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A few thoughts after replaying Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

October 2, 2011

Sonic the Hedgehog was released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 all the way back in November 2006, what this game did to tarnish the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise was in a way similar to what had happened with Duke Nukem Forever, which was already a joke even before it was finally released onto the public. But still I wonder… does the game still deserve the flack it continues to get to this day?

As Mepilhes says in the game: Yes and no. Even if the game was actually polished, even if they fixed a lot of the glitches, made the controls a little tighter and maybe make the game just slightly easier, there’s still a huge chunk of issues that plagues this game, so yes.

Having said that though, I can’t help but think that Sonic Team was attempting to make the greatest Sonic the Hedgehog game ever, but it fell short, a huge part of the blame rests on Shun Nakamura‘s shoulders, the Sonic Team alumni has been around since Sonic R and was one of the masterminds behind the Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg and Samba De Amigo games. Sonic Team may have bitten off more than could chew on this one and it shows.

It’s been nearly 5 years since the game came out and I remember being very angry about it. I dug up the copy from my basement trunk and decided to replay it, just to prepare myself for the forthcoming Sonic Generations, I just finished it last week and whatever anger there was, is now gone. It’s water under the bridge, so to speak, it’s actually impressive how a more calm and relaxed attitude helps in playing a terrible and difficult game like this one.

It’s doesn’t make the game feel any better, mind you, the camera issues are so bad that changing the camera becomes almost like a reflex. It applies to many of the stages where you either play as Sonic, Silver and Shadow. Sonic’s stages, almost all of them have very specific parts where either glitches will do their thing or simply unresponsive controls will make you fall into a dozen bottomless pits, and many autopilot moments such as when Sonic is going through a massive loop where no input is actually required. Sonic is followed around by Tails and Knuckles, Tails throws bombs and Knuckles punches, but his range is way too short and often times you get hit first before your punch even registers.

Silver’s storyline is completely essential to the plot as it provides the backbone for this epic tale of doom and gloom (which can sometimes be so over the top that it ends up being unintentionally funny), his psychic powers do bring something new to the table, though I never understood, why in all the Sonic games thus far, Amy Rose happen to have in this particular game, a vanishing technique where she becomes invisible for a brief period of time… What is up with that?

Sonic’s girlfriend has been nothing more than a professional hostage for years and she just happens to possess this skill especially for this game, which really doesn’t do much, since she only has a very brief part in Silver’s storyline and a cameo in Sonic’s story.

Shadow’s tale, just happens to return his character to a more darker, but sober place. No more wandering for questions about his past, just getting the job done and tagging along with his Sonic Heroes comrades. Shadow’s stages are for the most part, reused portions of Sonic and Silver’s stages, but you can use vehicles during the more action packed portions, but they never amount to anything but distractions. The hand-gliding sections, in particular, are so easy that they would’ve have been simply cut scenes. Only in the final stage of Shadow’s story you have to use a ship to especially cross the desert and by that I mean pass two totem poles that rise as you come near them, failing to do so will result in losing a life, for no apparent reason.

Then as with previous games, there’s a Last Story Mode, which usually features a very difficult stage  (f*** you too, Sonic Adventure 2) and a rewarding boss fight. And the game ends with the cheapest ending possible, a true Deux-Ex Machina that reverses everything that had happened up until that point.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was a bad game and it still is, yet today one can watch it from a very different perspective. Picture yourself watching a bad movie, that indeed it’s bad, yet it’s awfulness is so well executed that it feels almost competent. This game would be perfect for a Mistery Science Theatre TV show.

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