Thursday, December 18, 2014

Playable Character Act (Part 2)

Sonic Boom: Yet another example of the Sonic franchise having no direction.
Sign this petition to bring back Sonic's friends for the Main Series:
Playable Character Act For Gamers By Gamers - Petition

So what did we learn from our most recent experience with the Blue Blur? What did we find out about the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise that wasn't previously apparent to us? Taking a look at the Sonic Boom project in its entirety, we can say that while the Sonic Boom cartoon show on TV has been a subtly mild success, every other facet of this project has been very underwhelming and disappointing. Both Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal failed to live up to the standards that Sonic fans were initially promised. Both Big Red Button and Sanzaru Games worked on these games and they were given a specific amount of time from Sega to complete them. What was presented to the public as final builds fell far short of what was envisioned.

Not surprisingly, the well established and "highly regarded" professional video game critics (I write this in a sarcastic tone) chimed in with their thoughts of both Sonic Boom games, and they immediately put down low scores in their reviews. The sad thing about this is that these reviewers have it right. As much as people have criticized the likes of IGN, Game Informer, GameSpot and other reviewers for their biases against the Sonic franchise, there is no defending the glitch-filled empty feelings that both Sonic Boom games bring with them. The dialogue for both games were cheesy and didn't fully support the characters that were using such lines, as in the comedy was forced, much like many cartoons you see these days that simply try too hard to be funny and end up not being so funny.

The gameplay mechanics didn't relate to the characters and the added features didn't feel like something you would see in a Sonic game. If anything, these gameplay features felt like something you would see in games like Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank or any other Naughty Dog game.Yes, we have known for a while now that Sonic Boom is supposed to be a completely different take on the Sonic franchise. It's supposed to be something that stands on its own and separate from the Main Series, so naturally a development team would want to add different things into Sonic Boom that would never be seen in a Main Series game. Sonic fans understand that, but what they don't understand is why would something like this be so incredibly mishandled since Day 1 basically?

The entire marketing campaign of the Sonic Boom project was a complete fabrication, an intentional development of false hope in Sonic fans, and a prime example of video game companies being intellectually dishonest towards their devoted customers.

When it comes to my opinion on the Sonic Boom project, I was as neutral towards it as I could possibly be. There were some things about Sonic Boom that I liked and actually found interesting, but there were also some things about Boom that I didn't agree with at all and that I could only shake my head towards. I found myself scratching my head and wondering why certain changes were being made for this project.

I also began to wonder just why Sega and Big Red Button in particular were showing immense ambition towards a project that was off and on again in development, that was rumored to have begun as far back as 2007! I was wondering why shortly after the initial announcement of the project that Sega and Big Red Button were so very confident that everything would go over well with the masses, knowing full well that Sonic Lost World didn't quite do the Sonic franchise enough justice in the big picture.

Stephen Frost's tactics in trying to show that Sonic Boom would become an undisputed success proved to be futile. He had good intentions, and I don't mean to knock him so much, but here is the point I want to get across here. If you are in a position like Stephen Frost was and you make yourself available to Sonic fans, and if you know that there are problems with your game that you need to address, you don't turn around and try to cover what has already been exposed by the public. You address the issue head on and you don't dance around the bush. All the glitches that appeared in the E3 demo edition of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric should have been a clue to Frost and to whoever still remained at Big Red Button Entertainment that plenty of things needed to be fixed. However, not much was done, and therefore we have a case of video game developers being intellectually dishonest with Sonic fans who took the bait of Sonic Boom's hype.

Another part of being intellectually dishonest would be the fact that Big Red Button kept hyping themselves up to be a stable upstart company, but if you dig deep enough through the internet, you will find out that this was never the case. Big Red Button Entertainment never truly had stability to begin with, and towards the end of this Sonic Boom saga, it became apparent that Big Red Button was falling apart, letting go of employees with very short notice or without notice. All this information wasn't disclosed for some time and most of the people who worked on Sonic Boom never got to participate in the final build. Why did this information needed to be withheld from Sonic fans?

