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Scritch the Cat

At this point, what is keeping other characters from being playable in the main modern Sonic games?

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If you haven't heard, the complaint that characters other than Sonic aren't playable has now largely replaced that complaint that they were, mostly because that complaint wasn't widespread except with boring and/or annoying characters like Big the Cat. 

But for a while, SEGA believed it, or acted like they believed it, and in their lowest moment ever, I would argue, boasted about how nobody else was playable in Sonic 4: Episode I--which thanks to poor physics and unoriginal levels, ended up a piss-poor attempt to appeal to the very SEGA Genesis nostalgia it was seeking with that move. 

To rub salt in that same (very deserved) wound, Sonic Mania succeeded at catering to that nostalgia while also having other characters playable.  Then there's the mobile games: Mostly basic run and jump Sonic affairs, but also with gachapon mechanics to unlock all sorts of characters from Sonic's archives (and beyond).  They're doing well.  These games are literally making more money because characters besides Sonic are playable.

So all factors are in place to debunk the notion SEGA held for a while about Sonic's supporting cast, but with the exception of Shadow, they still aren't playable in the main series?  So at this point, why not?

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Probably a potent mix of lazyness, lack of ideas, no sense of direction and a severely cut down budget.

And to be honest, I hope they don't even attempt trying to bring in other characters...for the past 15 years when Sonic was the main (most of the time only) playable character, they still couldn't figure out how to make him feel fun and satisfying to control. Once they nail that, THEN they can try figuring out other characters.

I haven't touched Generations (the only modern Sonic game I own) in ages, because it's just not fun controlling Sonic in it. He's either sluggishly slow or uncontrollably fast due to the boost.

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SEGA is not going to nail Sonic’s gameplay in many opinions because it’s ideal for Sonic’s gameplay is not the same one many fans hold.  That won’t likely change with the addition of other characters, but at least they’d be a gimmick at this point.

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The fact that Sega can't nail down a functional, yet flexible enough formula to justify them. Not that there hasn't been other characters, but they've been very conditional and select in number.

The phone games can get away with it because they're simple & low investments to begin with and the very infrequent as of late spinoffs are the main sanctuary for them otherwise.

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1 minute ago, DabigRG said:

The fact that Sega can't nail down a functional, yet flexible enough formula to justify them. Not that there hasn't been other characters, but they've been very conditional and select in number.

The phone games can get away with it because they're simple & low investments to begin with and the very infrequent as of late spinoffs are the main sanctuary for them otherwise.

That’s the problem with boost games: They’re functional but not flexible.

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3 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

That’s the problem with boost games: They’re functional but not flexible.

Yeah, part of the reason I put down Generations for a while after beating it & getting my initial fill of custom replay is because of oddly tanky Sonic was and didn't know about the explorative tricks you could do if you're skilled enough.

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4 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

That’s the problem with boost games: They’re functional but not flexible.

They'll give the boosting ability to random fan characters, but god forbid giving it to characters who were established to be almost as fast as Sonic.

That's Sonic Team for ya.

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5 minutes ago, Tarnish said:

They'll give the boosting ability to random fan characters, but god forbid giving it to characters who were established to be almost as fast as Sonic.

That's Sonic Team for ya.

Did they? I don't remember the Avatar having a boost. Especially since that button would've been the Wispon.

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4 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

Did they? I don't remember the Avatar having a boost. Especially since that button would've been the Wispon.

Well they had the double boost...where they clearly showed it running along with Sonic.

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1 minute ago, DabigRG said:

Nyeh, we're Sonic Heroes.

At least in that game, in the intro, they showed Sonic pulling/dragging Tails and Knuckles along when he was going really fast. In Forces, nah, any rando can just now keep up with Sonic at his top speed.

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58 minutes ago, Tarnish said:

At least in that game, in the intro, they showed Sonic pulling/dragging Tails and Knuckles along when he was going really fast. In Forces, nah, any rando can just now keep up with Sonic at his top speed.

Tha-that wasn't a serious response.

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There's several reasons at this point.

The backlash towards the overload of characters and their poorly designed gameplay that reached its height in the Heroes-'06 period.

Modern Sonic Team struggling to put out a finished, polished game with even just one playable character leaves little room to develop others.

Some characters (most notably Tails and Knuckles) being hard to adapt into 3D due to how their unique abilities can break levels.

The boost gameplay's laser-focus on speed makes it even harder to fit less speed-focused characters in coherently.

Probably other things as well.

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Probably some corporate mandate holding the feature back due to the reception of previous games, but if things keep going the way they're going it's probably not going to stick. The mythical consumer that only hates Sonic games when his friends show up is proving to be pretty nonexistent and those of us that are here engaging with the marketing and buying the games are pretty loud about our love for the characters.

 

If we keep making noise online about it they're bound to relent at this point. I actually expect the next game to feature it but not to the degree the previous games did. Just something basic like what Mania does. 

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The current Sonic Team can't put on the market a game with one good and fun gameplay for Sonic, let alone Tails or Knuckles. They either don't want because of fear of failing or budget reasons. I won't argue about direction because that's something Sonic Team never had to begin with. 

To think a series that never was about a single dude since Sonic 2...

