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Could a Thousand Monkeys with a Thousand Typewriters Make a Better Sonic Game than Iizuka?


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9 hours ago, Snowragnarok said:

I personally think even BW has more passion than games like Lost World or TSR, so sure, why not?

I sincerely don't know what is wrong with Lost World or TSR. I'll admit I haven't played them but every let's play or gameplay video I see they don't look that bad.

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I mean, by the same token: Yuji Naka is the father of NiGHTs, yet Balan Wonderworld is what he's made in recent history (only similar to the former in terms of art/presentation). Even the people who were once the "best person for the job" can become unable to deliver the same experience again. People who are creative, if they keep working on the same thing for a long time, they'll lose their drive, passion and creativity for it, no matter what. Let's not forget that these people can also help stifle creativity just as much as promote it- see how Miyamoto has basically changed what Paper Mario is or what Mario "RPG" spinoffs can even be- effectively not RPGs because he removed the ability to do a deep story, unique characters that fit within the world of the series, or even many other staple RPG elements- even in terms of gameplay.

But another thing to consider is that games are not just the responsibility/fault of one person anyways (even Balan might not be WHOLLY Naka's fault, or even him and Oshima's). There are so many people and so many things involved in their creation- and like with any group project, the teamwork of the people, the passion, drive, focus, being able to agree upon and come up with ideas they they're dedicated to deliver and also be able to be realistic with what they can achieve with their talents and team considering the budget and development timeframe that they have- these things are more complicated than many people are even considerate of. Even if Iizuka did decide to head up an Adventure game, he would need to find the right people for the job- not just himself. For example, you don't pull an Activision and have the people who made a few favorably-viewed platformer game revivals into some cyclic developer for your annual cash-grab FPS game.

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14 minutes ago, Shade Vortex said:

I mean, by the same token: Yuji Naka is the father of NiGHTs, yet Balan Wonderworld is what he's made in recent history (only similar to the former in terms of art/presentation). Even the people who were once the "best person for the job" can become unable to deliver the same experience again. People who are creative, if they keep working on the same thing for a long time, they'll lose their drive, passion and creativity for it, no matter what. Let's not forget that these people can also help stifle creativity just as much as promote it- see how Miyamoto has basically changed what Paper Mario is or what Mario "RPG" spinoffs can even be- effectively not RPGs because he removed the ability to do a deep story, unique characters that fit within the world of the series, or even many other staple RPG elements- even in terms of gameplay.

But another thing to consider is that games are not just the responsibility/fault of one person anyways (even Balan might not be WHOLLY Naka's fault, or even him and Oshima's). There are so many people and so many things involved in their creation- and like with any group project, the teamwork of the people, the passion, drive, focus, being able to agree upon and come up with ideas they they're dedicated to deliver and also be able to be realistic with what they can achieve with their talents and team considering the budget and development timeframe that they have- these things are more complicated than many people are even considerate of. Even if Iizuka did decide to head up an Adventure game, he would need to find the right people for the job- not just himself. For example, you don't pull an Activision and have the people who made a few favorably-viewed platformer game revivals into some cyclic developer for your annual cash-grab FPS game.

It's usually hard to replicate the success of a game you made.  Even if the game you made was truly successful, that doesn't mean that you would have an easy time trying to replicate that success with the next game.  Because, either people have already seen the plots and the characters in the first successful game you made and they would either look at it as rehashing the same plot and characters from the first game or the next game fails to deliver the excitement that the first game generated because the plot or the characters would go in a completely different direction from the first game that wouldn't settle well with the audience.

It's like with Yuji Naka.  Just because he created the Sonic the Hedgehog series and that series remains to be successful (for all its high points and low points) to this very day, doesn't mean he could strike lightning twice, in this case, make a successful game series with Balan Wonderworld.  Now, I'm not saying that Yuji Naka can't make another successful game series like with Sonic the Hedgehog, I think he could.  But like you stated, it's a matter of how the game is being developed and whether or not they have the time to look over the plot and the gameplay to make sure the game came out finished or polished.

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3 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

Yearly reminder that Takashi Iizuka is the father of the Sonic Adventure games. They are his brainchild and if you are clamoring for the person to come back who 'gets' those games.....you'd be asking for him.

Iizuka has also said that the Adventure model is contrary to what he considers a progressive approach to the series, so again, I really don't care who's responsible for what idea or who is capable of turning in a good game.  I suspect all of this talk about who's running things and what whoever it is will decide to do owes less to strong opinions for or against certain people and their approach than it does to just how little we know about what's been going on ever since Sonic Team disbanded.  My point remains that Sonic development should be more communicative.  They need fans to know they won't release anymore unfinished games and they also need to get a feel for what fans actually want.  Not critics, not haters, not gamers as a whole; what people want who are specifically interested in Sonic.

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9 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

Iizuka has also said that the Adventure model is contrary to what he considers a progressive approach to the series, so again, I really don't care who's responsible for what idea or who is capable of turning in a good game.  I suspect all of this talk about who's running things and what whoever it is will decide to do owes less to strong opinions for or against certain people and their approach than it does to just how little we know about what's been going on ever since Sonic Team disbanded.  My point remains that Sonic development should be more communicative.  They need fans to know they won't release anymore unfinished games and they also need to get a feel for what fans actually want.  Not critics, not haters, not gamers as a whole; what people want who are specifically interested in Sonic.

