Friday, February 21, 2014

Inquiring About The Public's Opinion Of SEGA (Part 2 With Sonic) ...


This is a part two of a rant about irrelevant and stupid Sega is.  I left off talking about how Sega and Sonic are one of the same.  If you're in doubt, the best example of Sonic's dominion over Sega is the Sumo Digital line of games.  First was "Sega Superstars Tennis," a game that, despite the nostalgia, was okay at best and didn't sell well.  Then comes "Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing," a better game with more Sega nostalgia, but they put Sonic's name in the title for good measure because "Sega" is a dirty word that doesn't get the fans buzzing.  Finally, they release "Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed," the best of the three games but they completely removed Sega from the title altogether.

This is as embarrassing as having a Christmas display without the word "Christmas."  Casual fans mocked the game as being "another shitty sonic game" while Sonic fans (yes, the dreadful always-whining fanbase you love to hate) tried to assert dominion over it, even going as far as to complain "why is sanic driving a car???"  They all completely missed the point and that is this was a SEGA game, not a SONIC game, but people can't shut the fuck up about Sonic when it comes to Sega, can they?  Sonic already has three series of racing games dedicated to him (Sonic R, Sonic Drift, Sonic Riders) so why can't they go muck those up and leave All-Stars Racing to the Sega fans as a whole???  (yes, I did go on this spiel multiple times already, but it's one that needs to be drilled into your friggin heads).


Now look.  I do like Sonic the Hedgehog though I wouldn't call myself a diehard fan of the franchise.  If Sonic keeled over and died, I'd fear more for Sega's well-being more than anything.  To me, Sonic 3 and Sonic Adventure 2 will be the pinnacles of Sonic games in terms of fun and storytelling and they haven't been surpassed yet.  To me, those games were "cool."  The new Sonic games aren't and I'd probably feel embarrassed to tell my friends if I did play them.  Hell, the Internet loves to make a mockery of Sonic and I can't blame them.  Here's two reasons I came up with for Sonic's ineptitude.  They're rather common sense, but I'll explain it the best way I can.

1. There's no consistency left with these games.  Every single new title tries to reinvent the wheel.  Of the post-SA2 era, Sonic Generations seems to be the one people like the "most" but still, you get complainers anyway.  Case is, there will never be a "good" Sonic game for a long, long time.  And even if you get that "good" game of yours, Sega will mix things up again the next time!  It's like that Twitch Plays Pokemon experiment in which 60,000+ users are constantly kicking a ball around in the general vicinity of where it should go but in a manner that pisses everyone off.  The fans want way too much input and usually get it, even if it reveals new flaws in the process.  More 2D!  More 3D!  More speed sections!  More puzzles!  Only Sonic and Eggman!  More new characters!  More old characters!  Less melee sections!  Easier!  Harder!  Hand the game over to Nintendo!  Let Dimps do it!  Get Yuji Naka back!  It's like before every Sonic game, you must be given an index card with all the game's problems and nuances.  They don't call the Sonic fanbase the worst fanbase on the Internet for no good reason.  Then again, when your fanbase was exposed to the radioactive waste that was Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog, of course that's going to leave a permanent mark.

Also, who the hell is buying Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games?  The first one was intriguing--mini games featuring Mario and Sonic characters!  Cool, it's worth a shot!  Now we are on the FOURTH title???  Is this some psychological experiment to see how far Sonic fans will go to support the series???

2. I really don't know how to say this without ruffling a few feathers so here goes.  Post-SA2, the Sonic cast of characters has become entirely unlikable.  If SA2 was a movie, I could potentially sit down and watch it all the way through.  Sonic 06 and Shadow, as inept as they were, had okay stories that kept me interested enough to beat the game.  After that, sayonara Sonic, because your storytelling has degraded to shit.  The characters have become predictable: Sonic is a smartass who is never threatened by anything and always wins by himself, Tails is a useless nerd, Knuckles is braindead, Amy is a psychopath, and Robotnik is an idiot who's just a speedbump to Sonic's awesomeness.  It's so cheesy and incoherent it reaches to Zelda CD-i levels of bad.  I don't care if it's Sega of Japan or the tag-team duo of Warren Graff and Ken Pontac (of f**king Happy Tree Friends, for God's sake) writing the plots, they can't do this shit anymore.  I did watch part of that "Sonic Dissected" series again, especially the part on humor and Sonic Colors, and it's really eye opening how much potential they missed out on these games.

Of course, in the context of the "cool" theme I was going with before, these Sonic game cutscenes CAN be enjoyable...but from a storytelling perspective, does it even compare with the dialogue from more respected game franchises like Halo, Mass Effect, Fallout, etc.?  No.  If I told people I played Fallout recently, I'd get pats on the back.  On the other hand, if I told people I played Sonic Colors recently, I'd get my ass kicked.

