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Realism in Sonic

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2 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

According to what rule? Because that sounds more like personal preference than what it “should” be.

Yes I am talking about my personal tastes in this thread where we post our personal feelings regarding realism in Sonic.

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I wonder if the people who don't like realism would be fine if Sonic themes were chosen by mad libs.

Sonic went to the [Green] [Tube] in the [Sky] where he fights a [Red] [Demon] whose evil power is to [control robots], but tragedy strikes when [Tails has his period]. Then they went to [Candyland] and [A Casino] before defeating the [Red Fat] [Demon Scientist] and they all lived happily ever after.

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2 hours ago, Wraith said:

The rendering of Sonic's world has taken on a lot of different shapes depending on the mood the game has tried to convey and that's probably for the best. There's no reason to stick to just one thing when there are a variety of ways for games to express themselves. 

I think it's interesting(read: incredibly fucking lazy) that entire chunks of the series gets dinged for supposed0 realism when we're talking about games that look like this, though:

Pumpkin Hill | Sonic News Network | Fandom
 

To be fair, Adventure 1 and 2 aren't entirely realistic. Adventure 1 tends to be surreal with its realistic settings (like Speed Highway) and also has more conventional fantasy settings.

But the games are also going for a level of realism that wasn't found in the classic games.  Sonic Team went on location for some of the levels of Adventure 1.

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Looking at this topic makes me think the decision to split the human and anthro worlds wasn't just born out of their ass. None of us can really seem to agree on what's "acceptable" realism or not.

That said, I notice this trend for people to really exaggerate just how fantastical the classic games were and how Adventure 2 is such a departure from that and I'm like...so fucking confused by it. The above post kind of lays it out, but to go more into detail.

 

Ghz.png

The iconic green hill zone; aside from it's checkered blocks, nothing particularly strikes me as "fantastical" here. It's a green pasture that Sonic runs through and includes waterfalls and lakes. 

Marble.png

Marble Zone is mostly just an ancient ruin with a lava gimmick. Nothing really fantastical here. 

Springyard.png

Spring Yard is probably the first "fantastical" zone, and even then it's mostly rooted in a city-esc aesthetic with a pin ball gimmick. It's certainly stretching things, but nothing glaringly fantastical. 

Labyrinth.png

Labyrinth Zone, it's a fucking underground labyrinth; there aren't even loops or slopes here that are so synonymous with the series. Probably one of the most grounded levels in the entire series.

Starlight.png

As pointed out, it's a city level colored in Green.

Sonic1_ScrapBrainAct1.png

Scrap Brain, it's a Factory with the third Act being a Labyrinth zone reskin. 

 

All of Sonic 1's levels are pretty grounded and not really surreal. You wanna know fantastical, this fucking shit right here. 

320px-Special_World_LW.jpg

 

You're gonna tell me this level belongs in the same series as the ones above? Sonic's always had a grounded sense of level themes, just obviously exaggerated because it's still a fictional world, but it's always been way more grounded than say, Mario in terms of setting. And I don't think it's a coincidence that Lost World's biggest art criticism is that it feels like a Mario game than a Sonic one, because the latter has never had levels like in the picture above. 

 

I hate this meme that Classic Sonic is so much fantastical than Modern Sonic and how drastically different the two are when that's such a bullshit statement, but so many people take it as a fact just to further distance the 3D games from the 2D games, and it's such prevalent opinion that it has been accepted as a fact by virtually everyone. 

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5 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

 

Ghz.png

The iconic green hill zone; aside from it's checkered blocks, nothing particularly strikes me as "fantastical" here. It's a green pasture that Sonic runs through and includes waterfalls and lakes. 

 

I do think some of what gives GHZ its more out-there elements has been diluted but its reappearances - as I've mentioned in this thread, there's cues taken from computer graphics of the time, blended into the natural environment to help sell a bit of a surreal approach. The palmtrees are the example I tend to point to - apparently the reason they were so angular is because they're based directly on the SEGA Model 1's flat-shaded, polygonal graphics, seen in games like Virtua Racing. I think that's a really cool detail, but much like how Tails' hair fluff not being in the centre of his head got lost in the translation to 3D (for merch reasons), the push for better graphics lost a detail that I think made GHZ somewhat unique. You can see it with the other bits of foliage too - the decoration off to the right of that screenshot is very angular; not a pre-rendered 3D graphic, but going for that Model 1-ish look.

