SONIC ’06 is INNOCENT Until Proven Guilty!

Court is now in session for a monumental episode
of Innocent Until Proven Guilty! Over the course of the series, I’ve received
requests for a number of infamous titles, but this is the most requested of all. The accused in question is considered by many
to be a horrible game and an insult to a beloved franchise. I’ve always been curious to see if it’s
as bad as it’s made out to be, so I’m going to settle it once and for all. The day has finally arrived for the trial
of Sonic ’06! Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and Playstation
3, a.k.a. Sonic ’06, was released to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Sega’s mascot on
November 14, 2006. Sonic ’06 was a radical departure from the
franchise’s roots. This was Sonic for the new generation with
a graphical upgrade as seen in the gorgeous cinematic. In it, we’re introduced to Elise, the princess
of Soleanna, as the city is having a celebratory ceremony. The festivities are disrupted by Dr. Eggman,
whose goal is to seize the Chaos Emerald and control the flames. Before he
can carry out his plans, the title star whirls in like a tornado, grabs Elise and speeds
off to safety. As we pan away from the duo, the shot zooms
in on an unknown hedgehog, who mentions something about the Iblis Trigger. While visually impressive, this left me confused
and searching for answers. Luckily all of the blanks in the narrative
will be filled in before the end of the journey. After a loading screen, a second cutscene
plays revealing that Eggman kidnaps Elise, who tosses the Chaos Emerald to the protagonist
as the evil fiend flies away. We transition to the peaceful streets of Soleanna,
which is the central hub for all of the between mission activity and is filled with people
who communicate in a very unique way. These civilians provide information in an
RPG-esque manner and are labeled with colored icons indicating their purpose. The majority are skippable, but the Orange
are essential for advancing the plot. Orange exclamation marked residents are always
available to assist our heroes with directions or advice. I would have roamed aimlessly through the
streets if it wasn’t for them, so I was extremely grateful for their support. Support is also provided by the store, but
their services require a small fee. Our hero obtains the necessary rings via the
side-quests accessed by talking to the blue marked citizens. These range from finding a lost dog to pursuing
a car fleeing from a robbery to racing…Sonicman. I…have no words. These tasks are largely optional filler, but
there are a few that need to be completed to progress, including the “winder of a
Shoemaker”, which is mandatory for purchasing items such as the Light Chip. Acquiring entry to the first level is impossible
without the Light Chip, so that shows how important it is. Upon the completion of another loading screen,
we’re dropped into Wave Ocean. Not surprisingly, the gameplay format is quite
different from the winning formula of old. Gone was the sidescrolling of the Genesis
in favor of 3D platforming akin to Sonic Adventure. Unlike the 2D titles, where the robotic menace
could be eliminated by stomping on them, the main method of dealing with enemies in ’06
is the Homing Attack. The Homing Attack is performed by pressing
the jump button while mid-air. Doing so will cause the speedster to fly forward
as a deadly ball of energy and smash unsuspecting foes into oblivion. He can also dish out a destructive kick, which
is effective, but only in close quarters, so it’s best to rely on the Homing Attack. It has greater accuracy, plus it has MANY
more functions that will be learned as the adventure progresses. In order to traverse the vast landscape of
the mission areas, there are dash panels and springs that give the protagonist a boost
and bounce him to the next platform. These are but a couple of the implementations
made to signify the switch to the third dimension. Most of them are harmless, but others are
downright awful, such as the incredibly clunky camera. The most hair-pullingly frustrating of all
are the Super-Speed Stages. The blue blur’s motto is “gotta go fast!”,
and boy, does he ever. As soon as these segments begin, he takes
off lickity split and we have no control over how fast he goes. This is basically an auto-scroller on crack. If you miss a ramp by a fraction of an inch
or drift a little off track, you’re screwed. Mess up too many times and it’s back to
the beginning of these VERY long levels. Kingdom Valley in particular was the bane
of my existence. It’s a nightmare and I cursed it with the
fury of a thousand obscenities. In retrospect, watching him flop around spastically
after failing is hilarious, but I wasn’t laughing when I recorded this footage. I was in utter misery. Fortunately, there are only a few of these
