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What is the “Soul/Spirit” of Sonic the Hedgehog to you?


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This is a topic that I wonder about, especially considering that everyone has their own views on Sonic.

What is the “Soul/Spirit” of Sonic the Hedgehog to you? Whether it’s the characters, the world, the games, the visual aesthetic, everyone feels there’s something at the core of it all. And whenever one makes a Sonic product without that “soul”, it suddenly doesn’t feel like Sonic to certain people.

To me in particular, Sonic is about the freedom, being able to run as free as the wind to see the world, and abiding by your own rules. Sonic runs in a world not unlike ours, but much more surreal and improbable, as if our world was intensified (think to things like the original Mega Drive titles as I say this). In addition, I don’t feel like Sonic is naturally cool, but that he’s cool because he’s so free. Things like much of the main cast being young is something I also feel adds into the feeling of freedom, being free from responsibilities. There’s more I can say, but I’ll keep it short.

So how about you, what is the Sonic “soul/spirit” to you?

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You roll down the hill and go real fast and then you roll up the ramp and go real high.

That's it. That's the root of it. That's where everything else flows from. The speed, the fluidity, the playfulness, the exhilaration, the unique sense of style.

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I honestly think it's the characters and setting, and then the gameplay. I never really got to play Sonic Games for a bunch of reasons, but watching X and watching other people play Sonic games are what made me love the franchise. The colorful cast of characters and neat worlds are always what I come back to the most.

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Adventure Time~!

*Fist bump*

With all my favorite, awesome, colorful, talking animal weirdos. 

Running by frogs that summon rain, getting lost in spooky castles that flip the world upside down, challenging battle armadas of ships shaped like fish, enjoying a planet made entirely of food, relaxing at a resort carnival in space, fighting a possesed Big Bird in China and then giving him chocolate when he returns to normal; normal stuff you do on a Sonic themed Adventure.

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1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

You roll down the hill and go real fast and then you roll up the ramp and go real high.

That's it. That's the root of it. That's where everything else flows from. The speed, the fluidity, the playfulness, the exhilaration, the unique sense of style.

And you go upside-down on the loop. Don't forget that part. Mario doesn't go upside-down on the loop.

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3 hours ago, Splash the Otter said:

Oh, that's easy! Factually speaking, it's the characters. If a Sonic game doesn't have Sonic and his friends/enemies, is it really a Sonic game?

This can be said about literally any game with a titular character and his/her friends. What makes sonic different or unique to other series that have their own characters other than their mere existence?

Your answer is basically: "sonic is sonic because it has sonic and his friends in it".

 

 

For me it is not only the sense of adventure that sonic is constantly seeking and the vibrant colorful worlds he travels through....bit also how he does it. Sonic runs, spins, jumps, grinds, surfs, all kinds of movement smoothly throughout the varying landscapes he moves through. He not only chases freedom and adventure, he embodies it in his movements. And when I as the player get to control that "smoothness", it feels like I'm playing a sonic game.

It is uniquely sonic to me to have a character do this while blasting across so many colorful worlds. And the worlds have such a great atmosphere, they are inspiring in their own way. 

Sonic's design is also timeless, particularly the classic version although I like both classic and modern.

 

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For the gameplay? Momentum and sloped terrain and how they interact. Your movement speed is a gradient that naturally builds as you move unimpeded and you gain momentum going downhill and lose it going uphill. Rolling compounds this effect at the cost of control. You lose the ability to manually gain speed with the d-pad/analog stick but also multiply the terrain's effect of momentum and acceleration. The rest is left to level design. I know the series has diverged from this philosophy for the most part and the fanbase is split on what their favorite style is but that doesn't change the fact that this is what Sonic gameplay is from its foundation. I think that matters because it gives us something to point to as Sonic's identity. Mario didn't have the identity crisis Sonic does despite having even MORE divergent playstyles via spinoffs, partially because of good brand management, and partially because they understood what Mario was all about in the beginning and kept delivering that even in their 3d titles. Things changed for Mario in 3d but it still held on to the core appeal of running and jumping on and into things.

 

For the characters? If I had to, I'd say youthful rebellion. Sonic as a character from the very first game in the series has been a snarky, rebellious teenager standing up to an authoritarian whose egotism and greed are polluting and ruining the world Sonic lives in. I think, directly because of the conflict with Eggman, and Eggman himself being who his is and with the specific threat he poses, the element of a rebellious youth is a through line for all, or most of, the characters.

For the world? That's...a little harder to define. In the classics it was this vibrant, surreal twisting, rolling dreamscapes just begging for Sonic to blast through them. In the Adventure games it was the same twisting geometry applied to modern cityscapes and ancient civilizations, plus the occasional scifi setting. I think the uniting elements are the winding roads and the surreal aesthetics but I'm kinda struggling to define this one (mostly because it's been so inconsistent, more so than most elements of the series which is saying something).

 

Uniting these into a single "soul", I'd have to say Sonic's soul is showing off. From the characters to the gameplay to the world and aesthetics, everything about Sonic as a series can be boiled down to having fun and looking cool while doing it. That's my opinion anyway.

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21 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

When that happens, I think it's called Freedom Planet?

Does Freedom Planet really count as a Sonic game though?

17 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

This can be said about literally any game with a titular character and his/her friends. What makes sonic different or unique to other series that have their own characters other than their mere existence?

Your answer is basically: "sonic is sonic because it has sonic and his friends in it"

Every series is defined by its characters. The only exceptions are puzzle or sports games, and sometimes not even then.

