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It’s a great time to be a Sonic Fan. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the most successful videogame film adaptation. Old-school fans also have Sonic Origins in June. This compilation celebrates Sonic 3 & Knuckles’ 16-bit classics. There’s also cautious optimism about the upcoming open-zone Sonic Frontiers later in the year if it doesn’t get delayed like all the rest. It’s easy to forget that the hedgehog went through a rough time not too long ago.
Confession: I was a card-carrying SEGA fanboy back in the ’90s with Sonic posters, duvets and duvets but I didn’t get to enjoy the hedgehog’s erratic years. It was partly because I had to take a long break from gaming at the same time that uni and everyday life got in the way. It took me only a few searches before I could see the name of my childhood hero. (I did play Sonic Forces on PlayStation Plus, but let’s just say that I was happy it was ‘free.
The current game’s drought has led me back to retro gaming. It was the right time to confront Sonic’s past and uncover this lost decade. Although there’s much to cover, I have limited my focus to the mainline home console entries. I started with 2003’s Sonic Heroes (although it doesn’t feature Sonic, even though it is a mainline title) and continued on to 2013’s Sonic Lost World. Hoo boy…
This is the first Sonic game to be made for multiple platforms. It feels like an evolution of Sonic Adventure 2 with its diverse roster and action-exclusive gameplay. However, it solves the problem of giving other characters less exciting activities like searching for emerald fragments or plodding in mechs. You can all experience the same levels, but each character has their own strengths, speed, power and flight, to overcome different obstacles. Seaside Hill is a solid first impression of these team-based mechanics.
It quickly descends due to the terrible controls. Even the slightest movement could send your team plunging off a platform. Although the game has some great set pieces (e.g. a stage later in a haunted home), the execution is horrible. You can lose your life and have to start over. It was hard enough to beat it as Team Sonic, but it was impossible to beat it with the other teams, who are almost identical stages.
I must admit that I failed to get past the first stage of this abomination before I stopped it. This was not entirely my fault. It could have been a defective disc, or my PS3’s disk drive is faulty. In case you didn’t know, pre-PS4/Xbox One consoles were able to read discs to run games. While I stated that I was going to play old Sonic games, it didn’t mention finishing them.
You only have to play the first hour to realize you are on to a real stinker. There’s the just-wrong juxtaposition of the cartoony hedgehog next to photorealistic-looking humans including a redesigned Dr Eggman and Princess Elise, a human girl who’s meant to be Sonic’s love interest. You’ll see at least 10 loading screens before you get to the first stage. It’s only when you actually play the game that you realize how horrible it is. The combination of controls with camera makes even the most basic movements a nightmare. While people love to criticize games for breaking, if you want to really understand the meaning of Sonic’06 , then go to Sonic.