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My problems with Shadow, in concept and execution

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I'm gonna be honest here. From day one I thought Shadow was a bad character. Untill about ten years years ago, I had some long discussions on this very forum regarding why I thought so, but since then I've mostly kept my mouth shut about it. I felt that I had said everything I wanted to say about the matter. But over the years since then, I've thought some more about the subject, and now I feel like the time is right to vocalize my reasonings on why I still believe that Shadow is and always has been a bad character, both in concept and execution, and I'm eager to hear what you all have to say about my thoughts. I realize fully well that I'm gonna get a hard time for this, since people do love Shadow, but even so, let us begin.

First things first; Shadow IS a canonical version of the type of fan character that everyone makes fun of. There is no getting around it. Just take a step back and look at him: he is similar to the main character, but he is darker and edgier, he has a tragic and somewhat convulted backstory, and he has all the abilities that the main character has plus several abilities that the main character doesn't have. That right there describes the type of character that, when a young Sonic fan creates and shares with the world, is usually met with nothing but scorn due to how overblown his supposed awesomeness and edgyness is. But with Shadow, Sega wants us to actually accept him and take him seriously. I think a lot of the current Sonic fanbase accepts Shadow because to them Shadow has "always" been there, but Just imagine an alternative universe where Shadow had come out today, in 2020. What would you honestly think of him? Wouldn't you be amazed at how Sega actually went and created an official version of the character type that we have made fun of for years? Because that's how I felt back in 2001.

But regardless of Shadow's similarity to a fan-created Gary Stu, let us move on to the specific reasons why I think the very concept and creation of Shadow is very badly excetuted. Shadow as we know is basically an "evil twin" character. And I don't think this itself is a bad archetype. As you can see, I'm even using another character of that archetype as my avatar. But what is so stupid about Shadow is that his similarity to Sonic makes no sense from a story point of view. Shadow canonically has no relation to Sonic whatsoever. Compare this to Metal Sonic who is a robot specifically created to emulate and surpass Sonic. And compare Shadow to virtually any other evil twin in virtually any other media. There is virtually always a narrative connection between the good twin and the bad twin. But with Sonic and Shadow, their similarities are nothing but a coincidence. That just always seemed lazy to me.

Another thing that bugs me about Shadow is that, as I have already expressed, he is essentially "Sonic, but better" in terms of abilities. Now, I don't think this is necassarely a negative thing in itself, but with Shadow it became a somewhat problematic aspect once he became a good guy. Let me explain; as long as the evil twin character remains an obstacle for the hero to overcome, it makes sense that the evil twin is supperior, since this creates an extra challange for the hero. But if that evil twin then becomes a good guy, I really feel that the heroes abilities are cheapened by the existance of an ally that can do everything he can PLUS a whole bunch of other stuff. Like, what makes Sonic's abilitiy to thwart evil any special when he has an ally that can do everything he can (in other words is as fast as he is) but who can also do a lot of things that he cant (stop time, teleport, ect)? Shadow just ends up being a hero who is superior to our main hero in every way. It makes Sonic feel less special.

Then finally, there is the fact of how Sega handled Shadow's whole "amnesia" storyline. You might say that this is an issue separate from that of the character at his core, but I think that, especially in retrospective, it is an aspect to the character that is rather essential to his place and history in the franchise. Shadow as a narrative compenent of the series as a whole is, in my own opinion, in large part defined by the amnesia-storyline that unfolded directly following Shadow's resurrection. And oh boy, is it ever the worst handled storyline in the whole franchise. The amnesia storyline is of course a common one in fiction, for some reason especially regarding "dark and edgy" characters. Wolverine of the X-men was for many years laregly defined by the gradual uncovering of his myserious past. And here's where the handling of Shadow's mysterious past in Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog already faulters; his past was never mysterious, neither to the characters in the story or to the audience. After playing through Sonic Adventure 2, we the audience and the fictional characters in the series all feel like we know Shadow's history. And this of course leads to the question; why doesn't the other characters just tell Shadow about his past? And why doesn't Shadow ask? Shadow could have easily known about his creation, about Maria, about his fall from space and about all of that stuff if Rouge or Sonic or someone else would have just told him about the events of Sonic Adventure 2 and about what they learned about Shadow's background during that game. And sure, Shadow the Hedgehog did tell us about aspects of Shadow's past that we didn't already know (the Black Arms, ect) but the thing about that is that before those sudden revelations there was never any indication that there even were things about Shadow's creation that we didn't know. After playing through Sonic Adventure 2 we felt that we already knew about Shadow's origins, as much as we ever thought we needed to know. There were never any hints that there was significantly more to the story, so when those new parts of the story does show up they feel out of the blue.

And there you pretty much have it, those are my reasons for why I feel like Shadow is probably the worst handled character in the series. When Sega decided that they wanted to give Sonic a dark evil twin they did the sloppiest job imaginable in realizing that idea, and then they went on to do an even sloppier job regarding where they took the character next. But that's just my percetion, I really want to know what others think.

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25 minutes ago, batson said:

But what is so stupid about Shadow is that his similarity to Sonic makes no sense from a story point of view. Shadow canonically has no relation to Sonic whatsoever. Compare this to Metal Sonic who is a robot specifically created to emulate and surpass Sonic. And compare Shadow to virtually any other evil twin in virtually any other media. There is virtually always a narrative connection between the good twin and the bad twin. But with Sonic and Shadow, their similarities are nothing but a coincidence. That just always seemed lazy to me.

Can't argue with you there. Back when Shadow was introduced, I was hoping we'd get an explanation to this similarity in appearance in the following games. But we never did and now that the Shadow craze has long worn off, we never will.

At the end of Adventure 2, Sonic muttered to himself something about "the ultimate lifeform", something that to me still sounds like "Could I be...the ultimate lifeform?", as if he was also wondering about the reason of their similarity. This always made me feel like this was hinting at a future plot line. But it never happened.