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For me it's the Characters, the classic era gameplay and the surreal worlds of the classic era. A few modern games took a step in the right direction regarding the worlds, but for me Sonic HAS to be blazing through surreal worlds.

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7 hours ago, Splash the Otter said:

Does Freedom Planet really count as a Sonic game though?

Every series is defined by its characters. The only exceptions are puzzle or sports games, and sometimes not even then.

Exactly my point. There is nothing interesting about your answer because nearly every series does the exact same thing. What differentiates sonic from anything else in that regard? At least mention something specific in regards to the characters beyond their superficial appearance that provides a unique experience. 

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On 7/24/2019 at 2:27 PM, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

Exactly my point. There is nothing interesting about your answer because nearly every series does the exact same thing.

I wasn't trying to be interesting, I was just stating a fact. Sonic is defined by its characters, ergo they are the series' core.

Quote

What differentiates sonic from anything else in that regard? At least mention something specific in regards to the characters beyond their superficial appearance that provides a unique experience. 

You don't have to like my answer, but don't go demanding that I give a better one.

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That's a sort of loaded question so I hope you're ready for a sort of loaded answer:

I basically interpret this question as, "What makes a Sonic game a Sonic game?" and that's a sort of complicated subject so I hope you're ready for me to go off on a bit of a tangent: For a while, Sonic was defined by his physics and pinball like momentum. That was kinda lost with the jump to 3D, where it seemed like the high-speed thrills and spectacle became more of a priority than anything. Which, I should say isn't necessarily a bad thing, but at a certain point it gets too style over substance (or it could be Forces that had neither style nor substance) and at that point, what is there to go back to?

Gameplay is a big part of what makes this series special. There's nothing quite like Sonic out there. There are games like Freedom Planet that are close to be sure, but they miss the mark in a few ways that stop them from fitting in with games like Sonic 3 or Sonic Mania.

Sense of freedom and adventure is a big one, too. Sonic is a character I always imagined as kind of a drifter, in town one day and gone the next, always looking for the next big thrill, which lended itself well to all the different locales we see in the games which lead to a lot of unique and interesting level design and expansions on the gameplay.

Not as loaded of an answer as I thought, but there's my take anyway.

 

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5 hours ago, Splash the Otter said:

I wasn't trying to be interesting, I was just stating a fact. Sonic is defined by its characters, ergo they are the series' core.

You don't have to like my answer, but don't go demanding that I give a better one.

You certainly dont have to. I just think it adds nothing to the conversation when you answer like that. It's your right but it's kind of a pointless post.

It's kind of interesting to see what is important to many different people in this series and why. That's why I made the comment. And I think the spirit of the thread is to find those specific things, maybe/maybe not obvious, that define the spirit of the series for you. That's how I interpret the question. 

As for that being a fact, I'd have to ask "which characters define the sonic series?" Because the sonic series has existed with many different characters with varying number throughout its history. The only character that has been in every single sonic game is sonic himself, and the cast has varied quite a bit throughout history. So the series being defined by its characters is fairly meaningless. Whoever you think the most vital characters are...if they're not sonic, one can make the argument that you're objectively wrong because the series has existed (and even thrived) with only sonic and an antagonist (usually "eggman" but not always) as the cast. By your definition, a sonic game only needs to have Sonic the hedgehog in it to be considered a sonic game, there's no need for plurality.

 

So no, what you said is not fact if you use the phrase "defined by its characters". What you really state by your definition is "defined by its titular character"

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14 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

You certainly dont have to. I just think it adds nothing to the conversation when you answer like that. It's your right but it's kind of a pointless post.

It's kind of interesting to see what is important to many different people in this series and why. That's why I made the comment. And I think the spirit of the thread is to find those specific things, maybe/maybe not obvious, that define the spirit of the series for you. That's how I interpret the question. 

As for that being a fact, I'd have to ask "which characters define the sonic series?" Because the sonic series has existed with many different characters with varying number throughout its history. The only character that has been in every single sonic game is sonic himself, and the cast has varied quite a bit throughout history. So the series being defined by its characters is fairly meaningless. Whoever you think the most vital characters are...if they're not sonic, one can make the argument that you're objectively wrong because the series has existed (and even thrived) with only sonic and an antagonist (usually "eggman" but not always) as the cast. By your definition, a sonic game only needs to have Sonic the hedgehog in it to be considered a sonic game, there's no need for plurality.

 

So no, what you said is not fact if you use the phrase "defined by its characters". What you really state by your definition is "defined by its titular character"

You're just agreeing with me with a subtle difference.

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5 hours ago, Splash the Otter said:

You're just agreeing with me with a subtle difference.

I'm not agreeing with you at all. I do not think that "a game with sonic in it" is an adequate definition for a sonic game at all; even super smash bros has sonic in it and that's clearly not a sonic game. The mario and sonic Olympics stars sonic and his friends....and I dont think that qualifies as a true sonic game.  Even sonic boom rise of lyrics could easily fit your technical definition of "sonic game" and then some...but I dont really think it is a true sonic game despite sharing core characters and surface elements of the series....

I'm using this argument as an example to show how your definition is weak. If all we needed was to have the character in it, then any number of games could be considered "sonic games" while not really showcasing anything unique or distinct about the series. But you dont seem to understand this or even want to. 

This isnt going anywhere, so I'll get off the train here.

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17 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

I'm using this argument as an example to show how your definition is weak. If all we needed was to have the character in it, then any number of games could be considered "sonic games" while not really showcasing anything unique or distinct about the series. But you dont seem to understand this or even want to.

You're deliberately missing the point.

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