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Scritch the Cat

Has SEGA ever actually said "We need to get Sonic's own gameplay right before re-adding other characters"?

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This claim comes up a fair amount.  That isn't too surprising, since among the main things disenchanted fans of the series say they want are, at the very least, Tails and Knuckles to be playable again.  The other characters are more divisive, but for many fans, Tails and Knuckles being playable again feels like a no-brainer since unlike, say, Big the Cat, they've been playable in games that haven't led to widespread resentment of them being playable.  So many hold the continued lack of them playable against Sonic Team, now just SEGA. 

Yet often enough, I read people defending SEGA from such attacks along the lines of "Well, I'd like for Tails and Knuckles to be playable again too, but they need to get Sonic's own gameplay right first."  I can make many arguments that this is an invalid and insufficient defense, but meanwhile I ask, has SEGA ever actually said this?  Has SEGA ever expressed a plan to eventually reincorporate Tails and Knuckles gameplay?  Have they said they're still not satisfied with Sonic's own gameplay over a decade since trying to revise it after 06?  If not, where is this notion coming from?

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7 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

Have they said they're still not satisfied with Sonic's own gameplay over a decade since trying to revise it after 06?

Not in so many words, but they've apologized more than once for the drop in quality of the games and made significant changes to how Sonic plays.

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I remember Aaron Webber saying something like this but I can't find a source right now. Maybe that's part of their reasoning, but I doubt it's the main reason they're being excluded because of how little sense it makes.

There's this idea that they never got Sonic's gameplay right so they shouldn't start on other other characters until they do. If that's really what Sega thinks, I'm not sure why three of the past 4 Sonic titles have been boost games that are largely similar. They clearly believe that they're onto something with that and can start inserting twists on the formula in. Those twists just never came in the form of characters we actually wanted to see.

The funny thing is I don't think a twist is even necessary to justify their inclusion. Sonic characters can deviate as much or as little from Sonic's mechanics as the developers see fit, depending on the game. Don't want to worry about mechanics like flying or melee combat? Use Shadow or Blaze. Want to do something new that nobody in the cast is capable of doing? Make someone up. This isn't meant to downplay the work that goes into alternate characters, but if they can't afford to do an alternate model with some unique animations and voice lines you have to question how much your money is really worth to them.  

The main reason they're being excluded is obviously because those characters were seen as a risk in a time where the Sonic brand was at it's most risk averse. I get the sense that they don't feel that way anymore post 2017, but it'll be a while still before it takes manifests in an actual game.

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44 minutes ago, Wraith said:

There's this idea that they never got Sonic's gameplay right so they shouldn't start on other other characters until they do. If that's really what Sega thinks, I'm not sure why three of the past 4 Sonic titles have been boost games that are largely similar. They clearly believe that they're onto something with that and can start inserting twists on the formula in. Those twists just never came in the form of characters we actually wanted to see.

The standard for Sonic's gameplay is even older than that.  Boost itself goes back to Sonic Rush, while how Sonic plays in the (sometimes) 3d boost games is still, essentially, how he played in the Adventure series but with more moves.  For that matter, while reacting heavily against the failures of 06 is often seen as the guiding motive for how Sonic has played since, the boost formula games still utilize the fast gauntlet segments that game introduced.  So if there's any truth to the idea that SEGA stripped the games down to just Sonic being playable to make sure things didn't go wrong, I'd say that has less to do with how Sonic actually plays than the fact that he's just one character and it's easier to make one character finished and glitch-free than more characters.  Whether Sonic fundamentally, conceptually plays well is a matter of opinion, my point is that SEGA is obviously of the opinion that he plays, at worst, okay, or they would have changed his gameplay more after the backlash against 06.

As to whether SEGA still has some improving to do before playing as Tails and Knuckles, arguably yes.  I say this because, while Sonic plays generally well in the post-06 games, part of that is those games have introduced more environmental constraints to keep Sonic forced into a set path, or at best, several different set paths.  Even when it feels 3d, there's still arbitrary physics, invisible walls, conversely bits of terrain that look solid but have no colliders, etc.  Paths in Modern Sonic games fork in much the same way they forked in the railed sections of Star Fox 64; do a specific thing at a specific place and you'll change paths, but you can't soar up into the air from part of one path and then land in part of another.  This would make a reintroduction of Tails' and Knuckles' abilities feel frustrating, as they're designed to do more of that exploration at the cost of some speed.  Letting Sonic move more freely around a level would be a sensible hurdle to make on the way to that, and I'd support a game that does it as a step in the right direction even if Tails and Knuckles aren't playable in it.  Simultaneously, I remain skeptical they have any long-term plan to bring them back.

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1 hour ago, Scritch the Cat said:

The standard for Sonic's gameplay is even older than that.  Boost itself goes back to Sonic Rush, while how Sonic plays in the (sometimes) 3d boost games is still, essentially, how he played in the Adventure series but with more moves.  For that matter, while reacting heavily against the failures of 06 is often seen as the guiding motive for how Sonic has played since, the boost formula games still utilize the fast gauntlet segments that game introduced.  So if there's any truth to the idea that SEGA stripped the games down to just Sonic being playable to make sure things didn't go wrong, I'd say that has less to do with how Sonic actually plays than the fact that he's just one character and it's easier to make one character finished and glitch-free than more characters.  Whether Sonic fundamentally, conceptually plays well is a matter of opinion, my point is that SEGA is obviously of the opinion that he plays, at worst, okay, or they would have changed his gameplay more after the backlash against 06.

As to whether SEGA still has some improving to do before playing as Tails and Knuckles, arguably yes.  I say this because, while Sonic plays generally well in the post-06 games, part of that is those games have introduced more environmental constraints to keep Sonic forced into a set path, or at best, several different set paths.  Even when it feels 3d, there's still arbitrary physics, invisible walls, conversely bits of terrain that look solid but have no colliders, etc.  Paths in Modern Sonic games fork in much the same way they forked in the railed sections of Star Fox 64; do a specific thing at a specific place and you'll change paths, but you can't soar up into the air from part of one path and then land in part of another.  This would make a reintroduction of Tails' and Knuckles' abilities feel frustrating, as they're designed to do more of that exploration at the cost of some speed.  Letting Sonic move more freely around a level would be a sensible hurdle to make on the way to that, and I'd support a game that does it as a step in the right direction even if Tails and Knuckles aren't playable in it.  Simultaneously, I remain skeptical they have any long-term plan to bring them back.

I agree that Sonic could stand to have a better foundation, I've just never actually understood why the foundation has to come before extraneous features like other playable characters. This can all be figured out in one development cycle with the right approach.

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