Sonic the HedgehogdislikePEGI12 Developer SEGA Publisher SEGA Genre Action Platform Xbox 360, Playstation 3 Release 24th November 2006 Over-Reaction Command - You know, in the 1990's SEGA was a big developer of not only software but hardware as well. They were Nintendo's biggest rival, school playgrounds were divided over brand loyalty to either Nintendo or SEGA it was that big of a deal. Looking at the sorry state SEGA is in at this very moment in time makes me wonder if that piece of history wasn't a coma induced from playing this crappy game. If there was one single piece of software which gave me the biggest slap to the face and made me realise the utter tripe which SEGA has shoved onto store shelves over the last 6 years, this game is it. It's just that bad.

In 2000, SEGA reinvented Sonic when they brought him to the Dreamcast and despite a claim laid by a certain Megadrive and Saturn game, it was Sonic's first big flurry into the third dimension. They basically took everything "Sonic" and threw it out the window keeping the very vague skeleton of the series intact. They replaced Sonic's world of fluffy animals, planets which traverse time and space and islands that float in the sky and replaced it with... A built up metropolitan area called Station Square. But you know what? It was actually something decent. It had handfuls of flaws, but put side-to-side with Nintendo's offerings with Mario, the game was passable.

And here's our ruling monarch and winner of the 2006 'face like a duck' contest; Princess Elise.
Keeping in mind what I just said above, you may get a certain feeling of deja vu, because I sure did when I started this game. So get this, Sonic the Hedgehog takes place in a built up... Sort-of-Kind-of central European-looking kingdom called Solleana. Which is ruled by it's reigning monarch... Princess Elise. And yes, because she's young and there's no such thing as a pretty queen; she's a princess alright. So okay, let's give the game some slack. Perhaps the King and/or Queen died only a short while ago and they simply haven't got around to correnating her yet. Right? Oh, they died when she was little. Perhaps they just forgot or something.

By the way, this Kingdom of Solleana? As far as the game's concerned Solleana is a town on the sea. Generally, when you think of Kingdoms, you think of... More than Torbay, if I'm honest with you. But anyway, Solleana is holding it's "Festival of Light", which it's apparently well-known for, being called the "City of Light". Yep, even the game's getting confused and we're only on the opening CGI sequence. When oh no, the evil Doctor Eggman, with very little regard for the well-being of the person he's here to kidnap, fires a full compliment of highly ineffective rockets to blow up stuff... For some reason. He then sends down more useful, but still rather useless robots to hold the princess at gunpoint, demanding she hand herself over. Immediately, Sonic appears as if out of nowhere and offers the only single moment of comic relief this game ever sees, as he destroys all the robots Eggman sent down, powering down one final robot, tapping it with his foot and watch it tumble over off the edge of the strange shrine-slash-island-thing they're standing on.

Not pictured: bottomless pit of death below him.
As Sonic whisks the princess away, Eggman decides that he needs to blow more stuff up and fires rockets, once again, at the princess as she's being led away. Then we cut to a pale hedgehog who has a marijuana leaf on his head talking about an "Iblis Trigger", sadly the camera fades to black before he mentions he's got a serious case of the munchies. But let me clear something up. The "Iblis Trigger" might sound a bit weird, but in computing, a "trigger" is something connected to an 'event', an event can be basically anything. So the "Iblis Trigger" is simply something which causes the event, in this case "Iblis" to do something. Which, if you haven't already guessed, is to bring about the end of the world.

Alright, I'm now running onto four paragraphs of trying to explain this stupid story so let's speed it up. Reefer is actually called Silver, he's from the future as is returning character; Blaze from the Sonic Rush DS title. They're here to stop the destruction of their world by stopping the one responsible. Shadow's back, the black hedgehog, had a gun last time? No? Well, he's there. He's not quite as angry, angry about things, this time around and his story makes little less sense than the others. In the end Sonic dies, the princess kisses him (seriously) and he becomes alive again. Eggman becomes good again and rather than fire missiles at the big bad monster who wants to destroy all of existence, shouts at you while you take down the most useless final boss ever created. Taa daa!

And you're telling me that thing doesn't look like he belongs at a music festival?
So you're probably thinking by this point that I'm just hating this game because of it's completely nonsensical plot. Well, no. It just so happens that it's a bad story. Not as bad as other parts of this game, however. I always wonder when even thinking about this game; how complete is it? I've heard first-hand accounts from playtesters of the game that their feedback went unheard by SEGA during the development of the title and it must be the only game I know of where the demo, freely available for you to download on the Xbox Live Marketplace (and I believe Playstation Network), is better than the boxed retail game. How does that happen? There's no sign of any kind of polish on this game, there's half-baked ideas still lingering about and massive holes in gameplay design and implementation. It's a complete mess.

