Because this game is no match for you… or babies for that matter.

Since everyone criticizes me for being a “Sonic fanboy” (since to be in favor of Sonic games is to earn God’s displeasure), I often wondered deeply about why Sonic gets such massive hate that it does today. We all attribute it to Sonic 06 and Shadow and Unleashed. But most would agree that at least Unleashed was a step in the right direction, along with Colors and (in some cases) Generations. That’s all fine and dandy, but Sonic’s shit reputation is as pervasive as Capcom’s greed. It never dies.

So what if Sonic was never truly loved, and his popularity was just based on hype?

Time to show you how deep the hedgehog hole goes.

Now, this to me is heresy based on me being (lol) a fanboy. There are at least 2-3 things I can see as being wrong with the franchise.

1. Too short, too easy

2. Lack of emergent gameplay

3. Origins as a tech demo.

Now, believe you and me, everytime a new Sonic game comes out, we always have ways of detecting something is wrong with the titles now. But the main thing with Sonic games is that it’s core gameplay was never really loved by the masses. People just enjoyed the thrill of speed the games offered. That was a novelty concept back then. It no longer matters today because standards have been set too high for it be relevant. Sega themselves knows this, which is why they came out with so many different genres and crammed them all into one game yearly. Of course, we ALL know how that turned out (several times), but as soon as the layers are pulled off, people start to see more and more that Sonic games were probably were never that good, or Sega still hasn’t been able to 100% capture the essence of the old games.

Despite actually succeeding with the extras.

For instance, Sonic Colors is probably the only modern Sonic title to take out all of the “unnecessary bullshit” of previous Sonic games. And yet, people still hate it. At least after it’s release. This is more than likely due to the game being faaar too fucking easy. Of course, this is par the course for almost every sonic game that’s not on the game gear. Sonic 1 remains to be probably the hardest Sonic title in terms of that god damned labyrinth zone, but that’s aside the point. The levels in this game in particular are very short. And with that length comes to how easy the game is overall. This is a recipe for disaster. You cannot have a short game be simplistic to the point that you yawn your way through all 6 worlds. You just can’t. People had this problem with NSMBW even though that game is much longer. To balance out length, you need challenge. This is why Zelda is shit now. The games are long NOT because of challenge, but because of mediocre fetch quest padding disguised as game length. Sega, however, doesn’t even try to make the game longer. They put it out as is and say “go for it”. But this is probably because they tried the fetch quest strategy in Unleashed and everyone got pissed off about it.

This, however, is a problem that Sonic games have had for a long time. Most are short and easy. The only challenge comes from unconventional and tedious gameplay styles that seem illogical in the long run. For example, every final boss fight that involves Super Sonic have been some of the most tedious and frustrating elements ever. It’s always this bullshit time limit combined with badly design shmup levels in which you have to avoid getting hit by some stupid obstacle while collecting rings (which are half the time obscured by the chaos of the levels themselves, which isn’t helped thanks to them ring supply being stripped away from you after hitting the boss enough). Outside of that, the games usually depend on bullshit to be challenging (Sonic 4’s water boxes for example, or Advance 3’s total lack of good level design, or the rampant amount of glitches). And without the bullshit, the games are just too easy!

There’s also a lack of emergent gameplay. IE all the levels feel too “samey”. I know I’m not the only who feels all Sonic levels go in a flow chart of themselves.  Some parts, you go through some areas, fight some enemies, then you hit a speeder and just…. watch him go. Rinse and repeat. All Sonic games are like this in some way. And the problem is Sega has yet to change this pattern. This is why everyone claims Sonic games feel shallow, because they’re all virtually repetitive. The levels only “look” different. Admittedly, the only time this changes up is when the games are in 2D, and unfortunately it’s not by much these days. Sonic 4 had emergent gameplay and it’s absolute shit! So when they do have emergent gameplay, the games become frustrating. And when they don’t, they become boring and repetitive script fests.

I suppose this is the main reason everyone loves Sonic 3K more than anything else given it’s got emergent gameplay, despite being veeeerry easy, even more than Sonic CD (the king of emergent gameplay in Sonic titles). But when Sega seems to do it these days, it’s far more tedious than it needs to be. But even back then, despite the water levels, the Sonic games suffered from a rinse and repeat pattern where the Act 1’s are no different from the Act 2’s. Most of the time, the emergent gameplay is a mere aesthetic change for the sake of spectacle and awe. Things just seem to happen for the sake of happening. Essentially, Sonic games (since Sonic 3) have been about things that are every bit as wrong about the state of the industry today. It’s all about spectacle-driven, scripted gameplay.

