I’ll admit, Sonic ’06 wasn’t Sega’s best move. Still, the game has been overly rated as being the worst Sonic game ever. Bad as it may be, that title is not ‘06’s to claim. That’s Sonic Labyrinth’s lookout. I like Sonic ’06, and I’m sure a small minority agrees with me. What I will attempt to do here is try to provide this minority with arguments, and to try to convince the large majority (the haters) that ’06 isn’t all that bad.
First things first. I can’t comment on controls, as I’ve never physically played the game, but I can call on the glitches. Numerous YouTube videos have been devoted to them, and there is no way I can deny them. But just let me tell you that I am yet to find a game without glitches. There are games that haven’t nearly been criticized as much as Sonic ’06, yet have a comparable number of glitches. From the very same franchise is a famous example, that is almost universally considered fun: Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The game was rushed, like ’06, and like ’06 it is infested with glitches. One famous example is the glitch where, if you enter a Bonus or Special Stage after the first cutscene in Angel Island Zone Act 1, Act 2’s music will be playing (partially fixed in S3&K: still works for the Special Stage). The game is full of glitches like that.
What? The glitches in ’06 go farther than just music glitches? Yes, but most require to be triggered in a specific way that is hard to encounter accidentally. The floating box glitch for one. To perform this glitch, you have to stand on top of an indestructible metal box near its corner and do a Slide Attack there (in the Soleanna hub, I must add). I see no way how to find it without trying. Another famous one is the rooftop ridge glitch. In the new centre of Soleanna, there is a harbor with several hangars with a wide ridge on top. Stand on the corner and Sonic and the camera will shift between standing upright and titled. Not only does this require you to get on the roof, but you’d also have to run parallel to the ridge to find it accidentally.
There are a handful of glitches that can be conceivably encountered in gameplay, mostly during Mach Speed sections. The most famous of these is the corkscrew glitch at the end of the Wave Ocean Mach Speed section. Hit that corkscrew loop too far to the right and you’ll fly off at the end, missing the dash panels. The final one I’d like to point out is the pebble glitch during Radical Train Mach Speed. In one place, you can get stuck behind a small rock, only to fly off of the pebble and the platform to your death. These are frustrating and I can understand, as Mach Speed sections are at the end of a level and the glitches will prevent you from getting the oh-so-desired S-Rank. But that’s no reason to hate the rest of the game.
This gets me to Sonic’s main complaint: the Mach Speed sections. They are said to have really bad control and most videos confirm that statement. I won’t argue with that. What I find incomprehensible is the statement by the same people that the normal stages, with apparently reasonable controls, are too slow. That’s hypocrisy. Besides, you want a slow Sonic? Go play the classics, like Sonic 1, 2, 3&K and Labyrinth. Sonic ’06 Sonic is still a lot faster than that. I have played Sonic ’06 2D, which is a really good attempt at turning ’06 into a 2D game and it uses the same physics engine. Granted, they leave out the Mach Speed sections, but the normal parts I enjoyed playing. That’s my opinion, but the people who don’t have a 360 and have an opinion, I would advise playing it before you start talking about it (powerful PC is recommended, the game tends to lag on my EEE laptop).
I have encountered a lot of criticism towards the story, which when you look closely, actually doesn’t hold up. It is said to be full of loopholes; I have only found one to this day. That’s the ontological loop of the dark blue Chaos Emerald; a problem that’s easily resolved. You see, at the start of Sonic’s story Elise has it. She throws it to Sonic when she’s kidnapped. Eggman takes it from Sonic just before the former sends the latter to Crisis City and Eggman then uses it to power the Egg Genesis to fight Silver. When Silver beats it, he keeps the Emerald. He later inadvertently opens a time portal with Shadow and takes it ten years back with him, where he hands it to Elise, who presumably holds onto it until Eggman kidnaps her ten years forward. No way in and no way out for the Emerald. Except for one thing: the cutscene where Silver gives the Emerald to Elise ten years in the past has two different forms. It exists in Shadow’s story as well, in which Silver doesn’t give the Emerald to Elise, but keeps it on him. This version of the scene, if it is the canonical one, provides no ontological loop and doesn’t prevent any Super Transformations in the series (any other loopholes may be stated in the comments and will be responded too).
The story is unique, in that it is the only story featuring the Chaos Emeralds where the game isn’t about linearly collecting them (accepting the fact that you had to collect the Emeralds in Sonic 1, 2, 3&K). Instead they are spread out over the story, becoming plot elements, rather than the plot focus as in Adventure, Adventure 2, Unleashed and Generations. They are not collected until the End of the World, a short stage in the Last story. In the three main stories, they are collected, used, lost or given away, refound, used again…not necessarily in that order. Not to mention the very diverse interactions between different stories. Still, any points about the story are, of course, academic, as the game erased itself at the end.
