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Sonic Forces was inevitable


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User18091994

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Sonic Forces is the most uninspired and safe mainline Sonic game that Sega has ever done. It's not bad, poorly made or poorly designed, but what it makes so disappointing is how the game feels like Sega didn't even try to be more than average. However, in my opinion Sonic Forces was inevitable, this game needed to happen, so the franchise could finally be able to evolve.

I have the very unpopular opinion that Forces was everything everyone asked for (at least, the general audience). Don't you know that famous saying: "be careful what you wish for because you just might get"? During the 2000s, or the so-called "dark age of Sonic", it was a popular opinion to say Sonic games should stop trying to have stories that matter, stop trying to be so different from the classics. "Sonic just be a game about running and jumping", "No one cares about Sonic's annoying friends", etc, etc.

People didn't use to give Sonic Team constructive criticism. Sonic Unleashed is flawed, but there was a lot of passion and vision put into the game. The critics only said the game is trash, no credits were given to the things the game did great. Some portals gave lower scores than Sonic 2006. Later Sega released Sonic and the Black Knight, the game has some issues in the controls and gameplay aspects, but there was a lot of redeem qualities as well. Such as the story, atmosphere, settings, art style and overall presentation. I remember when Sonic and the Black Knight came out, it was a very popular opinion to say everything about the game was bad, even things like the story. Friends of mine called me "fanboy" because I said I appreciated the story.

The thing is people didn't have patience or open mind to see what Sonic Team was trying to achieve with all these ideas and concepts. People only wanted to hate and say that Sonic Team should abandon everything they create.  I'm not saying the games are good. In my opinion, a lot of them are, but it's not the point I'm trying to make here. The criticism people gave to Sonic Team about them weren't constructive.

Let's try to be in Sonic Team developer's shoes. Would you be passionate about your work if everything different you try to do it's met with criticism and people don't even give you the benefit of the doubt? Would you be willing to be ambitious and develop more innovated and memorable experiences if every new idea you have is bashed? I wouldn't, I think I would develop a game like Forces.  

Sonic and the Black Knight, for example, was criticized before the game was released, only because Sonic had a sword. I still know a lot of people that didn't even get to play the game, but say it's bad because Sonic had a sword and this is "a dumb idea". Again, I'm not saying people aren't allowed to considered Black Knight a bad game, but why do they think so? Saying the game is bad because Sonic has a sword, or because Sonic can't be in a fantasy setting, etc., it's just incoherent and unconstructive.

The last time Sonic Team tried to be innovative was in Sonic Lost World and the same thing happened again. Sonic Lost World was too experimental, and some ideas  didn't work, however, there's a game that suffer from the same issues: Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Have you ever imagined if people were so unforgiving, skeptical and full of hate when the very first Sonic game came out? The franchise wouldn't be alive today. Sonic 1 has inconsistent level design, most of the stages aren't as fast-paced and fluid as Green Hill. The sequels built upon this foundation, and we had games like Sonic 2 and 3 & Knuckles that were much more enjoyable and solid.

Sonic Lost World's formula could have the same fate. Future sequels could have more consistent level designs with more focus on speed and fluidity, taking advantage of the parkour mechanics. The same way as Sonic 2 is compared to its predecessor. To be fair, I think Sonic Lost World (the HD version) it's a very good game, and it's definitely above the average of the 3D platformer genre. It has flaws, the inconsistent level design, the storytelling, the traditional world themes, but nothing that ruins the entire experience and that couldn't be polished in future games. Unfortunately, it's one of the Sonic Teams ideas that were left behind because of the backlash.

All things considered, a game like Forces was inevitable because people wouldn't stop being unconstructive. People only give value when they lose. Now we see a lot of Sonictubers praising games from the dark age. Sonic Unleashed became fan favorite, a lot of people discuss if Black Knight was indeed bad. People are starting to realize how many things all these games did right and how all these qualities were underappreciated. People are asking for Sonic Team to try to be more passionate, ambitious and innovative again. The community is starting to realize how bad it is when Sonic Team releases a game that's just basic, but they are only able to see this because this game exists: Sonic Forces!

This is the true Sonic cycle and ironically, Sonic Forces may be the game responsible for its end? We will only know when Sonic Ranges releases, but from the interviews I see they are being ambitious and trying new ideas again. Takashi Iizuka said they want Project Sonic 2022 to be a new foundation for Sonic's gameplay for at least the next decade. I feel like the hate surrounding Sonic is fading always, and I hope people will be more open-minded to whatever experience they are delivering with this project.

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Sonic Forces is way more the result of his condition of work more than really the lack of "constructive criticism". They're professional gamedev, not fan-artist on deviantART.

And TBH, if they just wanted to do a game that is "basic", what they would have done wouldn't be Sonic Forces, A.K.A. a game created around a concept, wanting to create an ambiance different than the previous games, etc. If it's the result of something that the player wants, it's way more the result of people wanting a more "ambitious"/"passionate"/"serious" game than people wanting "just a Sonic game" (that were a lot, with place like the infamous "SA3 page" or "Spirit of Sonic movement"). Because, it's not "just a Sonic game". They created an UI inspired by constructivism. They wanted to do war story. They put many Sonic character in typical resistance story roles. They made the whole game revolve between two story points and a mirror structure. They… didn't really want to do a "typical Sonic game" with that game.

The problem of Sonic Forces isn't a magical "lack of ambition". It's that the game haven't been sized well to what the project wanted to do in term of ambiance and base concept. Maybe it's because they had to make sure that the HE2 wasn't too much of a cost and so they couldn't make too much for the game. Maybe they weren't sure about the game success after so long without a new game. Maybe that Boom and Lost World made them hurry more to release a new game. Maybe that SEGA weren't sure about the project. Maybe that the team wasn't really sure of what they wanted to do. Maybe it got some development hell and thus resources where wasted. Or maybe that it's a small project that have been overhyped by their own ad team.

It also have problem of implement : the story is all over the place, the level design isn't inspired and not just "too short" (which isn't the result of criticism, as Generations LD was praised), there are some gameplay issues (the sudden speed gain, Classic gameplay)… which certainly aren't a reaction to criticism (but maybe a result to one of the possible source I mentioned earlier).

But nope, it's not the result of "being a simple Sonic game". As it's not that.

 

And TBH… Passion and ambition are concept that should be questioned, because I feel that they do as harm as good to the creative world. Especially as it make people forget that it's w o r k (and that also allow some manager to make sure that their employee do more work that it's on their contract…).

 

About if Sonic Forces was inevitable or not… Well to really tell that, we would need to have real expertise on how the ST was at that time. Maybe that some stuff could have been handled better in their conditions. Maybe that some other not. We can't tell, not from here.

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Honestly, Forces strikes me as them trying to superficially reverse and reincorporate a number of things about the franchise after Lost World was so mixed in reception.

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User18091994
14 hours ago, Kazhnuz said:

Sonic Forces is way more the result of his condition of work more than really the lack of "constructive criticism". They're professional gamedev, not fan-artist on deviantART.

