I suppose I am, at least when it comes to Sonic games. I honestly believe that my cynicism is justified, though.
There\’s an old Tamil proverb, a personal favourite of mine, that can roughly be translated as \”If you endeavour to do something, do it such that everyone will praise you; or you are better off not doing it at all.\”
Sega\’s policy with regards to Sonic games for the past…7 years or so has been \”quantity over quality\” – numerous games which have all been flawed to some degree, whether these flaws are terrible cameras, loose controls, poorly-developed game mechanics or just being bloody unfinished. For some reason, Sega has decided that the way to improve the quality of the games is to keep tacking on \”interesting\” subsystems which almost always end up being implemented poorly.
There\’s a strong case for specialization in video games, in that established series should find something they do well and stick with it, only requiring tweaks to the formula from game to game while keeping the core mechanics the same. Most successful series have done something along these lines – Mario, Diablo, Half-Life, Ninja Gaiden, they take a successful formula and add things as time goes on, usually with successful results. At the same time, these additions are always in the spirit of the series, and do nothing to detract from the core mechanics of the series.
That last point is what is crucial here. Almost every single mechanic Sonic Team has tossed in to date has served to hinder or dilute the core mechanics of the series – namely speed and momentum-based platforming. They have yet to come up with a solid implementation of these mechanics in 3D (the Sonic Adventure games, while much-loved by the fanbase, did have problems that needed working out). There isn\’t a gold standard 3D Sonic which can then go on to be the template for the rest of the series in 3D. Yet, instead of endeavouring to make such a game, Sonic Team has persisted in throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the series, trying to see what will stick.
There is some hope – the daytime portions of Sonic Unleashed look good enough to be a decent starting point for a new series of good 3D Sonics…with a few tweaks, at any rate. Apparently Sonic and the Black Knight is basically Sonic and the Secret Rings with the tilt control taken out, and some sidescrolling sections, which is also very promising.
However, extraneous mechanics like Musou-style hack and slash action or swordplay that don\’t really need to be there will only serve to dull the shine of these otherwise promising games. Until Sonic Team realizes this, I really have no choice but to continue viewing new titles in the series with skepticism.