Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
This is the first thing which came into mind when I read the interview which has inspired me to write this.
Given the reaction from the community, I think it’s worth talking about. At least I’d like to talk about it, mainly because I for one am in the odd position of… not entirely knowing what to think about it, well actually, that’s a small lie. I do but, each time I try to get either angry or ‘oh good on Sega’ I start to think more about it and basically come to the mindset of, ‘yeah yeah…’ Or something which Sega has been doing a lot lately which I’m calling ‘words‘.
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, in an interview with Marketting Week SEGA Europe’s marketing director Jon Rooke dropped this line.
“SEGA has publicly apologised to the fans as the quality of console games in the Sonic franchise hasn’t been acceptable over recent years. It’s been tough translating that iconic side scrolling 2D experience from the 90s into 3D but Sonic is still huge for us so the new games will be more inspired by how it played in its heyday.”
Let’s start with this.
“SEGA has publicly apologised to the fans as the quality of console games in the Sonic franchise hasn’t been acceptable over recent years.”
You make two points, one is kinda right, the other is an outright lie.
The first thing I question is, exactly what is ‘recent years’? The quality of the last Sonic game wasn’t acceptable. The quality of Sonic Lost World was questionable, the quality of Generations was… actually kinda good, as was colours, are we including Mario & Sonic titles in this?
So how far does the ‘recent years’ span by, and dare I suggest that we should also include handhelds into that, especially the technical embarrassment which is Sonic Runners, I’m stopping short right now on writing an article about how Sega is auto banning people who reach a certain score but my god the evidence on that is certainly rising.
I could have used any image from Sonic Runners to show the problems that game has…
The quality of console games in the Sonic franchise hasn’t been acceptable over the recent years, if by recent years we’re talking Sonic Lost World and Boom, so ok you have one point.
Now lets talk about this apology. This is written in the past tense, he’s referencing a previous event… When was this? When did you apologise? Specifically about Sonic? There was a general apology about betraying the trust of ‘Sega fans’, several months ago, but I sure as hell don’t remember an apology to fans for spending £45 on the shoddy mess which is Sonic Boom.
I am growing very tired of people in PR at Sega misleading and sometimes outrightly lying just in order to generate hype or another pre-order. So should I add this to the pile?
Don’t be such a cynic, my mind tells me, it asks me to consider ‘maybe this post, this article is the apology from Sega?’ I think for a moment, and come to the conclusion, if this is an apology, it’s an amazingly poor one.
Consider the following if this is indeed the apology.
This is an apology aimed at gamers, at fans, people who buy Sonic games.
So why has it been given by a marketing manager from Europe to a Marketing World website? Other than people who run and manage Sonic news sites, who have an interest in licensing deals, who would have ever read that? Nobody is the answer. Nobody had any idea this interview existed, let alone an apparent apology, if indeed this was one.
Imagine for a moment you ate someone’s lunch, you decide to apologise, so you go to a cave which nobody has heard of and write ‘I’m sorry’ on the wall, then when asked to say sorry they say ‘I did’, you wouldn’t accept it would you. So how is this any different?
Then the cynic in me looks further and I question, even if this were the apology, why is the marketing manager the one making it?
He has no say in the games, he doesn’t have a hand in the games development, so why is he apologising for quality of a product when this would be either Big Red Button (or the people at Sega who made the Nintendo exclusive deal) or someone on Sonic team if we’re going to include Sonic Lost World into all this. This guy is the wrong guy to be making apologies.
So now we’ve pretty much established that this apology is just ‘words’ lets move onto the next part of the quote shall we?
“It’s been tough translating that iconic side scrolling 2D experience from the 90s into 3D but Sonic is still huge for us so the new games will be more inspired by how it played in its heyday.”
Ok we have two points again here, again one is highly debatable so lets start with this one first.
“it’s been tough translating that iconic side scrolling 2D experience from the 90s into 3D”
What’s the problem here?
It has? I thought that Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 were considered all-right by today’s standards despite their problems and Colours is considered somewhere between a good and a great game as is Sonic Generations, people seem to universally agree that the Sonic stages in Unleashed are the best part of that title so… where does the truth to this quote rest?
