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Sonic: How bad could it possibly be?

On 04/12/2012 at 06:54 PM by Michael117

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I love studying games and learning from them, however, I can't just limit myself to the bliss of only dissecting my favorite games, like Portal 2. I like to come across duds as well, and observe what went wrong, what went right (if anything), and see if I learn anything from the experience. In my collection you'll find games like the 2008 Alone in the Dark reboot, and the fascinatingly bad Soldier of Fortune III. Both of which are so horrible and so interesting at the same time I could certainly do a Guilty Pleasures entry on each. Added to that list of duds is now the 2006 franchise reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Yesterday I basically stumbled across the game at my parent's house because my nephews (who own it) left it for dead there. I found it thrown carelessly in some messy corner with a bunch of junk, the cover art tattered, but luckily the disc is in good shape. Since they couldn't care less about it, I've stolen it and will use it to my own ends. I've "liberated" a game from them once before, and feel no renegade points added to my life's stat sheet. Karma can suck my ballsack. One time I burgled Borderlands from them, because they wanted to go to Gamestop and basically trade in all the games they owned in order to build up enough credit to buy whatever new Madden game was coming out. They never even played Borderlands and gave it a chance lol, and neither had I. Yea right, give up Borderlands like that without giving it a shot, over my dead body. They traded in their other games, bought Madden, had no idea Borderlands was missing, and were no worse for wear. As a result I was able to play the game, become a huge fan, and now I'm psyched to buy Borderlands 2 new when it comes out. Used and second hand gaming worked out in the industry's favor in my situation.

Back to Sonic, the last time I played a Sonic game was Sonic 2 back on the Sega Genesis. I enjoyed that game and my cousins and I got some good times out of it, but to tell the truth I've never given a crap about Sonic, Eggman, and I never became a big fan of the IP even as much as I enjoyed the early Sonic games I played. This series is huge to a lot of people though, it's one of the most iconic around, and over time has seemingly become as big a disappointment as you could fathom. In regards to this 2006 reboot game, I've heard people say it was one of the biggest disappointments of that entire decade. I heard the camera was broken, the gameplay was a mess, the characters and story were bland, and there are plenty of technical issues to go around. Once I actually had Sonic in my hands and realized I could play it for myself, I thought, "How bad could it really be guys?"


Well, it's pretty damn bad so far. Who's the tween?

I spent a couple hours trying to make some progress, and I guess I'll start from the beginning. The music at the menu screens was pretty upbeat and got my hyped to start Sonic-ing it up. When I started the "Sonic Episode", the game begins with a cinematic. It didn't make much sense. There was a tall lanky princess, called Princess Elise, who is in the middle of some ceremony and eventually gets abducted by Dr. Robotnik. Why is there a princess? I thought this was Sonic, not Mario. It's been a long time but I don't remember any princess-saving in the older games. The arrival of Sonic in the cinematic made Sonic feel out of place and alien. There's all these humans doing human-y things, and suddenly a blue talking critter shows up with a spunky attitude, dishing out Power Rangers style one liners. Near the end of the cinematic when Eggman has the Princess and she's about the get taken away, Sonic says, "I'll save you!" and the Princess looks down as if disappointed and says, "I know." Is this game suppose to parody itself? Is it suppose to parody princess saving in games? If the writing was meant to convey drama or sincerity, it was lost on me in every way. To me it seemed like they were just joking and something subtle, snarky, and dark was trying to seep through.


If she breaks out into song, I'm calling it quit-sies

There were some cool moments, like when Eggman's ship shoots rockets, but that's it. I've never seen a princess that mattered less to me than Elise. However, if you're interested in possible underage upskirt shots she might be your thing. They put the camera convieniently low several times to tease that classic upskirt kind of vibe that happens often in anime, and I don't see why. Why is their a princess, why is she 17, and why are their subtle-ish upskirt teases going on in a Sonic game? Plus, there's no way Sonic could carry her like he does. Despite being a string bean, she's pretty big, and seeing her attempting to be dainty in his arms as he zooms around doesn't make a lot of sense. Why don't we create badass princesses who wear combat boots and get pissed off once in a while, and maybe don't have to be carried around? Who knows, I didn't really come for story, so how bad could the gameplay be?


