Wednesday, April 1, 2009

EPISODE TWENTY-ONE: "Sonic in Crisis - Part I"

Part The First of a two-part examination of what's gone wrong with a gaming icon who's seen better days. PLUS awesome fan-art!

Part 2 in-production right now, stay tuned!


Tom said...

Psychic Predictions for part 2:

1) Stick to a 2D plane because Sonic's gameplay only works there.

2) Cut back on the supporting characters or flesh them out properly and make them useful.

The Sonic Advance series did this rather well, several different characters but all with different skills and abilities to keep the game fun and worth playing with each one.

3) Possibly ditch the current Japanese inspired trend of the Earth based hedgehog adventures, possibly reset the whole thing on Mobius again. Infact, maybe do a game based on the SatAM cartoon, just to see how it would play out.

4) Not a gameplay issue, but holy crap Sonic X needs work. Most of the first seasons had that bloody human kid as it's focus, stealing it from the real star, Sonic. Similar shit happens in the games.

5) Stop making Eggman/Robotnik such a bloody joke. He's constantly overshadowed by a big nasty in the recent titles and he doesn't seem threatening anymore.

Overall, i'm interested to hear your views on how Sonic can be saved. I may sound like a nostalgic fan or someone whose been watching way too much Batman: The Animated Series or just want this because i'm in my 20's now...

But Sonic needs to stick to where he works and revisit the golden age for one last shot for a decent game. 2D handheld ones were sweet though.

Personal opinion: Sonic Adventure got wholey ruined by that exploring aspect. SA2 had the feckloads of characters and wierd crap stages, but at least you could just pick a stage and run really fast.

Blake said...

A lot more could probably be done with Sonic on the handhelds. The DS would be a great 2D medium for Sonic to work in that has a MASSIVE install base and tons of kids too to forge a brand new generation of Sonic fans. Heck; maybe try going 2D on the next gen consoles and just have really excellent 2D graphics... or maybe "2 1/2 D". Sonic also BEGS for the Mega Man 9 Treatment.

Great episode! Glad the next one is coming in less than a month!!

Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake said...

Take Sonic and Tails , Knuckles as a hidden character.

Make a 2d side scroller that goes 3d during specific loops and BOSS battles.

Can you imagine an amazing cutscene leading up to an epic battle between Sonic and Robotnik (fuck Eggman's name) as Robotnik flies a jet over Sonic dropping bombs , and you have to run passed them and hit the ship in some form , while say tails trys to bail you out via ship or something near the end.

I want that nostalga to be real again and actually be put to use and make a Sonic game that's Modern but still has the old flare , and thank you. Shadow does fuckin suck. They need to seriously establish Robotnik as a strong villian again.

Racewing said...

Well, I saw it. the risk of looking like a blind idiot (I do that a lot): Bob, do you have an email address? I can't find one for you, and all of this text is getting quite long.

In a good way, mind you. Don't worry. :)

txcforever said...

I kind of disagree with your views of the latest games. These games weren't created to attract the fans but the new generation. That's why they messed up the formula. In my opinion they should have just improved the Sonic Adventure game. Better camera, a little more exploration just to take the monotony away, huge bosses (SA2 had some great boss fights) and maybe a couple of different gameplay stages.

I also liked the second Sonic Adventure. Yeah I didn't like Shadow either (and make him the star of a game was just stupid) but the game had great moments. Even though the Knuckles stages kind of become annoying after the first play through they were fun. Still I prefer Shadow than Waluigi (just LAME, I love Wario though, maybe even more that Mario)

Also a last remark. Even though the 1st game was mostly about running from one end to the other, after that and especially in Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles the number stuff you could discover if you slowed down and explore was HUGE. Hidden walls, parts were only one of the two characters could reach, Sonic shown us in the last 16bit attempts that he wasn't just speed and jumping over hazards.

P Marsh said...

ood Sonic games are something I love to have fall in my lap. Sonic Rush is one of my DS games I revisit occasionally just for the unique gameplay. Sonic Adventure and Adventure 2 are probably my favorites of the series, I grew up without a Genesis and most of my friends dwelled with Nintendo products so I did without.

One of my suggestions on how to fix Sonic is bleed out most of the supporting cast. Does anyone remember the boss of Super Mario 2? Of course you don't and neither should you remember Silver and the others.

I would like to see Shadow stay out of an interesting visual design. I am intrigued by his mix of red, black, and yellow along with his inverted quills and gratuitous chest hair. I, however, object to his angst ridden demeanor thinking that a more calm and contemplative loner would be less of a cliche than the angry wandering vagabond with a twisted past.

Also, add something to Amy other that "I LOVE SONIC" as her personality. She is Sonics girlfriend for Christ's sake.

bwmedia said...

Any problem with me posting this on my own blog, with a few comments of my own (linking back here, of course)? This would be good for my Saturday Night feature.

KidHellion said...

Honestly, I agree on almost all points, apart from a couple... Both in relation to SA2 (or, since this is the variant I played, SA2:B for Gamecube).

For one thing, I honestly feel that the second was drastically better than the first, gameplay-wise. First, it ditched the more bizarre elements- the ones that really didn't mesh all that well with the "radical" attitude and action-centric gameplay of the series: fishing as Big and slowly wandering away from an enemy as Amy. Sure, they held on to emerald-hunting (big mistake), but the otehr two gameplay varieties were very well executed; the mech stages as Eggman and Tails were fun, and polished up from the original template with Gamma in SA1.

