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Realism in the Sonic games


JezMM

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So, there seems to be a lot of discussion on whether the humans should or shouldn't be cartooney like Unleashed. Whether the envioronments look too realistic these days. What's your opinions?

Oh, and to keep things civil here, one rule: Whether you like it or not, Sonic, for now, is set on an alternative version of our own Earth - this is a discussion of how this world is presented, not whether the games should be set on Mobius and whether there should be humans other than Eggman.

I'm not going to have that interesting a viewpoint, but essentially, I think Unleashed did almost everything right. I love the cartooney look of the humans and think it fits Sonic perfectly. Eggman doesn't even look out of place among the freakshow that is the cartooney humans - but I think the character designs are still attractive, (unless -intentionally- not so) varied and interesting - I WANTED to talk to the NPCs in Unleashed. I never got that in 2006 or Adventure.

I also far prefer Eggman's more whimsical robot designs from Unleashed, though I'd love to see them expand on it, and see a return of his animal-inspired level-specific robots, as well as his standard units that resemble his own appearence. In fact, being the ego-maniac he is, a mixture of the two would be glorious. What would be more intimidating-yet-hilarious than a caterkiller sporting a fine metallic moustache like Eggman's own?

As for envioronments, I think Unleashed's were great, but I can understand the complaints that they were too realistic. Personally I'd love to see a blend of the designs of Heroes and Unleashed. Keep the realistic textures, but make the architecture a bit more stylised, just like the humans are. Have a few wackily shaped houses in the city levels for example. The abundance of loops, slopes, and floating platforms will take care of the rest. In addition to realistic-ish levels should be some classic old crazy stuff like giant casinos and things. I just think a healthy mixture would be best. I love the idea of having Sonic blaze through MY earth and locations that seem familiar to me, but at the same time there's nothing wrong with the totally surreal.

My only final point is other animals... This was the one weird point for me in Unleashed. The penguins in Holoska and wildlife in Mazuri - they all looked like real animals. It didn't match up with the rest of the world at all. I don't want the animals to be replaced with Sonic-styled ones, but I do think they'd benefit from being as cartooney as the humans. For example, instead of birds, we should have flickies. If you can imagine all the other background animals going under a similar metamorphasis or pixar-inspired design route, I think it would look much nicer.

So there are my opinions... share yours!

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Agreed completely. Sonic, not unlike Mario, stars a main cast full of quirky, colorful, cartoonishly-proportioned characters. If the main cast is unrealistic, I think the NPCs and the world they live in should be the same way.

Shadow's/2K6's portrayal was extremely off-putting to me with its dark gritty tone. SA and SA2 were okay- The ordinary humans have a sort of anime-esque style and the plots- while somewhat dark- were still whimsical and fun.

Still, I prefer the extreme cartoony look and feel of Unleashed. The look, and even the dialog of the game (Eggman's goofy henchmen, the lovable old Professor Pickle, etc.) reminded me of a Mario RPG in some ways, which to me is a very good thing.

Edited by El Gran Gordo
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It shouldn't matter whether environments are realistic or fictional. As long as the levels look cool and make your eye's widen at all the great textures.

The humans in unleashed pissed me off, because sonic, to me has always been a cool guy, ever since I played sa2battle, I loved his image and style. But seeing these deformed, disproportional, childish human beings interacting with this cool, iconic character just doesn't go well in my mind. They look so embarrasing. The design of Maria is how I feel humans should be portrayed. She had some cartoonish features (like those anime style eyes), but she was well proportioned, and she was actually taller than 3.3 ft.

I just can't take any humans seriously if they look like professor pickle, ugh!

Also, I find it a stereotype, that just because sonic and gang are imaginary characters, the humans have to look retarded. I like the idea of sonic characters interacting with normal looking humans. It gives off that idea of what if sonic were real?

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It shouldn't matter whether environments are realistic or fictional. As long as the levels look cool and make your eye's widen at all the great textures.

The humans in unleashed pissed me off, because sonic, to me has always been a cool guy, ever since I played sa2battle, I loved his image and style. But seeing these deformed, disproportional, childish human beings interacting with this cool, iconic character just doesn't go well in my mind. They look so embarrasing. The design of Maria is how I feel humans should be portrayed. She had some cartoonish features (like those anime style eyes), but she was well proportioned, and she was actually taller than 3.3 ft.

I just can't take any humans seriously if they look like professor pickle, ugh!

Also, I find it a stereotype, that just because sonic and gang are imaginary characters, the humans have to look retarded. I like the idea of sonic characters interacting with normal looking humans. It gives off that idea of what if sonic were real?

