- Developer: Sonic Team
- Publisher: Sega
- Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Release Date: November 14, 2006 (Xbox 360) December 21, 2006 (PS3)
- MSRP: n/a
Before I get into this review I need to get something out of my system. F*ck this game! F*ck this game! F*ck this game! Sorry about that. Gotta go fast! This is the first thing that pops into my head when I hear the name Sonic the Hedgehog. For most of my life, I have somehow avoided this franchise. Probably due to the fact I never owned any of the Sega consoles, Sonic always remained a mystery to me. The Blue Blur has gained a significant fan base since his introduction in 1991. A fan base with a very poor reputation, often being called furries. But I’m not here to bash on Sonic’s fans.
Sonic made his debut in 1991 in Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. It was a simple 2D platformer with a focus on speed. Sega designed Sonic with the intention of competing with Nintendo’s Mario. At the time, Nintendo pretty much had a monopoly on the videogame industry. They had very little competition. Sonic was marketed for his speed and his “coolness” in comparison to Mario. Part of Sega’s marketing strategy was showing off the processing speed of the Genesis compared to the Super Nintendo (By the way, this was the only advantage the Genesis had). They called it “blast processing.” Sonic was a huge success and made Sega and Sonic Team a household name. The game sold well and was praised by critics. Sonic 2 and 3 along with Sonic and Knuckles were also very successful games. Then suddenly silence. The Sega Saturn was released and flopped. Sonic Team struggled to bring Sonic into the 3D era. Numerous canceled projects and poorly received spinoff games were released. Finally, the Dreamcast was launched in 1998 in Japan and 1999 for the rest of the world. Sonic finally made his return in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. These games were well received at the time, but have not aged all that well. But that’s a rant for another time. The Dreamcast flopped as well and Sega left the console market for good.
Now let’s go back to the year 2005. Sega showed up at E3 with a next generation Sonic game. This had many people excited. Sonic in HD! Sonic ’06 was to be released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii. It had a planned release for holiday 2006 to go along with the launch of the Playstation 3 and Wii. The game was intended to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the franchise by giving the series a reboot. This game would be the most ambitious yet.
Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. Not long after the E3 presentation, executive producer and one of the creators of Sonic Yuji Naka, left Sega to create his own studio. While this was happening, Nintendo had given Sonic Team a Wii development kit. Sonic Team had a realization that the Wii would not be nearly as powerful as the other consoles. The next gen Sonic game would not be able work on the Wii. Sega’s brilliant solution to this was problem was to split the development team in two. One team would work on Sonic ’06 while the other worked on the Wii game (Which later became Sonic and the Secret Rings). Sega also refused to delay the release of Sonic ’06. The development team was overworked and understaffed. Man intended features had to be cut such as a day/night cycle, shop items, extra characters, extra missions, and multiplayer features. The team also had to ignore bug reports.
This culmination of bad decisions created the demon spawn that is Sonic ’06. Often cited as one of the worst games ever made. The game that destroyed the original Game Grumps. You are probably asking yourself “How bad could it really be?” You poor, unfortunate soul. You do not know the horrors that await you. That is why I must save all of you from playing this game! Now then, time to get into analyzing why this game is considered so bad. I think I just threw up in my mouth.
The basic story for a Sonic game is that Sonic and his friends must stop Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik from gathering the Chaos Emeralds and taking over the world. Recurring characters include Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Amy, and Eggman. This isn’t your typical Sonic story. Shit gets very weird in this game. The story is so ridiculous and convoluted that it is impossible to follow what exactly is happening. This game takes place in the city of Soleanna. The opening cutscene of the game shows a festival of some sorts going on. We are introduced to Princess Elise, who is the ruler of Soleanna. Then suddenly robots are blowing shit up and guess who, its Eggman. He wants to kidnap the princess because he wants to control the “flames of disaster” that are within Elise. Then Sonic appears to save the day and gets her away from Eggman’s grasp. Ultimately, Eggman still succeeds in kidnapping her. Sonic must now save Elise in order to prevent the repeat of a disaster that happened 10 years earlier by Solaris. Apparently a vengeful god was implanted within Elise by her father and if she cries the flames will be released. Thanks Daddy! Are you kidding me! You mean to tell me that over the past 10 years she hasn’t cried a single time. Even though her family is dead and she was a young child when this all occurred.