The animation and the script don't add anything to the characters. They're so lame they actually detract for me. I'm not even sure they "played it safe" because when you "play it safe" it usually means you do something that works great, doesn't push boundaries, and is right down the middle. The execution in this game doesn't even play it safe or go down the middle, it just veers off the road and plain sucks

So after some loading screens, I show up in Soleanna and started wandering around, messing with buttons, and figuring out the control scheme. Right away there were problems, firstly the camera. Not even 2 minutes into the game and I noticed how the camera would get hung up on every little thing, and force you into awkward points of view. I got hung up on some park benches and watched Sonic phase through them at times, bounce over top of them, and convulse like crazy. As I wandered around and talked to NPCs I realized they all look like they were the most generic NPCs you could ever have in a game. They all look yanked straight out of a Sims game, and to reinforce their bland nature, they even have names like Old Lady, Lady, Young Lady, Boy, Man, etc. The off limits areas of the level are all blocked by an invisible wall and a group of cops telling you that you can't cross because of contsruction. The whole damn city is under construction I guess. I met up with Tails and was thrown into another loading screen. Then there was a short scene between Sonic and Tails showcasing the horrible animation and script, than luckily *sigh* another loading screen, and finally back to the game. It seems as if Sonic can't even breath without the need for a loading screen. It's comical that the content is so bad and shows so little effort, but the engine is also so bad that said content can only be brought to you thanks to a near constant flow of loading screens.

This isn't some obscure low budget title from a previous generation, this is present gen. This was an anticipated, multiplatform release, and a launch title for the 360, a beast that has pumped out ambitious and technically impressive games far beyond the realm of Sonic The Hedgehog. The crap in this game wouldn't even impress anybody on the Gamecube or PS2 let alone the 360.

After the talk I had with Tails, I went and tried out the first platforming level. All those problems I had with the characters and presentation were disappointing, but the actual gameplay in the first platforming level made me mad.


I died here over and over and it never made any sense. Tell the Japanese to come harpoon this damn whale and make fillets out of it

The first level made as little sense as it could make. I jumped on some boxes, did some rolling attacks on some random robots, watched some dolphins jaggedly "swim" around, I got chased by a whale for no reason, and I drowned a lot. The mechanics were so inconsistent and the camera's faults were in full effect. I'm pretty decent at platformers, but I kept finding ways to die each time I played this first level. There was nothing difficult about it, it was always...

"Why is the camera making me look at the game from this angle? When I press the inputs to make Sonic go left, why isn't Sonic going to the left to get that coin? Why is there a canopy on this walkway if it keeps me from seeing Sonic and causes the camera to go crazy? Why is Sonic flying over the water, then suddenly stopping dead in his tracks and drowning? Where am I suppose to go? Where's the end? What the hell am I even doing here? Do I have to get a certain amount of coins? Why do they say those bigger silver coins are a big deal and not explain why? Why do I feel like I have no control in this whale chase sequence?"

I died a bunch of times, ran out of lives, got a game over and I had to start the whole game over from the opening cinematic. I didn't even make it through the first level guys. I've ragged on Super Mario Sunshine's camera and inconsistent mechanics (which are still gripes I have) but Sonic the Hedgehog is actually borderline broken, if not outright broken. At least I can play Super Mario Sunshine, finish levels, and have some fun mixed in with the ocassional frustration. My first hour of Sonic was simply no fun at all. Any small moments of fun I had on a particular obstacle in that level was completely countered by a dozen bad things that made me scratch my head. Once I ran out of lives and got the game over I said, "Fuck this shit, blow me Sonic!" I usually never get mad at games, I have a ton of patience. When I play a terrible game and want to quit I usually just say "Meh", turn it off, build a bridge and get over it, but that Sonic level was so bad it was crazy. The things I've built in Halo Reach's Forge World are better, and more polished, than anything I played in Sonic so far.

Right now as I'm writing this I'm completely calm and normal again, but last night when I quit, I was raging all over this game and ready to take a giant shit on it. Now that I'm level headed I should probably just suck it up, go give it another shot tonight, and see if I can get further into the game. I only have myself to blame though. I asked, "How bad could it be?" and it ended up being so goddamn bad it really pissed me off lol.