Now, when you look at why Sega put in elements in Sonic games that feel “un-Sonicy”, it’s easy to see why. Because the core aspect of Sonic’s roots have been pure spectacle. A spectacle, in this sense, is an event that is memorable for the appearance it creates.

Let me repeat that. Sonic games from back in the Genesis days are memorable for the appearances that they created. The main reason Sonic was so popular was the appearance of being cool. As well as the main selling point for the games were having high speed gameplay. That has been Sonic’s gimmick as well as his curse. Sonic doesn’t really have a type of gameplay that could be codified as “conventional” or even natural. In order to show off his speed, the games have to depend on spectacle. The old Genesis games didn’t allow you to go faster than a speeding bullet unless certain portions of the level allowed you to do so. Sonic 2’s chemical plant zone would only allow you to go for incredible speeds via steep hills or high speed sections initiated by speeders. But that was not a core aspect of Sonic’s “gameplay”. You just sat there and watched it. You don’t “play” with Sonic’s speed, rather you sit there and watch it in awe. So really, Sonic wasn’t even about speed. That was, one could say, a reward for going through a level, just to see Sonic go faster than a speeding bullet.

This was the gimmick that many action platformers had. Mega Man had you choose your stages and steal enemy weapons, Rocket Knight allowed you fly over high cliffs, Ray Man was just basically Vectorman, and Bubsy the Bobcat…. cured your insomnia. Sonic was just really fast, but if you remember correctly, you could get punished for going fast anyway. So Sonic games have always punished you for doing what the game promised what you could experience. High speed gameplay.

Given that this is the case, Sonic games lack emergent gameplay because… well, fans demand it. This leads to Sonic Colors and Generations both being “shallow games” even though everyone claims they are well designed. A well designed game does not get boring after you complete it. It’s hard for many Sonic fans to go back and play ONE modern Sonic game because of how the games are structured. Fuck, it’s actually hard for most people to go back and play the old games from time to time. Why? Because the games are about spectacle. Plain and simple. You can see that now with Unleashed, Colors, and Generations. The games look amazing, honestly with speed of the levels, but they all amount to rollercoaster thrill rides. Once you’ve rode on one, it’s not fun afterward. And Sonic games have not been able to move beyond this spectrum at all. Even with differing gameplay styles which people hate to death. And honestly, people only hated it to death after 06. But lets not get into that, I think people ripped that game’s ass to shreds enough as it is.

Even if the robot designs are trite shit.

And I’m afraid this will not change. And I think the main reason is that…. Sega doesn’t at all like Sonic either.

I honestly don’t think Sega likes the Sonic series, mostly because of the whole Genesis/Megadrive wars going on with senior cracka Kalinske, but more so because Sonic was only ever supposed to be a tech demo for the power of the Mega Drive. Sonic’s entire concept was about showing off. SPECTACLE of the hardware present at the time. But given that Sonic became a lot more popular in the West (being the bigger market than Japan), SOJ had to make more games to gain more profits.  Sega was probably in a ditch. How do you make a universe surrounding a character you had no real intention of turning into a series!? If you played or heard about this one dreamcast game “segagaga”, it feels like Sega’s internal feelings about their gaming business all comes out in the open. And it seems to take a lot of pity on Alex the Kidd and how he laments about being usurped as Sega’s potential mascot due to the popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog in the west. As much as I’ve heard, Sonic was never really that popular in Japan, and given the failure of the Mega Drive, this is most likely the case. A developer’s internal feelings have ways of creeping into video games when you least expect it.

ffffffffffuuuuuuu-

Tameem’s feelings on old Dante was inputted into DmC’s tutorial level where new Dante tries on a wig and says “not in a million years” suggesting the old Dante just wasn’t “cool”. Likewise, Phantom Hourglass, you have an NPC that says “even though the touch controls seem funny, I can’t see myself without them”, essentially saying “the controls are perfect, shut the fuck up”. Also, there’s a part in Super Paper Mario (I think) where a quiz question says “I like complaining about games I’ve never played”.

Now, Nintendo is no stranger to warping the reality of their critics, and half the time they bullshit about the critiques of their games. They’ve been doing this since the early 90s. Check the bottom right corner for the email “baby get back” for the mind fuck of Nintendo’s arrogance.