Whiling trying save Elise and stop Eggman, Sonic is being pursued by a new white hedgehog named Silver. He is from the future and is trying to destroy the “Iblis Trigger” that caused the destruction of his world 200 years in the future. Oh yeah, there’s time travel. Silver was told by Mephiles (really?), a Shadow the Hedgehog look alike and clearly evil, that Sonic was the cause of the destruction of the world. Silver tries to pursue Sonic until he learns the truth. Mephiles was trying to combine with Solaris to destroy the world. What a twist!
The game is broken down into three parts. Sonic’s part which is focused on saving Princess Elise and defeating Eggman. Shadow’s part which is about going through time to stop Mephiles. Silver’s part is about trying to save the future. This story telling style makes it difficult follow what is happening. Without playing the other parts, you will not understand the story. You must beat all three stories in order for the events to come full circle. Ultimately, ending with everyone lending their hand to defeat the greater evil. This has been standard practice for Sonic games since Sonic Adventure. Doesn’t Eggman ever learn?
After finally saving Elise for the fifth time, Mephiles appears behind Sonic and fires a beam right through him, killing him. This leads to Elise crying and releasing Solaris. Mephiles and Solaris combine to become whole again. The other characters are transported to another dimension where they must collect the 7 Chaos Emeralds to bring Sonic back to life. Sound familiar. Princess Elise then proceeds to KISS sonic and he comes back from the dead. No wonder so many people think that Sonic fans are furries. Then Sonic, Shadow, and Silver essentially become Super Saiyans to battle Solaris. After defeating Solaris time is reset, making the events of the game non-canon.
This story is incredibly convoluted, stupid, and hard to follow. It’s like Sega hired a bunch of edgy teen Sonic fanfic writers from Deviant Art to write the story. This is Sonic the Hedgehog, not Final Fantasy. Sega should keep things simple with the Blue Blur just like what Nintendo does with Mario. Imagine a darker, edgier Super Mario game. There is no way anyone would take that seriously. If I wanted a deep, involved plot I’d just play an RPG. The story is very similar to many poorly written and cliché riddled anime. It just takes itself too seriously despite how silly it is. The story is atrocious but it only gets worse from here. Actually playing the game is far worse.
The gameplay of Sonic ’06 is in the same vein as the Sonic Adventure games. It has multiple playable characters with 3 campaigns. These include the Sonic, Shadow, and Silver campaigns. You must traverse the levels while collecting rings, destroying enemies, and completing it as fast as possible. A rank is given out depending on your total score. The ranks from lowest to highest are D, C, B, A, and S. The player is rewarded rings based on the ranking. This really doesn’t matter that much as rings really aren’t that valuable in this game. They are used to buy upgrades, most of which are not necessary to complete the game.
This game is riddled with glitches and poor level design. Falling through the level is a fairly common occurrence. There are spots in which you can just walk through walls. Characters get stuck on benches and start seizing. AI partners often are unable to keep up and constantly respawn. Sometimes they will randomly die for no reason. Also if you jump near water they will fall in. During the rail grinding section, if you do not jump at the right time you will get stuck. Then the character is pretty much having a seizure. The combat is tedious and repetitive. It all controls so poorly as well. The camera is inexcusably bad for a PS3/Xbox 360 era game. It constantly gets stuck on walls or goes to an angle that makes it difficult to see surrounding enemies or pitfalls. Even Super Mario 64 has better camera control. You know, one of the first 3D platformers. The physics engine is really broken. This is especially detrimental in Shadow’s and Silver’s episodes. The framerate runs atrociously at almost all times. It consistently drops into the single digits. The framerate struggled to maintain a consistent 30 frames. The loading time is horrendous. The game needs to load way too many times. Talk to a person, loading screen. They say one thing, loading screen. Get to a certain part of a level, loading screen. Beat the boss, loading screen. Show its death scene, loading screen. This makes dying a far greater consequence than it needs to be.