I feel like communication between SEGA and the fans has been an issue for many years.  Like, it seems like every time the fans want something from the games, SEGA interprets those statements as something else.  Like for example, say the fans wanted better characterizations and plots from both Sonic Lost World and Sonic Forces and yet, SEGA somehow interprets that as giving the fans more boost gameplay, despite the fact that that's not what the fans asked for.  I honestly don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but it seems like SEGA is taking ideas from the fans and yet, they are twisting those ideas into something that the fanbase never asked for in the first place.  At least, that's how it looks to me.

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37 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

Iizuka has also said that the Adventure model is contrary to what he considers a progressive approach to the series

Ah yes, the interview about how a new Adventure game wouldn't "advance the series" and that was right before Forces released,  that interview did not age well when Forces released.

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37 minutes ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

I feel like communication between SEGA and the fans has been an issue for many years.  Like, it seems like every time the fans want something from the games, SEGA interprets those statements as something else.  Like for example, say the fans wanted better characterizations and plots from both Sonic Lost World and Sonic Forces and yet, SEGA somehow interprets that as giving the fans more boost gameplay, despite the fact that that's not what the fans asked for.  I honestly don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but it seems like SEGA is taking ideas from the fans and yet, they are twisting those ideas into something that the fanbase never asked for in the first place.  At least, that's how it looks to me.

I'll believe SEGA understands what fans want when they flat-out acknowledge that "Sonic Cycle" meme was bullshit, which also means they were wrong to take it seriously.  At one point, they did; they said as much when they boasted "The Sonic Cycle has been smashed", which is why SEGA thought ripping out most of the playable characters was what fans wanted--which they also boasted about.  It was not what many fans wanted.  Sonic 4, the game for which they boasted about removing all characters who weren't Sonic, was disowned and forgotten by most fans.  Sonic Mania, which brought the other characters back, was embraced by most fans and a sequel was requested almost immediately.  Yet not made, for whatever reason.

If their outreach to professional Sonic haters, the Game Grumps, is any indication, SEGA isn't actually trying to make something that pleases fans; they're trying to make something that shuts up the loudest detractors.  Seems like a stupid move when these people aren't likely to buy a Sonic game anyway, but with as much as SEGA owns now, I think maybe they're not really trying to make Sonic profitable again; they just want their mascot cleaned up so nobody recognizes SEGA as "That company that made Sonic 06" when they see their logo on any game.  In fact, if Sonic wasn't their mascot they might even accomplish that by retiring his series.  Let's put it this way, if you're going shopping for tortillas, a really fancy neon sign on the front of a hardware store isn't likely to make you go in because that store doesn't likely sell tortillas.  But if you pass by a grocery store whose sign's letters are falling out, their plastic cracked, and paint flakes peeling and falling off and smelling like they contain led, you will likely go elsewhere for your tortillas.  Sonic is akin to the sign in this scenario; there isn't a big push to make him super-impressive because Sonic games aren't what most people are shopping for anyway; they just need him not to put people off of getting what they are shopping for from SEGA.

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1 hour ago, Scritch the Cat said:

I'll believe SEGA understands what fans want when they flat-out acknowledge that "Sonic Cycle" meme was bullshit, which also means they were wrong to take it seriously.  At one point, they did; they said as much when they boasted "The Sonic Cycle has been smashed", which is why SEGA thought ripping out most of the playable characters was what fans wanted--which they also boasted about.  It was not what many fans wanted.  Sonic 4, the game for which they boasted about removing all characters who weren't Sonic, was disowned and forgotten by most fans.  Sonic Mania, which brought the other characters back, was embraced by most fans and a sequel was requested almost immediately.  Yet not made, for whatever reason.

If their outreach to professional Sonic haters, the Game Grumps, is any indication, SEGA isn't actually trying to make something that pleases fans; they're trying to make something that shuts up the loudest detractors.  Seems like a stupid move when these people aren't likely to buy a Sonic game anyway, but with as much as SEGA owns now, I think maybe they're not really trying to make Sonic profitable again; they just want their mascot cleaned up so nobody recognizes SEGA as "That company that made Sonic 06" when they see their logo on any game.  In fact, if Sonic wasn't their mascot they might even accomplish that by retiring his series.  Let's put it this way, if you're going shopping for tortillas, a really fancy neon sign on the front of a hardware store isn't likely to make you go in because that store doesn't likely sell tortillas.  But if you pass by a grocery store whose sign's letters are falling out, their plastic cracked, and paint flakes peeling and falling off and smelling like they contain led, you will likely go elsewhere for your tortillas.  Sonic is akin to the sign in this scenario; there isn't a big push to make him super-impressive because Sonic games aren't what most people are shopping for anyway; they just need him not to put people off of getting what they are shopping for from SEGA.

I think that SEGA really needs to stop listening to the detractors because they aren't the ones buying the games, the fans are the ones buying the games.  So, they should listen to the audience who's willing to give the Sonic series a chance and actually buy their products, rather than the detractors who probably wouldn't buy the games anyway and will just complain about the games, regardless if SEGA improved on the franchise or not.

