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KichigaiKitsune

Let's talk about Sonic the Hedgehog

Why? Because I'm kinda stressed and just want to blow steam about a blue rodent.
This is a change from the usual on a furry site, I know (the norm being simply: "blowing a blue rodent").

I'm not a die-hard Sonic fan. In fact, I got into gaming quite late. With a Gameboy and a Playstation being my first consoles, I only experienced the older 8- and 16-bit games at other peoples' houses. As such, Sonic the Hedgehog wasn't even on my radar until I befriended a kid just over half of my age next door, who owned a few older consoles and was an avid fan of The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog.

Adventures was just inane, but somehow still fun. Though not as good as Ren and Stimpy, or Rocko's Modern Life, at least give it credit: it was wacky and nonsensical without trying to gross you out, and when you're overwhelmed with gross-out humor, you do get a bit sick of it. Especially because the stereotype of kids "loving gross stuff", so to speak, is as bullshit as most stereotypes - many of them don't.

But as for the earlier games, I had little experience with them. Critical to this discussion though is this: that's not true any more. I've played the original Sonic games now, and you know what? Like most early video games, they're really not that good.

For their time? Maybe. But certainly nothing impressive - and I don't just mean in shallow, technological ways. Anyone who reads any of my game reviews knows I rarely even mention graphics. The Sonic games were mindless fun, and perhaps most importantly: they were not actually challenging or interesting to play. I'll come back to this later.

There exists a sort of manifesto, it seems- not that I've found the bloody thing. It must exist, and it must details at least five insubstantial complaints for "fans" to make about the Sonic The Hedgehog video games, because so many morons make the exact same arguments about how the series is sucking now and how we need to revert to making 2D games only.

There are a laundry list of problems with the Sonic games, but you're not going to see reasonable criticism from, say, a certain internet celebrity, who wielded the "anti-3D" saber as clumsily as a toddler role-playing He-Man. They never actually mention what the issue with 3D is, and why they feel it cannot work with the Sonic formula... when hundreds of thousands of players are enjoying it greatly. Amongst Sonic critics, this is just some kind of accepted mantra; understanding is irrelevant.

Unsurprisingly, these people tend to be "rose-tinted glasses" nostalgia victims, not realizing that the current 3D games work pretty well, are enjoyable and intense; and more importantly, that it's clearly not the fact that the games are 3D themselves that are causing Sonic to show his age. How can we tell? Well, firstly, the original Sonic games were kinda crap - especially compared to the... you know.

The 2D Sonic games that are being regularly produced today. SEGA has been producing modern 2D platform games with Sonic and company since the Gameboy Advance, and you know what? They're awesome, and can be utter bastards in the difficulty department. With colorful, refined graphics and modern character designs, the Sonic Advance games are actually really fucking neat, and there's no valid reason to argue the originals are superior.

More importantly, it must be remembered that SEGA is still making/licensing 2D platforming games that are very, very good, and of course they're not going to release these games to the more powerful consoles. Don't be fucking stupid. The compromise with Sonic: Unleashed seems to be the ultimate form Sonic games can take. Uh-oh...

Yes, that's right. Sonic: Unleashed is probably the best Sonic game to be released on a home console, ever. If you excise the "man-hog" levels, that statement becomes even more apt.
Sonic: Unleashed has its flaws alright, but none of them are the typical anti-3D spiel you get from the morons.

For instance, I didn't recall anyone complaining about being forced to play an annoying, purple-blue, furry piece of distended rectum in Sonic Adventure. Oh, wait...

It's worth mentioning Bioware's Sonic Chronicles. I own that game, and was quite impressed - for a rather experimental notion (a Sonic JRPG written up by westerners?) with not much of a budget, it was very good. What it lacked in sound (both music and effects), and even in level design, it made up for with dialogue and plot. SEGA seems to sabotage their own characters with disturbing regularity, and seeing Bioware just waltz in and get the characters perfectly right, and then expand their personalities, writing appropriate and witty dialogue for them was a major surprise.

Can the gameplay be improved? Yes. Can Sonic: Unleashed have its writing improved? Yes. See, now we just need a middle ground.

The thing is, that middle ground doesn't involve going back and remaking Sonic 3 and Knuckles, or telling the hundreds of thousands of gamers who enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2, with its surprisingly mature, dark plot, gameplay variety and wicked music, that they're retarded.

Even the oft-complained about "shooting levels" where you play as Tails or Eggman aren't that bad. Yes, as a Tails fan I complained too - "I don't want to have to control this failure of a machine when I play my favorite character! Wait, this is kinda fun... and HOLY SHIT that boss-fight was epic!"

And that's another thing. No, "fans" don't want Sonic games to be just "about Sonic." SEGA's own polls showed that a huge chunk of the Sonic fanbase are over 18, and certain other characters are massively popular, with Tails and Knuckles each having a fandom that rivals that of the stupid, blue rodent. So all of these new games featuring Sonic and ONLY Sonic as playable are NOT necessarily going in the right direction. So long as I do not have to control a big, purple manifestation of irritation ever again, other characters are welcome, just not to the degree that we want to play as Sonic.

