It had to come to this. We’ve been discussing the worst games of Gen 7, and we wanted to make sure that Sonic wasn’t left out. It was E3 in 2005 that the game Sonic the Hedgehog was announced to fans as part of the 15th anniversary of the Sonic series. The main aim of this game was to show Sonic to a new generation and show off what the Havok engine could do, and it really didn’t help Sonic’s image …
On paper the game plays as a standard 3D Sonic game with multiple playable stories, and when you finish all of them, then a final story unlocks to round it all out. You have Sonic sections where you go fast, Shadow sections where you go fast but there is also a bit more of a focus on combat, and Silver’s sections where you use his telekinesis to solve puzzles. You hear that and what is there not to love? Right?
There was plenty wrong with this game, and most of it stems from bad decisions made during development. After the game was initially showed off the first bad sign came from the resignation of Yuji Naka as the head of Sonic Team. After that, with a deadline looming, the Team made the most logical choice and split in half. One half of the team would continue working on Sonic the Hedgehog, while the other half would go on to develop Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Nintendo Wii. In order to get the game “done” and out in time for the December holiday rush of games, Sonic Team was also reported to have completely ignore any bug reports from their QA team.
Some of the problems that resulted from this lack of QA really shine through in the final game, and it has made Sonic ’06 one of those games that everyone loves to hate. There are long loading times, weird physics glitches, and even ways to skip segments of the game. One of my favorite glitches isn’t so much about breaking a sequence or accidentally staying with Sonic instead of swapping to Tails but is the box glitch. It’s a fun way to completely break the game and head to the heavens.
Of course, if I’m running off a list of some weird things from Sonic ’06, then we have to talk about Eggman. With new access to better hardware, the first thing Sonic Team wants to do is make their characters look more realistic. There isn’t much you can do with an anthropomorphic hedgehog, so Sonic actually doesn’t look too bad, but trying to make Eggman look more like a human leaves a scary image. Other human characters, that are more in proportion, like Princess Elise, actually don’t look bad for a game released in 2006.
Aside from all of the glitches, the story itself is bogged down in complicated time travel and introduces lore about the gods of Soleanna, a city that has only appeared in Sonic ’06 and has never since appeared again. The story is full of events occurring in one timeline that affect another and in some cases time travel is used to deus ex machina out of situations that didn’t even have to happen. It all culminates in a final fight where Sonic is seemingly dead and it’s only with the Chaos Emeralds and a kiss from Princess Elise that he’s able to rise up and take on Solaris, to go back in time one final time and literally wipe Solaris from existence. It’s a game that completely retcons itself in the end so that Sonic and Elise don’t even know each other by the end of the game.
What do you think of Sonic ’06? Would you recommend it to your friends? What was your experience with the game?