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Sonic needs a style update


Razule

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I don't know how to describe it, but I'm getting bored of how Sonic looks. I've been bored of it for a while now. Whether it's a design change or just changing the art-style of the series, I don't know, but something should change. The look the models have had since Sonic Unleashed is getting old. Anyone else have any thoughts about Sonic needing a design update?

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Yeah I've been feeling likewise for a while now. I can understand why people would be hesitant to see his design changed; I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with the modern design (well, I've got one or two little quibbles), consistency has its benefits, and I think most people would agree that switching to the Boom or movie designs would've been a bad move. But he just feels...flavorless, at this point. His design hasn't been meaningfully updated since Unleashed (no I don't count his spikes being slightly shorter or his fur being a slightly different shade of blue as meaningful updates) and there's been no big technical improvements since then either, so visually he's plateaued. And while Sonic's got some really strong design elements at his core, I don't feel like this look really pushes them. He feels too soft; the impact of the shapes that make up his design just doesn't come through. His spikes especially, which should be the highlight of his design, can end up looking like fatty lumps rather than sharp quills. I don't know if a full redesign is necessary or if just a better approach to this one would be enough, but it feels like we're overdue for some kind of change to bring a spark back to it.

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I feel the same. I get why they're doing it, but at this point in terms of visuals everything from 2008 to now sort of blends together as one. I miss how the games prior would often have their own unique models, giving each game its own identity. It's so boring now.

At first I thought his current model was perfect, but as time went on I started to notice lots of things wrong with it and it really bugs me... The way Sonic's eyes meet his muzzle by his cheeks no longer curve into one another, instead the outlines of his eyes nosedive into his cheek (although Classic Sonic doesn't have this issue for some reason??). His fingers are bulbous and look almost like balloon animals. His mouth looks dumb but the centered mouths (especially on Amy) look really fucking stupid. Some of the renders look really stiff and soulless.

We don't need to change the designs (well, personally I'd make Tails orange again), we just need new models to freshen things up. What sucks is that Frontiers would have been the perfect opportunity to do this especially with the whole thing about this being the start of a new era and all that.

Seems like Sega really likes this current art direction though, and it has even spread over to other media like merchandise and comics. This 3D model is everywhere. Nothing is really 2D anymore... which sucks because I feel like Sonic works best when illustrated in 2D. This is why the art with the current IDW comics sometimes throws me off... instead of doing stylized and abstract 2D art, it's like the art is trying to be the 3D art but drawn in 2D. By keeping the rules and regulations that come with the 3D art, style is sacrificed. Everything looks way too relaxed now for a lack of a better term. I don't know how to explain it, but it's nitpicky for sure.

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Sonic doesn't "need" a style update. I'd absolutely want a style upgrade just for the sake of energy, but that doesn't mean he "needs" one. He's doing perfectly fine as is, and SEGA clearly knows this, hence why it hasn't been changed for a while.

Maybe it's just me, but whenever I read that a franchise or brand "needs" something, be it a change or an addition, it always comes off as an "or else" situation. I know most of the time it's not, and it's usually just to satisfy the fans of a brand, but that's how it usually comes off to me. Really, most properties don't really "need" a lot of things people say it does. (In this case, a style update)

The general public doesn't care about the fact that Sonic's model/design hasn't changed since Unleashed, they don't generally focus on that type of stuff unless it's heavily pushed by the marketing of a product. Fans are vocal about it, absolutely, but SEGA's main focus has always been on everyone, not just the fans. If anything the fans seem to be the minority in this case.

I absolutely think a style change should happen, I agree with you there, the current style has gotten stale and repetitive, but I wouldn't really say it needs one.

If people are eating up the current style, then why change it? There's no need.

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I’m not hard pressed for a change, but at the same time I’d be super down for one to see if they could really hook me in like how they did decades ago.

