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Kombo looks at Sonic 4 from a classic fan eye


Detective Shadzter

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Just found an article over at Kombo.com where a member of their staff Lucas takes a look at the announcement of Sonic 4 from a retro Sonic fan point of view. There are some heavy Mega Man 9 comparisons complete with the above pieces of artwork side by side, SEGA really arent getting a break with these comparisons are they? e.g. The ASR & Mario Kart comparison.

Here's the big quote featured in the article -

"Forgive me if I don't think that this game is going to be the 'return to the franchise roots' that we've all be waiting 15 years for. Mega Man 9 set the bar for authenticity way too high, and I don't think that Sega and their skewered vision of what constitutes as 'retro' can quite reach those lofty expectations."

Full article here -

http://www.kombo.com/article.php?artid=14165

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I think the main problem with this is that people are expecting a Mega Man 9 from this game, something that is really only expected from the fans. After MM9, everybody began to believe that a retro continuation of a franchise is required to be all out ultra 8/16-bit graphics music and design.

Not everybody is Capcom, and not everybody is going to follow in Capcom's shoes.

So often when a classic franchise is brought back for a retro revival, it is being sold to the wrong audience. That's why when I look at Sega's newly unveiled Sonic the Hedgehog 4, I see some familiar problems rearing their heads.

They're including classic badniks, flickies, winged logo, fuck, they have Sonic 1 specials stages. I'm pretty sure they know where their audience is.

I'm not asking for jaggy 16-bit sprites here. All I wanted was to see the character designs dialed back to something reminiscent of the original games.

Again, badniks, flickies, logo and what have you.

First of all is the art direction. Sega touts this as a direct continuation of the original Sonic the Hedgehog titles we all adore from the 90s, yet artistically, the game looks little like the last "real" Sonic game from back in the day.

The only way this game is a continuation of the classic games is in story and gameplay, and so far, they're delivering.

Some people are being very black and white about this. It's either supposed to be a "NSMB", a basic "tribute" to the classic games with a modern look, or a "MM9", a complete rewind to the 80's-90's style of game design as if they just took this game out of a time machine. They even said it themselves:

you don't have to go the total retro route to honor a classic franchise.

And from what we've seen, this is exactly what Sonic 4 is going for.

And I think the comparisons to MM9 are a bit unwarranted since the games are not all alike. I've said before, this game looks to be shaping up as a MM9/NSMB hybrid: classic gameplay and storyline taking place right where the classics left off, but with a modern art direction and gameplay elements.

Edited by Black Spy
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On-Topic: Why are we comparing two different characters who technically have two different genres?

They're not comparing the gameplay directly, but rather each company's different takes on their respective retro revivals.

Now, I don't believe the question of why Sonic's retro design wasn't used isn't a valid one, but I hope it's safe to say I'm sick of people conflating their personal dissatisfaction into an effort to skew Sega's work as worthless, or say that they're uncaring about the community, and that this game isn't 'authentic'. They've been heavily involved with the community over the past several weeks, have been giving free Sonic shit away by the truckload, and, oh yeah, are making Sonic 4. At what point do we step back and realize that, despite our personal feelings about the material they've shown, they're still fucking trying?

I'm also tired of people excusing NSMBW's graphical style on the basis of 'new' being in the title, because the fact remains that the Mario franchise is so immune from this type of criticism and overall negativity within the general gaming community that no one would've cared if it was a direct sequel with 3D graphics.

Edited by Nepenthe
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"Forgive me if I don't think that this game is going to be the 'return to the franchise roots' that we've all be waiting 15 years for. Mega Man 9 set the bar for authenticity way too high, and I don't think that Sega and their skewered vision of what constitutes as 'retro' can quite reach those lofty expectations."

Suck. My. Hedgehog.

This guy obviously doesn't understand that this ain't Mega Man 9; this is SONIC 4. And already, I like Sonic 4's graphical style much more than Mega Man 9's for the sheer fact that it DID return to its roots without looking like a lazy clone (granted, I like Mega Man 9 a lot, but that IS what it looks like). Just goes to show how some so-called "classic fans" can't be happy with anything they're given.

And the irony of it all is, this same guy would probably have bitched about how much of a rehash it is if it did take the Mega Man 9 route.

Edited by EXshad
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I don't know who this Kombo person is.