Developer’s have a strong tendency to unconsciously let their audiences know how much they despise certain things in the world. In the world of Sonic, we can see that Sega really wanted Alex Kidd to be their mascot, otherwise the piece of shit wouldn’t have cameos. Honestly, the Alex Kidd games were some of the most atrocious games you could ever find. And SOJ is the king of bad decisions in the industry, to this very day. They MUST feel somewhat bitter about Sonic’s popularity. Not even for business reasons, they did not want to include Sonic 2 pre-packed with the Genesis.

Sonic’s only purpose was to show off hardware capabilities. The problem now is that Sonic became bigger than what he was supposed to be. Sega only saw Sonic as a spectacle showcase. And because of their original intent, they don’t… honestly know how to move Sonic beyond that without tampering with his old gameplay conventions (which weren’t much, really). And if they do that, people will have a bitch fit. So Sega… can’t do shit.

Sonic’s major problem was that he should’ve taken the place of Streets of Rage. The purpose of a tech demo really is just that. To show off Sega’s hardware. But because Sega makes no hardware, Sonic’s purpose has become non-existent. He really has no place here now, and as such, the franchise is more than ever forced to compete with other action platformers on consoles outside of Sega’s control. Sonic has no place to call home. His major gimmick was based purely on spectacle. But too many games this generation alone have that gimmick. They out do Sonic in spectacle alone. So these demonstrations, new hedgehog engines and what not…. what’s the point!? It’s not gonna look half as cool as all the other games (or pieces of graphical shiny shit) out on the market. All you can really do is try to focus on decent action platforming gameplay that is not steeped in Scripted bullshit or puzzles. And the funny thing is…. Sonic Colors’s egg simulator levels (the mostly 2D ones) are pretty much a foundational starting point to going through this route. But you can tell by Sonic 4 (both episodes) that they don’t want to do this either!

The honest to Amma truth about Sonic’s “hatedom” is that standards are higher now than they were in the 90s. Action Platformers need to focus on good gameplay rather than spectacle. And Sonic’s entire concept, that the fucking clinically insane crackas we wrongfully call the “fanbase” c continue to demand from Sega… is pure spectacle! And Spectacle is actually the main thing killing the industry! Too many developers are focusing on showing off the technology or their deep-seated creativity that nobody gives a fuck about, and the results being games that only have a short burst of fun that will soon be traded in for something that’s much better. The fucked up thing is that Sonic games have ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THIS! They are pure fucking spectacle, and dammit, they need to move away from that! But because Sega is just as stupid as Nintendo, they don’t know how to do so. But the answer is simple. They have to get away from the spectacle of being a high speed platformer. But to do so would be to earn the scorn of the fans. Well shit, you already have their scorn, you can’t do much worse than that!

The problem with traditional Sonic gameplay is that it is unconventional and illogical for modern gaming. One reason is due to coop. Most 2D action platformers nowadays have some form of coop that is functional and workable. But the main reason behind that is because the games do not rely on high speed action. New Super Mario Bros., the new Kirby games, Ray Man origins. Not counting DKCR because the coop in that game is shit. But then you have SOnic. The way coop was done back then (and can only ever be done in Sonic) was to make Player 2 invincible. But since Sonic is too goddamn fast, Player 2 gets left behind… a lot. This is actually bad design, but it’s the only way coop can work for traditional Sonic gameplay (believe me, it fails on Colors by requiring the players be near each other). Well what about split-screen or online coop?

Well… shit… why the fuck not!?

Because Sega is stupid. Also, someone might excuse this by saying “well how do you do split screen without slowdowns!?”.

It’s not a bad point. Sonic Heroes and Shadow both had split screen vs modes, but were both reduced to about 30 fps. Even today, you’ve got Sengoku Basara 3 going down in fps because of splitscreen. And considering most gamers are tech nerds that bitch about the slightest imperfections, and that the action platformers of today have coop without splitscreen (someone is bound to be pissed at that anyway), splitscreen coop is going to be a thing of the past. Plus, the rampant increase of anti-social gamers has become so prevalent that only online coop will suffice. But then there’s the possibility of lag and desync! Eh, w/e.

