"Despite what the title might imply, Sonic won't be the only hedgehog you'll be controlling in Sonic the Hedgehog. However, Shadow, along with the new addition to the cast, Silver, won't be available right away, leaving you to mess around with Sonic for the time-being. Which isn't a bad thing. I mean, it's Sonic, so you'll be treated to the typical, fast-paced, energetic stages that we've all known and love, right? "
Despite what the title might imply, Sonic won't be the only hedgehog you'll be controlling in Sonic the Hedgehog. However, Shadow, along with the new addition to the cast, Silver, won't be available right away, leaving you to mess around with Sonic for the time-being. Which isn't a bad thing. I mean, it's Sonic, so you'll be treated to the typical, fast-paced, energetic stages that we've all known and love, right?
That's just about right. You'll charge around in large, rocky loops and run from killer whales in Wave Ocean (basically a remake of Sonic Adventure's Emerald Coast stage), fight off fire-breathing dinosaurs deep within a volcano, and run some more as you attempt to stop a train from being destroyed in the Radical Train stage. And then you'll collect rings, jump on springs, destroy robots, hit save points, and then run even more... yeah, it's definitely a Sonic game. Along the way, you'll get some help from Tails and Knuckles, who you get to control as they do things like prevent a whale from escaping or glide through difficult spots in an underground, high-tech base.
If that doesn't sound like enough (it should, it's Sonic), then once Shadow and Silver become available, you'll get a lot more variety out of this game. As Shadow, you'll get the opportunity to take control of a number of vehicles, like a buggy you use to shoot down search lights in the snow-covered White Acropolis or a glider as you destroy flying robots across a valley. With Silver, the new, white hedgehog, you'll have the power of psychokinesis and be able to lift large, heavy objects that you can throw at your enemies. His powers are put to good use right away when you begin his first stage, Crisis City, a ruined area where crumbling buildings, collapsing bridges, and tornadoes are widespread. In this stage, you'll be able to pick up wreaked cars and throw them at golems, levitate from place to place (another one of his moves), and create platforms with your powers to get across once unreachable locations.
Sounds like a pretty good game so far, right? Yeah, StH sure has its moments.... but unfortunately, it has its bad ones as well. While most of Sonic's stages are nice (never reaching great heights like in past games, however), little problems pop up every now and then that really put a damper on things. Destroying enemies can be a hassle at times, mainly due to your homing attack not being as effective as it should be. Bouncing from one baddie to another is a slow process, because once you hit one, you'll usually stay stuck in the air for at least a second and a half before you can take control again and attack someone else. This is a pain in the butt, since there's always a HUGE possibility of getting hit by a projectile when you're slowly taking care of a group. Granted, you have other moves, but the sliding kick is unpredictable and you'll NEVER have a good reason to use your spin dash.
There are other problems with some of Sonic's stages, like the snowboarding and Super-Speed parts. The snowboarding segment at the beginning of White Acropolis is really annoying because of two reasons: direction and jumping. Half of the time, you have no idea where you should be going and when you should be jumping. There are some arrows, but a little more could have been very helpful. But the worse is that you can't even move when you're jumping in the air. This will result in a lot of lost lives, believe me. Now, the Super-Speed stages are a cool concept, where the game moves Sonic along at insane speeds, leaving you only with the ability to move left and right as you dodge a bunch of incoming objects. While some are good, others try too hard to put as many obstacles in your way as possible, leaving very little breathing room. The worst of these is the one in the Crisis City stage: you'll be running down a road while cars fall from the sky that smash into a bunch of pieces. While you dodge these cars, you'll also have to avoid piles of boxes, turned over trucks, some fire birds, and jump over huge pillars. It's a cool thing to witness, but gameplay-wise, it's a mess.
As for Shadow's stages, they're okay, but it seems like Sonic Team thought it was a wonderful idea to shove a bunch of vehicle segments into his stages whenever they could. Which wouldn't be much of an annoyance if it weren't for the fact that they're not enjoyable. Three out of the four vehicles control sluggishly most of the time, so you end up fighting them more than the real enemy: you'll fall off cliffs with the buggy, slide all over the place with the hover craft, and try to drive normally with the motorcycle (turn just a little bit and it'll go nuts). At least the glider moves just fine... too bad its segments are short and full of suck.
What about Silver's stages? Well, they're actually good. He seems to be the least problematic of the three hedgehogs. Other than the silly puzzle area at the end of his Dusty Desert stage and the fact that his throwing abilities are a little off at times, there's not much to complain here. Using his psychokinesis powers to pick up objects and throw them at robots and creatures is really cool. Hell, it's even cooler when you grab their projectiles and fling them back.
Oh, and there's one thing about StH that'll really get on your nerves: loading times. Now, normally, loading times these days aren't that bad, because even if you have to endure a long one, you usually don't have to worry about seeing another until you complete a whole level or something like that. Not so in this game. Loading screens pop up frequently, whether it's starting a simple, little quest in town (yes, the adventure fields are back) or during a stage when you go from one segment, like platforming, to another, gliding, and back again to platforming. Here's a great example of just how absurd it gets at times: late in Sonic's storyline, you'll have to take three tests. Walk up to one of the men and talk to start a test.
>> >> >> NOW LOADING...
Afterwards, the man talks a little bit more about what the test is.
>> >> >> NOW LOADING...
Then the test FINALLY starts. But if you manage to fail it, you go back,
>> >> >> NOW LOADING...
where the guy tells you that you failed.
>> >> >> NOW LOADING...
At this point, you're back where you started and have to walk up to the guy and start the test again. Keep in mind that there are two other tests to complete. Do you see how annoying this gets after awhile?
Now, there is one aspect of StH that I really enjoyed, and that would be the soundtrack. Sonic Team did a very good job giving every moment in the game a piece of music that's memorable. Whether it's the comforting, catchy town melody, the energetic rock music in Wave Ocean's Super-Speed stage, Egg-Genesis' (boss) epic piece, or the hyperactive, triumphant version of Sonic's theme playing during the final fight, everything sounds great. Too bad the rest of the game isn't as great..... Man, I really wanted to love Sonic the Hedgehog, but at almost every turn, there was a problem. By the time I finished the game, I had this urge to take out my Dreamcast and play Sonic Adventure 2 to remind myself of what a good, 3D Sonic game could be like.
Community review by pickhut (November 24, 2006)
Pick any sci-fi game from the 1980s and you're likely to spot an Alien reference.
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