Later games weren't as blatant with the reference material, but I don't think they're any less valid in their approach to making natural locations look somewhat more... unique. It's just more of a PSO-styled approach in say, Adventure 1 and 2, rather than the CG graphic focus. 

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27 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Yes I am talking about my personal tastes in this thread where we post our personal feelings regarding realism in Sonic.

Yeah, and my personal feelings are that Sonic is much better suited towards more science fiction settings than realism. More along the lines of Ratchet and Clank, Xenoblade, or even what Colors brought.

But that’s still a far cry from what he “should” be when he’s flexible enough to be in most settings, fantastic, realistic, or otherwise.

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3 minutes ago, Tracker_TD said:

I do think some of what gives GHZ its more out-there elements has been diluted but its reappearances - as I've mentioned in this thread, there's cues taken from computer graphics of the time, blended into the natural environment to help sell a bit of a surreal approach. The palmtrees are the example I tend to point to - apparently the reason they were so angular is because they're based directly on the SEGA Model 1's flat-shaded, polygonal graphics, seen in games like Virtua Racing. I think that's a really cool detail, but much like how Tails' hair fluff not being in the centre of his head got lost in the translation to 3D (for merch reasons), the push for better graphics lost a detail that I think made GHZ somewhat unique. You can see it with the other bits of foliage too - the decoration off to the right of that screenshot is very angular; not a pre-rendered 3D graphic, but going for that Model 1-ish look.

Later games weren't as blatant with the reference material, but I don't think they're any less valid in their approach to making natural locations look somewhat more... unique. It's just more of a PSO-styled approach in say, Adventure 1 and 2, rather than the CG graphic focus. 

I feel like you had a point with how people conflate the games' narrative with it's artstyle when the two really aren't related; Sonic Adventure 2's plot is far more out there from what the series ever tried to do at that point, so people usually point to that game as a whole as when the series became "too dark" and judge solely on that but kind of ignore that it's aesthetic isn't really that out there from what came before. 

It's the kind of think that makes talking about the Adventure games so annoyingly difficult, but people treat them as if they exist in their own separate setting despite the blatant similarities they have with their predecessors lol. 

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2 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I feel like you had a point with how people conflate the games' narrative with it's artstyle when the two really aren't related; Sonic Adventure 2's plot is far more out there from what the series ever tried to do at that point, so people usually point to that game as a whole as when the series became "too dark" and judge solely on that but kind of ignore that it's aesthetic isn't really that out there from what came before. 

It's the kind of think that makes talking about the Adventure games so annoyingly difficult, but people treat them as if they exist in their own separate setting despite the blatant similarities they have with their predecessors lol. 

For what it's worth, I do knock SA2 for that reason, but like you said - that's a narrative thing, not an aesthetic thing. 

I think perhaps playing PSO2, and in turn me looking into some PSO1 material here and there, is what gave me a bit of a fresh appreciation for SA2's style particularly (I was already perfectly comfortable with SA1's as a continuation of the Classics). While maybe not as true to the Classics as SA1 was, I think it's a valid interpretation of the mentality behind Sonic's aesthetics, and representative of whatever kind of 'house style' you can pin down Sonic Team for having at the time with games such as PSO. 

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1 minute ago, Tracker_TD said:

For what it's worth, I do knock SA2 for that reason, but like you said - that's a narrative thing, not an aesthetic thing. 

I think perhaps playing PSO2, and in turn me looking into some PSO1 material here and there, is what gave me a bit of a fresh appreciation for SA2's style particularly (I was already perfectly comfortable with SA1's as a continuation of the Classics). While maybe not as true to the Classics as SA1 was, I think it's a valid interpretation of the mentality behind Sonic's aesthetics, and representative of whatever kind of 'house style' you can pin down Sonic Team for having at the time with games such as PSO. 

It just kinda grinds my gears, because I have to be told that Lost World is an "acceptable follow up to the classics" ad nauseam because it's photorealistic like SA2 was. 

I suppose it's clear difference in how people perceive these games and how tainted that view has become over time. 

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Just now, Kuzu said:

It just kinda grinds my gears, because I have to be told that Lost World is an "acceptable follow up to the classics" ad nauseam because it's photorealistic like SA2 was. 

I suppose it's clear difference in how people perceive these games and how tainted that view has become over time. 