Having a series based on pure spectacle and not actual gameplay is not going to work out very well in an age where damn near every game is about spectacle. When you turn a video game  into a virtual experience, you sacrifice the element of challenge so that gamers can “experience the magic” if you will. And Sonic is all about Spectacle and not much else. If Sega actually tries to put some actual gameplay into the series, the stupid ass fans will decry it. Sonic is not supposed to exist with modern day gaming. Modern gamers have higher standards now. Sonic’s gameplay is not high standard. And to please the fans, it cannot be anything but spectacle. To “show off”. Do we not have enough pretentious games on the market now? If Sonic tries to be anything than what he is, he will be hated. If Sonic continues to be what he is, he will be hated.

Sonic is not supposed to exist now. Especially as a third party game character. The origins of a game cannot be removed for the rest of the series. Sonic was loved one because he was another competitor’s answer to Super Mario. That was Sonic’s other purpose since his conception! To be foil to Mario madness! How in the fuck are you supposed to live up to your concept if you are working with your enemy!? Sonic cannot co-exist with Mario unless it is in direct competition with him. And that direct competition came from having a console brand with a mascot to represent. Without direct competition and a console brand to call home, there is very little that is significant with Sonic these days besides spectacle showcases. And that does not do the job of breaking that bread! At least in our current economic environment. People want actual meat to the game. And if Sonic is an action platformer, it does a poor job of being that. It has to rely on it’s spectacle to bring people in. And no one is impressed anymore. A part of the Sonic “experience” was that it was exclusive AWAY from Nintendo’s brand games. If you wanted Sonic, you had to give up on Mario. This allowed Sega to take money away from Nintendo, Sony, and the like. Now that Sonic is on Nintendo consoles, you’re giving Nintendo more money than ever before. Sony and Microsoft!? Sony shouldn’t even be on Sega’s list of developers to cooperate with. And Microsoft is going to destroy gaming with their desires to monetize every god damn thing in existence. How the fuck are you going to charge people money to have more people present in the same room while using Kinect devices!?

Sega should just stick to PC for all I care. That said, the main reason behind Sonic’s hatred is that his entire concept, everything that Sonic is about, is no longer acceptable in this era. Platformers need challenging and emergent gameplay. Sonic rarely has that. Platformers need substance in level design. Sonic NEVER had that. Platformers (if they’re going to have coop) should have a system that is accustomed to having 2 or more players. And, yes, Sonic never really had that either. Sonic cannot compete if he tried. In order to do that, you would have to reboot the franchise and make it something other than Sonic. And you can’t do that without scaring away goddamned everyone. The only way for people to love Sonic anymore is to honestly kill off the franchise and forget everything after Adventure 2 ever happened, because change is ultimately a bad thing for Sonic, or even making the games a little difficult is ultimately bad for Sonic. You cannot have divergent gameplay else you earn scorn. You cannot have traditional gameplay without being shallow.

Ultimately, people have no concept of what Sonic’s gameplay is because the only thing people saw about Sonic was the spectacle. And now that it’s gone or old and tired, there’s nothing special about Sonic anymore! It’s the same case with Final Fantasy 7. It sold because of the spectacle of rendered cutscenes and everyone thinking that’s how FF7 actually looked. Years all after the fact, FF7 ain’t shit anymore. And no matter how many times Greednix makes an adaptation to FF7, it’s going to continue to be perceived as pointless drivel. The hatred isn’t about bad gameplay nowadays because people legitimately believe Sonic Colors and Generations have good gameplay, but they find them boring. It doesn’t matter what Sega does right so as long as the gameplay remains just as shallow as it’s always been.

I’ve talked to a guy about this several times now, the Sonic series cannot constantly venture back to it’s roots because the roots are not the key to success if those roots were never the greatest things ever. Castlevania doesn’t need to go back to it’s roots, it just needs to improve on it’s current concepts (NOT LORDS OF SHADOW!). The mentality Sega needs is not so much going back to their roots, they have to BEAT their roots!

Sega has to constantly reinvent the Sonic gameplay to keep it interesting. People are getting sick and tired of the “hit boost to win” gameplay as it stands now. So what else can they do with the Sonic concept? Well, giving back our damn characters would be nice! Stop listening to these dumbass fanboys and let me play fucking Knuckles again! And not the Olympics! And not Sonic Rivals! Give me a Knuckles that can Fly! Climb! Dig! Shit like that! Don’t give me this universal bullshit gameplay standard by making every character a palette swap! It’s like weed, give me the raw shit and not the cut!

And give him some tribal dreads too!

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