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How SA2 got away with... pretty much whole story?


MetalSkulkBane
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MetalSkulkBane

When talking about Sonic 06 or Shadow Game stories, the consensus seems to be "of course they bad. Just look at Black Doom or Elise. Does any of this looks like it fits into Sonic game?"

And everyone says  it with straight face, when SA2 had government conspiracies, shoot human girl and plotholes (or at least confusing bits) large enough to fit a Death Egg.

Admittedly in 2001 I was 7 year old and Internet itself was in infancy, so I have no idea if there was backlash or not. What I do know is that obviously not everyone likes it, but overall it is remembered fondly by Sonic fandom, despite it's... oddity.

So what's the secret? Just being better written then examples above? Or being connected to good gameplay? Could similar story be even made with Sonic these days (assuming Sega goes MASSIVE change of heart) or this ship sales decades ago?

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Rabbitearsblog

I think it's because SA2 didn't go too far with the dark elements or the plot contrivances.  Is the plot a bit clunky?  Yes, but it's not as bad as Sonic 06, whose plot is very clunky.  Is it darker and edgier than anything we've seen in the Sonic franchise?  Yes, but unlike the Shadow the Hedgehog game, they never had the characters use language or go too far with the whole alien conspiracy thing that Shadow the Hedgehog for some bizarre reason decided to do.  SA2 may have jumpstarted some of the darker elements in the franchise, but it never went too far in that direction to make the story terrible or the gameplay terrible.

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Diogenes
2 hours ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

I think it's because SA2 didn't go too far with the dark elements

They shot a child. In a Sonic game.

SA2 is over 20 years old at this point. There are fully grown adults that weren't even alive when it came out. Any of us who were around for it at release were a lot younger than we are now. Different people, practically. SA2 was exactly the right kind of game to appeal to a certain kind of fan at the time, though that doesn't mean it was the right move for the series on the whole.

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As much as I love SA2, I can admit that the tone did go a little too far at times. Obviously it didn't impact the game's reception much, but I can understand why it's a very divisive game within the fandom and why the series got a lot of flak for being too dark.

I don't agree that it was "wrong" since SA2 is still very much in the public conscious even two decades later, but I can understand it.

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Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow/06 aren't actually that similar

The gruesome details of Maria's death are left in the background compared to the 360 camera we get of it in STH. This makes it much easier to ignore even if it makes you uncomfortable. This goes for most "dark" details like firearms and Sonic's death. Firearms are implied to exist in SA2 but the most you'll ever engage with them on screen are through mechas that shoot fireballs. In Shadow the Hedgehog you fight actual armed soldiers and take their guns to shoot other soldiers which ratchets up the gratuitousness quite a bit even if we're still technically at 'Jak II' levels relatively speaking. Sonic's death is also shown explicitly onscreen which is just kind of absurd conceptually, but especially grim/hilarious when you see that he got skewered.

It's all about framing. Sonic Adventure 2 establishes these darker elements as existing in Sonic's world but they're shoved pretty far into the background so that the over the top action/comedy that makes up most of the game's cutscenes can take precedence. It's very strange how the game has a reputation for being too dark for some considering what's actually happening in front of the player for most of the game's run. A lot of over the top setpieces, a lot of action movie tropes handled with a tongue in it's cheek, Shadow oozes bravado instead of misery or rage like he does in later titles, Eggman leans into his playful side while staying a threat, it's just really, really fucking fun most of the time while ratcheting the stakes up in a way an animated movie based on your favorite series would.

Sonic 06 isn't fun. When the characters aren't ruminating on their broken psyches or musing on how doomed the world is there's these awkward romantic subplots to wade through. Shadow the Hedgehog is fun, but for the wrong reasons.

 

Spoiler

It also helps that it doesn't completely suck as a game. You can run a lot of BS by players in an action game if the mechanics are alright.

 

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3 hours ago, Wraith said:

 It's very strange how the game has a reputation for being too dark for some considering what's actually happening in front of the player for most of the game's run. 

It's all pretty subjective, but I think when people say this, it's in comparison to the games that came before. I can't speak for everyone on this, but there's nothing really quite like Gerald's speech in the Last Story talking about how he went insane from Maria's death in any game prior, not even in its immediate predecessor. 

This is in addition to SA2 really leaning heavily into the photorealistic aesthetic and being much more grounded in the "real world" with less of the fantastical elements from the original games. Notably, all of the enemies are generic Gun robots, with Eggman's bots only showing up in the Pyramid levels.

