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Is games Amy even a good character?


MetalSkulkBane

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Just to be clear: I like Amy. She's a kind soul, a good friend, who can see good in people, even if they don't see it themselves. And she has a giant hammer and temper to deal with pricks.

But that's Amy I know mostly from Archie/IDW comics, maybe a few other spin-offs. Sega Amy has... Sonic Adventure 1, arguably SA2 as well. In other games, she's neutral at best, morally questionable at worst. I'm kinda an apologist for Amy in Heroes and Battle, but that still requires treating her as a joke character.

(Side note, it's funny that these days she is often portrayed as  a "voice of reason" type, when she used to be a "girl distracted by Twinkle Park")

So, Amy fans, any thoughts?

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After replaying Sonic Adventure last year I want to like Amy as the character who might not be a superhero who runs around on adventures that decide the fate of the world but still does what she can to help those in need. Unfortunately, that's not how she was depicted in subsequent games. Sonic Adventure 2 casts her as a damsel in distress whose uselessness is a recurring joke. Her sole contribution to the story, getting Shadow to save the world after he's spent all game trying to destroy it, isn't even really her doing; it's Shadow's memory of Maria that gets him to do the right thing.

Things really only go downhill from there for Amy. Her crush on Sonic is frequently played up in a way that it both becomes her defining character trait and becomes annoying. Amy has suffered from flanderization, but between her inconsistent characterization and how annoying she is often portrayed as being I really can't say she is a good character.

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1 hour ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

But that's Amy I know mostly from Archie/IDW comics, maybe a few other spin-offs. Sega Amy has... Sonic Adventure 1, arguably SA2 as well. In other games, she's neutral at best, morally questionable at worst. I'm kinda an apologist for Amy in Heroes and Battle, but that still requires treating her as a joke character.

Agreed, Amy feels neutral at best, especially in later titles. I haven't played the classics yet (I know... it's a problem... it's serious) including sonic CD, but seeing Amy with her Tarot cards was a fun gig that they honestly could have taken a bit further. Like instead of a hint system they could have had her do a bit of tarot clairvoyance to give hints to where to go.

Maybe something they could implement on another large adventure game where going forward isn't maybe so cut and dry like in SA1 and SA2.

30 minutes ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

"After replaying Sonic Adventure last year I want to like Amy as the character who might not be a superhero who runs around on adventures that decide the fate of the world but still does what she can to help those in need...

...her sole contribution to the story, getting Shadow to save the world after he's spent all game trying to destroy it, isn't even really her doing; it's Shadow's memory of Maria that gets him to do the right thing."

She did get Sonic out of the G.U.N. prison cell with the key card, but I suppose Tails could have provided that one to her. Would be a funny bit if she snagged that off of some security room.

In my opinion... is she a GOOD character? no, but I honestly think they can easily make her into a good one if made the effort with her writing and overall place in the plot of a story. She's easily written off as a damsel in distress

Gameplay wise the thing that also confuses me is how inconsistent the PikoPiko hammer's power is displayed. In the comics, it can really roughhouse, in the games, it's serviceable and actually incorporates her gymnastics and moveset really well so there's a good base

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2 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Sega Amy has... Sonic Adventure 1, arguably SA2 as well. In other games, she's neutral at best, morally questionable at worst. I'm kinda an apologist for Amy in Heroes and Battle, but that still requires treating her as a joke character.

(Side note, it's funny that these days she is often portrayed as  a "voice of reason" type, when she used to be a "girl distracted by Twinkle Park")

None of these things really detract from her being a "good character," do they?

They're flaws. Something a well-rounded character kinda needs, right?

Amy has good points: She's kind, she's determined, she's mostly positive. But she flaws: She's pushy, can lose focus on what's important, and is often rather clingy with Sonic.

But these flaws are part of what make her her. Now, I think some games exaggerate these traits to the point that they overshadow everything else about her... and conversely, more recent games like Forces downplay these traits so much that she just comes off as kind of a bland non-entity. But when the balance is right, I think Amy's a good character.

My favorite Amy appearance isn't even from a game. It's from Mania Adventures:

I think this 3-minute short encapsulates Amy's character. She's kind, she's willing to travel far and work hard to help someone in need - even if it's her enemy. But she's also easily scared, and kind of flighty. She doesn't really take Metal Sonic as seriously as she should - especially compared to Sonic, who seems aghast at Amy returning him to Eggman. And hey, even her crush is briefly represented, with Amy gifting Sonic with a flower. It's not nearly as heavyhanded as - say - Heroes.

