When I originally wrote my Sonic the Hedgehog opinion pieces (How Sega All But Ruined Sonic the Hedgehog & How Sega Can Bring Sonic the Hedgehog Back To Glory), one of my main hopes would be that it would spark some conversation. Sure, part of my hoped somebody at Sega would read it and that my thoughts might actually make a difference, but I mainly looked forward to hearing other people’s responses.
Even though I wrote the articles over nine months ago, I still get a number of comments left on the posts. Since many of my readers check the articles out via their RSS readers and don’t look at the comments, you I would assume most of you dont’ go back to old posts just to read the comments, I thought I would feature some of the more interesting insights for other Sonic fans and their reaction to my opinions…
Many comments were quite constructive
The Kraken said…
“It’s clear, that Sega has simply lost their minds. I think the main reason why they have fallen off the console business was them trying to support a number of consoles at once. It’s a company run by idiots, and always has been. I mean who would try to support six different consoles/add-ons at once (Sega Genesis, Sega Nomad, Sega 32X, Sega Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Saturn)? They tried to push ahead of their competitors (Nintendo and Sony) by releasing 32-bit systems that were better off scrapped. Their focus on hardware more than their games is one reason why Sonic X-treme was never released. Thus we never got a true Sonic game for the Sega Saturn. When the Dreamcast was released it seemed like a breath of fresh air, with Sonic Adventure pulling in many gamers. But once Playstation 2 entered the scene, the system failed to provide satisfaction with gamers, until Sega eventually got out of the console market in late 2001. It’s never been the same since.
It’s sad too, that I have grown up to see one of my fondest childhood memories being brought down by bad decisions and much criticism. Sonic used to have lots of potential. The games were great, his tv shows were cool, the comics were fun to read, people loved him, and most importantly, it didn’t matter what you liked about the blue blur. People accepted what you did like and agreed with it. Back then he was better overall. But ever since the release of Sonic Adventure (1999-present), the franchise has gone downhill in a never ending spiral. Sonic Team can’t make a 3-D Sonic game without a few critics stating that the game is rife with errors. I think in this current generation of platformers, Sega has been pushing the limit to make awe inspiring graphics while dumbing down the gameplay. Sonic Next-Gen was so disappointing that I began to wonder if Sega knew how to even make a game in 3-D. The loading times were long and it seemed that you couldn’t control Sonic and pals without falling off a cliff. It’s an example for showing that Sega rushes their titles into stores only to find that their fans aren’t happy with the concept. One reason why Nintendo has always been successful is they actually take the time to make their games. Even though some of their release titles were slow to make it to the market, they were critically-acclaimed by fans across the globe.
To add insult to injury, Sega had their chances to improve and learn from their own mistakes. But they have blown them, and it’s only a matter of time before their monitor reveals “Strike 3.” I truly think that Sonic’s glory days are long gone, being stuck in 2-D. The portable titles are one factor keeping this franchise alive, but it won’t go on forever. Sega must concentrate on a Sonic game that will satisfy the majority of fans (including older ones), or risk the chance of giving their franchise to a different company.”
Kraken also added,
“Sonic is not the same character I grew up with. The Genesis titles were something special, because they were able to offer BREAK NECKING SPEED and other mechanics that other platformers failed to provide. Now I compare then to now, the difference is huge and vast. It seems that Sega cares nothing but to make a quick buck off of young gamers that don’t know any better, hence Sonic Next-Gen and Sonic Riders. The 3-D Sonic is slow, and the mechanicals needed for a 3-D game are lacking. Why Sega can’t make a camera work right I don’t know.
I use to love Sonic, including the TV shows, comics, merchanise, and other sorts of media that he was in. It’s really depressing how far the franchise has fallen, when it was once on the road to success, once Nintendo’s biggest threat. Shadow the Hedgehog is still one of Sega’s worst creations, because it lacks everything that made the Sonic franchise special. I actually had hopes for Sonic and the Secret Rings, but it turned out to be a disappointment once I found it was on-rails and I couldn’t go where I wanted to. Clearly the only good thing going are the portable titles. Sonic Rush was a pleasent surprise, maybe if Sega fit that formula into their 3-D games it may actually work. Then again who knows.”
