Comments on Arthur B's The Sega Mascot History Tour

A cross-section of games on the Mega Drive Flashback HD offers an interesting tour through Sega's history.

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Helter Shelter at 03:56 on 2018-09-05
The really frustrating thing about Sonic's conception is that a lot of the base ideas seem like the right call, both from a business perspective and artistically. For the former, your competitor has cornered one market, so you just make the market bigger (this was Nintendo's strategy with the Wii/DS era, and it paid off enormously). For the latter, you're carving a new path, taking a genre in a direction nobody's seen before, which can pay off with something that's simultaneously of tradition while breaking it in a cool way (point of comparison: Elric the Not-Conan). Even the idea of "edgy, but within a specific set of parameters" is something that I think could work if you chose to commit to it, but unfortunately Sega, for what sounds like a variety of reasons, just weren't willing to commit to any part of Sonic's identity.
Arthur B at 12:46 on 2018-09-05
Yeah, it feels like you should be able to do something with him - except his handling has been so inconsistent over the years that whatever you do will inevitably alienate part of his fanbase. ("It's too cutesy!" "It's too edgy!" "It's too serious!" "It's too funny!") at 02:28 on 2018-09-06
Weirdly when I was a kid the Master System "mascot", IE: The one who everyone seemed to have the game of, was Psycho Fox. For some reason everyone I knew who had a Master System owned that game, while only a few owned Alex Kidd or Sonic.
Helter Shelter at 06:37 on 2018-09-06
@Arthur B

You're right about the fanbase, though if anything I think one of the side effects of Sonic's inconsistency is that, paradoxically, there's not enough consistent to him to allow you to do anything. Mario is one point of comparison - no matter what you do to him, he's going to be a cheerful Hero with middle-of-the-road stats, so while there has to be some level of silliness you can at least play with the tone and genre a lot - but Batman, as an actual character, is an even better one.

He has a few defined personality traits - he's grim, intelligent, methodical, not overly showy with his emotions, and doesn't kill people - and you can spin a wild number of tones out of that combination, and in fact I've seen convincing suggestions that half of any new Batman story's appeal at this point is 'how is this person gonna do Batman different?'. Sonic, by lacking any consistency, also lacks that flexibility.
Arthur B at 11:15 on 2018-09-06
@Arilou: Interesting! I wonder if that's a regional thing?
Arthur B at 11:19 on 2018-09-06
Wait, on second thoughts I have a potential explanation for that: apparently on a lot of Master System models Alex Kidd was actually built into the system, so you wouldn't have necessarily noted the packaging lying around (and if your friends didn't realise there was a built-in game they might not have accessed it).

As for Sonic, whilst there was a Master System port of the game, I seem to remember at the time that 8-bit ports of games for 16-bit systems tended to have a (justified) reputation for being severely compromised versions of the real deal.
Ronan Wills at 00:00 on 2018-09-09
Man, reading this article gave me a real nostalgia blast.

I was a Sega kid growing up and loved the Sonic games, but replaying them years later (and playing Sonic Mania) revealed that they just weren't that good. The entire idea of Sonic being fast is at odds with a platforming game; in order to stop you just zooming past the entire level, you're constantly getting halted by obstacles or crashing into enemies. I feel like this fundamental problem with the character has never been addressed.

I actually feel like you could make a good Sonic game now, if you were willing to completely disconnect from the legacy of the older installments. I'm picturing a game with wide, expansive levels where using speed and momentum is encouraged, with controls that feel more like a racing or even skiing game than a platformer (picture something like the shield sledding from Breath Of The Wild).

Even still, I have intense nostalgia for Sonic and Knuckles with Sonic 3 attached; playing through both games combined and unlocking hyper Sonic felt like this mysterious, epic adventure in a way that I had never experienced before, probably because I had never played an RPG.

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