Also, nice way of comparing MegaMan 9, an 8-bit game that could run on a nes/snes and that deviates nothing from the classics, with Sonic 4, an HD game which was never supposed to be a megadrive game.

Kombo is the site not the person, one of their staff called Lucas who looks to be a bit of a retro fanboy has made the article. I agree with Black Spy that Lucas is jumping to alot of conclusions with little to base a large negative oppinion on. The article was posted the 15th of this month before Lucas will have even seen the leaked gameplay, so the guy should have bitten his tongue until something more substantial was released then he may have found alot of what he is asking for is in the game.

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All that is certain at this point is that someway, somehow, this game will backfire bigtime on SEGA in the years to come. This article is proof that what people expected and what they're getting aren't matching up.

So far all I have seen of Sonic 4 is a game that superficially reminds me of a Mega Drive-era Sonic game but in practice is nothing like them.

Actually, it's nothing like any other 2D game in the entire franchise from what I can tell. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It was a bad idea to market something new as something old.

To market it as Sonic 4 was a ploy to get attention from the entire general gaming community and direct it towards this project because SEGA noticed that no-one seems to care how faithful and/or unfaithful the 2D Sonic games are so long as they're released on a handheld device. Using the name Sonic 4 implied that this was a "proper" 2D home console Sonic game to this large demographic of potential customers. This clearly worked as SEGA expected. It was also incredibly stupid because there's absolutely no way anyone will be satisfied with this game now once they play the final product.

That is, unless they're capable of forming an opinion on the finished product based on its own merits alone. This is what I intend to do. Somehow I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off though, and I suspect most people will have exactly the same problem.

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Yet since unveiling the title we've seen approximately 3.5 seconds of actual gameplay footage and two press releases and an interview that constantly references the (and I quote) "much bigger story." I don't give a crap about storytelling in my classic Sonic. That's been precisely the problem with the franchise for the past ten years.

lolwut? Forget you glasses on that part or something?

If that's the case you could do the smart thing and, ya kno, ignore it. Not like they're forcing you to pay attention to it, cuz your doing that on your own time, pal. ;) Seriously, how can you, in your own words, not give a crap about storytelling yet say that that is the problem with the franchise, classic or no.

He may be looking somewhat forward to this game, but it's funny to see that the only thing this guy paid any attention to was the art style instead of any game part of the fucking game. Of all things this game has gotten attention on, gameplay has been completely disregarded in concern of the art style, which is the thing that matters the least compared to the gameplay.

I can understand the art being an attraction, but it doesn't deserve that kind of attention to base so much disappointment on.

Edited by ChaosSupremeSonic
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So far all I have seen of Sonic 4 is a game that superficially reminds me of a Mega Drive-era Sonic game but in practice is nothing like them.
Don't you think that's exaggerating it just a teeny tiny absolutely massive bit? The physics aren't identical to those of the classics, and yeah, we've got boosters in the first level, but this is still miles more like the classics than any game outside of the series, and more than most of the ones in it, too.
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Don't you think that's exaggerating it just a teeny tiny absolutely massive bit? The physics aren't identical to those of the classics, and yeah, we've got boosters in the first level, but this is still miles more like the classics than any game outside of the series, and more than most of the ones in it, too.

Being like something =/= being something

Sonic 4 is like other 2D games in the franchise in that it obeys the core level design principles and components of every 2D Sonic game since Sonic 1. This is nothing new nor does it make the game overly similar to the classics.

Sonic Advance was reminscient of the classics as well but was also very clearly distinct and had its own gameplay style. Sonic Rush was a much more radical departure with Rush Adventure actually dialing it back a bit when looking purely at the traditional zone acts.

Sonic 4 looks to be nothing like either of these sub-sections of the franchise. Superficially the gameplay and art we've seen is borrowing motifs from Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, whilst quietly overlooking any inspiration from Sonic 3 and making a few cameo references to Rush and Advance - making callbacks to design gimmicks from earlier in the series has been a staple of the franchise since Sonic 2 and is not unique to the classic games. In practice, the level design is absolutely nothing like anything else in the franchise whatsoever beyond the core elements that show up in every game - how they're being used is what's significant here, and they're being used very differently already. In terms of actual use of the level design blocks this is as big a departure from Sonic 3 as Sonic 3 was from Sonic 2. The level design also bears no resemblance to Sonic Rush beyond the use of boost pads and bears as much similarities to Sonic Advance as it does to Sonic 1.