Well let’s look at it again, ‘translating that iconic side scrolling 2D experience’ so… does this mean side scrollers? If so… urm… yeah kinda. Sonic 4 has it’s problems, the primary one being the fact they marketed it as a Genesis sequel despite the fact it blatantly isn’t both in terms of appearance and technical execution, everybody went in expecting a like for like Genesis game and got ‘random new side scroller game which we’re calling Sonic 4 because that will sell more copies + terrible level design.’ But those side scrolling segments in Unleashed? Generations? What are you talking about, those are fine, they were getting better with each game, where has this ‘it’s been hard’ come from? The only thing hard is that someone at Sonic Team started to experiment with ‘Tubes’ and the Unleashed – Generations design environment went out of the window… then Big Red Button decided to completely bury it.
So how about we look at the last part of the quote, that second point?
“Sonic is still huge for us so the new games will be more inspired by how it played in its heyday.”
The keyword here is ‘played’, we know this cannot be Boom or SLW, combine this line with all the evidence we’ve seen of a ‘classic focus‘ for the 25th anniversary, I would strongly move towards the notion that the next Sonic game is going to have a very strong ‘classic feel’ you can interpret that as you see fit.
So lets take away everything and just look at the basics, ‘Sega have apologised to Sonic fans (at some point in time) about the poor quality of previous Sonic games. Next Sonic game is going to have a very strong classic feel.
Sega, you do know that we’re not goldfish? That we have long memories and can go around digging up old press releases in which you say that Sonic 4 will provide fans with an unrivalled classic Sonic feel. Only to then tell us to go and buy Sonic CD or Sonic 3 & Knuckles when people call you out on it.
And how Stephen Frost was going on about how Boom was good/different/unique because it had ‘synergy‘ only for us to discover how bad the interaction between the characters was on release, and to then discover that odds are the only reason then to discover the only reason this was being mentioned so often was because it was one of the many early code-names for the Sonic Boom project, because we gotta have those buzzwords.
What about Ken Balough trying to convince us that having
Tails in Sonic 4 Episode 1 would cost ‘millions of dollars,’ *editors note: I screwed that up, thanks Indigo* Or that the excessive use of dash pads is good game design?
How about we look at any of those outright lies and misleading interviews, quotes, videos, behind the scenes features which Sega put out in which people were reading from a script and bring up the actual truth behind them? Such as comparing those early trailers for Boom which showed this amazingly scenery and the final pathetic excuse for level assets?
Now we have the marketing manager saying ‘sorry’ and ‘classic’. It’s just words, words that Sega say.
I’m done with words, I want to see you doing things, actually backing up these words, not misleading people or saying ‘words’ just to get some lines on a news site.
Now that said, there are some great things which Sega PR are and have been doing recently. Ruby Eclipse has pretty much done no wrong since returning to manage the Sonic social media accounts, and the biggest unsung hero so far at Sega is the new community manager Dan, he’s barely been in the position for a month and so far he’s reached out to both large fan sites and smaller youtubers in order to promote Sega games as well as organise a party in which anyone (over 18) can come along to.
This kind of stuff I respond well do, whilst it’s not completely satisfactory since I want to see any play games before I start praising on high (although I want Yakuza 5 so bad!), this kind of stuff is doing you far better service than the ‘words’ which someone in a certain position makes every few months or so.
We’ve been told these words time and time again, I’ve yet to see anyone so far who has said anything in response to this other than ‘yeah right’ or ‘believe it when I see it’ pretty much every reply has been negative.
My advice. Someone who doesn’t work on the game said words, don’t take it too seriously, the only important bit to take from it is the fact that it’s another hint that the 25th anniversary is going to be more classic focused. Apologies are nice, but actually coming out with the goods is better.
So Sega we all.
P.S. Since writing this article, evidence is mounting that Sonic Runners, has some kind of ‘auto ban’ function in that which is banning people for reaching stupidly high scores, even if done legitimately, which thanks to the recent broken companions, is quite easy to do. Believe me we’d be talking about that right now had that news come to light sooner.
P.P.S: Amazingly, a bulk of this article is about ‘that classic feel’ and Runners has lost so much respect from me that I forgot that I once thought that it was the most classic feeling game we’ve had in years. Only now it’s a buggy technical mess of a game.