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I dont think you were gonna get an answer to why they look similar. Shadows game essentially says forget that, to the only potential answer fans had.

And if I'm honest...it doesn't matter. Not everything has to be some grand plan. Sometimes it's a weird coincidence that serves the plot rather than anything else.

And on some meta level, him looking kinda simular to sonic kinda stopped mattering by the end of sa2.

Kind of a non issue

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49 minutes ago, batson said:

why doesn't the other characters just tell Shadow about his past? And why doesn't Shadow ask? Shadow could have easily known about his creation, about Maria, about his fall from space and about all of that stuff if Rouge or Sonic or someone else would have just told him about the events of Sonic Adventure 2 and about what they learned about Shadow's background during that game

That's what I've been saying for years too. At the end of Team Shadow's story in Heroes, Shadow and Rouge casually chat. (And ironically of something about that hints Shadow doesn't have amnesia: when Rouge says she might as well try to steal the Master Emerald, Shadow responds with "Some things never change, do they?". Now how else would he know about Rouge wanting to steal the Master Emerald when this is the first time it's brought up in the game, unless he remembers from Adventure 2?)

But anyway, yeah, if you're so bothered by not remembering who you are or your past, you'd jump at the occasion of asking the people who talk to you like they know you.

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37 minutes ago, Tarnish said:

At the end of Adventure 2, Sonic muttered to himself something about "the ultimate lifeform",

When does he say that?

I don't remember him even saying that phrase outside the recaps...

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44 minutes ago, batson said:

 and now I feel like the time is right to vocalize my reasonings on why I still believe that Shadow is and always has been a bad character

Honestly reading the title of this thread I'm thinking "Oh great now that the news is delayed we have yet another anti character thread". My thoughts are less "Wow it's finally time to find out why Shadow sucks!", and more "Are people so bored that all we can do is complain and argue?". But I'll still read the rest as it's only fair to you.

49 minutes ago, batson said:

First things first; Shadow IS a canonical version of the type of fan character that everyone makes fun of. There is no getting around it. Just take a step back and look at him: he is similar to the main character, but he is darker and edgier, he has a tragic and somewhat convulted backstory, and he has all the abilities that the main character has plus several abilities that the main character doesn't have. That right there describes the type of character that, when a young Sonic fan creates and shares with the world, is usually met with nothing but scorn due to how overblown his supposed awesomeness and edgyness is. But with Shadow, Sega wants us to actually accept him and take him seriously. I think a lot of the current Sonic fanbase accepts Shadow because to them Shadow has "always" been there, but Just imagine an alternative universe where Shadow had come out today, in 2020. What would you honestly think of him? Wouldn't you be amazed at how Sega actually went and created an official version of the character type that we have made fun of for years? Because that's how I felt back in 2001.

  • I mean, that is his concept after all. A dark version of Sonic. If anything I think the beta designs of Shadow are worse about this, where he looks like Sonic but black and with a missing eye and scar. I don't think it's shocking the increase in Sonic OCs came after Shadow though, I agree with you on that. It's why while I find the beta designs cool in their own way, I prefer the final design. I think that they gave him enough traits to feel different from Sonic. You've got the red stripes, the rocket shoes, the fur on his chest (I don't know how true it is, but I heard that Sonic and Shadow are based off of different species of hedgehogs, which is why he and Silver have chest fur and colored arms), and the rings on his gloves.
  • I think tragic backstories are more common in Japanese media to begin with. Shonen anime are filled with them, so it's not shocking a writer with anime influence would include them. Not that these are limited to anime either. Maybe it's because I've seen a ton, but Shadow's isn't on the extreme end to me. It only feels that way in comparison to the other characters. Knuckles has the last of his clan thing going for him, but it doesn't feel as intense as we don't see his parents murdered in front of him, or something like that. It's about how it's shown.
  • I'm not sure if it's been explained in canon, but from what I can recall Sonic is naturally fast, while Shadow has to use his shoes and chaos emerald warping to seem fast. In his debut he's honestly not as amazing as they made him later. He barely can hold a super form, which Sonic has been doing for several games at this point and never struggled with mastering. Chaos control was new, but even then wouldn't that make Sonic even more OP for using a trick he only saw Shadow do with a fake emerald? The whole ring limiter thing in later titles is full DBZ though, I admit. I think they gave him more powers to make him stand out more in later titles as he already is complained as too similar to Sonic to play as. A lot of little kids at the time thought guns were cool enough that they wanted Sonic to use them, which Sega obviously didn't want. So instead they would give them to other characters like Gamma and Eggman, and eventually Shadow. Funny enough as a Shadow fan, I'm not really fond of this. I think it's kind of hypocritical for him to use guns considering his backstory, and he doesn't really need to beyond marketing reasons when he has hedgehog and chaos powers.
  • I think this is more a difference in mindset. Some people find characters like Shadow cool, and some will always view it as childish. Also we already had a new Shadow, and he's called Infinite. I honestly like both. Infinite actually is what all these people claim Shadow was. His character song is edgy as hell and sounds like a Linkin Park song, and it's just so over the top I love it. He has all these powers we've never seen before and that Sonic has no access to. He uses a magical gem to do this. The tragic back story. Anyways to me it's more that Sega saw "hey we already have this character that looks edgy, lets put 2000s trends on him even more!". It's part of why I don't like Shadow's game as a Shadow fan. It doesn't feel like a game made for people who like Shadow, it feels like they slapped whatever things they had lying around and then put Shadow on top. Not to mention making the story super confusing for most players.
  • I think the difference here is Infinite exists. But I'll go along with you. Let's say Shadow never existed, everything else is the same, Infinite exists. My first thought would probably be "Oh cool it's like Infinite, but they're trying to make him closer tied to Sonic this time". Although it depends if his debut is like SA2 or like newer titles. Although even Forces assumes you know Shadow's story or it doesn't work. Biolizard's theme doesn't mean anything to new players. I think why they reuse that song is because of the vibe it has. Although I think "Throw it all away" could have worked too. I think it's also partly a generation divide. Newer kids love making OCs. They do it for various series and not only Sonic. I think it's how kids learn before they move onto making "real" new characters. It's easier to copy something you like at first, and natural for kids to do. The difference is instead of doodles in a notebook, now they can share it online for others to see.

