2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog, which has become nicknamed “Sonic ‘06” to avoid confusion with the 1991 classic of the same name, is often cited as one of the worst video games of all time, for Sonic or otherwise. It’s an incredibly buggy mess that was released in an unfinished state. Some of the many known glitches in the game are player characters getting stuck in walls and falling through the ground, boxes and other objects floating into the sky, and Sonic getting stuck in an infinite loop of taking damage and collecting a ring so that they can’t move or lose a life. There are plenty of other glitches one can find during a playthrough of this disastrous game as well. Plus, the camera was absolutely sporadic and seemed to have a mind of its own. Some even found the game to be completely unplayable because of these issues. Even from a story standpoint, SEGA attempted to give Sonic a human love interest, which led to the discomfort of a lot of gamers.
Prior to Sonic ‘06, the few 3D Sonic games beforehand followed one big, rather interesting story. This included Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Shadow the Hedgehog. Yes, each of these games had their own contained story, but the same deep lore carried over through each one, which was rewarding to those who played them all. It was exciting to see Knuckles become better friends with Sonic after being tricked by Dr. Eggman (again), learning Shadow’s backstory, seeing Shadow find his place in the world, and even discovering the history of the Chaos Emeralds.
Sonic ‘06 continued that story, which gave fans a lot to look forward to. This time, Sonic and his friends travel between the past, present, and future to stop an evil fire spirit with the help of a new hedgehog from the future who has telekinetic powers. The game also updated fans with where Shadow was along his journey of figuring out his place in the world after the events of Shadow the Hedgehog, which was that he’s protecting the world working for G.U.N. as an agent alongside Rouge and Omega. There was a lot of fascinating story in place for those who craved it after the previous few games.
Unfortunately, the game was so poorly received by both fans and critics that the interesting story connecting several games essentially stopped there. These games and games that followed are still canon, and the same canon is still being added to, but it hasn’t been as important going forward. Each game now focuses on a smaller story in which the past games don’t really matter. They don’t go against the canon, but they don’t do a whole lot to add anything of value to it. For instance, Sonic Colors features Sonic and Tails helping cute little aliens that Eggman has trapped in his amusement park, and Sonic Unleashed has Sonic transformed into a Werehog as he journeys the world with his new friend Chip. There’s nothing that really carries over from game to game anymore. This is likely due to SEGA wanting people to forget that Sonic ‘06 happened even though the story (outside of Sonic’s weird human girlfriend and their numerous kissing scenes) wasn’t the issue.
Even though there have been great games since that era of Sonic, it’s a massive bummer that the story is no longer focused on an epic tale spanning that of multiple games. There were even intriguing ideas set up by Sonic ‘06 that would have been perfect for use in future games, like Omega confessing to Shadow that he was built for the sole purpose of destroying Shadow if he ever became too powerful. Seeing two friends forced to face off against each other or finding a way to prevent it from happening would make for an incredible arc for a game, but it’s something we may never see unless IDW wants to focus on it for a comic book.
Good Sonic games may still be getting made and they’re all still canon, but we need a true continuation of the Sonic Adventure story arc. It’s the best the story has ever been for the franchise. Plus, seeing the story told from the point of views of multiple characters always spiced things up. Perhaps we’ll see a return to that format eventually if SEGA ever listens to their fans more rather than worrying about people relating any sort of story-heavy game to Sonic ‘06.