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Franchise Original Sin / Sonic the Hedgehog

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Let's just preface this by saying this series has a rather notorious reputation for taking ideas that were once considered acceptable and even ambitious for their time before they were considered noticeable flaws as they were implemented worse.


Games

  • Sonic Adventure was well received as the first proper 3D Sonic game, but introduced what future games would be criticized for overusing.
    • Sonic using the Chaos Emeralds as an 11th-Hour Superpower instead of an optional unlockable. The climactic nature of the fight managed to undo a lot of potential animosity, but once it became the standard for every game, it was harder to justify. Heroes in particular snapped the fanbase's patience with the idea, as there wasn't even a good story reason for why it had to be a final-boss-only affair; you still collect the Emeralds in bonus stages like the old games, unlike in Adventure, where they were relevant to the plot.
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    • Eggman being upstaged by a Monster of the Week that goes out of his control. The idea was a cool change of pace, but when it became Eggman's role in nearly every game to be a Disc-One Final Boss for some new baddie, it got old quickly and put Eggman through some major Villain Decay, needing later games to restore some of his old status.
    • The presence of alternate gameplay styles, ironically, was worse in some Adventure routes than in its followers, with Big the Cat's fishing minigame being especially disliked. But Adventure also segregated these alternate gameplay styles into their own story paths; while you needed to play every story for the True Final Boss, there was never a worry when you were playing Sonic's story that you would be playing anyone except Sonic. Later games would have different gameplay styles on a level-by-level basis, or even interrupting a character's level to have you start playing another. There was also the fact that Adventure's takes on Tails and Knuckles were generally well-liked and not too dissimilar from Sonic, while their appearances in later games tended to be much more divergent, inconsistent, and clumsily executed.
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  • SEGA's very loose policy on canonicity of side materials (most notably the cartoons and comics) created a Broken Base as early as 1992—one year after Sonic was introduced—as Sonic fans started siding with one particular interpretation while viciously attacking the other ones, not unlike today's Broken Base with Sonic (only moreso with gameplay than story, though the latter isn't rare either). During the '90s, however, Sonic fans had a common enemy in Nintendo and Mario, so the cracks didn't become visible to most until 2001 with Sonic Adventure 2. At that point, SEGA exerted greater enforcement over canonicity rendering all other storylines non-canon, followed shortly by its financial collapse and subsequent alliance with Nintendo. With the barriers torn down and no uniting force, the bickering became the Sonic fandom's most infamous trait.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006):
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    • One of the most polarizing elements was the character of Princess Elise, who many people remarked as looking incredibly out-of-place next to Sonic and pals, but realistic human characters had been around since Adventure without too much complaining. Elise was just the first one to be a major character who regularly interacted with the cartoon animals, which threw the contrast in far sharper relief (and the romance just made it even more questionable). And while Adventure did have realistic humans, the technology demanded they be stylized to a certain degree. Seventh-gen hardware allowed for a lot more photorealism (which was the game's goal to begin with), which, again, put a spotlight on how poorly they fit in with the cartoon animals. Sonic Unleashed would address this sin, however, by making the humans more cartoonishly proportionate to better fit in with the funny animals.
    • Sonic's questionable choices in human romance choices trace all the way back to before the first game was even released, when Sega of Japan tried to pitch his character design with a human girlfriend named Madonna, which didn't make it into the game at all.
  • This episode of {Errant Signal} argues that the early marketing of the Sonic games, which focused on how fast Sonic could go, eventually led to problems in the 3D games as SEGA started to buy into their own marketing hype. Maintaining control of Sonic's momentum was the main facet of the gameplay in the older 2D games, not simply speed for its own sake, something that was forgotten in the post-Adventure Sonic games. This sent the franchise running straight into the Polygon Ceiling, leading to games where poor controls designed more for high speed than precision led to exercises in controller-throwing frustration. Only starting with Sonic Unleashed and especially with Sonic Generations did SEGA finally figure out how to do Sonic in 3D, mainly by rediscovering the focus on controlling Sonic's speed rather than simply going as fast as possible (and there are some who say that they still haven't completely figured it out, either).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is perhaps one of the few franchises that can claim to have suffered from Franchise Original Sin in almost every game in the series, as aspects of every game have been criticized in later installments.
    • In the era from Adventure to Sonic '06, a lot of focus was placed on the supporting characters. Many felt that this got out of hand, with the cast becoming too bloated, the different playstyles not being well executed, and not having enough Sonic in Sonic games. Starting with Unleashed, Sonic Team drastically cast back the role of the supporting cast, with everyone except Tails making cameo appearances at best. By the time of Sonic's 25th anniversary, the other characters had been neglected for so long that many fans had become desperate to be able to play as them again, or at least wish for them to be given a more significant role in the plot. The final boss fight of Generations tends to receive a lot of scorn in particular, as the returning characters do nothing except cheer both Sonics on.
    • Related to the above; the ''abundance'' of characters as well. Almost every game introduced a new major recurring character, starting with Tails (Sonic 2), Amy and Metal Sonic (Sonic CD), and Knuckles (Sonic 3). Initially, these characters were rather popular and considered fresh additions (and because of the Grandfather Clause, you'll find very few who hate these four in particular) that added to Sonic's world. But when characters became increasingly numerous, and starting to overshadow Sonic himself, in addition to them being tied to questionable gameplay styles at the time, public opinion started to turn against them and demanded for the cast to be cut down which led to the aforementioned era of having Sonic as the only playable character.
    • After struggling to break through the Polygon Ceiling for so long, Unleashed featured a mixture of 2D and 3D gameplay, with the 2D sections being fairly brief and integrating seamlessly with the 3D sections; this was well-received as it was the first time 2D Sonic gameplay had been featured on a console since Sonic 3&K. Colors featured an abundance of 2D gameplay, a fact that some have criticized when looking back at the game. Generations split the gameplay between 2D stages with Classic Sonic and 3D stages with Modern Sonic. Despite this, Modern Sonic's stages still featured a fair amount of 2D sections which tended to last longer than the sections in Unleashed. Lost World featured another 2D/3D mix, along with a lot of divisive new gameplay elements. By the time Sonic Forces was announced, many fans had begun to feel that the 2D sections had become a crutch, and felt that Classic fans were being unfairly pandered to, especially with Sonic Mania being scheduled to release in the same year. Classic Sonic's return, along with the confirmation that Modern Sonic will again have 2D sections in his levels has become one of the most common prerelease criticisms for Forces.
    • Classic Sonic's original introduction in Generations was a move that was universally praised. Because of that game's massive success, SEGA began to market Classic Sonic heavily in the following years, giving him multiple appearances in other games, his own comic book, his own anniversary title in Sonic Mania, and his own web animation miniseries. While the fanbase loved his inclusion in Generations and products featuring him tend to sell well, many fans have increasingly criticized SEGA's seeming decision to treat him as his own separate character, instead of a younger version of Sonic. The decision to make him a mute character also made it difficult for him to distinguish himself from his modern counterpart. When the first trailer for Sonic Forces was released, the reaction to Classic Sonic's appearance was much more ambivalent than it was for Generations, with many fans questioning why he needed to be there (which gave the game the derisive nickname of Sonic Generations 2, not helped by the fact that Sonic Team promised that it wouldn't be a sequel to Sonic Generations gameplay wise). Whereas Classic Sonic was considered a great idea when he had only appeared in Generations, these days he tends to be held up as a symbol of SEGA relying too much on nostalgia pandering, instead of being willing to truly push the series forward.
    • Starting from Sonic Adventure, the games would go on to have increasingly dramatic and over the top storylines. Initially, this was pretty well received, or at least it wasn't considered a problem. Howeverm, by the time Shadow the Hedgehog rolled around, consensus was that the series became too melodramatic for its own good, and the questionable executions of said melodrama led the reputation of the series lowering, culminating in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Sega seemed to have got the message and subsequent games became much more Denser and Wackier as a result, which ironically created another sin in the form of people starting to feel the series has veered too far in the other direction and became too juvenile and lighthearted with games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World.