I will divide this section into the 3 episodes as each part of the game is somewhat different form each other. Its best to start out with Sonic. The game begins by spawning the player in a hub world. It is the city of Soleanna. Soleanna will be the source of much frustration for players. It is difficult to tell where anything is. Everything looks exactly the same. It’s a shitty version of Delfino Plaza from Super Mario Sunshine despite being on a superior console. The NPCs are made to look realistic and its unpleasant to look at. There are many optional missions to be found within the city. These are usually tedious ring gathering missions. There are also mandatory missions in the city that are needed to progress through the game. One of the worst of these missions is one where you must find the chief of the guards. It turns out that the very guy who told you to find the chief actually was the chief himself. Are you serious? This game wants you to waste time on shit like this. There will be many moments in this game in which you will waste time walking around Soleanna trying to figure out what to do next. The game forces the player to talk to the NPCs in order to find things. I really do not want to look at these hideous creatures. Also, their dialog consists of mostly state the obvious facts or completely random bullshit.
Okay, now onto playing the levels themselves. Sonic’s portion of the game puts emphasis on speed and combat. Exactly what you expect Sonic to be about. As you progress through the game, Sonic will unlock new abilities. These abilities include the homing attack, light dash (go through a line of rings), bounce attacks, sliding kick, and spin dash. The homing attack will be the most used attack. The kick is often used to break boxes. There are gems that grant Sonic enhanced abilities. These are purchased at shops with rings. None of these gems are needed to beat the game. You will also play as Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, and Silver for brief periods of time. While playing as Tails you can fly for a short period of time. His attack is to shoot fake rings at enemies. This is so dumb. Why would his attack be to shoot the game’s main collectable? It becomes difficult to tell which rings are real. Especially after taking damage. Also, its rather difficult to aim.
Then there’s Knuckles. He is hardly in this game and might as well have been left out entirely. He has the ability to glide for long periods of time. His part is in the Flame Core level where he must glide around turning orbs on in order to open a door. The gliding is extremely buggy. Knuckles will land on pillars and get stuck over and over again. While this is happening robots and fire birds are shooting things at you as you’re surrounded by lava. There is also a time limit for how long the orbs will stay lit. Knuckles has two attacks, one on the ground and one in the air. While in the air he can perform a “screw driver” attack in which he dives into the ground. This is hard to control. It caused me to fall into the lava several times. On the ground Knuckles punches enemies. Personally, I tried to avoid combat as much as possible while playing as Knuckles. Why is it always Knuckles who has one of the worst parts of a Sonic game?
Special to Sonic’s portion of the game is the speed sections. In these sections, Sonic is constantly in motion. This is easily one of the worst parts of the game. The poor framerate really ruins the speed sections. The player will not be able to react to oncoming objects that spawn out of nowhere. Controls, what are those? The speed sections control extremely poorly. You will go flying off the stage many times. Running into objects also often lead to flying off the level. Just how many Sonics are buried within the infinite abyss? The Kingdom Valley level was the absolute worst. I game-overed many times at the speed section in this level. This level is really long. The speed section is near the end of the level and it can take as long as twenty minutes or more to get back to the same spot. The loading time in the game makes it even more frustrating. The atrocious physics engine makes the snowboarding section incredibly frustrating. The poor physics combined with precise jumps makes for a bad time. You have the same momentum going uphill as downhill. Another problem with the game is that it is common to fall off the loops in the automated sections. I could not tell you how many times I crashed into a wall after boosting.
Then there are the boss battles. These are awful and repetitive. You will fight Silver on at least 3 different occasions. Most bosses will follow an attack pattern and you must attack when an opening appears. Mostly just run around until an opening appears. The boss fights feel like time wasters. Oh by the way, f*ck the first fight against Silver. His telekinesis attacks will be infuriating to deal with. You can be locked into an endless death. If at just the right spot Silver will repeatedly throw you into the rings. If he throws Sonic up in the air it’s pretty much certain death as Silver will catch you as you fall. “It’s no use!” will forever haunt my dreams.
Now to cover Shadow’s episode. Shadow’s part is mostly similar to Sonic’s except with some character replaced. Rouge the Bat and the robot Omega replace Tails and Knuckles. It also suffers from many of the same problems as Sonic’s episode. Special to Shadow is being able to drive vehicles such ATVs, motorcycles, and hovercrafts. He’s just that edgy! It really sucks to drive these vehicles. They control very poorly and get tossed around by the terrible physics engine. The hovercraft and motorcycle are required for certain levels. In the level in which the hovercraft is needed, pillars are crashing down on you. It is almost impossible to avoid them. Getting hit by the pillars will kill you in one hit. The camera prevents you from seeing where the pillars are crashing. In another level you must chase Eggman’s train while on a motorcycle. Again, it’s hard to control and bounces every which way. There are also random glider sections. These are completely pointless and are simply there to fill time. All vehicles shoot bullets, because edgy. In combat he is similar to Sonic but he has Chaos powers like shooting energy beams that stun enemies. His homing attack is superior to Sonic’s as he can do multiple attacks at once. Combat with shadow is made easier because of this. He runs at a little slower pace than Sonic but I think this is for the better. There are no speed sections in Shadow’s episode but still uses many of the same levels as Sonic’s episode.
