It was meant to be a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise. It was meant to be an outstanding return to Sonic’s 3D gameplay like the well-received Adventure games. And yet….the game was poorly received. The game was declared the worst Sonic game of all time and, to others, one of the worst games of all time. “Sonic the Hedgehog” (2006) became the reason why everyone treated the franchise like a joke. Despite it being over a decade since it’s release, people still point to this game as the reason why Sonic is so bad and how the franchise has become a laughing stock.
So how did this all happen? Well, after the development of Shadow the Hedgehog, the Sonic Team decided to work on the next entry to the Sonic franchise as a celebration of its 15th anniversary. During development, however, the executive producer of the game, as well as one of the founding fathers of the franchise, Yuji Naka announced his retirement on March 16, 2006. This wasn’t the only problem though. The development of the game had proved to be too slow and they had to release the game for Holiday 2006. They decided that it would take too much time to make a port of the game for the Wii so they split their resources to make an entirely new game for the console called “Sonic and the Secret Rings.” This wasn’t the worst part though, despite not finishing the product, they released “Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)” (nowadays called “Sonic ‘06”) on November 14, 2006, for the Xbox 360. A few months later, the Playstation 3 version was released on January 30, 2007, and the rest is history. So, does this game really deserve all the hate it got? Or is it an underrated gem?
You play the stories of three hedgehogs: Sonic, Shadow, and Silver (a new character to the series).
In Sonic’s story, you have to rescue the princess of Soleaana, Elise from the clutches of Dr. Eggman who is attempting to use the Flames of Destruction to destroy the world. You will occasionally swap with Knuckles the Echidna and Miles “Tails” Prower as you go through the story.
Sonic plays like he normally would, all his stages are all speed-based. Tails uses bombs that have rings inside to damage robots similar to that of Sonic Heroes. Knuckles is combat-based and can throw punches and stun enemies.
In Shadow’s story, you play as Shadow who is now a part of the Guardian Unit of Nations (GUN). Your main goal is to stop Mephiles the Dark who is attempting to destroy humanity. You will occasionally swap with Rouge the Bat and E-123 Omega. Shadow’s stages are combat-based. Shadow can do multiple combos to defeat large enemies. Rouge the Bat functions similarly to Knuckles where she can glide. She can also use bombs and snipe enemies. E-123 Omega is a robot that can hover and launch fireballs.
In Silver’s story, you play as Silver who lives 200 years in the future where the world is destroyed by Iblis. After a brief battle against Iblis, Mephiles, who takes a form that resembles Shadow, informs him that, in order to prevent this horrid future, Silver must eliminate the “Iblis Trigger” who happens to be Sonic the Hedgehog. In order to eliminate Sonic, Silver and his best friend Blaze the Cat (who seems to have completely forgotten her encounter with Sonic in the DS game “Sonic Rush”) travel back in time. Silver later encounters Amy Rose who
accompanies Silver to find this “Iblis Trigger” and Sonic. Silver can hover with his psychic abilities and can interact with objects and throw them at enemies. He can also stun enemies to interact with them as objects. Blaze is the only character who can double jump and can attack enemies with a fire spin. Amy is able to turn invisible and she attacks with her hammer.
The story of the game is fine overall. It has some great moments like Shadow the Hedgehog’s story (the best of the three stories), but it also has some terrible moments like Sonic’s relationship with Princess Elise. I would be fine with Princess Elise if it weren’t for the fact that their relationship is a romantic one. Near the end, Sonic dies and the game pulls a Sleeping Beauty where Elise revives Sonic by kissing him (it’s been 14 years since this game came out I think I can get away with a few spoilers).
Shadow’s character was ruined thanks to the game “Shadow the Hedgehog” which portrayed him as the ultimate edgelord instead of a hero like in Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic ‘06 fixes this with Shadow’s friendship with his teammates growing and staying in the future to defeat Mephiles (who is probably one of Sonic’s better villains thanks to his manipulative personality).
Silver’s story is fine. I don’t have any problems with it.
The ending of this story is the biggest pro or con to this game. It retcons itself and undoes everything that happened in the entire game. Every good and bad thing about the story has been undone. I give the story a B-.
This game is infamous for its glitchy gameplay. There will occasionally be glitches that will send you flying or (more often than not) to your death. The controls can also be very sensitive so a mistake when going super fast can lead you to your death. The loading before and after each level is also super long. Depending on the version, the loading may take 10-24 seconds. This gets super annoying when you have to redo levels if you fail. There are also side-quests where you can help citizens in the city. I found these very difficult and pointless. I do find Silver’s the most fun out of the three stories. I really enjoyed gathering a ton of objects and sending them to your enemies. So overall, I did have some fun but it was mostly a pain. I give the gameplay a D+.
The soundtrack….where do I begin with this soundtrack? This game featured a ton of orchestrated music arranged by Tomoya Ohtani and I
LOVE IT. Perfect examples of this are the final boss music being “Solaris Phase 2” (an orchestral arrangement of His World, more on that very soon), and “Crisis City.” There are some vocal theme songs like “His World”, “Dreams of Absolution” (my favorite Sonic song of all time), and Crush 40’s amazing cover of “All Hail Shadow.” Overall, Sonic ‘06 has one of the best soundtracks in the franchise. I give the soundtrack an A+.
To conclude, this game is probably one of the worst Sonic games in the franchise (or at least so far, I still need to touch my copy of the Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric game). And yet, it is probably one of Sonic Team’s most ambitious titles. But if there was any game that should get a remake, it would be this one. It had so much potential but, due to the game’s rushed production, it failed. I give this game a 6/10.
At a Glance: Sonic the Hedgehog
Summary: Play as Sonic, Shadow, and Silver as you save Elise and the future and defeat Mephiles the Dark.
Rated: E 10+ for Every 10 and Up: Fantasy Violence
Price: PS3: $17.99 (Gamestop) Xbox 360: $19.99 (Gamestop)
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: Xbox 360: November 14, 2006 PS3: January 30, 2007