Whilst I feel Sonic 2006 and Shadow The Hedgehog were abominable, there's life in this franchise yet, because it has evolved - the problem is, SonicTEAM appears to be run by incredibly stupid hamster overlords, who ignore the possibility for mature, dramatic games that would appeal all the way from 10-year-olds to 25-year-olds (the same principle shonen anime operates under). They've created a world of characters that Bioware has already shown can be developed into entertaining story dynamics, but they don't explore that.

Even funnier, after the REALLY dark story of Sonic Adventure 2, what the hell is this garbage we've been seeing? We've gone from an amnesiac super-villain hedgehog who tricks everyone into the destruction of the planet because his best friend, an eleven-year-old girl, was shot dead in front of him by government troops... to... I don't even KNOW what the deal is with Sonic 2006, and I own the fucking game.

Here's a hint, Yuji Naka. Dragon Ball Z was okay, and it's alright to draw on it for inspiration, but stop cramming in obvious "exported characters" such as Shadow-Vegeta and Tenshinhan-Knuckles. "Super" forms are cool, even though they're clearly fucking Super Saiyans.

Of course, anyone notice that in the later games, only Sonic and Shadow get those super forms? Oh, what's that? Silver? You mean Trunks? Or that character I'm gonna pretend doesn't fucking exist? Yeah, I'm only counting characters that aren't retarded... and at least make an effort to NOT sound exactly like the DBZ character they're imitating.

So the ultimate lesson to take away from the franchise is this: hedgehogs are gods with hidden powers, foretold to defeat the evil lord of the galaxy, Frieza... then go on for another bazillion episodes before going bat-shit insane.

Stay tuned for Sonic The Hedgehog GT!
Viewed: 43 times
Added: 7 years, 5 months ago
 
AvaBun
7 years, 5 months ago
Haha... I hear a lot of the "Sonic has too many characters q_q" arguments a lot too, and feel the same way. Honestly, the reason SEGA/Sonic Team is failing with having so many characters is because they're not taking advantage of them for individual games. By comparison and for reference, you can look over to Nintendo's side, where almost every new character gets its own game or a role in another game that allows them to make interesting new gameplay styles and reach a larger audience.

A while ago Sega released the "Sonic Gems Collection," which had a few of their older games, some of which were retardedly difficult or broken, or seemingly unfinished. Inside of this collection was a game called "Tails Adventure" though, and it was actually decent for its time and ... well, interesting for ours. It was honestly a step toward that whole "Mario Sunshine" "Luigi's Mansion" "Wario World" thing that would totally allow Sonic team to make great use of their characters~

... But then it got tossed under the bus. Console sales for the Game Gear weren't as high as the Gameboy so game sales weren't high, and being a Japanese company i'm assuming that they decided not to tread old 'failures' the same way they did with the Dreamcast.

*shrugs*
AvaBun
7 years, 5 months ago
also by "feel the same way" I mean as you and not as the qq'ers
KichigaiKitsune
7 years, 5 months ago
I have the first "game" in the Sonic Gems Collection, and it's admittedly the first real experience I had with the older Sonic games (that, and my friend who has finished every Sonic game he could reasonably get his hands on!). SEGA is aware of the popularity of other characters, especially Shadow, Knuckles and Tails, and like you said... it's bloody amazing they don't put out a few games focused on those guys.

The problem with Sonic The Hedgehog really just seems to be that Sonic-Team and Yuji Naka have no idea what the hell to do with what they've got. Not just the characters, but the plot. Consider Sonic X - one minute, we've got the useless "Eggman" being a ridiculous parody of a villain, then suddenly we're dealing with character-driven drama... and wow, suddenly the Metarex come along and we get a dark, serious story. But it's marred by recurring characters that can be charitably described as "lame", and humor intended for young children.

Sonic X seems to be a good example for what Yuji Naka is doing wrong. He's focusing on the younger audience (8-12), but producing material that's probably underwhelming even to them - yet he has characters and themes that should appeal to other age-groups (for example, Shadow the Emo-goth-hog for the older viewers, Cream and Chao for the younger; say, 4-8) but he doesn't use them outside of annoying distractions. People object to this word with regards to kids media*, but: MATURITY is required here. He's got to make an engrossing, dramatic story that still engages younger viewers and makes proper use of the vast army of characters available to him. This isn't impossible at all: Disney does it regularly.

* One of the best things about Avatar: The Last Airbender was that the series was dramatic and mature, while also being accessible to kids. Ironically, maturity and drama help to define great kids shows/movies - from Avatar to The Lion King.
Cyberblade
7 years, 5 months ago
I'm a bit disappointed really, your rants about things like this are usually better than this.  Sonic Unleashed's gameplay and writing was fixed in Sonic Colors, but that's hardly the point I'd like to make here.  If you really think the original games are mindless and the Sonic Advance games are much better 2d platformers than I have to say you really know fuck all about game design at all.

