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Sonic is (supposed to be) cool


batson
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As we all know, during the golden age of the franchise, the one element besides the quality gameplay that made Sonic a super -star was the fact that Sonic was cool. Other platform games were charming, the Sonic series was awesome.

Jump ahead a few years, and the concept of "cool" understandably changed and evolved, as it always does. When it was time for Sonic to make his true leap into the third dimension, and just a few short years before he would make the leap to a new decade, Sega seemed to understand that they needed to keep up with the times. The result was of course Sonic Adventure. Now, on the one hand, I believe that Sega commited a few missteps with this game, such as the idea of placing Sonic in a more realistic setting. But regardless, one thing that I do admire the game for is that it was obviously intended to be cool. With Sonic Adventure, as well as it's sequel Sonic Adventure 2, the Sonic series proved that Sega still had an ambition to not be Mario, to be something more badass. They did this by crafting dramatic narratives that were taken seriously (even if elements of them were poorly executed, but that's kind of beside the point actually) and by giving the games badass soundtracks including rock songs with wailing electric guitars and hip-hop beats. Not everything worked out as well as it could but dammit if they didn't try. These games were very different from the classics but they carried on their spirit. Even something as unintionally ridiculous as Shadow the Hedgehog (the game) was still born out of the same edgy spark that ignited the franchise to begin with.

But sadly, eventually Sega seemed to completely lose sight of the fact that Sonic is supposed to be cool. Games like Colors and Lost world instead went for a mood that can be described as whimsical and childlike.  And they made the fatal decision to turn the Sonic series into a comedy. Let me make this perfectly clear; Sonic was never something meant to be laughed at. His battles against Eggman and his mechanical armies were never a joke. But for some reason, this is the attitude that sega eventually came to possess. What we ended up with was a neutered series where Sonic moves through whimsical stages to whimsical music and with constant jokes to take away any tension.

Of course, we eventually got Sonic Forces, which seemed to be an attempt to go back to the Adventure era, which is something that i welcome. Of course, in sort of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-dont situation, Sega once again failed to realize when enough is enough when they created Infinite, a character so over-the-top edgy that he makes Shadow blush. But you know what, at least they goddamn tried. At least they seemed to once again come to the realization that Sonic is neither Mario (innocent and whimsical) or Earthworm Jim (a comedy). I just hope that the failure of Forces (which was admittadly a bad game, I'm not gonna argue) doesn't send Sonic right back to the neutered stage he was stuck in for most of the 2010's.

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The idea that Sonic must be overtly "cool" or that there was an "edgy spark to ignite the franchise" is perhaps the greatest success of the US marketing spin, because it's nigh bollocks with how much some people stress it now.

Sonic has more attitude than Mario - he's got a smirk, he gets annoyed at the player for taking too long where Mario just takes a nap, and he's very cocky and arrogant. But to deny that there's any kind of room for pushing beyond that is just wrong. He's an adventurer, and a generous friend to the woodland critters around him; you cite the Adventure games in your post, as if they were the start of Sonic's personality. They weren't. Look at the above artwork, all from Sonic 1's manual; you've got a blend of Sonic's more cocky, attitude-driven side, but also a cuter, more curious side to him that's befitting of an adventurer.

SMEofOF.png

The same goes for Judy Totoya's soft-redesign of Sonic for Sonic 2. He looks genuinely cool in some of this art, but he's also got a bit of a cuter side too. 

The outright focus on Sonic being as cool as possible is almost pushing for a flanderisation of it a lot of the time. This isn't to say what Lost World does is any better, because good lord it isn't, but there's more to Sonic than being 'cool.' Sonic's battles against Eggman may not have been a joke, but they're not exactly War and Peace either; it reminds me of someone who one tried to convince me that Sonic 3 was 'edgy' (as a defence of SA2's plot) because it was a 'dark story of enslavement', just because you free animals from robots. Like, c'mon. It's like saying Mario is a dark, edgy story because the manual claims the brick blocks are transformed Toads. 

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4 minutes ago, Tracker_TD said:

It's like saying Mario is a dark, edgy story because the manual claims the brick blocks are transformed Toads. 

