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How can sonic team make a game that brings them to the top of the gaming industry?

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This is going going off of I believe, kishimoto's statement saying he wanted sonic frontiers to bring sonic team to the top of the gaming industry at the same level insomiac studios, microsoft and ubisoft are at. Despite that statement the frontiers' release shows sonic team still has a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG way to go before reaching that benchmark. What do you think they need to do to reach it? What do they need to do to gain more respect and dramatically boost sales to at least 6-7 million copies in a short amount of time. 

I think there are 2 things that acurrently holding them back:

-a severe lack of polish for 2022/23 standards

-a lack of an identity that feels like sonic.

-really really bad initial marketing (that awful ign showcase probably prevented so many people from buying the game)

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If you look back to when Sonic was at the peak of his popularity (Sonic 1 - Sonic Adventure 2), Sonic was revolutionizing the game industry somehow in one way or another in every single mainline game that was turned out. Sonic 1 brung fast paced action-momentum platforming, Sonic 2 improved on the speed, Sonic 3 improved on story and aesthetics, Sonic Adventure brought many playable characters all with their own story, and Sonic Adventure 2 simply ended SEGA’s console career famously “Not with a bang, but a Sonic boom.”


What I believe SEGA needs to do is not chase trends or things that have been proven successful, they need to innovate. Of course, this is MUCH easier said than done, but SEGA has done it before and I still believe can do it. 

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I think they need to really seriously start a new era of sorts for Sonic. Frontiers was much better than I anticipated and I usually hate open world games. But the next game they make needs to have a more Sonic-y feel to it. To me, it felt like Frontiers was like an apology game, and a showcase of what is possible but they need to follow up and act upon it. If we get another same-y game or "return to form" title or whatever, it'll have felt like it was for nothing.

Now, I know I'm gonna sound like a fan with a wishlist for what they should do to stand out shoulder to shoulder with other big games. But.. Sonic Adventure 3 needs to be the next game. With Sonic movie 3 being an SA2 adaptation (if loosely, we don't know all the details yet), and general 2000s nostalgia at a high, they really need to follow up with a new Adventure game. Not even for marketing reasons, though I will admit these days when I tell people I like Sonic games they tend to either go "yeah I played Mega Collection as a kid" or "oh I loved Sonic Adventure 2 Battle". I genuinely feel like the Adventure era games and Sonic X are why people love the series so much. It's not just the fast gameplay, it's the story and the characters.

In Frontiers there felt like there was a lot of set up for a new Adventure type game. We understand that each of Sonic's friends are going to go on a journey to grow as characters. Sonic Team needs to show us this growth. It's imperative that a strong, emotional story be told. We need to see characters struggle and overcome obstacles. No more of that Saturday morning cartoon stuff, the real deal. And with that they really need to improve their animations. Again, Frontiers was an okay effort but they need to improve, even redesign the characters a bit to make them easier to animate more expressively. Sonic Boom did that really well, as controversial as the game might be.

For gameplay I think the Frontiers style stuff can work, so long as the visual identity is closer to what we expect from Sonic. Not hyper-realistic landmarks but something akin to.. heck, Forces I'd say. The visual design added some realism to an otherwise cartoony world and I think it fit the characters pretty well. I think they should also go back to using zones and having open areas be a lot more dense, with natural loops and slopes. I can't think of many ways to innovate it further, but I have some faith in Sonic Team. They just need to show us they can keep building upon their foundation. I'm only a bit worried they won't because we've said the same thing like 3 times now. They really need to stick with it, and I'm hoping the seeds planted in Frontiers won't go to waste.

Now, Forgeafrontier says they have a long way to go but I'm not so sure that's the case. Frontiers kind of exploded in popularity. I heard, for the first time ever, possibly, random people talking about how fun Sonic Frontiers is at game shops and the like. And I've noticed so many streamers try out Frontiers as their first Sonic game and being introduced to the games proper. It's definitely made an impact, and as long as they refine the gameplay and focus on powerful storytelling, I feel they can easily make it to the top.

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A unique experience is a start. Sonic was an industry topper when it offered experiences you couldn't find anywhere else both mechanically and in terms of style. That just isn't the case anymore. Flashy anime battles and automatic sequences are cool but you can get them anywhere and most of it is done much better than Frontiers.

But that's just the start. The game has to be rich enough that people want to revisit it. Mechanical depth is a big part of this but it's not the only thing. Part of the reason games like classic Sonic are so replayable is a unique world that you want to explore and inhabit. On the flipside, nothing about the Starfall Islands is unique. It's the same bland ruins we've been traversing in gaming for years now without any effort put into it's lore to make it worth exploring. That's all the game has when it isn't rehashing experiences from the earlier games outright.

ONLY the 2D classic trilogy nailso these things. From SA1 on, the series started peeling back what made it unique and replacing it with what was current while the mechanics underneath it all decayed. The only way back is to rebuild that foundation: Sonic's unique control scheme and sense of style. That stuff filtered through a modern sense of polish would do a lot better than the stuff we're getting now. Maybe it wouldn't be an industry topper but it'd put him back in the conversation.

