Friday, 7 February 2014

On Sonic Boom

So because I'm not very fond of gaming journalism I apparently managed to miss all the teasers about the new Sonic the Hedgehog related animated series and its prequel game Sonic Boom until the teaser trailer and character reveals popped up yesterday on social media. So let's have a quick look.

On Sonic Boom
Quick Thoughts on the Redesign.



Okay, why the bandages everywhere? Are their shoes in danger of getting wounded? What does Sonic need with a scarf? Why is Knuckles a steroid giant now?

Apparently they decided to make this separate from the main franchise, so even if it ultimately isn't very good, at least we'll still have the questionable quality of mainstream Sonic games rather than a complete departure from previous entries in the series (I'm looking at you, Tomb Raider). Known hells are better than uncertain heavens, right?

I was a big Sonic fan when I was a child and I still have a certain fondness for the series, but I also maintain a certain lack of expectations since we've been burned so many times since the Mega Drive days. Overall it doesn't look bad though. The setting looks inspired by classic Sonic the Hedgehog games. Amy and Tails look nice. Sonic looks okay in the trailers (looks like a bit of a conehead with spikes in the concept art). Only Knuckles is way too oversized for my taste. I'm also glad to see Amy bumped up to a more dignified position in the main team now and she has a lot of potential because of it, although we'll have to wait and see if she'll manage to live up to it.


Sonic Generations (2011)

Aside from a few annoying tendencies and a couple of games handling her badly, I always liked Amy Rose as a character. The only thing I really have a problem with in current Amy as a concept is that she rarely ever got the chance to stretch her legs beyond her obsession with Sonic. I hope they at least tone down that aspect of her personality.

Anyway, here's the reveal trailer for the video game.





What has me curious is a quick shot between 0:36 and 0:38. Screencapped below for your convenience.


All of our heroes fall through the floor of some kind of ruins. The guys fall flat on their faces (in Sonic's case literally), the girl lands on her feet and has a certain "look what a badass I am" on her face. Now that could just be the manifestation of Amy's new-found agility, which is awesome. However based on previous experiences I fear this might be the sign of a female character who has a chip on her shoulder about being a female in a group of male characters, which is when it gets annoying. After all, the goal is to put the girl on equal terms with the guys, not highlighting the difference by making it an obviously gendered issue.




In an interview with Polygon(1), Big Red Button team leader Bob Rafei revealed that Amy's redesign and inclusion was to make her a more capable character in her own right to make her more interesting for female audiences, and not just as a character designed by a bunch of men. That's of course a noble endeavor but historically that approach usually misses the point. After all, Sonic the Hedgehog has been a capable character in his franchise for 23 years and he's lying there with his face firmly planted in the ground.
Does moving Amy out of Sonic's shadow mean constantly having to show him up? Because that usually translates into an overall not very interesting character who has to do with token gestures of "capability" while the others still do all the meaningful work in the story. A truly badass character can afford to fall on their face occasionally because they don't need such token gestures of "empowerment". They simply are such because of their nature.


A real badass can get tossed around a bit.

So please, have Amy Rose be a badass on her own terms and not as a token portrayal for the sake of gender politics. She has had to wait long enough for a day in the spotlight.


Sources


(Images)
http://blogs.sega.com/2014/02/06/sega-launches-new-franchise-strategy-for-sonic-the-hedgehog-with-sonic-boom/?0=1
- Sonic Generations
- Avatar: The Last Airbender

1. http://www.polygon.com/2014/2/6/5387184/why-sega-handed-sonic-over-to-western-studios-and-gave-him-a-scarf

13 comments:

  1. Given that one of them has always been able to fly, You think the flying one would be able to land on his feet

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    1. Yeah, I was wondering that too. In one of the other trailers Tails' plane was about to crash and that was cause for drama ... dude, you can fly!

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    2. Everytime they do something like that, all I can think of was that one Bugs Bunny joke where Bugs is watching Daffy fall off a cliff, looks over the edge and says "I wonder if that crazy duck will remember he can fly..." then there's a thud and he says "Guess not."