As mentioned previously, you will play as Rouge the Bat and Omega. Rouge is like a combination of Tails and Knuckles. She glides the same as Knuckles. Her attack is similar to Tails. She shoots explosive eggs out of her vag. The same glitches occur with Rouge as they did Knuckles. I tried to avoid combat as much as possible just like with Knuckles. Omega is a robot that shoots lasers and can fly for a very long time. The fly ability can be abused by mashing the action button. It’s kind of fun playing as Omega but these parts are extremely brief.
Finally, there is Silver’s episode to play through. Again, the levels are mostly the same as Sonic’s and Shadow’s. You play as Silver, Blaze, Amy Rose, and briefly Sonic and Shadow. Silver was a new character introduced in Sonic ’06. Not a very good first impression. Silver has the ability of telekinesis. He can lift objects and throw them. He also has the ability to levitate for short periods of time. It lasts until the energy bar runs out. In theory, Silver’s section should have been fun but the horribly broken physics engine eliminates any possibility of having fun. The objects constantly get stuck on walls and various obstacles. Objects do not always go to the intended target. Silver is extremely slow. It makes traversing the large hub world painfully tedious. One of the positives of Silver’s episode is reliving the first Sonic vs Silver fight. It just felt so good to experience it from the other side. The fight is over in 30 seconds. “Hey Sonic, IT’S NO USE! Ha ha ha!”
Blaze is almost fun to use. She is nearly as fast as Sonic and can jump really high. She does a spinning fire attack that can take out surrounding enemies. Unfortunately, it is easy to throw yourself down a pit. The next character you play as is Amy Rose, Sonic’s stalker friend. She is looking for Sonic and hugs Silver thinking he is Sonic. They decide to team up to find the people they are looking for. Even though they were looking for the same person. How do they not ask each other who the other is looking for? Amy is very slow. Nothing like a Sonic game in which you spend a lot of time not going fast. Amy has the ability to turn invisible. This is not helpful in the slightest. This makes it difficult to tell where you are going. Her attack is using a hammer to bash in the skulls of her enemies. The hit detection of the hammer is terrible. You have to be right on top of the enemy to hit it. One of the most painful sections in this episode is using Silver to get a ball in the proper hole ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°). The ball has a timer on it and you must be able to get it in the hole before it runs out. While rolling it down the hall there will be numerous holes it will most definitely fall in. There are boxes in front of these holes that are supposed to stop the ball from falling in but the ball usually just rolls over them. You will probably spend a very long time on this section. How could the physics in this game be so broken?
Once you beat all three campaigns, the Last Episode will be unlocked. This is the true ending. Sonic is getting away with Elise when suddenly Mephiles appears out of nowhere and fires an energy beam at sonic, killing him. Shit just got real! The world is about to be destroyed as Mephiles and Solaris combine into one being. All of the characters including Eggman are gathered together. Except Blaze because apparently she died or was sent to another dimension. It’s not exactly clear what happened. In order to bring Sonic back to life, the 7 Chaos Emeralds must be gathered. You play as Tails, Omega, Knuckles, Silver, Rouge, Amy, and Shadow in that order. They are in condensed versions of previous levels. The emeralds are found at the end. There are black hole like voids found throughout each level. They will try to drag the player into them. You die instantly from touching them. Silver was the hardest of all. It becomes almost impossible to get away if he gets caught in the radius while levitating.
After all the emeralds are collected, Sonic is brought back to life by Princess Elise’s kiss. All this is happening while everyone is watching, even Sonic’s stalker Amy. Apparently Sega is pro interspecies romance. Who are we to judge another’s sexuality? Then Sonic, Shadow, and Silver reach their super forms ripping off Dragon Ball yet again. The final boss fight is rather anti-climatic. The super forms use up rings so you must switch between the 3 hedgehogs when the rings get low. Wait for Solaris to fire its attack than hit him with Sonic’s dash attack, Shadow’s beam, and Silver’s telekinesis. Solaris will be defeated and then comes back in its final form. Rinse and repeat for the second time around. This was more annoying than fun. Well that’s the end of the game. Ah the sweet embrace of death!
