Terrible Video Games: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (2006) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Terrible Video Games: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (2006)

All the titles featured within our series of Terrible Video Games articles are chosen not solely because they are just bad, per-se, but because given the developers, platform, label or character they really should've been better. After all, we've all played bad games. And then we move on. But when it comes to a much loved character, like Mario and his appalling Philips CD-i game, it hurts that much more as when we have our favourites we're more likely going to part with our hard-earned dosh on the strength of their name alone. Which brings us to the 2006 'reboot' of Sonic the Hedgehog.

The first Sonic game, released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, was developed after Sega requested a mascot character to compete with Nintendo's own Mario. Its success helped Sega become one of the leading video game companies during the fourth generation of video game consoles in the early 1990s, and numourous sequels and spin-offs of varying quality appeared across the years, all of them still offering a decent level of playability. After a hiatus during the unsuccessful Saturn era, the first major 3D Sonic game, Sonic Adventure, was released in 1998 for the Dreamcast before Sega exited the console market and shifted to third-party development in 2001, continuing the series on Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation systems. It's the latter two platforms who were graced with this 2006 title, which actually received praise in pre-release showings as journalists believed it could return the Sonic the Hedgehog series' back to its roots after years of mixed reviews. However, those pre-showings didn't include any actual hands-on game time. Once that was apparent, Sonic the Hedgehog proved to be a huge critical failure.

Produced to celebrate the franchise's 15th anniversary and relaunch the brand for the next generation, Sonic the Hedgehog received unfavorable reviews from critics and casual gamers alike for its (deep breath) overly sensitive controls, poor camera angles, numerous glitches, voice acting, extremely lengthy loading times, level design and poor storyline riddled with plot holes. As for that storyline, GameTrailers stated "you might actually be better off reading internet fan fiction."

So what was this "fan fiction" storyline of Sonic the Hedgehog? Well, Doctor Eggman has kidnapped Princess Elise of Soleanna in the hopes of harnessing the Flames of Disaster, a destructive power sealed within her. Aided by his friends Tails and Knuckles, Sonic works to rescue Elise from Eggman. So far so Sonic. Ish. Right? Well, here's the rub because meanwhile Shadow and his fellow agent Rouge have accidentally released an evil spirit, Mephiles. The spirit transports them to a post-apocalyptic future ravaged by a demonic monster, Iblis. When Mephiles meets survivors Silver and Blaze, he fools them into thinking Sonic is the cause of this destruction and sends them to the present to kill him. Throughout the game, Sonic and friends travel between the past, present, and future in their efforts to stop Mephiles and Iblis and protect Elise from Doctor Eggman. Complicated, confusing and quite convoluted.
But of course, if the gameplay is great then you can forgive a nonsensical storyline, can't you? Well, Sonic 2006 didn't score in that department either. GameSpot lamented the number of glitches and camera problems that made the playing this version of Sonic the Hedgehog deeply frustrating, going on to state,
"This is a mess from top to bottom. Only the most blindly reverent Sonic the Hedgehog fan could possibly squeeze any enjoyment out of Sega's latest adventure."
For a title that was supposed to reinvigorate the franchise and bring back the fun of the first couple of side-scrolling releases, albeit in a more modern 3-D world environment, sadly Sonic the Hedgehog failed terribly. The character's USP has always been right there in his name, but because of the overly sensitive controls you had to go slow at times. And perhaps worse than that, you spent almost as much time not being Sonic but controlling one of the other characters to complete the story-mode.

Time hasn't been kind to the 2006 relaunch of Sonic the Hedgehog either. In a retrospective of all the Sonic games released to date, AV Club claimed it was "inconceivably terrible on every level [so much so] that it’s become something of a perverse legend." How terrible? Well, even the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account mocked it's existence

The failure of the 2006 relaunch of Sonic the Hedgehog led to the direction of the series being rethought, with Sega even going so far as delisting the title. The next main Sonic game, 2008's Unleashed, ignored the gritty and realistic tone of its predecessor, but it would be the sequel to that, 2010's Sonic Colors, when everyone's favourite hedgehog finally found his running feet again and the series "rediscovered its strength for whimsical tales with light tones."

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