1000 post extravaganza, I give a theory on how to fix Sonic.

Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -

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.

   Vidiot's brain dump is filled with essential vitamins and nutrients. Contains no MSG.


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.
 

You fought enemies, attacked, used magic, and even summoned. But it played completely different from any other game in the franchise. Final Fantasy XII is a great example of this theory, whether you personally enjoyed the end result or not. 

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.
 
 
Again, keep thinking about the concept of an open-world. I can't be the only one who see's potential here.
 

Personality issues


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.)
#1 Edited by vidiot (2737 posts) -

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.

   Vidiot's brain dump is filled with essential vitamins and nutrients. Contains no MSG.


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.
 

You fought enemies, attacked, used magic, and even summoned. But it played completely different from any other game in the franchise. Final Fantasy XII is a great example of this theory, whether you personally enjoyed the end result or not. 

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.
 
 
Again, keep thinking about the concept of an open-world. I can't be the only one who see's potential here.
 

Personality issues


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.)
#2 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -

Or is this my 1000th post? Starting threads don't count to your post count?

#3 Posted by Bigandtasty (3204 posts) -
@vidiot: I see 1000 posts right now. It's probably because the first post is a blog.
 
Anyway, good thoughts; I personally think the best way to make Sonic a quality series again would be to relegate him to portable and downloadable titles for a while, and get back to basics with the old-school platforming (with some new touches added, of course). But your way is intriguing too, albeit risky.
#4 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@Bigandtasty said:
" @vidiot: I see 1000 posts right now. It's probably because the first post is a blog.  Anyway, good thoughts; I personally think the best way to make Sonic a quality series again would be to relegate him to portable and downloadable titles for a while, and get back to basics with the old-school platforming (with some new touches added, of course). But your way is intriguing too, albeit risky. "
That's the point. I want to see risk, good risk, because if it works the payoff is amazing. 
#5 Edited by turbomonkey138 (4956 posts) -

Nice write up . Shame most GB users won't read it :( I dunno about sonic tbh . I never have been a fan . All his games annoy the fuck out of me . But i can understand why people do like them and i don't want him to die . But i won't play sonic games anymore :) 
 
EDIT . Also well done for sticking with the community .

Online
#6 Edited by Claude (16254 posts) -

Sonic on the Genesis always reminded me of a pinball machine. Not in the literal since, but in the way you found a rhythm while playing as Sonic. I never really saw it as a platformer other than the side scrolling. I never played the 3D renditions, so I'm limited in that thought. For me, it was always about finding that momentum with Sonic. Once you found it, it was a pure adrenaline rush and everything seemed to slow down the faster you went.

#7 Posted by Wildfire570 (719 posts) -

Congrats on 1k posts.
 
I think Sonic is one of those franchises that just needs to take a year off or better yet, give the franchise to someone else other than the Sonic Team. I really loved the games when I was younger and playing the first one on XBLA was very nostalgic for me. I knew that they were going down hill after I got Shadow the Hedgehog. And my hopes for Sonic Unleashed were dashed away after I heard about the Werehog...I mean seriously, what the hell were they thinking?! Sometimes I just wonder if Sega really cares about Sonic anymore...
 
But I am quite intrigued about your theory because it would make sense to have a real open world for Sonic to roam around than just to be use it as a transition to one mission to another.

#8 Posted by Romination (2777 posts) -

Open world? No. Sonic Adventure's open world parts were part of what killed the game for me.
 
I think the best way to handle Sonic is exactly like they did in Sonic Unleashed, the 3-d levels in that. Just behind the back, straight area, run. However, remember. Sonic is not JUST about the speed. There ARE obstacles, platforming, and an environment still exists that he actually has to transverse. You really NOTICE the speed at times, but think about all the levels of Sonic that we know and love, even in the first one.
 

  See? There's obstacles, there's enemies, there's things to push, things to wait for, things to jump around on and things that, if you ran straight through, you'd die pretty quickly. The 3-D games have their moments of showing that it's possible for them to do it, but they screw themselves over every time. Think back, the actual LEVEL areas in Adventure were pretty good, but it was the things that were absolute shit later that ruined it-open world, werehog, levels with Knuckles where you have to dig and climb stuff for 30 minutes, and that's where the real problem is. Sonic Team just needs to actually realize what makes things fail and not do them or improve on them (better camera, easier jumping attacks). Or better yet, like you said. Can Sonic Team. Make someone else do it and just give them time to come up with a master plan, or new, GOOD ideas. Or just fresh blood to say 'ok, people, here's the problem'.
 