The game looks bad for HD PS3 graphics. It has a grainy look to it. As mentioned earlier, Soleanna looks similar to Delfino Plaza from Super Mario Sunshine but looks way worse despite being on a superior console. The city is so bland it makes it difficult to find anything. Everything looks exactly the same. It uses realistic looking people and its absolutely hideous. Many of the NPCs look the same. There is not much variety. The opening cutscene looks really good minus Eggman’s ballsack looking head and giant gold nipples. It does not look like a Sonic game but rather something straight out of Final Fantasy. Sonic looks dreadfully out of place next to these semi-realistic people. The art style clashes horribly with the anthropomorphic animals. After the opening cutscene the actual game begins. It barely looks any different from PS2 era graphics. All in engine cutscenes are a nightmare to look at. Only the pre-rendered cutscenes look good and they are few and far between. The lip synching is absolutely awful. There are many times where characters are talking but the mouth isn’t moving. At least it’s an improvement over the seizure faces from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2.
The only redeemable aspect of Sonic ’06 is its music. I found the soundtrack to be mostly good and enjoyable to listen to on its own. The corny hard rock associated with the Sonic franchise is present here. Many of the action stages use hard rock that fit well with the tense atmosphere. The more dramatic moments use orchestral music that also fit very well. The city uses a mellow tune that would actually be relaxing if it weren’t in Sonic ’06. When a level is completed, the total score screen has very peaceful music that soothes the soul have after an arduous journey through hell. I find myself at random singing Sonic’s main theme: IN THIS WORLD LIFE’S AN OPEN BOOK! Shadow’s theme was also catchy: ALL HAIL SHADOW! DESTROYING ANYONE WHO’S NOT A FRIEND!
The voice acting was just passable for the most part. The game uses many of the actors from the 4Kids dub of the Sonic X anime. You may recognize some of the voices from shows such as Pokémon or Yugioh. The performances that stood out were Jason Griffith as Sonic and Shadow, Dan Green as Mephiles and Knuckles, and Lisa Ortiz as Amy Rose. There were also performances that were underwhelming. Tails just sounds way too much like a woman trying to sound like a 10-year-old boy. Silver sounds kind of whiny when he speaks. Rouge has a manly and unfitting voice. Also Lacy Chabert plays Princess Elise but her performance is very forgettable. It wasn’t really her fault though. The writing for Elise was very poor. Essentially, her role was just to be a Sonic fangirl and get kidnapped. No one could have put in a good performance.
Oh this game! It is hard to explain the sheer agony of playing this game. Even watching can’t truly convey how horrible this game is (It’s still awful to watch). It has moments of fun that are immediately ruined by a glitch or poor level design. This could have been a passable game had Sega granted Sonic Team more time to work out some of the bugs or design flaws. There was certainly potential for a solid game. Unfortunately, Sega never learned their lesson from this game. They have repeated this mistake on multiple occasions. Over 20 years of bad decision making somehow hasn’t completely destroyed Sega and Sonic.
Sonic has become that guy who keeps talking about how he was a star football player in high school and he would be in the NFL if he didn’t get hurt. There was once a time where Sonic was a well-respected franchise. The main series Sonic games are not treated with the same dignity as Mario. When Shigeru Miyamoto asks for more time to work on Mario or Zelda, Nintendo always gives it to him. Sega should do this for Sonic. Miyamoto once said that “A delayed game is eventually good but a rushed game is forever bad.”
This game is bad on nearly every level imaginable aside from the music. It controls so poorly and is tedious to play. The game looks like a PS2 game and has a framerate that consistently dips down into the single digits. No one should ever play this game. You may get the occasional laugh at how bad this game is or how stupid the story gets but it is not worth the mental and physical pain you will be in. Burn every copy you find. Drop it into an endless abyss, never to be seen again. I was able to beat this game at the cost of my own sanity. A feeling of emptiness came over me after my “victory.” A pyrrhic victory if you will. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Note: Originally written in 2016