Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Op-Ed: Sonic does NOT belong on Non SEGA game platforms and there's a reason why.
Yes, I said it and I'll say it again to all those who've grown up with seeing him on various consoles: Sonic The Hedgehog DOES Not belong on a home console that doesn't bear the SEGA brand on it period. He DOESN'T belong on Nintendo,Xbox or PlayStation, He was created solely and specifically for SEGA game platforms.
Now I know you'll probably call it an opinion of mine. But I don't call it opinion, I call it PURE fact. Something that can not only be argued very simply, but also something that can easily be proven as accurate,tested fact.
Now the young kids who read this op-ed, listen to me. You don't know Sonic like you think you do. You let Wikipedia or other biased,non informative and professional hackneyed Sonic game sites like TSSZ,Sonic Stadium and even Sonic Retro influence you or tell you, THEY have the facts and therefore you do. Trust me, they don't and you are unfortunately naive in your thinking.
So why am I saying this? Why do you think just about every Sonic console game has gotten an overall lackluster response or failed to get high scores? It's not just the overall malaise and bureaucracy of poor game journalism and a Corporate shilled cottage industry where journalists think and write with their wallets and not with their passions by letting American publishers bribe them to overpromote,overrate and overhype their titles, is the overall simple and logical fact that Sonic The Hedgehog is a computer video game character and icon created,designed and concepted to appear ONLY on SEGA branded game platforms both console hardware and Arcade hardware. He only appeared(rather ported to other consoles) because Sega no longer had a platform of their own to support and develop for.
But that was in 2001, when Sega had $3 billion dollars in debt and had watched its parent company CSK Enterprises,Inc dissolve. When they at the time had no choice but to place Sonic on other consoles.
It is now 2016. Sega doesn't have any debt and has been in very healthy shape since 2009. Its the overall fact that it hasn't grown and is not profitable enough, although all of its divisions overall are profitable and doing fine.
But you ask yourself, "What's the difference between the Sega consoles of the past compared to my PS4? They were no different" That's were your misdirected. SEGA branded consoles were completely unique and totally different from other companies. SEGA being an Arcade company designed their consoles way different and far more ingenutive from its competitors. And that's what Sonic was designed for. He wasn't designed for you to play on a console. He was designed for SEGA. Developed and Designed as the identity of the company. Sonic The Hedgehog symbolized who SEGA was in the 90s: a game brand with attitude, who's games and hardware were way on their own level, designed and built with fantastic quality and who's in house 1st party games were larger and more diverse than Nintendo's.
Sonic The Hedgehog is not just some franchise. He's an icon, the mascot and face of SEGA, Therefore his appearance on non Sega game platforms in the 2000s went from being a vital importance to the company's survival to a worthless necessity in the 2010s just to fill quota and please a very small demographic of consumers who aren't actually Sega fans at all. But rather Sega rivals "Wolves in Sheep's clothing" who claim to be Sega fans but are actually people from other console camps who in reality actually have little interest in Sonic in the first place who's real agenda is to see Sega fall apart,go under and sell off its IPs to their favorite console manufacturer.
Now I'll explain my reasoning, and assessments as well as why Sonic not only belongs EXCLUSIVELY on a SEGA console,Arcade platform, but also always suffers from lackluster execution and mediocre sales on other platforms. But to do that, I've got to show each Sonic title chronologically.
Sonic 1 AND Sonic 2 were designed and made specifically for Mega Drive/Genesis hardware. They wouldn't work emulated on rival consoles and never really did because they both were designed with a distinctive trait. They SHOWCASED the "speed" of the hardware's CPU. They were designed as FAST,smooth and aggressive to show that Genesis' had fast action and that its games had faster running framespeeds. The term "Blast Processing" was a REAL term. It it not/was not FAKE. It was a marketing term describing how faster the Motorola 68000 was than the SNES/Super Famicom Ricoh 5A22 CPU. 7 Mhz V.S. 3 Mhz. Sonic 1 and 2 were fast because they were programmed to show that Genesis games were fast.