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It’s a bit of a Catch-22 tho.

While Sega shouldn’t cater to the Sonic detractors who aren’t likely or interested in buying Sonic, those detractors have a platform in which to broadcast (read: advertise) the game and their thoughts on them. So when they say “Sonic sux” the audience of the detractors listen and follow suit whether they’ve played the games or not.

Ideally, they’d want to make a game that shuts up the detractors so that they’d stop spreading their “Sonic sux” message. Would also help if we’d remind said detractors that Sonic 06 was well over a decade ago and few games have come close to that level of bad—sure, there’s Boom’s bad release, but then there’s Forces which, while not as great as many expected, isn’t in the same bad league as 06 despite what others would like to think.

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22 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

It’s a bit of a Catch-22 tho.

While Sega shouldn’t cater to the Sonic detractors who aren’t likely or interested in buying Sonic, those detractors have a platform in which to broadcast (read: advertise) the game and their thoughts on them. So when they say “Sonic sux” the audience of the detractors listen and follow suit whether they’ve played the games or not.

Ideally, they’d want to make a game that shuts up the detractors so that they’d stop spreading their “Sonic sux” message. Would also help if we’d remind said detractors that Sonic 06 was well over a decade ago and few games have come close to that level of bad—sure, there’s Boom’s bad release, but then there’s Forces which, while not as great as many expected, isn’t in the same bad league as 06 despite what others would like to think.

I guess I can see how the detractors could affect the audience if SEGA doesn't do something about it.  But, if SEGA constantly keep putting out great games for Sonic, then there's really not much the detractors can say that would make their points valid.  Sure, they can always bring up the bad Sonic games like Sonic 06, but since that was a game released years ago, their points would start becoming invalid and people would probably ignore them after that (probably).

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I can actually see how Iizuka thought that the adventure model is not necessarily the way to move the series forward, even if I don't necessarily agree with what he thinks is the right model.

 

It's one thing to have Mania, which was a revitalization of a 2D game not seen in 25 years and a niche project, exist alongside the main series game, whatever it is. It's another thing to have a two decade old 3D game be the avant garde, when the main series has since made "improvements" on it's primary gameplay style. Like, I'm pretty confident if you actually cornered Iizuka and other modern Sonic Team members (since 2010) in a room, they'd tell you point blank that the recent boost gameplay is an evolution on the earlier 3D gameplay in SA1/2 and works better. And to some extent they'd be right. The boost games took what SA2 established in terms of purely sonic gameplay and brought it to it's logical conclusion, which made the game tighter and faster. So....why would they want to go back to the earlier stuff? For the janky alternative gameplay styles? I'm pretty confident they would not and Iizuka has even commented on this multiple times in recent years. 

 

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On 5/8/2021 at 2:29 PM, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

I can actually see how Iizuka thought that the adventure model is not necessarily the way to move the series forward, even if I don't necessarily agree with what he thinks is the right model.

 

It's one thing to have Mania, which was a revitalization of a 2D game not seen in 25 years and a niche project, exist alongside the main series game, whatever it is. It's another thing to have a two decade old 3D game be the avant garde, when the main series has since made "improvements" on it's primary gameplay style. Like, I'm pretty confident if you actually cornered Iizuka and other modern Sonic Team members (since 2010) in a room, they'd tell you point blank that the recent boost gameplay is an evolution on the earlier 3D gameplay in SA1/2 and works better. And to some extent they'd be right. The boost games took what SA2 established in terms of purely sonic gameplay and brought it to it's logical conclusion, which made the game tighter and faster. So....why would they want to go back to the earlier stuff? For the janky alternative gameplay styles? I'm pretty confident they would not and Iizuka has even commented on this multiple times in recent years. 

 

It's easy to see how boost Sonic is essentially an evolution of  Adventure Sonic; in fact in terms of how the character himself plays it's appropriate to say it is Adventure Sonic, except with a few more moves.  However, while this amplified some of what people loved about those games; it also blew up some of their big issues and now the issues are too big to ignore, and prompt SEGA to compensate in some bizarre ways.

The key thing separating how Sonic (and any other character who runs fast) played in the Adventure games from how he played in the Classic games was momentum.  Speed was a selling point in the Genesis era but then it was also something one had to work for.  Get good at the games and you can blast through the levels like an arty badass, but if you weren't they'd probably take longer than most other platformers' levels.  Well okay; there was no speeding up some of the Sonic 1 levels, but in the subsequent games the series came more fully into its selling vision.  The Adventure games, for whatever reason(s)--one of them seems to have been technical limitations found by experimentation--all-but removed that aspect of Sonic's design by giving him dash panels almost anywhere he needed to go fast, and scripting loops so he had less need of going fast.  So arguably boost pads placed before loops aren't even there to help Sonic get through them, but rather to hide that he doesn't really need to go fast to get through them.  This much physical downgrade and fronting don't mean the games were shit, and the speed stages were still almost unanimously considered the best parts of them, but the change did mean they had to fundamentally change how they designed levels.  Another thing that prompted such a change was the problematic 3D camera.  The first Adventure seemed as if it couldn't really decide on one approach but as of the second it had become an overwhelming focus on narrow paths, surrounded by cliffs and/or walls, excessive pits, and an increase in linearity and spectacle segments that have little to no actual gameplay. 