That's about the only way you could claim that it's particularly similar to the Mega Drive games - it's as exponentially big a departure from the previous entries as they all were to their predecessors. It's something entirely new whilst remaining recognisable as a 2D Sonic game.

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That was a good read.

Suck. My. Hedgehog.

This guy obviously doesn't understand that this ain't Mega Man 9; this is SONIC 4. And already, I like Sonic 4's graphical style much more than Mega Man 9's for the sheer fact that it DID return to its roots without looking like a lazy clone (granted, I like Mega Man 9 a lot, but that IS what it looks like). Just goes to show how some so-called "classic fans" can't be happy with anything they're given.

And the irony of it all is, this same guy would probably have bitched about how much of a rehash it is if it did take the Mega Man 9 route.

You don't know if he would or would not have bitched. You're fabricating things again. If Sonic 4 took the Mega Man 9 route, I would have creamed my pants. I completely agree that Mega Man 9 set the bar way too high for authenticity (especially for direct sequels that come a decade and a half later, haha). They might be different games, but they're doing the same thing: they are games that are going back to their respective series' roots. You can make the comparison. Hell, I don't know why you guys get so angry when comparisons ARE made between Sonic and other franchises. Sonic himself was created to be COMPARED to Mario. That's all SEGA did back in the day was make ads about how Sonic and the Genesis were so much better than the competition!

And did I see that you called Mega Man 9 a "lazy clone?" The game was FULL of new content. New bosses, new enemies, new levels... I could go on (except for a few of the power ups - how 'bout them rotating shields that you can throw, eh?). There was love packed into every second of that game... and I still can feel it today. Please, do not cut something down (especially one that you admittedly like "a lot") for no reason just to make a point.

Nice to see the usual gang of people taking a shit on somebody who isn't exactly happy with what he/she sees. That's real cool of you guys. Complaining about complaining is still complaining.

The article was posted the 15th of this month before Lucas will have even seen the leaked gameplay, so the guy should have bitten his tongue until something more substantial was released then he may have found alot of what he is asking for is in the game.

Considering that I wrote basically the same article, I can say that the leaked gameplay footage sunk my expectations a bit further and confirmed some suspicions for me. From my experience, I can make the assumption that he doesn't feel any better, Shadz.

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And did I see that you called Mega Man 9 a "lazy clone?" The game was FULL of new content. New bosses, new enemies, new levels... I could go on (except for a few of the power ups - how 'bout them rotating shields that you can throw, eh?). There was love packed into every second of that game... and I still can feel it today. Please, do not cut something down (especially one that you admittedly like "a lot") for no reason just to make a point.

And that's why this shouldn't be called Sonic 4. Megaman 9 was trying to pick up where 8 left off where Sonic 4 looks like it just wants to be a new Sonic 1. Maybe they'll try to make a new step towards making it an original product by Episode 2, but the only reason we're judging it as a sequel is because it's claiming to be one. Super Mario 2 (the USA version) was pretty unpopular because it was completely going off in another direction yet claimed it was a sequel.

Edited by SuperStingray
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And that's why this shouldn't be called Sonic 4. Megaman 9 was trying to pick up where 8 left off where Sonic 4 looks like it just wants to be a new Sonic 1. Maybe they'll try to make a new step towards making it an original product by Episode 2, but the only reason we're judging it as a sequel is because it's claiming to be one. Super Mario 2 (the USA version) was pretty unpopular because it was completely going off in another direction yet claimed it was a sequel.

Actually Megaman 9 picked up where Megaman 6 left off, not 8. Visually at least, it actually took out some things that Megaman games after 6 added as well besides superior graphics as well.

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And did I see that you called Mega Man 9 a "lazy clone?" The game was FULL of new content. New bosses, new enemies, new levels... I could go on (except for a few of the power ups - how 'bout them rotating shields that you can throw, eh?). There was love packed into every second of that game... and I still can feel it today. Please, do not cut something down (especially one that you admittedly like "a lot") for no reason just to make a point.

