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Should Sonic games start being made in the West?


Soniman
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I'm not talking outsourcing necessarily I'm talking giant upheaval and just take Sonic of out Sonic Teams hands and moving it to a fresh western studio (still under Sega of course)

Sonic Team has been making Sonic games for 30 years and it's no secret the majority of that time has  been spent fumbling around trying to find something that works and I think it's pretty obvious how much they just don't get it, maybe it's creative burn out maybe it's a lack of enthusiasm for the brand as a whole but when the best Sonic game since the classics was developed by a bunch of westerners (even down to the MUSIC) I have to wonder if we can't extend that to the main games at this point?

Because let's be real. Mania was western, the Mania/TSR animations were western lead, all the popular comics are western, the movie is western made, the Sonic Boom initiative was western handled on every front, and Sonic Prime will be by a western team as well. It's no secret Sonic's popularity in the east is hilariously miniscule in comparison and Sega knows this. So what I want to know is why not just let them handle the main game like...I dunno, not all the Western work have been hits (Boom, Pontaff etc) but the majority of it you can tell come from people that are at least invested in the brand and care about the lore, characters, possibilities in ways Sega of Japan simply do not to the frustration of many. 

IIRC that leak talked about Sega moving their Sonic operations to SoA and I think it could potentially be a good thing if true, new blood with a new perspective might be what the franchise needs and Sonic Team would be free to pursue other interests and possibly old Sega IPs people wanna see come back

What do you think? 

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Yes.

Honestly some Japanese game companies have traditional practices in place where... they just do not really know what the fans want, and don't care.

 

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Rabbitearsblog

At the moment, yes.  Sonic tends to do better in the West anyway, as most of its TV series and movies were made in the West and the audience reception for the franchise is much higher in the West than in Japan.  It's best to put this franchise in the hands of a group of people who genuinely care about the franchise and want to make as many good games as possible.  Meanwhile, SEGA in Japan can focus on other games that are not Sonic related, so that way, they can focus on getting SEGA its own consoles, just like Nintendo is doing with Nintendo Switch.

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Mauro Fonseca

Where possible, no.

For all the fumbling the JP side does, there's been few instances where I've felt the US side understands how the franchise without immediately reducing it to the most comparable western terms, as shown with Boom, Archie Sonic, the Movie, etc etc etc, even in Sonic 2 compare the cut zones like Wood Zone to stuff like Emerald Hill- "it's a forest but big" vs "it's a crazy popart tropical beach". The end result would be a copy Sonic that'd be kneejerk-praised, cementing that it'd be content to stay like that. While there's discontent there's at least the hope of "they're complaining so we must be doing something wrong" vs "we do whatever we want and they praise it, let's continue doing whatever we want".

 

Mind I'm not necessarily saying the end result would be bad quality-wise, but like. Imagine Rise of Lyric had been a good game. It'd still have been worth little to nothing to me, since it's abjectly not what I want from Sonic. Like asking for fries and getting a really good salad instead- yeah sure, but what I want is fries

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This is gonna sound harsh, but at this point, I think the Sonic series simply needs to be taken out of the hands of Sonic Team. Whether this means it goes to a western developer or another eastern is less important. What matters is that Sonic needs a completely new creative team behind it.

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I dunno, honestly. It feels like a lot of the western-made Sonic content that gets a lot of praise can usually be centered around a few people (IE: Ian Flynn, Evan Stanley, Tyson Hesse, ABT, Tee Lopes & the Evening Star crew), as opposed to SoA as a whole, if that makes any sense. Having the west handle Sonic would make it easier to tap fans who can make great remixes/fanart/animations (which tbh could be done by tapping JP fans as well), but I can't think of an actual Western SEGA studio that can create a great 3D Sonic title. It would give some of the Sonic Team stalwarts that's worked on the franchise for much of the last decade a breather (namely Iizuka, Ohtani, Jun, Kishimoto, Toyoda, etc.) but besides that it would like just as much of a crapshoot as having an SoJ studio aside from SEGA CS2/Sonic Team make a 3D Sonic game.

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6 hours ago, The KKM said:

Where possible, no.

For all the fumbling the JP side does, there's been few instances where I've felt the US side understands how the franchise without immediately reducing it to the most comparable western terms, as shown with Boom, Archie Sonic, the Movie, etc etc etc, even in Sonic 2 compare the cut zones like Wood Zone to stuff like Emerald Hill- "it's a forest but big" vs "it's a crazy popart tropical beach". The end result would be a copy Sonic that'd be kneejerk-praised, cementing that it'd be content to stay like that. While there's discontent there's at least the hope of "they're complaining so we must be doing something wrong" vs "we do whatever we want and they praise it, let's continue doing whatever we want".

