already writing it off as "not good" and probably won't even bother with it.

And at least his first two are narratively better than any of his later ones. Ever since, his narratives have been very stiff. 

 

I agree that he should not touch the series again. He’s done nothing good for the series since 2013 at the latest. I have a gumption the Storybooks and Colors were good in spite of him, not because of him. 

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21 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

I agree that he should not touch the series again. He’s done nothing good for the series since 2013 at the latest. I have a gumption the Storybooks and Colors were good in spite of him, not because of him. 

The storybook games were trash in terms of gameplay, and Colors is much weaker than Unleashed or Generations in terms of boost gameplay.

Although I do enjoy Black Knight's story and cutscenes.

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 My gut instinct is to say no, his games are terrible, he should be gone. Thing is though I think the reason he's so comfy in his seat is because his basic bitch approach to game design is exactly what upper management wanted Sonic from the time. 

I'm gonna guess Sonic Colors's success was a surprise to those involved with Sonic at the time. I remember them lowballing it's promotion compared to Sonic 4 which at least Sega seemed to be convinced would be some kind of critical darling for hardcore fans. It had to have been a surprise when the reviews came out and the light platformer they made for younger fans to chew on while they worked on the real mainline Sonic game was a hit with enthusiasts too.

But I mean think about it: from Sega's perspective they had stumbled upon a goldmine. They could have the competently reviewed Sonic games they always wanted developed much cheaper and with much less struggle than before. Who gives a shit if the most hardcore of Sonic fans find the games flaccid or unsatisfying? If they're just okay enough, most of them will probably stick around anyway, right? Sonic Colors sold almost as many copies as Unleashed and outsold Generations outright and I bet it was far cheaper than either of those two games to make. The paper-thin gameplay mechanics aren't really concerned to an executive as long as the public eats them up.

If the reception continues to trend downward I think he'll be a goner. We'll see what happens.

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4 hours ago, StellarBlur said:

As lead game designer, I do think he probably has a hand in the overly linear level design. I think they should put him on another series that can take advantage of his strengths as he does not seem to fit Sonic. Although, all the blame cannot fall on just one person and there's probably more at play explaining the quality of the games.

This exactly. If nothing else, he REALLY shouldn't have a say in the level design. Super linear block platforming is the literal opposite of Sonic gameplay. Flowing, winding, exploration based design. The former is more Mario esque (which is fine, GREAT even. Literally defined the genre.) and not so much Sonic.

That said, Colors didn't have bad level design, just bad SONIC level design. Sega probably has some properties where his talents would be put to better use. Actually, I feel the same way about most of the creatives I have problems with in the series. Like the writers. Good (not great) writing for more comedy focused, dialogue heavy kids cartoons (Like Sonic Boom as the easy example), not so good for the more action heavy, dramatic stakes of the series (not dark or overserious, dramatic. Like how little planet being chained to Sonic's world presents a threat and lets Eggman endanger both, real stakes and a real threat taken seriously by the cast. THAT sort of drama). Plus the comedy is more visual thanks to the expressive, animation friendly designs of the cast. I think a lot of the series' problems in general come down to the decisions made for it not fitting Sonic in general most of the time. Like, I certainly enjoy the pixar look of things nowadays (I will never stop gushing over the opening to Unleashed) but can I really say it's a better fit for Sonic than the more energetic, Uekawa style look of the past? Before I get shouted down, I KNOW both are based on Uekawa's designs, I'm just saying that the overall style has drifted away from the rebellious teen look of the early 3d games (and it's NOT just Adventure I'm talking about, Sonic battle arguably did it better for its cutscenes) and become something softer and more safe. Like the edges have been sanded off.

I spend a lot of time trying to think of why I don't connect so strongly with Sonic games nowadays while I can recite the entire scripts of older games by memory alone and I think this is what it boils down to. Even in the games that are well made, where the parts come together to form something enjoyable, a good portion of it doesn't seem very "Sonic" to me. SOME of it definitely is, it's just never holistic in it's "Sonic-ness". It's cramming in the identities of a bunch of past games rather than one of its own and has people who don't understand or don't agree about what that identity IS each working on their own parts seemingly without talking to each other (probably because the staff of Sonic Team shifts around so much).

 

...or maybe I'm talking out of my ass and am WAY off base. Sorry if some of this is too off topic.

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Honestly I don't care one way or the other. The only game he worked on that I've played that I didn't care for is Secret Rings. I kinda think this is a Mountain out of a Molehill situation TBH.

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On 5/26/2019 at 6:29 PM, Wraith said:

 My gut instinct is to say no, his games are terrible, he should be gone. Thing is though I think the reason he's so comfy in his seat is because his basic bitch approach to game design is exactly what upper management wanted Sonic from the time. 

I'm gonna guess Sonic Colors's success was a surprise to those involved with Sonic at the time. I remember them lowballing it's promotion compared to Sonic 4 which at least Sega seemed to be convinced would be some kind of critical darling for hardcore fans. It had to have been a surprise when the reviews came out and the light platformer they made for younger fans to chew on while they worked on the real mainline Sonic game was a hit with enthusiasts too.

But I mean think about it: from Sega's perspective they had stumbled upon a goldmine. They could have the competently reviewed Sonic games they always wanted developed much cheaper and with much less struggle than before. Who gives a shit if the most hardcore of Sonic fans find the games flaccid or unsatisfying? If they're just okay enough, most of them will probably stick around anyway, right? Sonic Colors sold almost as many copies as Unleashed and outsold Generations outright and I bet it was far cheaper than either of those two games to make. The paper-thin gameplay mechanics aren't really concerned to an executive as long as the public eats them up.

If the reception continues to trend downward I think he'll be a goner. We'll see what happens.

This is exactly what happened and why I think Colors' success was the turning point in the franchise becoming what it is nowadays.

On another note, I like the presentation and story of the storybook games but he was the gameplay designer for those, not director.

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