Which if you play the game and brake those bricks well, consider these souls gone for good.

Still tho, if Sonic were to continue being 'cool' than I can tell you that it would not fit an event unless its for showing off.

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Problem is what's cool changes from generations. Cool back then was extreme sports and Michael Jackson. Cool today is Fortnite and Billie Eilish. Can you imagine the next sonic game and he's cranking 90s with something that sounds like Bad Guy as the main theme?

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Are you sure cartoon comedy has never been part of Sonic?

Spoiler

sonic-19.gif

Eggman stomping the END text like a spoiled kid angry because his mom didn't buy him a new toy

tumblr_mrrcpu2qf01qjgoy5o1_400.gifv

The typical cartoon chasing scene

latest?cb=20100328150433

A gag boss that's Orbot & Cubot level of stupidity

hqdefault.jpg

A huge bomb with Eggman's face on it falls from the sky and explodes near Knuckles, who was relaxing and now he's angry (obviously it didn't hurt).

And this without mentioning all the slapstick cartoon logic in Segasonic and Sonic the Fighters, Fang the Sniper in Triple Trouble, and other little details like Eggman flying away on his damaged egg mobile with his mustache all burned and his face red of rage.

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7 minutes ago, Iko said:

Are you sure cartoon comedy has never been part of Sonic?

  Reveal hidden contents

sonic-19.gif

Eggman stomping the END text like a spoiled kid angry because his mom didn't buy him a new toy

tumblr_mrrcpu2qf01qjgoy5o1_400.gifv

The typical cartoon chasing scene

latest?cb=20100328150433

A gag boss that's Orbot & Cubot level of stupidity

hqdefault.jpg

A huge bomb with Eggman's face on it falls from the sky and explodes near Knuckles, who was relaxing and now he's angry (obviously it didn't hurt).

And this without mentioning all the slapstick cartoon logic in Segasonic and Sonic the Fighters, Fang the Sniper in Triple Trouble, and other little details like Eggman flying away on his damaged egg mobile with his mustache all burned and his face red of rage.

Having comedic elements and being a comedy is two completely different things. The Metal Gear series has tons of comedic elements but nodoby would ever characterize the series as a whole as being of the comedy genre.

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48 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Quarantine really has people bored huh

I know right? Of course I am also responding too. But since the upcoming Sonic news got delayed there went any chance of having something new to discuss so we're back to the usual. I've only been here a few months and it's already repetitive.

1 hour ago, Tracker_TD said:

The idea that Sonic must be overtly "cool" or that there was an "edgy spark to ignite the franchise" is perhaps the greatest success of the US marketing spin, because it's nigh bollocks with how much some people stress it now.

Sonic has more attitude than Mario - he's got a smirk, he gets annoyed at the player for taking too long where Mario just takes a nap, and he's very cocky and arrogant. But to deny that there's any kind of room for pushing beyond that is just wrong. He's an adventurer, and a generous friend to the woodland critters around him; you cite the Adventure games in your post, as if they were the start of Sonic's personality. They weren't. Look at the above artwork, all from Sonic 1's manual; you've got a blend of Sonic's more cocky, attitude-driven side, but also a cuter, more curious side to him that's befitting of an adventurer.

The same goes for Judy Totoya's soft-redesign of Sonic for Sonic 2. He looks genuinely cool in some of this art, but he's also got a bit of a cuter side too. 

From what I can recall the marketing thing works both ways. The original creators wanted Sonic to be cool, but since Japan prefers cute things they had the reverse Kirby effect (Kirby effect being the US box art always makes him look angry to seem cooler). They stated that is why they tried to push back by making the Adventure designs cooler than Classic. (His creator even complained how Baby Sonic was an attempt to do this for the movie, notice it was posted in Japan first) (article link)

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"To us, it was the perfect timing. Sonic Team wanted to make this new, edgy, more Western character design work, and found an opportunity in the new hardware, so it all kind of culminated in Sonic Adventure and the modernization of Sonic."

 

1 hour ago, BadBehavior said:

Problem is what's cool changes from generations. Cool back then was extreme sports and Michael Jackson. Cool today is Fortnite and Billie Eilish. Can you imagine the next sonic game and he's cranking 90s with something that sounds like Bad Guy as the main theme?