 

Mind I'm not necessarily saying the end result would be bad quality-wise, but like. Imagine Rise of Lyric had been a good game. It'd still have been worth little to nothing to me, since it's abjectly not what I want from Sonic. Like asking for fries and getting a really good salad instead- yeah sure, but what I want is fries

That's fair but I think Sonic Boom is an odd case where it was SoJ's idea and they  just contracted western developers to make it, sure they had concepts and different, more generic ideas but I think it's because part of it is what Sega wanted so it could be "different" and appeal to the Western market which obviously was a misfire on their part 

Not to mention the last two main Sonic games have been "Mario" and "Generations asset flip +original drab environments" we don't even really get the poppy kinda surreal artstyle anymore, the only one recently was Mania which kinda goes back to what I said lol

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Eeehhh, there's really not much I can see SoA doing better than SoJ, so its kind of doesn't make a difference to me.

I get the distinct feeling that Sega of America don't exactly take Sonic that seriously as a platform either.

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Cosmos Rogue

Sonic would definitely benefit from some people with fresh perspectives on what Sonic games can be being given a crack at the franchise, but the underlying cause of the difficulties the series has had for the past quarter of a century is Sega's management of the franchise. We know from the Yakuza series that Sega is capable of producing games that consistently please fans and critics alike. For some reason, that quality has not been a priority with the Sonic series for a very, very long time, except arguably in the immediate aftermath of Sonic '06.

New developers could bring new ideas to the series and even make some good games, but until Sega stops rushing games out to market I have a hard time imagining the games being consistently good, or as good as they could be.

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Speedi [ スピヂ ]

Maybe, but I'm kind of with KKM where I feel like a lot of western Sonic media feels kind of... off in how they go about representing the series. My favorite western Sonic media are usually the ones that actually try to capture that appeal and essence properly, but a lot of them just... don't care about doing that. Mostly due to being given way too much creative freedom or a lack of oversight, so as long as they're keeping within the core appeal of ST's vision I'd be fine with it. We can complain about the quality of games all day long, but it feels a little disingenuous to try to gauge the passion of people who created a product by how good a game is imo. Not to say that Sonic couldn't use some new developers to bring that more youthful energy to the games, of course. I'd more then welcome it, just don't let them go too crazy lol. There are way bigger problems with how this series is handled then lacking passion.

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There are too many variables to consider, and there are good and bad developers both in the east and in the west, so it really depends.

Though, I personally prefer the Japanese vision of the franchise. I mean, games aside, let's take in consideration those Sonic Channel arts and those little stories they're doing for this year's calendar... I don't know, I think that even in something that simple, there's a bit more depth and atmosphere than there is in the western comics and animations (not saying theyre bad or anything, just that they usually feel more "superficial", with more focus on mere entertaining than on depth and feelings, be it a gag or a superhero-like fight). All those preferences I have are about art (stories, art style, character development, etc.), while gameplay is much less involved in this, and really I don't care if it's done in the east or in the west, as long as it's good and there is some innovation in it.

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I feel like most of you are only seeing "western Sonic" through the lens of the old comics and televisions shows, but y'all need to remember that those shows were born from a time when thr creative vision of the franchise wasn't really established yet.

Also, the IDW comic is technically an American product through the lens of Sega of Japan and its....gotten mixed reception to say the least depending on who you ask.

I think Japan knows about as much about Sonic as America does, which is to say, not much at all. I know most of the fans grew up on the heavily Eastern inspired Adventure era and onward, but that had its own host of issues.

 

Think both regions need to sit down and establish is this series going to be going forward.

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Yes. Not because of talent or anything, but because the audience is largely here and devs should be more receptive to fans with as little message distortion. 

I dont believe America is inherently better, but this is where the audience is. In Japan Sonic exists as a figurehead of SEGA. 

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It's not a simple answer of yes or no as in the past there have been Sonic games that were made in the West whether it is completely or more of a co-production between Sonic Team/Sega of Japan and Sega West (US/Europe) as well as games that had mostly Japanese staff but still was made in the US (e.g. Sonic Team USA, Sonic 3 outside of some outsourcing).

Since Sonic is more popular outside of Japan, it might seem logical to just do everything yet not that simple. Sonic games usually aren't know to be as polished as they could be or focused on one area (e.g. soundtrack, graphics) but thinking from a more typical developing environment, it might get to the point of having a game that's out for a tight release date, hopefully patch later. Basically another 06 at worst. Then again outside of a few key games and mostly are service based in some way (e.g. the European output, PSO2, Sonic Forces Speed Battle, even Puyo Puyo), Sega doesn't tend to have many patches in their games and having a few patches/DLC might have kept TSR running a bit longer rather than being a write off. Then again in that case how can you make a service based traditional style platformer? It doesn't help that unless it is really good or successful, it tends to die out in a few months after release.

