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State of the Retro 2011

If there’s one thing most of you guys know about me, it’s that I’m a huge Mad Men geek. At the end of this most recent season, Bobby is taken to Disneyland, and he says this really poignant line: “I don’t want to ride an elephant. I want to fly a jet!” Therefore, I guess it’s time to not only look back, but open our eyes to the future of Sonic Retro. Yeah, it’s time for one of these again: State of the Retro.

I’ve been thinking about that line a lot lately. 2011 marks ten years that I have been involved in the Sonic community, from my beginnings at a now-defunct but much-nostalgia’d board called Sonic the Hedgehog Area 51 to my current position here at Sonic Retro. Sometimes, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. I see so much of the same stuff that inspired me back then: things like Mercury’s discovery of unused Sonic 1 special stage code or Tails’ PDA hex code in Sonic Colours or that badass HPZ papercraft or the demos and radio skits put on for SAGE. Things that are interesting, fun and all-around awesome, just like the things we were doing back in the day.

However, it seems that for as many good things as we have had this year, we sort of regressed, in a way. If the 2010 State of the Retro was all about overcoming adversity as a group, I’m afraid that as a group we got a little too content and, needing people to overcome, starting to cannibalize ourselves. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 has been the most polarizing thing I’ve ever seen in all my time here (even moreso than the Sonic Heroes E3 drama or the meltdown of the original SSRG, and that’s saying something.) To see people yelling at each other for no real reason other than having differences in opinion and have it blow up to the proportions it did really took a toll on me, because it was so damn pointless. At the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you’re a Sonic fan. Most of the staff and I like to poke fun at how goofy the Sonic fanbase can be, but at the end of the day, we’re all crabs in the same barrel. My bro Gambit introduced me to a new pasttime earlier this year–go to DeviantArt and type in any other thing you can think of into the search bar with Sonic. Amazing and horrifying results will ensue.

Knuckles as Li’l Wayne? The “Mobian Wrestling League”? Sonic humping a bottle of Pepsi? Yep, it’s all out there. And as funny as these things can be, the truth behind them eventually hit me: they’re actually sincere. It’s easy to become bitter and sardonic when we make a place where the discussion isn’t really discussion, but people talking AT each other instead of TO each other. These artists didn’t really care about how their love of Sonic was expressed–they just did it for the sake of doing it. Contrary to some people’s opinions, when I took the steps I did with Sonic 4 discussion, I didn’t do it because I didn’t like what was being said–I didn’t like how people were talking to each other. I didn’t like pointless back-and-forths and needless rudeness to people and didn’t like that the attitude managed to permeate other parts of the site. I’m all for being blunt–I pretty much shoot from the hip when asked for an opinion–but there’s a pretty big gulf in my eyes between being blunt and just being rude.

So, if we can have something of a group resolution for this new year, can we at least agree to not be rude to each other? You don’t have to agree with others; in fact, in such a strongly opinionated place as Retro, it’s pretty much impossible. However, when we stop trying to “win” arguments, that’s when we really win–because we’re hearing each other instead of trying to one-up each other. It’s amazing what a little common ground and hearing someone out will do.

It’s kind of funny, because this whole polarization that’s happened is something only recently, and yet has infected our way of thought. For instance, I know there have been a few parties who seem to be interested in making a divide between Sonic Retro and The Sonic Stadium. That’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m a Janey-come-lately to the whole “Sonic website” thing compared to most people, and for so many years TSS was the site I idolized and wanted to beat. I did–and still do–look up to them like a big brother. For the first year of this site’s existence, my biggest goal was…to get an affiliate link with the site. Ever since that moment, Dreadknux and his crew have been nothing but supportive and total bros. The whole “second only to Sega” tagline on our site originated from an in-joke on our desire to finally beat TSS in traffic, which took years. Moreover, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with Dreadknux in-person, and he’s an absolutely delightful chap who has been spot-on in his guidance, from then to…literally today (I was not opening a crisps package! I was opening a package that had Sonic the Hedgehog Archives in it, as was recommended to me!) There’s plenty of room for both our sites–and everyone else–in this fandom.