Usually with other "dark" platformers around the time, they started out that way, or just had a single game before going all in on the whole thing. Sonic had a pretty firmly established franchise by the time SA2 came out however, so it was probably jarring to the fans who had only known Sonic from his Genesis/Mega Drive games, and interacting with "out of place anime humans" 

 

I definitely think its overexaggerated by people though, but these are generally the reasons people throw around for when they talk about SA2 being "too dark" 

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FlameStream

I haven't really seen any people talking about the direction of Sonic Adventure 2 this way.

Regardless, it hit the right chords for a lot of new people and brought in new fans that believe that it was just right. Particularly the ones that share the same taste as people in Japan. It shouldn't be surprising that it's one of the top Sonic game that typically come in mind across dev interviews.

 

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SA2 came out just before I started interacting frequently online with the larger Sonic fanbase, so I can't share any memories of what Sonic fans in general were saying about it's dark story elements at the time. As for me it happened to come out during a period where I had lost interest in Sonic, so when I played it at a friend at the time of its release I really didn't think much about it at all. I don't recall being taken aback by it's darkness. I mostly remember being confused by the same things that had confused me with SA1; why do they call Robotnik "Eggman" now and why do the games take place on Earth instead of Mobius?

However, in the years since I have communicated with some older Sonic fans (yes, even older than me, lol) and gotten an insight to what they thought of the game when it first came out. And it does seem that many of them did indeed thought that the darkness and realism of the game was unfitting for the series and kinda awkward. Shadow in particular was obviously a character that from the get go was considered by many fans above a certain age to be overtly edgy and kinda cringy.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
18 hours ago, Diogenes said:

They shot a child. In a Sonic game.

Offscreen.

Would’ve been a whole different matter if it was done in full view of the audience.

SA2, funny enough, knew it’s limits with the dark material in was going for. The same can’t be said for ShTH which was intentional trying to push them further and came off as childish and unfitting as a result with trying to have characters cuss and be an unintentional parody an ultra dark action story.

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Diogenes

ShtH doesn't really push further, it just goes about it in a really superficial, childish way. Like the darkest element that ShtH introduces is...what, Shadow (maybe) killing Eggman (off camera, in clearly non-canon endings)? The White House getting Eclipse Cannoned (but everyone was evacuated safely beforehand)? The paralysis gas, and most of the cast being left to be eaten by alien slugs (but they escape unharmed somehow)? It's dark, but it's stupid action movie dark, a bunch of toothless violence and destruction. SA2 still has it beat in terms of "hey that's kinda fucked up for a funny talking animal game".

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
8 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

SA2 still has it beat in terms of "hey that's kinda fucked up for a funny talking animal game".

I’ve seen implied onscreen genocide in a funny talking animal movie (and it was for kids), it’s not that fucked up.
 

And considering ShTH replays much of SA2’s plot elements (including the exact same scene of the girl getting shot offscreen), I’d say it’s the exact opposite of being toothless by comparison.

Never really thought I’d see the day people say SA2 beats ShTH over which is darker.

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Diogenes
2 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

And considering ShTH replays much of SA2’s plot elements (including the exact same scene of the girl getting shot offscreen), I’d say it’s the exact opposite of being toothless by comparison.

Again I'm talking about what ShtH introduced, not what it piggybacked off of for about 3 minutes before getting distracted by aliens and guns and alien guns.

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Like Wraith said earlier, it's all in the framing and execution. Sonic Adventure 2 is dark, but only if you really read in-between the lines; its darkness is more implied than in your face. Like, Maria is never shot onscreen in SA2 at all, in fact if you never watched Sonic X or played ShTH, you would have never known she was shot from how the cutscene was framed at all. 

ShTH is completely unsubtle about how dark it is, but then it also undercuts itself as well by still trying to be a stupid children's action game despite that. 

 

Basically...SA2 is dark in a way that's not immediately obvious unless you're a cynical adult who loves to overanalyze children's video games (:V) versus ShTH being dark in a way that's extremely shallow and childish and only really appreciated by children who don't know any better, and also makes said cynical adults really mad for being shallow and childish for some reason. 

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
10 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Again I'm talking about what ShtH introduced, not what it piggybacked off of for about 3 minutes before getting distracted by aliens and guns and alien guns.

Yeah, and it introduced a bigger change of pace and tone than what SA2 did, and of course not for the better. Regardless of what it piggybacked off of, I know I don’t need to tell you how which one was received over the other over their presentation.

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2 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

Yeah, and it introduced a bigger change of pace and tone than what SA2 did. And I know I don’t need to tell you how which one was received over the other.

People don't like Shadow more because its a terrible ass game than it being "too dark". 