throughout Sonic’s saga, and once that gleaming beacon is reached and we receive our ranking,
we’re rewarded with a cinematic. These feature solid work from the voice-over
cast, including Lacey Chabert as Elise, and add depth to the characters. Speaking of which, Tails and the gang will
occasionally show up to lend a hand. They usually appear at specific spots that
require certain skills that the titular lead doesn’t possess. For example, Tails’ flight is utilized for
locating the switches to open locked doors and Knuckles’ climbing is the perfect asset
for simultaneously shining the lights in Flame Core. On top of this, there are two supplementary
episodes! Remember that Iblis Trigger dude from the
intro? That’s Silver the Hedgehog, and he gets
his own unlockable plotline, along with Shadow. Shadow’s becomes available after completing
Crisis City and Silver’s is playable after he’s defeated. Shadow shares the Homing Attack in common
with Sonic, yet in spite of wearing really cool rocket rollerblades, he’s much slower
than his blue counterpart. As a result, Shadow relies on various vehicles
including motorcycles and boats to pursue Eggman and his metallic army. Silver, in stark contrast, is entirely unique. The future dweller harnesses the power of
psychokinesis to lift objects and levitate around the stages. Silver’s weakness is that he’s limited
by the ammunition that he has at his disposal. If there are no boxes or blocks in the vicinity,
he’s totally boned…or so I thought. I later discovered that he has the ability
to infuse enemies with psychokinetic energy and fling them to their doom. Admittedly, Sonic and Shadow are better suited
for foiling Eggman’s schemes, but no matter how you slice it, that is wicked! One aspect that I really appreciated was that
the locations of the missions remained the same, but the variables and the order they’re
encountered in were altered. For instance, Silver’s story starts with
Crisis City, since that’s his present, whereas the rescuers in the primary session are teleported
there by Eggman at the White Acropolis. I could cite a number of similar occurrences,
but my favorite is Radical Train. Shadow derails the train to have a chat with
his creator, whereas Sonic has to stop it to rescue Elise. Silver, on the other hand, is still in pursuit
of the Iblis Trigger. Iblis, as we come to find out, is a pivotal
figure that links all of the plotlines. Iblis is the name for the Flames of Disaster. It’s an eternal unstoppable force that decimated
Silver’s homeland. He desperately wants to improve their situation,
but he believes that is impossible…until the mysterious Mephiles instructs him that
he has to travel to the past to destroy the Iblis Trigger a.k.a. Sonic! This is why Silver assaults our hero in Soleanna
and that is the initial objective of his story. Regardless of the chosen character, the following
cutscene concludes with Amy Rose stepping in as Silver is about to terminate her love. He pops up again in Sonic’s story before the Egg Genesis battle. This is the last we see of Silver until Kingdom
Valley, where he assists his former target and teams up with him. Why did Silver change his mind? How does he know Amy? The answers to those questions lie in his
story mode. Apparently, Amy spotted him shortly after
the intro scene and mistakenly identified him as her wannabe boyfriend. Due to this mix-up, his target escaped and
Amy vowed to help him find the person he’s looking for. Unbeknownst to her, that person happens to
be her romantic interest, and the previously discussed scene occurs after Silver reveals
his intentions. Amy’s reaction plants the seeds of doubt
in his mind and these doubts are solidified after he learns the truth about Mephiles from
Shadow. This is just one example of the layers of
connectivity between the three episodes. The full extent of the plot unravels like
a tapestry one detail at a time and it’s fascinating to experience key events from
the other characters’ perspectives. I could ramble on and on about the narrative,
but for the sake of us all, I’m going to provide as brief a synopsis as I can. In doing so, spoilers are going to be addressed, so
let’s put that warning on now. Click the box art to skip them, because things
are about to get serious. Here goes… First of all, the three modes revolve around
different villains. While Shadow and Sonic have confrontations
with Iblis, their recurring antagonists are Mephiles and Eggman, respectively. Naturally, suppressing the Flames of Disaster
is Silver’s duty. The three arcs align at certain points, such
as when Shadow and Sonic are sent to the future. They follow the same path from Crisis City
to the Flame Core, but they separate after a portal to the present is opened. Sonic , Knuckles, Tails and Rouge travel back,