I agree that Sonic has been changing with the times. It's also why I think some adults will never like Sonic, for the same reasons adults hate on Fortnite dancing and fidget spinners. (I know the latter was awhile back) I mean the movie had him floss several times too. We had dupstep and EDM in Forces, so I'm curious what music they'd try for the next title. They seem to do way more in game remixes than they used to as well. I love Hyper Potions, I found out about them through Sonic and their music is so upbeat and dance-y.

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Alright, to actually contribute something to the topic.

I can't help but feel the US's marketing for Sonic as aggressively "cool" as possible was both a blessing and a curse, because while it did help Sonic take off, it's also kind of poisoned his perception over time. Cool is such a contemporary concept and that is constantly changing, and the fact remains is that what's "cool" to one person is going to be seen as "uncool" to another. Sonic is either seen as a "badass" at best, or a "tryhard" at worst. 

But I feel like this obsession with being "cool" has overshadowed literally all of Sonic's other traits; writers try to make him "cool" first instead of actually being a rounded character. And it sucks because while Sonic isn't the most fleshed out character, he does  have a wealth of traits that are all but ignored. Just to give a general outline of Sonic's character from early concepts of him. (source)

  • Approximate age: 18 (but it's kind of hard to tell).
  • Legendary blue hedgehog with an attitude.
  • Is the _fastest_ in the land.
  • Strong sense of justice but irreverent to authority.
  • Impatient (does not like to stand around).
  • Not detail-oriented (short attention span).
  • Likes anything fast.
  • Loyal to his friends but enjoys his independence.
  • Street smart, but warm at heart.
  • Loves beauty, nature, cool music and adventure!
  • Not a hero, but has lots of self confidence and courage.
  • But, above all else, he is FAST!

Beyond just the generic "cool" traits; he loves nature and beauty, he has a short-attention span, he's a loyal friend, he's impatient, he doesn't consider himself a hero, he has a strong sense of justice. None of this really makes him a particularly deep or interesting character, but shit, he has more to him than just being "cool" and that's part of the reason the character has endured for so many decades.

Being "cool" is subjective, but nobody can really hate you if you're a good and upstanding guy. 

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3 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Beyond just the generic "cool" traits; he loves nature and beauty, he has a short-attention span, he's a loyal friend, he's impatient, he doesn't consider himself a hero, he has a strong sense of justice. None of this really makes him a particularly deep or interesting character, but shit, he has more to him than just being "cool" and that's part of the reason the character has endured for so many decades.

Being "cool" is subjective, but nobody can really hate you if you're a good and upstanding guy. 

(insert joke about nice guys here)

I miss Sonic being an adventurer. These days Mario feels like he has done so more than Sonic. It doesn't always have to be on a global scale either, CD was a smaller one and still fun.

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Can I be honest? I still think Sonic is cool. I think flying through the air and grabbing ziplines is pretty fucking cool myself. And personality wise I think he's got enough of an attitude in the modern era balanced out with enough care for his friends that makes him feel like a pretty cool dude all things considered.

Quote

I miss Sonic being an adventurer.

...When did he stop being an adventurer? Lost World starts with him and Tails in the middle of one and once everything in Forces is dealt with he leaves to go on another adventure.

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If I had to pick one word that describes what makes Sonic cool, far more than following any trend, it would be "panache", defined as "[a] flamboyant confidence of style or manner". Sonic was able to survive into the 2000s  largely because his panache gave him the ability to define "cool" for himself. He had his own over-the-top style that, even if it was a bit corny at times, he carried off with a confidence that just dared you to say it wan't awesome. Unfortunately the 2010s kind of lost touch with that in favor of making Sonic more of an insult comic. Jumping out of a helicopter, ripping off part of the wing, and using it to surf the streets of San Francisco with a smirk and a quick one-liner is cool. Telling Zomom to go on a diet, not so much.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, panache in motion:

Sonic Black Knight GIF - Sonic BlackKnight Catch GIFs

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That's a good point actually: there's a huge difference between being confident in what you do, and straight up being rude.