Only the first Sonic Advance game used any platforming really at all, because it was based on the concepts of the original 3 games.  Sonic Advance 2 and 3, and in continuation Rush all used their own "Speed > Platforming" concept that was just not as great.  Don't get me wrong, those are all really fun games, but their challenge comes in the form of rote memorization of enemy placement you won't see coming and blind pitfalls, rather than actual platforming prowess of any kind.

The original games all utilized much better platforming challenges, especially in later levels such as Sonic 1's Scrap Brain Zone, or Sonic 2's Metropolis Zone.  These challenges came from things you could see and predict, and gradually learn to use the game engines physics to do things faster and faster.  The original games are truly great examples of level design enhancing the base gameplay.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those Classics > Modern Sonic fans by any means of the imagination.  I know the originals are great games gameplay wise, but I also know that the modern games have all stood on their own base and have either been good or bad on their own accord.  Sonic Heroes, Sonic 06, and Shadow the Hedgehog were all terrible for their own faults, not for anything stupid like not being a classic Sonic game.

Sonic Adventure 2 is the game that all of the 3d games should strive to emulate, and I won't disagree with you there.  The story of that game was epic, and the characters felt like actual characters, not robots spewing some "Save the world" or "Lets be friends" kindergarten cartoon bullshit.  No other modern game has successfully copied that formula, despite 06 trying to be 'darker' again.

Unleashed's day time stages were good examples of how the modern games are successful in their own right, but the rest of that game really bogged it down.  The Werehog stages were all 10 minutes longer than they should have been, the stupid collecting thing to unlock new levels was a terrible way to lengthen game time, and the story started out brilliantly and went to total shit in the end.  Dark Gaia (Or generic Godzilla rip off) was a totally shit villain, and it was an absolute injustice to what had been entirely focused on the series true villain to just throw him off to the side.

The Sonic the Hedgehog series has had its ups and downs, but really this whole classic vs modern thing in the fanbase is just bullshit anymore.  Both modern and classic Sonic series have their high points and low points (Sonic Blast, Sonic 3D Blast (Flickies Island for some), and Spinball show the classic's lower points), and anyone who says "Classic/Modern is better" is just ignorant and ignoring how very different the two generations are.  As a fan of the series as a whole, I can only hope that Sonic Generations makes the best use of all the series high points.
KichigaiKitsune
7 years, 5 months ago
Perhaps I did come across as overly harsh towards the original Sonic games. I was more attempting to shake up the notion that they were the perfect games all subsequent Sonic games should be; and it is true that some of Sonic Advance's difficulty comes from blind-traps. However, more importantly, SEGA are still producing the 2D games - the "Sonic started sucking when it went 3D!" crowd seem to completely forget that they've still been producing the 2D platformers, and these games aren't terrible.

As for Sonic Colors, it wasn't until after I wrote this journal that I even looked it up - you'll note I don't even mention it. From what I've seen it was very well written and featured witty humor. Given I haven't played the game, I didn't discuss it. I'm glad to see the "middle ground" I mentioned was more or less achieved; however I can't experience it properly without buying a Wii.

While the original Sonic games did have unique little "gimmicks" that made the platforming a little more interesting, I found the Advance games played a little smoother; though both required trial-and-error to get through smoothly the first time, achieving a skillful completion of a level in the first two Advance games felt more fulfilling and exciting to me. Like I said though, I came across a little harsher towards the original games than I intended. I chalk it up to frustration with dealing with high-profile Sonic-haters such as Yahtzee.
Also: I didn't mean "mindless" in the way you seem to think. I was referring to the silly plots that served only as an excuse for the game. I.E., one does not have to think about what they're playing, merely finish the levels for the sake of them (and I place a very high value on plot). I worded that very poorly, I apologize. As for the challenge, I personally never found them challenging, whereas Sonic Adventure 2 was a nightmare the first time around.

From what I can tell, your only problem here is that I wasn't kind to the original Sonic games; given we more or less agree on everything else. Truth be told, though I've played them, I only played a little of them and the modern 2D platformers (given I own neither the older consoles or a Gameboy Advance). The point of this entry was to defend the 3D games and explain that the issues with the franchise are not as simple as "3D just doesn't work with Sonic the Hedgehog." Which is pretty much what you say in your comment.

As for knowing "fuck all about game design" I can only shrug and let you have your own opinion. Perhaps the better argument would've been that I haven't played the original Sonic games inside-out, so I don't have a very well-formed understanding of them. Regardless, SEGA still make 2D Sonic games and the 3D ones aren't inherently bad because they're 3D; rather, they're marred by SEGA/Sonicteam not knowing what to do with the product they have in hand.
KimbaLion
7 years, 5 months ago
yes... *meow* =°~°=
but the cutest is Tails the little fox *purring
KichigaiKitsune
7 years, 5 months ago
He sure is! *grins!*
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