Anyways this post is getting long so I'll read through the rest of the thread before saying more.

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27 minutes ago, StaticMania said:

When does he say that?

I don't remember him even saying that phrase outside the recaps...

At the final scene on the Final Episode story, on the ARK as the credits start rolling. Amy even asks quickly after he says it "What's the matter Sonic?", to which he replies "Oh, it's nothing.".

And from memory, Shadow even says something suggesting Sonic is the "ultimate lifeform" if you spend enough time on the final boss battle.

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7 minutes ago, DryLagoon said:

Honestly reading the title of this thread I'm thinking "Oh great now that the news is delayed we have yet another anti character thread". My thoughts are less "Wow it's finally time to find out why Shadow sucks!", and more "Are people so bored that all we can do is complain and argue?". But I'll still read the rest as it's only fair to you.

  • I mean, that is his concept after all. A dark version of Sonic. If anything I think the beta designs of Shadow are worse about this, where he looks like Sonic but black and with a missing eye and scar. I don't think it's shocking the increase in Sonic OCs came after Shadow though, I agree with you on that. It's why while I find the beta designs cool in their own way, I prefer the final design. I think that they gave him enough traits to feel different from Sonic. You've got the red stripes, the rocket shoes, the fur on his chest (I don't know how true it is, but I heard that Sonic and Shadow are based off of different species of hedgehogs, which is why he and Silver have chest fur and colored arms), and the rings on his gloves.
  • I think tragic backstories are more common in Japanese media to begin with. Shonen anime are filled with them, so it's not shocking a writer with anime influence would include them. Not that these are limited to anime either. Maybe it's because I've seen a ton, but Shadow's isn't on the extreme end to me. It only feels that way in comparison to the other characters. Knuckles has the last of his clan thing going for him, but it doesn't feel as intense as we don't see his parents murdered in front of him, or something like that. It's about how it's shown.
  • I'm not sure if it's been explained in canon, but from what I can recall Sonic is naturally fast, while Shadow has to use his shoes and chaos emerald warping to seem fast. In his debut he's honestly not as amazing as they made him later. He barely can hold a super form, which Sonic has been doing for several games at this point and never struggled with mastering. Chaos control was new, but even then wouldn't that make Sonic even more OP for using a trick he only saw Shadow do with a fake emerald? The whole ring limiter thing in later titles is full DBZ though, I admit. I think they gave him more powers to make him stand out more in later titles as he already is complained as too similar to Sonic to play as. A lot of little kids at the time thought guns were cool enough that they wanted Sonic to use them, which Sega obviously didn't want. So instead they would give them to other characters like Gamma and Eggman, and eventually Shadow. Funny enough as a Shadow fan, I'm not really fond of this. I think it's kind of hypocritical for him to use guns considering his backstory, and he doesn't really need to beyond marketing reasons when he has hedgehog and chaos powers.
  • I think this is more a difference in mindset. Some people find characters like Shadow cool, and some will always view it as childish. Also we already had a new Shadow, and he's called Infinite. I honestly like both. Infinite actually is what all these people claim Shadow was. His character song is edgy as hell and sounds like a Linkin Park song, and it's just so over the top I love it. He has all these powers we've never seen before and that Sonic has no access to. He uses a magical gem to do this. The tragic back story. Anyways to me it's more that Sega saw "hey we already have this character that looks edgy, lets put 2000s trends on him even more!". It's part of why I don't like Shadow's game as a Shadow fan. It doesn't feel like a game made for people who like Shadow, it feels like they slapped whatever things they had lying around and then put Shadow on top. Not to mention making the story super confusing for most players.
  • I think the difference here is Infinite exists. But I'll go along with you. Let's say Shadow never existed, everything else is the same, Infinite exists. My first thought would probably be "Oh cool it's like Infinite, but they're trying to make him closer tied to Sonic this time". Although it depends if his debut is like SA2 or like newer titles. Although even Forces assumes you know Shadow's story or it doesn't work. Biolizard's theme doesn't mean anything to new players. I think why they reuse that song is because of the vibe it has. Although I think "Throw it all away" could have worked too. I think it's also partly a generation divide. Newer kids love making OCs. They do it for various series and not only Sonic. I think it's how kids learn before they move onto making "real" new characters. It's easier to copy something you like at first, and natural for kids to do. The difference is instead of doodles in a notebook, now they can share it online for others to see.

Anyways this post is getting long so I'll read through the rest of the thread before saying more.

I feel that I should point out (and I should probably have done this in my inital post) that the kinds of edgy fan characters that I'm comparing Shadow to very much existed even before Shadow. So it's not a case of Shadow only looking unoriginal in retrospective, he was unoriginal when he first appeared. And granted, the same goes for most characters in this series since most of them are basically just stereotypes, but what sets Shadow appart is that he belongs to an exceptionally ridiculed type of stereotype. As far as I'm concerned, if one accepts Shadow as a legitimate character then one can't ever make fun of 14-year old's who create "Pitchblack the Demihog" whose familiy was murdered by satan and who can do everything that Sonic can do but also fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.

On another note, I find what you have to say about Infinite interesting. You're right; the debut of Infinite pretty much shows how people would react if Shadow had come out today. And unsurprisngly, Infinite has been met with a lot of scorn. Which just goes to show the point I was trying to make; people accept Shadow because he has "always" been around, but when another character as over-the-top edgy as Shadow shows up in more recent times, people make fun of him.