Just like there’s room for both Retro and TSS, I would like to remind all parties that there is also room for both a fandom and Sega itself, and there isn’t some epic struggle–there’s people trying to work together. While I’m happy that so many things that have come out of Retro have been well-received by the public, I’m concerned with the trend of people going “OMG BETTER THAN SEGA” or “SEGA SUX LOL.” We’re all in uncharted territory when it comes to this kind of interaction, but the goal is not to be divisive: it’s to work together for a better gaming environment for all of us. However, this requires two things: the fandom needs to stop with the combative attitude, and the company needs to be ready to take the next step towards integrating the fan community. There’s a lot of talking heads who praise the entrance of the corporate world into social media, but there’s a misconception that such dialogue is ultimately one-way–from those on high to the masses. So much–SO MUCH–can be gained if all parties are truly willing to talk as equals and not act like one is better than the other.

If a new-school fan who loves Sonic Adventure 2 and Heroes for the action, story and gameplay variations was able to sit down and talk to an old-school fan who digs Sonic CD and S3&K for its exploration and platforming, what would she learn? What would he learn?

If a bunch of passionate fans with an obsessive level of detail and almost freakish knowledge of the Sonic series was able to sit down and talk to people with in Sega to help them create the best product possible for all parties, what would he learn? What would she learn?

If a webmaster who came from Sonic CulT and learned from example to separate herself so much from the furry community because heaven knows you don’t want to somehow be mistaken for being a furry was able to sit down and talk to a furry, what would he learn?

What did I learn?

I learned that I’ve been a real jerk for no reason and didn’t need to define myself like that.

We’re all here because, for whatever reason, we love the Sonic series. When we let dumb things get in between a bunch of people having fun, learning more and making amazing stuff, we all lose. There are those out there who are more interested in disrupting such things, but I learned a very important lesson a few years ago courtesy of an old friend: sometimes, the best thing to do is shut up and keep going on. Over time, I’ve sometimes forgotten that, but it’s my New Year’s resolution for this year: to know that haters gonna hate. Pick your battles wisely.

That choice in who you’re gonna fight is important, because it’s more important to build a good future by destroying the things that can create havoc. And smashing badniks increases the floral varieties in any given area or something. The things that will transform us and make us stronger is just sitting and listening to each other. From there, we’re able to collaborate and make things much bigger and badass-er than any of us could do by ourselves.

Sonic 2 HD, the embodiment of this philosophy, is dropping pretty soon–and let me say, haters, that it’s gonna blow your mind. Sega Retro has gone from non-existence to nearly 2,000 articles in just eight months. We’re tearing up and learning everything we can from games no one was touching a year ago. And, of course, we’re still arguing about the best possible Sonic design, but who knows–maybe we can finally come to some sort of consensus this year. We’re nearly hitting 100 pages of that discussion, so it’ll probably happen. Eventually. Maybe.

The best part? We haven’t even shown the big bombs we’ll be dropping this year. 😉

So, I’ve hope you enjoyed this past year of Sonic Retro, and we all look forward to bringing you an even better experience for 2011.

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    That was absolutely heartwarming, and a really thoughtful post. You rock, Scarred Sun, and so does the rest of the community. I’m glad to have been a part of it these past 18 months (or 19? Can’t remember.)

    Here’s to a great 2011–Sonic’s 20th anniversary!

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    Insert your flavor of “The Best is Yet to Come” from Metal Gear Solid or by Frank Sinatra here.

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    As I stated just now in the forums: epic and heart warmingly beautiful post Scarred Sun. 😉

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    I couldn’t agree more. I made an account one point on the forums hoping to join in discussion to quickly realize there wasn’t much discussion going on. More so it was arguing back and forth about minute aspects of a much larger picture. I can understand the need for debate as it encourages discussion, but it was the way people took such offense and hostility towards these opinions. It always tore me up because this site gives me so much joy but I always felt it would ultimately be a place I wouldn’t be accepted.

    So instead I’ve sat on the sideline lurking and even donating when I could, but seeing such hate displayed towards others who all are here for the same reasons was rather off-putting. This is a change that to be successful the community will have to embrace, I hope it does and that one day I may join in as well.

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    Bombs will be dropping!?

    They don’t involve birds, do they?

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    That was wonderful.  I wholeheartedly agree. 

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    I love this community, I truly do. <3 Every single member is awesome, and I couldn't say it any better SS. Amazing post, I can't wait to see what 2011 will be like. ^_^ 

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    See that wall of text up there?  I loved every word.

    Happy 2011, Sonic Retro!

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    You took the words out of my mouth, then made them make sense, ScarredSun. I agree with every ounce of my being. Thanks for reminding me why I love being a part of this community, even if “Sonic is for kids”.