I think this short should honestly be the blueprint for how to do Amy's character going forward. Expand on it, obviously - you need her to actually talk in the games proper. But the general idea of her being an upbeat, kind character who'll travel the world to help someone in need - while still being childish, easily distracted, not necessarily seeing the "big picture" all the time - and neatly wrap it all up with some occasional references to her crush on Sonic, rather than letting that completely define her. 

Amy is a fine character. She's just not always written well, which in this franchise, can be said of almost everbody.

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3 hours ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

After replaying Sonic Adventure last year I want to like Amy as the character who might not be a superhero who runs around on adventures that decide the fate of the world but still does what she can to help those in need. Unfortunately, that's not how she was depicted in subsequent games. Sonic Adventure 2 casts her as a damsel in distress whose uselessness is a recurring joke. Her sole contribution to the story, getting Shadow to save the world after he's spent all game trying to destroy it, isn't even really her doing; it's Shadow's memory of Maria that gets him to do the right thing.

 

Amy even being willing to try and have that conversation with him says a lot about her character. There's no need to downplay her contribution there.

 

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14 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Amy being fun in animation, not the actual game, is my whole point.

I like Amy. But not thanks to the games.

Eh, I liked her in SA1 and, to a lesser extent, SA2 too.

I feel like most other appearances either overplayed or downplayed her personality too much, but there's definitely a middleground to strive for.

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14 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Amy being fun in animation, not the actual game, is my whole point.

I like Amy. But not thanks to the games.

 

I don't think Amy being screechy and annoying in games where everyone is screechy and annoying, or too low-key in games where everyone is too low key, is much of a mark against her specifically.

The way I think about these things is based more on the idea of -does this character make situations more interesting when she shows up- and Amy...usually does? Even if it's based on her being kind of a liability it'll add an interesting wrinkle to a situation if she say, gets snatched, which obviously stresses Sonic out because he cares deeply for her despite finding her pretty annoying on average, and accidentally makes friends with a badnik on the other side of things ala Sonic Adventure. Those are the kind of wrinkles she can introduce without even necessarily being playable.

Just throwing Amy into the mix can shake things up more than most characters, she has interesting interactions with the main character and her personality isn't covered by anyone else on the roster. I can't really see how she's not a good addition, honestly. There are a lot of Sonic characters I'd put on the chopping block before her and that includes ones I 'like" more.

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I've never been a big fan of Amy, but I think that she can be fun if done right and not overused.

What I find annoying of her is how Sega decided that she's now a main charcter, and pushes her a lot in marketing and such, when in fact, her role is nowhere near as major as they make you believe it is.

I'm all for having more female characters in the series and giving them more central roles, but I think that Amy better fits the role of the occasional supporting character who shows up once in a while, not really part of the "main four", or even "main three" in some cases.

I also dislike what Modern Amy became in the most recent games... was already said, but they downplayed all her traits and made her very stale and bland.

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1 hour ago, Iko said:

What I find annoying of her is how Sega decided that she's now a main charcter, and pushes her a lot in marketing and such, when in fact, her role is nowhere near as major as they make you believe it is.

I'm all for having more female characters in the series and giving them more central roles, but I think that Amy better fits the role of the occasional supporting character who shows up once in a while, not really part of the "main four", or even "main three" in some cases.

I think there's a major disconnect between Sega of America and Sega of Japan on who the main characters are, and I think this is why it feels so dissonant. To be honest, I'm not even sure the Japanese side of things even thinks of it in terms of a main three heroes. I think their thoughts for main characters are "Sonic, Tails, Eggman", and that's it. Judging by the way they use Knuckles (or don't), I don't even think they think Knuckles is a main character (anymore?). Whereas America still very much has the mindset of "Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy are the main heroes", helped by the Nintendo newcomer boom after SA2:B and the subsequent Advance games, and then more recently for the extremely long development cycle of Sonic Boom.

I could go into a lot more detail about why I think this is, but that's a little tangential to the topic at hand. I think that explains the dissonance, though.

Back to Amy, though. I'm going to say something potentially controversial and say I'm not fond of IDW Amy, because she just feels... bland to me. Or, more accurately, I'm not fond of Ian Flynn IDW Amy. Immediately upon Evan Stanley taking over, she started to get charming to me again, though. So I'm interested to see where she takes her. (please note: i am not saying Ian is a terrible writer, i am just saying i don't care for the way he wrote Amy in IDW)

I like Amy being overly excitable and energetic. I like her expressing her crush on Sonic more than just a vague mention every once in a while. I like her being kind of pushy and occasionally using force (not just her hammer, but sometimes just... force of will, like with Twinkle Park) to get what she wants.