Steven Vitte: OBJECTION! Sonic's friends should be playable again!

List of Reasons Why I Made The Playable Character Act:

Here are a list of reasons why I made this Playable Character Act petition in the first place. I want to reiterate what I said before in my last post regarding this petition.

1) Fans of Sonic's friends (Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, etc.) are being alienated from the product.

This is one key point I need to talk about first. Why do I want to have the option of playing as Sonic's friends in a future Main Series game again? One of the main reasons why I even got involved in the Sonic franchise was because of the fact that I could play as more than one character. I wasn't forced to play as just Sonic back in the day. I am a Tails fan and I firmly support the use of Miles "Tails" Prower as a Main Series playable character. I believe Tails deserves a chance to run with his big brother figure in Sonic again. I believe Tails deserves to go on an adventure where he doesn't need to hang around in the background anymore. He can spin dash like Sonic and he can twist his two tails to fly, so why shouldn't he be used? Can someone explain to me why Tails can't be a playable character again? 

The same principle would apply if you are an avid fan of other characters like Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, Rouge, Espio, etc. Why should they be relegated to just being glorified cheerleaders (as seen in Sonic Generations)? Why should they just be non-playable characters? Was that their initial purpose when they were introduced? I think we all know the answers to these questions.

After a while it just feels as if fans of Sonic's friends are being completely alienated from the current Sonic product because all you ever see in the Main Series is Sonic the Hedgehog as the only playable character. After a while people get sick of seeing the same thing over and over again, and there has to be a cut-off point to this status quo. This is one reason for my petition.

2) Sega's and Sonic Team's reasoning for "Solo Sonica" doesn't add up.  

Steven: You will have a lot of explaining to do once I get enough petition signatures, Iizuka.

I have kept a close eye and a very open pair of ears on Takashi Iizuka, the leader of Sonic Team, and I have to say that he has become the most unconvincing liar and PR spin artist I have ever seen in the Video Game Industry. In back-to-back years during Sonic fan conventions, both Summer of Sonic in England and Sonic Boom here in the United States, Iizuka has responded to questions of "When will we see Sonic's friends come back as playable characters?" with "When we get Sonic's gameplay right, then we will bring back Sonic's friends"

Okay, so when will that come to fruition, Iizuka-san? When will Sonic's gameplay mechanics ever be figured out 100%? If Sega and Sonic Team had a clear idea of what Sonic's gameplay mechanics should be about, then why is there this need to constantly keep changing his gameplay mechanics after 2 or so games? Does this basically mean that it will take us 50 years to finally see Sonic's friends come back as playable characters in the Main Series? Really, Iizuka? Please explain to me what's really going on in this front because your recent track record basically says that you don't care about the rest of us who want to see Sonic's friends thrive in playable character roles again.

In closing here, I don't trust Takashi Iizuka because I don't believe he truly knows what the fans want. I take almost everything he says with a grain of salt. I'll be sure to confront him about this once I get enough petition signatures.

3)  Think about the future and stop dwelling on the past

This line speaks for itself. Sonic 06 was a failure of a game, sure, but it's long overdue for us to get over that game. Whatever misadventures the Sonic franchise has had in the past shouldn't impact how bold we should be in getting what we want in the future. I am mindful of the past and I look back at the past, but I won't dwell in the past. The Sonic franchise has had its fair share of bad days in the past, but unless we are willing to move on from those bad days nothing will ever truly get done. Sonic fans can complain about how things are so bad with Sonic games right now on the computer as much as they want. They can vent on message boards if they want to, but that won't change anything about this situation.

What has a much better chance of prompting change? Signatures on a petition. If people are willing to cooperate and sign my petition, then at least this would be something that you could look back on and say "Yeah, I tried to do something by signing that petition". 