“The same fate befell Metroid, the king of side-action scrollers: it got turned into (yet another stupid) first-person shooter… While I liked Metroid Prime, it WASN’T classic Metroid. Comparing the two is like comparing Super Mario Brothers to Mario RPG. Same universe, different game. The same goes for a great many of the 2D heroes of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. It seems the only series that successfully jumped the dimensional barrier were Zelda and MarioMario was based on mid-air maneuvering and power-ups. Now it’s based on gimmicks. Mario 64 and Sunshine Mario may be fun, but neither follows the SMB/SMB3/SMW series that everyone cried out for. What once was a race to the finish (or walk, but always point a to point b) is now exploration and random mini-games. You don’t plow through enemies like you used to, you don’t toss fireballs (which small as they are could be maddening in 3-D) and don’t even get “Super” anymore.
Zelda is less changed, keeping the crucial elements, exploring / re-exploring with the latest new item / figuring out the latest boss’es clever weak spot
and The new Zeldas are also good enough games on their own merits that if they weren’t named Zelda, people would still buy them. (Well, maybe not Wind Waker, too much sailing, not enough playing)
Sonic, like Mega Man thrived on the theory, games don’t need to be movies with each radically changing from the last. Find what works and give people more of it. There’s nothing wrong with episode style games. Sega and Capcom did more than release new levels every few years. They released these new levels (and occasional gameplay upgrades) to eager buyers, happy to snap up a known brand of play they already know they like.
If McDonalds randomly fiddled with the recipe every time you went, it wouldn’t be so popular.”
Mr Horsefly said…
“I agree with you on a lot of points in this article, but it troubles me how little credit you give Sonic’s 3D games. It’s going a little far to say that everything after Sonic CD should be scrapped. There are parts in each game that work extremely well.
For example: the mechanics for the spin dash in Sonic Adventure 1 were easily the best of the series. The slow acceleration of Sonic’s normal run gave you precise control when you needed it; and with a single button press you could spin dash to near-max speed, drop into a ball for downhill areas, pop out of the ball for extra traction in uphill areas, and even cut your jumps short to reduce air time for speed runs.
Sonic Adventure 2 effed that up majorly by mapping the new ground roll attacks to the same button as the spin dash, which basically made it either impossible or too risky (since accidentally going into a roll attack would bring you to a screeching halt) to attempt the maneuvers I listed above. But it did Sonic right in areas where SA1 just didn’t cut it. In short, SA2 made Sonic edgy again. No retarded cats, no sadsville Asimov robot arcs, and no pink hedgehogs with plastic hammers. The mood the game set in most of the speed levels was near-perfect in my opinion. The San Fran hill level where you snowboarded down the street, the jungle stage that didn’t let up, and the freaking space levels? And the music? Genius, that game oozed style.
Sonic Heroes took a step back in mechanics and edge, but it did offer much more in the department of level and enemy design; as well as the genesis of what I believe could be the ultimate game of co-op sonic (but that’s an article all it’s own :P). I mean, come on, it let you take Knuckles back onto the tracks again! This was a thinking man’s sonic game if ever there was one. The dynamic of how each character worked to complement the other’s weaknesses and the way they designed the enemies and obstacles around that were great.
The Sonic series doesn’t need to be taken back ten years to be saved. Sega just needs to put a good team and budget together and devote some serious R&D time into refining the design with all the elements that worked in their previous games. If they could just start using more than two buttons for character moves, re-harness Sonic’s “edge”, and put some work into revamping the mechanics for Knuckles and Tails so that they’re closer to Sonic’s (but still unique), then they could kick Mario’s ass all over again.”
“I couldn’t agree more, Racketboy. I grew up with Sonic. I remember being a little kid, and asking Santa for a SNES and then getting a Genesis and Sonic 2 for Christmas. I was dissapointed at first, but that all went away after being completely immersed into the world and it’s incredible speed. I beat the game within a few months, and the game made my mom quit playing games altogether (She just couldn’t get passed Oil Ocean Zone. hehe).
I think though, that the major problem here is that the Sonic games aren’t FOR us anymore. Us being the people who grew up with the original Sonic. The entire franchise is geared toward the modern retarded youth who watch the modern retarded Sonic animes and whatnot. It’s aimed at an entirely new generation who’ve been (in my opinion) raised with low standards when it comes to video games. I mean, for the most part, the next gen consoles are a freakin’ joke! Sure, they’re insanely more powerful, but they’re insanely less imaginative, original and all-round enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE good games for these newer consoles, I just prefer the retro games.