I don't like when she's unreasonable about what she wants. Being quick to use violence in situations where violence is decidedly not called for is uncomfortable at best. Getting suspicious and jealous toward every girl that talks to Sonic is not charming. Nor is being snippy and rude to Tails for no reason and only using him as a "where's Sonic" fountain. Being so forward and relentless that Sonic's only response is to literally run away is not good.

I frequently think back to the scene in SA2 where she's like "If I tell you, will you marry me?" And when Sonic says no, she just kind of goes "oh well, worth a shot" and tells him anyway without complaint. That's the kind of flirtatiousness I like out of her. Playful, confident, not repressed in the slightest, but not clouding her reasoning either.

I'm all for making Amy more well rounded as a character, but I feel like the baby's been thrown out with the bathwater regarding her characterization lately. I'd like some of the traits from the Adventure games to be brought back and given a bit more spotlight.

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2 hours ago, WanderingBleats said:

Back to Amy, though. I'm going to say something potentially controversial and say I'm not fond of IDW Amy, because she just feels... bland to me. Or, more accurately, I'm not fond of Ian Flynn IDW Amy. Immediately upon Evan Stanley taking over, she started to get charming to me again, though. So I'm interested to see where she takes her. (please note: i am not saying Ian is a terrible writer, i am just saying i don't care for the way he wrote Amy in IDW)

Flynn can write good Amy, he did so in Archie. I blame her role as the Commander. It was not out-of-character, but it didn't play to her strengths as a character.

Stanley, while I have many grips with her writing, I must admit she might be better at... let's say humanizing the main cast, which is very important with Amy.

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Nah. Amy isn't a very good character. Shes not awful but there is very little positive that I can say about her. I personally find her design appealing (primarily her modern one) but if I'm being objective she can't escape her roots of just being "the girl". The pink one. The one who is obsessed with romance because she is a girl. "But she has a hammer!". Well yeah, but Knuckles is already the main gangs smashy-smash guy. She can't do crap with her weapon that Knux can't do with hir fists alone.

So yeah. I'm not saying she's a terrible character, she's exactly what you would expect from a 90's japanese video game token girl. But she's nothing more than that. She comes up extremely short against the main male characters who are all well thought out in terms of abilities, design and personality and how all three of those aspects inform the others. Sonic looks as, acts as and is a speedy ball of energy both literaly and in terms of personality. Knuckles, Tails and Eggman also infrom the audience of what they're about in equally effective ways. In a platform game series where story often doesn't matter, these immediate semantic clues that are inherit to the characters' very apperance are important. All Amy informs us in any immediate way is that... she's the token girl. With emphasis on token. Again, not worse than what you could expect from a character with her origins, but still, not great.

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6 hours ago, StaticMania said:

Games Amy is the very definition of Anime Writing...

Considering that Japanese animated shows have been popular worldwide for 50 to 60 years now, not sure why this gets pointed out as a negative. Anime writing? Great. We should have more of that.

 

People can dislike what they want, but the way people zero in on Amy so much always struck me as... distasteful. Either because "her writing's too japanese", or her being treated under more strict standards for being the female character, or the occasional "Sally's better". Feels to me most times it ends up being an issue with people bringing in baggage against her, like with a lot of supposed unpopular characters in this franchise.

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3 hours ago, batson said:

 

She comes up extremely short against the main male characters who are all well thought out in terms of abilities, design and personality and how all three of those aspects inform the others. Sonic looks as, acts as and is a speedy ball of energy both literaly and in terms of personality. Knuckles, Tails and Eggman also infrom the audience of what they're about in equally effective ways. In a platform game series where story often doesn't matter, these immediate semantic clues that are inherit to the characters' very apperance are important. All Amy informs us in any immediate way is that... she's the token girl. With emphasis on token. Again, not worse than what you could expect from a character with her origins, but still, not great.


Her design informs us that she's a civilian, which was her initial role in the games. She was an average person at the mercy of more powerful forces. In contrast, Knuckles's design is good outside of the context of gameplay but I've never been sure how it was actually was supposed to inform his 'explorer' playstyle. Everything about him guides your eyes toward his spiky fists which gives you the impression that he's a fighter, but instead he...flies with his hair and climbs walls and digs holes. You do just about everything but punch things.

And tokenism argument imo is a problem of a lack of variety more than it is anything specific to Amy. There's nothing inherently wrong with explicitly feminine traits, in fact I'd argue that it's the obvious way to shake things up in a boy-targeted series like Sonic. There just needs to be a wider variety of personalities to go with that portrayal.