Also, about those "janky alternative gameplay styles": I know that back then a lot of people were saying "These Sonic and Shadow stages are great; if only they could get rid of the other stuff and make the whole game like that", but the truth is that giving Sonic/Shadow/others an easier time accelerating and less potential slowdown was part of why those alternative gameplay styles were there.  This was, is, and has always been one of the biggest issues with making Sonic games: Their hero is fast and that's why he's appealing, but left on its own that will just result in a short game.  A fun one, sure, but one that is over so quickly that it might barely make an impression.  So from the very start, SEGA has padded out Sonic games.  Their best means of doing so involve just making levels bigger, but those were never their only means.  Some zones in Sonic 1, again, were designed specifically to keep Sonic's speed from being any help in getting through them, but the more persistent issue was the Special stages; both getting into them and beating them.  Sonic 1's play nothing like the rest of the game and certainly not like the parts of the game SEGA promoted; the subsequent ones are more Sonic-appropriate but have their own issues.  Often it seems like they're in just to force replaying the games.  Exoparadigmgamer gave them the best thrashing I can find and I generally agree.  And remember, this was back when Sonic and co still had to work to accelerate.  What does that logically mean when suddenly a lot of that work was done by dash panels?  It logically means MORE things got put in to prolong the game.

So yeah; Boost Sonic is a logical evolution of Adventure Sonic on many fronts but an evolution isn't necessarily a fix.  Sonic game design was already forced into revision when boosts littered Sonic's environment, so building a boost into him just exacerbated it.  Levels have to be made even longer, gimmicks like lasers cutting across Sonic's path to make him strafe are forced to last way too long and repeat way too much, and most notably of all, not since Sonic 1 have there been so many sections where Sonic is forced to just stop.  That issue was evident from Boost's very advent in Sonic Rush, a game that is more or less a conventional Sonic game except with boost much of the time, but at many other points is basically a beat-em-up with conventional Sonic moves and the boosts used to attack enemies, and that's not optional; the path forward is literally locked until they're defeated and many take multiple hits.  As Sonic padding goes I find that type quite innocuous, but it is padding and it illustrates how boost has such strings attached.  And every boost game since harkens back to Rush in some way, if not multiple ways.  Sonic Unleashed had the beat-em-up made deeper but also much, much slower, while subsequent Boost games have doubled down on locking Sonic into boxy segments, typically 2D ones, where his speed is nearly useless and he's forced to use jumps and sometimes Wisps to proceed.  If it isn't clear yet where I'm going with this, being fast is a big part of what makes Sonic fun, but it places a big burden on developers to accommodate it somehow.  There are many ways they can approach that challenge but there's probably no way that has been universally loved by the fans, and that they have tried so many different things to pad out their games is a big part of why this fanbase is so divided.  So the easier it becomes for Sonic to move fast, the more all of those problems are exacerbated.

And because the Boost formula hasn't really solved these fundamental issues, and in some cases has made them even worse, the "We don't want to bring back those janky alternative gameplay styles" excuse doesn't really fly with me.  Firstly, because some of those gameplay styles weren't actually "janky" and I wouldn't even call them "alternative"; I am naturally referring mostly to Tails and Knuckles in SA1.  People had issues with the levels they put those characters in but the Adventure era did get then moving essentially the way fans wanted; slower than Sonic but still fast and with a few different moves.  I don't buy that there was a need to kick out every playable character who wasn't Sonic post-06, yes; many of them were broken in that game but Sonic himself was broken in it too.  That was from the get-go a propaganda move aimed at noisy negativists who whined about other playable characters, plus those accursed idiots who made and spread the Sonic Cycle meme and so perpetuated the myth that these people represented the majority of the  fandom, and the result was SEGA went so far as to remove those characters that few fans actually had a problem with.

Secondly, because "janky alternative playstyles" have not actually gone away.  They threw out some of the playstyles that got the most flak, such as Fishing and (until recently) guns, but they have not stopped putting more in; they're just grafted onto Sonic himself now, and again, it is highly arguable that boost has made them even more reliant on padding things out with gimmicks.

Finally, here is the worst part of all of this: SEGA has no idea how to make a Sonic game that many people will like anymore, and that, too, is a result of their mishandling the series at that crucial moment post-06.  Yes; the fanbase was already divided against itself in the Adventure era, mostly between the camp that preferred those games and the camp that preferred Classic Sonic.  That division was not ideal, but when SEGA opted to move on from the Adventure era, they made the situation even worse by throwing out things beloved by both camps and replacing them with just more untested gimmicks.  In many ways, Classic Sonic died even more than Adventure Sonic in the wake of 06.  Boost has changed what Sonic is, on so fundamental a level that it was inevitable that it would divide fans even further against each other.  And now that there are so many camps, it is all new levels of impossible to satisfy them all.  So to be blunt, while returning to absolutely everything from Adventure is hardly the most ideal situation, I truly believe it would be better for Sonic if the boost just went away--but again, it's built up its own fanbase who will complain.  This is not an easy quandary to solve, but it is a quandary SEGA wouldn't have to face if they hadn't gone this route.