Were the Unleashed humans really that small? I don't remember any non-children characters that Sonic didn't have to look up to. Even Werehog Sonic was only 2/3's Pickle's height.

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Also, I find it a stereotype, that just because sonic and gang are imaginary characters, the humans have to look retarded. I like the idea of sonic characters interacting with normal looking humans. It gives off that idea of what if sonic were real?

Well, they tried the other extreme, where instead of making the others fit in with Eggman, they tried to make Eggman fit in with the others. I admit this was an interesting design...

11183-Eggman_06_super.jpg

...But I definitely prefer his usual cartoony look. I guess one reason I liked Unleashed was that everyone had the same whimsical and unrealistic charm that Eggman himself did. I can see where you're coming from of course.

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I sort of agree the OP, but I'd like to see them add a bit more surreal like qualities to some locations. While Unleashed's style fitted nicely with Sonic, I think they really need to expand it and include more Sonic like stuff in there to help balance out Sonic's surrealism with the realism we see today. I'd really like it if they added anthropomorphic people along with the humans to make Sonic blend in with the world a lot more.

Edited by VirgoTheCougar
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I'd really like it if they added anthropomorphic people along with the humans to make Sonic blend in with the world a lot more.

The problem is, they make (almost) every animal character playable, invalidating them from common NPC roles. Why not mix it up with some nonplayable animals, and even some playable humans? (We get playable Eggman on a semi-regular basis, which is nice of course. But maybe some more!)

Edited by El Gran Gordo
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I prefer them looking cartoony, realistic people seem too out of place to me, personally. I like Eggman to look like an egg with spindly legs and a moustache lol, and by that logic any other humans should look cartoony too. I love the people in Unleashed, they look just how I think they should.

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The problem is, they make (almost) every animal character playable, invalidating them from common NPC roles. Why not mix it up with some nonplayable animals, and even some playable humans? (We get playable Eggman on a semi-regular basis, which is nice of course.)

Well, anthro NPCs was where I was going. Mix it up with ability to interact with animals as well as humans.

Though playable humans?....No thanks. Eggman is really the only exception since he's the only one that can really do something interesting. Not to mention the fans would literally burn down Sega HQ by they time the release the first screenshot.

Edited by VirgoTheCougar
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Unleashed is the best we've had in a 3D game in a long time. It's cartoony enough that the Sonic characters don't seem out of place like they did in some games, but reasonable enough that the humans don't seem out of place either (and of course, being cartoony themselves certainly helps) and coherent enough that a decent story can be told. I think the ideal style, tho', would be a bit more towards the cartoony side than Unleashed did, at least as far as level themes. Part of Unleashed's gimmick was traveling around the world and seeing Sonic's version of places in our world, so they had to make things reasonably realistic and they couldn't get into the more strange sort of locations. No bouncy pinball/casino sort of places, no endless sea of oil, no giant mushrooms, no floating ruins, no space stations. If they keep the same sort of style that Unleashed had but loosen up on the level themes, I think they'll have hit on just the right balance.

Also, I find it a stereotype, that just because sonic and gang are imaginary characters, the humans have to look retarded. I like the idea of sonic characters interacting with normal looking humans. It gives off that idea of what if sonic were real?
A real Sonic would probably be pretty terrifying, and considering the size of his eyes there might not even be room for a brain in there so he'd probably be dead.

Y'know, the thing isn't that Sonic is imaginary. The thing is that he's a cartoon character. No matter how cool you think he looks, he isn't realistic; he's stylized and exaggerated, designed to be simple and appealing rather than a viable real-world creature. So when you put him up against something that is realistic? It looks fucking weird. Take a look at stuff like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam...the only reason they can pull that off is using the difference between the real world and the cartoon world as a plot point. Sonic can't do that; he and the humans are meant to be part of the same world, so they should be no more and no less cartoony than he is. Just look at Eggman; guy's got a big round body, spindly little legs, a big nose, and a mustache as long as his shoulders are wide. He's a cartoon character, always has been, and he fits in alongside Sonic and the rest perfectly. Characters like Elise? Not so much.

Frankly, I think it's a worse mindset that humans have to look real or else they look "retarded" than thinking since Sonic is a cartoon character, the humans should be as well.

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Personally, I think there are two perfect environment styles for Sonic. One is the classic (Heroes) style where everything is just bizarre. Wacky palm-trees, funny looking bots and cities that are just out of this world. The other is without a doubt Unleashed. Before that game I would have said GTFO to any realism, but the way it was handled... wow. Everything is fluffy and round. Empire City was so obviously New York in appearance, but it didn't make a giant blue hedgehog look out of place in the slightest.

Spagonia was slightly different. It was the most realistic looking place in the game, but still Sonic looked like he belonged there. Everywhere in fact. Why?