And TBH, if they just wanted to do a game that is "basic", what they would have done wouldn't be Sonic Forces, A.K.A. a game created around a concept, wanting to create an ambiance different than the previous games, etc. If it's the result of something that the player wants, it's way more the result of people wanting a more "ambitious"/"passionate"/"serious" game than people wanting "just a Sonic game" (that were a lot, with place like the infamous "SA3 page" or "Spirit of Sonic movement"). Because, it's not "just a Sonic game". They created an UI inspired by constructivism. They wanted to do war story. They put many Sonic character in typical resistance story roles. They made the whole game revolve between two story points and a mirror structure. They… didn't really want to do a "typical Sonic game" with that game.

(...)

The only aspect of Forces that has any kind of interesting concept is the UI. Everything else is the most lazy they could do. Do you really think putting sand on Green Hill Zone and snow on Chemmical Plant is a creative way to explore how Sonic's world would be during a war? A generic city on fire, a random forest with neon lights.

I'm sorry, but no. Sonic Force is the most basic and shallow execution of a interesting idea (war).

Just compare Forces to past Sonic games like Unleashed, Black Knight, etc, and even Secret Rings, to see the difference between how they were way more creative exploring the main theme of the game while designing the environments.

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Badnik Mechanic
15 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

Let's try to be in Sonic Team developer's shoes. Would you be passionate about your work if everything different you try to do it's met with criticism and people don't even give you the benefit of the doubt? Would you be willing to be ambitious and develop more innovated and memorable experiences if every new idea you have is bashed? I wouldn't, I think I would develop a game like Forces.  

I'm just quoting this because as someone who has a bit of computer science background... there's a few things here I take issue with.

1: Other than some of the very higher up people in Sonic Team, I thought that between Colours and Forces, a lot of the team members in Sonic Team have either left or been re-located to other studios, I'm quite sure than for a lot of the key roles such as level design, the big names who made some of the more enjoyable stages are now ironically working at Nintendo.

When they say "This is the team that brought you Colours and Generations." yes in name only. The actual team itself looks really different to what it did in 2011.


2: Would you be passionate about your work if everything different you try to do it's met with criticism and people don't even give you the benefit of the doubt?

Urm... Yes... Because I'm a fucking professional and care about my work and my career? 

I'm going to be working on a major project for a huge company, if it succeeds and I'm one of the key people involved with it, it could make my career. You can bet if I'm in a key position I'm bringing my A Game to this every time I get assigned a new project! 

You give me a project spec, I'm going to ensure that I meet that spec every time.

 

 

Why Forces ended up as it did, is not a simple conversation to have at any time, unless someone is prepared to undergo a massive investigation and analysis of the project (Which literally nobody in the fandom can possibly do, since we don't know how the project changed from Concept to first deadline prototype). 

We can only generalise.... Now I do actually have a theory regarding why Forces ended up like it did, now I'm not going to reveal all of it... Because it's part of a video series I'm working on.

But a small part of this theory is that ever since Sonic 06, Sonic Team has been trying to turn Sonic into a very specific piece of entertainment and experience, which unfortunately doesn't translate well to Sonic Gameplay, and no it's not as simple as saying "Ah the Boost!" the boost is part of the problem but not the core issue.

I cant really elaborate on this too much more unfortunately since it'll undermine my video argument which... May get finished this year...?

 

Bonus 3: 

I've just realised that this paragraph could also be interpreted as being "Iizuka/Some small group of people in Sonic Team had absolute power and lost their ambition".

 

Again... This isn't.. Well... It's wrong.

From what little we acutally know of Sonic Game development, we know that there's at least 3 ways in which games are made. 

1: The pitch (See Sonic Mania, Racing Transformed and That Weird Sonic Skateboard game that didn't get approved).

2: The direct sequel (Basically, either point 1 or 3 happens, then you literally make a 2nd game based on points 1 or 3 with potential inclusion of points from 1 & 3).

3: The prototype (Sonic 06 (Silvers gameplay), Sonic Lost World). 

The prototype stage is where you have people in Sonic Team or even other studios working on concepts, these can be gameplay, engine, designs a game loop... virtually anything.

The prototype will be developed so there is a clear vision for a potential to expand or be used within an existing project (see Chao Gardens, or Silvers gameplay in Sonic 06 which started off life as a FPS). 

Typically, all 3 of these points have to hit a milestone deadline where the project is reviewed, changes may occur, budget may increase... it depends on the project. 

But the key point here with all 3... Nobody has the 'I can do what I like' mentality. Certainly not in Sega (at least from what we know), everything ends up being reviewed in house by someone.

So Forces isn't a case of "The brainchild of X" it would have undergone numerous changes and reviews at key milestone dates.

 

Now there are devs which do have 'absolute power' most of the time these are smaller indi studios, or the odd one or two devs which... potentially have that power Kojima certainly gives the impression he has that power (if he does or not is another question),.

But in a place like Sonic Team, it certainly isn't one man's vision or a small group who have absolute power, it will go through reviews and potentially changes, with Forces, based on a conversation I had with someone who used to be at Sega Europe, it was going to look A LOT different to the final product, the Avatar was going to play a much larger role, if true, that's one major change done close to release.

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User18091994
5 hours ago, Badnik Mechanic said:
Spoiler

 

I'm just quoting this because as someone who has a bit of computer science background... there's a few things here I take issue with.

1: Other than some of the very higher up people in Sonic Team, I thought that between Colours and Forces, a lot of the team members in Sonic Team have either left or been re-located to other studios, I'm quite sure than for a lot of the key roles such as level design, the big names who made some of the more enjoyable stages are now ironically working at Nintendo.

When they say "This is the team that brought you Colours and Generations." yes in name only. The actual team itself looks really different to what it did in 2011.


2: Would you be passionate about your work if everything different you try to do it's met with criticism and people don't even give you the benefit of the doubt?

Urm... Yes... Because I'm a fucking professional and care about my work and my career? 

I'm going to be working on a major project for a huge company, if it succeeds and I'm one of the key people involved with it, it could make my career. You can bet if I'm in a key position I'm bringing my A Game to this every time I get assigned a new project! 

You give me a project spec, I'm going to ensure that I meet that spec every time.

 

 

Why Forces ended up as it did, is not a simple conversation to have at any time, unless someone is prepared to undergo a massive investigation and analysis of the project (Which literally nobody in the fandom can possibly do, since we don't know how the project changed from Concept to first deadline prototype). 

We can only generalise.... Now I do actually have a theory regarding why Forces ended up like it did, now I'm not going to reveal all of it... Because it's part of a video series I'm working on.

But a small part of this theory is that ever since Sonic 06, Sonic Team has been trying to turn Sonic into a very specific piece of entertainment and experience, which unfortunately doesn't translate well to Sonic Gameplay, and no it's not as simple as saying "Ah the Boost!" the boost is part of the problem but not the core issue.