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
Just now, Kuzu said:

People don't like Shadow more because its a terrible ass game than it being "too dark". 

We’re not talking about how ShTH plays…

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1 minute ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

We’re not talking about how ShTH plays…

If we're gonna bring up the reception to both games, then that's kind of relevant to the conversation isn't it. Otherwise, if we're just going on about the story...well, then it's just gonna be another round of "My subjective opinion is more correct than your subjective opinion" that we always get into. 

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
6 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

If we're gonna bring up the reception to both games, then that's kind of relevant to the conversation isn't it.

No. Because we’re only talking about reception in terms of the story and narrative here. Not the gameplay—we’d be going off topic if we did that.

Point is, both games are dark, but one does it without pushing things too far, and the other tries the same thing but goes cliff-diving without a parachute and suffers the consequences for it. There’s no subjectivity to this outside of personal tastes.

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8 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

No. Because we’re only talking about reception in terms of the story and narrative here. Not the gameplay—we’d be going off topic if we did that.

Then like I said, that's just going into subjective territory. People like SA2 more than Shadow's game because the former is just a better video game, not because the story was better. Which yea, I agree it is better, but that's like the last thing people cite when the games are being directly compared. 

As said earlier in the topic, if Shadow's  game didn't suck then I doubt many people would really care about how "dark" it was, just like how nobody really cares about how "dark" SA2 was outside of a group of vocal Classic fans, because the game was good. 

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Diogenes
10 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Like, Maria is never shot onscreen in SA2 at all, in fact if you never watched Sonic X or played ShTH, you would have never known she was shot from how the cutscene was framed at all. 

...there's a gunshot, and then she's clutching her chest and struggling to speak, and Shadow promises her revenge. It is not subtle. It is not a mystery what happened. Literally everybody knew she was shot well before X or ShtH.

11 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

Yeah, and it introduced a bigger change of pace and tone than what SA2 did. Regardless of what it piggybacked off of, I know I don’t need to tell you how which one was received over the other over their presentation.

How they were received and what they actually did are not the same thing.

2 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

No. Because we’re only talking about reception in terms of the story and narrative here. Not the gameplay—we’d be going off topic if we did that.

The question the thread poses is how SA2 got away with its story. That it did so because it was fun enough to overlook it, while other games didn't because they sucked ass to play, is a fair argument to make.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
2 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Then like I said, that's just going into subjective territory.

No, that’s just personal taste. And as much as everyone has them, I couldn’t care less in discussing them over which pushes the boundaries of content that goes into a narrative.

 

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13 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

No, that’s just personal taste. And as much as everyone has them, I couldn’t care less in discussing them over which pushes the boundaries of content that goes into a narrative.

 

The very fact that Diogenes disagrees with you about this shows its not objective at all, and also down to personal taste as you said. 

14 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

...there's a gunshot, and then she's clutching her chest and struggling to speak, and Shadow promises her revenge. It is not subtle. It is not a mystery what happened. Literally everybody knew she was shot well before X or ShtH.

 

Unless you can hear something that I can't, there's no gunshot here. Like I said, there's nothing about this cutscene that immediately suggests she was shot. It's only implied, but never outright stated, which is my entire point. 

Its only Shadow's game and Sonic X where the fact that she was shot goes from subtext to be outright text.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
26 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

How they were received and what they actually did are not the same thing.

You’re right. That said, they both did the same exact thing, and yet got different receptions for how they did them based on how far they went with them.

26 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

The question the thread poses is how SA2 got away with its story. That it did so because it was fun enough to overlook it, while other games didn't because they sucked ass to play, is a fair argument to make.

Okay then. Let’s remember this next time Sonic games try to push things further next time around.

@KuzuBy the way, there is a gunshot in that scene. It’s just faint to hear, admittedly. Edit: Oh, no wonder, you were playing the Japanese version. In the English version, there’s a gunshot.

Listen between :04-:06 when Shadow suddenly flinches.

Edit2: okay, so it wasn’t different versions then, just a quality issue.

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20 hours ago, Diogenes said:

They shot a child. In a Sonic game.

She was dying of Space AIDS, so it hardly counts.

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Diogenes
5 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Unless you can hear something that I can't, there's no gunshot here. Like I said, there's nothing about this cutscene that immediately suggests she was shot. It's only implied, but never outright stated, which is my entire point. 

 

Ok I have no idea why there's no gunshot there because it's in every other video of the scene that I've ever seen.

I think...maybe it's still there but very low? Skimming through random vids it seems like some of the later ports have reduced the volume until it's barely audible, I can't tell for sure if it's in that video or if I'm just imagining it.

Most versions, though, it's very obvious.

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