That Flash game video actually looks kind of like a Sonic level, broken up by combat anyways.
#9 Edited by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@Romination: Ya know, I don't think it was ever properly done. 
I also don't think it's fair to compare a large open world, with the static small HUB world which was in the first Sonic Adventure, or in Sonic 2006. You can add obstacles in an open-world, we see that all the time. If anything, platforming and speed like you suggested, would benefit immensely from openworld design. And I'm totally for what works in regards to linearity, but I want to see something new that pushes Sonic forward in a positive way, not keeps him standing still. I'm trying to adapt Sonic thematically in a new way to gameplay, not trying to suggest Sonic Adventure 2 HD as the big fix for Sonic, I want reinvention.
#10 Posted by Symphony (1912 posts) -

I agree with the notion that we've outgrown Sonic. Why not Mario? You answered that yourself -- Mario is a blank slate. How do you outgrow a blank slate? You don't. It would be like outgrowing Tetris. Sonic, like Duke Nukem, is a product of the 90s and in all honesty it'd have been best if they just stayed there. In a way, Sonic reminds me of MC Hammer. Plenty of people have fond memories of things like "Stop. Hammer time." but try wearing a pair of his parachute pants today. Then again, as Sonic Team has proven, nothing has ever stopped people from trying to revive things that are better laid to rest

#11 Posted by Romination (2777 posts) -
@vidiot: But perhaps reinvention is a bit too drastic. At least for a MAIN Sonic title. Doing something like Bioware managed to with Dark Brotherhood is a great step for showing what Sonic COULD be, but wasn't a main Sonic Team title. 
 
I think the BEST thing to compare your open world idea would be something like Tony Hawk's Underground, where there were sections specifically designed for skating? Or, more contemporary in the argument for speed, Burnout Paradise? Only more for crazy running and stuff. I think I could see it, but it's still taking too much of a risk. It goes down to if that fails, then there's no point in the game, and it's probably one of the biggest letdowns simply because it was such an original way to take the character.
 
HD updates of old Sonic games doesn't fix anything, you're right. It's just appeasement while scrambling for REAL things to do. I do love them releasing Sonic Rush and such for the DS (we need new ones...) but Sonic seems right on the cusp of actuallygetting it right, but then they fall back the other way.
 
@Symphony:
I think there's totally room for a Duke Nukem character today. We need an in-your-face, egomaniacal sort of asshole to counter the silent protagonists or sweary, grunting, gravel-throated dudes we're working with today. Heck, people still love Ash, and they're very, VERY similar.
#12 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@Symphony: Good. Lord. NO Symph! MC Hammer? Jeez, why don't you beat my childhood with a fucking hammer while your at it. Bury it out in the back and spit on it.  
 
Did you have fond memories of MC Hammer? Because if you did, I'm not going to let this go and I will freaking haunt you here.
 
I more focused on gameplay mechanics here, (Mario plays better than recent Sonic games.) but certain personality traits can be reinterpreted as well (That's where the blank slate concept was used for.) We saw Bioware address this a bit as well, if anything the concept that Sonic has personality is an untapped positive, again I don't think anyone has seen yet because no one has really tried to do anything new with it. Right now his attitude is certainly a product of the 90's, I wouldnt mind to see an update to that of course. 
#13 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@Romination: Sonic need's reinvention. He's screaming for it. If it wasn't for the sales due to brand recognition, and ludicrous internal company politics, someone else would have been given the reigns to this series years ago. 
 
I don't think it would be that dramatic. My hope would be someone would get smart and let another company make a Sonic game, like what we saw with Bioware. 
 
Tony Hawk Underground and Burnout are not bad choices to what my concept is here. You could even have a mixture of that style of openworld design, and linear levels. This would return the design to be a HUB world, but it wouldnt be handeled the way it was before
Everything mechanically should be focused on Sonic and what we know what he does: Running, Jumping, and doing amazing feets like a human pinball. I think giving him a large area to roam and explore would hinder, not hurt him.
 