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I don't think that's possible, really. SEGA/Sonic Team going head to head with ND, Santa Monica, Rockstar, Insomniac, Capcom? They can't even keep up with Nintendo, really. Their games are very niche, and even when they hit a homerun (Mania, to an extended Frontiers or even games "associated" to them, like Streets of Rage 4), it will never do the same tidal waves as a GTA or a Street Fighter. And even some of those companies I've mentioned have lost traction over the years, Capcom just recently found its footing again with actually well made remakes and good new entries, Rockstar had its fair share of ups and downs just recently, even Naughty Dog stumbled with the PC port of TLoU Part 1... 

SEGA is as old as Nintendo, it was as popular as Nintendo in the late 80's through mid 90's, but while many bad decisions have plagued both companies since, hardware or otherwise, Nintendo had the decency to maintain the quality of its well-known franchises the longest, which led people to "forget" their hicups most of the time, even with consoles that have been the weakest of the bunch for the last 3 generations. Same can't be said about SEGA. People rarely forget or forgive their past mistakes, most of their bad decisions are jokes in the gaming community to this day (and I'd argue most of them are deserved).

I think SEGA shouldn't aim to reach the same highs as the top dogs, but instead see what worked for them and bring to their own games (presentation, polish, consistency), which honestly, they have been doing already to some extend, like way more than 10 years ago. Really, Kishimoto saying he wanted Sonic Frontiers to be a mark in the industry and such, look, I'm not taking the merit of the game or the guy, we're all free to be as proud and optmistic as we want about our work, but... Let's slow down a little. 


That being said, just remake Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 and see what happens.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I think a paradox haunts their quest to do so.  Getting to the top of the gaming industry, if such can be said to objectively exist, tends to require games to go big or go home.  It means state-of-the-art graphics, huge worlds, huge budgets, and tens of hours of content.  Unfortunately, the moments when the Sonic series has tried that tend to be when it has been less well-received, at least since the death of the Dreamcast.  This is more pronounced in critics than in the whole of the fanbase, but even that segment of Sonic fans that prefers games that are more ambitious and experimental isn't afraid to acknowledge their low points.  Lots of fans still love Sonic Adventure 2, but lots of them still hate Security Hall.

Still, for better or worse Sonic Team has gotten back into the "bigger is better" mindset with Sonic Frontiers, and while they might have retreated back to their safe space of conservative 2D classic-ish Sonic games if Sonic Frontiers had been an 06-calibre disaster, it wasn't, so we're likely staying this course for a while and all we can do now is swerve to avoid potholes along the way, so to speak.

With that general ethos in mind, I think probably the best idea they had with Frontiers was to make a lot of its disparate experiences optional.  The game did ultimately require players to go through enough of them to see it through to the end, but for most players, the leeway to go about those things at their own pace (to a point, more on that later), in their own way, and in their own order (plus that ridiculously broken block and parry system), is what made problematic elements that would be really frustrating/tedious slogs in past experimental Sonic games into forgivably mediocre bits here.  Conceptually, then, they're in striking distance of something like Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim, or Assassin's Creed.  However, what is needed to bring them more in line with not only the execution of those sorts of games, but the high points of many past Sonic games, is more stuff, more flair, and more gameplay that is widely great instead of just widely inoffensive. 

An open world, in order to be more interesting, can't just be desolate landscapes inexplicably littered with gymnastics gear and Hotwheels tracks; that approach is detrimental to Sonic on both a narrative and ludological level.  Gameplay-wise, it undermines the potential luster of Sonic's abilities by tying his traversal through the world to a bunch of railroading and gatekeeping done on the designers' terms, as well as lessening the abilities of players to push Sonic to new heights of movement and trick through the terrain, so get rid of much of the widget clutter, de-nerf the drop-dash, make Sonic more able to accelerate using terrain and more able to wheelie jump off terrain, and then you've mostly achieved the mechanical task of making an open-world Sonic game fun.  But that only brings an official game into alignment with many fangames that have established a solid foundation but often not built upon it.   So then you also must refill the world with more thematically meaningful stuff.  Buildings, dense forests, towns, maybe even cities, NPCs and in a key point that some fangames infamously miss, landmarks that help you navigate. 

Finally, more playable characters, but in line with my earlier point, probably keep them optional.  A game should have a story that feels full enough playing as just Sonic, but other playable characters can offer a different perspective on the same events.  The key objective is to make them feel like rewards rather than burdens.  Some can be rewards for grinding stuff in the game, while others can be put in more DLC, this time paid.  Unlocking extra characters has proven a solid way to incentivize people to keep playing (and sometimes paying) Sonic mobile games, DLC with extra characters in a Classic Sonic game has sold well and soon it probably will again, and a broader spectrum of included gameplay styles makes more types of characters viable; for example the heavier combat focus means there's an actual point to having someone like Omega playable.  The time is right, Sonic Team has already recognized this, and so now the only question is how far they'll take it.

In summary, while it's not the safest way to keep Sonic from more embarrassing failures, in order to conform to what most AAA games are known for at this point, a Sonic game needs to be open and full of stuff to do. That stuff doesn't need to be world-class or innovative, but it does need to be better than mediocre.  It doesn't all need to be in line with the typical sort of Sonic gameplay established in the Classic era, but that which isn't should be kept as optional as possible and also needs to at least approach the standards set by games where such gameplay is more common.

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