I cant really elaborate on this too much more unfortunately since it'll undermine my video argument which... May get finished this year...?

 

Bonus 3: 

I've just realised that this paragraph could also be interpreted as being "Iizuka/Some small group of people in Sonic Team had absolute power and lost their ambition".

 

Again... This isn't.. Well... It's wrong.

From what little we acutally know of Sonic Game development, we know that there's at least 3 ways in which games are made. 

1: The pitch (See Sonic Mania, Racing Transformed and That Weird Sonic Skateboard game that didn't get approved).

2: The direct sequel (Basically, either point 1 or 3 happens, then you literally make a 2nd game based on points 1 or 3 with potential inclusion of points from 1 & 3).

3: The prototype (Sonic 06 (Silvers gameplay), Sonic Lost World). 

The prototype stage is where you have people in Sonic Team or even other studios working on concepts, these can be gameplay, engine, designs a game loop... virtually anything.

The prototype will be developed so there is a clear vision for a potential to expand or be used within an existing project (see Chao Gardens, or Silvers gameplay in Sonic 06 which started off life as a FPS). 

Typically, all 3 of these points have to hit a milestone deadline where the project is reviewed, changes may occur, budget may increase... it depends on the project. 

But the key point here with all 3... Nobody has the 'I can do what I like' mentality. Certainly not in Sega (at least from what we know), everything ends up being reviewed in house by someone.

So Forces isn't a case of "The brainchild of X" it would have undergone numerous changes and reviews at key milestone dates.

 

Now there are devs which do have 'absolute power' most of the time these are smaller indi studios, or the odd one or two devs which... potentially have that power Kojima certainly gives the impression he has that power (if he does or not is another question),.

But in a place like Sonic Team, it certainly isn't one man's vision or a small group who have absolute power, it will go through reviews and potentially changes, with Forces, based on a conversation I had with someone who used to be at Sega Europe, it was going to look A LOT different to the final product, the Avatar was going to play a much larger role, if true, that's one major change done close to release.

 

 

This claim that Sonic Team members left Sega and went to Nintendo is totally false, some members left Sega to work on other companies, but it has been 13 years since Unleashed, of course it would be changes on the staff over the years. A lot of people who have worked on Colors, Generations and even other games in the series have worked on Forces. It's not 100% the same team, but most of them are.

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Badnik Mechanic
10 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

This claim that Sonic Team members left Sega and went to Nintendo is totally false, some members left Sega to work on other companies, but it has been 13 years since Unleashed, of course it would be changes on the staff over the years. A lot of people who have worked on Colors, Generations and even other games in the series have worked on Forces. It's not 100% the same team, but most of them are.

Really? Because there's a big thread here and on resetera that supports my point that a lot of people in key roles have moved on from the company.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

This claim that Sonic Team members left Sega and went to Nintendo is totally false, some members left Sega to work on other companies, but it has been 13 years since Unleashed, of course it would be changes on the staff over the years. A lot of people who have worked on Colors, Generations and even other games in the series have worked on Forces. It's not 100% the same team, but most of them are.

Only one game designer from Generations worked on Forces. Not everyone jumped ship to Nintendo, but there's a clear trend of the most talented people being put on Mario and Sonic instead of the main series, and then obviously making a good Mario game will give you some good resume fodder for Ninty.

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User18091994
4 hours ago, Badnik Mechanic said:

Really? Because there's a big thread here and on resetera that supports my point that a lot of people in key roles have moved on from the company.

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Wraith said:

Only one game designer from Generations worked on Forces. Not everyone jumped ship to Nintendo, but there's a clear trend of the most talented people being put on Mario and Sonic instead of the main series, and then obviously making a good Mario game will give you some good resume fodder for Ninty.

There a lot of other Sonic Team members who have worked on Forces who had previously worked on Sonic Colors and Generations. The director and lead game designer of Sonic Forces was Morio Kishimoto, and he was also the director and lead game designer of Sonic Colors. Sonic Forces' art director was Yoshitaka Miura who had also previously worked as field artist on Sonic Colors as well.

Again, it's been 13 years since Sonic Unleashed, of course some members would leave Sega to work on another companies, but this claim that the majority of the staff left Sonic Team to work on Mario is false. Most of the key developers of Sonic Forces were key developers of Colors and Generations, so Sega didn't lie when they said the game was developed by the same team.

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Zoomzeta
8 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

 

There a lot of other Sonic Team members who have worked on Forces who had previously worked on Sonic Colors and Generations. The director and lead game designer of Sonic Forces was Morio Kishimoto, and he was also the director and lead game designer of Sonic Colors. Sonic Forces' art director was Yoshitaka Miura who had also previously worked as field artist on Sonic Colors as well.

Again, it's been 13 years since Sonic Unleashed, of course some members would leave Sega to work on another companies, but this claim that the majority of the staff left Sonic Team to work on Mario is false. Most of the key developers of Sonic Forces were key developers of Colors and Generations, so Sega didn't lie when they said the game was developed by the same team.

Then why did it came out as it did? If it wasn't an talent attrition problem, what was? And if so, why?

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Dr. Mechano
On 8/22/2021 at 1:31 AM, Raphael Martins said:

During the 2000s, or the so-called "dark age of Sonic", it was a popular opinion to say Sonic games should stop trying to have stories that matter, stop trying to be so different from the classics.

I think these two ideas are diametrically opposed.

Because the classics had stories that mattered. The Genesis trilogy told a coherent narrative that spanned multiple games and organically introduced new characters along the way. The storytelling in these games was simple, but I'd argue it still managed to be more character-driven than most 2D platformers of the time, featuring cutscenes and even dynamic characters - such as Knuckles starting off as an enemy before becoming an ally. The classic Sonic games handled story a lot better than people give them credit for.

Meanwhile, I'd argue that Sonic Team themselves gave up on telling "stories that matter" when they made Shadow the Hedgehog, a game that spits on the legacy of Sonic Adventure 2 with ridiculous retcons and can't even maintain moment-to-moment continuity in-game (i.e. you'll help a character in a stage, then they'll flip out and yell at you as if you were their enemy all along immediately afterward). Add its tone that tries to be dark but only ends up coming off as awkward and forced, and you've got a mid-2000s Sonic story that I'm able to take far less seriously than anything in the more comical games of the 2010s. Sonic 06 largely followed the same path, with its hackneyed dialogue and bizarre tonal issues.

Which brings us back to Sonic Forces - a game that embraces much of the same writing direction as those mid-2000s titles. A game where Eggman tortures Sonic for months and Shadow kills a bunch of jackals. It's ridiculous.

The problem was never "stories that mattered." The problem was this swath of horribly-written Sonic games that demanded to be taken seriously without earning that emotional investment through any sort of skill at storytelling. Fans complained because the stories were bad, not because they dared to tackle darker subject matters. Adventure and Adventure 2 were still looked upon fondly even as fans ripped Shadow and Sonic 06 to shreds, because those games - while they dabbled in some serious themes - didn't go so far overboard that it felt like self-parody.

