I think it would be quite obvious to many people as to why Shadow the Hedgehog kickstarted the erosion of Sonic’s appeal at this point. But most would still point to the gun as the exclusive reason behind it. Now, this goes without saying. Looking at Shadow’s concepts, it’s mind boggling as to why he has a gun.

“He’s a character with super powers. He doesn’t need them!” Of course, Sonic fans have this attitude toward many of the Sonic characters that have super powers. Sonic in a car or a hoverboard for racing makes even the most open-minded fan squirm. Oddly enough, Tails is excused on the premise that he is “smart“. Right…

By the logic of the fanbase, if a character displays meta-abilities of any kind, whether it be spin attacks/dashes, tornado tail whips, or even super strength, then the usage of a weapon is not justified and inexcusable. However, we are expected to excuse one character because he displays those qualities and those of an engineer. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story, you have to stand in awe! I mean, it is his “engineering” aspect that has reduced him to being nothing more than this.

Sits back and talks his ass off without getting in on the action.

But I’m rambling. The usage of a gun turned off plenty of people. But that isn’t the actual reason behind Shadow’s infamous concept. Sonic fans take things out of proportion too much. The mere presence of a gun is not enough to decry an entry in the series.

Afterall, bitches love me.

The problem was never the gun. But the overall tone of the game just made the gun seem much worse than usual. Now, we can sit around and simplify why the gun shouldn’t be there (too powerful to need it, too violent, too realistic) but when it comes right down to it, if the game didn’t shove it’s edginess down your throat everytime there was an ad on tv, the gun would not be an issue at all. For instance, here’s two levels from the aforementioned terror of the series.

The tone and atmosphere of these levels contrast heavily with the rest of the game. It might not diminish the effect of the gun’s mere presence, but in comparison, these few levels do very little harm. Think about the entirety of SA1 and 2 while having Gamma and mech levels. You’re not bothered by the presence of their weapons due to being in games that are not edginess overload. It’s basically the porridge of the little bear. “Just right”.

The actual reason behind Shadow’s flop was more so the tone and atmosphere of the game’s content. The “realistic weapons” just pushed it a wee bit further. You NEVER change the content in a long running series for any real reason. Even if it’s a reboot.

The problems found in Heroes and Shadow were major shifts in content. In previous Sonic games, there was a modest balance between light-hearted and dark content, both in tone and atmosphere. Mostly provided by the series music, but often times the games would present certain zones that presented a bleak future.

Literally

We’re talking Coraline levels of balance here. Think about it. The same series with music like this:

Also has freaky shit like this.

Music, as I’ve said before, sets the tone and the atmosphere for anything. The first song makes the series seem very kid friendly. The second, however, makes the series seem scary beyond all reason. But that was the beauty of the series. It maintained a balance between both forces at work. This continued through both Adventure games as well. Then Heroes took a sharp dip into candy land, and then Shadow took the DmC route. Many fans declared that the series took a turn for the worse when Heroes came out.  This was the point in which the balancing act of the content was thrown out the window with the bath water. Since then, the series appeal has been demolished for all intents and purposes.

Throughout the last 7 years of this console generation, Sonic games have been shat on completely. Truly, these were not the best years for the franchise, what with CGS and all running rampant, but even with the attempts to appease fans, those have fallen flat on their faces 3 times. EP.1 and 2, as well as Generations, all for being “shallow” or “shitty physics” (like anyone really cares). Some reasons became more absurd (green eyed monsters and all). If every attempt to appease the fans have failed, it’s likely the time for a reboot. The sheer hostility toward the idea, however, seems crazy at first. Afterall, we all grew up with these characters, having the series restart might take away the charms of the series.

It’s not a silly concern, it’s very legit.

So many reboots have come and failed to live up to fans expectations, nevermind the sheer masses as well. The most recent ones off the top of my head that come to mind would be the Amazing Spiderman film. Now, in some ways, this was the right method to reboot the film franchise. Spiderman’s character was more accurate to the comics (they even gave back the web shooters so all the nerds could shut up about Peter’s “intellect”), the costume design was better but close to it’s source material, the Lizard was pretty cool…. but something was missing. The Spiderman series didn’t try to be….. “dark”. This is the primary reason the reboot fell on deaf ears. It tried to compete with the Dark Knight trilogy. The tone and the atmosphere the film’s universe screamed Batman. It was more dramatic (or tried to be), lacked any real comical value beyond Spiderman’s usual antics and Stan’s cameo, and feels very anticlimatic in general. The film tried to be a typical Spiderman film… and felt anything but!