Think that's where the confusion about Sonic's "attitude" comes from. 

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22 minutes ago, SBR2 said:

...When did he stop being an adventurer? Lost World starts with him and Tails in the middle of one and once everything in Forces is dealt with he leaves to go on another adventure.

I don't know it's probably more subjective, but maybe it's more the games itself? We go to various places in Forces, but it lacks that sense of it for me. I know that adventure can be exciting, but to me exploration is also part of it, and we haven't had much of that. Getting to know a place and it's residents helps get more invested in it I think. There's a difference between saying and doing. Sonic can go on all these off screen adventures, but if we don't see them to us it's like it didn't happen.

5 minutes ago, Bowbowis said:

Now, for your viewing pleasure, panache in motion:

Speaking of that gif, I was just rewatching that opening scene and I love the blend of seriousness and comedy. You've got Sonic summoned to this other world of awesome knights that want to destroy things and all Sonic cares about in that moment is saving his chili dogs and showing off. Of course after that point he gets over the chili dogs, but I think it shows a lot of personality and leaves an impression. (and of course the possible hint that the 2nd chili dog may have been for Amy before he got summoned)

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4 hours ago, batson said:

Let me make this perfectly clear; Sonic was never something meant to be laughed at. His battles against Eggman and his mechanical armies were never a joke.

pGAaL00.png

Terrifying.

It all may have seemed serious as a kid, but no actually the Genesis games were all pretty silly. Not outright comedies, but still playful adventures about bopping silly robots to free little animals and stop a cartoon bad guy. They had their moments of tension and danger too, and Sonic is supposed to be cool, but saying it was always supposed to be serious and badass, and that ShtH of all things carries the series' original spirit better than Colors and LW, is fundamentally incorrect.

We don't have to fall into the false dichotomy of "dumb stupid cartoon babby game" vs "big serious epic game for adults". Sonic was cool. Sonic was cute. Sonic was intense. Sonic was playful. Sonic existed within the range between the two extremes, even if we can't all agree on exactly where.

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19 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

pGAaL00.png

Terrifying.

It all may have seemed serious as a kid, but no actually the Genesis games were all pretty silly. Not outright comedies, but still playful adventures about bopping silly robots to free little animals and stop a cartoon bad guy. They had their moments of tension and danger too, and Sonic is supposed to be cool, but saying it was always supposed to be serious and badass, and that ShtH of all things carries the series' original spirit better than Colors and LW, is fundamentally incorrect.

We don't have to fall into the false dichotomy of "dumb stupid cartoon babby game" vs "big serious epic game for adults". Sonic was cool. Sonic was cute. Sonic was intense. Sonic was playful. Sonic existed within the range between the two extremes, even if we can't all agree on exactly where.

You were doing so well too...

Look, I get that we all have a different idea on what's acceptable for this series or not as its spirit, but I feel like we should be mature enough to respect our differences here.

All three of these games have tonal and storytelling issues regardless of how we personally feel about them, especially given I've loosened up on my views about this series.

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I'm open to compromise and willing to hear people out on a lot but I will not budge on the idea that "Sonic's dark doppelganger picks up a gun and shoots evil aliens and the cops" is a bigger departure from the Genesis games than "Sonic goes to Eggman's space amusement park and saves cute little aliens from him".

There are limits.

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1 minute ago, Almar said:

Are we pretending the Genesis had no technological limitations or otherwise weren't a total representation of what Sonic's fathers intended the world to be?

I think that's more a question for the realism thread, but I don't think it's relevant either way. Somehow I don't think technological restrictions are what stopped Sonic Team attempting something like Shadow earlier, and there's no shortage of games set in realistic environments on the Mega Drive. All I've posted so far is just Ohshima's not-Mega-Drive-constrained artwork (and Totoya's for that matter). 

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2 hours ago, Diogenes said:

I'm open to compromise and willing to hear people out on a lot but I will not budge on the idea that "Sonic's dark doppelganger picks up a gun and shoots evil aliens and the cops" is a bigger departure from the Genesis games than "Sonic goes to Eggman's space amusement park and saves cute little aliens from him".

