Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Sonic the Hedgehog (also known as Sonic '06) is platforming game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. It was released as celebration for the 15th anniversary of the series.
PC and Wii versions of the game were also in development, but the PC port was scrapped due to the poor development cycle, while the Wii port became Sonic and the Secret Rings.
Dr. Eggman plans to revive an evil demon known as Iblis by kidnapping Princess Elise of Soleanna. However, in the future, Iblis has caused the end of the world, so a hedgehog known as Silver goes back in time, believing Sonic is responsible for awakening Iblis. What no one knows is that they are all pawns of another demon known as Mephiles, who plans to unite with Iblis as both Iblis and Mephiles were once a single entity known as Solaris, the God of Time.
Why The Game Was Rushed
After the game was announced, the development faced serious problems, starting with Yuji Naka's resignation as head of Sonic Team to form his own company, Prope. With his departure, "the heart and soul of Sonic" was gone, according to former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske. Sonic the Hedgehog was originally intended for release on all major seventh generation consoles as well as Microsoft Windows, but when presented with development kits for Nintendo's less powerful Wii console, the team was split in two. Nakamura led one team to finish Sonic the Hedgehog for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 while producer Yojiro Ogawa led the other half to begin work on Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii. The split left an unusually small development team to work on Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega began pressuring the team to release the game by Christmas 2006, so with the deadline quickly approaching, Sonic Team rushed the final stages of development, ignoring existing bugs and control problems. Various planned features were dropped, such as a time of day and night mechanic similar to the one later implemented in Sonic Unleashed (2008), and additional multiplayer components.
In retrospect, Ogawa noted that the final period proved to be a large challenge for the team. Not only was the Xbox 360 release imminent, but the PlayStation 3 launch was scheduled not long afterward. This put tremendous pressure on the team to develop for both systems. Similarly, series producer Takashi Iizuka recalled, "we didn't have any time to polish and we were just churning out content as quick as we could."
For the beta elements for Sonic 06, go to Sonic News Network.
Why It Sucks
- As mentioned above, the game was heavily rushed. Sonic Team didn't finish the game, instead they took an untested beta build that could be played from start to finish and released that instead. This predictably caused lots of glitches and bugs; Many gimmicks are buggy, it's easy to glitch through walls, etc.
- Extremely sensitive controls. Just a slight tilt of the analog stick is more than enough to turn your character 90 degrees.
- Due to improper physics implementation, moving on an incline doesn't feel any different from moving on a flat surface, characters come to an immediate stop upon release of the joy stick, and jumping feels very floaty. To add insult to injury, the game uses Havok engine for it's physics, which is known for awesome physics and used lots of awesome games like Half-Life 2, Far Cry and F.E.A.R..
- Poor controls and terrible camera make the game frustratingly bad and more difficult, making it hard to jump through rings or drive a vehicle. It also makes the game unfairly difficult and rage inducing.
- While most of the voice acting is good, Jason Griffith's performance as Sonic sounded bland in a few scenes, Pete Capella's performance as Silver can get really annoying at times, and Kathleen Delaney's performance as Rouge gives very dull effort. Not to mention, it also wastes the talent of Lacey Chabert (who's a big Sonic fan) as Elise.
- The story is convoluted, messy, and downright riddled with plotholes. The reason for all of this is because Sonic '06 was meant to be a series reboot, if that was the case, it would be fine, but Sonic Generations treats it as canon with the rest of the series (In fact, it just doing with Crisis City, Silver and some enemies from the level itself and also it's rather a questionable choice), so the massive retcons, inconsistencies and plotholes can't be excused anymore and also introduces plotholes in the rest of the lore. Some examples include (but not limited to):
- Sonic and his friends can time travel with the Chaos Emeralds. Why don't they just go back in time and extinguish The Flame Of Hope (aka Solaris) right away to prevent the end of the world?!
- Mephiles' plan doesn't make sense either. Why don't he just go back in time and merge with Iblis right away?!
- In the scene where Shadow is sealing Mephiles in the staff, Mephiles says that one day he will escape and kill Shadow, which could explain how Mephiles knows Shadow when they first meet, because Shadow was meant to stop Mephiles. However, Shadow was still sealed in the capsule in Prison Island at that time, so there was no way he could have stopped Mephiles in the first place.
- During the scene when Shadow meets Mephiles, he introduces himself to him, however, when he meets Mephiles again, Shadow asks Mephiles how he knew his name. Does Shadow have some kind of short-term memory loss?
- Why did Shadow leave the Sceptre Of Darkness behind?
- Shadow works for G.U.N, which was the same organization that tried to kill him in the last game (the game's Expert Mode contains some dialogue that helps fill this in, but it's quite a far fetch).