It really does depend on how if made in the US would be balanced because of feedback noise. Some people like the character designs that are done by Japanese artists while others like the ones that Tyson Hesse/comic staff can create, some people like the "shounen era" Sonic writing while other loathed that stuff, some like a lot of characters while others like Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Eggman. A lot of things alone cause a divide and really should try to rally a common like, a theme to work something out. Other Sega series and Sega connected series have similar issues that Sonic had (the gameplay styles/writing in Yakuza, gameplay/characters/graphical style of Puyo Puyo, 50 years of Lupin the 3rd that goes from edgy and sexual to family friendly to wacky to action focused with everything in between) but at least have a vision with a throwback now and again to please the older fans that isn't just Green Hill/Chemical Plant. The issues and complaints of other series seem to be minimal or moved aside for a new thing (e.g. Valkyria Revolution -> Valkyria Chronicles 4) and they are mostly (outside of outsourcing) Japanese, it's just Sonic that seems to be the problem, I don't know about the new Sakura Wars game though and fan reaction on that with that being made by some members of Sonic Team/CS2. The days of the other Sega series having massive problems with production haven't been a thing for a while.

There really does seem to be some issue with the management though. Moving development to the US didn't exactly work the first time around and even affected some non-Sonic Sega games (e.g. NiGHTS). Some Sega games in the past had issues with the quality and they were produced in the US without any input from Sega of Japan. It might not be as simple as firing what's left of Sonic Team if it is a higher up issue. Sonic Mania was mostly Western developed + Iizuka and someone else but the staff outside of Tee Lopes and Iizuka haven't returned. The big question is who is responsible for the issues? Iizuka and co, the higher up staff such as the producers or the brand managers? I wonder if Sega has focus testers...

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow

That’s hard to say, because there’s no telling if they’ll do something drastically different to the point of being alienating.

It’s a hit or miss regardless, because there’s no telling what concept another studio might have for him if they were the ones that took the reins. 

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I dunno really. While it would be more logical to move operations to the US since Sonic is more popular there, I don’t see SoA doing much better. Also, most of SoA’s output hasn’t been too well received (recent localised scripts, the Boom games, a good chunk of the Archie run).

That said, the franchise could do with some fresh perspectives on what it should be. It doesn’t have to involve dropping Sonic Team, but I hope there’s a shake-up sooner rather than later.

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Scritch the Cat
21 hours ago, Soniman said:

I'm not talking outsourcing necessarily I'm talking giant upheaval and just take Sonic of out Sonic Teams hands and moving it to a fresh western studio (still under Sega of course)

They already have, actually.  I wouldn't call it a giant upheaval yet since we have no game to demonstrate any effect, but Sonic Team was closed some years back, most of its employees were dispersed into other branches of SEGA, and Takeshi Iizuka relocated to LA to form a new team.  Not saying its employees are Americans but I don't know what to say.

As to whether western studios should develop Sonic games, well, it's at least worth an experiment.  Unfortunately while one precedent for that is a Sonic Mania, another is Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.  By now, it's become apparent that RoL's problems were due to SEGA's constant meddling.  I can't say for sure that the game we'd get absent such meddling would be good, but it would certainly be very different. At this point, I must say that I don't like SEGA's official vision for Sonic, so giving some more leeway to outsiders, be they Japanese, Australian, American or something else, might be worth it just to get a fresh take.  But if SEGA's meddling is just going to screw a game again and they try to make its developers take the fall, that gives me cause for concern.  At least when SEGA's own teams bomb, they get properly blamed for it.

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I don't think anyone here is knowledgeable enough about SEGA's inner workings to answer that question. Who's deciding what? Doesn't SOJ already contribute to the concepts of everything the west does, anyway? If they didn't vet them back then, they definitely do now and they're about as divergent as they were before. It's obvious SoJ were and still are fine with Sonic offshoots existing as long as it puts the character in front of eyeballs, so I can't pin the blame entirely on SoA. Even if they don't always have creative control they still put all that stuff into motion knowing full well what could happen.

 I can see why some people would be concerned about SOA since I was for a long time as well. This isn't always the case, but SoA sometimes puts out something that feels like 'Sonic in name only.' I don't mind the series trying new things, but none of the stuff I mentioned really feels 'new'. It feels like older, proven concepts given a sonic coat of paint. An action beat em up with Sonic characters. A sitcom with Sonic characters. A 3D family film with Sonic on it etc. Sonic X took the series in a serious "generic kids action show" direction though so maybe that's just their approach to making spinoffs? Crib as much as they can from popular material and put a Sonic spin on it? Some awareness of the times is healthy, but too much can dilute the core appeal of the IP. Archie before the shakeup was riding a fine line of modernizing some parts of the series and keeping in line with it's roots that I really liked, though.