Our Take

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

04/12/2012 at 07:09 PM

I am the self proclaimed Sonic and Sega fan here at PixlBit and this game made me stop playing Sonic games for 5 years. I didn't try a Sonic title until last November, when I rented Sonic Colors. I bought this game brand new when it came out in 2006 on the 360. I was so bored, so frustrated, so disappointed and so creeped out (the story gets worse) I traded the game in towards another Sega game, Virtua Fighter 5. That worked out better. Great blog, Michael!


04/12/2012 at 08:21 PM

You definitely are Esteban. I trust your Sonic knowledge, and I know if I ever have Sonic questions I should come to you. It's amazing how intense your experience was with the game, and how it made you stop playing the series for 5 years. I'm disheartened to hear that the story gets worse in this game, I was afraid that might happen. So far I've likewise been pretty bored, frustrated, and disappointed. The characters, tone, setting, and universe they built isn't cohesive at all from what I've seen, but that wasn't even the worst part for me. Once I got into the first level I felt confident because I know my platformers and I was ready to zoom around, but it all fell apart in no time at all. I was fighting with the camera, drowning, and getting mad pretty quickly. By the time I ran out of lives and started all the way back at the opening cinematic, I was really cheesed to put it nicely.

As far as SEGA games go, I'm really interested in Vanquish. I don't think SEGA developed that though, I think they just produced it so that likely doesn't count.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

04/12/2012 at 08:39 PM

The cutscenes in 3D Sonic games have all been pretty bad. This is the one main Sonic title I skipped out on, given what everyone was saying about it at the time, but I have to wonder if the dialog and such between characters could really be worse than what's in Sonic Colors....

Our Take

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

04/12/2012 at 11:36 PM

Jason, it's much worse. MUCH WORSE! Dialog in Colors is meant to be funny and doesn't take itself seriously. Sonic 2006 is supposed to be super serious and turns into *SPOILERS* a love story. *shutter* Also, the lip sync is completely off.

Some say that Sonic's lowest point was Unleashed. I haven't played that so I can't say for sure but Sonic 2006 is god awful. If I were to rate it today on PixlBit based on my memories on the game, it would be a 1/2 star, unless a 0 is possible.


04/13/2012 at 12:05 PM

@Esteban  GAH Spoilers lol! Just kidding, I was afraid it would be a love story dude, I started getting that idea last night because I went back into the game like I said I would you know, and I finally beat that first "Wave Ocean" area and made some progress for an hour. I finished a couple areas and did some boss battle with an Egg-Cerberus (I laughed when I saw the name, the actual battle wasn't the worst ever but it wasn't anything special). Eventually I came across this cutscene where Sonic is carrying Elise across some fields (I have no clue why, or where they were going) but at one point they stop have a bunch of really creepy dialogue and animation that has these romantic tones to it and everything.

There was a moment when Sonic was trying to cheer her up and he gave her some kind of cheesy romantic line and they smiled at eachother and had this "chemistry" and I was like, "But he's a fucking hedgehog, why is this happening?!" I was thinking to myself that if a romance builds between Sonic and Elise this game is going to take it to the next level in the weird factor. If the story was just bad I might be able to deal with it, but now it's being taken into the bone zone, there's animals and humans flirting, and everytime I see a new cutscene I hope to heaven they don't kiss or make this any worse.


04/12/2012 at 09:20 PM

@Jason. I haven't played Sonic Colors, but Esteban was just talking about it so I'm sure he knows what you mean. The opening cinematic of this game where they went "all out" and tried to pull an epic Final Fantasy CG kind of thing, was pretty bad. Then the actual cutscenes I've seen between the characters in-game have been much worse, but I don't have any other Sonic experiences to compare them to.

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

04/15/2012 at 12:57 PM

Sonic's downfall was doomed to happen. After that horrid bullshit the X-Treme team went through and Yuji Naka being an asshole the entire time, Sega of Japan ruined the only property that was popular in North America, all because it was never popular in Japan.

In other news, Hirokazu Yasuhara is now with Nintendo. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

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