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What happened to the Spin offs?


Kuzu

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There was a time when Sonic spin offs were pretty numerous, from the 90's into the 2000's; from the Sonic Drift titles, Tails SKypatrol, and Knuckles Chaotix, to the advance games, Sonic Battle, and Riders. There was tons of variety with Sonic all over the franchise. But after Sonic Unleashed, the amount of spin offs started to lessen severely. In the past ten years alone, we've gotten way less, and most of them are crossovers with other franchises or different subseries entirely. Gone are the days we'd have multiple spin offs per year. 

Think it might be because of how expensive it is to make a video game nowadays, so the output is lessened, but it's a real shame because there was so much variety of games, and I think that's why people have fonder memories of the 90's and 2000's than the 2010's. There was a little something for every type of fan, but nowadays you're only really stuck with the main series, and if you don't like what it was doing, well then you're SOL. Add to the fact that the lack of spin offs really makes the gaps between releases very apparent as we see right now, with the last major game release being a year and a half ago with TSR.

 

So what was your favorite spin off series, and how do you feel about the series cutting back on them in recent years? Do you think the series needs that level of variety again or can it thrive just on the main platforming games alone? What kind of spin offs would you like to see if Sega actually tapped into that market again. 

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Spinoffs cost money and Sanky's dying. They likely just don't see it as being profitable anymore, at least not without some other hook to make up for Sonic's sinking reputation. TBH a lot of the spinoffs weren't very good anyway; there'd occasionally be a solid or at least interesting enough game like Spinball, the Rushes, Battle, whatever GG games people like, but we'd also get junk like Sky Patrol, Pinball Party, and Sonic 4. Even in the best of times they were a mixed bag, and I trust whoever's handling the series less now than ever before, so I'm not really that bothered by a lack of spinoffs.

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I feel like their chance to pull a "Tails' Mansion", "Echidna Kong Country" and "Shadow-Ware Inc." kind of fizzled out when reception to even the main stuff they were doing wasn't generating the kind of buzz they wanted.

There's always a chance they could work their way back up to something like that being plausible but it probably won't happen in my life-time.

I'll be honest though, so long as Sumo Digital keeps putting out those Kart Racers, I think I'll be good. Maybe they could get away with trying their hand at a new Riders game if the wound from Free Riders has healed now. I feel like it probably has. Not many people gave a shit about the Kinect and even less give a shit about Free Riders, let alone have ever played it.

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59 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Spinoffs cost money and Sanky's dying. They likely just don't see it as being profitable anymore, at least not without some other hook to make up for Sonic's sinking reputation. TBH a lot of the spinoffs weren't very good anyway; there'd occasionally be a solid or at least interesting enough game like Spinball, the Rushes, Battle, whatever GG games people like, but we'd also get junk like Sky Patrol, Pinball Party, and Sonic 4. Even in the best of times they were a mixed bag, and I trust whoever's handling the series less now than ever before, so I'm not really that bothered by a lack of spinoffs.

Well yea, the point of having so many products is quantity over quality; the products weren't necessarily good, but there was plenty of it to go around. Even Mario continuously releases spin offs in between its main releases to hold people over. 

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4 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Well yea, the point of having so many products is quantity over quality; the products weren't necessarily good, but there was plenty of it to go around.

Perhaps that is

bad.

5 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Even Mario continuously releases spin offs in between its main releases to hold people over. 

Good ones most of the time though.

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6 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Perhaps that is

bad.

Good ones most of the time though.

Depends on who you ask. And no, not every Mario spin off is good, don't make that assumption, not even most. Spin offs by default tend to be lower quality than the main titles. 

The entire point of spin offs for the series to experiment with things they wouldn't be able to pull off in a main title.  

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1 minute ago, Diogenes said:

Didn't.

Saying most of them are good implies there's very few bad Mario spin offs, which is pretty demonstrably false which goes back to my point about spin offs being more about quantity over quality. 

 

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1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

Spinoffs cost money and Sanky's dying. They likely just don't see it as being profitable anymore, at least not without some other hook to make up for Sonic's sinking reputation. TBH a lot of the spinoffs weren't very good anyway; there'd occasionally be a solid or at least interesting enough game like Spinball, the Rushes, Battle, whatever GG games people like, but we'd also get junk like Sky Patrol, Pinball Party, and Sonic 4. Even in the best of times they were a mixed bag, and I trust whoever's handling the series less now than ever before, so I'm not really that bothered by a lack of spinoffs.

The last one was a year ago and did horribly with fans and mediocrely with critics, and is now completely forgotten. Spin-offs are less likely than ever, which seems to increase fan demand for spinoff-like content to be shoved into the main games instead due to the unlikelyhood.