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1 hour ago, Scritch the Cat said:

It's easy to see how boost Sonic is essentially an evolution of  Adventure Sonic; in fact in terms of how the character himself plays it's appropriate to say it is Adventure Sonic, except with a few more moves.  However, while this amplified some of what people loved about those games; it also blew up some of their big issues and now the issues are too big to ignore, and prompt SEGA to compensate in some bizarre ways.

The key thing separating how Sonic (and any other character who runs fast) played in the Adventure games from how he played in the Classic games was momentum.  Speed was a selling point in the Genesis era but then it was also something one had to work for.  Get good at the games and you can blast through the levels like an arty badass, but if you weren't they'd probably take longer than most other platformers' levels.  Well okay; there was no speeding up some of the Sonic 1 levels, but in the subsequent games the series came more fully into its selling vision.  The Adventure games, for whatever reason(s)--one of them seems to have been technical limitations found by experimentation--all-but removed that aspect of Sonic's design by giving him dash panels almost anywhere he needed to go fast, and scripting loops so he had less need of going fast.  So arguably boost pads placed before loops aren't even there to help Sonic get through them, but rather to hide that he doesn't really need to go fast to get through them.  This much physical downgrade and fronting don't mean the games were shit, and the speed stages were still almost unanimously considered the best parts of them, but the change did mean they had to fundamentally change how they designed levels.  Another thing that prompted such a change was the problematic 3D camera.  The first Adventure seemed as if it couldn't really decide on one approach but as of the second it had become an overwhelming focus on narrow paths, surrounded by cliffs and/or walls, excessive pits, and an increase in linearity and spectacle segments that have little to no actual gameplay. 

Also, about those "janky alternative gameplay styles": I know that back then a lot of people were saying "These Sonic and Shadow stages are great; if only they could get rid of the other stuff and make the whole game like that", but the truth is that giving Sonic/Shadow/others an easier time accelerating and less potential slowdown was part of why those alternative gameplay styles were there.  This was, is, and has always been one of the biggest issues with making Sonic games: Their hero is fast and that's why he's appealing, but left on its own that will just result in a short game.  A fun one, sure, but one that is over so quickly that it might barely make an impression.  So from the very start, SEGA has padded out Sonic games.  Their best means of doing so involve just making levels bigger, but those were never their only means.  Some zones in Sonic 1, again, were designed specifically to keep Sonic's speed from being any help in getting through them, but the more persistent issue was the Special stages; both getting into them and beating them.  Sonic 1's play nothing like the rest of the game and certainly not like what the parts of the game SEGA promoted; the subsequent ones are more Sonic-appropriate but have their own issues.  Often it seems like they're in just to force replaying the games.  Exoparadigmgamer gave them the best thrashing I can find and I generally agree.  And remember, this was back when Sonic and co still had to work to accelerate.  What does that logically mean when suddenly a lot of that work was done by dash panels?  It logically means MORE things got put in to prolong the game.

So yeah; Boost Sonic is a logical evolution of Adventure Sonic on many fronts but an evolution isn't necessarily a fix.  Sonic game design was already forced into revision when boosts littered Sonic's environment, so building a boost into him just exacerbated it.  Levels have to be made even longer, gimmicks like lasers cutting across Sonic's path to make him strafe are forced to last way too long and repeat way too much, and most notably of all, not since Sonic 1 have there been so many sections where Sonic is forced to just stop.  That issue was evident from Boost's very advent in Sonic Rush, a game that is more or less a conventional Sonic game except with boost much of the time, but at many other points is basically a beat-em-up with conventional Sonic moves and the boosts used to attack enemies, and that's not optional; the path forward is literally locked until they're defeated and many take multiple hits.  As Sonic padding goes I find that type quite innocuous, but it is padding and it illustrates how boost has such strings attached.  And every boost game since harkens back to Rush in some way, if not multiple ways.  Sonic Unleashed had the beat-em-up made deeper but also much, much slower, while subsequent Boost games have doubled down on locking Sonic into boxy segments, typically 2D ones, where his speed is nearly useless and he's forced to use jumps and sometimes Wisps to proceed.  If it isn't clear yet where I'm going with this, being fast is a big part of what makes Sonic fun, but it places a big burden on developers to accommodate it somehow.  There are many ways they can approach that challenge but there's probably no way that has been universally loved by the fans, and that they have tried so many different things to pad out their games is a big part of why this fanbase is so divided.  So the easier it becomes for Sonic to move fast, the more all of those problems are exacerbated.

And because the Boost formula hasn't really solved these fundamental issues, and in some cases has made them even worse, the "We don't want to bring back those janky alternative gameplay styles" excuse doesn't really fly with me.  Firstly, because some of those gameplay styles weren't actually "janky" and I wouldn't even call them "alternative"; I am naturally referring mostly to Tails and Knuckles in SA1.  People had issues with the levels they put those characters in but the Adventure era did get then moving essentially the way fans wanted; slower than Sonic but still fast and with a few different moves.  I don't buy that there was a need to kick out every playable character who wasn't Sonic post-06, yes; many of them were broken in that game but Sonic himself was broken in it too.  That was from the get-go a propaganda move aimed at noisy negativists who whined about other playable characters, plus those accursed idiots who made and spread the Sonic Cycle meme and so perpetuated the myth that these people represented the majority of the  fandom, and the result was SEGA went so far as to remove those characters that few fans actually had a problem with.

