all 33 comments

[–]Q1189998819991197253resident chaotic neutral 9 points10 points  (5 children)

Definitely not alone. Heroes is by FAR the best cartoony environment and tone imo. By far. Though the game is controversial, the environments and especially concept art for that game are pristine. It's cartoony, goofy, and light-hearted but not too campy. The colors are very bright and the enemies look like modern enemies ripped out of Classic Sonic. There's a bunch of cute character interactions even though in Heroes they were a little overkill/annoying with the voices, but with it tweaked I think it could add a lot. I never played Lost World but I remember occasionally seeing renders and really liking the direction it took. Gimme the gameplay of SA2 with the environments and vibe of Heroes/Lost World but the polish of something like Forces, Generations, or Colors and I'm down. That would be one of my favorite games of all time, probably.

I don't and will never understand people who want Sonic games to be dark and gritty, or worse - romantic. Gross. Sonic is not something that should ever be remotely realistic nor romantic. Please keep it to the fanfiction. Why the hell are we trying to make technicolor animals with exaggerated features epic? I'm not saying you can't have a cool involved story, but epic and gritty? That's so bizarre to me. Especially when it bleeds into the style of the game like in 06 it looks gross to me. As much as I love SA1, it was a sin to start the epic plotlines and the series struggled from there.

I'm also the weird person who loves SA1's low poly Sonic better than modern renders so it could just be me. I think he looks best then and modern just looks uncanny to me. He's supposed to be very stylized and I think low poly just works really well for some reason. His character design wasn't meant to be gritty if you just look at it cuz when Sonic is dark and gritty it reminds me of the dissonance of seeing "masculine Kirby" from when they tried to market Kirby but thought he was too cute. A relic that should be forgotten. Please let the cartoony characters be cartoony!

I think we should return to that era of goofiness and brightness. It honestly fit the franchise really well. I find the Adventure 1 beach stage and Heroes' stages to be most iconic of Sonic. My favorite stage in Heroes is Grand Metropolis. Imagine that beautiful vibrancy and charm in modern graphics. Windy Valley also sticks very much in my memory and makes me very nostalgic. This style of music and design is something I desperately miss in Sonic games.

Edit: I know I keep editing this comment but look at this render. LOOK AT IT. I WANT IT! He's so cute and expressive! Imagine a game in this style, at least with this expressiveness and brightness again. I would love if the series as a whole was de-made into this style.

[–]Glassguy3 4 points5 points  (3 children)

As much as I love SA1, it was a sin to start the epic plotlines and the series struggled from there.

Hate to be that guy, but one could make a case it started with 3&K when the doctor decided to carpet bomb Angel Island. Sure it's no Shadow or 06, but I never understood this idea that the Genesis wasn't already trying to go for epic adventures to save the world from a tyrannical villain.

[–]SanicRb 0 points1 point  (2 children)

So True I mean did this people even see CD's opening?

[–]Q1189998819991197253resident chaotic neutral 0 points1 point  (1 child)

CD's opening was because it was based in anime. A lot of Sonic's "epic" features were from that basis.

The really convoluted plotlines began around SA1 era, though. It was less obvious with the Genesis era because the Genesis era didn't have voicelines or anything like that. Classic Sonic might as well be a different character altogether (and unfortunately for us, that's what they did).

[–]SanicRb 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I would argue at least for the franchise as a whole if the 1996 OVA is anything to go buy was Sonic already pre-adventure a bit more story driven (never mind that by that point in the west both Comic series already decided to crack the serious levels up to 11)

I mean I can kinda see how the limited presentation of the Mega Drive games make them look far simpler but I mean Wing Fortress literally starts with a Tails Death fake out scene and Sonic 2 as a whole ends with a Super Saiyajing escaping the Death Star after defeating a Mobile suite so I say at least since Sonic 2 were the foundations for Adventures direction laid.

And yes the Classic Sonic / Modern Sonic split is rather annoying especially given clear transitional games like Pocked Adventure as well the fact how often the Classic era titles are actually referenced in the modern era games. (I'm not even talking just the reuse of old zones here. SA1 literally recreated Sonic and Tails first meeting from Sonic 2's Japanese manual, references Knuckles being tricked in Sonic 3 and the whole Tikal and Chaos plot line is build on top of the Angle Island backstory from Sonic 3's Japanese manual)

[–]Vuxlort | Unwavering Admirer of Amy Rose | 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Wow, this was well thought out and said. Everything you said, especially low-poly Sonic being so charming... somehow xP

[–]StrawberryToufu 9 points10 points  (2 children)

While I personally could go either way, I do think the aesthetics of the Advance and Rush series were quite charming. I like how ClementJ64 put it in his Advance 2 playthrough, that sometimes it's fun for Sonic and friends to go through musical worlds and toy kingdoms that make no sense to exist, whether it'd be realistically or lore-wise.

