Was Sonic 06 Really That Bad?

When he rolled onto the scene in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog quickly amassed a large fanbase. However, unlike a certain Nintendo plumber, Sonic doesn’t have a near-spotless record. One game in particular is cited by fans and critics as the peak of mediocrity in the series: Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).

Known as Sonic 06, this game was released as the next generation Sonic experience for PS3 and Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the game ended up releasing too early as a buggy mess. Today, the game is only brought up for mockery. Even the official Sonic Twitter account has poked fun at it in the past.

But is Sonic 06 really that terrible? Does it really deserve to be listed among video games like Bubsy 3D, Superman (1999), and Ninjabread Man? It’s true that Sonic 06 lacks the polish of games like Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. By the most understood definition, Sonic 06 can’t be called a great game. However, it does have redeeming qualities. Sonic 06 is not one of the worst games out there, and in retrospect, is actually a pretty decent experience. Not convinced? We’ll tell you why.

A Severely Under-appreciated Story And Stellar Soundtrack

With games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World, it can be easy to forget Sonic used to focus on deep narratives. Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes featured detailed scripts and character development. It was not simply “Eggman causes trouble so Sonic has to race through some zones to stop him.” There’s technically nothing wrong with that, but it was admirable that SEGA began moving Sonic in a different direction from his rival Mario.

Sonic 06 was the last Sonic game to feature an engaging narrative. Many may have called the storyline too convoluted, or too dark. But it was none of these things. It was more on the complex side, sure, but everything came together nicely. Silver the Hedgehog is an interesting character, hailing from a destroyed future. A mysterious being called Mephiles tricks Silver into thinking Sonic is responsible for the destruction. Silver later asks his friend Blaze, “To kill someone to save the world… Is that really the right thing to do?” This type of moral conflict is not found in the modern Sonic games. Even Sonic Forces, a game with a supposedly dark storyline, failed to capture what made the writing so compelling in Sonic 06.

Shadow’s storyline in Sonic 06 is arguably the most compelling. Mephiles continually tempts the anti-hero to join him. He does this by showing Shadow a future where humanity turned on him. Another twist is that it’s apparently Omega who defeated and sealed Shadow in the future. Again, the script handles all of this as a cinematic event. Mephiles is a great, powerful character, who unfortunately doesn’t receive much recognition due to the game he’s in. To date, he’s the only one to kill Sonic on screen. Yes, that actually happens. Sonic 06 wasn’t afraid to get dramatic.

Sadly, Sonic 06’s storyline is most remembered for the odd romance elements between Sonic and Princess Elise. It’s a shame, because as a whole, Sonic 06 features fantastic storytelling, and an Eggman who’s not played for total laughs.

On the soundtrack side, Sonic games have always been known for their music. Sonic 06 features one of the strongest soundtracks in the entire series. “His World,” “All Hail Shadow,” and “Dreams of an Absolution” are all epically memorable. A lot of the non-lyrical, battle, and stage themes are also fantastic.

An Unfortunate Lack Of Gameplay Polish Prevents It From Greatness

Sonic 06 does falter in its gameplay, preventing it from being a truly great game. It’s been said the developers were under a tight deadline, and it shows. The gameplay isn’t as tight as it should be, often featuring things like environmental clipping.

With that said, Sonic 06 is certainly playable, unlike the truly bad games out there. Some people might exaggerate and say Sonic 06 is broken and unplayable, but that is not the case. In fact, there is still fun to be had. Crisis City featured fun level design, as an example. At its best, Sonic 06 does feel like the next generation of 3D Sonic, taking a big leap from Sonic Adventure.

Yes, the loading times are atrocious; there’s no getting around that.

Far From Being The Worst Game Ever Made

Sonic 06 features unpolished gameplay, annoying loading times, and the most bizarre romance in all of gaming. It’s definitely not as well made as games like Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Colors. It’s not a masterpiece, nor a great game. However, to put it next to some of the worst games out there is a disservice. The storyline is dramatic and engaging, something that is hard to come by these days from the series. The music is phenomenal, complementing the game’s cinematic presentation. The game is also not unplayable, even for its time, unlike the shovelware and poorly-made titles that would soon come to the Wii. Is Sonic 06 really in the same league as Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing? That’s just nonsense. Sonic 06 is not as bad as many people remember it.

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