Sonic CD too, was made specially for Sega CD/Mega CD. It showcased Sega CD's Mode 7 tech, scaling and rotation, as well as showed just how much better at colors,speed and power Mega CD was compared to Genesis/MD. It also showed how brilliant and crisp the sound quality was because of Sega CD's technology. When at the time in 1993, Sound technology in home consoles was extremely limited(even most PCs at the time had limited sound technology) Sega CD was the first console hybrid that was perfectly capable of Stereo Dolby Channel 5.1 audio.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3/S&K was made late in the Genesis' life. The game not only like its predecessors had speed and fast action, SEGA had adapted Mega Drive's tech, giving it abilities to handle larger color palettes and push its 256 max color capabilities to the limit. Sonic 3/S&K was the first Genesis platformer that fully utilized the tech of System 16B its Arcade counterpart from 1986.
Knuckles Chaotix was made for 32X. Had the 32X/Mars been released and developed as the Neptune hybrid, this game would have executed System 32 architecture successfully.
Tails Adventure was the first REAL Sonic series title made exclusively for Game Gear. The games prior like Sonic Chaos/Sonic & Miles, Sonic Triple Trouble/Sonic & Miles 2 were all Master System developed games ported to Game Gear, and the first two GG games don't count, since they were just downgrades of popular Sonic home platform titles. Tails Adventure was unique because it made flawless use of the GG's 2 button design.
Sonic Xtreme was cancelled for Saturn for a good reason in '96: It was NOT meant for the Sega Saturn nor was it designed for Saturn hardware. Xtreme was designed for 32X, not Saturn. The beginning of the end was when Sega of America/Sega Technical Institute attempted to move development of a game they had been developing from the ground up for Sega 32X to a new platform they had not been properly trained how to design games for and one they DIDN'T understand a single thing about. Had the game started development in 1993 for Saturn instead of the abortion known as the 32X, Xtreme might not have been doomed. Regarding the argument of berating Yuji Naka for refusing to allow his Nights engine to be used for the projects retooling, it was Naka's patent and game engine, not STI's, He had every right to refuse.
The obscure "Sonic Pool/Saturn" project however coulda and should have made it. The prototype itself WAS developed from the ground up for Saturn. Peter Morewic had learned how to properly design games in 3D for Saturn and this concept showed Saturn perfectly capable of easily handling 3D and levels without compromise and without any problems.
It is highly very possible the mid 2000s fan game hit "Sonic Robo Blast 2" could have made it/fit perfectly as a Sonic killer app for Sega Saturn. The game used the Doom engine which the Saturn could have handled flawlessly. Compared to Crash Bandicoot, SRB2 certainly would have been a system seller/bundle as well.
3D Blast Sucked because it was a port. A sloppy,slapped on one.
Sonic Jam although was a neat little compilation title for Saturn(which ran the Genesis games on Saturn's architecture instead of emulation) it prototype an open world engine that ended up in Sonic Adventure.
Sonic R was a disaster because although it was developed for Saturn hardware by Sega of Europe and Traveller's Tales, it bombed because they spent far less time working on its gameplay,execution and design and spent far more time on its concept and overall presentation. Sonic R wasn't a bad idea per say ,but the execution was utterly horrid.
Sonic Adventure was made for the Dreamcast. Not for the Gamecube. The SEGA Dreamcast. The game started development from the ground up on DC hardware. Not only did it showcase DC,revive Sonic after his decline from the mediocre Saturn appearances, it displayed DC's large open world environments and even offered both diversity in characters, and a memorable soundtrack.(Which was absent in Mario 64 three years prior) The sad fact is that the corporate internal problems at Sega/CSK pretty much marred its execution especially in Japan where the game was rushed out for Christmas week 1998 prematurely in front on a new console that had only reached its Delta testing stages, its 1999 International rollout alongside Dreamcast's was a hit, but overall, Sega was in very serious trouble.
Sonic Shuffle could have worked. But its biggest planned feature(Online play) was removed at the last minute by Sega of America.
