In this wacky world of ours, hate is always more popular than love. People like to point out flaws and complain about things, to cynically pick apart someone else’s achievement and say why it’s a load of crap. That’s human nature.
As a fan of video games, I still like to read (what’s left of) the gaming press, and I’ve found that when releases dry up, they all tend to fall back on “Top Ten Worst” lists. One game that comes up time and time again is Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), although most people call it “Sonic Oh Six”.
The game gets a bad rap on the internet, too, so for a long time I avoided it and went along with the popular consensus. Eventually, though, I decided that talk is cheap and the only way I’d discover the truth of the matter was to play the game myself. And you know what? It just isn’t that bad. In fact, it quickly became one of my favourite games on the console.
For one thing, the game is really quite relaxing. It has a tranquil, easy atmosphere and the music will warp you straight to the Chill Out Zone. I have the soundtrack on my MP3 player, it’s that good. Of course things heat up towards the end and they bust out the heavy metal guitar, but this time the lyrics to the game’s theme song actually make sense – there’s none of the mangled English that was to be found in Sonic Adventure.
Much like Sonic Adventure, however, the game has “hub” areas that you can explore at your leisure. I really like walking around the pseudo-Italian city of Soleanna just talking to all the different people and listening to their quaint ramblings and non-sequiturs.
The place isn’t bad to look at, either. It’s blue-sky gaming of the kind only Sega can make. Compared to the bleached-white palettes of Assassin’s Creed (also set in a version of Venice), Sonic ’06 is a visual masterpiece. I’m dead serious. Look at them side-by side – which would you rather play?
In fact, I found that all the complaints leveled at the game are dwarfed when compared to modern releases.
The notorious glitches, for example. I didn’t have a problem with them at all. Some parts lacked a little polish, sure, but the occasional spastic jerk or pop-up is small potatoes when held alongside modern Xbox One and PC games such as Sim City or Batman Arkham Knight that – no word of a lie – don’t work at all.
The infamous loading times, too. They’re unbearable, make no mistake. But the other day I played a game on my mate’s Xbox One and assumed that it had crashed. But no, it literally takes six or seven minutes to load the title screen. And then another five minutes to load the first level. That’s if you’ve got all the latest updates, of course.
The game also gained notoriety for its introduction of Silver the Hedgehog. In truth, he isn’t so bad. I’ve always loved Sega’s characters, be they Tails the Fox, Bean the Dynamite or Vector the Crocodile. Frankly I was disappointed not because of Silver’s introduction, but because he was labelled as a “hedgehog”. Like we didn’t have enough of those already. He also looks nothing like a hedgehog, but then neither does Sonic.
Silver has gnarly psychic powers and can use telekinesis to throw objects around levels. It’s rather chaotic, but quite fun once you get used to the controls, which I never really did. My cousin Sam – who has spent his entire life playing games, yet for some unfathomable reason isn’t very good at them – went a bit Rain Man on these levels, however, and took to them like a duck to water (or Adam to a pony’s backside – Luke).
To sum it up – don’t let the haters tell you what you can and can’t enjoy. Some things in life are great, some are truly shit, but most things are completely subjective and you’ll get out from it what you put in.
For those looking for more misunderstood Sonic gaming, I can wholeheartedly recommend Sonic Colours for the Nintendo Wii. It’s more traditional platforming fare, and plays very much like Super Mario Galaxy. But with a Sonic.
That is all.