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10 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

 

There a lot of other Sonic Team members who have worked on Forces who had previously worked on Sonic Colors and Generations. The director and lead game designer of Sonic Forces was Morio Kishimoto, and he was also the director and lead game designer of Sonic Colors. Sonic Forces' art director was Yoshitaka Miura who had also previously worked as field artist on Sonic Colors as well.
 

If most of the game designers left, it's kind of hard to make a game that plays as well as Colors and Generations. The art and management guys staying hardly matters in comparision.

Besides, it wouldn't have mattered if the whole team stayed if they had put out game like Forces. The whole point of Sonic Team drawing attention to that fact is to promise a game that was on par with Colors and Generations. They did not deliver on that, thus they come off like they were bullshitting people. Open and shut.

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User18091994
3 hours ago, Zoomzeta said:

Then why did it came out as it did? If it wasn't an talent attrition problem, what was? And if so, why?

Takashi Iizuka was involved in beloved and memorable Sonic games like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Colors, Generations, but he was also involved in games like Shadow the Hedgehog, Nights Journey of Dreams (a very disappointing sequel to the original Nights), divisive games like Sonic Lost World, etc. Sometimes good and talented developers develop bad games. Another example is Shigeru Miyamoto, he created Mario and Zelda, but was also responsable for the downfall of Paper Mario and horrible games like Wii Music and Star Fox Zero.

It's not because a team is talented or has a good track record that they can't fail to deliver a good game.

We don't know why Sonic Forces came out the way it is, and we probably never will. But the game screams lack of passion, ambition, confidence. While games like Colors have a very cohesive and solid concept, Forces is like they put a lot of things from previous games hoping some of these things would work but having no confidence in the direction they were going with the title.

My speculation is that Sonic Team didn't want to develop another boost game. When Takashi Iizuka developed Sonic Generations he said in some interviews that the game was the end of a chapter and the next Sonic games would have other approaches in terms of gameplay. I think they knew how Sonic's boost gameplay is lacking in some areas. All boost games have alternative Gameplays or gimmicks. Unleashed has the Werehog, Colors has the Wisps and too much focus on blocky 2D platforming, Generations has the classic Sonic stages and the filler missions with other characters. Sonic Forces has the custom Hero. It's like the boost gameplay doesn't provide enough content and variety to the games and they have to make this alternative elements to fill this gap.

There aren't much space for improvement in the boost formula. I can't imagine a game using the boost gameplay with more polished level designs than Generations. Could they release a game like Generations but with a more engaging story and original levels? Yeah, but the gameplay would be at the same level, it would be a short campaign again and they would need to put another gimmick so they could justify charging full price. This problem gets worse overtime because as generations pass, people demand more content from the games and it becomes more difficult to sell games with 2 hours-long story modes. One day it would get old.

Other issue with the boost gameplay is the games aren't easy to develop. They need to build a lot of high quality assets that Sonic will pas through in a matter of few minutes. Imagine the amount of time and resources. 

Despite how I love Sonic Unleashed, I consider the boost gameplay a waste of resources because they could develop much longer, more enjoyable and deeper games with the same resources if they use a more traditional 3D plataformimg formula like the Adventure or even Heroes.

Maybe Takashi Iizuka and the key developers of Sonic Team doesn't want to continue developing boost games because they reach the conclusion that the formula is stagnant, it's not going to take Sonic to the next level and it's a waste of development time and resources.

Probably Sega demanded them to develop a game using this formula because Sonic Lost World had a mixed reception and sold poorly, while Colors and Generations are still the peak of Sonic recent history when it comes to good reception in 3D modern games. I'll go as far as saying maybe it was the Sega's bosses the idea of putting classic Sonic, the Wisps and call backs to Green Hill and Chemical Plant again because this elements were present in Sonic Colors and Generations.

But again, it's only speculation of mine and we probably will never know the truth. But in my opinion, Sonic Team and Takashi Iizuka wanted to continue experimenting with Sonic's gameplay like they did with Lost Works to build a new foundation for the next games instead of developing more boost games, but they were forced to go back to the boost because of Sega and fan pressure. That would explain the lack of passion in Forces.

 

1 hour ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I think these two ideas are diametrically opposed.

Because the classics had stories that mattered. The Genesis trilogy told a coherent narrative that spanned multiple games and organically introduced new characters along the way. The storytelling in these games was simple, but I'd argue it still managed to be more character-driven than most 2D platformers of the time, featuring cutscenes and even dynamic characters - such as Knuckles starting off as an enemy before becoming an ally. The classic Sonic games handled story a lot better than people give them credit for.

Meanwhile, I'd argue that Sonic Team themselves gave up on telling "stories that matter" when they made Shadow the Hedgehog, a game that spits on the legacy of Sonic Adventure 2 with ridiculous retcons and can't even maintain moment-to-moment continuity in-game (i.e. you'll help a character in a stage, then they'll flip out and yell at you as if you were their enemy all along immediately afterward). Add its tone that tries to be dark but only ends up coming off as awkward and forced, and you've got a mid-2000s Sonic story that I'm able to take far less seriously than anything in the more comical games of the 2010s. Sonic 06 largely followed the same path, with its hackneyed dialogue and bizarre tonal issues.

Which brings us back to Sonic Forces - a game that embraces much of the same writing direction as those mid-2000s titles. A game where Eggman tortures Sonic for months and Shadow kills a bunch of jackals. It's ridiculous.

The problem was never "stories that mattered." The problem was this swath of horribly-written Sonic games that demanded to be taken seriously without earning that emotional investment through any sort of skill at storytelling. Fans complained because the stories were bad, not because they dared to tackle darker subject matters. Adventure and Adventure 2 were still looked upon fondly even as fans ripped Shadow and Sonic 06 to shreds, because those games - while they dabbled in some serious themes - didn't go so far overboard that it felt like self-parody.

I agree with you that this was never the problem. However it was a popular trend to have this opinion at that time. Do you think Sonic 2006 is a bad game because it's 3D? I will assume that you don't because it doesn't make sense, but it was also a popular thing at that time to say 3D Sonic games were bad because they were 3D and Sonic needed to be 2D forever. It's a stupid opinion, but it was what people used to say about the franchise. Sonic 2006 is bad because it's rushed, broken, poorly designed, not because it's 3D. The 2006's story doesn't work but not because it take itself seriously, but because it's poorly written, full of plot holes, clichés and awkward romantic moments between Sonic and Elise that seemed to be inspired by a very bad furry fanfiction.

In my opinion games like the Adventure series and most of the "dark age" games were a natural evolution of Sonic in terms of story. I don't see why a story like Unleashed and Black Knight don't fit Sonic. However, it was a popular critic at that time. It was very common to see people saying Sonic didn't need to have a story, "look a Mario". Sonic was very different from Mario since the Genesis days. The story, world-building and character development of Sonic games don't have to follow Mario's footsteps. The Sonic characters that are like Mario are the deadly six, they are unidimensional the same way as the Mario villains are, no one complains about that in Mario games because is the style of the franchise, but it doesn't fit Sonic.