- Before the Duke (Elise's father) dies, he seals Iblis inside Elise (who is unconscious) and tells Elise to always be happy and that if she ever cries, Iblis will be free. The problem is, how was Elise able to not cry for ten years, especially after her father dies?
- Before Shadow and Silver go back to the present, Silver gives the young and unconscious Elise the Blue Chaos Emerald, which could explain how Elise has the Chaos Emerald in the begin of the game, but that's in Silver's story. In Shadow's story, if you look very closely at Silver's right hand as he heads into the portal, you can see the Blue Chaos Emerald is still in his hand. As Somecallmejohnny described this blunder: "Oops!"
- Blaze and Silver can call themselves "best friends" but there's a problem, Blaze completely forgots Sonic (you know she learned friendship from him in previous game). Also there's no explanation how Blaze meeted Silver and became friends.
- Shadow and Silver left Elise, the scepter of Darkness, and a chaos emerald in the same location, where some tampering and a few tears from Elise could easily trigger Solaris' transformation.
- Speaking of the storyline, the game literally retcons itself at the end. This infuriated players because they had to endure this game for approximately 12 hours, only to be told it was all for nothing.
- Next to no speed in a game franchise that is supposed to be fast-paced and full of fast characters. Even Sonic himself (you know, the fastest thing alive) runs relatively slow compared to the other entries in the series, and the stages where Sonic does run fast are near impossible to control.
- Those sections where Sonic runs fast are the mach speed sections, sections where Sonic moves at lightning speed and must be controlled to avoid the obstacles. The moving controls are inconsistent and oversensitive, Sonic normally moves forward by himself, but when he hits an item box in the air you suddenly need to move the left stick for him to move forward. It is also very difficult to avoid obstacles as the stage throws way too many things at you. Jumping in these sections is also extremely dangerous since it locks Sonic's movement while in the air.
- A lot of puzzles in this game are rather broken and poorly designed. An example is the infamous ball puzzle in the Dusty Desert level where you play as Silver and have to push a ball into a hole at the end of a path while avoiding other holes scattered throughout. Due to the terrible physics and aforementioned controls, it can be really difficult to get the ball in the right hole due to the fact that you can only hit the ball a limited number of times before it explodes, and as mentioned there are also other holes in the ground that both Silver and the ball can fall into. If Silver falls into one of these holes he dies and you lose a life. Also, the metal crates that are blocking the holes don't really help much.
- The bad controls can cause cheap deaths. For example, in the first zone, there is a bridge below an item box which Sonic can get stuck on and die if you aren't moving the left stick after going on the ramp just before the bridge.
- The Skill Gem power-ups were supposed to be timer-based, but due to the game being rushed, the timers are not programmed and never run out, meaning you can use them forever.
- All seven gems themselves are very broken, and they are:
- The blue gem gives you a burst of speed, which can be spammed infinitely to speed through levels.
- The red gem can be used to slow down time. This includes the level timer, making it easier to get high ranks.
- The green gem creates a tornado around Sonic, damaging everything close to him.
- The white gem allows Sonic to perform a more powerful and controllable homing attack.
- The sky blue gem makes Sonic throw a small gem, and wherever it lands, Sonic will zip towards that location. However its range is not unlimited, and it can accidentally launch Sonic off the stage.
- The yellow gem creates a yellow-colored thunder shield around Sonic, similar to the lightning/magnetic shield from older games. While it can only take one hit, there is nothing preventing the player from simply making another one right after he gets hit.
- The purple emerald shrinks you down and gives you the ability to fly by mashing the jump button. Because the purple emerald lasts forever, Sonic can skip huge chunks of his levels by jumping infinitely. This makes it the most broken emerald in the game.
- All seven gems themselves are very broken, and they are:
- While not as much as Shadow the Hedgehog, this game tries way too hard to take itself seriously. Some examples include:
- In the last story, Sonic gets killed by the main villain (albeit temporarily).
- Crisis City, most notably being horribly out-of-place in Sonic universe due to it's creepy and gritty tone.
- Speaking of Crisis City, the mach speed section at the end of the stage is the worse one of the lot; there are so many obstacles that are hard to avoid, plus you to deal with debris being thrown at you from behind as well, with no indication of where if comes from. There are also moments where the camera spins round in front of Sonic, but the controls doesn't change to compensate for this new angle, making it feel disorienting.
- The opening cutscene feels like it could fit more in a Final Fantasy game than in Sonic. Nothing in it feels fitting until Sonic and Dr. Eggman jump in and perform their roles.