Secondly, because "janky alternative playstyles" have not actually gone away.  They threw out some of the playstyles that got the most flak, such as Fishing and (until recently) guns, but they have not stopped putting more in; they're just grafted onto Sonic himself now, and again, it is highly arguable that boost has made them even more reliant on padding things out with gimmicks.

Finally, here is the worst part of all of this: SEGA has no idea how to make a Sonic game that many people will like anymore, and that, too, is a result of their mishandling the series at that crucial moment post-06.  Yes; the fanbase was already divided against itself in the Adventure era, mostly between the camp that preferred those games and the camp that preferred Classic Sonic.  That division was not ideal, but when SEGA opted to move on from the Adventure era, they made the situation even worse by throwing out things beloved by both camps and replacing them with just more untested gimmicks.  In many ways, Classic Sonic died even more than Adventure Sonic in the wake of 06.  Boost has changed what Sonic is, on so fundamental a level that it was inevitable that it would divide fans even further against each other.  And now that there are so many camps, it is all new levels of impossible to satisfy them all.  So to be blunt, while returning to absolutely everything from Adventure is hardly the most ideal situation, I truly believe it would be better for Sonic if the boost just went away--but again, it's built up its own fanbase who will complain.  This is not an easy quandary to solve, but it is a quandary SEGA wouldn't have to face if they hadn't gone this route.

I love this post, thank you for taking the time to write it.

 

If we're this puzzled on what would be the next best thing for 3D sonic, it could make one very nervous to see the new game reveal whenever it shows up. The only thing in the last 10 years which has been confidence building is Mania and tbh I don't know how SEGA's thought process In developing the 3D games would be influenced by that.

 

I wish this franchise had relations with it's fandom similar to that between gearbox and it's fans recently. I've been a fan of borderlands and one thing that is apparent to me, especially with borderlands 3, is that the devs are not only "listening" to fans, they communicate with them in some ways and consistently implement changes in their games. And the BL3 community has been generally very happy as a result, seeing consistent improvements and fixes to both core gameplay issues and specific criticisms. Their record isn't perfect but clearly a line of communication is open and the game is always getting better.

Now I know SEGA does listen to fans often, but I don't think they communicate well with us for whatever reason. They seem to not understand fundamentally the same things we have been complaining about for years. It would be nice if SEGA were able to somehow, reach out to the more influential active fans in the community and get thorough understanding of common criticisms. Criticism can be a powerful tool if you apply corrections carefully, but SEGA seems to fear them and just do blanket coverage of all the surfacey issues just for the optics. I guess after all these years, I still don't get how they could misunderstand their own mascot's core gameplay appeal this much. I haven't heard a single spokesperson or team member, for example, show anywhere near the well thought out level of critique that I've seen from Shaymay. Not like an hour long speech, but even a blurb that indicates they understand the game design anywhere near on that level. And it's not to toot Shaymay's horn, it'd just to say that, well, it'd sure be nice to know that someone at SEGA "gets" Sonic like that and we can move forward with the potential of better designed games in a number of possible directions. I'm only mentioning this, because I think gearbox has done this with their fans. They totally get it and show it all the time. Man....

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Takashi Iizuka isn't perfect or anything, but he is one of the only remaining team members from the original Sonic Team, and that has to count for something, at least. He worked on Sonic 3, and a lot of his ideas were good, at least on paper. Some of his choices I disagree with but at the same time I wouldn't pin all the blame on Iizuka. In terms of the general tone of the story, a lot of that is him, so I'd like Sonic Team to maybe get some fresh blood, or get Shiro Maekawa back from the adventure games. I think all of Sonic Team, in general, just needs some fresh blood, some more new ideas. Given how tired Forces was, we need something new, stylish, different. I felt like the Classics were distinct, adventure was distinct, advance, rush, the storybook games, riders, all had their own styles in terms of art and writing that made them different, gave them a slight edge, and I think that needs to be brought back in some way. Whether it be boost, adventure, etc, I don't think Sonic is in a horrible place, but just giving us a strong vision for the franchise would be nice, that's something I think the Dreamcast era did well. Also for goodness sake's we need a new Sonic render, this one is getting old.

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57 minutes ago, Mr. Ion said:

Takashi Iizuka isn't perfect or anything, but he is one of the only remaining team members from the original Sonic Team, and that has to count for something, at least. He worked on Sonic 3, and a lot of his ideas were good, at least on paper. Some of his choices I disagree with but at the same time I wouldn't pin all the blame on Iizuka. In terms of the general tone of the story, a lot of that is him, so I'd like Sonic Team to maybe get some fresh blood, or get Shiro Maekawa back from the adventure games. I think all of Sonic Team, in general, just needs some fresh blood, some more new ideas. Given how tired Forces was, we need something new, stylish, different. I felt like the Classics were distinct, adventure was distinct, advance, rush, the storybook games, riders, all had their own styles in terms of art and writing that made them different, gave them a slight edge, and I think that needs to be brought back in some way. Whether it be boost, adventure, etc, I don't think Sonic is in a horrible place, but just giving us a strong vision for the franchise would be nice, that's something I think the Dreamcast era did well. Also for goodness sake's we need a new Sonic render, this one is getting old.