Stories like Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006 are totally out of place, but most of the other stories in the 3D games before the meta era got most of the characters and the tone right. Sonic is about the sense adventure, the emotion, the character development, the radical appeal and the "coolness". I don't think is fair to put all 3D Sonic's story together with Shadow TH and Sonic 2006. How many other games do have the same problems as these two I'm terms of storytelling? 

The problem is, so many people and reviewers repeated these dumb critics that Sega listened to them, that's why we got stories like Colors, Lost World and Generations.

 

 

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Dr. Mechano
11 hours ago, Raphael Martins said:

In my opinion games like the Adventure series and most of the "dark age" games were a natural evolution of Sonic in terms of story. I don't see why a story like Unleashed and Black Knight don't fit Sonic.

When I hear "dark age," I think of the Heroes-Shadow-2K6 stretch of games, not the Adventure series, not the Dimps handheld games, and definitely not Unleashed.

These three games (less so in Heroes' case, but some elements are still present) focus a lot on Shadow - a character who had a satisfying character arc and resolution in SA2 - going through that same arc a second time, but worse. I have to say the main antagonists of this unofficial "trilogy" were all dreadfully dull and self-serious as well; I normally like Metal Sonic, but god, was his personality a bore in Heroes.

Unleashed is tonally very different from those entries. It takes a much more lighthearted, whimsical tone. There are jokes, even cartoonish slapstick. A prototypical Orbot (who'd go on to become a mainstay in the 2010s) debuts here, acting as a great foil for Eggman. New ally Chip takes on the persona of a hyperactive, fun-loving child who also brings a lot of levity to the game. True, Dark Gaia's a generic monster with no personality, but Eggman (demoted to secondary antagonist though he is) has enough personality for the both of them, absolutely carrying the villain role for the game.

I think, in a lot of ways, Unleashed is the transitional game between the "dark age" and the goofy age of the 2010s. It's clear this is where things started to shift in that direction.

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The problem is, so many people and reviewers repeated these dumb critics that Sega listened to them, that's why we got stories like Colors, Lost World and Generations.

Eh, I have a more charitable view of these games than you do, I think.

I think Colors is mostly fine. Its premise is basically "Knuckles Chaotix... in space!", seeing as how the entire game takes place in an Eggman amusement park. The goofier tone makes sense in light of the game's theme park setting. Eggman's plan has this veneer of childishness, even though he's doing really serious things that threaten the Wisps and the people of the world.

Generations having a simpler story is in service to the premise. It makes sense that a game celebrating Sonic's history with a sort of "best of" list of levels and bosses from the franchise's past wouldn't have a super-complicated plot. "Sonic and Sonic travel through time to fight Eggman and Eggman" is what I'd expect from a game like Generations, and I think it was a good choice.

I'm torn on Lost World. I like the general premise. Sonic and Eggman having to team up against another villain offers a lot of fun possibilities, and I think the game does deliver on this for the most part. The two have some great banter, and we even see a little moral ambiguity to Eggman, like him leaping without hesitation to rescue Tails. ...Who, speaking of, is the part of the story I didn't like. Tails is this moody brat in Lost World, and the story doesn't do enough to justify him acting that way. I normally like Tails, but he was super annoying in LW - a game whose story I otherwise really enjoyed.

But the recurring theme here is the same as the complaints about the 2000s. Just as "serious" or "complicated" weren't inherent flaws in 00s writing (Adventures and Unleashed are fine), "comical" or "simple" aren't inherent flaws in 2010s writing. The current writers certainly fumble at times (Forces' story is nigh unsalvageable), but the generally lighter tone or simpler scope isn't why these problems are present.

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User18091994
3 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:
Spoiler

 

When I hear "dark age," I think of the Heroes-Shadow-2K6 stretch of games, not the Adventure series, not the Dimps handheld games, and definitely not Unleashed.

These three games (less so in Heroes' case, but some elements are still present) focus a lot on Shadow - a character who had a satisfying character arc and resolution in SA2 - going through that same arc a second time, but worse. I have to say the main antagonists of this unofficial "trilogy" were all dreadfully dull and self-serious as well; I normally like Metal Sonic, but god, was his personality a bore in Heroes.

Unleashed is tonally very different from those entries. It takes a much more lighthearted, whimsical tone. There are jokes, even cartoonish slapstick. A prototypical Orbot (who'd go on to become a mainstay in the 2010s) debuts here, acting as a great foil for Eggman. New ally Chip takes on the persona of a hyperactive, fun-loving child who also brings a lot of levity to the game. True, Dark Gaia's a generic monster with no personality, but Eggman (demoted to secondary antagonist though he is) has enough personality for the both of them, absolutely carrying the villain role for the game.

I think, in a lot of ways, Unleashed is the transitional game between the "dark age" and the goofy age of the 2010s. It's clear this is where things started to shift in that direction.

Eh, I have a more charitable view of these games than you do, I think.

I think Colors is mostly fine. Its premise is basically "Knuckles Chaotix... in space!", seeing as how the entire game takes place in an Eggman amusement park. The goofier tone makes sense in light of the game's theme park setting. Eggman's plan has this veneer of childishness, even though he's doing really serious things that threaten the Wisps and the people of the world.

Generations having a simpler story is in service to the premise. It makes sense that a game celebrating Sonic's history with a sort of "best of" list of levels and bosses from the franchise's past wouldn't have a super-complicated plot. "Sonic and Sonic travel through time to fight Eggman and Eggman" is what I'd expect from a game like Generations, and I think it was a good choice.

I'm torn on Lost World. I like the general premise. Sonic and Eggman having to team up against another villain offers a lot of fun possibilities, and I think the game does deliver on this for the most part. The two have some great banter, and we even see a little moral ambiguity to Eggman, like him leaping without hesitation to rescue Tails. ...Who, speaking of, is the part of the story I didn't like. Tails is this moody brat in Lost World, and the story doesn't do enough to justify him acting that way. I normally like Tails, but he was super annoying in LW - a game whose story I otherwise really enjoyed.

But the recurring theme here is the same as the complaints about the 2000s. Just as "serious" or "complicated" weren't inherent flaws in 00s writing (Adventures and Unleashed are fine), "comical" or "simple" aren't inherent flaws in 2010s writing. The current writers certainly fumble at times (Forces' story is nigh unsalvageable), but the generally lighter tone or simpler scope isn't why these problems are present.

 

 

When I talk about "dark age" games, I'm talking about the period from Shadow the Hedgehog to Sonic and the Black Knight. Games like Shadow, Sonic 2006, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Unleshed and Sonic and the Black Knight and also games like the Riders series. When it comes to Shadow TH and Sonic 2006, the stories are bad and pretty out of place, but when it comes to all the other entries, they were fine. In most of the games the tone is balanced between light-hearted and serious moments and the Sonic and other characters characterization are pretty good.