My second point of disagreement is with Shadow. I honestly find nothing inherently wrong with the character. I mean, sure, eveil twins are cliche, but what in Sonic's serkies ISN'T? Hell, in his SA2 debut, he was almost done WELL. He was to appear in one game, cause some legal confusion for Sonic, team up with Eggman, reveal some interesting backstory on the main character, and then die.

...Wait, what? "Reveal sme interesting backstory about the main character"? Yes. See, the actual FINAL story for the game, and the continuation provided in later chapters, is what ruined an otherwise unremarkable-but-acceptable evil twin character, and resulted in the current Sonic Team trend of providing elaborate backstory on everything but the star. See, the initial story had it revealed that Sonic was actually the original "Shadow", who had crashed down to earth, and that Shadow literally just his clone, but with all the memories he'd lost. Not TOTALLY original, but at least it explains away many of the loose plot threads and deux ex machina elements of the storyline (since they artbitrarily decided to replace the conclusion but keep everything leading up to it).

The other thing was that Shadow just DIDN'T STAY DEAD. I say this as someone who likes the character, but if Sonic Team couldn't come up with somewhere INTERESTING to go with his character, they should have just let him die with that one game and had Metal Sonic continue to fulfil the role of "evil doppelganger". Instead, they put him in Sonic Heroes (godawful), his solo outing (better than most people say in their rants, but still very shoddy), the 2006 reboot (reviled), and with cameos in his and Mario's Olympic team-up and the off-putting "Storybook" adventures. Oh, sure, they put him in some handheld ones, too, but only in the PSP "Rivals" sub-series (never played them), Sonic Battle (underrated, but not great) and Dark Chronicles (haven't played, but I expect an RPG isn't what most fans were looking for from a series about a guy who spins around as a spike ball and runs really fast).

What the series needs is ANOTHER reboot to wipe the series clean of most of the characters. At that point, they should just combine Metal Sonic and Shadow, since they both exist in the same role anyway, and then keep the core group of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Eggman, and Eggman's Sonic-shaped robotic clone thing.

Well, that and stop experimenting with asinine gameplay gimmicks until they get the core of the series right.

Zach Kaiser said...

I don't think it's necessarily that speed doesn't work at all in 3D (or at the very least, not just that); what gamers are willing to put up with has also changed.

In the days of the original games, it was not only acceptable but also somewhat anticipated that you'd die. A lot. 2D platformers were supposed to be the kind of hard game that you kept at, sometimes needing to memorize entire levels to a certain extent just to get through them.

While some gamers still look forward to a good challenge like that, most (myself included, admittedly) don't want to play a game that's going to kick my ass a dozen times before I can get through stage three.

And that's the problem with speed based gameplay: the very idea of it relies on the fact that at some point, you're going to run headlong into something you didn't want to, because it came up too fast for you to react. That kind of gameplay back then was fine, but now it's seen as terrible.

Personally, I liked the solution offered up in Sonic Adventure 2: the idea of not just grinding, but sort of chaining your moves in order to move quickly and spend as little time on the ground as possible. Sure, it wasn't necessary to beat the game or anything, but it's part of why I played that game so much--getting through half a stage in one "combo" was fun and rewarding.

So I think it's not really a matter of "how can we do speed in 3D" so much as "what can we have Sonic do and still have him being Sonic?" (Hint: It's not turn him into some kind of werewolf.) I don't have an answer, but then again, I'm not a game designer.

Also: Continuity reboot. I don't want to have to play every crappy game in recent memory to understand what's going on in the most recent chapter.

Mark said...

Great Video, Bob,

So i'm speaking as somebody who has not played any sonic game past The Genesis titles (I have a copy of Sonic CD but haven't gotten around to it). The newer ones just never interested me.
But one of the most vivid moments of my actualization as a gamer was in the early nineties, playing the original sonic the hedgehog on the genesis. it blew me away. I never had a 16 bit console, but I definitely was a sonic fan. But so was everybody, right? there was a certain universality to the appeal of the gameway, which seems to be gone.
I suppose to make a better game - bring it back to its roots in 2D, etc. But, really, will it hold up by modern standards? Maybe isn't it better just to play Sonic 2 on the Virtual Console?

Raccoon-Rocketeer said...

You think Shadow is bad, Sonic 2006 introduced Silver the Hedgehog, another rival character for Sonic, but yes Shadow is worse, he's a frigging emo.

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John said...

guess what you guys got your wish there is now sonic generations. Oh and Gameoverthinker the cast isn't that bad. I quite like them. My first video game was sonic adventure 2 battles when I was around 8 years old. So I grew up with the fact that these guys were part of the sonic hero world. I mean this game tells all the secerts of shadow's past that hes trying to uncover in the shadow the hedgehog game. Which leads me to another question why does a lot of people hate that game. I freckin loved that game. Then again I'm into sword games and that game had swords and guns. seriously though man you just had to go and say you didn't like them. what was wroung with Emeral aka Gizord. Thats one sonic hero you can level grind with to get more moves for him. think about it. have you even played sonic battles for gameboy advanced. well thats enough wineing from me I should just shut up now but in all truth look into the games you can play as teh charters and you might find that you like them.