1. The human design. Sonic is cute and slightly chubby in Unleashed, making him look like an older version of his classic self. The humans blend with this style wonderfully. They're unrealistic with big eyes, funny movements and personalities to match. They felt like they should be there. The game could have benefited from a few other anthros wondering about that aren't established characters, but don't forget that a kid in Spagonia actually noted that seeing "A blue hedgehog, a two-tailed fox and a guy with a mohawk" was weird.

2. Random quirks were added here there and everywhere. Let's look at Spagonia- what was up with all the wooden boardwalks and balloons? They just sat there in the city, adding a titbit of fantasy. Especially the wood because it was so oddly placed. Mazuri is a favourite of mine design wise. It's based on the Great Mosque of Djenne. mosque-djenne-mali-500x289.jpg

Real world place that looks highly strange to most. This is the greatest example of how Sonic uses colour to bring everything to life. In reality the mosque is very brown and grey, but in Unleashed it's a warm yellow and laden with trees. The tree area was also lovely with pathways. A giant treehouse in the Savannah? Sounds like a Sonic world to me!

3. Scale. I'm not sure how many people notice this, but in the original games I always felt that compared to his world Sonic was very small. While he's remained the same height in all his 3D outings, only Heroes, Shadow and Unleashed put that the right scale and shapes in. These games have more angular shapes in them. Maybe this picture will help to display what I'm saying:

shapes2.png

It's a little something that always seems to strike me. Shadow the Hedgehog did a fantastic job of turning the Sonic world dark and gritty (bar the human design) whereas Sonic 06 actually made everything look real or like a very different type of sci-fi.

4. The other thing I wish to add is that to me, Sonic always looks better when taking a western style instead of a Japanese one. No, it's not just because I dislike Japanese styles, but it's because I just think it suits his design more. He looks far more typical of an American creation than a Japanese one. His SA2 and 06 designs fit most with a Japanese style, though they're my least favourite designs.

Yeah, so they're my opinions. I shake my fist at you, JezMM. I was going to make this topic.

Edited by Blue Blood
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Though playable humans?....No thanks. Eggman is really the only exception since he's the only one that can really do something interesting. Not to mention the fans would literally burn down Sega HQ by they time the release the first screenshot.

Seems like a double standard, but whatever.

Aside from Eggman, I could see someone tied to GUN being playable, such as the Commander. I don't see why the fanbase would have such widespread species-bias against human characters. Aside from the obviously more important Eggman, humans are to Sonic as Toads are to Mario- And Toads have had the occasional playable appearance, afterall.

But the bottom line is that it would mix things up. Not all animals are superpowered heroes/villains, and not all humans are random townsfolk. Although he wasn't playable, per se, I rather liked Pickle's role as an active sidekick/adviser in Unleashed, for example.

Edited by El Gran Gordo
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Although he wasn't playable, per se, I rather liked Pickle's role as an active sidekick/adviser in Unleashed, for example.

I thought Pickle was incredibly charasmatic. He was goofy, but in a subtle way, and at times he could be very philosophical, and even emotionally warm.

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I think the design used for humans in the Adventure games and Shadow the Hedgehog was perfect. They looked like a mix between standard anime characters and standard american cartoon characters. They went way to far with the cartoony look in Unleashed. Professor Pickle was a real eyesore.

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Someone from Sonic Team said that's the theme they used when they were making Sonic 06.

That was Naka, when we saw the first tech demo of Kingdom Valley. The theme for the game was "What if Sonic were real?". Answer "The world would be so confused it'd be a glitch fest.". I just don't think it worked too great. And it's funny how this dreadful idea was his own, yet he walked out on the project midway.

Edited by Blue Blood
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I like Unleashed's design. The humans are a perfect blend of cartoony and realistic, IMO. Any more cartoony and they wouldn't have been humans; any less cartoony and I don't think they would fit in with Sonic at all.

Sonic '06 was too much like real life for me, in terms of the humans' design. The only human that I liked was Eggman. He seems to fit no matter what his design.

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I don't mind realistic environments, as mentioned previously there are some gorgeous level designs that are very realistic in nature which is awesome, but there are awesome ones that are more interesting and eyepoppingly colourful (much like the Mega Drive/Genesis games were) so I don't mind them doing a mixture here and there.

As interesting a design as it would be to see more realistic looking characters I cannot help look at Robotnik from Sonic 06 and think "Wow he lost all his cartoonish charm!" he was sort of creepy looking when removed from context and made him look quite "unreal" now before certain Robotnik/Eggy fanatics jump down my throat. I LOVE Robotnik I think he is one damn amazing character. My PERSONAL OPINION is that he looked a bit creepy and unreal when he was put into a realistic environment and as a result was made realistic. Don't get me wrong it was interesting to look at just... kinda weird.