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2 hours ago, batson said:

I feel that I should point out (and I should probably have done this in my inital post) that the kinds of edgy fan characters that I'm comparing Shadow to very much existed even before Shadow. So it's not a case of Shadow only looking unoriginal in retrospective, he was unoriginal when he first appeared. And granted, the same goes for most characters in this series since most of them are basically just stereotypes, but what sets Shadow appart is that he belongs to an exceptionally ridiculed type of stereotype. As far as I'm concerned, if one accepts Shadow as a legitimate character then one can't ever make fun of 14-year old's who create "Pitchblack the Demihog" whose familiy was murdered by satan and who can do everything that Sonic can do but also fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.

On another note, I find what you have to say about Infinite interesting. You're right; the debut of Infinite pretty much shows how people would react if Shadow had come out today. And unsurprisngly, Infinite has been met with a lot of scorn. Which just goes to show the point I was trying to make; people accept Shadow because he has "always" been around, but when another character as over-the-top edgy as Shadow shows up in more recent times, people make fun of him.

That's what I'm saying though. You go into this post assuming everyone makes fun of fan characters. But to me mocking them would make me a hypocrite as I did the same thing at their age, laughably badly so in hindsight. I think it's a different way for people to express themselves, in the same way as listening to edgy music or band shirts or things around that age. There was a video recently describing it as "a person growing up but wanting their favorite thing from childhood to mature with them" and I do think that's part of it. Sure it's easy to laugh as an adult and go "pft? that's what you call mature?", but to some teens that is what they think of it as. Just look at all the rated T and Mature titles with over use of swearing and violence, and it's not really surprising they get that impression. It's only as they get older they learn that there are other parts to being an adult.

But while there is a section that use OCs as a self insert, I do think there are OCs people create just because they want to see more characters in this universe and find the designs appealing to make. Some series make it easier than others of course, but there are things like gemsonas and pony OCs too. To me I don't see copying as something to laugh at, but as a step towards growth. What I mean is, while the internet loves to laugh at people that draw the same things forever at the same level, not everyone is like that. The Sonic community of all people should know this, considering previous fan game creators and meme artists have become legitimate contributors to the official series content over the years. Fans start by copying what they like, and then some of them will improve and develop into their own style. If you look up even the biggest artists, they will be glad to mention all that inspired them.

That says more to me about Infinite's execution and current internet culture than it does about Shadow. As you said yourself, there are people who have always hated Shadow. Right now it's super cool to hate anything even slightly edgy, and remix things into ironic meme abominations. Just look at what the internet has done to Garfield. If anything I expect things to swing back around in 20 years or so, where edgy has been old enough to be "cool" again. It's how trends tend to go, look at how goth has cycled in and out of popular culture. My reaction to Infinite was less "eww he's too edgy" and more "man they really wasted the potential, but even despite that still had some pretty cool moments". I will say again that I think it's a difference in mindset. You say that about Shadow how since he's been around he's ok, but couldn't we say the same for Metal? If Metal had came after Shadow, I could see the same complaints being thrown about him being just an edgier Sonic. Because to some fans it's not about the quality, but about surface level complaints to use over and over again. It's why some refuse to acknowledge anything after Classic.

---

As for the Ultimate life form stuff, it's more of a fan theory from SA2 that Gerald studied from Knuckles ancestors. There are some details to support this, but even if it was true it got retconned when they decided to bring Shadow back from the dead. We can see this from the Ark's design. It starts looking like a normal space base, but as the characters get deeper inside it resembles more and more a warped version of the ruins of Knuckles' clan, emerald shrine and all. There are also the Chaos clone enemies, that could be failed experiments at trying to recreate Chaos. And the fan theory that he also studied the murals from past games, which is why Biolizard is a lizard (by the way it's scream is a warped version of Japanese Sonic and Shadow screaming), and Shadow looks like Super Sonic. We know from interviews that SA2 was made with the story first, and the levels following after, so little details like this do reflect the story. (It's also why we only see Eggman badniks inside his base, and G.U.N. robots everywhere else)

Now for the lines itself, what is likely implied is that Shadow was a failed attempt at making Sonic, and that Sonic IS the real Ultimate life form. It's not by chance that these things keep happening to him, but because he has such a natural ability to control chaos. That is why Shadow falls and Sonic doesn't. The final boss has a lot of dialogue that should have been in the final cutscene, as most players won't take long enough to hear all of it. But from that final battle we have Sonic yelling at Shadow to get back onto the Ark, and Shadow struggling to keep up his super form as well as Sonic does. Shadow realizes in this moment, that Sonic is the real Ultimate life form. That's why in the end, Sonic briefly reflects on what Shadow told him. It's also why I think bringing back Shadow was a mistake, as they decided to "throw it all away" and go with that Black Doom nonsense. The reason why SA2 feels complete is because it was. Shadow was supposed to end there, but his popularity kept him around. They also decided to go with a completely different writer for his game, which is why he doesn't seem the same or why things feel like they are being made up as they go along instead of being connected to SA2 beyond surface elements.

You can hear the dialogue in English (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZubgGKqR3s), and unlike other parts of the English version of SA2, this part wasn't lost in translation, just lost by putting it too deep into a boss battle.

Edit: If you have some time to kill this video goes even more in depth than I do about SA2's story.

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51 minutes ago, DryLagoon said:

That's what I'm saying though. You go into this post assuming everyone makes fun of fan characters. But to me mocking them would make me a hypocrite as I did the same thing at their age, laughably badly so in hindsight. I think it's a different way for people to express themselves, in the same way as listening to edgy music or band shirts or things around that age. There was a video recently describing it as "a person growing up but wanting their favorite thing from childhood to mature with them" and I do think that's part of it. Sure it's easy to laugh as an adult and go "pft? that's what you call mature?", but to some teens that is what they think of it as. Just look at all the rated T and Mature titles with over use of swearing and violence, and it's not really surprising they get that impression. It's only as they get older they learn that there are other parts to being an adult.

