Shadow the Hedgehog
Shadow the Hedgehog is a platform game developed by Sega Studio USA (the former US division of Sonic Team) and published by Sega. The game is the first to feature Shadow the Hedgehog from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series as the main character.
After the events of Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow suffers from amnesia, being unable to remember anything but his name and memory involving a young girl named Maria. As he ponders about his past, the World is suddenly attacked by aliens. Their leader, Black Doom, approaches Shadow and asks him to bring the Chaos Emeralds "as promised". Surprised that Black Doom knew him, Shadow decides that the Emeralds are the key to unlocking his past and purpose and sets off.
The game includes 10 endings based on what path the player takes, along with the Last Story, which is unlocked after getting all other endings.
- Many series known for being cartoony can succeed in having proper darker or more proper serious games, like the Mega Man X or Zero series, Jak II, Twilight Princess and many others, but this game failed at that. It can take itself way too seriously, as an awkward attempt at trying to be darker and edgier due to its usage of guns and swearing (mostly excessive use of "damn," with Shadow's demand of where the damn fourth Chaos Emerald is being one of the most mocked lines in the entire franchise along with "Damn, not here!" when he fell off from the stage.), which backfired due to the game being toned down for an E10+ rating shortly after its implementation, despite originally aiming for a T rating. This has led to it becoming a butt of jokes whenever someone or something intentionally tries very hard to be edgy.
- It's worth mentioning that the game was meant to be even darker. Human enemies originally bled, alien blood was red, and characters would swear more. This last point is most evident in the story's opening cutscene when the subtitles and voice acting say "Just what was that all about?", yet Shadow (lip sync) says "What the hell was that all about?"
- Moments in this story are also way too dark for Sonic standards:
- In the game's opening cutscene, Maria, a young girl who is Shadow's only friend, is literally shot. (Overall, Shadow's backstory is way too dark for Sonic standards.)
- One of the hero endings depicts Shadow at his most angstiest, with it implied that Shadow might kill himself.
- In both Neutral endings, Shadow kills Eggman. However, due to the Last Story, neither of those endings are canon.
- Also, in one of the Dark endings, Shadow allegedly kills Sonic. Again, due to the Last Story, it is not canon.
- Speaking of the weapons, some of them actually came from real life. Some examples include; Colt M1911A1 (from the intro and some of the promotional artworks but it was not featured in the game), USP and SG550.
- On the subject of ESRB/PEGI ratings, it should be noted that this game is rated 12+ in Europe, which somewhat helps since 12+ is slightly the closest thing to a T rating.
- The level design ranges from boring and ugly (most of the levels) to huge, confusing, and maze-like (the only three stages that are maze-like are the Doom, Central City, and Lost Impact).
- It should be noted that Central City, aside from being maze-like, is the only stage in the entire game without a Goal Ring, so you're bound to do hero or dark missions.
- The ranking system, while solid, is somewhat flawed compared to other games that use it in a better way, because most Dark or Hero missions consist of defeating all enemies makes you spend a lot of time exploring the levels because there is no radar that tells you where the enemies are (in fact , at an early stage of development, Sega had the idea of putting up a radar, but it was discarded), which just makes getting an A-rank quite difficult as in Sonic Heroes, there are also quite a few enemies and obstacles in designing levels that make this more hard.
- The problem with the controls is the stability when running, as a result the control is quite slippery with which it is easy to lose control of Shadow and crash with the enemies, the control is even worse than Sonic Heroes, when turning in the opposite direction Shadow brakes, making the moments when you have to go to another direction frustrating, also Shadow's turn to the sides is delayed, this is bad, because it becomes difficult to dodge obstacles in a proper way, Sonic Heroes has problems with the controls, but at least the stability when running was better and you could move in a more natural way.
- Speed, the main mechanic of Sonic games and one of the best-known features of Sonic games by the way, is almost completely absent in this game.The Sonic Adventure series presented a level design that had a good balance between speed and platform, which is complemented by shortcuts, which you could take depending on your ability, the platform did not interrupt the speed sections and Sonic Heroes included bigger phases giving the possibility to experience several alternate routes, but in this game the platform and the waiting sections ruin it, for example, Space Gadget, in this level we will automatically move on devices that change gravity, without doing anything for several seconds , you only limit yourself to briefly running on roads with a flat design and we will pass through a part with a slow pace, you can quickly pass the last section composed of a flat rail road using Chaos Control, the Dark mission has a simple objective in which we must to destroy the defense units of the ARK, however its design is boring and tedious, we will going through into several waiting sections, passing through sections of platform confused where gravity changes while we move automatically with the green switches.
