Jump to content

What's with this franchise just abandoning good ideas that could save its reputation? (Generations, Mania, etc)

Scritch the Cat

Recommended Posts

Recently I saw King K's video about Sonic Frontiers, and it gave me pause for thought on the future of Sonic.

By now, it has become a common criticism of Sonic Team/SEGA that it tends to experiment with ideas, banking on them being a success, but not putting in quite enough time, effort, or money to make them totally work, then blaming the ideas themselves for failing and abandoning them, only to repeat that cycle with new ideas.  I still think that dig at them is largely valid, but King K's words made me realize that this actually goes deeper, because even in situations where a game is unambiguously well-received, and even though this series has often felt like it desperately needed a winning formula to double down on, there have been times when it has defied the best bet and gone and done something completely different.

The two big cases King K mentioned were Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania.  Depending on whom you ask, either Colors or Generations was the first Boost game whose flavor of peripheral gameplay didn't repel people, but either way, Classic Sonic was a proven addition, and Modern Sonic had simply never handled better.  They had what many would call a clear path forward, or maybe even two; all they had to do was make more of that but this time with all new levels.  But instead of taking the clear paths forward, they went sideways, trying and failing to develop a workable parkour style of gameplay and also dumping money into a spinoff series that was almost perpetually mishandled and contributed nothing to the core series.  Then, Sonic Mania became the best-reviewed Sonic game in over a decade, and once again, the safe bet was to do more of that but this time with all new levels, but somehow, it never got a sequel.  Instead, we entered a Sonic game drought with a racing game that wasn't even on par with racing games made earlier, flawed ports of well-liked past Sonic games, and some rather embarrassing collaborations with other games.  While Sonic Frontiers has managed to become more popular than the last few Sonic Team games, it's questionable whether it's as good as it ought to be given it took half a decade to make.

So why exactly has this happened?  Why is it that even on those rare occasions that a Sonic game gets released to widespread praise with "no buts" involved, this series keeps losing its footing by going off on tangents, often rushed ones?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They did try to capitalize on Generations' success. By bringing back GHZ, CPZ, and classic Sonic. And now they're among the most hated things in the series.

Though I'd say Generations was always a dead end anyway. Nothing more to it than stagnant boost gameplay, halfassed "classic" gameplay, and a load of nostalgia; none of that's fit to support the series long term. And while Mania is a genuinely great game, it's far more of a celebration of the past than an actionable plan for the future; they probably could've gotten away with a sequel, assuming the actual devs were up for it, but they'd probably hit some major diminishing returns beyond that, and they want Sonic to thrive on a level above what retro sidescrollers can support these days.

I guess the optimistic answer would be that they realized that none of this was suited to being a long-term solution and they had to keep searching, but I imagine the reality of it is a lot messier.

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, Scritch the Cat said:

So why exactly has this happened?  Why is it that even on those rare occasions that a Sonic game gets released to widespread praise with "no buts" involved, this series keeps losing its footing by going off on tangents, often rushed ones?


I feel like thats a bit shortsighted. Sure we never got a Sonic Unleashed 2 - but its core ideas for boost gameplay were obviously carried forward. Maybe we never got a Generations 2 (not that it would make any sense to do that lol) - but the modern/classic split that was pioneered there stuck around long enough to overstay its welcome.

There is an easy enough footpath to follow with the series. Its not a  "baby out with the bath water" situation that it is often exaggerated to be.

Sonic Team clings to any type of critical successes and uses it like a crutch. The one time they stepped out of their comfort zone was with Lost World and that had more to do with creating something sustainable as opposed to anything else. And when that got criticized, they immediately jumped right back into their safe space.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking over the sales data posted by @The Deleterthe past couple of weeks I've come to a new conclusion on this.  Sonic Team isn't just looking for a decent holdover, they're looking for a golden goose that'll lead them to long term, sustainable growth for the IP.

Like, for starters, let's be frank: Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations didn't do that great. High 70s on MC is respectable but it was clearly south of what they wanted and there are titles this community has absolutely clowned on  that turned in reviews on par or better. They weren't ever the critical darlings 'with no buts' fans said they were and there were plenty of people that were lukewarm on them. They needed to improve dramatically on their core concept or come up with something new to really deliver, not just do the same thing again. I think Sega were aware of this which is why they were even okay with stuff like Lost World or Boom to begin with.

These were both big shifts that were advertised like mainline games, but they both did comically bad in terms of sales. Mania, Forces and Frontiers almost seem tailor made to win back the trust of that consistent audience they used to have before those two games dropped.