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    *brofist* Seriously, truer words were never spoken. Err, written. It’s stuff like this that makes me proud to support Sonic Retro.

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    Awesome, couldn’t agree more!

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    Hear hear

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    That was simply beautiful. I’m a pending member at the forums and lurk around a lot. I noticed you don’t really express yourself that often at the forums. Seeing this article you totally won me over and I totally agree

    I love sonicretro and I cannot wait for sonic2HD. It’s gonna blow our minds huh?:P Can’t wait!!!

    happy 2011, real talk!

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    That was an awesome read. Shows how far this community has truly come.

    And I’m glad to be a part of it. 🙂

    Happy 2011, Retro!

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    You’re wrong and here’s why. You said that “the company needs to be ready to take the next step towards integrating the fan community”. Why? Because that’s what you want? I’m sure that’s what they worry about when they get up in the morning. They’re doing just fine putting out a minimal effort and using a character that peaked 15 years ago. Furthermore anyone who supports these weak efforts is an enabler and partially responsible for the current ruination of the franchise. That is why you are wrong when you say that “the fandom needs to stop with the combative attitude”. A combative attitude from the fanbase is our only chance though I honestly doubt even a total boycott would make enough difference in the sales numbers to cause change. But wouldn’t you rather see it dead than in its current state? I get a kick out of watching these new games but I would never actually BUY any of them. The state of Sonic is the same as it has been for 15 years: TERRIBLE!!!

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      I sorta agree with this as well. I can relate to both of you and scarred sun’s point of view but following my emotions towards the current state of the hedgehog, my own view is more along the line of brucedick.

      I come to this website with a lot of joy because of sonic games made with love. Allthough sonic colors was okay, there was no heart in it. I love how you guys at retro put a lot of heart into the games and I think being a fan of sonic is more worth it with the existance of a community like this here @retro.

      So yeah in short. Sonic officialy sucks and we need to stay combative because it’s the only way to get what we want, but on the other hand a website like this keeps a fan like me happy so yeah.

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        Just to be clear my sentiments are anti-SEGA. The hacks made on this site are generally very impressive efforts. I just think this community should stop patronizing SEGA for such dismal efforts.

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          …I wouldn’t say it’s exactly “patronizing.” We’re not patting Sega on the head for everything they’re ever done. I think the point is that the fanbase and Sega need a clear line of dialogue where the two can interact and hopefully from that we can have the games – and the entire franchise – back to a point where it isn’t seen as an easy punchline for the rest of the gaming world. Up to this point, it seems Sega has only been vaguely aware of what people want, with every game after Sonic Adventure being a stab at that, but without realizing what they’re exactly trying to satisfy. At the same time, Sega shouldn’t be listening to every idea the fanbase throws at them. That would be an even worse idea than if they ignored us completely. There needs to be a balance, because no matter how awesome you think a fangame is, at the end of the day it still isn’t the current representation of the franchise from the people who own it.

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          The dialogue would be simple if I was talking to them. I’d point at Nintendo.

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      You missed all of her points.

      “You said that “the company needs to be ready to take the next step towards integrating the fan community”. Why? Because that’s what you want?”

      No, because we could help them make better Sonic games.

      “They’re doing just fine putting out a minimal effort and using a character that peaked 15 years ago.”

      No, they’re not.

      “That is why you are wrong when you say that “the fandom needs to stop with the combative attitude””

      She’s talking about the combative attitude between fans, not the attitude towards Sega for making lousy games.

      “The state of Sonic is the same as it has been for 15 years: TERRIBLE!!!”

      No, it’s not. But her write-up was about the state of RETRO, not the state of Sonic.

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        No, you missed all of mine. They are doing fine b/c they still have jobs. They are obviously not interested in making better games or I think it might have happened in 15 years. Therefore, they have no interest in you (outside of your $) or your input. The combatitive attitude naturally arises b/c you have people like myself who see the forest for the trees and people like yourself who think SEGA has just been out of touch for 15 years. The speech repeatedly mentioned SEGA and thus extended beyond Retro.

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          And you don’t think Sega’s shareholders would like them to make a whole lot more money? There is no “just fine” in business. Successful businesses are constantly striving to improve their profit margins by better serving the consumer–they just don’t always know how. That’s where we just might be able to help.

