Sonic ’06. Sonic the Hedgehog. 2006. It’s commonly regarded as the “worst game ever” by many critics and gamers alike, though I’d posit that most of the hate today is from users who’ve never actually played the game. While it’s beyond obvious that there are many negatives with the game, I’d wager there are a surprising number of positives, commonly ignored by mainstream gamers.
In case you’re one of many who’ve never played the game, here’s a quick rundown: Sonic ’06 follows Sonic in another quest to defeat Eggman, Shadow in his own quest to defeat Mephiles the Dark, and the debuting Silver in his quest to save the future, before they all unite to help each other in their respective paths. However, Mephiles only pretends to be defeated by Shadow, which results in his escape to kill Sonic. And yes, there’s also Princess Elise, who kisses Sonic in the game’s finale, but let’s remember the good times, okay? Chief among Sonic ’06‘s good qualities…
A Great Soundtrack By Some of Sonic’s Best Composers
Paramount in the redeeming features of Sonic ’06 is the soundtrack. The main theme, “His World,” composed by Tomoya Ohtani, is performed by Ali Tabatabee and Matthew Lewis, the latter being from Californian band Zebrahead, and it’s an incredible song. The passion that comes out of the ballad that appears multiple times in the game is euphoric, pumping the player up either before the game starts or in the final battle. Moreover, “His World” was covered by Sonic’s leading band Crush 40 and the rest of Zebrahead in two distinct versions.
And that’s hardly the only memorable tune. The levels Kingdom Valley and Crisis City have outstanding soundtracks, which perfectly capture the mood and determination to succeed within the levels, as Sonic, Silver and Shadow pass through these areas with different objectives in mind. It is also worth mentioning the Soleannan accordion player found in Sonic ’06 is commonly used for glitches, though don’t overlook his iconic accordion song. This magnificent soundtrack was written by longtime Sega veteran Hideaki Kobayashi, Tomoya Ohtani, Mariko Nanba, Taihei Sato and Takahito Eguchi, who deserve many plaudits for their incredible work that many haven’t bothered exploring.
Silver: Character Development Done Right
Silver the Hedgehog is certainly a controversial member of the Sonic family. Unlike Sonic and Shadow, Silver uses the skills of psychokinesis as well as long distance combat rather than speed and close range attacks. This makes his levels more puzzle-based instead of the linear rush some expect from a traditional Sonic stage. But it’s really all about his journey throughout the game.
Silver starts off as a very insecure character, noted by his best friend Blaze at the start of Silver’s story. However, over time, he is forced to grow into a commanding role as he begins to realize that he was being manipulated into battling Sonic. He never succeeds in his goal of murdering Sonic, instead becoming more confident as he fights in the past and present to save the future. As he molds himself into a quality character, he is forced to deal with the loss of Blaze, which is shown as he takes out his anger and with his determined attitude plays a key role in defeating Solaris, shown as the true final boss. That time spent with Silver makes him a worthy member of the team, and it’s a story worth experiencing via the campaign.
Speedrunning = Gotta Go Fast
The core premise of Sonic ’06 is to go fast, which really lends itself to high-level play. And given Sonic’s “gotta go fast” philosophy, almost all his games are very suitable for speedrunning (though maybe not Mean Bean Machine). This is even more prevalent in Sonic ’06, where the many offensive glitches in the game, such as broken homing attacks which allow Sonic, Shadow, and Blaze to cross the map in seconds, opens up the game to some creative speedrunning opportunities, making every run unique in some way.
You can see many of these exploits and glitches used in Tripl3ag3nt’s first ever run of Sonic’s story where he completed it in under an hour. That record has since been beaten, but the sheer adrenaline of that run, live in front of thousands of people, will likely never be outdone.
It’s Not That Difficult, Honest
Seriously, aside from the disagreeable controls, if you play the game properly, Sonic ’06 is a very easy game to complete. The likes of YouTubers GameGrumps, retsupurae, and NerdCubed offer up funny-but-inaccurate representations of what the game is really like. Often this is due to failing to follow the levels in a linear pattern and using help points left throughout the campaign which makes the game considerably easier to beat!
Most of the levels are linear with exception to parts of Kingdom Valley, Rouge’s stages, Silver’s Tropical Jungle, and Flame Core, and even those are easy enough to follow via what the game tells you. Admittedly, Amy Rose’s controls are very tough to use thus making her stages a total pain in the butt, however when the player develops an understanding of how she works, she becomes manageable in the few sections where she pops up.
It Isn’t Even the Worst Sonic Game
How can anybody call Sonic ’06 the greatest crime committed by the hedgehog when Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric exists? That Wii U exclusive game is a completely glitchy mess with poor character chemistry, awful level design, as well as a paltry plot to create a complete disaster of a game. Against that, even a catastrophe like Sonic ’06 looks relatively good.
And Sonic Boom is hardly the only game that Sonic ’06 good when standing next to a lesser Sonic game. Bizarrely, Sonic ’06 is actually playable on a disc, a feat that Dreamcast’s Sonic Adventure 2 had a notorious glitch that made only a third of all copies playable once you reached the final level and subsequently battle against the final boss. And what about Sonic the Hedgehog 4? That episodic game will likely never be completed, a total shame for such a long-awaited sequel. And let’s not forget the Grand Theft Auto wannabe starring Shadow. See, things can be way worse than Sonic ’06.
So, when you think about it, Sonic ’06 is actually a very good game — or at least a totally passable one! Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to look past the inconsistencies within the plot or the site of Sonic kissing a human, but if you figure out how to play it properly, listen to the great music, follow the character development to the end, and remember things can always be worse, it’s actually not that bad. If you can find a copy of it, give the game another chance, though that might be hard because Sega took Sonic ’06 off the market after the intensely negative feedback and reviews. But hey, think of it as like searching for a lost artifact from a bygone era.