People that think Lost World's aesthetic is akin to the Classics need an eye test. It's purely surface level, and even then only really so far as Windy Hill; because that's basically just Green Hill anyway.

Hell, I think even Shadow has flashes of an aesthetic closer to what I identify as 'Sonic' than what Lost World generally attempted. Not that Lost World was devoid of elements like that itself - there's that one segment in the snowball level with the giant rollercoaster track and casino iconography, and I always found that to be a really cool section, moreso when Sonic Channel referenced it in their Christmas art with Sonic instead grinding down it. Same with Sea Bottom Segue's stage - it's not really detail-heavy, but the background's not too far removed from something like Aquarium Park. But even Shadow, which has Concrete Parking Lot Zone (Gun Fortress), at least has something like Casino Park, or even Prison Island with its fluorescent goo and random Burning Rangers reference thrown in there (the flame breathing plant is BR's first boss fight!).

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If you’re really gonna be honest, even ShTH has more than a fair share of not-so-realistic settings.

Mad Matrix, Circus Park, Cryptic Castle, the Black Comet levels, the Ark levels, Iron Jungle, Lava Shelter. 

Understandably, people tend to gloss over these levels because of the game’s reception, but it goes to show that despite how much they tried to make things edgier that they still kept in mind the zany styles (if not zanier considering we’ve never had a moment where the characters went into cyberspace, to my knowledge).

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06 is like the only game that heavily deviated, and that game was more or less a beta anyway. I get the feeling if it was finished, they would have incorporated more traditional Sonic elements. 

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3 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

06 is like the only game that heavily deviated, and that game was more or less a beta anyway. I get the feeling if it was finished, they would have incorporated more traditional Sonic elements. 

I have no idea why you would think that. The game wasn't "finished", but as far as aesthetic direction I don't see any reason to think it isn't exactly what they intended it to be.

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7 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

I have no idea why you would think that. The game wasn't "finished", but as far as aesthetic direction I don't see any reason to think it isn't exactly what they intended it to be.

It wasn't finished is what I'm saying; iirc, Sega outright admitted that they had to release the beta before the game was fully done, and we already know the game had a shit ton of cut content that couldn't make the final cut. 

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Depends on how long it would’ve taken them to finish it.

That they had to rush it gives little insight to how much time they would’ve need to at least make it good enough compared to the initial state they released it in.

I know one feature they wanted was a day-night cycle, which they cut from 06 and re-implemented in Unleashed.

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A lot of the cut content from 06 is known to us and almost none of it indicates a change in art direction was in the cards. It matches their initial CG reveal trailer too so one can only assume it was largely as they intended. 

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3 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

It wasn't finished is what I'm saying; iirc, Sega outright admitted that they had to release the beta before the game was fully done, and we already know the game had a shit ton of cut content that couldn't make the final cut. 

But it's not so unfinished that they would've radically changed how it looks, unless they somehow got the go-ahead to scrap everything and start over entirely. They had all these assets made, all these levels designed, all these cutscenes animated and voiced. With more time they would've polished the gameplay and improved the visual effects and so on, but the overall aesthetic was what they were aiming for from the start with the game.

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People who say that the Adventure games were realistic are forgetting of stuff like Pumpkin Hill, Twinkle Park, and Chao World

People who say that the classics were realistic too and not like Lost World's special world thing are forgetting about the special stages.

What I think is that Sonic is a nice mix of everything, anime and American cartoon, realism and fantasy... what matters is the balance, and the quality of the visuals.

As it has been said already, it's fine to have locations based on real world places, as long as they have a sonic style in them, and in order the recreate the Sonic style, you have to work on color palettes, shapes and patterns, and other small details. IMO the modern game that has got that balance right the most is Sonic Colors and no other game came even close to that.

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I guess it was easier to ignore the similarities in earlier games since the cast was minimalist in those. All there were usually were the main anthros, Eggman and his badniks, and the small animal cast such as Flicky, Ricky, Tricky, Dicky, etc. :P It was easy to just assume these locales were connected to their lore, that Eggman made these factories and casinos and what not and that there was a whole population of 'mobians' like Sonic intended to be there just they weren't shown because of limitations at the time.

The Adventure era games on the other hand kept the minimalist cast but placed them next to a supporting NPC group that looked nothing like them and tried to connect the backdrop lore to them more often instead, thus it started to seem like the levels were tied to this clashing group and Sonic and the classic styled cast were just 'guests'. Again, just having some anthro NPCs appear and have some connection to the lore like SA1 did would have gave way more sense to this. Why was there only like six or seven cartoon animals per game and everyone else was styled like an anime human, and this was the normality for nearly all the mainstream games of this era?