I agree that the franchise just needs some new blood or a group of people who know how to be creative with the games and tell a good story at the same time.  If we could get some new people in the Sonic Team, the franchise might be better off.

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Getting new people in Sonic Team is more or less what I'm assuming is happening, and maybe even trying something new and different.  SEGA wouldn't dissolve what was left of the original Sonic Team and order Iizuka to move to the USA to form a new one if they didn't want to alter their approach to Sonic in a big way. 

But I'm not sure it's the best idea for Sonic Team to try to do new things when last we checked they haven't quite remembered how to do old things; nor am I convinced that an almost completely new employee roster is of benefit.  Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania being released around the same time really highlighted just how much they've slipped in terms of programming basic Sonic mechanics, and without getting that core right I think quite a lot else will suffer.  Also, I can't tell you how hard or easy it is to program that; however I suspect it really won't help that they're starting with new employees.  A new approach to the series will get people talking, certainly, but not necessarily with optimism, and for the sake of this fandom and the series' future I don't think we should have another game that is lacking in areas the series once delivered, and compensates with new gimmicks.  Such have factionalized this fandom already, and we don't want that to go further.  A solid vision of what Sonic "should" be is not a good thing if much of the fandom disagrees.

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On 5/14/2021 at 11:36 AM, Abraham Pena said:

Good point, chances are that no one will hire him again after that game. You´re right

Remember Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair? That’s evidence he could be given a second chance. The first game was thrashed, but the second was actually pretty praised.

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2 hours ago, Snowragnarok said:

Remember Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair? That’s evidence he could be given a second chance. The first game was thrashed, but the second was actually pretty praised.

This really isn’t a good comparison.  First, the first game was controversial; not unanimously “thrashed”.  Second, it was a crowd-funded game and crowd-funding is notorious for quality control problems.  This is because it allows companies to make a lot of money before they prove anything to anyone, and thus don’t work as hard to deliver a good product.  Third, Playtonic is its own company founded to make YL so whether anyone will hire them is irrelevant.  Whether or not they ended up making a better second game is, too.  They opted to do it and good for them, but that does not mean anyone owed them the money.

What do I think of Naka in light of BW?  I certainly wouldn’t give him money to conceive a game concept.  I might be willing to hire him on to program a Sonic movement engine, but I would likely have someone else on call too, as a backup plan.

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I kind of feel bad for Naka. I can see he had passion, and if anything Balan has good presentation, but there was no one to deter him from his more brash ideas, like programming in 80 freaking costumes. The man obviously has talent and passion, and I can't help but think how he felt seeing his game being thrashed by reviewers. I agree with Scritch that I wouldn't pay him to conceive a game, but maybe to program one. Also, I think that some member of the original Sonic Team, or Masato Nakamura, should appear in Sonic Movie 2.

 

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Yeah, I don't think monkeys could exceed the masterpiece that is Sonic Adventure 2, not in a thousand years at least.

Iizuka's not perfect and he might have some really scatterbrained ideas like the two worlds retcon, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still one of the greatest contributors to the Sonic Franchise with the Adventure games. He might not have had a good handle on Sonic like he used to, but I don't think he's all bad either. I say give him a chance, maybe he'll find his footing.

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On 5/16/2021 at 3:37 PM, Mr. Ion said:

I kind of feel bad for Naka. I can see he had passion, and if anything Balan has good presentation, but there was no one to deter him from his more brash ideas, like programming in 80 freaking costumes. The man obviously has talent and passion, and I can't help but think how he felt seeing his game being thrashed by reviewers. I agree with Scritch that I wouldn't pay him to conceive a game, but maybe to program one. Also, I think that some member of the original Sonic Team, or Masato Nakamura, should appear in Sonic Movie 2.

 

I always wanted to see Naka appear in a Sonic movie, just like how Stan Lee appeared in a Marvel film!

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5 hours ago, Sonario said:

Yeah, I don't think monkeys could exceed the masterpiece that is Sonic Adventure 2, not in a thousand years at least.

Iizuka's not perfect and he might have some really scatterbrained ideas like the two worlds retcon, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still one of the greatest contributors to the Sonic Franchise with the Adventure games. He might not have had a good handle on Sonic like he used to, but I don't think he's all bad either. I say give him a chance, maybe he'll find his footing.

I'm curious how you would define "a chance" or "find his footing".  I'm not going to join an Iizuka gangbang right now but believe it or not, more is on the line than just whether he can avoid making another game like 06 or RoL.  If IIzuka made the call to rush those out unfinished, shame on him, and if he didn't but couldn't stop that rushing out, how competent and/or ethical is Iizuka is a moot point anyway, but my real question is not what all Iizuka will choose to do, but whether he will choose to do at least the things I feel this series really needs.