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I think it's a one-two-three punch of Iizuka becoming head of Sonic Team in 2008, the early 2010s period of Sega suffering major losses in their fiscal quarters, and ultimately the failure of the Boom franchise/games.

First brought an end to what was the "auteur era" where you had a bunch of different teams doing different types of Sonic games; Iizuka upon taking over and becoming a chief producer for all Sonic projects really reigned things in creatively.

Second was a scenario where since Sega was bleeding money at the time (to the point of canning games in development like Bayonetta 2 and pooling their efforts towards their "core pillar" IPs); I can envision spinoffs being likely extraneous enough to get culled, despite Sonic being one of those big core pillar franchises. A good amount of the spinoff games from the late 2000s didn't get figures in Sega's IR reports as it is, and Sega's losses were happening around the time the Sonic series underwent a significant decline in sales.

Third I envision was merely the outcome of Sega banking hard on their Western re-branding attempt of their flagship series and getting back much less than they gave. Had Boom been more successful, it's all too plausible that the Boom tie-in games would had taken the place of the varying spinoffs that accompanied the mainline games through the 2000s. Sega's proclamation on PC and mobile games (which for Sonic is evident with stuff like Jump, Dash, Runners, etc.) I presume only ensured spinoffs would be out of focus as major projects for the series.

--

Personally I think neither the scenario we had before nor the scenario we're stuck with now are all that good. Before you had way too much stuff coming out; with half of them being more hare-brained than novel in concept, and most of them being lacking in quality in their execution. Skip to today and there's...just...barely anything there at all. Any of the very few modern spinoffs we do get, feel like it's only there purely to push the mainline games or inflate the franchises' lifetime number of copies sold (smartphone games), and bring almost nothing fascinating to the table in the process. I feel it's a perfect reflection of how Sonic stands in Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U and Ultimate; where there's such a creative leash on his representation in those games, that I think we wouldn't miss much if he didn't come back at all for the next game.

Which is pretty much where I stand. There is just a massive grey void of inspiration and creative mandates clouding the franchise that honestly extinguishes any interest I would have in another spinoff. That's not to say I wouldn't want a spinoff, as I've had my share of ideas. But I wouldn't want to see any of it handled with the extremely dull, dim-witted mindset of recent supplementary material, to the point that I'd rather have nothing in its place. I'd be legitimately pissed if they announced a new Riders, a racing game centered on Boost gameplay, or a fighting game; and it ended up being crafted with the same "toast sandwich with extra lard" mentality used to design TSR and the later Mario & Sonic entries.

1 hour ago, Angyu said:

Weren't those basically main series handheld games?

Not really? The platforming handheld games have historically held little relevance to the platforming console games in terms of canon, stories, and characters.

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35 minutes ago, rid1ey said:

Does an extensive list exist of all the spin off games? Thanks

1)  Go too google.com
2) Write "Sonic list of games". Or any other broad question you may have.
3) BAM. No need to ask on forums

https://sonic.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_games

As for spin-offs I'll be honest: I loved that they existed, but didn't played much of them. Yes Mario spews similar content, but between Party, Karts, Luigi Mansion or big chunk of RPGs people had some reason to assume Mario spin-off have quality.

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3 hours ago, Miraculous Milo said:

I think it's a one-two-three punch of Iizuka becoming head of Sonic Team in 2008, the early 2010s period of Sega suffering major losses in their fiscal quarters, and ultimately the failure of the Boom franchise/games.

First brought an end to what was the "auteur era" where you had a bunch of different teams doing different types of Sonic games; Iizuka upon taking over and becoming a chief producer for all Sonic projects really reigned things in creatively.

Second was a scenario where since Sega was bleeding money at the time (to the point of canning games in development like Bayonetta 2 and pooling their efforts towards their "core pillar" IPs); I can envision spinoffs being likely extraneous enough to get culled, despite Sonic being one of those big core pillar franchises. A good amount of the spinoff games from the late 2000s didn't get figures in Sega's IR reports as it is, and Sega's losses were happening around the time the Sonic series underwent a significant decline in sales.

Third I envision was merely the outcome of Sega banking hard on their Western re-branding attempt of their flagship series and getting back much less than they gave. Had Boom been more successful, it's all too plausible that the Boom tie-in games would had taken the place of the varying spinoffs that accompanied the mainline games through the 2000s. Sega's proclamation on PC and mobile games (which for Sonic is evident with stuff like Jump, Dash, Runners, etc.) I presume only ensured spinoffs would be out of focus as major projects for the series.

