Last week’s Sega Addicts Top 10 highlighted our 10 favorite Sonic games of all time. It was a positive experience as we all laughed and thought back on our beautiful memories of the blue hedgehog. Unfortunately, those feelings of joy didn’t last long as we knew that this week would break us as human beings as we determined the top 10 low points of the Sonic franchise. While it’s nearly inevitable that a franchise with so many games in the last 20 years would have some not-so-great moments, some of these games would be best wiped from existence. I’m looking at you #1.
Hit the jump to read our list!
10. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Scott Morrison: Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was such a promising idea. Being a fan of the Archie Comic’s Sonic series, I was very excited to hear that some aspects of the comics would be used to shape the story in a Sonic RPG. Another promising announcement for the game was that BioWare would be the developer. And then I played the game…
First of all, this is the absolute slowest Sonic game out there comparable only to Sonic Labyrinth. From an isometric perspective, you guide Sonic and company through towns and sometimes run through the classic loops, and also use characters’ special abilities to access certain areas. However, this game is so awkward in how it does anything that you quickly forget you are even playing a Sonic game. For instance, you use the stylus to guide a character on the bottom screen. I know I’m not the only person who gets annoyed when my hand is blocking most of the gameplay. The battle sequences are composed of a slower version of Elite Beat Agents, where tapping, sliding and frantically drawing circles will win you victory. However, Elite Beat Agents had a more responsive touch mechanic than Sonic Chronicles, which led me to many lost battles. This game had so much promise, but was pursued in such an awkward manner that I was never even able to finish the game due to lack of interest or patience for losing so many fights. I would go as far to say that Sonic Battle had more intriguing game play, even that was another game in which I quickly lost interest.
9. Sonic Genesis (GBA)
Brett Hatfield: Ohh, 2006. A year that will live in infamy when it comes to the Hedgehog. And it was a time where I was so naïve about things, I’d be excited for ANYTHING that happened with the series, including this trainwreck. So much so that I bought this at full price soon after it came out. I mean, it was Sonic on the GBA! The GBA was pretty powerful for its time, and after playing Sonic Advance (A genuinely great game if I do say so), I was convinced that Sonic 1 would be FANTASTIC on the system.
Ohhhhh how wrong I was. Most people claim Sonic 2006 as the worst Sonic released that year, or ever, and rightfully so. BUT, that still had a tiny handful of things that were at kinda tolerable. Sonic Genesis was completely unplayable in every way, shape, and form. The framerate was embarrassing, the controls were a nightmare, especially with moon jump physics that would screw you over at any chance it got. Sprites were glitchy and would disappear regularly, leading to some cheap deaths. They couldn’t even get the sounds right! It doesn’t help that shortly after the release, a hacker from Sonic Retro ended up experimenting and creating a near perfect port of Sonic 1 for the GBA, putting Sega’s overpriced version to shame.
The company still suffers when it comes to creating portable Sonics, but at least they’ve never been as horrible as this abomination.
8. Sonic the Fighters
Sven Wohl: Sonic the Fighters is one of the most terrible experiences I have ever had when it comes to gaming: The graphics are terrible, the game is a repetitious mess and the gameplay is bad. It’s way too simple for a fighter, since you can win by just pressing the same button over and over, without even the slightest hint of variation or even enemy AI. I only spent about an hour with the game and I want that hour back. The concept itself sounded interesting enough: A fighter based on the Sonic universe actually got me interested back in the 90s, but it sure didn’t translate into a good game.
7. Sonic & the Secret Rings
Flake: Usually when I write about a ‘top 10 worst’ game, I do so from the position of a player who tried to like a game and just could not do it. Not this time. Sonic and the Secret Rings is only on the hook for about 20 minutes of my life – and that was 20 minutes too many.
In that brief time period I learned to hate everything about this game. The story was asinine even by blue hedgehog standards and the three levels that I bothered to play with were exercises in frustration and, the ultimate sin for any video game, no fun at all. Everything this game asked me to do felt forced. From shaking the controller instead of just pressing a freaking button, to leaning the controller forward (again, instead of just pressing a freaking button). Especially bad was the ‘XTREME!’ sound track that stood in stark contrast with the quasi-Middle Eastern setting.
I dunno. Maybe the game got better but I saw no incentive to stick around and find out. As it stands, I spent more time listing my copy of the game on Ebay than I actually did playing it. Guess which activity got me a better return on my time and effort?
6. Sonic Shuffle
Mike Kyzivat: The thing I remember most about Sonic Shuffle is the load times. You load when you move, you load when you go to a mini game, you pretty much load whenever you do anything. Now, this is not a fast paced game to begin with, in fact, it’s a very boring game, so having to extend the boredom with loading screens every 30 seconds is enough to make you stab yourself with a VMU just to feel something again. I think I have played this game a total of 2 times even though I’ve owned it since the Dreamcast era. I played it once by myself and then again with my brother and sister and then I’ve never touched it again.
To play you pick cards to move spaces and land on spots that give or take rings or that cause you to play mini games that are too short or go on forever until you forget why you started playing in the first place. There is just not much to do, or see, especially when considering how long you wait around getting ready to do nothing.
So in summation I never really played Sonic Shuffle much when it came out, or play it very much now, or paid very much money to get it. I don’t think about Sonic Shuffle much (except when I need to write about games I don’t like much). I don’t think many people think about or play Sonic Shuffle much either, so I guess I could have saved you some time (how ironic) and just summed up Sonic Shuffle in two words “not much.”