But while there is a section that use OCs as a self insert, I do think there are OCs people create just because they want to see more characters in this universe and find the designs appealing to make. Some series make it easier than others of course, but there are things like gemsonas and pony OCs too. To me I don't see copying as something to laugh at, but as a step towards growth. What I mean is, while the internet loves to laugh at people that draw the same things forever at the same level, not everyone is like that. The Sonic community of all people should know this, considering previous fan game creators and meme artists have become legitimate contributors to the official series content over the years. Fans start by copying what they like, and then some of them will improve and develop into their own style. If you look up even the biggest artists, they will be glad to mention all that inspired them.

That says more to me about Infinite's execution and current internet culture than it does about Shadow. As you said yourself, there are people who have always hated Shadow. Right now it's super cool to hate anything even slightly edgy, and remix things into ironic meme abominations. Just look at what the internet has done to Garfield. If anything I expect things to swing back around in 20 years or so, where edgy has been old enough to be "cool" again. It's how trends tend to go, look at how goth has cycled in and out of popular culture. My reaction to Infinite was less "eww he's too edgy" and more "man they really wasted the potential, but even despite that still had some pretty cool moments". I will say again that I think it's a difference in mindset. You say that about Shadow how since he's been around he's ok, but couldn't we say the same for Metal? If Metal had came after Shadow, I could see the same complaints being thrown about him being just an edgier Sonic. Because to some fans it's not about the quality, but about surface level complaints to use over and over again. It's why some refuse to acknowledge anything after Classic.

 

 

You know, I actually quite agree with you about how tiresome the whole "irony" thing has gotten, how people take everything intended to be enjoyed with a straight face and remix/meme-fie it into a post-modern mess (I say this as someone who unironically likes Garfield). I think that our culture is due for a newfound appreciation for sincerity.

And so with that said, if you are able to appreciate Shadow as well as fan-characters similar to him in a genuine fashion, then that's great, I really think so. But the things is, there are many many people out there who commit an act of hypocrasy by taking Shadow at face value while also making fun of edgy-fan characters. And my point is that you can't do that, because I argue that Shadow is indistinguishable from them.

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27 minutes ago, batson said:

You know, I actually quite agree with you about how tiresome the whole "irony" thing has gotten, how people take everything intended to be enjoyed with a straight face and remix/meme-fie it into a post-modern mess (I say this as someon who unironically likes Garfield). I think that our culture is due for a newfound appreciation for sincerity.

And so with that said, if you are able to appreciate Shadow as well as fan-characters similar to him in a genuine fashion, then that's great, I really think so. But the things is, there are many many people out there who commit an act of hypocrasy by taking Shadow at face value while also making fun of edgy-fan characters. And my point is that you can't do that, because I argue that Shadow is indistinguishable from them.

I'm glad someone else agrees with me. It's something I've been thinking about for awhile, but haven't really seen a big shift in people wanting again. To me the ironic stuff was fine for a bit 10 years ago, but after awhile it's just tiring. "Ok, so you think it sucks, are you going to do something about it besides complain?" Sonic is alive and imitated because it works. If it was just 90s 'tude he'd have died in the 90s with the rest of his copies. Sonic has learned to adjust with the times, even if it doesn't always do so well. Shadow's game was an attempt to appeal to what people liked then, just like Colors tried to do for a new generation. Sonic's English social media laughing at itself was it attempting to fit into what both Sonic fans and other big companies were doing in the 2010s.

I think this is also why the divide between US and Japan exists too. They know they can't market Sonic the same way in both places, but by doing it so differently in the 90s they created a fracture in what people expect from Sonic. I've been reading some Japanese Sonic threads and it's interesting how similar it can be to here. Not on every little detail, for example 06 isn't nearly as taboo to even mention by name. But when it comes to some of the core things, I think both sides can somewhat agree. When Sonic is great, most will like it and praise it for doing so. As I said before, if Sonic was doing so poorly, he'd become just a mascot (like how Mickey stopped starring in cartoons for awhile). Sure he's not doing as well as he used to, but Sega still cares enough to not shut down his games completely. I was reading about how when SA2 came out, many thought Sonic would die with the Dreamcast and that future generations would never play a Sonic game. Thankfully (or not), they were not only wrong, but dead wrong. The next generation had the most access to Sonic games that fans could have dreamed of. We wouldn't be discussing games like CD or Sonic R without the help of Gems collection bringing those games to more peoople.

 

I think the difference is in execution. To outsiders, Shadow looks just the same. But I honestly think if you ignore his design there would be far less complaints. I don't see nearly as many complaints about Rouge who was introduced in the same game for example. I admit part of it is I'm able to acknowledge his roots despite of where Sega has taken him since, and still have some belief that they could turn him around. But funny enough sometimes being a fan of something also means knowing where to stop it. Even fans of the Simpsons think it has gone on far too long. Just like other characters have become unneeded, I think that sometimes Shadow has too. Because as some other fans will agree with me, you can't reboot Shadow. You could, but that wouldn't be Shadow at that point, it'd be a different character using his likeness. He doesn't have to go on about Maria and Gerald constantly (or even at all), but those events shaped who he is.

To me it'd be about as bad as if Knuckles lost all his backstory. I don't think it's by chance these two had more focus in the comics. If anything I'd say these two characters have a lot in common in terms of how their games represent them. (and also how the game after tossed a lot of it out) You didn't need to hear Knuckles to know why you liked him, it was shown through his actions. For Shadow you don't need every little detail of his backstory to like him, you see by how he acts in the game. You see him figure out who he is, change his relationship with Sonic, and even begrudgingly work with Rouge and Eggman. Shadow on paper I get, but that's not how he was. If he was written like a 14 year old he'd never change, have Sonic worship him, get an even better Super form than Sonic, and save the day and mock Sonic while doing it.

