RubyEclipse Weighs In On the “Classic vs. Modern” Debate

RubyEclipse Weighs In On the “Classic vs. Modern” Debate

Art by RianaD of DeviantArt.

The man behind SEGA’s Needlemouse contests and announcements was asked to weigh in on the on-going “classic vs. modern” debate on the official SEGA forums. His opinion sways in neither direction, as he makes a case for both, but he ultimately assures us that the final verdict will come down to gameplay and not the design of the character.

First, he talked about the image and memories that classic Sonic evokes:

To many fans, Classic Sonic represents a golden era for both Sonic and for SEGA. He symbolizes quality games and memories that, even though slightly rose tinted with age, were still times many of us can look back fondly on.

Modern Sonic, with green eyes, is more largely associated with Sonic Adventure and the games following. To fans of purely Classic Sonic, green eyes represent the advent of Big the Cat and other characters, gameplay that differed from the norm, etc.

That was my issue upon seeing the modern Sonic design (like, I don’t give a damn about the green eyes… just everything else).  Most people, including myself, saw modern Sonic and associated it with the last decade of gameplay that strayed away from Sonic and introduced a slew of new characters in some unfavorable games.  It has the ability to give off what the final product of “Sonic 4” might be like, regardless of the “3 seconds of footage” counter-argument.  Again, it’ s just a knee-jerk reaction that happens when you’ve been waiting for “Sonic 4” for 16 years.

Ruby also commented on the “anti-green eyes” movement that one-half of the fanbase is standing behind.  He mentions that it’s not the color of the eyes that we remember, but the well-aged gameplay of the originals:

The color of Sonic’s eyes may be important, especially to some, but far more important to me is the gameplay itself.

We don’t remember the old games as classics because Sonic’s eyes were black and he happened to be a little chubbier. We remember them because they were good games, first and foremost. That’s the truth for me, at least.

With his neutral stance on his preference and indifference for eye color, he makes a point that this game’s legacy will be cemented on gameplay and not design.  While he fails to mention the other differing aspects between the two Sonic designs that probably irk most classic Sonic supporters more than eye color (track-star design, huge quills), his statement still holds true and was correct even before articles, forum posts, and blog rants came about a few days ago.

Another post by forum member “Catboy” brought up a “cigarette mentality” that the classic crowd is going through.  One that I can say that I am feeling:

To put it simply, if a fan abhors the look of a character of which they’re forced to use, that inherent hate can bog down the general enjoyment of a game.

It’s like a cigarette + state of mind.

RubyEclipse responded to this comment and asked fans on both sides of the fence to keep voicing their opinions.  He acknowledged that SEGA is doing a better job of reading into their fans on their forums and fansites such as this one:

Yep, I totally hear you Catboy.

Know that we are still listening. The feedback that fans have – be it for classic or modern – is something we will continue to compile and send upwards internally.

So, whichever type of Sonic you prefer – or even if you really don’t care – make sure to post at least once, somewhere, about it. You may not see the results immediately, but then again, you rarely will with things that matter most.

While RubyEclipse does not work on the project himself, he is a go between for the fans.  Both the want for classic and modern Sonic is being taken into account and he will send it to the “Sonic 4” team.

What the ultimate point of this community blog post is a matter of respect.  RubyEclipse, a SEGA employee, came out and participated in a discussion that has been the hot topic of every Sonic website since the trailers launch.  While company participation in fan issues is important due to its rarity within this fanbase, his respect for both sides of the debate should be noticed and taken with everybody as they weigh in on message boards and comment walls.

He didn’t come out and brush off anybody’s opinion, name-call, or harass just because somebody’s opinion was different than his own.  It was something that I saw few and far between in each of our articles that we posted a few days ago (Dread’s was slanted positively; mine was the obvious negative… we disagree, but we’re still best buds aka “broniks”).  The same thing occurred when reviews came out for games like Sonic Unleashed and Sonic & the Black Knight.

Reviews and articles that slammed those games (or Sonic 4 in this instance) were just outright ignored by hot-heads and authors were being called things like “biased,” “idiots,” “babies,” “unpleaseable” (which isn’t a word) and “complete fucking morons who aren’t intelligent at all.” Some people didn’t even choose to read the whole thing.  Dread and I didn’t cut each other or any reader of a different opinion down and yet, people were going off.