If Tails fans want Tails back as a Main Series playable character, then sign the petition. If Knuckles fans want Knuckles back so bad, then sign the petition. If Amy Rose fans, Shadow fans, and fans of other characters want them back so bad, then what is stopping all of you from signing this petition? Why would a petition signature hurt? Let's see how this pans out. Let's try this. It doesn't hurt to try, and we will never know what happens unless we try.   

To further add on to Sonic Boom's terrible fall, I can't help but quote one knowledgeable Sonic fan who I believe firmly understands what is going on with the Sonic franchise for the most part. Theadvisor1234 recently shared his opinion on this fiasco.


I think many people are so depressed because they believe that recent misadventures have basically set Sonic's reputation back to pre-2010. Personally, I think that most of the people calling Sonic a bad franchise were doing so regardless of what actually was given to them, but after a short span where it really looked like the franchise was moving past the cynicism surrounding it, the haters got vindicated, at least to an extent. I can forgive Sonic Lost World, because I know that Sonic Team, as misguided as they were, were trying. I cannot say the same for the Sonic Boom campaign. It is an anomaly. You know how I talked earlier about Sega's marketing flaws? This is what I was talking about. 

2014 was supposed to be the biggest year for Sonic since 2006. This whole thing was supposed to be a huge, ambitious, proud moment for the franchise. Well, I think we can see that this didn't turn out even a bit like it was supposed to. Blame whoever you want, but the bottom line is that Sega promised something huge, and we didn't get it, and now they've got egg on their face. Oh sure, Big Red Button's the biggest factor in all this, but let's face it, the company's practically dead in the water as it is. Their top employees have left. Nothing more can be done about them. But SEGA, oh, Sega lives another day to face the reality of another bungled opportunity, and though I partly see them as victims of terrible circumstances, there is something that's keeping me from being all that empathetic towards them.

See, when I look at Sega, I see a company that is desperately trying to stay relevant. Let's be honest, if Sonic wasn't their biggest namesake, they'd have tossed him aside long ago, just like the many other franchises that no longer get any attention. And now, there's a movie on the way, which obviously will serve as a big marketing gateway to the Sonic games. But, here's the thing: what do the GAMES have to show for Sega's efforts? Sure, they WERE improving, albeit at an infuriatingly slow pace, and maybe the next main series title will be epic. I don't know. What I do know is that right now, it feels like Sega's trying to sell something that doesn't exist yet. 

It's like they're trying to make the Sonic franchise appear as if it's this fantastic series with fantastic experiences awaiting the audience, when in reality, they've still got a lot of problem areas to work out. I'm not even saying Sonic can't be great again. I'm saying that Sonic isn't great yet, but that doesn't mean that Sega isn't trying to make it look that way, because they are trying to remain relevant. 2014 was an example of that strategy backfiring. Sega needs to get a stronger control over what exactly they want out of this franchise, and make sure that this identity they settle on is conveyed to every possible sector of their marketing. But when I hear rumors of a PG-13, live action/CGI hybrid film, I realize that this probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. I'm not sure even Sega recognizes what they have in this franchise, why it affects so many people. 

Well, now the fans are beginning to see what I began to see years ago, and they're now unsure if they want to continue waiting for something that may never happen. I have seen cynical Sonic fans, and I have seen angry Sonic fans, and I have seen people who couldn't be classified as "fans". Let me tell you, when I see people acting genuinely HURT, NOT slighted, not annoyed, or upset due to some entitled attitude, genuinely HURT by something regarding Sonic, I know something is very wrong. Let's face it, Sonic fans have seen a lot of garbage (which I will fully admit that we are partly to blame for), but to see people who carried themselves through 06 and Unleashed and all the cynicism and backlash and harassment finally break down is something truly sad to see. If Boom had succeeded, it would have been just a successful spin-off cash in. But it failed, and now, Sonic Boom represents something much bigger than it was designed for. It represents a loss of hope. 

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