Comics

  • A lot of the complaints about Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog aren't exactly new.
    • Many point to Issue 50 as the moment the series started going downhill, mainly because it killed off it's main villain. Issue 50 was meant to be the Grand Finale for the comic, so killing Robotnik was the natural conclusion. However, the comic was renewed at the last minute, resulting in a general lack of direction. Though "The Big Goodbye!" (and it's revised version, "For Whom the Bell Tolls") is seen as a lot better than what came after, there's a reason why Sonic fans argue over whether or not it was one of the last good stories during Ken Pender's tenures as a writer, or one of the first bad ones.
    • The Knuckles comic was another problem, with Penders deciding not to expand on clues left behind with the video games at that time to create a society of Echidnas. It worked out for a while, mainly because it was World Building, and the stories themselves were good enough. After the two comics joined together, however, Knuckles story was given an increasingly heavy focus while Sonic's fell by the wayside, even though the comic was named after him. All of this culminated in the "Great Harmony" sub-plot, where Knuckles is proclaimed The Avatar, one of two heroes prophesied to bring about the titular event, while Sonic is just "another champion".
    • The revelation that Espio was a member of a ninja clan and then betrays the Chaotix to the Iron Dominion (said ninja clans' masters) was only the latest in a series of Retcons/Face Heel Turns involving certain characters during Ian Flynn's run, most famously Fiona Fox revealing out of nowhere that the only reason she fell in love with Sonic was because of Scourge, and then betraying the Freedom Fighters to be his girlfriend. While not without controversy, it slid by, as Fiona was a mostly forgotten Canon Foreigner before exploding in popularity as a villain. In the spoiler character's case, however, he was not only a popular character as a hero, but also a character straight from the games, and it became far harder to ignore.
    • The Executive Meddling was there from the beginning, with Sega executives having a role in what gets produced, the earliest true flex of their influence dates to the uncancellation of the comic at issue 50. They allowed Robotnik to be killed off, but mandated Ken Penders to undo the other major death of the issue, that of Sally Acorn. However, by the time the comic got canceled this had blown up to the point that there were entire mandates on how the comic should be written. This criticism followed to the IDW comic, due to the comic being even more editorial-driven, and introduced highly unpopular mandates (such as characters who had shown up in Sonic Mania no longer being allowed to be used).

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