She's a damsel in distress, but even that's flipped on it's head. For 10+ years prior, reuniting the hero with his girl was a common goal in video games. Sonic runs against the protagonist grain of the era by not being interested in getting to know Amy on a more intimate level at all, but still wraps around to saving her anyway because he's just a solid dude. She fleshes out Sonic a bit more just by existing which is about as much as you can ask for a secondary character in a non-playable role to do. There are some mainstay characters that Sonic hasn't even had a single meaningful interaction with yet, in comparison.

 

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I think I'd say she was a good character in SA but I'm not sure they ever quite hit the right balance afterwards. There's a lot about how the game handles multiple playable characters that I can complain about but one thing that I do think it's reasonably successful on is showing that not everyone in the series is like Sonic, the "back half" of the playable cast especially. Amy isn't positioned as a hero; she has no powers, her only means of defense is a toy, and (at least narratively and conceptually) her gameplay objective isn't about running towards a goal but away from an unstoppable pursuer. She's the ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, showing that any of us can still do something meaningful with a little courage and compassion. That's a good message, one that feels appropriate for the series, and one that you couldn't tell with any of the main trio.

The problem is what to do next. Because a character defined as being "normal" is a bit hard to work with in an action platformer series with a bunch of superpowered characters regularly saving the world. SA2 keeps the same basic vibe of the character, but without being playable and having a story to herself, she kind of just gets carried along without really doing anything. Her big scene with Shadow is decent enough, and I think you can make an argument that her not doing anything until then is the point (consider how many times she gets left behind, and how talking to Shadow is her committing to trying her best regardless), but I don't think it adds up to a satisfying arc. Not a bad showing but it doesn't quite land.

After that is maybe when they really dropped the ball with her, when the characters' abilities start to normalize and Amy stops being "ordinary". The Advance games, treating their characters more like the classic games and giving them shared core mechanics, and Heroes, categorizing everyone into one of three gameplay styles, forced Amy into a more Sonic-shaped mold. I've said plenty of times before that characters sharing core gameplay elements is the right way to go about it, and I stand by that, but in this case whether it's a matter of the execution or an inevitability, it feels like they lost a piece of Amy's identity. When she's running around loops and bashing robots nearly identically to Sonic it's hard to consider her as being ordinary anymore, she's become a Sonic Hero.

Not that they haven't at all tried to put the genie back in the bottle. 06 tries to take her back to a more SA style with limited abilities and attempted stealth mechanics, but mechanically it doesn't come together and there's no real narrative angle to it the way SA had Zero chasing her; she just shows up to make you do part of the level with a character that feels even worse than usual. Beyond that the main games cut back on characters so she hasn't been playable or particularly narratively important, which pushes her away from having the role of a hero but fails to replace it by making good use of her as a civilian. It's also harder than ever to imagine her returning to being a playable character, with the boost creating such a large gulf between the series' fastest characters and the rest; even Heroes Amy would feel like a stretch in a boost game, and anything like SA Amy is way off the table.

And as far as "fixing" Amy goes, I feel like that Heroes/Advance interpretation has poisoned the discussion a bit. I think there's been a lot of focus on making Amy competent and skilled and a full-fledged member of the team, and I'm just not sure if that's the right angle. Not that it's bad for her to be competent or that she should just be some helpless damsel, but that alone doesn't give her something unique to bring to the table. If she's keeping up with the others, doing basically the same things, just being nicer, that's when you risk her being just The Girl of the group. I think they need to go deeper and figure out what kind of role she should serve rather than just trying to squeeze her in as a "good", well-rounded heroic character.

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I personally don't think that Amy has any problem in the way she is, I like her tomboy mixed with little lady attitude and the way that she handles most of the stuff.

I see very often people calling her annoying, but most people forget that she is 12 years old! She is a young teenager pursuing her love! And that was the primary reason some people loved her. What she needs is the same thing that all characters except Sonic, Tails and Eggman needed since 2010, screen time and getting out of the Seinfield Madness that was Pontac and the Graff writing.

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I think the sega mandate to idw regarding Amy (and others in the games) says a lot really as to Amy's current role in the games tbh. They clearly see her as a fangirl stereotype in line with her original depiction in Sonic CD, which was released in 1993.

I get that sega want to keep the game universe "tidy and uncomplicated" but in Amy's case this viewpoint seems to keep her in a role of an outdated stereotype (at least in western society) with no chance of change. Her role in main franchise games recently has been minimal mind, so she's not all that annoying. But still...its not great.