Imagine running to the Green Hill Zone, racing around it and exploring it. It's massive, stretches on for miles, loops and corkscrews and large expanses that you could race, jump and explore, with linear "classic" rollercoaster like area's scatter here and there within the openworld. Wouldnt this be awesome and fresh? 
#14 Posted by Symphony (1912 posts) -
@vidiot said:
" @Symphony: Good. Lord. NO Symph! MC Hammer? Jeez, why don't you beat my childhood with a fucking hammer while your at it. Bury it out in the back and spit on it.  
 
Did you have fond memories of MC Hammer? Because if you did, I'm not going to let this go and I will freaking haunt you here.
 
I more focused on gameplay mechanics here, (Mario plays better than recent Sonic games.) but certain personality traits can be reinterpreted as well (That's where the blank slate concept was used for.) We saw Bioware address this a bit as well, if anything the concept that Sonic has personality is an untapped positive, again I don't think anyone has seen yet because no one has really tried to do anything new with it. Right now his attitude is certainly a product of the 90's, I wouldnt mind to see an update to that of course.  "
No I didn't have fond memories of MC Hammer, but I didn't have fond memories of Sonic, either. I was one of the smart kids who bought a SNES :)
#15 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@Symphony said:
" @vidiot said:
" @Symphony: Good. Lord. NO Symph! MC Hammer? Jeez, why don't you beat my childhood with a fucking hammer while your at it. Bury it out in the back and spit on it.  
 
Did you have fond memories of MC Hammer? Because if you did, I'm not going to let this go and I will freaking haunt you here.
 
I more focused on gameplay mechanics here, (Mario plays better than recent Sonic games.) but certain personality traits can be reinterpreted as well (That's where the blank slate concept was used for.) We saw Bioware address this a bit as well, if anything the concept that Sonic has personality is an untapped positive, again I don't think anyone has seen yet because no one has really tried to do anything new with it. Right now his attitude is certainly a product of the 90's, I wouldnt mind to see an update to that of course.  "
No I didn't have fond memories of MC Hammer, but I didn't have fond memories of Sonic, either. I was one of the smart kids who bought a SNES :) "

C'mon! It had Blast Processing !
#16 Posted by Romination (2777 posts) -
@vidiot: I'm seeing it and I think you've really hit on something. Although i'm not ENTIRELY sure that Sonic going through corkscrews and spirals like that would feel truly natural..the dev team would have to work pretty hard to make it not feel stunted or just crammed in for no reason. A big loop-de-loop right in the middle of an open expanse would be kind of weird, but then again, so are all the Sonic levels anyways.
 
And the Genesis may have had Blast Processing, but the SNES had MODE 7!!!....
Okay, Blast Processing was a better name. Besides, I had a Genesis and I still make sure that the person I gave it to (my cousin) takes good care of it.
 
And then I beg for it back...
#17 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

At this point, I think Sonic just needs a hiatus.  Sega should stop making Sonic games for the next five years or so so that they can actually stop and think about all the damage that they've done to the series and character over the past decade.  At this point, even if Sega were to develop a truly revelatory Sonic title, most people wouldn't take its announcement seriously.  We'd all be wondering when the other shoe was going to drop, as it did with the werehog, and any attempt that Sega might make to convince us otherwise wouldn't work because we've all been bitten about three times too many by now.

#18 Posted by Symphony (1912 posts) -
@vidiot said:

C'mon! It had Blast Processing ! "
I love how 6 of those 8 games are sports games. The only sports game worth playing was Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. Missile Swing, woo!
#19 Edited by Tiwi (1402 posts) -
@Symphony said:

" I agree with the notion that we've outgrown Sonic. Why not Mario? You answered that yourself -- Mario is a blank slate. How do you outgrow a blank slate? You don't. It would be like outgrowing Tetris. Sonic, like Duke Nukem, is a product of the 90s and in all honesty it'd have been best if they just stayed there. In a way, Sonic reminds me of MC Hammer. Plenty of people have fond memories of things like "Stop. Hammer time." but try wearing a pair of his parachute pants today. Then again, as Sonic Team has proven, nothing has ever stopped people from trying to revive things that are better laid to rest.  "

 
she said it... I wanted to be smart too *sighs* 
This is why I can't have nice things *walks off to watch reruns of the adventures of sonic the hedgehog*
 
Also I've wanted a game that's just HUGE with large environments that you actually can move around in for a long time. if sonic made that I'd totally buy it.
also sonic never got a game like galaxy becuase it never got a game like mario 64, they never mastered the art of 3D.

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