In my opinion Sonic Colors' story is the best of the meta era games because the story isn't poorly written, but it doesn't fit Sonic at all, and the characterization is pretty bad. However, Sonic Generations' story is pretty lacking, the premise isn't an excuse because they could've done so much better with the time travels concept. 

When it comes to Sonic Lost World, it's bad. The story has a lot of inconsistencies and plot holes. It doesn't explain what is the Lost Hex, what is the deadly six, it doesn't explain anything. Sonic Lost World's story is as bad as Forces, but Forces tried to have a more serious tone.

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Dr. Mechano

Right, I don't have a problem with the stories of those other late-2000s games, and I'd even go so far as to say I actively like Unleashed's story (even if I'm not sold on the gameplay).

Like I said, Unleashed feels like a middleground between the 2000s and the 2010s. It's a pre-Pontaff game, but you can already see a lot of changes being implemented that would come to define Pontaff's writing. Unleashed had much more emphasis on comedy than any mainline entry in the series up to that point, it introduced a silly sidekick for Eggman (who'd later be expanded to two sidekicks in Colors), and the story focused a lot more on Sonic (and to an extent his immediate allies like Chip and Tails) rather than having a bunch of concurrent stories from different points of view.

While I think Colors and onward do handle their approach to writing differently, you can still kinda see Unleashed's DNA in those stories. 

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I wouldn't call what is missing in Lost World really "plot hole", because it's not really something missing in the logic of the story. It's more that they didn't find necessary to explain the "why" of the story and what were the things introduced in it (and to be fair… I'm not sure that it would have improved that much LW to explain these stuff). But that's not a plot-hole, as it doesn't create an inconsistency in the story, unlike Omega in Forces for instance where the missing information ("how Omega are restored") create a hole in the logic of the story where we have a first information ( "Omega is broken and Tails can't fix it" ) and another information ( "Omega is not broken anymore and really important" ) that should be linked to have a flow inside the story.

( There are some relatively similar problems on some other place tho )

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User18091994
2 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

Right, I don't have a problem with the stories of those other late-2000s games, and I'd even go so far as to say I actively like Unleashed's story (even if I'm not sold on the gameplay).

Like I said, Unleashed feels like a middleground between the 2000s and the 2010s. It's a pre-Pontaff game, but you can already see a lot of changes being implemented that would come to define Pontaff's writing. Unleashed had much more emphasis on comedy than any mainline entry in the series up to that point, it introduced a silly sidekick for Eggman (who'd later be expanded to two sidekicks in Colors), and the story focused a lot more on Sonic (and to an extent his immediate allies like Chip and Tails) rather than having a bunch of concurrent stories from different points of view.

While I think Colors and onward do handle their approach to writing differently, you can still kinda see Unleashed's DNA in those stories. 

Sonic Unleashed's story is very inspired and similar to Sonic Adventure, it's basically the same plot but instead of the Perfect Chaos, the divine monster is Dark Gaia. Sonic Adventure also has light-hearted and comedy moments in dialogues starring characters like Eggman, Amy, Knuckles and Big the Cat. Sonic Adventure 2 on the other hand is indeed more serious, but it also has comic moments. None of the Adventure games are more dark and serious than they should. Adventure 2 clearly has a different approach compared to Unleashed, but it's still a balanced tone for the series. The proof it's that Adventure 2 story was adapted very faithfully to Sonic X that was a kids TV show.

When it comes to Heroes and the Riders series, they were very light-hearted, specially Heroes. I would argue that Heroes is much more childish and light-hearted than Sonic Unleashed and it has cutscenes like this.

The main difference between Unleashed and some of the past Sonic games is that Unleashed has a more self-contained story with a smaller cast of characters, a different style of comedy with that cartoony sound effects, and it doesn't have different storylines and points of view. But Unleashed wasn't the first game to have this kind of narrative. Sonic and the Secret Rings was released before and also has a similar story with a similar tone and style of humor. Black Knight, too, except that BK has a larger cast of characters.

In summary, the stories of Unleashed, Secret Rings and Black Knight were simple and light-hearted, but they featured serious, dramatic and threatening moments. They had a good sense of adventure, Sonic's characterization in all them was on point. The stories of the Adventure series took themselves more seriously, had dramatic moments and all the different points of view approach, but they were still balanced enough between serious and comic moments. Finally, both Heroes and Riders had light-hearted stories, too.

The only games during this period that had issues regarding storytelling and tone were Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006. How can we assume the stories were an issue in the series when only two games had problems with their stories?

Now let's talk about the meta-era, the period from Sonic Colors to Sonic Forces.

Sonic Colors:
Sonic Colors story isn't as balanced as Unleashed. Sonic's characterization is pretty bad, and he didn't seem to be the same character he was in the past games. Colors' story doesn't have any serious, dramatic and threatening moments. Eggman is more like a Team Rocket (from Pokémon) kind of villain that don't represent any kind of threat. Eggman has always been a mix of evil and comic villain, but he was a threat for Sonic in the other games. In Adventure 2 he tried to kill Sonic, in Unleashed he broke the whole planet apart and defeated Super Sonic in the opening sequence. In Colors it feels like Eggman didn't even try to be a threat. Sonic Colors' story is still the best in this era because it explains things like what the Wisps are, where they come from, there's a cohesive narrative and there aren't plot holes or inconsistencies, but it's clearly a downgrade from how the stories used to be.

Sonic Generations:
We don't have much to say about Generations' story. It's just a silly excuse for the game to happen. Sonic is as out of character as he was in Colors.

Sonic Lost World:

In my opinion, the story has more interesting dialogues and cutscenes than both Colors and Generations. At least I didn't feel the need to skip them. There a few action scenes here and there with more interesting animation than only the characters talking to each other. However, there are inconsistencies: It's never explained what the Lost Hex and the deadly six are. How does Tails know the Lost Hex in the first cutscene? Are the zeti some kind of race? Why can Eggman control the deadly six using that strange musical instrument? What is this strange musical instrument in the first place? As expected, Sonic is as out of place as he was in Colors and Generations, none of the deadly six and Eggman represent any kind of threat, there aren't any serious or dramatic moment in the whole game.

Sonic Forces:
It doesn't know if it wants to be as serious as Shadow the Hedgehog or as childish and light-hearted as Sonic Lost World. None of the villains matter to the plot. Sonic is out of character the same way as past games. No cohesive explanation is provided for why classic Sonic is there. No explanation for what the heck the phantom ruby is and how it works. Infinite's motivation is laughable. All the characters have unidimensional personalities, etc, etc.

______________

In conclusion:

Sonic's stories had never been a problem. Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006 stories were bad and poorly written, but most of the other games stories' were fine. They were light-hearted, they have some kind of character development, the villains represent some kind of threat, they have a good balanced between dramatic, serious, threatening and comic moments. Sonic used to have a good characterization. They used to have a more universal appeal, being enjoyable for people with different ages.