- On that topic, the game's art direction received mixed reactions from fans because it combines realistic humans and animals with the cartoony designs of Sonic and his friends. It's very inconsistent, and while it was a running theme in other Sonic games like Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog, and later Sonic Unleashed, those games at least had a cartoony appearance. In this game, however, it is very glaring with its mediocre models and more realistic environments (Crisis City being the worst).
- Eggman's realistic design was heavily panned for being incredibly disturbing and falling straight into the depths of Uncanny Valley. Elise's design was also noted for being too pale and looking like a poor man's version of a character designed by Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts character designer Tetsuya Nomura.
- Constant scripted events and autopilot sections in the levels. Often you can find yourself not pressing any button for over 20 seconds while the game plays itself (for example, you can beat the Shadow hang gliding sections without even touching a single button).
- Nothing happens in Sonic's story. All of the important backstories of Princess Elise and Solaris are told in Shadow and Silver's stories. With Sonic (you know, the main character in the entire series), it's just the completely pointless scuffle with Dr. Eggman complete with Elise getting kidnapped five times.
- Despite Mephiles being the main villain of the game, Sonic never meets him once in his story. The only time he does so is in the last episode, and Sonic dies about two seconds after.
- Painfully long and frequent loading times. The worst instance of this is when you do a side mission. First, you accept the mission, it loads, then the NPC explains what you must do, and it loads again, you finish the mission, it loads, the NPC praises/criticizes you, it loads. It takes four loading screens to do a side-quest, sometimes the load screens will last longer than the side-quests. What's even worse is that there is a side quest in Shadow's story where you help a G.U.N. soldier, and it has only one loading screen. Why can't all of the levels be like this?
- It appears the primary reason for all the loading is that the overworld maps are modelled as finite-state machines: in other words, to change anything in a map, the game has to dump everything out of RAM, reload the base state of the map, then apply a state transition to it in order to create a specific state. This method is the most quick-and-dirty method of creating a functional loader, and probably a result of rushed development.
- In the Let's Play of the PS3 version for the Something Awful forums by pokecapn, out of a 20:16:32 full runtime, 2:24:31 was loading screens. This amounts to almost 12% of the total playtime.
- The three main hedgehogs (Sonic, Shadow, and Silver) are buggy due to their controls and odd design choices for their gameplay:
- Sonic's gameplay is alright, but you cannot jump when he uses his spin attack, and the Homing Attack has a slight delay, as well as an odd trajectory (when used, Sonic flies in a straight line, then suddenly drops).
- Shadow's gameplay is similar to Sonic's, except he lacks the Spin Dash and his Homing Attack is more combat based which is a bit polarizing. He also has some Chaos powers, that while cool, are bland and can sometimes break.
- Silver's gameplay is using his telekinesis. He can grab nearly any object and use it as either a platform or as projectiles to attack enemies. You can even pick up weakened enemies, though you have to stun them at point-blank range. While the overall gameplay is fun, it can get repetitive. Finally, Silver doesn't have a Homing Attack or any other secondary method of defense, being only able to attack with his telekinesis.
- Many playable side characters, but they are rarely used and are just as buggy as the main characters, if not worse. Knuckles and Rouge are arguably the buggiest characters in the game.
- Tails' gameplay is similar to that of Sonic Heroes (when he is on his own). He can fly, but his flight has too much forward momentum and he'll drop like a brick after a while. He can attack enemies with Dummy Ring Bombs, which are slow but effective against enemies. However, they create fake rings upon exploding, and if you take damage, there is no way to tell the difference between real and fake rings. Tails is also agonizingly slow on the ground to the point where one has to wonder how he is able to hover when he is moving that slowly.
- Rouge doesn't use hand-to-hand combat like she did in Sonic Adventure 2. Instead, she uses bombs, similar to Tails.
- For Omega, he only has a pea shooter and homing missiles that sometimes work. His attacks also lack the impact that they had in Sonic Heroes. He also has a hover ability that can be easily exploited by mashing the jump button to skip certain parts of levels.
- Knuckles is slow, has unnaturally heavy gliding, is hard to use, and has terrible combat with questionable hit detection that could make Shadow the Hedgehog blush.
- Amy has gone back to the gameplay style that she had in Sonic Adventure, only much worse than before; terrible ground speed, a delay to her hammer swing, a double jump that kills all mid-air momentum, and she can inexplicably turn invisible for some reason.
- While you do play as three different hedgehogs, there will be times were in a that hedgehogs' story were you will be playing as that other hedgehog, which makes no real sense.
- Sonic's personality shifts from a cool hero with an attitude into a most of the time serious one with no humor. Also, Blaze and Knuckles both act out of character and don't serve any real purpose.