Why does that have to happen?  Nobody’s going to think or feel the same way.  This wild difference in opinion isn’t exclusive to the Sonic fandom either.  It’s everywhere in the world.

I might have read too far into RubyEclipse’s posts, but that’s okay.  By doing so, I felt better about the situation unfolding across the blue-hedgehog-forum universe.  So, complaining about complainers or cut others down?  It doesn’t help.  It makes everything worse (complaining about complaining is still complaining).  As RubyEclipse said, those that voice against you have a right to their opinion, too, and it might even be taken into consideration by those in charge.

Unless that opinion is whether a scientifically-proven illness is “real” or “fake.”  Then, you can just get the hell out.  😉

Hey, here’s a bonus.  How about a fun “compromise?”  Aaaayyyyy?

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Slingerland is a staff writer and editor for both The Sonic Stadium and Sonic Retro. His area of emphasis is the inner-workings of the games and laughing at everything.


  1. This is the problem with most Sonic fans. They let one tiny design detail that really isn’t that big of a deal mar their enjoyment of what looks to be a great game.

    All Sonic fans need to be more open-minded. If that happened, then I reckon that 90% of these arguements wouldn’t occur.

  2. Oh man. If all this classic purist bitching ends up with them returning to overweight dwarf Sonic, I will not be pleased. I want to play as a cocky athletic hedgehog, not a pissed off couch-potato Teletubby reject.

  3. AND YES, I STARTED PLAYING THE SERIES IN 1991, BLAH BLAH BLAH. I just don’t associate terrible character design with good gameplay.

  4. I just don’t associate terrible character design with good gameplay.

    I agree! This is why Sonic 4 should have the classic character design.

  5. It’s nice that RubyEclipse actually participated as opposed to just ignoring the extremities of opinions. This is definitely reassuring

  6. The classic Sonic design was not only good because it represented the quality of the Genesis tiltles, but also because it was GOOD character design.
    As any artist will tell you, the new Sonic design does away with everything which made classic Sonic good. And this has nothing to do with the
    quality of his games. How do you think Mickey Mouse fans would have reacted if Disney made his design more angular and changed him to
    appeal more to the masses? It’s true that even Mickey’s design has gone through several iterations, but these modified designs always keep
    in mind the characteristics which make Mickey Mouse the recognizable and likable character that he is – and it’s that quality which is preserved
    why no one bitches about his changed character designs, or the fact that his newer cartoons don’t hold a candle to the Disney era shorts.

  7. I really don’t mind that modern Sonic is used. Cuz’ I thought it was cool back in 1998. But if possible Classic should be a secret character or skin.

  8. …That’s just the classic Sonic with green eyes. That’s not a compromise.

    It would be great if Sonic Team would listen to the outcry and add classic Sonic as a bonus. Hell, maybe they could even make an entire skin for the game so you could swap out modern Sonic in the logo for Genesis Sonic. Surely THAT would stop SOME of the whining.

  9. I don’t know where to stand on this one. Makes no difference to me, but Sega really should have thought about both sides and gave an option to choose “Classic”. So much Fan intel for this project and still we’re jaded. So I’ll just come to the conclusion that not every will be happy period. Remember that Sega survey asking, who should get their own game. Great premise and sega even asked “Fans” what they wanted, who exactly are they pleasing though is the question? That’s the unknown..they don’t go in expecting to please every single fan it’s impossible. Someone will “bitch” about something. Sure, lots of you chose Shadow but weren’t expecting that load of crap STH and some fans still liked it, not specifically new school Sonic fans or purist. You know what you know and you like what you like, Reviews say STH sucked, but what makes that fact? Nothing it’s strictly opinion, so you can’t expect to force your beliefs down Sega’s throat and make it so, and those of you that whail on fans for being opinionated doesn’t change anything but provide the fact that you’re giving your opinion on their opinion, nothing makes it fact. Bottom line if you box off one side the other gets mad and viceversa….stay tuned for more Fan segregation folks ahuck! Or we can chill and respect each others opinion without stuffing yours down theirs in attempts to much your opinion more viable.

  10. Well, the original design is simply awesome, but when I played Sonic Unleashed (which shows sonic in his latest design) I really felt that he acted like the original one (except for the michael jackson-esque screaming), it was his attitude, the lack of a deeper plot, that made me remember the original games, even more than the platforming sections. And to be sincere, when I saw Sonic with green eyes back in 1998 I didn’t even notice that it was such a great overhaul. If you check my deviantart gallery, you’ll see that I draw a “classic” Sonic with green eyes, mostly because I didn’t know there’s was such huge difference at all.