Sonic Adventure 2 too was developed from the ground up for Dreamcast.(Heavily showing its graphical capabilities and early DLC) The Gamecube port wasn't really a port at all, but rather an expansion pack. At the time it was nearing the end of the development, the overall attitude at Sega was that the company was in the fight of its life. Okawa appointing himself COO meant the end, the whole company begin to hope and pray that Isao Okawa would be merciful and spare Sega's console division from his companywide restructure, but sadly, Okawa had other plans(as early as 1995, he wanted Sega to go software publisher only) and pulled the plug on Dreamcast to the dismay of the whole company and SEGA fans worldwide. The new Sega Corporation,Inc was going to be software game company.
Sonic Heroes too, was also planned and developed for Dreamcast, but cancelled and moved to Nintendo Gamecube, in order to cut costs, Sega Corporation ported it quickly from GC to Playstation 2 and Xbox using "Renderware" in late 2003. This is where the very first problems regarding Sonic games' execution and presentation started "on a NON Sega console". Although SH sold well and was positively reviewed, its overall reception was mixed, fans enjoyed it, but most journalists and hardcore gamers considered it lame, and too child friendly. They also complained about its challenging "Team based Trio gameplay" lack of Co-Op and complained that "Sonic has too many friends and side characters. I hate them and don't want them playable".
Shadow The Hedgehog was the first and ONLY Sonic title to be developed from the ground up on Gamecube. Using Renderware for Xbox and PS2 porting, Sega also tried to assure it be identical on other platforms, but Sega of America only spent 10 months of development on it, and its overall presentation was not received well by journalists and hardware at the time of its November 2005 rollout, it was called "too edgy" "too unSonic", "too difficult" and "too different" And since the game was only in development from December 2004 to September 2005, it wasn't entirely polished, either.
The blame behind the Sonic 2006 debacle which is said to have led to Sega's overall decline in game quality until 2009, lays not on Sega Corporation/Sega Games but on Sony. YES Sony. Sonic The Hedgehog 2006(originally called "Sonic Crisis") had started development from the very ground up on Xbox 360/Xenon hardware. Sega had agreed to develop a Sonic title exclusively for the new Xbox in late 2004. What had happened, is that in addition for weighing the option of moving its development to a 2nd platform, the planned SEGA Pheonix/Sega Lindbergh console, is that the plan for Sega to return the home console business had been scrapped in 2005, because they were also planning to develop the game for Lindbergh, Sony got leaked info regarding the new Sonic 360 game and immediately asked Sega to bring it over to PS3. Sony paid top dollar for co-licensing(thus obtaining half the game's licensing rights) and asked Sega to have the game ready for PS3's worldwide late 2006 launch. Sega told them it wouldn't be ready until February 2007, but Sony threatened to legally buy the IP to the "Sonic Crisis"(The word Crisis was being used in the game Time Crisis) so Sega was forced to release the title under the name Sonic The Hedgehog(Next Gen) in time for PS3's launch.
So you see, it wasn't Sega's fault at all the game was completely half-finished,buggy,unpolished and overall very mediocre. It was Sony's fault for using "corporate intimidation." Its debatable whether Sonic Crisis/Sonic The Hedgehog 360 would have turned out well had it remained a 360 exclusive or had even given it at least an Arcade rollout on Lindbergh.
The Sonic Wii storybook games were developed from the ground up on Wii. But the console itself is a very basic and primitive piece of hardware. Thus Secret Rings and Black Knight were nothing special or memorable.
Sonic Unleashed which was the first and only Sonic game that got a current gen and last gen release in 2008 I consider a dark moment in gaming history, It was the moment where it became clear, that game journalism itself was no longer a medium you could rely on or expect professionalism from. It was the moment I realized that the ESA(Entertainment Software Association) had become the anti gamer organization that was hellbent on destroying the entire industry and that game journalists could be brought and sold. ESA is EVERYTHING wrong with gaming and all the dumb sheep that keep buying garbage like Call of Duty.
What I'm saying is that nearly EVERY review of Unleashed on all the games sites were not only erroneous,false,WRONG,exaggerated,unprofessional, they were pretentious,prognosticated and blatantly, BIASED against Sonic. It's pretty clear in these archived reviews how much the journalist are nitpicking and trying to find something wrong with the game. The Werehog became their whipping boy. The "Sega needs to stop trying new things" scapegoat.