I mean, Sonic’s Unleashed model still looks great to this day and I don’t think it’ll ever stop looking great, but I think it really shined when it was pocketed within that game’s own aesthetics as opposed to the slights tweaks of that same model that we’ve been getting now that’s been loosely matching the other boost games’ aesthetics. The tweaks they’ve given him since then aren’t the important tweaks he should’ve gotten either imo… and honestly I think these days, Sonic’s been looking kinda corny and stale. Not offensively corny like mid 2000s Crash / Spyro corny lol, but still kinda corny for my liking, and it’s not just the model itself too, but it’s how he’s portayed in poses in advertisements and even in the way how he runs. I feel he’s too pudgy and his body seems like a generic template that could be swapped for other Sonic like characters. His running animation doesn’t have that same “umph” either. Not even in the Marza CGI animations and not even when he got his figure eight blur back in Lost World.

I’m also very biased when it comes to Sonic being expressive and how he shows off himself. He has a very unique design and I’d like the animators to reflect on that, too. I’d personally have him be somewhat bendy and rubber hosey (don’t go overboard with it… give him like 10% more of it) while still mainly keeping that nice anime “straight forwardness” in there too… and something like that that I would be looking for probably would NEVER happen unless, in the most fairy tale of scenarios, a team like Arc System Works decided to art direct a Sonic game and somehow did a whole 3D ass game too, but I want Sonic Team to ATLEAST get rid of the Toy Story Woody arms and start having Sonic and the rest being able to properly cross their arms instead of wrapping themselves up as if they’re ready to become mummified for preservation. I think those problems alone warrent some type of style / model overhaul because those moments always just look bad and awkward. Still looked weird on Frontiers’s Super Sonic just holding himself. Those are the type of tweaks we should’ve gotten by now if they were going to continue reusing the same model instead of just microscopically clipping some of Sonic’s quills some.

But yea. It’s not that big of a deal if they stick with these stylings for a lil while longer, but part of me still wants to see Sonic being “cool” again and then have his new model and new animations techniques reflect on that.

Edit: Even something like these can go a long way to give a fresher experience if they had some new animation techniques:

 

 

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I just think the one used in game just looks kinda weird and maybe too stiff/sterile in how it emotes and moves.

Frontiers took a step up on the animation, and the designs we have are overall fine, but I'm not sure why there's still a difference between how the characters look and emote in-game versus how they look in Marza's CGI cutscenes. It made enough sense 10-14 years ago when the gap in visual fidelity was massive, but not so much today.

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I don't necessarily think there needs to be a change, but it would certainly be nice to see one.

I can understand why Sega have kept things the way they are though; the 90's and 2000's were all about experimenting with different styles and changes and all, and while you can argue it kept things fresh, but one of the biggest complaints Sonic had then was its lack of consistent elements between games and unless you were already a big Sonic fan, made it kind of difficult for an outsider to get involved since there was no guarantee what was in one game would carryover to the next.

 

Sega achieved what any big corporation wants for their successful IP's...homogenization of the brand. Iizuka has been talking about unifying the brand for a while now and that generally means keeping things consistent across the board, including the art style. 

 

But man, for a series that used to pride itself on going against the grain, it sucks to see it become the very thing it fought against, even if it was to the franchise's benefit. 

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I would be fine with some suuuuuuuuuubtle changes. but an even more "hairy" look in Boom looked worse to me. IDK, don't fix what's ain't broke. Maybe smaller hands or spikier spikes, stuff like that.

A new art style would be nicer, but that sounds more likely with a 2D cartoon, rather than a game. Unless they make cell shaded game, that would be neat.

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I think cel-shading is the obvious next step. There's minor adjustments that could be made into the model- proportion corrections, cheating the camera with the spikes, etc- but in terms of looking immediately and visually fresh while not committing the stupid mistake of changing such a strong core design (that can survive over a decade of blandifying because it's so inherently good), changing the rendering rather than the model seems the smartest direction to go in.