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47 minutes ago, DryLagoon said:

It's also why I think bringing back Shadow was a mistake, as they decided to "throw it all away" and go with that Black Doom nonsense. The reason why SA2 feels complete is because it was. Shadow was supposed to end there, but his popularity kept him around.

I agree with this, it's exactly my opinion on Shadow.

Like I said in another thread, Shadow was my favorite character back when I played SA2 for the first time. When he was revived and his backstory got ruined with all the aliens, government and stuff, I really stopped caring about the character.

At the time I was a young teenager, I wrote a (incomplete, never finished) fanfiction about traveling back in time to save Shadow, and I was planning to end it with a bad ending, Shadow would not be saved (even as a fan of the character I wanted him to stay dead because a return would have ruined the impact and meaning of his sacrifice).

---

That's the only fanfiction I ever tried to write and it only had one OC in it, that used an unique design by the way (a yellow cat with long whiskers that he used as blades by spinning), other than having Classic Sonic and Classic Tails transported to the modern timeline from the end of Sonic 3 (way before Generations was a thing), and Mecha Shadow, that was basically Time Eater (the time-traveling robot built by eggman in order to save Shadow, turned evil once he powered it with a Chaos Emerald, also intended to be permanently destroyed by the heroes at the end).

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People sure love throwing their hot takes around lately, but since you actually bothered to articulate yourself, I'll humor you. 

Yes Shadow is likely the harbinger of the droves of fan-characters created at the time. But so what? Why is this considered a bad thing unless you just hate those types of characters in general? Because let's be real here, the the entire series was literally built on this concept. Sonic himself was literally designed as "cooler and edgier" than Mario.And you bought into it just like every other kid did back then as well. It was "different" back then, just like it was "different" in 2001. The reasons both Sonic & Shadow took off so well with audiences in their respective time periods is because Sega understood how to write these characters for people to buy into them, and why Infinite fell flat because he was hilariously undercooked by comparison. 

And yes, while giving Shadow a connection to Sonic would help explain things in the long run, that's not what the focus of his story was about. Shadow was used as a marketing gimmick first and foremost for looking like Sonic, but he was very much his own character with his own identity. If he was just another "Dark Sonic", then he would have just been made redundant with Metal Sonic around. He doesn't need a canonical relationship with Sonic to function as a character. 

I see Shadow's powerset as a way they further wanted to separate him from Sonic, and while they probably took it a bit too far, it wasn't a bad idea. Sonic's focus is on his speed, while Shadow's is on his chaos abilities which gives them both their own niche in terms of playstyle and combat. 

 

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7 minutes ago, StaticMania said:

He already has one though...he's based on Suppah Sonic.

That's still fanon, nothing has been confirmed about that. 

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2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

People sure love throwing their hot takes around lately, but since you actually bothered to articulate yourself, I'll humor you. 

Yes Shadow is likely the harbinger of the droves of fan-characters created at the time. But so what? Why is this considered a bad thing unless you just hate those types of characters in general? Because let's be real here, the the entire series was literally built on this concept.

 

So kuzu has said a lot but I actually want to talk about this. You go on o speak about how sonic himself was made to be cooler than mario. That's true, but you could have gone even further. While memed about by proffesional artists because once you learn how to draw sonic characters you find out they are deceptively hard to draw, but sonic from the start was supposed to be easy to draw. His intent from the begining was for you the audience presumably a child at the time to replicate and change his form. To interpret it as you see fit

So shadow being the harbriger of a bunch of shadow-esque character speaks to how effective he was as a character. He more so maybe more than sonic himself have achieved this.

So its kind of baffling that , that is painted as an issue. It shows at least to me, that you have not you kuzu but @batson and those he is referring, that this is infact a franchise for children and having kids want to draw and interact with your characters at high intervals is actually really good and speaks to how well the character was and is received. The characters in general.

I'm guilty of this , but it would serve us well to back up sometimes and understand that this is a kids thing. And what might be " embarrassing" for an adult might just be fun an engaging for a child.  So general uninterested in concepts like the zeti for infinite kinda speak volumes.

On that note though , I want to adress another thing. I think we are long past the point of shadow being a live is a mistake. I dunno if he's making people happy, people like he's around, kids do and that's making the company involved money. Then what's the issue. I dunno, I read comic books, where heroes just come back all the time. I don't think the narrative integrity of sonic was damaged that shadow's alive. Tikal could rise from her grave and become a regular cast member I don't think it would really do much as long as it was cool.

That's just me.

Not trying to like be mean or nothing @batson , it just I dunno some of your gripes seem like non problems

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If we are going to attack Shadow for being a Sonic Clone then we might as well attack dozens  of the characters in this franchise 

And Shadow's "Edgy Gothic" aesthetic is hardly any different than Sonic "Edgy Xtreme Skater" aesthetic or Knuckles "Jamaican Boxer" aesthetic , it's cheesy but this entire Franchise is meant to be cheesy , the fact that that aesthetic became a meme doesn't matter, 80's aesthetics  used to be a joke and then all of a sudden the internet decided it's cool again, who cares since Pop culture is fickle about what's cool and what's uncool 

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32 minutes ago, Shadowlax said:

I think we are long past the point of shadow being a live is a mistake. I dunno if he's making people happy, people like he's around, kids do and that's making the company involved money. Then what's the issue. I dunno, I read comic books, where heroes just come back all the time. I don't think the narrative integrity of sonic was damaged that shadow's alive. Tikal could rise from her grave and become a regular cast member I don't think it would really do much as long as it was cool.