Also I'll go ahead and say this.  Fuck Jason Griffith's voice.  I can't stand him as Sonic.  His voice is so damn boisterous it just accentuates all the things I dislike about this new Sonic.  There, I said it and I mean it.  I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking this.

Two more links to click on that I read.  Here and here.  Now that Sonic is officially part of the Nintendo family, you get Sonic: Lost World which is basically Sonic with Nintendo's greasy fingers all over it.  The gameplay is "meh" all over again and it doesn't strike me as memorable or good like previous entries.  All I see is the Yoshi's Island DLC and that anti-climatic ending (compliments of geniuses Graff & Pontac), both of which make me want to punch a baby.  I think the less said about this game, the better.  Why Sega is still riding the sinking Nintendo fail-boat, I dunno.

So what's next for the blue blur?  Sonic Boom.

Oy vey, this is tricky.  Especially Knuckles, MAH GAWD, KNUCKLES, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU???  Sega is on record saying the game is not canon, which is codeword for, "if this game sucks, we'll pretend it never existed."  While I do commend Sega for allowing Big Red Button Entertainment (a Western studio formed from some Naughty Dog guys) to come up with their own interpretation on the franchise, I'm afraid if this game/cartoon/toy combo (yes, Sega is going all in with this new style) is a success then hey, guess what--maybe Sonic Boom will be a permanent rebranding on the Sonic franchise for the new generation of gamers!  That...really doesn't make me happy considering how much squandered potential they had over the last 10 years of Sonic that they're sealing with concrete.  I mean I kinda liked Sonic with the Soap shoes and without the duct tape.  But hell, like I said, I don't give a damn what they do with Sonic, just as long as Sega gets money, right??? :D :D :D

UPDATE: So yeah, Sega released a behind-the-scenes for the game and TV show.  It looks nice (albeit somewhat generic) but the characters and plot sound a Westernized Sonic Heroes (bad) with juvenile Sonic Colors humor (terri-bad).  Sonic dresses like Nathan Drake because Naughty Dog devs think this is Sonic's ultimate "adventure," okay, because the last decade of games weren't adventures at all.  The VA's and jokes still piss me off.  I'm not too optimistic but it sounds like the game devs had a lick of sense to what they were saying and doing so I'm not going to denounce it just yet...

You know, back to what my original point about Sega being cool, here's what I'd do about it.  And frankly, it's not going to work without talented, dedicated individuals, but here goes!  My bullet points:

> DO SOME HOUSE CLEANING!!!  I have a hunch Sega is swimming with inept employees.  Get 'em out of here.  I want to see skilled employees at Sega who are emotionally invested in the company and actually like the games they make.  Employees who are willing to take a bullet for Sega.  Okay, maybe not that far but you get the message.

> START ADVERTISING BLUE-SKY GAMES AS COOL AGAIN!  Grow some balls.  As a gamer, I'm sick and tired of being trampled by the grey-sky, realistic, doom & gloom games.  Start making colors fashionable again.  Come out and say, "so-and-so game is cool" and actually mean it.  Aim for that 18-35 year demographic.  Steal the cool baton back!

> STOP DROPPING THE SONIC FRANCHISE ON ITS HEAD!  Again, Sega lives or dies by the Sonic franchise.  What can be done about it?  Well, find that niche again between speed and platforming.  Cut down on the bland storytelling and bad jokes.  Bring in other characters that actually serve roles rather than stand there and act stupid/clueless.  And most importantly, give Sonic WEAKNESSES because an invincible protagonist is BORING.  Again, read the thousands of other Sonic articles out there for hints on how to improve Sonic! :)

> STOP PUBLISHING BAD GAMES!  Stick with Football Manager and Total War.  Kill the Aliens franchise, I don't want Gearbox taking any more of your money.  Speaking of which, stop using publishing as a crutch.  You should do this...

> START PROTOTYPING GAMES AGAIN!  What's beautiful about a lot of Sega arcade games is that they're small yet concentrated experiences.  Daytona USA only had two cars and three tracks but it's one of the most memorable racing games ever.  Sega needs to start churning out small in-house games, maybe posting them as online arcade or mobile titles, see what works, and then expand upon them if they are successful.  This allows you to get publicity, revive old IPs, and experiment with things that work.  Genius, right?

> RELEASE SHENMUE 3!  Oh, what's that?  You might've lost the Shenmue trademark because of inactivity?  Well get it back and make it anyway!  Help old man Yu Suzuki out!!!  He's the man that made Sega the ex-superpower that it was, you should return the favor to him and the stalwart Sega fans! Cheers!

Come on Sega, I know you can do it.

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