So where do we begin? Well, at the start. When all the fancy CGI and poorly choreographed cutscenes have ended, the game throws you into Solleana Town where you must work out that in order to progress past the first 15 minutes of the game, you are required to find new footwear in which you can upgrade to enable you to travel along lines of rings. Makes sense. This introduces you to the very bane of your existence; town missions. The idea in itself isn't a bad one, use the 'overworld' as it were, to complete various missions. That sounds alright. Ha ha, of course not. See, when you go into a town mission, the game sits you down at a loading screen. A very long, boring loading screen. The same person you were speaking to a moment before then tells you what you have to do in this mission, another loading screen... Mission starts very abruptly. If you fail, not only do you get a talk from the same person who talked to you at the start of the mission, but not before a loading screen. Then you're given ANOTHER loading screen back onto the overworld. If that town mission is required, where a few ARE, then you need to go through that entire loading process over again. What? Who thought that was a good idea?

This dopey looking this is Iblis. All he ever does is throw stuff at you and generally act stupid.
So you've got your new shoes and lightdash ability. Onwards to the first stage, jump, press the 'action' button and zip along the line of ri--fall into the water. Okay, let's take that again. Jump, press the 'action' button and zip along the line of rings... Backwards. Whatever. You then have this odd pedestal with a big spyglass on it which you jump at, not into like you'd expect (I was thinking you'd jump into it and it would ripple like paintings in Mario 64... A game for the Nintendo 64. A console which has, and I'm not joking, 2% the power of the Xbox 360), no you just bump into it and awkwardly bounce off while the screen freezes and another god damn loading screen appears.

At this point, I'd love to tell you that dying in a stage makes a loading screen appear, however, sadly, such comedic gold is thwarted by someone with some measure of sense making the return back to your last checkpoint almost instantaneous. If you've played any previous 3D Sonic titles or even played the demo to this game; you'd know that jumping and pressing the jump button once more while no enemies are around gives you a boost of speed, this is called the "jump dash" and is just one of many areas in which the demo for this game excels it's retail counterpart, see in the final version of the game, there is no arch which occurs when the jump-dash happens, so when Sonic comes out of this move, he immediately loses all momentum as he falls haphazardly from a straight-line boost through the air. Why this change happened, I'm not sure. Especially since it worked well in the demo for the game.

This stage is a whole lot more fun in the demo.
Another thing which is missing in the retail version which was present in the demo was the ability to 'lightdash' on any line of rings. In the retail version, only certain kind of ring-lines can be dashed-upon. These are indistinguishable to normal lines of rings thus useless as the 'action' button which the lightdash is on is also the button for the bounce ring, the spindash and slide-attack. See, the demo actually had this fantastic idea when it came to lightdashing. See, when you dash on several lines of rings in quick succession, the game multiplies the score it gives you for doing so. This was completely scrapped, despite it being one of the very few features in the game that actually worked as intended. Saying that, however, I have got stuck in the demo in the middle of a line of rings. It's a simple glitch to recreate, simply jump into the middle of a line of rings and hit the action button, the game doesn't know which way it should make Sonic move and he flickers back-and-forth. It's rather amusing. So rather than fix this bug, they decided to scrap the whole lot.

Someone put out the tornado, please.
So, sequence breaking and moving onto another character before this review turns into a novel, let's look at our fine friend: Puff the Magic Hedgehog. Whom we saw in the opening CGI of the game blabbering about an Iblis Trigger. We're introduced to this whining, nasaly little bag of joy as he flies through the ruins of his world or otherwise known as the future. Where SEGA's laziness or lack of creative motivation shows a slightly differently coloured Shadow (named Mephilis, which sounds like something that you phone ex-girlfriends about) telling Hempy Hoverboots and Blaze the Cat, who also was apparently a princess from another dimension if Sonic Rush was anything to go by... But whatever, nothing else in this story makes any kind of sense... That the person who destroyed the world is... A single blue hedgehog. And they believe this guy. Honestly, the whole game takes a very serious and dark approach, yet they want us to believe in the whimsy of Scooby Doo logic to make the whole story work.

So anyway, Smoky the Hedgehog is probably the worst thing SEGA could have put in a Sonic game to offset So-- Wait, sorry. Just thought of the Werehog. My bad. This is the second worst thing they could have put in the game to offset Sonic. You know, Sonic, he was all about being quick and nimble. It's the key selling point for his Megadrive titles... Well, Reefer Sunderland here moves like a sack of potatoes being dragged by a puppy with some string. And once you go back in time, the game drops you in the biggest, widest map in the game. Right in the middle of it. With no idea which direction you're supposed to go. And heaven forbid you go explore, you'll spend a whole day and night trying to find where you're going in this same-y looking forest place. The only thing going for this guy is the fact that using his telekinesis, he can not only hover but also bitch-slap enemies with cars, grab missiles out of the air and abuse the game's poorly implemented physics engine.