Sonic's meta era stories are as bad as Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006, they are only in the other opposite of the spectrum when it comes to the tone. While Shadow and 2006 take themselves more seriously than they should, the meta-era stories didn't try to take any moment seriously enough, and they feel like the writers didn't even care about what the heck they were trying to tell. While Shadow's characterization in his own game is weird, and he's just like an edgy lord with some kind of personality disorder, Sonic's characterization in the meta-era games feels like he is some kind of bad humorist.

It was a popular trend to talk trash about Sonic's storytelling during the so-called "dark age", even about games that didn't deserve to be criticized in this regard (Unleashed, Black Knight, etc). In my opinion, it makes sense that Sega doesn't want any controversy surrounding Sonic releases, even if these controversies are based on dumb arguments like that, so they decided to shift the style of the writings entirely. Sonic Colors was well-received despite all the downgrades in the storytelling department, so they decided to continue with this direction in the other games. It seems they noticed that this kind of stories aren't working anymore, so they decided to change to a darker and more serious tone again with Forces, but it didn't work because the story is poorly written, the tone is inconsistent and there are still issues with villains that don't matter or don't represent any kind of threat and issues with bad characterization.
 

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I wouldn't call Unleashed really as serious than the Adventure tho, as the treatment of the catastrophe is really different. Sure, both games have "humor and serious", but there is a difference of "having the two ingredients" and how they are used in a story. IMO it's a pretty important difference to do to really understand how stories work.

For instance, Eggman break the planet, but it's not treated as something that big (while the Dark Gaia rebirth is seen as dangerous), and we have no mention of the "darker" side or even dangerous side of that. The infection of minds by Dark Gaïa too is more treated as not something that horrible too, often more something as annoying and that doesn't even affect the main character. Eggman too is treated as serious in the first act… but treated more as a joke for the rest of the game.

It doesn't mean that Sonic Unleashed isn't good, tho, or that all this are bad things. But for me it's not just that it have a bit more humor in Sonic Unleashed than in previous game. But that the way the story is thought is kinda different. That's normal, it's a different story, with different type of people. But I agree that it's really the prototype of the future games, as it started taking his own story way less at face value. It's a difference of how they think their own game.

It mostly that it's more written, and had a higher budget. But in a way, it's visible that it was a change of mind, certainly related to Sonic 2006, and that it have started the badly-named "meta-era".

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User18091994
13 minutes ago, Kazhnuz said:

I wouldn't call Unleashed really as serious than the Adventure tho, as the treatment of the catastrophe is really different. Sure, both games have "humor and serious", but there is a difference of "having the two ingredients" and how they are used in a story. IMO it's a pretty important difference to do to really understand how stories work.

For instance, Eggman break the planet, but it's not treated as something that big (while the Dark Gaia rebirth is seen as dangerous), and we have no mention of the "darker" side or even dangerous side of that. The infection of minds by Dark Gaïa too is more treated as a joke too, often more something as annoying and that doesn't even affect the main character. Eggman too is treated as serious in the first act… but treated more as a joke for the rest of the game.

It doesn't mean that Sonic Unleashed isn't good, tho, or that all this are bad things. But for me it's not just that it have a bit more humor in Sonic Unleashed than in previous game. But that the way the story is thought is kinda different. That's normal, it's a different story, with different type of people. But I agree that it's really the prototype of the future games, as it started taking his own story way less at face value. It's a difference of how they think their own game.

It mostly that it's more written, and had a higher budget. But in a way, it's visible that it was a change of mind, certainly related to Sonic 2006, and that it have started the badly-named "meta-era".

I think Eggman has a good balance between a real villain and a comic villain in this game. Yeah, there are a lot of occasions he is treated like a joke, but he built Eggmaland that's the most difficult 3D stage in the entire series, the boss battles with him are longer and more difficult than the ones from Colors, for example. So he feels like a threat, not only because of the things he does in the story, but also because things he does in the gameplay. Other thing is Dark Gaia, it's definitely a threat, and it's a very challenging and epic ending sequence. It makes the final of the game and the whole experience to be a real journey to save the planet, not only a silly excuse for the game to happen.

 

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It mostly that it's more written, and had a higher budget. But in a way, it's visible that it was a change of mind, certainly related to Sonic 2006, and that it have started the badly-named "meta-era".

How can you explain to me Secret Rings being released before Unleashed and being developed alongside Sonic 2006 and having a story with a similar tone? How can you explain to me games like Sonic Heroes with a very light-hearted tone with colorful and childish environments?

Yes, Sonic Unleashed is in a totally different mindset than Sonic 2006 not only in the story, but in everything else. But Sonic 2006 doesn't define how most of the Sonic games were at that time. Again, there only two Sonic games with this kind of story: Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006.

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TBF, the gameplay part will different depends of people, especially as the game tends to be harder to this end xD But I don't think that they MEANT to really make him that dangerous, especially as they started the tradition of "Eggman is ridiculed on the post-credit scene" (something that every games until LW do).

So yeah, I can understand why you feel him as dangerous in the game with your experience of its gameplay, but writing-wise he and the story are more humoristic and less treated as the "serious treat". It's WAY BETTER as previous dark era game he isn't a complete joke within a more serious story, like in Secret Rings for instance XD. Here he is adapted to the tone of the game, a lighthearted game where the hero can't be really corrupted, where the corruption make people act weird and where you emote with a funny comic-relief.

And all that doesn't make Unleashed bad, actually I think that they did a good things to taking their story less seriously, and being serious more just on some key moment. (my problem with Unleashed is more his really really weak second act).

And TBH, I feel that a problem of the next games, post-Unleashed is that he does kinda do or try to do too heinous things for how he is "funny". With their tone, a more Unleashed-y Eggman, where he doesn't try as much horrible things himself (where the planet being destroyed is more a big inconvenience) would have worked better. The problem is really present in Forces (and with IDW too, even if IDW is excellent imo). Or they should ad more dark humor like in Colors.

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Dr. Mechano
39 minutes ago, Raphael Martins said:

I think Eggman has a good balance between a real villain and a comic villain in this game.

Well, I think the problem is that you're looking at these two things as diametrically opposed, when they aren't. Being a "real villain" isn't some opposite end of the spectrum from "comic villain." One doesn't have to take away from the other.

Eggman doing funny things can itself be menacing with the right framing. As you yourself cited, Eggmanland is a terrifyingly dangerous place, but it's also an amusement park. It encapsulates Eggman's menace and whimsy at the same time.

Quote

Colors' story doesn't have any serious, dramatic and threatening moments. Eggman is more like a Team Rocket (from Pokémon) kind of villain that don't represent any kind of threat.

I honestly don't think Colors is too different from Unleashed? It's basically Eggmanland but in space. The stakes are still high. Yeah, Eggman's not trying to destroy the world like Dark Gaia did, but he still planned to mind control the populace into unwaveringly obeying him. And he still drained a sentient race of aliens of their energy to facilitate that plan.

