By vidiot 18 Comments
My first positive experience with the community came from a user named and333.
I didn't ask him to make my user avatar, he just did and sent me his version of what I tried to hobble together with a computer devoid of Photoshop at the time. It's interesting stuff like that's kept me here. The last time I was took part of a gaming community was years ago, when I was probably too young to take part. The site in particular actually died, and the community tried to keep together after the sites demise. I'm not exactly sure why I left, I can't really remember. Regardless, I've realized that I missed reading opinions from cool people who know have an understanding of what they are talking about, versus the traditional: "OMGZ y0u sux0r f0r l1king thiz gam3!" which still exists here, but not as apparent as some other sites. There are some awesome writers here, and the fact that this is a site that supports and is focused about user writing, the quality usually for the most part is great.
And it has hands down, the best achievement implementation for a web site on the planet.
So, consider this a shutout to all the awesome people I know. You know who you are. If not ask, and I will respond, usually by making fun of you.
Because you are a terrible, terrible person.
Let's talk about Sonic.
His name is Sonic, bitch.
I was into Sonic as a kid.
Some of my earlier memories was watching both Sonic TV shows that played during the early 90's. It was incentive for me to wake up as a kid and watch an episode before heading out to class. Sonic AM was the best of the two shows, I was incredibly happy that the Nostalgic Critic reviewed the show a while back and showed how excellent it was. (At the same time showing how bat-shit terrible the other show was.) Heck, I'll admit I even read the comics here. There I did it.
Sonic was a product of the 90's for sure. His arrogant coolness was akin to what was considered "cool" attitudes at the time. Versus Mario, Sonic actually had personality. He wasn't a blank slate.
Watching Sonic age has been, understandably, annoying.
I've heard, and read various reasons over why Sonic has failed. A popular theory is that Sonic is, and has always been for, children. That we have out grown him.
So, why do I enjoy Mario: Galaxy? What makes that game almost timeless in regards to the demographics that enjoy that game?
I don't think at this point, Sonic will ever step out of Mario's shadow. For better or worse, the two mascots will be always compared. Sonic's brand recognition alone has allowed him to continue to have games. If you honestly think that Sonic has continued to pump out new games due to their quality, buddy, I got bad news for you.
The problem not just resides as Sonic as a character, but who and what Sonic is from a gameplay mechanic standpoint.
Let's talk reinvention, but first let's establish my theory.
Gameplay mechanic adaptation.
It's pretty simple. You might be well aware of it, let's start with Mario 64.
An example of gameplay mechanic adaptation deals with Mario himself. Mario had always been about agility, jumping specifically. This was a thematic quality attached to the character. Jumping. When Mario went into the the 3rd dimension he just didn't double jump now. He did back-flips, and he sprang off the tops of trees. Some games didn't need adaptation, but many did but got confused. They either tried to mimic other games, loosing their identity in the process.
Taking thematic elements from a character, elements that have been established from a mechanical standpoint, and expanding them, reinterpreting them.
Reinterpretation of themes can aid stale gameplay also. Tomb Raider went through a metamorphosis when it switched over to Crystal Dynamics. Crystal took the concepts of Lara's platforming and expanded on them, by literally making her gameplay accommodate the aspect she is a quite literally a gymnastics.
We can establish these thematic qualities too! Batman Arkham Asylum made you feel like Batman. How? By making you do what Batman does from a mechanical aspect.
In the end, Sonic needs this an application of this theory. Fresh eyes to look at what Sonic is. Someone other than Sonic Team.
Let's apply the theory.
We all know Sonic runs, and that the game should be accommodating to this concept. Not making Sonic into a...slow moving...large....stretchy arm monster... Or...swinging a sword...
So what's my concept of a reenvisioned Sonic game? Well, for me, it all boils down with this picture that was released with the announcement of the ill-fated Sonic game from 2006. Specifically, this concept image:
Do you see what I see? It's not Sonic. It's not just the speed. It's his environment.
Sonic runs, he needs the landscape to run in. The freedom, to race around at top speeds. Sure, yes, he still needs the obligatory roller-coaster experience you had during the day time levels in Unleashed...But look at that screenshot, do you not see the potential that I see? The concept of an open-world design is an idea I would love to see a new Sonic take part in.
I started thinking about this after I saw this clip of the canceled Flash game that was leaked by the dev team.
I thought Bioware did a good job trying to address what passes as plot in a Sonic game. The franchise needs grounding, and focus. We all know Sonic also needs to shed a heft majority of the random critter friends who follow him. Instead of focusing on his uninteresting friends, why don't we focus on Sonic's world and situation, a concept that barely gets any screen time. I would also argue that Sonic, himself needs to grow up with the times, but that's just my opinion, as is this entire post.
The reinvention of Sonic is a touchy subject. Everyone knows at this point that something should happen. Sonic Team's idea is to release an HD version of Sonic on XBLA to appease long term fans. This is procrastination, not addressing the issue that they're current featured games are not up to snuff and standards, not by Mario anymore, but our standards of good games in general. There are fans that wish the game would only stay in a 2D form. I don't blame you if you feel this way. The consistent stream of, lack of a better word: failure, is something I haven't seen since Army Men.
In conclusion It's fun to apply the theory to other genres and franchises. Regardless, I think this is a pretty appropriate 1,000 post. I've always enjoyed the concept of Sonic more than Mario, I see a lot of potential wasting away here.
(Vidiot's favorite Sonic game is Sonic CD.)