- The story is uninteresting, poorly written and inconsistent.
- Certain plot elements are introduced at the start of a pathway, but depending on your actions, they can become forgotten and not get any closure, such as the G.U.N. Commander's vendetta against Shadow if you go the Neutral route.
- There is no ending where Shadow teams up with Dr. Eggman, as all but one ending involving Eggman end with him getting killed off by Shadow (as mentioned above).
- The story also has plenty of plot holes and retcons. Some examples include (but not limited to):
- The G.U.N. Commander reveals that he was aboard the ARK when he was little and Maria was like a family to him, and he blamed Shadow for her death when it was G.U.N. who killed Maria. How did he become the commander of an army who killed his best friend in the first place?
- Not only that, but if he's had a personal vendetta against Shadow for a long time since, then why was Sonic arrested in Sonic Adventure 2 to begin with?
- The Moon in the game's opening looks like it's perfectly intact, when previously in Sonic Adventure 2, it was blown in half. Though, that may be excused as the damaged part of the Moon facing away from Earth.
- The worst offender has to be the one in the last story, where after Black Doom is defeated and the Black Comet is destroyed, the President and the G.U.N. Commander admit they were wrong about Gerald Robotnik and should be happy mode about his legacy. Nevermind the fact that Gerald Robotnik tried to commit global genocide as revenge from G.U.N., for killing his granddaughter Maria.
- The voice acting for Rouge and most of the human characters is very dull, Charmy's was somewhat annoying.
- The character models were outright recycled from Sonic Heroes and thus are very out-of-place with the grimmer tone of the game.
- Black Doom is rather bland and looks more like a Spawn/Final Fantasy villain.
- Almost every weapon is useless because of a lack of a target lock or manual aim, combined with an ineffective auto-aim.
- Cannon-type weapons do have a form of manual aim, but it is awkward and frustrating, requiring having to shift Shadow from side to side to get the crosshairs on your target.
- When Shadow isn't equipped with a weapon, pressing the Attack button will make him do a melee combo that does pathetic damage (it is the only attack in the entire game that cannot take down soldiers in one hit) and has terrible range.
- Sometimes, the homing attack's auto-aim will cause you to miss your intended target and fall to your death.
- The concept of "multiple story paths and endings" is weakened by each path containing nearly all the same levels and objectives and very few differences between the regular endings. Finally, adding salt to the wound, the whole thing is completely pointless by the Last Story segment, which has Shadow saving the world regardless.
- The Branching Paths mechanic is very poorly implemented. Instead of returning to a previously completed level and completing a different mission to unlock another level, you have to restart the whole campaign and take a different path to get to the level you want. Not only that, but the campaign always starts with the level "Westopolis" so you'll keep replaying that level over and over, which becomes much worse with the next point.
- You have to play through the game campaign at least ten times to unlock the Last Story, and 326 times if you bother to find every possible path variation.
- Most of the objectives boil down to killing either all the enemies in the level or just reaching the Goal Ring.
- The objectives where you have to kill all the enemies in a stage often will not give you any leeway, meaning that you literally have to find and kill every single enemy in the stage.
- The PlayStation 2 version suffers from the same problems as the Sonic Heroes PS2 port (which is also uses the same engine, Renderware): downgraded graphics, clipping issues and frame rate drops (though not as notable as in Heroes).
- You have to keep switching back to the objective you want to do because every time you meet an NPC they override your current objective tracker.
- Depending on the objective, you may be forced to backtrack to earlier parts of the level (using the checkpoints to warp there) to find enemies or items you may have missed.
- The Chaos abilities completely break the game, especially during boss fights where Chaos Control slows down time and allows you to drain the boss' whole life-bar in less than a minute.
- While the game has eight bosses in total, all of them (with the exception of the final boss) are reused at least once in multiple stages, with little to no variation in the fights themselves, which are also rather underwhelming.
- The bosses can be sometimes annoying, such as Egg Breaker, where Dr. Eggman always shouts "You know what they say, the more the merrier!" in one variation and "Lights out!" in another (he is reused 3 times).
- Also, Diablon, who just says "Hold still, you devil!".
- The Egg Dealer...Need I say anything else?
- Chaos Control isn't helpful if the objective was to kill or collect stuff, because if it was, then zipping past the stage is the last thing the player will want to do.
- On top of that, Chaos Control attacks and destroys almost everything in Shadow's path when used, which increases his Dark score, making it counter-intuitive, despite being the Hero power.
- Chaos Blast, while cool in concept, has a rather short range and doesn't deal as much damage as it should. Plus, it can be easily spammed.