5. Shadow the Hedgehog
Stevie Grant: Shadow the Hedgehog has mild entertainment value in the fact that it’s obviously too cool for school. Shadow says dark and depressing words such as ‘damn’ and he carries a gun! That’s edgy. However, apart from that small ironic appreciation the game just sucks. It’s a buggy mess with terrible level design choices. It has a multiple choice system going on but no matter who you are allied with everyone still attacks you making the game even harder than it should be. And the bosses. Man the bosses blow chunks. I could say more but you get the picture.
However, I still recommend watching some cutscenes on youtube just to see how hilariously bad they were at being edgy and dark. MARIAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
4. Sonic R
Tom Kyzivat: What’s the “R” stand for in Sonic R? Return this game! Well, it wasn’t the worst game ever, but it had very limited levels, a simple and uninspired racing mechanic, and pretty awful graphics. To top it off, it didn’t really feel like a complete game–there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bone, and certainly little replay value. You can unlock robotic versions of Knuckles and Tails, but then you just have to race them through those same shoddy levels again. What made it even more lackluster was that the 3D treatment of Sonic in Sonic Jam was much more fun, and it was just a hub world, which itself actually felt like more of a full game than Sonic R did. Really, Sonic R felt like it could have been a mini-game in Sonic Jam, and I think that would have made it much stronger. You at least would have felt like you got your money’s worth.
3. Sonic Heroes
Josh Newey: When citing all the things that have gone afoul with the Sonic IP over the years, it’s inevitable that the series’ bloated cast of unnecessary “friends” is going to pop up somewhere. While any fleshed out franchise comes packaged with its own posse of sidekicks, for years Sega seemed hellbent on proving this group’s worth with sloppy, shoehorned gimmicks that only worked to dismantle everything that once made Sonic’s core gameplay fast, exciting, and worthwhile.
In some games characters like Knuckles, Big the Cat, and Shadow were just relegated to the sidelines, allowing players to at least hide in the primary campaign, losing themselves in the fantasy that fishing for frogs would never be in a Sonic title. But in Sonic Heroes those needless characters are front and center. The big difference here? Not only do you have to play as these characters—you have to play as three of them at once. While the idea of imbuing different characters with different power distinctions is a relatively novel idea (each team of three had a power character like Knuckles, a flying character like Tails, and a speed character like Sonic), the execution is horribly confusing and relentlessly awkward. Having to constantly cycle through characters to attack certain enemies or traverse certain terrain wouldn’t usually be that much of a task, but in a game that prides itself on a foundation of speedy platforming, it’s unforgivable. Making matters worse are stages of obscene length, ostensibly extended to give each character plenty of opportunity to utilize each character’s awkward moveset.
When I played Sonic Heroes for last years 20 Days of Sonic Marathon, I found it to be the most unnecessary game of the bunch. While it does become much more playable and even enjoyable once you’ve come to terms with the needless complication of Sonic’s usually basic structure, everything about Heroes just feels like an unwarranted sidebar in the blue blur’s library. I appreciate the nod to Sonic’s past, but most of the gameplay is just so glitchy, convoluted and complicated that I just don’t see a reason for its existence.
2. Sonic 3D Blast
Tom Kyzivat: I’m not one for false advertising, so I was not a fan of Sonic 3D Blast. It is not 3D, and it is not a blast. What looked like an interesting twist on the Sonic franchise turned out to be a lousy isometric, pre-rendered festival of mediocrity. The same, basic Sonic levels we see in every Sonic game got the “This looks terrible!” treatment in the pre-rendered style, and each level pretty much felt the same. The whole thing was more of a novelty, weakly flavored with Sonic. What does Sonic taste like? Stale marshmallows. The one interesting aspect of the game is that it incorporated the Flickies into the actual gameplay, instead of just breaking them out of a big dumb contraption at the end of the level. It was also a nod to the original Flicky game, gathering them up and dropping them into a safe zone. But… so what? Nobody cares about that old, stupid bird game, and it’s not enough to make Sonic 3D Blast anything but the unstoppable juggernaut of lame that it was.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (360/PS3)
Michael Westgarth: There is so much wrong with this abysmal excuse for a game that it is almost impossible to summarise it all in a few paragraphs. So, lets start with some keywords: broken, unfinished, glitchy, slow, uninspired, pathetic, depressing, distressing, embarrassing. All these words, and many more aptly describe Sonic Team’s atrocious attempt at a ‘realistic’, next-gen Sonic game
The drab levels, mundane hub worlds, limp musical score and absolutely horrendous loading times would have made for the most boring and slow-paced Sonic game ever, but the fact of the matter is that game was released unfinished and severely broken. The number of graphical, audio and physics-based glitches experienced in only the first 30 minutes of play are way into double-figures. Standing upside down, getting stuck on walls, getting stuck in walls and being flung off speedy-ramps straight into enemies is not only common, it’s unavoidable, making the game practically unplayable.
I dare you to try and finish one of Sonic’s crazy break-dancing ‘Super-Speed’ sections, or a “it’s no use” Silver the slow-as-a-turd-smearing-down-the-side-of-a-toilet-bowl Hedgehog level, or even a glide-like-a-rat-tied-to-a-brick, wall-humping Knuckles section without screaming for immediate justice to be brought upon the people responsible for this abomination.
If thoughts of suicide still haven’t overcome you at this point, then the convoluted, time travelling, multiverse-featuring story line featuring numerous old and new characters and multiple antagonists will surely have you dangling out of your bedroom window with your trousers around your ankles and your Xbox 360 charger cable tightly secured around your neck.
Just as Frankenstein brought life to the cobbled shell of a man that was his monster, so did Sonic Team unwittingly unleash this travesty upon the world. Sega’s audacity to name this game after the immortal 1991 classic acts as the final nail in the coffin; Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 is the worst Sonic game ever made.