I said it LOOKED like a lazy clone. I'm merely talking about how the game looked, not how it played or anything. I'm being superficial, kinda like a lot of people have been by getting all up in arms that Sonic 4's not exactly the way they envisioned it. Which is fine, for debating graphical appeal alone. But it takes on an entirely new form when you say it detracts from the experience that the gameplay provides. At least when it still closely resembles the classics games. Sure, it's not down to the wire like Mega Man 9, but maybe that's not such a bad thing!

I'm not cutting Mega Man 9 down, it's a very fun, challenging game that reminds many gamers of those good ol' NES days. But the fact remains, it LOOKS (just LOOKS) like a rehash, that does NOT progress from Mega Man 8, but actually digresses back into the NES era. Sonic 4, on the other hand, moves forward, and while it resembles Sonic 1/2 more than it does Sonic 3, it looks like a sequel and a new game. See, the reason I already prefer Sonic 4 to Mega Man 9 in terms of graphics is that Sonic 4 takes advantage of modern innovation while still looking incredibly retro and authentic.

And that's the point I think the writer of the article failed to mention when comparing the games. And that's why I thought it fucking sucked he could have done better.

Edited by EXshad
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Actually Megaman 9 picked up where Megaman 6 left off, not 8. Visually at least, it actually took out some things that Megaman games after 6 added as well besides superior graphics as well.

Actually actually MM9 picked up where MM2 left off(MM4 if you bought the Protoman DLC). The core gameplay is exactly like MM2 but uses a few level ideas from the later games.

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I said it LOOKED like a lazy clone. I'm merely talking about how the game looked, not how it played or anything.

Making NES graphics is far from easy. You only have four colors and only so many pixels to make something look like something.

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Making NES graphics is far from easy. You only have four colors and only so many pixels to make something look like something.

You're right. But I meant lazy on a conceptual level.

I'm merely talking about how the game looked, not how it played or anything. I'm being superficial, kinda like a lot of people have been by getting all up in arms that Sonic 4's not exactly the way they envisioned it.
Edited by EXshad
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I'm not cutting Mega Man 9 down, it's a very fun, challenging game that reminds many gamers of those good ol' NES days. But the fact remains, it LOOKS (just LOOKS) like a rehash, that does NOT progress from Mega Man 8, but actually digresses back into the NES era. Sonic 4, on the other hand, moves forward, and while it resembles Sonic 1/2 more than it does Sonic 3, it looks like a sequel and a new game. See, the reason I already prefer Sonic 4 to Mega Man 9 in terms of graphics is that Sonic 4 takes advantage of modern innovation while still looking incredibly retro and authentic.

Calling the NES gameplay a "digression" is funny, considering that it was gameplay that wasn't broken. I, personally, didn't like Megaman 7 or 8.

Also, I disagree that it "looks" like rehash. When I saw the first Megaman 9 trailer, it was full of new content (showing off Tornado Man's stage and music). "Rehash" never crossed my mind (or anybody's minds really since it was so well received).

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Calling the NES gameplay a "digression" is funny, considering that it was gameplay that wasn't broken. I, personally, didn't like Megaman 7 or 8.

Also, I disagree that it "looks" like rehash. When I saw the first Megaman 9 trailer, it was full of new content (showing off Tornado Man's stage and music). "Rehash" never crossed my mind (or anybody's minds really since it was so well received).

You're so right in that it wasn't broken. But that's the problem for much of the Mega Man franchise: Capcom took the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" motto too close to heart. And bam, people started complaining about rehashes once Mega Man 6 hit the shelves. Another 5 games into a similar spin-off series later, they attempted to mix it up by making different rehashes: the 5-games-too-long Network series, and the spin-off IT spawned. So Capcom came full circle and gave the consumers a return to form. Which I liked a lot, but I'm just saying why I prefer the Sonic 4 method to the Mega Man 9 one.

Also, content-wise, again, you're right, it doesn't. But you missed my point: on the surface, superficial level, as in the graphical style, it looks like a rehash of dated games.

And yes, it was a digression. Mega Man 9 ditched a lot of the mechanics introduced in 7 or 8, be they good or bad. It went backwards. Thus it digressed.

Edited by EXshad
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I'd say REgression rather than digression given the context. But I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way.

Ah, yes, that was the word I was looking for. Thanks.

Oh please-- Megaman 9 was just recycled graphics with new music and sprites. = 3=;

Looks like somebody hasn't actually played the game.

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