    SEGA is working hard on this game, they have to please different audiences, they have to follow rules and, wow, there are even marketing contracts at stake, but they’re still checking up on the community forums and all that, which I find awesome. So, it’s what he says, let’s keep voicing our opinions and hope for a good game that can be enjoyed by everybody 🙂

  11. I personally think the new design is a million times better than the original. Sleek>chubby when it comes to speedsters.
    But that being said, nostalgia shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying (or hating) a game.

    Sure, I liked the Genesis/Mega Drive games, but come on. Sticking to the original design would have been an even WORSE move for SEGA to make once 3d hit mainstream. It would have made them look out-dated to the current style of gamer.

    It’d be like making a Mickey Mouse cartoon with gorgeous color backgrounds but having Mickey himself stay black-and-white.
    You can only run with something so long before novelty wears off, especially in a constantly changing evolving such as video games.

    But the green eyes? People are getting upset over the GREEN EYES?! THAT’S what this is about?!


    Everybody needs to chill out.

  12. @Indigo Dude
    That was the point of the blog entry. So, yes, bronik.

    Actually, Mickey is going back to a retro design with “Epic Mickey” for the Wii.

  13. (EDIT: Calling people retarded for having a different opinion. Thanks for reading. Miss the point harder.)

  14. I’m with Brad, and i agree if this is a back to formula game. “which was stated that it is.. and the name even implies this” then they should continue with the same sonic design that was used in that time line and series, the compromise works really well though, it would be like the bridge between the time lines of games.. but i am for my pal classic, adventure was good until heroes. after that his image became so worse and tainted, with bad games and representations. however sonic unsealed for the most part brought me back somewhat to the image, but the gaahh… were-hog, stained the game for me..
    back to my point, if this is a true squeal to sonic 3 and knuckles then they should use that same sonic
    comparing the new one is weird because it’s like out of nowhere WHAM he changes..

    I’m For Classic, it would not only help restore sonic’s broken image but also restore his
    awesome attitude to a new generation, because the new one lacks that famous attitude..
    being a carefree spirit… insted of a in your face punk. lol and i think “shadow the *ahem* “hedgehog” Took that image away from him..
    and overshadow sonic with his ” dark, gloomy, Edgy” Character…
    which if you look at him deeply is nothing more then a boring carbon copy
    of a darkness Goth fad the Hedgehog. whats next hipster the hedgehog? this is all just my own opinion..

    but yeah.. Classic Sonic Needs to return if this is a true Sequal..

  15. I think my favorite part of this blog post is editing out comments where people look like they didn’t even read anything above. That’s really funny. We’re talking about respect and people are still down here telling others to “get fucked sideways because [we’re] retarded.” Real big of ya, dudes.

    I’m pretty sure that if classic Sonic was in there, the shoe would be on the other foot. I mean, look at Sock fox’s comment up top.

    Complaining about complaining is still complaining.

  16. Real sonic looks even more badass with those green eyes. Good to know they’re still listenening

    unfortunately due to my bipolar disorder I wrote some very negative comments that I didn’t mean about this game…

    Lookin good sega! I just hope that the real sonic is in the game along with new sonic so everyone can be happy… I still think that it looks less like sonic 4 and more like sonic advance HD. Old sonic works in 2D games, new sonic looks more natural in 3D games… Of corse the more realistic designs of stages made the advance, rush, and rivals series look more like a game for new sonic.

    That’s just the way it seems to be for me…

  17. Persoanlly I love seeing “Modern Soinic” as the main character 😀 I can understand why most fans would like the classic Sonic as the main character but I personally prefer the newer model 🙂 Hey who knows? Maybe the locked character info on the Sonic 4 site will reveal classic Sonic as a playable skin? We just don’t know yet.

  18. Sega, listening? Well, that might be a dream come true. I don’t care about his green eyes, to me that signifies one of my favorite times in Sonic’s history. I really don’t associate it with new characters or Big the Cat, I mean, I could just as easily associate Sonic’s old look with “new characters” and “new gameplay gimmicks”. I associate it with a fun game (SA1+2). I didn’t start to lose faith in Sonic until Sonic 2006. (Which I pre-ordered, bought, and let sit on a self for a year and a half while I worked for money to get a Xbox 360. I really think the internet ruins a lot of Sonic for me. I despise seeing people who say they are fans whine and moan about the one thing we are all passionate about. It makes me very sad to call myself a fan.)

