On November 14, 2006 Sega celebrated the 15th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog with a 3D adventure marred by unfinished ideas, a convoluted storyline, sloppy mechanics and horrendous loading times. And they sealed it with a kiss.
Sonic the Hedgehog’s official title was revealed at E3 2005 by series creator Yuji Naka, the last remaining member of the original Sonic dev team still with Sega at the time. In March of 2006, Naka resigned his position as head of Sonic Team to found his own studio, Prope. It was generally considered a bad sign for the latest stab at a 3D Sonic game.
Further complicating development, the game was originally planned for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution (Wii), with the expectation that Nintendo’s next console would feature similar specs to Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen offerings. It did not. The already strained development team was split in two, one half struggling to complete Sonic the Hedgehog while the other created Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii.
Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the Xbox 360 on November 14, 2006, and it was really bad. Gameplay was a mix of free-roaming and mission-based levels, and swapping between the two took forever. The game stuttered. The camera shifted wildly. Control was all over the place.
The plot was a convoluted mess involving time travel and Iblis triggers and characters dying left and right, including Sonic himself. But don’t worry, because he’s got his . . . friend . . . human princess Elise to make everything alright again with one of the most uncomfortable kisses in video game history.
The PlayStation 3 version of Sonic the Hedgehog was released in January 2007 in North America, and somehow it was a little worse.
Now Sega is in the midst of Sonic’s 25th anniversary, with a retro-styled Sonic Mania and the 3D Project Sonic 2017 (working title). No matter how those two turn out, they couldn’t possibly be worse than 2006's Sonic the Hedgehog.