The 3D Sonic series does alright but had a clear hard ceiling on what it was actually capable of bringing in. When you consider how the industry has grown, and what certain franchises that used to be comparable to Sonic in sales have bee able to do with that growth, you can tell something is missing. Frontiers is the first Sonic game to actually grow the brand in a long time and it's still not really meeting the potential reach they should have on all platforms imo. When Kishimoto talks about bringing Sonic Team back to the top of the industry and competing with titles like Forgotten Land and Donkey Kong Country, I think this is what he means. They want a critical and commercial success that rockets the brand to new heights, not just another game that only really appeals to the same people who always buy sonic games.

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll be honest, boosting is very, very limited.

You go fast, run straight, ram your nose into enemies. Jump a few times. That's it.

Also the constant 2D switch can be obnoxious.

There's nothing to explore with it. Can't use the formula to add Knuckles or something to it. It'd only work for Shadow (meh), Blaze and Metal Sonic.

Frontiers seems more experimental capable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm glad I saw this thread. Because I now have an understanding of what I'll be dealing with here as far as the general perception of the boost formula. And it's not one I really agree with at all. lol

I'm not going to change anyone's experiences they've had with these games or how those experiences have made them feel toward them. So, I'll instead just share what I like about the boost formula based on my experiences with Generations and how I think it could be taken further.

Put simply, the (better of the) boost game's mechanics just have a good sense of rhythm and flow to them. Kind of like SA2 in a sense, though I honestly feel it could (potentially) carry even further.

There is no level that perfectly showcases my vision for what the playstyle looks at at it's peak, but this one comes pretty close i think.


Actions quite literally flow into each other, propelling you to the point where you must time the next. Like, at 0:07 the player wall jumps and the momentum from that carries them to a platform that, almost immediately when you land on it, you need to short hop off of. Something similar happens around 0:18

At around 0:08 a jump that carries momentum (I notice Sonic's jump doesn't really carry momentum in the same way in the Adventure games, which I initially strongly disliked in at least the first Adventure game. I played Generations before either of them) is chained into a stomp at the right time onto a switch.

Every use of the lightspeed dash plays into this.

Most efficient use of the swinging poles around 0:41 has this element. And around 0:42 they swing off the pole into a stomp and then do something similar around 0:50.


Or how about this shortcut around 0:25 which involves jumping off and then falling into the precise point that you need to airboost?

I say this to say it appears the crowd around here very much subscribes to the 'boost to win" viewpoint of that playstyle. I think it's a fair criticism to a degree, but I think it only applies at all because boost level design has not yet been perfected, which in my view would mean focusing more on this flow and move chaining and less "dashing like a maniac" through automated setpieces and linear hallways.

I even go so far to say that at least THESE boost games mechanics when used in the same way, a way involve flow and rhythm, could be used to make traversing a more open environment and exploring it fun...

....not unlike the moves and different jumps you'd see in another 3D platformer.

For example, do stuff like what you did in the the above shown Speed Highway clip around 0:25, but just put it in a different context.

A terrible example probably, but hopefully one that get's the point across. You see a tall building that Sonic can't enter for whatever reason. But from the outside, you look up at a higher point on the buildings outside walls, and you see on those walls an area that is cracked and damaged, and seems like it can be easily broken through. So you look around and see a nearby hill that is also pretty tall, taller than the building, You climb the hill, reaching it's top so that you are now above the building. You look diagonally downward at the weak spot in the building, then boost jump off of the hill you're standing on and fall downward until you reach the point where you are level with that weakpoint and then airboost into it. Do it too early, and Sonic crashes into the building's side above the weak spot and comes up flat as a pancake. A similar thing happens if you airboost too late, waiting until you fall below the weakspot.

Or imagine a scenario like the first mentioned after the first video, except in 3D. You wall jump off a wall and let the momentum carry you onto a platform that you immediately jump off of because it crumbles quickly. And then you do a series of short hops onto other small platforms high up in the air so as to reach a collectible. If you fail to jump off as soon as you land on a platform you fall to the ground below and never make it to the high up collectable.

I just think that some aspects of the boost game's mechanics and even how we have already seem level design use them is overlooked.


Guess I can't edit comments, yet. lol

But this is also exactly the reason I am kind of salty about Frontiers and have no intentions of buying it. Outside of timing jumps off rails (which was not an intended mechanic) the level "design" in the overworld from what I have seen does not at all seem to follow this philosophy of flow and rhythm. It's even apparent in how Sonic himself controls, losing a ton of speed the second his feet leave the ground.

What I want to see out of the boost gameplay in an open world format is not spamming a bunch of automated setpieces such as spam homing attack chains, subway surfers lane switch sections, and grind rails floating in the air, but instead executing precise timings of your moves in rapid succession to cancel and/or redirect momentum. Besides being less automated, it would also be more satisfying from a challenge perspective.

Frontiers seems to completely misunderstand that and what I view the appeal of the boost formula to be. And I am in no way going to support that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.