    I’m wondering if SEGA will add in a classic mode like most (Arcade) XBLA games have. Maybe that is asking too much of them though. I happy with Sonic 4, and I think it’s great to see so many fan-sites active and bristling with news again.

  19. I was thinking the other day how the Sonic fandom is like the Christian religion with all of its different denominations. We argue over the smallest, insignificant things, like a eye color or voice. I agree with RubyEclipse. Gameplay + Sonic is really what is important here.

  20. Honestly, of all the things I found wrong about Sonic 4, Sonic’s design was the thing that least bothered me. When I found out about Project Needlemouse, saw the trailer and read the interview, my mind got set to see a game like Sonic Beyond or Paper Mario or Warioland The Shake Dimension (2D graphics and 2D gameplay), something I expected SEGA to never do. But I think I still expected Sonic’s modern design. I thought it was ahead of SEGA to make a Sonic 4. But that was even more ahead to make a game with “Classic Sonic”, no matter how cool it would be and how hyped I would get when I found out. That’s why Sonic’s design was what bothered me the least. Anyway, I still would like to see his classic design in Sonic 4. Maybe as an alternative skin.

    I kinda like his design. It’s like his Sonic Unleashed model, but with a slightly bigger head, I think. What I don’t like is that Eggman is not called Robotnik, and his running animation, of course. I do like the logo. I wished the game had 2D graphics, but I’ll try and focus on the gameplay in these anticipation days. It’s already a good-looking game.

    I’ll see if I write something on the forums, if it will help SEGA decide to make a Classic Sonic skin.
    What could possibly be the secret “second character” displayed next to Sonic on the website?

  21. @Tiago J7 Montiero: I have my bets on this second character being Dr. Robotnik. It just so obvious with the reveals have been predictable–like Sonic being the only playable character in Needlemouse. If Sega reveals a new character (or a lame character like Tails Doll or Elise), watch out for a million Sonic cycle threads across the web. Is it believable for Sega to burn themselves like that?

    *Watches for a million “yes” replies*

    Official Member of Team “Boycott SWENZSST”
    (Spelled Backwards to Avoid Raising that Site in the Page Ranks)

    To TOB: No Viewership from Me Until You Give a Formal and Sincere Apology to Shadzer and TSS

  22. Whichever design they use people will be complaining. I personally prefer the new design because… it’s just better art design. It’s bolder, smoother, sharper, more colourful and more solid. And it also fits his personality better. Even as a kid I thought he looked terrible in Sonic 1-3 (though, despite being the wrong colour, he did look pretty great in Sonic CD’s animated intro and ending).

    In the long run, though, I think it’s better for them to stick with the new design because… kids like the new design. He looks less cute, but he looks cooler. Which is what 10-year-old boys are looking for.

  23. I saw someone who suggested SEGA put the option of playing as either Classic or Modern Sonic. I have to admit, it’s a damn good idea.

    Maybe, to compliment that, if there’s voice-acting in the game, you could have Ryan Drummond come back and voice Classic Sonic with Jason Griffith as Modern Sonic. That way, everybody’s happy.

  24. That’s easily got to be one of the coolest looking pieces of Sonic art I’ve ever seen. 🙂

  25. I want Jaleel white as the voice Sonic I wanna Hear how White would voice Sonic since he is older now. Or Ryan Drummond doing the voice.

  26. Here’s how it goes:
    Is Sonic blue?
    Is Sonic a hedgehog?
    Does Sonic have his red shoes and white gloves?
    If yes to all the above, THEN THAT’S ALL WE NEED. Who cares if he has green eyes, black eyes, tall or short, skinny or shubby, or wtf ever. Point is, if we can still clearly recognise him as Sonic, then we’re good.

  27. Ridiculous, why is there such a big debate over the character design of sonic??? I wish that people would just stop acting like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 weren’t good games. After all, thats what slim, tall, green eye, long spiked sonic is MOSTLY associated with…GOOD GAMES! Now, tell me im wrong….If one is so obsessed with the older sonic 3 model then, wow, guess what? PLAY SONIC 3!!!