- Elise is by far one of the biggest "damsel in distress" characters in video game history (surpassing even Princess Peach of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, which is quite the accomplishment), since she gets kidnapped so often, it's ridiculous. She has the power of Iblis inside her, which is extremely powerful yet she almost never uses it (as it only triggers if she sheds a single tear, which in itself is pretty stupid), making her a poor man's version of Jean Grey (only without becoming a strong female lead).
- Both Elise and Silver were poorly received. After Sonic '06, Elise (so far) has never been seen in any future Sonic games. Silver, on the other hand, had gained more popularity than Elise, becoming a side character in the franchise, and appearing in minor roles like the two Sonic Rivals games, the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series, Sonic Riders, Sonic Generations, Sonic Forces and Team Sonic Racing. Silver usually gives people Sonic '06 flashbacks, which might be why he doesn't appear often.
- The NPCs look like uglier versions of the character models in GTA: San Andreas and they also have Sonic Adventure level animations. Also, they have fewer models compared to San Andreas, making NPC clumping a very common phenomenon.
- An absolutely inappropriate romance scene between Elise and Sonic that was criticized for implications of bestiality. The scene where Elise kisses Sonic on the lips is one of the most infamous and despised moments in the entire franchise. To make matters worse, Sonic is dead in said scene.
- The game was so rushed, the manual lists items and features that aren't even in the game and half of the achievements have grammatical errors.
- You can't even jump on enemies to defeat them. You know, one of the most classic features in the entire franchise!
- Shadow's vehicles control poorly.
- In Shadow's Kingdom Valley level, Rouge tells you that you need three keys to open a door, similar to the hunting stages in the Adventure games. Only this time, you don't have a radar to help you find them and there are no hints, leaving you completely blind when looking for these keys.
- Most of the boss fights are poorly designed, with the two most infamous ones being Silver and Iblis' second phase. Silver can grab and throw you into a wall while saying his most infamous quotes: "It's no use!" followed by "Take this!" or "This will end it!" along with "How about this!?" in another form (when he throwing objects at you). This boss fight is also infamous due to a glitch where he can repeatedly throw you against a wall, without giving you any time to recover. When this happens, you keep unintentionally picking up at least one ring, so you're left stuck in an endless loop. Iblis' second phase is not as bad as Silver, but it is also infamous for being little more than a waiting game. You have fight both bosses twice, once with Sonic, and again with Shadow.
- Cheap enemy placements that give several enemies a chance to pop up out of nowhere and ambush you.
- The tenth and final stage (The End Of The World) is one of the worst levels in the game, and one of the worst final levels in the entire franchise. It's painfully long, has seven separate loading screens that each lasting over 20 seconds, doesn't let you play as Sonic or Blaze (they are already dead in this segment keep in mind), forces players to deal with every other character's problems at once, is filled with poorly placed wormholes that are instant kills and starts you off with six lives. It's difficult to get more and if you get a game over, you have to do the whole level all over again!
- No automatic saving. For example, if you forget to save manually and get a game over on the first level, you have to start the whole game all over again from the opening cutscene as demonstrated by James Rolfe.
- The only upside to this is that unlike another game that relies on manual saves, this game at least prompts players to save after finishing a level.
- When you get hit, your character's model can disappear for a few seconds.
- The hub world is so big that it's way too easy to get lost in because set-pieces are nonexistent and everything looks the same.
- It is also unnecessary for a hub world, as it serves no purposes other than being a free place where the characters can talk to people, play missions, and buy upgrades. You can't even replay any levels that were introduced in that hub world. This is unlike Sonic Adventure, where you can actually replay the levels and can get upgrades in the levels or hub.
- The forest hub area is also unnecessarily large, spacious and empty. In Somecallmejohnny's review of the game, he stated that it's even worse than Hyrule Field from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
- The PS3 version really didn't get anything exclusive like the Xbox 360 version.
- The Xbox 360 version got the Team Attack Amigo, the Very Hard Missions DLC for both characters & boss attacks DLC for both characters, while the PS3 version only has the Very Hard DLC in North America. Sadly, other DLC's for PS3 was only released in Europe and Asia.
- Background themes based on the game were released for the Xbox 360, but not the PS3.
- The PS3 version is slightly inferior than the Xbox 360 version despite having extra development time since it has slightly longer load times (25 seconds while the Xbox 360 version loads in 20 seconds) and has worse framerate than the 360 version. There's also no way to install the game onto the hard drive to reduce those problems.
- You collect medals that are similar to the emblems in previous 3D Sonic games, only this time you get absolutely nothing when you get them all. All you can get from them is an achievement in the 360 version.