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9 hours ago, E-122-Psi said:

I guess it was easier to ignore the similarities in earlier games since the cast was minimalist in those. All there were usually were the main anthros, Eggman and his badniks, and the small animal cast such as Flicky, Ricky, Tricky, Dicky, etc. :P It was easy to just assume these locales were connected to their lore, that Eggman made these factories and casinos and what not and that there was a whole population of 'mobians' like Sonic intended to be there just they weren't shown because of limitations at the time.

That would be fanfiction that just acts like Sonic and Co. are something like the N'aavi. Sonic even with all the environmentalism was never meant to be at odds to modern/human civilization (hence him going to malls). The promotional manga even showed that Star Light Zone was treated by South Island's inhabitants as an indigenous part of the island.

9 hours ago, E-122-Psi said:

The Adventure era games on the other hand kept the minimalist cast but placed them next to a supporting NPC group that looked nothing like them and tried to connect the backdrop lore to them more often instead, thus it started to seem like the levels were tied to this clashing group and Sonic and the classic styled cast were just 'guests'. Again, just having some anthro NPCs appear and have some connection to the lore like SA1 did would have gave way more sense to this. Why was there only like six or seven cartoon animals per game and everyone else was styled like an anime human, and this was the normality for nearly all the mainstream games of this era?

Sonic is a drifter, Tails is an outcast. Knuckles is a hermit who either hunts for his shiny rock pieces or follows Sonic around. Amy is a fangirl who already lives in Station Square (with nobody commenting on her as an alien). None of them would represent the rule among their kinds and the Adventure Era largely didn't take place in population centers.

Knuckles' culture was key to Adventure One's plot. It was well recognized by human researchers who would've done things like carbon dating. Point is, the one confirmed example of a furry only society in the 3D games made under Naka wasn't treated as an isolate but no different than modern day White Americans studying the Triple Allaince's ruins down in Mexico.

The whole notion that there has to has to be some Affirmative Action for furries within somewhere like Station Square is silly. Sonic was only made a hedgehog to begin with since it suited the gameplay ideas Naka had. The whole "furry society setting" wasn't really solidly a thing as far as Naka and Co. cared (only solid example within gameverse is the Knuckles Clan, with Hedgehog Town another example including manga) and is overall more strongly tied to Western interpretations.

Frankly, in light of some discussions on reddit and the /chans/ I suspect that much of the discourse surrounding Sonic and humans is a matter of cultural differences. In the West, it's taken for granted that humans and something like a funny animal can't be in the same Earth casually chatting without either being some alien outsider in a "serious" work (so not something like Regular Show) unless it's like the following:

-Fantasy/Sci-Fi

-Superhero

 

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20 hours ago, batson said:

I think it does hurt the series identity. Sonic 06 appears to take place in a completely different fictional universe than Sonic 1. The Adventure games aren't as bad as 06, but like I said earlier, that mostly has to do with the graphical limitations of the Dreamcast.

I think you forget Sonic 1 had locations like Starlight Zone and Scrap Brain Zone, besides, having realism doesn't mean going as far as 06 did.

I think it should be like Generations and the Adventure games, where fantastical locations like Pumpkin Hill and realistic locations like City Escape exist together

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22 hours ago, Kuzu said:

It just kinda grinds my gears, because I have to be told that Lost World is an "acceptable follow up to the classics" ad nauseam because it's photorealistic like SA2 was.

The aesthetic was absolutely different from the classics overall but I don't think it's totally crazy to think it was leaning in that direction even outside of WHZ looking like GH. I'm sure there's fans out there coming to it's defense this way (as one of five people on the planet who like that game, I'd like to believe that!), but I mostly see LW's resemblance to the Classics brought up by people annoyed by pandering or whatever.

I personally thought it was a reasonable art style for the series, with my only gripe being the lighting (specifically that There Isn't Any most of the time). Whenever the levels were entirely just floating planetoids it isn't all that exciting visually, but the more grounded levels or ones with more details were perfectly "Sonic" to me.

I can understand people just not being into how stuff was rendered though, and the games following it haven't improved much. I like it but it's not like I'd be upset by any means if they went back to the semirealism of 2008-2011.

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