This game's reception got utterly assaulted with a pure unadultered "Anti Sonic" agenda. Almost like these journalists were trying desperately to convince Sega to retire the series.
Sonic 4 fell short because Sega pandered to people with unrealistic expectations: that A Sonic game could be made in the same style of the old Genesis. Sega made this game to pander and please them. Even though SEGA knew that a platform with hyper threading and blast processing was non existent.
Colors was developed for Wii. But it was very late in its life for a dated console, when at the time, Wii itself was pretty much dying out and there was more of an initiative to port it to PC or Arcade, stronger more technically inclined platforms.
Generations for 360/PS3/PC is where the whole argument about Sonic having life on other mainstream consoles begins to fall apart. Where the argument "Sega games don't sell because they don't advertise or market them" enough fails. Because despite the aggressive marketing campaign,promotion, positive reception,good reviews, the game STILL manages only to break even falling short of complete profitability.
Instead, the newest Call of Duty repackage breaks records, and sells like hotcakes. Are you proud of yourselfs? Trash like COD Modern Warfare sold a ton, but Generations fell short despite Sega doing EVERYTHING right with its presentation and execution.
With Transformed, Sega finally put out a good Sonic racing title 15 years later. The previous Sonic racing title Sega All Stars Racing doesn't really count, but because of the overall reception of Generations, gamers demand Sega immediately churn out a sequel(despite the fact that Generations didn't sell very well) and so in protest, they ignore Transformed.
Sonic Lost World, started development for Wii and was moved to Wii U, but because it was "too different" and "too hard" people complained and it didn't sell Wii Us for Nintendo at all.
Fans and Gamers whine about Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric all the time. Like Sega ruined everything,they suck, its all their fault. When the REAL blame and all of the blame lies on the game's developer: Big Red Button, An inexperienced,ambitious,outsourced developer given a project by Sega of America way over their heads. And yet, its all Sega's fault and BRB gets a free pass.
Yeah somehow its Sega's fault when they had absolutely NO involvement in its development. When BRB developed the game from the ground up on Wii U using a game engine not designed for Wii U. Yet, Sega of Japan who had ZERO involvement in the game. Yet, again BRB did nothing wrong, Sega did.
Maybe its perhaps why outsourcing game development is a bad idea and why you should NEVER higher inexperienced developers like BRB who don't have a single clue what they're doing.
If you would like to know why the Mobile titles: 2013's Sonic Dash and 2015's Sonic Runners are such huge successes despite the Free2Play and Mirco Transactions pay method they use, the answer is simple: Its not just the fact that they were designed with "Pick up n' play" its the fact that both Dash and Runners are both Arcade-y style Sonic titles. Thus they are Sonic games with an "actual SEGA identity" They represent who SEGA really truly is: An Arcade,Amusement company. Not a lousy game publisher.
As you can see, the reason why Sonic belongs solely on a SEGA console is because when his games are developed from the ground up on Sega hardware, not only is the overall presentation,execution and reception is solid and well received, but each Sonic game has a specific trait showcasing and displaying how unique each SEGA platform is. As we've seen, this cannot be duplicated on non Sega platforms at all and just about everytime Sonic has gotten a 3rd party release, its overall presentation is mixed and its reception is usually very lackluster and underwhelming.
My advice to SEGA is simple regarding Sonic and what to do with the main series: STOP putting him on rival consoles that he wasn't designed for. Bring him BACK on to a REAL,Sole SEGA console where you'll be free to design games in your own way, own time,own approach without people telling you what to do and without extreme,unrealistic expectations. Understand this, people brought Sonic games because they appeared on SEGA systems. He was the reason why people were buying SEGA systems. Sonic Heroes didn't make people go buy Gamecubes, and as you can pretty much clearly see Sonic 2006 didn't sell PS3s and Sonic Boom didn't sell Wii Us. People will BUY a NEW Sega console like the proposed "Razor" to play Sonic. They STILL will. MANY consumers will.