The atmosphere was just not Spiderman.

Then look at DmC (the latest one). Now, there’s so many things people could say about this game which launched a thousand shit storms across the internet, but in general, the game led this “assault” against everything the fans enjoyed about the original series universe. From the wig scene to the overdose of profanity to the “surreal urban” setting and heavy dosage of heavy metal, not to mention the typical shit you would seen in modern day teen movies with dull characters that talk about their small, if I may say “emo”, problems (Dante admits to cutting himself open to feel alive). The “cashing in on NWO” gigs wouldn’t have been so bad if the developers didn’t go out of their way to express their sheer contempt for everything that appealed to the fans.

Not everything can be TDK or The Incredible Hulk. Or Tomb Raider, for that matter.

If anything, a reboot proves to have more risks than there are rewards. The chances of characters being altered radically from how you interpreted or enjoyed, or the atmosphere completely changes at the expense of the series are extremely high. The chances of it being met with complete disdain are even worse. And hell, if you ask most people, Sega wouldn’t be the right choice for the reboot. Afterall, developers that work at Sega now have admitted to not even knowing what Sonic is about. That presents a huge problem because if the primary company who owns an IP has no idea what the IP is about (which is evidenced by their output in recent years) then how can you be relied on to make a damn good reboot?

And yet, it seems it’s the only route to go for the series. At the moment, Sonic is at the mercy of relying on Nintendo, Disney, and Crypton Media Future to fund their business. Are none of Sega’s franchises really worth a damn that they have to depend on crossover gimmicks? Sonic shouldn’t have to be ahem… “whored out” to make money for Sega. Sonic makes small appearances in commercials, television cameos, and a tiny cameo in that damn Disney mess in order to garner a tiny burst of interest back into the franchise. Then, scratch their backs by allowing the titular character into a racing game spinoff along with Danica Patrick and the possibility of DLC Hatsune Miku. Not to mention the only Sonic games this day and age that moved passed 1 million sales were crossovers with Mario in the Olympics. If Sonic was getting back on track, Sega would not have to resort to this nonsense. Sonic the Hedgehog cannot sell on it’s own merits anymore.  And unfortunately, this is a hard pill for the fanbase to swallow (at least those that aren’t overcome with CGS). We can pop off all this good shit about “the games are getting better”. The fact is less people are buying them. Why would they? The series has no appeal. Sega even admits it with the prostitution business they’ve got running with the Hedgehog.

The gameplay can be improved for all intents and purposes. It’s still shallow gameplay. You do largely nothing else in Colors and Generations aside from blasting through the levels at high speed, maybe find some red rings for pointless secrets and some unsatisfactory minigames. And then… that’s it. There’s nothing beyond that. This is an age where people do nothing but burn through content in as little as 3 days flat. Sonic games aren’t going to cut it in the long run. You have appeal, and then you have gameplay. But there’s something that eclipses both in importance. “Fun Factor”. Fun Factor provides the longevity and the replay value for any video game series. If a game is not fun after the first time you play it, it does not have fun factor. This goes for a lot of Sonic games made in this era. Why is there a lack of Fun Factor and Appeal in Sonic games?

If Sonic is not allowed a reboot of some kind, the series has no business existing in this era other than to be whored out to keep Sega’s pocketbook half-full. This is a hell of a quandary. At one side, the series is due for a reboot to wash out the bad tastes in people’s mouths. On the other hand, Sega is more than likely to screw it up, or the fans would reject it simply because it is a reboot. The 3rd option would be to let a 3rd party handle it, though 3rd parties have a bad habit of mucking up IP’s as well (Star Fox Assault, DmC, Sonic Rivals, Castlevania LOS). Then again, maybe I’m over-analyzing the consequences of such actions.

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