Associated with this is the dialogue. Some dialogue is no less than stating the obvious, or doing to much trouble to fall one way for the sake of keeping reasons obscure (as in the cutscene after Sonic’s fight with Silver). Yet at the same time, the majority of the dialogue is well thought out and the game is riddled with very punctual one-liners, the most famous of these being Shadow’s last line in his own story (“If the world chooses to become my enemy, I will fight like I always have.”).
The voice acting has been majorly called upon as being bad. As this is largely a personal preference, I won’t say much, but I do have something to say about E-123 Omega’s voice acting. Maddie Blaustein’s voice was given a very metallic, robotic sound. I’ve never minded as this is, and I think we can agree on this, what we expect a robot to sound like. Only because Sonic fans are used to human-sounding robots (like E-102 Gamma in Adventure and Metal Sonic and Omega in Heroes) do they not like the voice. If I imitate a robot like Omega myself, I largely focus on making it sound monotonous, then the metallic part comes automatically; at least that’s my feeling.
Graphics I can be short on. The graphics engine of ’06 was made for the PS3 and the 360. Calling ’06’s graphics bad is basically calling the graphics of every game for those consoles ever made bad. The detail is exquisite; that fact is especially obvious when playing Crisis City, the ’06 version of which I think is better than Generations’.
Graphics get me to character models. The models were designed to look more human, which comes to view in Eggman’s model. Sonic ’06 is the only game where Eggman is portrayed as a realistic human, with not only a fat belly, but fat legs too. Apart from that, the shape of his head is normal, he has a neck and, for the only time in the franchise, his eyes are visible under his glasses (his eyes are blue, for the record). This makes him look a lot more villainous in my opinion, and I’m sure the majority will agree with me when I say ’06 is his most epic portrayal. The other characters are shown sleeker, with a proportionally longer torso and more flexible quills in the case of the hedgehogs (Sonic, Shadow, Silver and Amy) and Knuckles. Also, Omega is less blocky and more human-shaped than his Heroes appearance. Personally, I think Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge and Omega) looks its best in this game.
But the recurring characters aren’t the focus of the ranting. What is are the human NPCs in the town stages. They are portrayed as being too realistic for characters of Sonic-style posture. Sega took this advice and made the humans cartoonish in Unleashed. A pity, I think, because Sonic doesn’t really look that strange beside Elise. Also, other games used realistic humans with Sonic characters and a cartoonish Eggman, and didn’t receive rants for that. Prime among them are Adventure, Adventure 2 and Shadow the Hedgehog. The fact that those games didn’t get chewed out for it, yet ’06 did, I think is further evidence for ’06’s good graphics. Why? Because Shadow the Hedgehog, to focus on one, featured important, realistically proportioned humans, yet because of the lesser graphics of the PS2 and the Xbox they look slightly less so, so it wasn’t told off for it. And ’06 had better graphics, and it did get criticized for it.
Sonic ’06 introduced two new characters to the franchise, and both are hated. I’m talking about Silver the Hedgehog and princess Elise. Silver (known to his haters as Pothead the Porcupine, since his hairdo looks like a potleaf) doesn’t deserve the rants he receives. He has been chewed out for being slow and having an annoying voice. So what if Sega finally decided to design a hedgehog that isn’t a speed freak like Sonic and Shadow? It’s part of his gameplay style, which was on the whole well received for being inventive. ESP and homing attacks don’t really mix (the thrown-into-space glitch proves that). I’ll admit the boss fights versus Silver are bad compared to its Generations counterpart. But when Pete Capella signed off as Silver’s voice actor in favor of Quinton Flynn, it was pitied by the majority of the fan base (again, the hypocrisy of it all).
Elise, too, hasn’t really deserved the rants she got. Sonic is saving a princess? Mario has been doing that for over 25 years and he still gets away with it. Sonic does it once and he’s chewed out from all sides. Then there is the supposed romance between Sonic and Elise. This probably funded from the cutscene in Silver’s story where Amy has a private conversation with Elise. What the romance supporters conveniently forget is that Amy is misinterpreting the information she’s getting from Elise and that Elise EXPLICITELY states that she has NO feelings for Sonic! Here’s is the literal part of the dialogue:
Amy: “You wouldn’t happen to have some feelings for this person (she doesn’t know the person in question is Sonic), would you?
Elise: “What? No, of course not.”
Amy: *Interrupting Elise* “It’s OK. Love changes everything.”
And about the kiss in the final story, it was a necessity to revive Sonic (I don’t know how that works either), and no romantic affaire of any sort. Amy too realizes this and that’s why she doesn’t object to the kiss. I too don’t like that particular cutscene, yet less because of the kiss itself, and more because of the emotional ‘begging’ the Chaos Emeralds that precedes it.
Finally, there is the one big problem about ’06 that everyone hates: the loading screens. They are way longer than average and I’ve read somewhere that an average full playthrough of Sonic ’06 (minus the credits, I must say) puts you in front of a loading screen for about 11.7% of the time. I can’t argue with that and I won’t. They are annoying.
This is my defense of Sonic ’06. Anything I forgot may be stated in the comments and will be responded too.