Over the last few years, Sega has almost completely ruined their brand Mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. Faithfully, fans have been buying the games, and being horribly disappointed. The games started to have a bit of a downhill fall when Sonic was moved to a 3D platform. “Sonic Adventure” overall, was a good game, but the camera controls were it’s biggest problem. “Sonic Adventure 2” was also a good game, introducing two new characters to the series, Shadow, who is basically the anti-Sonic, and Rouge, a Treasure Hunting Bat. Still, the camera was a bit of a problem, taking away from the overall experience of the game. Now, I never actually played “Sonic Heroes”, though I’ve heard it was pretty good, again, the camera being the biggest complaint about it. “Shadow the Hedgehog”, I haven’t heard too many good things about the game, most said it was boring, and really didn’t do much for the character. But the major decline came with “Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)”, which seemed like an attempt at making a “Sonic Adventure 3”. Now from here, I will break the titles down, as I have played them. Though I will skip over the titles “Sonic and the Secret Rings”, as well as “Sonic and the Black Knight”. These games play in similar style to the “Mario Party” franchise, much like “Sonic Shuffle” on the Sega Dreamcast, which is why they are not included.
“Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)” – This game had a good base, but it was executed in the worst possible way. Only 4 characters had decent feeling controls. Sonic, Shadow, Omega, and Blaze the Cat. Everyone else, slow and lethargic. Tails, Knuckles, Rouge, Amy, and Silver the Hedgehog all felt like playing with old men creeping along. Amy is the slowest character in the whole game, but even she shouldn’t have been that slow. Silver’s Psychic powers made playing with him feel awful. And again, the camera control issue still hadn’t been solved, so it was difficult to aim his attacks the way needed. Knuckles and Rouge only moved fast when they are gliding through the air, and Tails only when he flew, though he couldn’t fly for very long. No one besides Sonic and Shadow were able to just jump on their enemies like in the older games, though Amy never could, she always used her hammer. Rouge attacked with long distance Bat Bombs, and Tails with fake ring containers, which for him, didn’t make any sense at all. Sonic was the only character capable of the Spin Dash, and in this game, it was pretty much useless. Silver was introduced into the game being the first slow moving Hedgehog. Omega played very much like Gamma from “Sonic Adventure”, the only problem with him was the camera and the fact that he was big, so it was difficult to spot smaller enemies when they were near him. Playing with Blaze really wasn’t much of a problem, other than not getting to use her very often. I think that you only actually play with her, two, maybe three times. Shadow was able to jump into different vehicles and use them, but most of the time, you were better off just playing with him normally. That game was horrible for me to force myself to grind through, but I wanted to know more about the story, so I dealt with the suffering.
“Sonic Unleashed” – Another good idea, but it wasn’t executed the best way. Sonic’s Spin Dash was slightly more useful in this game, but he didn’t maintain speed like he used to in older games. Then again, come to think of it, the Spin Dash had the same feel in the Sonic Advance games for Gameboy Advance. The Boost ability was introduced, giving Sonic a quick, standing dash in which he could plow through nearly any enemy, as well as through some solid objects. This game also featured Day and Night missions. During the day missions, you played as Sonic normally, but the night missions, Sonic was transformed into what was dubbed the “Werehog”. The game explains how he became transformed during the introductory sequence. As the “Werehog”, Sonic was able to fight enemies with increased strength, but his speed was severely hampered. It was a nice change up, but it didn’t really make it feel like you were playing with Sonic, it was just someone else using his name and likeness.
“Sonic 4 Episode 1” – Sega returned to 2D side scrolling game play, which is something fans have been waiting forever for, but this time around, it was a horrible execution. Sonic’s Spin Dash is virtually useless, as is his standard rolling action. If you were thinking that you would be able to pick up this game and play it like the older Sega Genesis games, you’ll be horrifically disappointed. No longer can Sonic safely roll in a ball through most of a stage, and he won’t be able to spin dash very far either, because he slows down way too quickly while rolling in this game. He also take a bit of time to really reach his full speed running, which is weird for a Sonic game in general.