When I'm talking about bringing Shadow back I mostly mean Heroes and his game. (there are some nitpicks in newer games too like reverting him to his intro personality) They bring him back and the only person to be surprised is Rouge? I'm honestly wondering how much meddling that game had considering even the Team Dark intro was majorly changed, and that was a minor scene. Toning it down is one thing, but not even mentioning it is another. It's really funny how we went from SA2 to Heroes to Shadow's game, talk about mood whiplash. I'm not as bothered by it now as the games tend to ignore most continuity anyways. I'm just saying if they were going to bring him back, it would have been nice if it was done better.

They aren't really doing too much with him currently either (as in the past decade). Forces was a decent start, but really could have been fleshed out more. I'd have paid a few bucks for expanded content. lol

They "ended" his story several times now, but they keep bringing him back because he remains popular.

I don't mind if he's around, as long as he's in character (which I seem to disagree with based on what the mandates count as "in character" now) and has a good reason for being there and fun to play as. I do like Shadow, but I don't like when they mess around with his writing because they misunderstand why he's popular.

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Silver and Blaze also suffer from the fact that Writers keep on writing them back simply due to popularity despite it not making sense

Knuckles too, his entire Character doesn't make any sense thanks to the writers not even bothering to explain why he leaves his island so often 

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See, all of that has more to do with how Sega treats these characters; these characters were created mainly for marketing purposes first and foremost rather than being a new and organic part of Sonic's world. They're good for selling kids on getting the games, but once  their debut story is over with, they struggle to remain relevant but are so popular, Sega can't exactly just get rid of them. 

This is especially true for Shadow; he's easily the second popular character after Sonic even after all of this time, but his appearances post-SA2 tend to be pretty...questionable. His story arcs either tend eclipse Sonic's own, or they force him back into an antagonistic role. It's not just that I feel they have no idea what to do with him, but they're really trying to find an established place for the guy.

I mean, when you get down to it, he's literally just Sonic but darker. He's a very well executed concept of that, but now Sega has to reconcile his character now that his original purpose from SA2 is no longer applicable.  

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28 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I mean, when you get down to it, he's literally just Sonic but darker. He's a very well executed concept of that, but now Sega has to reconcile his character now that his original purpose from SA2 is no longer applicable.  

I think part of the issue is they tried to spin him off into his own game, but due to mixed reception left it at only that one. Whatever it was, it was bad enough they dropped any plans for other characters or a sequel to Shadow. (possible other spin offs included Tails, Knuckles, and Eggman besides Shadow)

I'm surprised they haven't tried the two story route again. I think it offers a good split without having too many. That way both Sonic and Shadow have something to do, and you can make the story different. Either the two sides of the same story like SA2, or two different ones. Not every game needs to, but it's worth considering trying again if they won't do spin offs anymore. I still think Forces would have benefitted from this as we could have one half trying to get 100% in Sonic's favor, and one side trying to get 100% (or rather 99%) in Eggman's favor. It could even act as the prequel to the story. Kind of like the Shadow story but not tacked on after.

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5 minutes ago, DryLagoon said:

I think part of the issue is they tried to spin him off into his own game, but due to mixed reception left it at only that one. Whatever it was, it was bad enough they dropped any plans for other characters or a sequel to Shadow. (possible other spin offs included Tails, Knuckles, and Eggman besides Shadow)

I'm surprised they haven't tried the two story route again. I think it offers a good split without having too many. That way both Sonic and Shadow have something to do, and you can make the story different. Either the two sides of the same story like SA2, or two different ones. Not every game needs to, but it's worth considering trying again if they won't do spin offs anymore. I still think Forces would have benefitted from this as we could have one half trying to get 100% in Sonic's favor, and one side trying to get 100% (or rather 99%) in Eggman's favor. It could even act as the prequel to the story. Kind of like the Shadow story but not tacked on after.

The side campaigns from before were an excellent way of doing that, but people got tired of them, so here we are :V

I do think the lack of spin offs is a significant reason why these characters often feel very superfluous. They literally have nowhere else to go, and Sega does not have an incentive on giving them their own games. So they're stuck clogging up Sonic's adventures. 

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Tails shouldn't be in the games anymore because his story ended in Adventure.

Seriously, there's no law that says a character can only have one arc. Superman has been selling stories for over 80 years, Spider-Man has been going for nearly 60 without a reboot, have long since concluded their original story arcs and nobody says they should just go away because, as it turns out, its possible for a character to go through multiple arcs. Even if you don't feel like starting a whole new story you still don't have to discard the character. Static characters are perfectly capable of having interesting adventures and interactions with the world too.

Regarding Shadow being brought back, it certainly wasn't handled as gracefully as it could have been, but I'll give them credit for recognizing the potential to cheapen the ending of SA2 and trying to mitigate it. Whether you think the amnesia plot was a good idea or not, it did ensure that Shadow's sacrifice had consequences even if he didn't actually die, and he had to go through quite a bit of shit before he fully recovered from it. 

As for needing to justify Shadow's appearances going forward, he has much more leeway than Silver, Blaze, or Knuckles. In fact, given the whole GUN agent angle, Shadow's personal reasons to protect the world, and Omega's vendetta it's actually harder to justify Team Dark not appearing whenever Eggman is stirring shit up.

 

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Alright, let’s break this down a bit, shall we?

15 hours ago, batson said:


I'm gonna be honest here. From day one I thought Shadow was a bad character. Untill about ten years years ago, I had some long discussions on this very forum regarding why I thought so, but since then I've mostly kept my mouth shut about it. I felt that I had said everything I wanted to say about the matter. But over the years since then, I've thought some more about the subject, and now I feel like the time is right to vocalize my reasonings on why I still believe that Shadow is and always has been a bad character, both in concept and execution, and I'm eager to hear what you all have to say about my thoughts. I realize fully well that I'm gonna get a hard time for this, since people do love Shadow, but even so, let us begin.