but Shadow remains to deal with Mephiles. It turns out that Mephiles and Iblis are halves
of Solaris, the Sun God of Soleanna, and Shadow was responsible for sealing Mephiles in the Scepter of Darkness when he and Silver took a trip 10 years into the past. This explains Mephiles’ hostility towards
Shadow when he was freed in the present. Not surprisingly, Shadow’s arc concludes
with the battle against Mephiles in Dusty Desert. The fight is fairly easy once the Action meter
is filled and Shadow activates his powers. Shadow’s journey resolves anticlimactically,
but the narrative continues to unfold for his allies. Silver’s motivation for the majority of
his storyline is to eradicate the Iblis Trigger, but he discovers in the past that the catalyst
for the fiery devastation …is the princess! The Duke of Soleanna states that the fire
has been entrusted to the royal family, so he had no choice but to use Elise’s pure
soul to contain it. Before the Duke dies, he caresses his daughter
and emphasizes that she must not cry. If tears spill from her eyes, the fire will
be unleashed and wreak havoc upon the land. As the duo prepares to embark on their return
trip, the young princess stirs and Silver leaves the Chaos Emerald with her. This explains why she had a momentary flash
of him during the ceremony…she met him as a child! I told you that the gaps in the exposition
would be filled in. The script writers definitely knew what they
were doing. With the true identity of the trigger revealed,
protecting the princess at all costs becomes the primary directive. Silver’s sudden change at Kingdom Valley
makes a lot more sense from this perspective. With Sonic in charge of ensuring her safety,
Blaze and Silver return to the future. They engage Iblis at the Flame Core, but the
bigger adversary is the wonky camera. Once both of these hardships are conquered,
Silver attempts to trap the fire inside of him, but is rejected. Blaze sacrifices herself so that peace can
be restored to their world. The victory is bittersweet and this would
be quite a downer ending, but this is not the end…we still have to make sure Elise
is saved. Let’s check back on tha…oh…noooooooo. That’s not good. Kidding. Sonic’s failure is only temporary. The Chaos Emeralds allow him to return to
an earlier date and infiltrate the Aquatic Base to save the princess. Despite heavy tribulations, our hero is ultimately
successful, but not before battling the pain in the ass that is the Egg Wyvern. The two escape the explosion unscathed, share
a laugh in the grass and the credits roll on a satisfying ending…but we’re STILL
not done yet. Upon finishing the three episodes, a fourth
will unlock called simply…Last Episode. Last Episode begins with a bang. Yes, Sonic…dies. The princess cries in grief over her loss
and Solaris is unified, casting the world in eternal darkness. The juggernaut threatens the past, present
and future, resulting in a spatial distortion that will erase time and space. Solaris must be destroyed, but alas, our hero
is dead…or is he? Hooray! All hope isn’t lost, but they have nary
a minute to spare. The group splinters to reclaim the Chaos Emeralds,
which are scattered across their old familiar stomping grounds. This sounds simple, but it’s FAR from it. The task is complicated by rifts in the fabric
of the universe that will appear and suck the protagonists in for an instant death. The gravitational pull of the rift is strong,
so needless to say, this happened over and over and over again. I grew increasingly infuriated, but I persevered,
and two hours later, I was triumphant. Sweet, sweet B ranking…it tastes so good. The princess summons the power of the Chaos
Emeralds to revive her fallen friend and the gamble works! The gems glow brightly and Super Sonic emerges,
ready to kick some Solaris ass. He imbues his hedgehog comrades with energy
and the trio blasts off to face insurmountable odds. Solaris’ defenses may seem impenetrable,
but they break easily once you learn a simple trick. Hold the right trigger to fill the action
gauge then hold the attack button to perform a special move. Repeat this until the rings are almost depleted,
then switch to the next fighter and do this again until their rings are running low, then
change to the last. The great thing about this is that the rings
will be replenished for the inactive super hedgehogs, so they’ll never be exhausted
as long as the trio is rotated. Solaris has two forms, but the same technique
works for both, so continue this strategy and the entity will be vanquished. Solaris is restored to a mere flame and Elise
decides that it has to be extinguished permanently, but she’s reluctant to do so. The princess would rather sacrifice the world