There are limits.

 

I dunno, Shadow sets itself up as being a huge departure from the series' norm to begin with; it's really not that different from Mega Man Zero differentiated itself from the classic series.

I get that there are limits, but Shadow is only a vaguely a Sonic game.

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6 hours ago, Tracker_TD said:

 It's like saying Mario is a dark, edgy story because the manual claims the brick blocks are transformed Toads. 

6 hours ago, BlueSpeedsterYT said:

Which if you play the game and brake those bricks well, consider these souls gone for good.

6 hours ago, StaticMania said:

Or...follow the manual's logic which is that the Toads are freed from the brick blocks when Mario breaks them.

Not to get off topic, but that's a misconception I see all the time. Not every brick block you see in the original Super Mario Bros is a Toad transformed into a block by Bowser. The manual states:"If you come across mushrooms who have been turned into bricks or made invisible, they reward you by giving you a power boost."
So if you get a power up or coin from a block that's not from a question block, then it's one of the transformed Toads. If you break a block and it just crumbles into pieces then it's just a regular block, not a Toad. The whole reason Bowser kidnaped Princess Peach in the original game was because she was the only one that had the magic to transform her people back to normal, Mario can't do that himself.

To try to tie this Mario trivia back into the topic, before Sonic I always thought Mario was the coolest thing growing up. A small short Italian man fighting monsters, aliens, demons and interdimenstional eldritch horror-like creatures all because he believes in doing the right thing? I loved that! I used to spend so much time figuring out the overall timeline of the games, wondering if Bowser Jr. is the newest addition to the Koopalings, are Wario & Waluigi related? I remember being so happy see a Beanbean Kingdom resident from Superstar Saga in Paper Mario the Thousand-Year Door. If you ask most people, they would say Mario games don't have that much world building or interconnected stories...but they really did. Just take Super Mario World for example. Did you know, as explained in the manual, the sunken Ghost Ship level is actually one of the airships from Super Mario Bros. 3? That Yoshi's Island is not named after the Yoshis, but the Yoshi species were named after the island? Heck, we even got an explanation to how baby versions of all the Mario characters kept appearing in all the spin-offs thanks to Mario & Luigi Partners in Time. I used to care so much about the Mario universe and it's characters...but then after Super Mario Galaxy Shigeru Miyamoto went hard on his anti-story restrictions and I started falling out with the series. It wasn't even just the fact that the stories in Mario started taking a greater backseat to the games, it was all the pointless retcons. Remember the Koopalings? Bowser's seven children? Well, they're no longer related to him and Bowser Jr. is now his only kid. Remember how happy I was to see a Beanbean Kingdom resident in Paper Mario? Well now Paper Mario and regular Mario are two separate characters from different dimensions. Things have started getting better, Super Mario Odyssey in particular had so many call backs and world building from previous games that I couldn't believe my eyes. Pauline in a major 3D game? The Toad Brigade? The Tail Tree from Super Mario 3D Land? Things still aren't perfect, like now everyone is apparently a doctor now? Princess Peach used to be Dr. Mario's nurse but now she's a full on doctor? But I do see a greater attempt at making stories in Mario more enjoyable and interconnected then I did throughout the Wii and Wii U era.

I bring this up because that's kind of how Sonic is right now, less emphasis on story and world building, pointless retcons, ect. Eventually Miyamoto started lessening his grips on the franchise and sadly I think Mario's games have improved from that. I don't know if that's what Sonic needs right now, but I don't think Sega's current approach to Sonic will be permanent. If Nintendo, one of the most strongest advocates for little-to-no stories in their games can realize Mario needs better story and world building...then I think Sega will get the message someday too.

Hopefully.

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56 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

 

I dunno, Shadow sets itself up as being a huge departure from the series' norm to begin with; it's really not that different from Mega Man Zero differentiated itself from the classic series.

I get that there are limits, but Shadow is only a vaguely a Sonic game.

Another difference is in the execution of the tones and concepts. While Colors as a concept is none too different from Sonic CD, the execution of the story is just distracting. I do like elements such as the Badnik overhauls, which were thrown away in Lost World (aka the anti-Shadow). 

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