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    Awesome post, Scarred Sun. Great work keeping the attitude positive and fresh. Very nice 🙂

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    Agreed. Let’s make 2011 the year where we can all celebrate the 20th anniversary of our favorite fictional character however we would like, whether that’s playing Sonic 1, Sonic Adventure, Sonic 4, or games generated by the community. Then we can all chill out and enjoy a sonic ice cream bar with….bawww green gumball eyes and terrible eye placement physics! Seriously, it’s good to take things in perspective and realize that we all have come to this website because we care about the Sonic franchise, and we all can agree on that despite our usually clashing opinions.

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    Huh, this really spoke to me, as I admit, I’m a tween who digs the new games. But I’ve been on Retro for as long as I can remember, since elementary. And I love the new games as much as the old.

    For example: Do I like Hezman2000’s Sonic Classic demo? Yes. Can I beat everyone else in my class at it, even when I’m barely trying? YES.

    But, will I call it the real Sonic 4? NO.

    You will have no Idea how much crap I went through telling my classmate that Sonic ColoUrs DS was Sonic Rush 3. I told him, as I zoomed past Tropical Resort in a min (thanks for the .nds demo file, Retro), I told him, “If Sonic can go through the speed of sound, why does he need boosters?”

    (Did I mention that I got Sonic Rush when I was like, 7, but I dide at Zone 4? But when someone gave it to me again for my birthday, I beat it in 2 days. Add an extra two WEEKS for that damn 7th Chaos Emerald.)


    I’m not gonna go on a Dimps rant, but this is just an example that not all younger fans are DIMPHeads. Thanks to looking at Sonic CulT from an early age, I’ve done what nobody in my class can do. Modify an animation using SADXTweaker. Not that big, but who cares.

    As for the Sonic series, there have been a bajillion good games, and a million bad ones. But, if the series is still standing strong, it must mean that SEGA’s doing well. Sure, Sonic 4 had some dents. But it was generally well recieved. And it was a shocker when Colors Wii( *sigh* and DS) did better.

    Taking the advide of Battletoad_Alpha, I resolve to further respect the opinion of any Sonic fan, and not shun them for thinking otherwise. When they start to act smug, however, that’s when things will get appalling to the eye.

    It’s a new year, and I hope that it turns out to be a great experience for everyone. So anyone who’s reading this, stay gold. Bang.

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    This will be a basic train of thought to adopt when dealing with the Sonic franchise, or, actually, maybe in everyday life, too. Thank you, Scarred Sun.

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    I love you Scarred. Brofist.

    This year, I’ll … I dunno. Try to be less of a dickwad. And get into music. And be a programmer. Yeah, that’s a good start.

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    I look forward to new hacks (icluding mine but i need help)Also i would love to see new version of sonic megamix

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    I’m also a pending member, and couldn’t agree more with what you said, Scarred Sun! This community has gone far, and hopefully will go farther in the future. Cheers to Tweaker, the admin, for the forums :D!

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    That was a really great read and I agree with all of what you said when it came to how argumentative this site has been.

    Regardless, I really do enjoy being in this community and I hope 2011 will be a great year for Sonic Retro!

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    I pretty much agree with this entirely. In fact, I’ve thought this way the entire time I’ve browsing Sonic forums, which has been at least more than a couple years.

    I myself have tried my best not to be a dick about my opinions and respect other opinions, and whenever I post, I hope people respect my opinions. I’ve tried to abide to this to the best of my ability, but that hasn’t changed how other people respond to my posts on occasion. 

    Of course, I usually try to embellish my opinions on things in comments when I use this name, as sort of an inside joke. “Doctor Facepalm”, you just expect such a name to embody a jerk. But on the forums, I definitely behave myself.

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    This article was actually well put. I read the whole thing and was elated to comment on this discovery. You speak the truth. Here’s to Sonic 2 HD tomorrow and the 20th Anniversery of Sonic!

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    Hmm, that was very well said. *resists the temptation to approve his own post*

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      I flagged it as spam. :3

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    Superbly said.

    I have to say, when Simon Wai left a few years back, I was worried that Retro (SWS2B at the time) would lose its charm. True, its a different site now, not just in name, but in character as well. But, Retro has the same excellent soul and community (perhaps better in that later category), and the current administration is doing and excellent job. I’m really glad to have you folks running this site. Keep up the good work.

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    Scarred, couldn’t agree more. I have never been a tard and accept all groups of the fandom. This article is truth and nothing but it. We all need to come together as friends. Plain and simple.

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    Nicely said. Let me know when people start to behave, I might do more than lurk (only logging in to post when I see a chance to rock the boat slightly – I admit it).

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