--

Personally I think neither the scenario we had before nor the scenario we're stuck with now are all that good. Before you had way too much stuff coming out; with half of them being more hare-brained than novel in concept, and most of them being lacking in quality in their execution. Skip to today and there's...just...barely anything there at all. Any of the very few modern spinoffs we do get, feel like it's only there purely to push the mainline games or inflate the franchises' lifetime number of copies sold (smartphone games), and bring almost nothing fascinating to the table in the process. I feel it's a perfect reflection of how Sonic stands in Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U and Ultimate; where there's such a creative leash on his representation in those games, that I think we wouldn't miss much if he didn't come back at all for the next game.

Which is pretty much where I stand. There is just a massive grey void of inspiration and creative mandates clouding the franchise that honestly extinguishes any interest I would have in another spinoff. That's not to say I wouldn't want a spinoff, as I've had my share of ideas. But I wouldn't want to see any of it handled with the extremely dull, dim-witted mindset of recent supplementary material, to the point that I'd rather have nothing in its place. I'd be legitimately pissed if they announced a new Riders, a racing game centered on Boost gameplay, or a fighting game; and it ended up being crafted with the same "toast sandwich with extra lard" mentality used to design TSR and the later Mario & Sonic entries.

Even non-game media has been somewhat hampered by these practices, but not to the extent of these handful of side games (though TSR may be blamed on Sumo’s C-team rookies making it). And good term there with “toast sandwich with extra lard” to describe the post-Boom spin-offs. A shame, as the older M&S games had a surprising amount of love in them. The only reason I even remember TSR is as a prime example of how what little auxiliary content is available is completely forgettable, to the point it makes mainline releases seem better by comparison. 
 

When looking purely at their Sonic content, ASR games were just as “toast sandwich with lard” as TSR. But they did have many other SEGA franchises that got fairly lavish treatments. But peel all those away, and only a scrawny treatment of Sonic remains. DoDonpa, unlike even the Deadly Six, has been continuously passed over by fans and official media alike.

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Since most of the spinoff games were on handhelds, I'd say the death of handhelds caused the death of Spinoff games.


But yeah, the quality of most of them was mediocre, unlike the quality of the main games, that's also..Mediocre. But now that Sega stopped spreading their manpower over so many games and focuses on one main game at the time, the games have become...Still mediocre. Progress!

Well okay, that's unfair, we did get some good main games this decade. We don't need any small budget side games made by a diffrent studio when we get great games like Sonic Mania!
....Oh, wait.

Sonic's reputation will be better. Sure, folk outside the Sonic fandom can already barely bother to remember Sonic Rush or Sonic CHronicles as examples of good/ bad games, but now without spinoffs, there's less games people don't remember existing. Progress!

Spin offs didn't go away tough, they just became main game parasites. Or the other way around. Take Sonic Forces forces for example, that game was meant to be a spinoff, created to star the Avatar.
But hey, we ain't doing spin offs anymore so now that project got sabotaged and turned into a frankenstein monster to contain the "main game" ingriedients within.
And sure, the initial Avatar spinoff Might have been bad.
Imagine the horror if Forces was an Avatar focused spinoff on the 3ds, while at the same time Sonic Team made a more focused main Sonic title without the war and avatar elements. 2 Focused  games with a clear concept, the horror. They could have been mildly mediocre.
But now by forcing 2 entirely diffrent concepts together into one unfocused Frankenstein monster, the result is worse then each of the individual games could have been. Progress!


And uhh.
So whenever a game is dissapointing, now instead of going "eh, hopefully the next game coming out in 6 months will be better.", now we get to stew in each dissapointing game for 2 to 3 years, enhancing bitterness. Progress, progress, progress.



I think one huge weakness of Sega and the Sonic franchise is their restlessness, constantly chasing after trends, changing direction.
Rise of Lyric's development cycle is a wonderful example of that.
So, best solution would be to give everyone at Sega a chill pill and just let the development team make A GAME in peace.
So if they are SO desperate to chase after another trend or violently want to move production to a new gaming system, smart use of Spinoffs could be the way to offset the chaos.
"But Roger" you say, "that was the situation in the 2000's and that didn't help at all!"


Haha, yes, but...

Uh.

Yeah, so moral of the story, this franchise is doomed. I don't even know what my point is. Uh, I like Spin offs? Because if there's only a 1/10 chance a Sonic game is good, having more games at least means I don't have to wait 50 years inbetween each good Sonic game.

 

2 hours ago, Snowragnarok said:

 And good term there with “toast sandwich with extra lard” to describe the post-Boom spin-offs.

"Extra lard" implies at least there's a lot of content, even if bad and shallow. I suggest "Diet toast sandwich".
 

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8 hours ago, Snowragnarok said:

The last one was a year ago and did horribly with fans and mediocrely with critics, and is now completely forgotten. Spin-offs are less likely than ever, which seems to increase fan demand for spinoff-like content to be shoved into the main games instead due to the unlikelyhood.