This refrain of "Iizuka made the Adventure games" is not meaningful on its own because it doesn't explore whether Iizuka values what I and many others value in those games, or things we weren't too keen on.  As I stated before, the trend those games started of making it easier for Sonic to gain all the speed he needs, skimping on actual physics, has gone nowhere except further.  So if Iizuka believes that was the important innovation of those games, then he has certainly lived up to his ideals as the Adventure creator, but that is not what I would consider a positive aspect of the Adventure series. 

The truth is that the Sonic Adventure games were divisive even when they were new; particularly suspect to fans of Classic Sonic.  However, some aspects of those games have made them more popular in retrospect because when SEGA decided to burn off a lot of what was in the Adventure era, they also burnt a lot of good things that had lasted from the Classic era.  A lot of fans had issues with how Sonic had been done in 3D, but many also saw the potential of 3D as a great way to expand on Sonic's proud heritage as a character whose speed, physics and deep level design facilitate a lot of tricking and exploration, and even if we only got sparse glimpses of what that could be in 3D we still wanted more not less.  So it feels like a bummer that newer 3D Sonic games aren't even allowed to be 3D a lot of the time.  Sonic games are supposed to feel liberating but SEGA has built a lot of constraints into them because they don't want to deal with the hardships that come with designing levels around such free motion.  Likewise, a lot of people had issues with a lot of characters in the Adventure series, and some of that even related to how Tails and Knuckles played, but very few people ever objected to keeping Tails and Knuckles as playable characters.  Retool them so they're tighter sure, don't lock Tails in a mech sure, make levels less breakable by flight sure, but I don't remember many people saying just take them out.

I don't think it's a great idea to experiment a whole lot with Sonic gameplay because again, I don't think it's good for the series to create different subsets of fans who will contradict each other and make it harder to pick an optimal direction for future games, but I personally am willing to tolerate a lot of different approaches so long as they meet certain base criteria.  If Tails and Knuckles are playable, then I really don't care whether a fan-made character with a gun is playable, but that such a character gets to be playable and they don't is a problem.  If the game has good physics and Sonic's base movement feels good then I really don't mind too much what gimmick they add to his abilities, but that they've kept adding these frills to compensate for mechanics that are frequently clunky and/or dumbed down is a problem.

Circling back to Iizuka, I sort of see his relation to Sonic as akin to Kevin Eastman's relation to Ninja Turtles.  That is, he seems more like a happy-go-lucky cheerleader for the brand than anything else--which is not a good thing when the brand's fanbase is fractured.  To those who aren't too familiar with that franchise and fanbase, this comparison may not innately mean much, but the gist is he says everything Ninja Turtles-related is great, which means that his opinions have become meaningless for the fans.  Eastman saying an upcoming Ninja Turtles thing is great does not rest on any frame of reference because he has never stated an opinion on what is a not great way to do Ninja Turtles.  And this, right now, is the problem with Iizuka; in fact it is the problem with everyone who determines and speaks on this series' path.  I hated their attitude post-06; especially with how they marketed Sonic 4, but back then I knew where I stood on them.  Back then they at least admitted that the series had gone through a bad phase and that they were working to address it, even if I disagreed about how.  I could make educated decisions on whether to buy a Sonic game because I knew what they saw as ideal for the series was not what I saw as ideal.  But now, while people can try to extrapolate where the brand is heading based on trends, we mostly have no idea because SEGA no longer states any clear opinions about what Sonic games are good or bad; thus also no opinions about what  is or is not a good act to follow.  Much like Kevin Eastman, it feels like they (not just Iizuka) are afraid to say anything that might alienate any of the fans, but as a result none of the fans have a good reason to be optimistic because SEGA doesn't seem committed to anything they really like.

And while I won't pretend they owe the fans a game, if they truly are afraid of saying anything that would irritate the fans then it feels like they've fallen for an unfair stereotype of Sonic fandom as a bossy, whiny hate mob, which is probably based more on a noisy minority than a quiet majority.  Yes; Sonic fandom is divided and many of the fans are a bit particular about what they want from the series, but I don't think many of them are as mean as the stereotype suggests.  It says a lot about the real character of this fandom that when its extremely negative--but also comedic--reaction to the original Sonic design in the movie prompted the creators to revise it, one of the first reactions Jeff Fowler got was "Don't overwork your employees to rush the redesign out on our behalf; we can wait".  And also that even when he did delay the movie to make it work, fans still called them out because apparently the studio was still somewhat overworked and then closed.  Most still went and saw the movie and most liked it, but there was reason for concern.  But it still goes to show how kind this fandom actually is when creators simply act like it matters.  The movie almost completely turned its reputation around from negative to positive because its creators acknowledged that fans weren't happy and did something, and because they did this fans were totally fine with waiting a bit longer.  The big difference with the games is that SEGA hasn't really acknowledged that fans aren't happy, and if so it hasn't made any statement as to why, and thus, fans are impatient.  At this point they aren't even impatient for a game--since it's established that a game is still coming--or even a concrete release date for that game; so much as some evidence that whatever game finally comes out will have been worth the wait.  Until this happens, it's not like fans are storming their headquarters like villagers in a horror film, but don't expect them to have a high opinion of the series until SEGA gives them a reason to.

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