“Sonic Colors” – This game follows the same play style as the “Day” stages from “Sonic Unleashed” (the Wii Edition does anyway, not sure about the DS version), and also features a decent 2 player mode. But the game loses merit in the fact that Sonic doesn’t have his beloved Spin Dash anymore, or at least I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. In this game, Sonic gets powers from little aliens who emit an energy which is called “Hyper-Go-On” energy. Now that is just a pitiful attempt at trying to name something and I’m sure that they could have done better. There are 8 different aliens in the Wii version, and 6 in the DS version, from what I’ve read, the DS version actually plays better, but I have yet to play it myself to verify that. Overall the game is okay, but it’s not really something that I would deem a must have. The controls are pretty simple, but the stages get to be a bit confusing at times, with the setup switching from 2D side scrolling to 3D and back pretty quickly in some stages. It’s certainly far better that “Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)” and “Sonic 4”. Super Sonic is also unlockable in this game and can be used in the stages like the first few Sonic games, instead of only at the end of the game.
There is another Sonic game I wish that I could cover, but Sega has issued for the game to be taken off of the net, due to the fact that it was a fan made game, and seemed to be in competition with “Sonic 4”. The name of that game was “Sonic Fan Remix”, which is a 3D done game, but it is 2D side scrolling action. The game actually is a remake of “Sonic 2”. The demo version was released as freeware, but Sega didn’t want it out there, and had it taken down from most sites for I think, copyright infringement. Oddly though, many Sonic fan games have been made, lots of them similar quality to Sega’s originally games, but I think they took it personally when someone put out a game better than what they themselves have made in years. From what I’ve read and heard, “Sonic Fan Remix” was to be a completely free game, based on “Sonic 2”, the demo however featured three stages from the first zone. The first stage being the same, the second stage was completely original, and the third stage was the same as the second from “Sonic 2”. I think that’s a great idea, and Sega should have provided the guy with resources and offered him a contract, not shut him down because he doesn’t work for them. He obviously has played the original Sonic games, and has been a fan, so why shoot him down for putting together a decent game? Maybe Sega should have taken a queue from him and started work on Episode 2 of “Sonic 4”.
Here’s what will help Sonic games of the future. Give all of the original characters back their original abilities. Meaning Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Shadow should all have the same jump, roll, and spin dash technique. Sonic could have either his Homing Attack, or the invincibility attack that he had in “Sonic 3” and “Sonic and Knuckles”. Maybe he could have both, their are plenty of different buttons, so it wouldn’t be that difficult to give him both moves. Knuckles should get back his super strength, as well as his own dedicated path like he originally had. Rouge should probably play similar to him without the super strength, but still, have her own path through stages. Shadow should also have his own path, and make use of his Chaos Control abilities, along with having the Homing Attack. Amy would have to follow the same path as Sonic and Tails, seeing as she is always chasing after Sonic, but increase her speed slightly. If Silver is to return to the lineup, make him like Sonic and Shadow, just minus the Homing Attack. He should have speed, maybe not as fast as Sonic and Shadow, but close, like Knuckles. Giving him a way to use his psychic abilities would be great too, which would probably require his own path. Blaze would be fine, all that she would need to have added the Spin Dash and the “Sonic” jump to her moves. Having her Pyrokinetic powers, she’d probably have to follow Silver’s path, then again, having her own would probably be best. Also, bring back the different shield types and the different uses that Sonic has for them. Sonic could keep his “Boost” ability, but the Spin Dash should be returned to it’s former glory, as well as the regular rolling ability.
Every character is supposed to be unique, but their should have been some similarities as far as how they played. Being that pretty much everything that the characters did that was the same was removed from them, it makes quite a few of them feel clunky, simply because those of use who grew up with Sonic know that they shouldn’t feel like that. Please Sega, don’t disappoint your fans, just bring us back to the way things were. Focus on game play first then worry about how everything looks. Sonic still has the potential to be so much better, so get there, or you’ll start losing more fans.