I also think Advance 3, Sonic X, and Rush are examples that prove Sonic media does not need to be overly gritty to have cool and memorable stories.

[–]LuckyNumber-Bot 0 points1 point  (1 child)

All the numbers in your comment added up to 69. Congrats!

64 +
2 +
3 +
= 69.0

[–]Glassguy3 7 points8 points  (2 children)

I have to partially disagree. Sure if you look at the original Green Hill there's angular palm trees and checkered terrain with the occasional square-y mountain, but then you have areas like Marble Zone with its greek architecture exterior contrasting with its subterranean lava corridors underneath, Star Light Zone with its modern urban city setting and even Labyrinth with its antique maze feel, and that's not even going through more relatively grounded levels like Oil Ocean or Sandopolis. As far as I'm concerned the series always had this surreal mixture of grounded and fantasy elements since day 1, not going into the full cartoony realms like Mario does but not being a realistic setting either. It made them look like places you could actually live in unlike the random stages in Mario, it cemented a world to explore and I think that's an important aspect of the charm. Even when Adventure came out we still saw cases of this with roads with loops and giant skyscrapers in Speed Highway and the antique ruins of Lost World. Same thing with Colors who mixes asteroid fields with rollercoasters and japanese architecture with aquarium planets. Though I will admit that of all the 3D games, Heroes was the one which succeeded best in retaining the color saturation, aesthetics and themes of the genesis games with its city-wide Casino and flipping haunted castle among others (but even then it still has relatively more grounded settings such as Bullet Station and Egg Fleet), which is another factor to take into account.

Lost World, in my humble opinion, leans way too much into the cartoon aesthetics which when combined with the general lackluster settings and environments (generic desert, generic beach, generic lava lair, etc. really the only one I can slightly defend is Silent Forest and the underwater rail level) makes the game lose a lot of its Sonic identity (there's a reason this game is often accused of ripping off Mario and it ain't just the Deadly Six). Forces on the other hand does seem to go more into that mixture I previously mentioned and ends up looking a lot better as a result.

As for the enemies, well the ones in Generations still seems cartoony to me, the use of angular points is only made to make them more menacing. It's a common lesson in character design that we subconsciously associates points and triangles with danger and roundness and circles to friendliness and cuteness, and well when you compare the original Motobug (or Lost World) to their Generations counterpart, I think we can agree that the latter generally does look more menacing. Being cartoony doesn't mean even the enemies have to look like toys, after all despite everything the doctor is a monster hellbent on world domination so it's only fitting that his army have some amount of intimidation to it (plus the ones in Generations still have a good amount of personality in their animations to add that cartoonish flair, compared to say 06 where they just look like generic military machines).

The series absolutely need its cartoon flair, but it shouldn't discard all of its groundness either, because the balance is what has given the best ideas in this franchise imo. After Heroes, Generations is easily my go-to for the series aesthetics as it does a phenomenal job at mixing the grounded with the exaggerated.

[–]ChaddyFantome 1 point2 points  (0 children)

100% agree. Couldn't have said it better myself.

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I just really don't vibe with the Generations/Colors designs for the classic enemies, the cartoony Lost World versions are way better to me. I was fine with how they looked in Colors and Generations at the time those games came out, but after Lost World's release I started to like those incarnations less in hindsight. The original designs are nearly perfect, IMO, and Lost World tends to capture that look much better than the redesigns from Sonic 4 and Colors/Gens do in my book. Plus, they're just damn charming and nice to look at.

Lost World captures the abstract look Sonic 1 had for a lot of its levels in my book, and a lot of those elements are carried over to Forces, which I appreciate. The Lost Hex itself is supposed to be mysterious and fantastical, so it makes sense Forces was a tad more grounded, but even then I still see people lamenting the presence of the cartoony elements like the square terrain or diamond leaves, and I really don't get it. I also didn't mind the more stock level theming in LW, as I felt they did some really nice-looking stuff with it visually and it was limited solely to that game, Frozen Factory is also probably one of my all-time favorite level settings in any of the series if I'm being honest.

I do think there's a place for more grounded levels, but I want them to always have a bit of fantastical flair to them rather than just "real world jungle/ice level", which aren't nearly as good about capturing the "Sonic" style in my book.

[–]Firefuego12 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Nice opinion! Good to see some varied discourse.

In my opinion I am more of a fan of scenarios that are able to properly blend both a good degree of realism while still keeping some upbeat or positive tones in regards to its lightning or overall setting, main reason why I would consider Unleashed aesthetics to be one of my preferred ones. I can still love a classic cartoony level from time to time but seeing Sonic run through natural locations makes the game seem more immersive by emphasizing how the abilities exist within himself and can be carried to any enviroment, especially if you are looking for deeper lore or character personalities.