than pay that terrible price, but he assures her that it is the right thing to do. She blows out the fire and the score underneath
is tragically beautiful. I’m not ashamed to admit that I choked up
listening to it, and tears are in my eyes as I’m writing this. The sad farewell transitions to the ceremony
from the beginning, but this time there’s no Eggman and no destruction, only joyous
celebration. Though our leads don’t recognize each other,
we’re left feeling comforted that they might eventually share a connection in the peaceful
years ahead of them. Thus, concludes the black sheep of the franchise. Hmm…for a game that’s considered to be
bad by many critics and fans, there certainly are a lot of positive traits. Is Sonic ’06 beyond redemption or is its
reputation exaggerated and undeserved? Let’s find out…in the breakdown! Those of us who grew up in the ’80s
and ‘90s have fond memories of the initial Genesis titles with their perfect 2D formula,
but this…this is an abomination. Where do I start? There are so many issues, like humans in a
Sonic game…what’s up with that and why do they talk so funny? It’s bizarre. Also, those loading screens…why are they
so long? They’re nearly on par with the Sega CD in
frequency and duration. A loading screen precedes a brief cinematic
and then there’s another loading screen. It’s ridiculous! Another huge problem is the camera. The Nintendo 64 had better camera function. I lost count of the number of times that I
died or almost died because I couldn’t see what the hell was happening! That is a sin, but the biggest offender is
the Super Speed sections. I hated those more than I’ve ever hated
anything in a video game. This seventh generation turd deserves the
death penalty. Anything less is insufficient. Whoa…that is the angriest you’ve
ever been, Mr. Guilty. You bring up some valid points and I honestly
can’t argue against them. The Super Speed sections and the camera suck. That’s a fact. However, you are glossing over some good elements,
such as the story, which is well crafted for a silly platformer. Over the course of a session, you grow to
like the cast and share their feelings and concerns. I especially sympathized with Silver. Silver is such a great character, and the
fact that he was created for this game makes me respect it even more. I’ve heard critics claim that this is broken,
but I didn’t see that at all in the many, MANY hours of my capture session. I did encounter some bugs and graphical glitches,
but they never interfered with my ability to finish a segment. In fact, they were a source of amusement and
a hardy chuckle or two. I mean, just look at this. Hey, Tails…you okay there, buddy? Uh…do you need something? Do you need something to pick you up? Some juice? Some coffee? Anything? Are you gonna get up there, buddy old pal? I guess I’m just going to wait for you and
I’ll just stretch out. Do some calisthenics…cause…I gotta go
fast…and…to go fast I gotta make sure that my body’s limber, so…yeah, I’ll
just stretch here and wait until you come back. Alright. Do you need anything? Are you sure? You know, I can hook you up? Just let me know. Here I am. Chili dog…I don’t know. Just…I GOTTA GO FAST! That’s priceless. Another redeeming quality is the soundtrack,
which is excellent and dabbles in a wide variety of genres, from rock
to techno to Flamenco instrumentals. I already said that one track made me cry,
so if that’s not proof enough of how fantastic the music is, I don’t know what is. Finally, when it’s examined as a 3D platformer,
it’s pretty solid. A solid platformer with some VERY aggravating
flaws, but a solid platformer nonetheless, and saying that it deserves the death penalty
is ludicrous. Sonic Team and Sega deserve a pardon for atrocities
that they did not commit. In the case of Sonic ’06, I rule that the
verdict is…innocent! I’m sure I just pissed off a ton of viewers
and I’ll get crucified in the comments for saying this, but I genuinely like Sonic ’06
and I don’t think it’s bad. There are parts that I absolutely despise
about it, but the overall experience was enjoyable. The music, plot and amount of variety offered
from the multiple playable characters are all top notch. I have nearly 40 hours of captured footage
and I don’t regret sinking that much time into it. I’m not saying it’s a great game, but
its reputation is highly exaggerated. The haters are obviously allowed to hate if
they choose, and their opinion isn’t wrong. No opinions are right or wrong, that’s why
they’re called opinions. However, I will proudly be one of the few
who sticks up for Sonic ’06. …And that’s why I now don the moniker of…THE SONIC ’06 DEFENDER!!!! Anyway, now that
this long-overdue IUPG is wrapped up, I’m going to take a week off. I’ll be back soon, though, but until then,
court is now adjourned.

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