First things first; Shadow IS a canonical version of the type of fan character that everyone makes fun of. There is no getting around it. Just take a step back and look at him: he is similar to the main character, but he is darker and edgier, he has a tragic and somewhat convulted backstory, and he has all the abilities that the main character has plus several abilities that the main character doesn't have. That right there describes the type of character that, when a young Sonic fan creates and shares with the world, is usually met with nothing but scorn due to how overblown his supposed awesomeness and edgyness is. But with Shadow, Sega wants us to actually accept him and take him seriously. I think a lot of the current Sonic fanbase accepts Shadow because to them Shadow has "always" been there, but Just imagine an alternative universe where Shadow had come out today, in 2020. What would you honestly think of him? Wouldn't you be amazed at how Sega actually went and created an official version of the character type that we have made fun of for years? Because that's how I felt back in 2001.

That’s also what the Rookie Character turned out to be in some manner as well, and they turned out to be one of Forces’s saving graces (which isn’t saying much for the game as whole, but still) and is ironically the least complained about part of that whole game in spite of all the flak we threw at it the moment we heard they were actually going to go through with a Character Creator in Sonic. Not sure that’s something we would’ve gotten onto Shadow for in itself given all the steps that were taken from that point to now.

A character with similarities to the main hero, but with a darker and/or more tragic backstory with extra powers isn’t anything new in fiction. It’s an archtype that’s been done since before the printing press when people would tell stories of mythical gods and heroic figures for entertainment and to understand the world.

It’s been done with Superman with characters like Bizzaro and Doomsday, it’s especially been done in the Megaman franchise with X and Zero (who is basically the robot version of Shadow), along with the likes of X-men with Wolverine and Sabertooth or X-23. 

Interestingly enough, if we go the other way and brought Shadow in the 90s but left everything about him unchanged, one would say he would be placed on the same pedestal as Knuckles and Amy. And like those characters, people would’ve ignored how messy his characterization would’ve been on the simple fact that he was around during the Genesis era. And all those traits would likely have been praised prior to how things would’ve been perceived later down the line.

15 hours ago, batson said:

But regardless of Shadow's similarity to a fan-created Gary Stu, let us move on to the specific reasons why I think the very concept and creation of Shadow is very badly excetuted. Shadow as we know is basically an "evil twin" character. And I don't think this itself is a bad archetype. As you can see, I'm even using another character of that archetype as my avatar. But what is so stupid about Shadow is that his similarity to Sonic makes no sense from a story point of view. Shadow canonically has no relation to Sonic whatsoever. Compare this to Metal Sonic who is a robot specifically created to emulate and surpass Sonic. And compare Shadow to virtually any other evil twin in virtually any other media. There is virtually always a narrative connection between the good twin and the bad twin. But with Sonic and Shadow, their similarities are nothing but a coincidence. That just always seemed lazy to me.

A fair point. Honestly that is the one part that could have been better done given that much of the conflict with Sonic and Shadow in SA2 has to do with how similar they look, and there’s hardly an explanation for it.

Fan-theories of Gerald seeing the Hidden Palace image can only go so far when very little throughout the whole franchise goes to explain it. And given how there was a replica of the Emerald Shrine in the ARK’s core, you’d think they’d play with that a little more.

15 hours ago, batson said:

Another thing that bugs me about Shadow is that, as I have already expressed, he is essentially "Sonic, but better" in terms of abilities. Now, I don't think this is necassarely a negative thing in itself, but with Shadow it became a somewhat problematic aspect once he became a good guy. Let me explain; as long as the evil twin character remains an obstacle for the hero to overcome, it makes sense that the evil twin is supperior, since this creates an extra challange for the hero. But if that evil twin then becomes a good guy, I really feel that the heroes abilities are cheapened by the existance of an ally that can do everything he can PLUS a whole bunch of other stuff. Like, what makes Sonic's abilitiy to thwart evil any special when he has an ally that can do everything he can (in other words is as fast as he is) but who can also do a lot of things that he cant (stop time, teleport, ect)? Shadow just ends up being a hero who is superior to our main hero in every way. It makes Sonic feel less special.

So then give Sonic something to stand out more. Or have Shadow be more independent and willing to fight Sonic more often. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Having cool powers is one thing, but they don’t make the whole character—and this is a problem that’s become way too widespread among the fandom: judging characters based on their powers than other traits. That’s just one dimension of a character that people are basing everything on.

Sure Shadow has all these cool abilities, but he has a completely different overall personality with Sonic despite their overlaps: 1) Sonic is a lot less ruthless and much more merciful than Shadow, 2) Sonic is more of an adventurer and thrill-seeker compared to Shadow being a soldier and warrior, 3) Sonic is born naturally (well, we could assume that at least) while Shadow was born artificially, 4) Sonic is born on Earth while Shadow was born in space.

I could go on with this, but the point here is that there are different dynamics at play. I mean sure you could play as, for imagination’s sake, let’s say a cosmic space dragon that could crush the sun in their hands, but I could still play a hamster with a blowgun and poisonous mushrooms for land mines that could wreck that space dragon’s day.

Sonic is only as basic as you make him compared to Shadow, but that just ignores who these characters are or the other strengths they have. You don’t have to have awesome powers to be awesome—Batman shows this in spades compared to Superman.

15 hours ago, batson said:

Then finally, there is the fact of how Sega handled Shadow's whole "amnesia" storyline.

Okay, yes, definitely.

That was without a doubt poorly handled, and while I won’t lie and say that I didn’t praise Shadow’s game at the time (hey, I was young and open to any new things at the time, and defending the character when the franchise was at its worst), the amnesia was not done well and I don’t recall saying much in praise of that part.

Probably didn’t help that that storyline was done at a time when plenty of others were doing it as well, and while not entirely seen as jumping the bandwagon compared to other things, it being so common wasn’t doing it any favors.

At the end of the day, while we can conclude that Shadow’s handling has been messy, it’s not like these issues can’t be addressed without butchering his or other characters in the process. 

 

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