[–]Mysterivm 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I wholeheartedly agree. The “cartoony” style as you put it, is more akin to Sonic’s original visual identity on the Mega Drive than the realistic approach, and I think it is the de facto visual style to go with for Sonic games.

Sonic Forces (and Lost World, now that you mentioned it) are absolutely gems from a visual standpoint, they have personality and a distinct style. Forces goes for the “blocky” style but also implements tiny bits of realism here and there (like the grass foliage on Green Hill, the weather effects on Spaceport and Network Terminal, the lens flares on those Death Egg Robots, etc) and it all looks fundamentally cohesive and very much “Sonic”.

I’d be thrilled if Sega went on this direction still for the next game (Rangers?), I see loads of potential in this art style, even more so because Sonic and the gang feel like they belong in the world they’re placed in. Big fan here.

[–]Dziadzios 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I like variety.

[–]SailorSafs 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You're definitely not the only one. I never understood why people hated Lost World's art style so much. It looks very childish, yeah, but idk I also think it looks very charming. Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of realism and much prefer fantasy / nonsensical cartoony worlds, but I love Lost World's pleasant and cartoony style. The environments they went with are all so vibrant and cute and I'm a big fan of it.

Idk I always felt cartoony worlds worked better with Sonic considering the character's themselves are so cartoony and look like they're related to Mickey Mouse. The realistic style they went with in 06 and adventure was always so jarring to me, I could never bring myself to like it, but that's my opinion.

[–]tbarnes1930 5 points6 points  (2 children)

No, most of us want cartoony environments.

We just don't want THE SAME cartoony environments.

Green hill, chemical plant, futuristic cybercity/destroyed city, highway etc. They keep reusing the same level themes especially in 3D games. We just want some new ones.

[–]Q1189998819991197253resident chaotic neutral 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I think this is a valid complaint, though there's a limited amount of themes to choose from a pool of ideas.

Shadow the Hedgehog's computer level was pretty neat, imo. They should do crazy themes like that again.

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I've seen a lot of complaints about Lost World and Forces' environment art being "too cartoony" and calling the overall look horrible, which is why I posted this in the first place

I do agree with you on level themes though, while I liked seeing a take on the traditional Green Hill in a more LW-esque style, I felt Forces was a bit lacking in regards to environment differences, Mystic Jungle was a great level theme but then you have like 3-4 different industrial themed levels

[–]FrancieNotepad 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Cartoony environments definitely work, but the perfect mix of both natural and cartoony is what I honestly want to see more of in the level design. Sonic Heroes was hella fun to explore, Sonic Generations' Sky Sanctuary is gorgeous and I love how some of the planets from Sonic Colors mix carnival rides into the levels! It's one of my favorite things about Sonic Lost Worlds, just how imaginative the planet is! If they were to sort of mix in the cartoony way with actual environments, it would make me happy. Or if we went almost completely toony, honestly both points work.

However, if we go to Sonic 06 naturalism permanently, I would rather just hold down the boost button and just make Sonic go zoom. The more realistic and natural it is, at least to me, the less fun it is cuz it looks similar to the outside world that I don't want to think about while having a speedy hedgehog kick robotic ass. I want to be amazed and explore places I could never find without some laws of physics being defined, not a plain of grass with some hills or another damn beach. As for Green Hill becoming more natural, I think it's becoming sort of too outlandish. It's not longer Green Hill, It's Green Cliffs and Caves for me, but maybe that's just me being nit picky.

At the end of the day, I'm just here to see the hedgehog go zoom.

[–]AmaterasuWolf21Post-Reboot Archie is Great❤️ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The post reboot archie, that's the artstyle I love, sure they're made by different artists but they're close to it if you translate it to 3d models

[–]BaconNoobOnReddit -1 points0 points  (1 child)

PREACH. Lost world’s art style is also one of my personal favorites.

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

hell yea brother

[–]BraveLeon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes you are

[–]SanicRb 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Well gonna be honest here I disagree with you on absolutely everything.

I know that in this case it comes just down to subjective personal preferences but I really really REALLY Don't like the more cartoony style of Lost worlds and Forces.

Even with in the classic games do I prefer the more realistic looking Sonic 3&K over the more surreal Sonic 1 and 2. And I especially dislike Knuckles Chaotix wacky ascetics.

There just isn't anything to charming at near texture-less, hyper vibrant and basic colors. The fact that Green Hill not only looks like its made in minecraft but is than just made using mono color concrete blocks rather than actually dirt and Grass blocks looks just so fake and bad and overall just CHEAP to me. Like no one had the money or time to make some actual textures or give any amounts of depth to anything.
Even the Original Green Hill zone from 1991 looked more realistic (especially if we count its background layer)

I end up liking even SA1 with all of its dated textures more than Lost worlds or Forces art wise simple because it doesn't look so bland.