- The game has a co-op mode where two players can race each other towards the end of a level of their choice, but it's extremely unbalanced because Sonic is much faster than Shadow and Silver. Silver is too slow, but he can freeze the other player infinitely, which allows the Silver player to curb-stomp the other player.
- Putting aside the glitches and poor controls, the game is still full of bad design choices and unneeded content that took away development time that could've been used to polish the thing.
- The achievements are poorly written because they don't offer enough information on their requirements and have improper grammar. For example, to unlock the Blue Phantom achievement, you have to get all of the Skill Gems as Sonic. The description says "Super Sonic: Obtain the all moves".
- While soundtrack is awesome, it just wastes the talents of Ali Tabatabaee and Matty Lewis from Zebrahead, the entire Zebrahead band, Bentley Jones (at the time he uses Lee Brotherton name) and (most notably) Akon.
- Awesome music, especially the main theme, "His World", probably one of the best video game themes ever made, and Silver's theme, "Dreams of an Absolution".
- Shadow's portrayal in this game is an improvement over the previous games at the time.
- Compared to the other characters' levels, Blaze's are more polished, less glitchy, and have actual speedy gameplay and surprisingly cool moves (she is still broken due to afromentioned physics and controls).
- Despite not aging well, the graphics look very nice (even though it look way too realistic and out-of-place).
- Most of the voice acting is good. Especially Jason Griffith as Sonic and Shadow, Mike Pollock as Dr. Eggman, Amy Palant as Tails, Dan Green as Knuckles and Mephiles, and Erica Schroeder as Blaze.
- There still are few good bosses here and there. The Egg Wyvern boss is a nice call back to the Egg Viper boss from Sonic Adventure.
- The game has a lot of callbacks to Sonic Adventure.
- The story does have funny moments here and there: the possibly unintentionally hilarious scene where Shadow uses the power of Chaos Control to kick Silver in the back of the head being a stand-out example, along with the revelation that Eggman has robot glasses that always know where the Chaos Emeralds are.
- Some glitches in this game are fun to use; especially the floating box glitch.
- Had Sega given the Sonic Team more time, this could've been on the Awesome Games Wiki. (even though it can be still didn't aged well)
- Like Sonic Adventure 2, SnapCube's fandub made this game popular for a little bit, while introducing more memes, such as Ke$ha: Die Young (marching band arrangement), "Ha ha, ha ONE!", "Tilted Towers", "Speak for yourself, motherfucker!", and "Downloading weed.exe".
Reception and Impact
The game at first was hyped and had fans with very high hopes, with most of them expecting it to repair the damage Shadow the Hedgehog had done to the franchise. Under pressure from the Christmas rush and because of the PS3 launching, the game was released as a nigh-unplayable beta build with little testing and as a result, it was heavily panned both by critics and fans alike, often averaging around 40%.
The game is often considered the point the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise hit rock bottom. As mentioned above, the game is widely considered to be one of the worst games of all time and was regarded as the worst Sonic game for a long time, until Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric dethroned it. Adding insult to injury, in essence, this game was the closest there would ever be to a "Sonic Adventure 3", and because of that, it is unlikely that Sega will ever make another Sonic game following the "Adventure" formula (so far).
A large number of fans gave up on the Sonic franchise believing it to be dead after this game. On the other hand others believe this game to be a necessary evil, as at the time the franchise was filled with awkward experiments like Shadow the Hedgehog, and following this game Sonic slowly began to get back on track with games like Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, at least until Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric happened, which is also considered one of the worst in the entire Sonic series of all time. There is frequent debate over which game is worse, this or Rise of Lyric.
Somecallmejohnny played the game a lot of times, and he said that he did enjoy the game a bit. He even said that it's even more enjoyable than Shadow the Hedgehog.
A fan project is aiming to develop a build of the game for PC with all (or at least a significant number of) the gameplay problems and bugs fixed. ChaosX was released the Sonic the Hedgehog P-06 demo (Project 06) on April 19th, 2019 then it earned biggest attention by everyone and journalists, the video was received 3k likes within one week.
Sega delisted the game from retailers in 2010, following its decision to remove all Sonic games with below-average Metacritic scores in order to increase the value of the brand. Since the game was poorly received by critics and fans, the game was removed from the Xbox Marketplace, and the PlayStation Store. Only the DLC remains in the stores.
- There are glitches that let you skip some of the more frustrating parts such as the infamous Silver ball puzzle or the treasure hunting part in Shadow's Kingdom Valley.
- Sometimes during the Egg Wyvern boss, after playing for a couple of minutes, the boss suddenly stops and the screen goes to black, skipping the entire boss. You can get an easy S rank because of this.