- NPCs are useless. They barely help you against enemies (though certain NPCs can be controlled by a 2nd player in the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions only), and Black Doom, Eggman, Maria, and Charmy simply follow Shadow.
- Shadow collects two of the seven Chaos Emeralds in the first stage while you collect one at a time in other stages, hinting that this game was another case of being rushed.
- Shadow can drive vehicles, but nearly all of them control horribly and are useless (the jeep and motorbike go even slower than Shadow's regular speed). The only exceptions are a high-jumping bipedal mech and a flying alien creature that is mandatory in some stages.
- In the Space Gadget stage, the Hero and Normal missions share the exact same objective (Reach the Goal Ring). If you want to take the Normal path, you have to wait 5 minutes for the Hero mission to be listed as failed before touching the Goal Ring.
- For whatever reason, the game has a two-player deathmatch mode. Aside from being able to play as robotic versions of Shadow with guns for arms, it is a worthless and forgettable version of Sonic Heroes' death-match mode.
- The only reason why this game was made was because Shadow became very popular in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. So they purposely not have any other Sonic character in Sonic Heroes not tell Shadow about his past in Sonic Adventure 2, just so they could make an argument to make this game.
- Shadow by himself can be a good character and gets plenty of character development as he develops a different sense of identity and purpose in life (Being Black Doom's right hand man, being the protector of the ark, etc) depending on the ending.
- Black Doom, while bland and out of place, is an entertaining villain.
- Despite the game's "darker" tone, there are some funny moments, usually unintentional due to the poor and rushed writing or awkward animations.
- The few decent levels in the game include Digital Circuit which is a Tron-esque cyber world, and any of the levels in which you do platforming with the bipedal mech, for example, Sky Troops, also, Westopolis it's a decent level that introduces game mechanics well.
- Some missions are decent, for example, Casino Park's Hero mission, where you need to collect 400 rings, which requires you to search for rings, there are also sections where you have to explode balloons to get a number of rings, there are also some inserts where you get rings.
- The other characters' voice acting is good. Doctor Eggman is a highlight, voiced by Mike Pollock who remains as his voice actor even after Sonic Free Riders which introduced an entirely new voice cast. Dan Green (Knuckles), Sean Schemmel (Black Doom), and Jason Griffith (as Sonic and Shadow) are also great.
- While pointless, some of the weapons are still fun to use.
- The game's CG cutscenes are, at least visually, of very high quality similar to a film.
- The music is pretty good, despite its heavy use of hard, grungy rock. It even includes remixes of songs from Sonic Adventure 2, and the ending themes, such as "Waking Up" "All Hail Shadow" and "Never Turn Back" are great too.
- The game has some cool callbacks to Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes.
- The game has decent replay value, despite being repetitive.
- The rail grinding is a major improvement over the way Sonic Heroes implemented it.
Shadow the Hedgehog received generally mixed to negative reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the GameCube version 53.10% and 51/100, the Xbox version 52.15% and 49/100 and the PlayStation 2 version 49.27% and 45/100. Steve Thompson of Nintendo Power gave the GameCube version a 8.0/10.
Critics derided the game's unwelcome sense of maturity for a Sonic game, especially the addition of guns and other weapons.
Players strongly disliked the overly repetitive nature of the game which becomes tedious quickly.
This game is also known for being one of SomecallmeJohnny's most hated video games when reviewing the game, Johnny said: "Oh my God, what kind of bullshit-stupid-asinine-redundant method of padding out the game is that?!!" when talking about having to play the game 10 times to unlock the final story, citing it to be worse than Sonic Heroes, which required collecting 7 Chaos Emeralds and beating all of the teams' stories.
The game was even considered to have started the downfall of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and was later followed up by Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.
- The Dark Ending theme "Almost Dead" by Powerman 5000 is actually a licensed song which it appeared in Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, making Shadow The Hedgehog is the only game in the entire series featuring a licensed song.
- Also, it explains why "Almost Dead" is not appearing in the game's soundtrack digitally.
- The game spawned the "Find the computer room!" and "Where's that DAMN fourth Chaos Emerald?!" memes.
- According to Head of Sonic Team: Takashi Iizuka, Shadow was originally intended to have remained dead following the events of Sonic Adventure 2. In Q&A at Summer of Sonic 2011 he stated: "As you know in the story, Shadow was meant to appear in that single title. But because of the reaction of the fans, we decided to bring him back in Sonic Heroes and eventually you saw him in his own title."
- While fighting Devil Doom for 9 minutes, Dr Eggman will tell Shadow that he is not a robot, and during the events of Sonic Adventure 2, after he was not dead his robot saved him during the ending.