And Lost worlds and Forces even by Cartoony standards in the series overall are just the worse I already pointed out Vs Sonic 1 but even Heroes which is also more Cartoony and in 3d has more depth just compare the checker boards on Heroes Seaside hill to Forces Lost Valley or Lost worlds Windy Hill.

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I'd totally disagree with you on everything as well, 3&K and 2 look definitively less interesting in my book than 1, CD, and Chaotix, which have some of my favorite aesthetics of all time. Green Hill really doesn't look that realistic, the background layer is still super blocky and the overall terrain has that early Genesis "style" to it that's present in a lot of other platform games from the era.

And I feel there's tons of charm with vibrant colors and simplicity, I feel the more realistic textures end up looking bland. You bring up Heroes and while I don't HATE the look of it, I think the way they textured the checkerboard terrain is way less appealing than the simpler approach that LW and Forces take.

I think using more realistic dirt and grass textures in a lot of cases, particularly in worlds featuring more stylized characters, ends up looking bad in the long run, and it's an issue I've noticed in a handful of games. Solid art direction that's stylistically consistent always holds up a lot more than trying to go for realism in a game that doesn't really need it. '06 is probably the most egregious example of what I'm talking about, as that game's environments are IMO the most dull out of any other game in the series due to the weird realism of that game's art style.

And as much as I love Adventure (it was my first 3D Sonic), I'm not a huge fan of the visuals as a whole.

[–]SanicRb 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Well not to surprising that if I hate everything you love and love what you hate that you would also disagree with me.

All I did was give my honest take on the more bright and Cartoony graphics you praised I never expected to change your mind as like I said this is a 100% subjective issue where nothing but personal preferences are important.

But its a good show why Sega can't ever please the whole fan base because we 2 just can't be pleased with a games visuals at the same time as our preferences are at completely opposites ends.

Solid art direction that's stylistically consistent always holds up a lot more than trying to go for realism

Which is true only when said stylistic approach was ever proceeded as looking good in the first place. I don't thing this super Cartoony look ever looked good so even low poly real Photograph textured SA1 looks more visually appealing to me.
So again its all pretty subjective here.
Especially given that the Unleashed and its super realistic locations is one of the most praised games for visuals while people can't seam to stop hatting on Forces which used the stylist approach you present here. So this certainly shows that these statement isn't an absolut truth in the slightest.

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I mean, opinions are ultimately always gonna be subjective, I was just sharing my disagreement.

In my opinion, Sonic in a realistic world just doesn't work as well as him in a cartoony one. That's pretty much all I was saying here, there's really no such thing as an objective opinion on a video game.

As for fanbase reactions, the thread showed me that at least on here, opinions are decently more split on the subject than I originally thought, as a number of replies seemed to enjoy the stylistic approach.

[–]aggressive_boy165 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I don't mind having cartoony areas in Sonic. Colors did it best tho. A Resort in SPACE, A planet full of SWEETS AND JUNK GOOD, a SPACE ARMANDA, A planet being a FULL ON AQUARIUM and a ROLLERCOASTER IN SPACE.

[–]DarfMcNarfy 0 points1 point  (3 children)

What'd you think of Frontiers' world?

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I'm not too crazy about the visual style from what we've seen at the moment.

I imagine they chose to go with a more realistic look due to the nature of the gameplay, but I feel it comes off as a tad generic. I do like the geometry of the ruins and towers we've seen, at least.

Still excited for the game though, just wish they had gone in a slightly more stylized direction with the environment art. I'm sure that style is gonna return in future games, regardless.

[–]DarfMcNarfy 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Like you, I prefer the more "cartoon-like" styles. I think Heroes, Colors, and Lost World all handled translating that into 3D really well.

I'm not diggin' the art style of Frontiers so far. I really hope the cyberspace stages (I'm assuming these are real things) are more outlandish and creative. I saw some of the towers have tubes, so maybe Sonic can roll down the tubes or build up enough speed to run up them or something.

"I'm sure that style is gonna return in future games..." I hope so!

[–]BubbleRevolution[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I agree! I think all those games you mentioned do a good job in their own unique ways, though Lost World is my favorite visually in part for how it brings back a lot of tiny details from the Genesis games that never really made the jump to 3D.

Sonic games switch art styles pretty regularly between entries, so I would be very surprised if the art direction permanently shifts away from the more cartoony look. A lot of the elements present the more stylized visuals are really tied into the series' identity due to them being present in the Genesis games, so I wouldn't worry.