The premise itself is serious enough. 

I think Sonic Colors' biggest issue is framing. We don't really see what Eggman's mind control beam is capable of outside of controlling Tails for a few seconds. I think that if we'd seen Tails (or even the people of Earth) under Eggman's control for a bit longer - maybe even with a Tails boss fight or something - it would have framed the whole "Hey, it's really important not to let the planet get mind controlled" stakes more clearly.

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User18091994
39 minutes ago, Kazhnuz said:

TBF, the gameplay part will different depends of people, especially as the game tends to be harder to this end xD But I don't think that they MEANT to really make him that dangerous, especially as they started the tradition of "Eggman is ridiculed on the post-credit scene" (something that every games until LW do).

So yeah, I can understand why you feel him as dangerous in the game with your experience of its gameplay, but writing-wise he and the story are more humoristic and less treated as the "serious treat". It's WAY BETTER as previous dark era game he isn't a complete joke within a more serious story, like in Secret Rings for instance XD. Here he is adapted to the tone of the game, a lighthearted game where the hero can't be really corrupted, where the corruption make people act weird and where you emote with a funny comic-relief.

And all that doesn't make Unleashed bad, actually I think that they did a good things to taking their story less seriously, and being serious more just on some key moment. (my problem with Unleashed is more his really really weak second act).

And TBH, I feel that a problem of the next games, post-Unleashed is that he does kinda do or try to do too heinous things for how he is "funny". With their tone, a more Unleashed-y Eggman, where he doesn't try horrible things himself (where the planet being destroyed is more an inconvenience) would have worked better.

We can't ignore the gameplay aspects of the game even when analyzing the storytelling because video games are interactive pieces of media and the story isn't only in the cutscenes, but also in the environments, stages and in the challenges the player need to overcome. Yes, Sonic Unleashed doesn't treat Eggman like a too serious threat that would kill Sonic or something like that. I can't imagine Eggman from Unleashed doing serious awful things like murder, torture, rape or something at this level of evilness 👀. But he wasn't pathetic either, Sonic needed to make some effort to defeat Eggman in this game, he was villain enough to provide challenges for Sonic to overcome.

When the villain of the game provide challenges like Eggmanland and challenging boss battles, he feels more like a threat or at least a challenge than what he is on Colors and Lost World. And again, Eggman isn't the only challenge Sonic need to overcome in the game, there's Dark Gaia.

Let's take Sonic Lost World, for example. The deadly six are the equivalent of Dark Gaia/Perfect Chaos this time around, and we have Eggman. The deadly six never seem to be a threat, or at least a challenge, in the whole game. In all the cutscenes everything Sonic does is make fun of them and some boss battles can be beat with only two charged homming-attacks.

I think I'm not making myself clear because when I say "Eggman was a threat in Unleashed" I'm not saying he is super evil badass villain who was capable of doing things like the Joker (from Batman). I don't even think this kind of villain are a good fit for Sonic games.  Other thing is, Eggman was this kind of villain in the Genesis trilogy as well, he had comic animations when we defeat him.

And again, you can apply the same criteria to analyze Eggman from Sonic Heroes, Sonic Riders, and the villains from games like Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic and the Black Knight. None of them feel like as a serious threat as Batman villains or something at this level of evilness and seriousness. Right after Sonic defeats Merlina in Sonic and the Black Knight, he only gave her a speech about how we need to understand that things doesn't last forever. He doesn't kill Merlina or something like that. Most Sonic games from that time take themselves as seriously as Sonic Unleashed, this is also true about the classic genesis games.

I think you are making the mistake of assuming Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006 are the standard and represents how serious most of the Sonic games used to be at their times. This isn't true. And I don't think a story need to be at this level of seriousness to be taken seriously. This is not what I expect from Sonic games and this is not what I mean by good stories "that matter".
 

27 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

Well, I think the problem is that you're looking at these two things as diametrically opposed, when they aren't.

Eggman doing funny things can itself be menacing with the right framing. As you yourself cited, Eggmanland is a terrifyingly dangerous place, but it's also an amusement park. It encapsulates Eggman's menace and whimsy at the same time.

I honestly don't think Colors is too different from Unleashed? It's basically Eggmanland but in space. The stakes are still high. Yeah, Eggman's not trying to destroy the world like Dark Gaia did, but he still planned to mind control the populace into unwaveringly obeying him. And he still drained a sentient race of aliens of their energy to facilitate that plan.

The premise itself is serious enough. 

I think Sonic Colors' biggest issue is framing. We don't really see what Eggman's mind control beam is capable of outside of controlling Tails for a few seconds. I think that if we'd seen Tails (or even the people of Earth) under Eggman's control for a bit longer - maybe even with a Tails boss fight or something - it would have framed the whole "Hey, it's really important not to let the planet get mind controlled" stakes more clearly.

Well, I'm not talking only about Eggman, I'm talking about how Sonic Unleashed balance the sense of adventure, challenge, dramatic and serious moments compared to the meta-era games (like Colors). If Sonic Unleashed is the same as Colors only because you think Eggmanland and the space Amusement Park is the same thing, we have to assume Sonic Adventure is the same thing as Sonic Colors because in the Adventure 1 Eggman said in some cutscenes that he want to build "Robotinikland". Does this assumption make sense? No.

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20 minutes ago, Raphael Martins said:

I think you are making the mistake of assuming Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006 are the standard and represents how serious most of the Sonic games used to be at their times. This isn't true. And I don't think a story need to be at this level of seriousness to be taken seriously. This is not what I expect from Sonic games and this is not what I mean by good stories "that matter".

Like I said, for me it's more a question on how they handle their seriousness and their humor ^^ It's not a question of quantity (or "level), but on how it's handled, and how it see itself. Sonic Unleashed is a transition, and have started thinking itself as something where dangerous things aren't taken too much in a realistic way, a tad more "chill" in its writing in a way. For instance, SA, even if it have humor is taken a lot more "at face value".

( It doesn't mean though that there is nothing in common between Unleashed and the Adventure. )

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User18091994
10 minutes ago, Kazhnuz said:

Like I said, for me it's more a question on how they handle their seriousness and their humor ^^ It's not a question of quantity (or "level), but on how it's handled, and how it see itself. Sonic Unleashed is a transition, and have started thinking itself as something where dangerous things aren't taken too much in a realistic way, a tad more "chill" in its writing in a way. For instance, SA, even if it have humor is taken a lot more "at face value".

( It doesn't mean though that there is nothing in common between Unleashed and the Adventure. )

In my opinion, it's a matter of balance. Sonic Colors' story could have the same level of quality as Unleashed if they added more serious, dramatic and epic moments to balance with the more light-hearted ones, and if Sonic characterization were good. As I said before, Sonic Unleashed, Black Knight, Secret Rings, etc, are light-hearted stories, but that have more balance between all these elements and provided a better sense of adventure.

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