Personally, I think TSR's quality was much less of a problem then it basically having no post launch support which is more or less standard for kart racers at this point. They could have added dozens more characters and stages to that game in addition to much needed QOL updates. 

Whether they did or didn't have the budget making a kart racer or even a multiplayer game in general without frequent updates seems kind of foolish either way.

 

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I miss the time when along with the main series games, we were also getting some other lower budget platformers like the 8 bit games and the Dimps games.

They were less ambitious but still fun, and they came out more often than main series game, making the wait between one main game and another less painful.

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13 minutes ago, Speedi said:

Personally, I think TSR's quality was much less of a problem then it basically having no post launch support which is basically standard for kart racers at this point. They could have added dozens more characters and stages to that game in addition to much needed QOL updates. 

Whether they did or didn't have the budget making a kart racer or even a multiplayer game in general without frequent updates seems kind of foolish either way.

 

That's an excellent point, as Lost World got numerous updates that made it more playable while also actually adding fun little asides. And that was one hardware that was new and uncertain at the time.

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Sonic Boom was a colossal failure and Sonic Dash was a big success. The future of most supplementary content seems to just be mobile games until the climate shifts away from there. 

I do think it's a shame. They were a mixed bag overall but having a fresh perspective on the franchise lead to some cool games. Your Sonic Rushes and your Sonic Riders are worth the occasional Sonic Chronicles. 

I guess they didn't have to release 3 Sonic games a year, but the opposite extreme is worse. Hopefully Sonic Mania and TSR are signs of them shaking off this mentality.

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5 hours ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

Since most of the spinoff games were on handhelds, I'd say the death of handhelds caused the death of Spinoff games.


But yeah, the quality of most of them was mediocre, unlike the quality of the main games, that's also..Mediocre. But now that Sega stopped spreading their manpower over so many games and focuses on one main game at the time, the games have become...Still mediocre. Progress!

Well okay, that's unfair, we did get some good main games this decade. We don't need any small budget side games made by a diffrent studio when we get great games like Sonic Mania!
....Oh, wait.

Sonic's reputation will be better. Sure, folk outside the Sonic fandom can already barely bother to remember Sonic Rush or Sonic CHronicles as examples of good/ bad games, but now without spinoffs, there's less games people don't remember existing. Progress!

Spin offs didn't go away tough, they just became main game parasites. Or the other way around. Take Sonic Forces forces for example, that game was meant to be a spinoff, created to star the Avatar.
But hey, we ain't doing spin offs anymore so now that project got sabotaged and turned into a frankenstein monster to contain the "main game" ingriedients within.
And sure, the initial Avatar spinoff Might have been bad.
Imagine the horror if Forces was an Avatar focused spinoff on the 3ds, while at the same time Sonic Team made a more focused main Sonic title without the war and avatar elements. 2 Focused  games with a clear concept, the horror. They could have been mildly mediocre.
But now by forcing 2 entirely diffrent concepts together into one unfocused Frankenstein monster, the result is worse then each of the individual games could have been. Progress!


And uhh.
So whenever a game is dissapointing, now instead of going "eh, hopefully the next game coming out in 6 months will be better.", now we get to stew in each dissapointing game for 2 to 3 years, enhancing bitterness. Progress, progress, progress.



I think one huge weakness of Sega and the Sonic franchise is their restlessness, constantly chasing after trends, changing direction.
Rise of Lyric's development cycle is a wonderful example of that.
So, best solution would be to give everyone at Sega a chill pill and just let the development team make A GAME in peace.
So if they are SO desperate to chase after another trend or violently want to move production to a new gaming system, smart use of Spinoffs could be the way to offset the chaos.
"But Roger" you say, "that was the situation in the 2000's and that didn't help at all!"


Haha, yes, but...

Uh.

Yeah, so moral of the story, this franchise is doomed. I don't even know what my point is. Uh, I like Spin offs? Because if there's only a 1/10 chance a Sonic game is good, having more games at least means I don't have to wait 50 years inbetween each good Sonic game.

 

"Extra lard" implies at least there's a lot of content, even if bad and shallow. I suggest "Diet toast sandwich".
 

Mediocre? I think a lot of the major games this past decade were genuinely BAD, notably Rise of Lyric. Though this might be due to the stewing bitterness caused by these gaps, which has made more people ignore the comics, shorts, etc. that are still being made. 
 

You’re kinda right. If anything, the “toast sandwich with extra lard” refers to the main games and their donut levels. Notably, the mobile games don’t count in the slightest here. Mobile is a VERY different industry from regular gaming.

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Spin-offs rely on the reputation of the parent property.  You got all manner of spin-offs, adaptations and cash-ins, of varying shades and qualities, for Sonic back when it’s core games were popular.  However, if the core of the brand has become despised, or even if it’s just not very popular anymore, associating with it no longer guarantees profits.

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