Shadow is angry about a lot of things, his insurance premium is one of them.
We also have Shadow, returning from the hearts of fanboys and girls everywhere, who just couldn't let this guy die and happily not add to the franchise's already over-crowded cast of annoying characters. Hell, if Shadow had just remained dead at the end of Sonic Adventure 2, he'd probably have been the most bad-ass character ever. But no, instead, he has to come back, have his own crappy game and then spend the entirety of this game retreading the same storyline as he does in every game since Sonic Heroes. Shadow's game basically revolves around him beating the crap out of everything. Hell yes, Shadow can go right up to an enemy and... Spasm them to death. The game sort of has this auto snap-onto-enemy feature, where if you are still attacking after an enemy dies, you go fly and attach yourself to the next enemy. Doesn't always quite work out, however, as the game likes to throw you inside enemies, where they hurt you. The game does have some sort of power-up mechanic which you get from defeating enemies and this can be converted into some ultra-spasm-attack period where you get increased damage on every hit but it's only really required for a single boss in the game, at the end. So it's mainly not worth bothering with.

Shadow's story isn't much to talk about. He essentially awakens this world's version of the devil and it takes his form by stealing Shadow's, get this... Shadow! So Shadow-Shadow and Shadow spend the whole game fighting one-another, there's something about Shadow getting incarcerated in an open area by attaching Shadow to a glowing trampoline and that apparently the big robot thing him and that bat character from Sonic Adventure 2 seem to lug around, did that to him. And that's about it. Everything else is filler and even the main plot-points are as boring as I described above. Shadow is only really worth playing for the comedic value of how seriously they take his flailing-arms-jitsu and the fact he finds vehicles dotted around the place which only he can find which often have rockets on them. Did I mention there were vehicles? Well, probably for the best I didn't. 'cause you guessed it; they suck too.

The only redeeming quality Silver has. The ability to pick up cars and throw them.
Of course, all three of these character's stories intersect one another, only to infuriate you further. See, Quantum Leaf and his telekinesis likes to be a dick. When fighting against him, you are basically screwed if he gets a hold of you at the start of the battle with no rings, if he grabs a hold of you by a wall, if he somehow grabs a hold of you and throws you above him. Why? Because he can (and does) grab hold of you instantly after his initial attack. So even if you had any rings left after the initial attack, he'll just keep attacking you in an infinite loop until you die. You'd think that would make playing as him would make your life all that easier, right? Wrong, as usual. You're bad at this. You can't do as the AI does and pick up other characters and throw them around. No, you have to find objects to throw at them and hope they aren't jumping, rolling, attacking you or basically doing anything but stand still. So basically, all these "verses" battles are all equally infuriating as the AI has the upper hand at any given moment.

A lot of complaints about this game is as is with many modern Sonic titles. The game spends longer taking control away from players, what with fancy loops which are completely scripted, bouncing you off springs, forcing you on rails when skimming over water, boost pads which temporarily remove the ability to turn, grinding on rails and then you have pseudo-control segments of the game where Sonic runs really fast forward. All you do is hold up and occasionally turn left or right (or die) to win. But frankly, with how the game controls and the awful implementation of gimmicks, you know, I am perfectly alright with this. Especially when it comes to later in the game where Sonic is literally standing on balls of steel... Which float... And vanish into thin air if a laser touches them... The balls go wildly out of control, it's difficult to see where the ball is in relation to the beams and you bounce off walls like a mad-man. One mistake and you die, back to the checkpoint, try again. Fortunately for the TV set, death doesn't mean loading screens. Because after several hours of town missions and staring at the "Now Loading" text, I was strung-up enough to hit the TV with the controller hard enough to cause fission.

Thankfully, the destroyed future still maintains the important things, like springs.
The only good things about this game is the fact it looks and sounds brilliant. I'm not joking, just looking at screenshots of this game tells you want you want to know. It's colourful, vibrant and for a 2006 title, was one of the only games to actually use a compliment of colour outside of the brown spectrum. Music is quite varied and there's hardly a bad track in the game, sadly these folks were probably a whole world apart from the programmers, designers and just about everyone else who worked on this game, as it's the only thing which could resemble polish in this game.

And with that, I'm spent. This game infuriates me to my core. You may wonder why, well I'll tell you. See, as a twenty something, I have an overwhelming urge to cling to happier times; my childhood. And Sonic was that childhood. The whole Sonic fanbase out there is probably made up by a large portion of people like me, who don't want to let their childhood hero go. And why should we? People get obsessively angry about the new Transformers movies for ruining their childhood heroes, so I believe I have that same right to be completely pissed with SEGA for making crappy games with no entertainment value, no consideration for the consumer let alone the fans. I doubt that even if this game had the time to actually be somewhat 'complete', it'd still be an awful game with an ill-thought plot, bad design choices and control scheme that was outdated 6 years before this game went to market. It's unacceptable and I never want to see anything from SEGA this bad again. Ever.
Scooby Doo would be ashamed of storylines like this. Heck, SyFy original movies would be too.
No. I can't find a single thing I like about the game and the way it plays.
A mightly fine looking game. Don't be fooled by them, though.
A capable soundtrack which is varied and mixed. Some are even catchy.
Too long
It's hard to get an accurate read-out of how much of the game time is actually 'game' time and not 'loading screen' time. It does become a blur after a while.