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Pretty much what people already said above, if SEGA can't even nail Sonic's gameplay perfectly, adding more characters is only going to add more confusion and lack of focus on what truly matters.

 

Even with that, i still think that they could learn a thing or two with sonic mania and 06:

-sonic mania had sonic, tails and knuckles all going through the same stages, but depending on their abilities they could access exclusive pathways for them.

-sonic 06 also had the same concept, but in 3D and characters that were not the main three hedgehogs only got to play small sections of levels, but those sections where still designed around their abilities.

 

Overall, if i had to choose between SEGA focusing on making sonic's gameplay good first or try to re-add other playable characters i would of course choose the former, but i wouldn't mind seeing other playable characters in the near future.

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I wonder what Sonic Team thinks of their own work at this point. Do they think "Oh yeah, we nailed 3D Sonic, there's no possible way to improve him any further" or do they know it's pretty crap and stuck in the past.

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Sonic Team simply decided they simply didn’t want to add them anymore during Lost World’s development, (which explains Minnie Mouse and Squidward doing nothing) but then SEGA forced them to throw in Shadow due to fan demand and/or consistency with Boom and Classic, both of which added more characters to play as (even if poorly in the former case). Begrudgingly, they made him a reskin. Yay SEGA! Force them to add more characters! 
 

So? Boom DID have a positive impact in the end. Even if it was wholly internal. Thank you, Big Red Button.

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If Sonic Team has taken this pathetically long to make good gameplay for the character it was named for, it’s high time it was put out of its misery, and in a sense it has been.  Not that Sonic games will stop being made, but it’s obvious they were seeking a lot of new blood last we heard.  Hopefully it’s good blood.

But seriously, a huge segment of the fandom feels they actually succeeded at making Sonic’s gameplay good in the Adventure series.  Not perfect, as Mario-like controls that rotate a character to match a joystick’s orientation and then move the character forward relative to that angle simply don’t work well when a character is moving at high speed, and to be fair boost games fixed that a bit by switching Sonic to steering when he goes fast, plus adding drift for tighter turns and quickstep for strafing.  But the boost itself has actually placed a burden on this series.  I’ve heard the formula described as “inefficient”, and I would agree, as it requires them to build big environments, which then get under-utilized due to the focus on moving forward through them.  Likely most parts of such maps don’t even have collision properly mapped, and this is part of why more exploration-based characters don’t fit well into them.  Try to go through them with Knuckles, climbing and gliding over things and you’d likely either hit a bunch of invisible walls or end up in a place where you fall through the ground.  Maybe even both!
 

If only the boost would leave, though, and speed was once again something you utilized the environment to attain, that could return them to making the sorts of levels that facilitated more characters.  That does require better physics, but fans have made them; there’s no reason to believe that the pros couldn’t make it if they really wanted.  Well, maybe one...

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1 hour ago, Tarnish said:

I wonder what Sonic Team thinks of their own work at this point. Do they think "Oh yeah, we nailed 3D Sonic, there's no possible way to improve him any further" or do they know it's pretty crap and stuck in the past.

Well at this point, what pass for Sonic Team may mostly think they’re a bunch of n00bs, because based on my understanding most of them are.  Sonic “Team” as of now actually seems to be just “Sonic boss and a rotating roster of employees.”  Iizuka is still in charge last I checked, but otherwise I don’t know who’s putting in the work, and even if I did I might not be able to analyze their track record, as chances are they don’t have much of one.

Yeah; I know a blackbelt is just a whitebelt with a work ethic, so I’m not going to be crass and say these people “suck”, but Sonic games probably aren’t the sort that newcomers to game development should be making.  A good Sonic game, as traditionally envisioned, requires more complex physics than most other platformers.  It also requires extra work to build levels that accommodate such mobile characters.
 

So it’s partially understandable that after 06, Sonic Team gave up on such things as physics, cameras and 3D games actually being mostly 3D, but even with the unfortunate loss of Yuji Naka and some others, there have to be better options to fill those voids than just inexperienced people.

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5 hours ago, Scritch the Cat said:

That’s the problem with boost games: They’re functional but not flexible.

That and they're antithetical to a series that stood out from the other games in its genre by taking Super Mario Bros.'s core gameplay mechanics-

Movement, Momentum (0->A->B along gradients), Jump, Trajectory, Gravity, Precision, Bounce, Ability, Coins (Extra Tries), Terrain, Obstacles, Enemies

-and tweaking them so that your now seemingly limitless Momentum gradient was based purely on your Movement interacting with the game's Terrain thanks to its Physics (and, as a necessity, made Rings act as an airbag to cushion the impact of running at such potentially high speeds - and added an Ability to destroy Enemies from the side that's activated by giving up the Ability to increase Momentum via running, while simultaneously increasing Momentum gained from Terrain). The only Boost it needed was Spindash for your initial acceleration because the Physics system caused Sonic to be slow to start on certain Terrain - and Springs to instantly change your direction without losing Momentum.

Boost games devolved into using a prettier version of Super Mario Bros.'s 0->A->B Momentum system with the added drawback of not being compatible with Precision (and consequently Trajectory), which is heavily reflected in the level design.

tl;dr: The Boost games place too much emphasis on being the Sonic X intro at the expense of being Sonic games.

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