I was not a big fan of Boom for many reasons, but in all fairness at least they tried to make Amy more independent and intelligent and she was a more worthwhile member of the cast.

In regards to gameplay, I think the hammer bouce in sa1 had merit in it. If they kept that, with Amy exclusive routes (in 2d), added hammer busting bonus combos for high score runs and quickened her up to 70% of Sonic speed...i think there would be a unique and very good gameplay option there, especially in 2d games. 

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You don't want to make her too annoying, but Amy is intended to be a little bit clingy. It's why she bothers Sonic so much. File off too much of her more alienating traits and you're just stuck with a bland character instead. The series doesn't need more bland, heroic characters. It needs really quirky personalities that bounce off of each other in interesting ways.
 

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I'm going to echo what @Diogenessaid and say Amy is in a very awkward spot as a character unfortunately. 

The original premise with her is that she's the one chasing after Sonic as opposed to the boy chasing after the girl as its usually depicted. Then Sonic Adventure kind of explored her side as a "normal" civilian caught up in all of the craziness and how out of her depth she was, but ultimately finding her own resolve to defeat her tormenter.

Its after that where I feel like the creators didn't know what to do with her. SA2 still had her as out of depth, but instead of using that to enhance her character, its just a premise of a joke at how little she matters and like, way to undercut the arc she went through in the previous game? I get she wasn't playable but what kind of message are you sending by having this character go through a journey of self discovery and then make a joke out of it in the literal next installment? Her moment with Shadow is very good, but that's more about him than it is her.

Sonic Advance and Sonic Heroes felt an overcorrection of that, albeit an understandable one. Now Amy more or less functions the same as Sonic, which robs her of some of her individuality imo, but at the same time, I don't see what other direction you could take her while still having her be a playable character. Its a problem this series still struggles with to this day with balancing unique characters with their playable status.

After that, she just kind of falls to the wayside like everyone else. Which makes it very funny when marketing portrays her as one of the main heroes, but she's not playable or has much of a major role in the games despite the marketing.  The way they use her in Origins' cutscenes is unintentionally hilarious because of that.

So...I dunno, I feel Amy has the makings of a decent character but she's never quite reached her potential for various reasons, and I get the impression the creators don't really care about her beyond just being another supporting character for Sonic to rescue.

 

And this kind of has a ripple effect on her other portrayals too in other media; Sonic X fleshes her out a bit, but most of the time she's played as comic relief through clichéd Anime tsundere overreactions. She's just another superhero in the Comics, and while most would say this is her "best" portrayal because she's an active participant in the action, its a rather generic role in a series where literally every major and supporting character are reasonably competent. What significance does Amy smashing a robot have when say, Antoine can to? Its "good", but its the bare minimum. That said, she does get occasional good moments like trying to help the Mecha Sally incident since Sally is her friend despite going out with the boy loves. And her partnership with Knuckles in the post reboot arcs.

 

 

But yea....Amy is weird....

5 minutes ago, Wraith said:

You don't want to make her too annoying, but Amy is intended to be a little bit clingy. It's why she bothers Sonic so much. File off too much of her more alienating traits and you're just stuck with a bland character instead. The series doesn't need more bland, heroic characters. It needs really quirky personalities that bounce off of each other in interesting ways.
 

Well that's all well and good, but given Sonic is the main POV character and thus, the audience's link to the world. If he finds her annoying, that's gonna influence how the audience sees her. That's probably why she was controversial for so long.

I agree its what makes her unique, but then its a question of what's more important; her being unique or her actually being likable to the audience. 

Personally I prefer the former, but I'm not surprised the latter is the popular opinion on the fanbase.

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10 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Well that's all well and good, but given Sonic is the main POV character and thus, the audience's link to the world. If he finds her annoying, that's gonna influence how the audience sees her. That's probably why she was controversial for so long.

I agree its what makes her unique, but then its a question of what's more important; her being unique or her actually being likable to the audience. 

Personally I prefer the former, but I'm not surprised the latter is the popular opinion on the fanbase.

I can only speak for myself, but it's always better to risk alienating a few people than it is to write something boring.

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I do agree that Amy is sort of kind of at a dead end as a character if Sega are only just gonna use her a Sonic fangirl though; if none of the characters are ever allowed to be in a relationship, but Amy has to be in love with Sonic but never have her feelings reciprocated...well what are you supposed to do with that lmao. I would say focus on her relationships with other characters, but that requires taking the focus away from Sonic and putting it on her. 

Hopefully Frontiers does something with her, Amy as a character has been kind of at a narrative dead-end for almost two decades now. 

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