EDIT:

I mean, imo always liked the Shuffle intro and felt there was potential if explored further

 

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On 9/28/2022 at 9:06 PM, Diogenes said:

Yeah I've been feeling likewise for a while now. I can understand why people would be hesitant to see his design changed; I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with the modern design (well, I've got one or two little quibbles), consistency has its benefits, and I think most people would agree that switching to the Boom or movie designs would've been a bad move. But he just feels...flavorless, at this point. His design hasn't been meaningfully updated since Unleashed (no I don't count his spikes being slightly shorter or his fur being a slightly different shade of blue as meaningful updates) and there's been no big technical improvements since then either, so visually he's plateaued. And while Sonic's got some really strong design elements at his core, I don't feel like this look really pushes them. He feels too soft; the impact of the shapes that make up his design just doesn't come through. His spikes especially, which should be the highlight of his design, can end up looking like fatty lumps rather than sharp quills. I don't know if a full redesign is necessary or if just a better approach to this one would be enough, but it feels like we're overdue for some kind of change to bring a spark back to it.

This post got me thinking, for all the problems the orignal 3D Sonic model from R had, I was always fond of the emphasis on Sonic's sharper edges. I'm not sure if it was on purpose or not, but it always stuck out to me as a neat design quirk.

PC / Computer - Sonic R - Sonic the Hedgehog - The Models Resource


I know it's not consistent with any of the official artwork but I think I'd prefer it if they were allowed to stick out like this instead of curving into a neater shape. It gets across the fact that he's supposed to be prickly without making him look flat out unfriendly.

UPDATE: Sega Staffer Speaks Sonic CD Details; Revised as Sonic 4 'Prequel'  - Sonic Retro

 

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I just think they could animate him better tbh. I don't have any particular issue with the current design, save a few personal preferences that curiously seems to be the only thing that isn't consistent since Unleashed, which are Sonic's quills lenght. I like them better when they're a bit longer, like Unleashed. Makes Sonic looks... Older, more mature? IDK, shorter quills give me the impression of a younger Sonic. Also the shade of blue. I hate the lighter shade of blue they gave Sonic in Forces.

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On 9/29/2022 at 12:25 AM, Jake_LeOFFICIAL said:

Sonic doesn't "need" a style update. I'd absolutely want a style upgrade just for the sake of energy, but that doesn't mean he "needs" one. He's doing perfectly fine as is, and SEGA clearly knows this, hence why it hasn't been changed for a while.

Maybe it's just me, but whenever I read that a franchise or brand "needs" something, be it a change or an addition, it always comes off as an "or else" situation. I know most of the time it's not, and it's usually just to satisfy the fans of a brand, but that's how it usually comes off to me. Really, most properties don't really "need" a lot of things people say it does. (In this case, a style update)

The general public doesn't care about the fact that Sonic's model/design hasn't changed since Unleashed, they don't generally focus on that type of stuff unless it's heavily pushed by the marketing of a product. Fans are vocal about it, absolutely, but SEGA's main focus has always been on everyone, not just the fans. If anything the fans seem to be the minority in this case.

I absolutely think a style change should happen, I agree with you there, the current style has gotten stale and repetitive, but I wouldn't really say it needs one.

If people are eating up the current style, then why change it? There's no need.

I don’t think the general public really pays any significant amount of attention to Sonic most of the time. Hard core fans are more up and close to the franchise than most people would be, and thus more likely to grow annoyed of small issues. Sonic looks great at the moment. So this isn’t really a need to change things. But I don’t think I would get mad if his design was updated either. I’m happy either way.

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I still think that Unleashed has the best in-game Sonic model ever made. Its the most detailed, with the best texturing.

The "improvements" since then have only really made it look worse in my opinion. They need to go back, and then maybe modernise or sharpen it up. I agree when people say that Sonic's spines are a bit too floppy. A slight shortening over Unleashed and making them a bit more rigid and sharp at the pointy end might work.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm thinking we need slight redesigns and reinterpretations of Sonic's design, not a full one. The Unleashed aesthetic was my favorite but Sonic needs to change and it's not like I mean a major Classic-to-Modern shift. I mean something closer to like perhaps how Sonic and the gang look in the art for Riders, just translated better than the in-game models for those games. Or perhaps something like the way Tyson Hesse draws Modern Sonic, very clearly the same design but he brings out some classic elements to the character.

 

I'm a huge advocate for a cel-shaded Sonic to fit these slight changes, make Sonic look really impressive and stylized way more than he is. Give us some of that "attitude" back in his design. His current look was great in Unleashed but now they seem rather sterilized compared to what he could be.

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