SoA have been off and on, but Japan is about as inconsistent. Like, SoA explicitly warned SoJ about the ball and chain that was the Werehog and were promptly ignored. They had almost nothing to do with the states Heroes, Shadow, 06, and countless other Sonic games released in. Even when tasked to recreate their old stuff with Sonic Generations, they couldn't hack it. These are 30 year old games. Nintendo has had emulations of Mario's old movement with satisfactory quality of life improvement down for years now. 

There's arguments that Sonic boom was sabotaged, intentionally or no, by SoJ's interference. The fact that they literally could not touch the film after it went into production and it turned out to be a success might be a sign that they should just leave shit alone sometimes. Much as I hate Sonic Boom conceptually, it's hard for me to gauge if it would have truly been bad for the brand or not because it wasn't really given a chance to be anything. I don't think I would have been a fan of it even if it had reached it's full potential but it would be better for everybody if it had at least been given that chance.  Almost every change they've forced on to the comic has largely been to it's detriment. Given an open lane and four years to prove themselves, Japan only managed to fart out Sonic Forces which simply wasn't much better no matter how much closer to 'what sonic should be" it is. 

I tend to prefer SoJ's concepts on the whole but let's be honest: it's been so long since they've actually come up with a good premise, character or mechanic that I don't think it's really worth being so defensive of them anymore. The SoJ that created some of my favorite characters and worlds ever were gone when Generations ended. All of those creatives are working on different stuff now and a lot of it is great. Sonic Team/Dimps's track record since 2012 has been pretty bad though and I don't have a problem saying it. I'd have my concerns if SOA was given more power but they might as well try it. 

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Mauro Fonseca
6 hours ago, VisionaryofSUPER said:

Yes. Not because of talent or anything, but because the audience is largely here and devs should be more receptive to fans with as little message distortion. 

I dont believe America is inherently better, but this is where the audience is. In Japan Sonic exists as a figurehead of SEGA. 

Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, etc all aren't audience?

Again, please stop acting like "Sonic's not as popular in Japan" means "Sonic's only popular in the West" and "West" means "United States of America" alone. It's how the rest of the world gets saddled with ultra-American-specific choices in localisation.

Also arguments like "SoJ not interfering with the film resulted in the film being a success" don't really work for me here since if you're telling me "Sonic being wholly made in America means it can be like the film" just ensures my answer is "forbid Sonic from being made in the US" lol. I very much don't want the film to be the future of the franchise.

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49 minutes ago, The KKM said:

 

Also arguments like "SoJ not interfering with the film resulted in the film being a success" don't really work for me here since if you're telling me "Sonic being wholly made in America means it can be like the film" just ensures my answer is "forbid Sonic from being made in the US" lol. I very much don't want the film to be the future of the franchise.

I don't like the film either. If they made more stuff like the film/boom I would probably lose interest, but I was talking purely in terms of reception there. 

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Regardless of how you feel about the movie, it's the most success  the series has seen in recent years, and that's off the heels of releasing a mostly mediocre game. It's certainly not what many of us want but, building off of the movie's success is a logical move from a business perspective. 

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Rabbitearsblog
15 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Regardless of how you feel about the movie, it's the most success  the series has seen in recent years, and that's off the heels of releasing a mostly mediocre game. It's certainly not what many of us want but, building off of the movie's success is a logical move from a business perspective. 

I can't see SEGA wanting to make the characters in the games exactly like the characters in the movie.  Sure, the movie was pretty successful, but that would just lead to more problems for SEGA regarding the franchise as many fans would be confused about why Sonic is suddenly acting childish in the games when he hasn't been that way before.  I prefer the movie to be in its own universe, rather than leak into the games and change everything we know about the franchise.

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StaticMania
31 minutes ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

I can't see SEGA wanting to make the characters in the games exactly like the characters in the movie. 

They literally can't

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Mauro Fonseca
2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

Regardless of how you feel about the movie, it's the most success  the series has seen in recent years, and that's off the heels of releasing a mostly mediocre game. It's certainly not what many of us want but, building off of the movie's success is a logical move from a business perspective. 

I'm not trying to argue by a business perspective? If I were I'd say just turn every character into a personification and make a mobile trading card game out of it.

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4 hours ago, The KKM said:

I'm not trying to argue by a business perspective? If I were I'd say just turn every character into a personification and make a mobile trading card game out of it.

We can't ignore the business side of things though because that's an unfortunate reality of business. From the creative angle we just want what provides good quality games regularly. But for the last several years we haven't been getting good quality. We get a Roller Coaster as far as quality goes. And despite this, the franchise is somehow still alive and profitable. 

 

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