Widely regarded as one of the worst video games of the last console generation, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) left a very bad taste in the mouths of many Sonic fans. Nearly ten years on from its initial release, is the game really as bad as everyone thought? (Spoiler: Yes. Yes, it is.)

 

For many gamers, their childhood was filled with iconic characters: Some were entranced by a red-hatted plumber; others by a  small, yellow, electrical mouse. But for many gamers growing up in the early 1990s, a certain lightning-fast, blue hedgehog was their childhood iconic character: Sonic the Hedgehog. For many years, Sonic, a contender for poster character of children’s video games, became a powerful rival to Nintendo’s Super Mario. But by 2006, Sonic had lost much of his appeal after a lacklustre attempt to make the questionable ‘upgrade’ from 2D to 3D.

Introducing, the 2006 reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, named ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’. It was entirely panned by critics and fans alike. The game had the exact opposite effect to what was intended. Fans were driven away from the series, leaving Sonic to fade into gaming legendhood. Now, nearly 10 years on, is the game as bad as it was branded?

Firstly, the game does offer a functional open-world feature, providing many side missions for the player to complete in order to break up the story missions. It also provides multiple open-world areas, which mixes up the environments in which the player will be spending most of their time. For a 2006 game, the visuals of the game are also quite appealing and do a good job of blending humans and Sonic characters into the same world, without having either race looking like they’re from a completely different universe from the other. Finally, the game’s music is the strongest point going for it, with the soundtrack being more fitting for a Sonic game than most others in the series. Each track compliments most areas in the game, with the more open-ended areas featuring fast-paced music to accompany the player as they speed across the level. Likewise, the boss fights are fittingly accompanied with hard-hitting rock music to get the player pumped for each fight.

However, that’s where Sonic ’06’s few positives end and its long list of negatives start. The main element which lets the game down is its frankly abysmal technical state, with the game being filled with so many bugs, glitches and simply unpolished parts that I gave up playing it after finishing Sonic’s storyline and watching the rest of the game online. There were multiple times while playing that I died due to a fault in the game than from my own omissions. These included falling through the world, the camera not correctly focusing on the character, and even failing to recognise my inputs. The game also has a HUGE issue with maintaining a stable FPS, slowing down to shocking levels when anymore than five enemies are on the screen at once — a common occurrence in the game. This makes for an incredibly unpleasant playing experience, which half of the time resulted in a loss of one, or all, of my lives — again for something that is completely out of my control.

But the most prominent technical issue Sonic ’06 features is the unacceptably long loading times, which are made even more unbearable by their frequency. A single loading screen in the game can take anywhere from about 20 to 40 seconds, which on its own doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s very common in Sonic ’06 to have to sit through up to 3 of these loading screens in quick succession. So picture this: you lose all of your lives on a level, most of which is due to the bugginess of the game rather than yourself, which is already frustrating. You then have to load back into the game as you’re kicked out into the storyline selection screen, which can take up to 40 seconds, then you have to reactivate the mission you failed again by, for example, talking to an NPC which takes you through another 40-second loading screen. Then, you have to click through the NPC’s 1 to 3 dialogue boxes which explain the mission, and then sit through yet another 40-second loading screen! All and all, if you lose all of your lives on Sonic ’06, it can take up to 2 minutes of loading screens alone plus the time to get to the NPC to reactivate the mission, which, on multiple occasions, made me want to give up the game, justifiably so!

But that’s not even the full chunk of issues that Sonic ’06 presents. The game’s plot is completely nonsensical and confusing. As someone who’s now seen the game played in its entirety, I still have zero clue what Dr Eggman’s (the main antagonist) plan was! He seemed to need two items to complete his plan, some Chaos Emeralds and Princess Elise (the love interest of Sonic — yes, you read that correctly), yet throughout the plot, Eggman trades one for the other over and over which just caused me to become completely lost with what was happening about halfway through Sonic’s story. Then there are the controls, which are subpar and at times confusing considering the game’s fast-paced gameplay. They seem to be asking the player to have about three more hands if they want to control Sonic somewhat normally.

There are many, many more issues that are present in Sonic ’06 that I could talk for hours on, but I think by now you get the idea. So, is Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) as bad as everyone originally thought? Yes. With very few positives and a near endless list of negatives, it is frankly one of the very worst video games I have ever had the displeasure of trying to play through and let’s just say, I am now very glad at the fact that I will never have to suffer through playing it ever again.