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  2. Well, at least appearance-wise, Amy really won out on the Redesign Lottery. Sonic loses on account of the scarf. I am not fond of scarves on anyone.

    But yeah, I'm also hoping that Amy's not turned into a "Strong Female Character" who exists solely as fanservice, for lack of a better word. I don't mean the kind of fanservice that comes with upskirt shots and boob windows, I'm talking about the kind where a female character is made to be "strong" and "capable" by way of having them have a chip on their shoulder Because Girl, and thus showing up the guys in the cast. It's still fanservice, in a way, because while "make this character better than all the boys" is more likely to be heralded as progress and less likely to raise hackles, it's no less about pandering to the audience, or part of the audience (in this case, female players) than giving Amy a bust size upgrade and Dead or Alive jiggle physics would be.

    Of course, all that's my opinion; I could be wrong.

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    1. Yeah I seriously hope they aren't going to do that. Every time I see one of those "never send a boy to do a woman's job" types I want to punch the screen.

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    2. Personally, I think the better thing to do is to have karma knock them down at that point. For example, after maybe laughing at her team mates or something, something falls on her.

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    3. Yeah, that's basically what makes season 1 of Avatar bearable despite half of Katara and Sokka's storylines being about "girls can be warriors too!"

      At least they had the good sense to have a bit of humor about it and make those situations more complex.

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    4. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in wanting to punch the screen or at least yell at the screen. Characters like that don't interest me at all. I don't know why writers, male or female, assume that hyper-capable heroines are what all or even most female fans or potential fans want.

      If Amy Rose did go the way of the "never send a boy to do a woman's job", I wouldn't be surprised if people praised it for being "great character development" instead of condemning it as the character derailment that it would be. I think I said this on another entry here, but the people who would call such a direction "progress" don't care about variety in female protagonists, they just want a different set of cliches and stereotypes, ones that they favor. That's what rubs me the wrong way about that kind of character from the writing end of things.

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  3. It's not the first time people did this kind of mistake by making the female protagonist so perfect with no real personality's flaw. This kind of character fails to appeal the female audience because they have difficulty to relate to them. In the case of Toph or the female cast of Avatar: The last Airbender, they were enjoyable because they are badass but they have both quality and flaws, they suffered from the consequence of their mistakes. Conclusion: they are rich and complex characters with no need to hammer to the audience how they are badass and capable.

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  4. "Because that usually translates into an overall not very interesting character who has to do with token gestures of "capability" while the others still do all the meaningful work in the story."

    ^I knew I wasn't the only one noticing that shit. That's why Elise from Dan Vs kinda bugged the shit outta me. Dan and Chris would do all the crazy "guy stuff" and then Elise would either enter the fray as the voice of reason or not show up at all. She often portrayed as being virtually flawless. These writers need to understand that a flawless Mary Sue is not a real female character, mainly because no person is that perfect in real life.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2-CLYFBTV0

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  5. The bandages on the shoes might be to protect the laces/keep the laces from coming undone. I did a Zombie 5k (basically flag football meets...well...a 5k) and in order to keep the laces from getting mud all over them and coming undone I covered them with tape to protect them. That might be what's going on here.

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  6. I'll say it: I like the new Knuckles design! (and I was a very big fan of the Knux comic back in the day) XD Mostly because Knuckles has always been the "strong man" of the games, the Hulk to Sonic's flash. Of course back then in more primitive graphics days he was practically a clone of sonic but now we don't have that limitation. Yeah it's been kind of cute seeing Knux beat up guys much bigger than him because he's supposed to be "that strong" but it also gets a big silly. It's time the art team finally fixed the guy to actually look as strong as he's supposed to be IMHO.

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  7. If you're looking for something that satirizes/deconstructs/plays with the "Gurrl who's tuff and has to prove she's stronger than da boys" is the Johnny Maxwell series, the first one being Only you can Save Mankind, by Terry Pratchett. There's a female character who spends so much time trying to be the best and win everything that she's a bit of a sociopath, and the main character calls her out on it. Really, I wish more writers would play with or just do away with this trope. It isn't empowering or good writing, it's just dumb.

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