    All sega needs is support from you so called “Fans” and they haven’t been getting it for about , hmm 16 years, sound familiar? Maybe they wouldn’t be making such bad games if you would only try to support them just a little. Its like the company goes through a new game engine every year, AND THEY SHOULD’NT BE!!! They should be expanding and developing the ones they’ve already developed. Well, anyway, people are gonna b*tch about anything. Hope you guys enjoy the game!!!

  28. I’ve been a big fan of Sonic ever since he first hit the Genesis back in 1991 and was still a big fan when he debuted with his new design on Dreamcast in 1999. Sonic’s updated design was meant to be more sleek, cool, and hip and it’s really grown on me as I got older, as I’m sure it has for many others that follow the Blue Blur. Purists are just nitpicking. As an artist, I thought the newer sleeker look was a vast improvement over the original (Eggman as well). The modernized design of Sonic is now the definitive look for him and has has been solidified for over 10 years post-Sonic Adventure. His design represents who he is today, and merged with the classic gameplay of the old games of yesterday, we get a blend of what is the best of both worlds… and I welcome it.

    Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros Wii is a prime example of modern look, classic gameplay… clearly Sega is aiming to do the same and I think they’re doing it right.

  29. SpindashStudios states it well. Sonic’s design has changed, plain and simple. Sonic has an official image to uphold, and it’s what we’re seeing in Sonic 4.

    Although, an unlockable character skin featuring the classic Sonic design would indeed be pretty damn cool…

  30. Ahh, so sanity prevails at last.

    I’m sorry, but there are people out there making rather too much of a deal of this, and I’m sad to say that some of the TSS bloggers appear to have been among them in the past few days.

    Note that this is not an insult. It just seems to me that Sonic’s design was changing back in the 16-bit days (look at the trailer retrospective – there are clear differences between S1 Sonic and S3 Sonic), changed without any sensible objections in 1999 for Sonic Adventure, which was a good game which now suffers by association with some of the dreck that Sega have produced in the past few years.

    Unfortunately said last few titles have been responsible for the ever-increasing divisions in the Sonic community, as shown by Paddy’s links. The fact that there even can be a SonicXElise Club is just plain disturbing to me.

    And so, we have the old vs. new debate. I played the classic games, growing up (and I don’t mean second-hand, or in emulation, I mean I own an original copy of Sonic 2 that was bought for me, new). I’m definitely on the “classic game” side here. But the new Sonic design is simply not an issue to me. It wasn’t in 1999 and it isn’t now. If anything, I rather prefer it.

    And quite frankly, the more focus we as Sonic fans give to the “classic Sonic design” non-issue, the less we focus on the real issues: Lack of multiple paths. Lack of Super Sonic playable in-level. STOP IT WITH THE BOTTOMLESS PITS ALREADY. If Sega have to divert even one day’s worth of pay from a level designer fixing these current-gen Sonic problems, in order to give it to a character designer putting in a “classic Sonic skin”, we will all be the worse for it.

    Still, I’m glad to see attitudes are cooling down a little on both sides. There are still some very silly people howling about how it’s RUINED FOREVER but we shall on both sites unite in sensibility and pay them no heed! Onwards!

  31. (EDIT: Calling people retards. Thanks for reading. Next time you post, get the point of the article first. Co-exist; don’t name call.)

  32. I personally hope that they stick with modern Sonic, but I wouldn’t be against them including classic Sonic as an extra skin to please the fans that want him.

    Also, I have to say I really don’t like that “compromise”. It’s just classic Sonic with green eyes (basically 98% Classic, 2% Modern), which isn’t much of a compromise if you ask me. I don’t even think they should try to mix the models, since they will probably just end up making both sides mad (classic fans will want 100% classic Sonic, and modern fans will say that the model they had before was better).

  33. I personally don’t have much complaint. Again, the gameplay is crucial. Looking back on how many games today are made, it’s sad that the more popular, cliche genres and gameplay are being used redundantly. I keep hearing my brother complain about how one game may have a glitch, or doesn’t have the suitable features of gameplay. The fact that games are supposed to be fun and sometimes challenging is almost lost. Thankfully there is some improvement arising in many game titles. Sonic is definitely improving. The fact that the fans’ voices are taken into consideration is really great. I’m crossing my fingers here that Sonic 4 will bring promise (not that it doesn’t already.)

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