In Some Ways, a Tale of Two Announcements
The quick succession of Sonic 4 related events today yielded a wide variety of community reaction that evolved–and improved–as Thursday evening pressed on.
In the two hours following the first press release, concern spread over the rationale for not just delaying a game that leaks showed to be near complete, but for disclosing information much of Sonic fandom already knew.
“This is the news that’s going to make GAF happy?” said NeoGAFer Mama Robotnik, referring to comments Aaron Webber, known as RubyEclipse, made earlier this week in the forum. The cited comment was made amid initial calls this evening to excommunicate Webber for stirring up false hope.
“ So they delay the game in order to have time to make more bad decisions?” added NeoGAFer jman2050.
“Wow..I waited hours today to hear that its delayed and I have to wait longer?” wrote mariosonic in response to The Sonic Stadium’s coverage of the release.
“Is this a troll or not?” asked Sonic Retro forumer SOTI in the research hub’s Sonic 4 discussion thread. “I’m rather disappointed. The trailer shows that they’ve not done fuck all.”
The news was not universally negative during the timeframe, with fans quickly chiming in to accept and, in some cases, embrace the delay. Many were quick to point out Sonic 4 is the first delayed title across the board for the franchise in a while.
“Delay is a good thing,” wrote Sega forumer TGT in a thread called Sonic 4 Delayed thank god !!! “The first episode is going to be the groundwork for the upcoming episodes so it’s important it’s done right.”
“Okay, this delay can either make the game BETTER, or not change anything,” wrote Sonic Retro member Effexor. “If it WASN’T delayed, then it could never have the chance TO improve.”
What was initially a mix of uneasiness, betrayal, and cautious optimism was given a second chance when Webber and Ken Balough went On the Spot in the 7PM hour. Talk of using the extra time to tweak physics, adjust level design, and possibly relegate abhorred gameplay elements like the mine cart in Lost Labyrinth and score attack in Casino Street to the iPhone edition fostered something many fans have not outright witnessed before: A sense of mutual understanding and respect.
After the GameSpot interview, opinion quickly turned more positive, with the occasional gamer locked in steadfast opinion.
“This is the best news to be released since the leak fiasco hit critical mass,” said NeoGAFer Upsidedown Fuji after the interview. “I think there is now more potential for this game to be polished up to make it at least satisfactory [….]. Satisfactory isn’t perfection but it isn’t absolute crap either. Satisfactory is better than whatever we may have received if the game were released as is without any of the fan backlash from the leaked videos.”
“I’m happy that Sega for once is putting quality over money,” wrote Jaouad on the Sonic Stadium Message Board. “This game will be great and in (the) long term it will pay them much more than the current Sonic 4 would have done.”
“I’m ecstatic that SEGA had the BALLS to actually go through with something like this and I really hope this isn’t a once in a lifetime event,” said Sonic Retro forumer XCubed. “I really hope that this process is the start of a new tradition that LASTS.”
Still, after the encouragement gained through the GameSpot Q&A, there remained a few whose opinion could not be stirred.
“I cannot possibly trust (Takashi) Iizuka to do anything meaningful with the extra dev time,” wrote SSMB forumer Masaru Daimon. “The whole game, from what I’ve seen, smacks of laziness, come on, practically 99% of it has been ripped clean from Sonic 1 and 2 with minor changes and bad CG.”
“What was all that about showing us something “we’ve never seen yet” before?” asked Sega forumer Haru-chan in an open letter to Webber on the official boards. “What we got was over half of the same things we’ve already learned at this point with the twist of learning the game is delayed until Q4 2010 and that the iPhone/iPod port has 2 exclusive levels. I mean wow, way to PR it up.”
Perhaps the most relevant and poignant comment of the day came from Cooljerk, the Sonic Retro forumer who clearly understood the purpose of today’s announcements.
“Say what you will about the game, but at least it seems Sega is taking Sonic 4 seriously,” he said.