I think though to make a balanced decision I would have to see the sort of realistic Sonic you are hinting towards, because if you mean literally a little brown spiny guy I don't see that working.

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The level we got in Unleashed. I like having a cartoony yet mildly realistic air.

Seconded.

Sonic Unleashed was perfect considering the world and enviroment Sonic was in. It was cartoony, but it also had a slight realistic style to it. I also really liked the new look of the humans, and they look far better than the ones in Sonic 06 and the Adventure games. I hope this cartoony look appears in future games, same goes for the enviroments and stuff. =)

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I don't see why the fanbase would have such widespread species-bias against human characters.
Well as far as being playable, it's because they can't do what Sonic and the rest can. A lot of fans are sick of all the non-Sonic gameplay in the series already, and even characters like Silver or Omega look as if they can pull it off, even if super speed and agility isn't their forte. Humans, tho'? I can't picture a human running around loops and bouncing off springs like Sonic and the rest.

And even if they're willing to accept other gameplay styles, humans aren't exactly set up for interesting gameplay. They've been shown to be pretty much entirely ordinary, with Eggman being the only main-series character to be potentially interesting, and even then it's just his brain that's useful. Characters in the storybook series might be an option, considering there's been magic-using human(oid)s in both of them so far, but it's still not an easy thing to pull off, I think.

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A real Sonic would probably be pretty terrifying, and considering the size of his eyes there might not even be room for a brain in there so he'd probably be dead.
No, if sonic were real, the fans would stampede all over him trying to touch him, thus killing him in the process.

Y'know, the thing isn't that Sonic is imaginary. The thing is that he's a cartoon character.
He's a cartoon character that doesn't look goofy. He's cool. (though they made his unleashed model look not so cool as he used to look) I don't see any reason why the humans have to look goofy as well.

Take a look at stuff like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam...the only reason they can pull that off is using the difference between the real world and the cartoon world as a plot point. Sonic can't do that
Why on earth are you bringing that up? That's live action. The previous games were never live action.

he and the humans are meant to be part of the same world, so they should be no more and no less cartoony than he is.
No, originally they weren't from the same world. They didn't really think about explaining it in sonic adventure, which is why in the first ep. of sonic X, they show what happened. And yes, sonic team did supervise that.

Just look at Eggman; guy's got a big round body, spindly little legs, a big nose, and a mustache as long as his shoulders are wide. He's a cartoon character, always has been, and he fits in alongside Sonic and the rest perfectly.
eggman is from sonic's world, not the human world.
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No, originally they weren't from the same world. They didn't really think about explaining it in sonic adventure, which is why in the first ep. of sonic X, they show what happened. And yes, sonic team did supervise that.

It doesn't matter that they supervised it. Sonic X and the games are not the same canon. In the games, humans existed even before Sonic Adventure. Eggman for the whole series, and Witchcart from Tails Sky Patrol (Who was also a cartoony and exaggerated character).

There were no random NPCs, sure, because of the simplistic nature of the games. But in the official videogame storyline(disregarding cartoons such as Sonic X), it's always been one world. One world that always had humans.

eggman is from sonic's world, not the human world.

Then please. Explain his origin story. Professor Gerald is his grandfather, which means he had to be born on a human-populated Earth, the same world Gerald was from. Which also means the Sonic games have always taken place there. The "two worlds" theory from Sonic X does not apply to the games.

In fact, Sonic X never bothered to explain that plothole. How did Eggman get from X's Earth to Sonic's unnamed planet in the X series? It's never brought up or explained, which shows how ridiculous that plot element was, even though I liked Sonic X as a whole. (In the Sonic X comic, it's heavily implied that Professor Gerald sent Eggman to another world as a baby. But that's a separate continuity from the anime, which is also a separate continuity from the games. As this topic is purely about the games, X's plot points are irrelevant.)

Edited by El Gran Gordo
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He's a cartoon character that doesn't look goofy. He's cool. (though they made his unleashed model look not so cool as he used to look) I don't see any reason why the humans have to look goofy as well.
They don't look goofy, they look stylized and cartoony, and fit in pretty well with a Mickey Mouse/Felix the cat inspired character.

Why on earth are you bringing that up? That's live action. The previous games were never live action.
You were talking about if Sonic were real. I took it to the logical extreme, showing a cartoon character interacting with real people. If you can understand why it doesn't work there, maybe you can understand why it doesn't work here.

No, originally they weren't from the same world.
Bull-fucking-shit. Sonic X is an alternate take on the series, it's no more an accurate depiction of the games than the Archie comics or Sonic Underground.
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