But anyway, yes. I feel that these days Sonic is geared to a completely new generation who really probably don’t even know that Sonic existed before their time and how much better he used to be. And for the record, I think that Dr. Eggman is THE single most, uninspired, unoriginal, pointless, unimaginative, and just plain unecessary character in video gaming history. Even more so than Shadow or or the other hedgehogs. Rest in peace, Sonic. Your glory days are gone. *sniff*”
Yet Another Anonymous Reader wrote…
“Personally I loved Sonic Adventure. As much as people gripe about playing as other characters, or the “horrible” adventure parts of the game, it wasn’t that bad. Sure Knuckles plays nothing like Sonic. Don’t like it? Don’t play as him. You started the game as Sonic and didn’t need to play as anyone else to play level after level with Sonic. You DID have to play as everyone else to unlock Super Sonic, but that was optional. Sonic Adventure 2, in forcing you to swap up gamestyles constantly was a pain in the butt.
As for the adventure mode, you weren’t timed, nothing was hard to find, it was pretty much just there to add a little depth. Consider the menu in Mega Man. SA1 let you return to any stage you liked as much as you wanted, but without being so flat and dull. The only “challenge” was not running off a cliff.
Style: Sega wants Sonic to go from a happy world where no one dies, filled with cheerful music to gritty, cities destroyed (AS1), unsure if you’re the good guy or bad guy (Shadow). “Attitude” has gone from a smirk (and possible unsaid snide remark) to trying to ape current pop culture. No we don’t want to look at a bunch of bird skate punks. The series is trying to grow up, but comes across like a young child trying to act older than they are. Start of SA1, before anything happens, Sonic hops from building to building then says “Now THIS is happening!” Random drop-ins of seemingly “cool” phrases out-of place doesn’t work.
Interacting with humans? What’s Robotnik? How did he come to live in Mobius? Perhaps Sonic’s still in Mobius now, but moved to the big city from out in the country.
Physics, less scaffolding / dead stops please. If you’re steering drunkenly, you should bounce drunkenly off the walls. Non-stop chances to fall to your death that take several times of trial and error to figure out how many enemies you can spin dash to land on the next platform without over / undershooting is frustrating, not fun. In 2-D Sonics you died, but took in the whole scene as you did. With the new movie style environments, trying to run across an environment that’s falling INTO place you don’t know if you overshot, undershot, had your timing off or missed sideways. Now you can go too fast, and will die if you do. (Demo level of the 360 Sonic) Using the homing attack on too many enemies can also make you miss your platform, as well as using it freely on the boxes sitting on tiny floating platforms. (Also 360 demo) Sonic’s world’s seem far less solid than they used to be.
Griping aside, the best “attitude” I’ve seen from Sonic lately was also in the 360 demo. Tearing apart a dozen robots at once, lightly tapping the last remaining, struggling to balance itself robot off the edge and bending over to watch it with a grin that just screams “hit me!”
Speech is hard to get right, but Sega could do better. Bowser has forever lost all credibility. Robotnik is still cool, Tails comes across well for what he’s supposed to be. Unfortunately when you have people trying to write for an age and culture they aren’t, what do you expect? want to groan? Pop in the 3DO Mario game or a CD-I Zelda game. The opening scenes will make you cry. “I’m so hungry I could eat an Octarok!”
Eventually, in spamming out games trying everything possible, they’ll get it right. Hopefully they’ll do so while there’s still people left who are willing to buy the games.”
Of course, I got some people that obviously don’t agree with me…
“That article is lame. It is trying to manipulate you guys into hating Sonic. I should know. I’m a TRUE Sonic fan. I love the Sonic 3D games and its graphics and all. Plus, there’s absolutley nothing wrong with giant hedgehogs interacting with humans. Sonic’s glory days are NOT over. OPEN YOUR EYES!!!! CAN”T YOU ACCEPT SONIC 3D GAMES!!?? ARE YOU GUYS EVEN SONIC FANS!!!???”
later on, Jack said…
“ARE YOU ALL BLIND!!!??? SEGA NEVER RUINED SONIC!! I AM TRULY ASHAMED AT THAT ARTICLE FOR INSULTING SONIC 3D GAMES!! EVERYTHING THAT ARTICLE SAID WAS JUST PLAIN WRONG!!! AS A TRUE SONIC FAN, I COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH IT!!! I LOVE SONIC 3D GAMES!!!!”
“I disagree with this article. I love the ability to play as characters other than sonic. I admit the game speed went down a bit but at least this way the younger generation can play the game a bit easier. And if i ever hear someone say Shadow The Hedgehog was a botched up game again, i will personally chase them down with my samurai sword. You think i’m kiddin? Try it!”