Done Playing: Sonic the Hedgehog Demo (Xbox 360)

Let’s all congratulate Sonic the Hedgehog on a wonderful 8 years! Wow! Great job Soni– what’s that? It’s his 15th Anniversary this year? Well, that may very well be, but for me the good games pretty much stopped just shy of the first decade.

Ever since the transition flawed misstep into 3D the series has pushed speeds faster and faster making it that much easier to stumble all over the place. Sonic Adventure was tolerable solely because it was first but by the time the sequel fumbled its way into my Dreamcast I was done. Of course, that hasn’t shattered my hopes for every iteration since. The original Sonic games were among my favorites and I still look for even a shred of that kind of fun in each new title only to be utterly crushed.

And that’s a pretty nice setup for the demo of Sonic’s latest; Sonic’s Ultimate Disorientation Simulator! Oh wait, it’s actually just called Sonic the Hedgehog because Sega has run out of numbers, words, and subtitles to further describe this game. Not that it matters what they call it, it’s pretty much the same as every 3D Sonic before it.

Yeah, it looks pretty, but just trying figuring out where to go.

The camera is completely disorienting and far too slow to bother trying to control. Gameplay is deceptively simple with the promise of a lock-on that will keep you from jumping off a ledge, but it just doesn’t work. When I expect it to lock on it doesn’t and when I attempt a free jump I seem to careen directly to my death. Trademark high-speed areas are touchy as well and feel slow and outdated (it’s just like the original Sonic Adventure).

Sega tried to spice things up with physics but it only results in more awkward situations. For example, I knocked over a few boxes only to have them shove and slide Sonic around as they fell my direction. Furthermore, I have no idea what purpose the boxes serve. Most seem to have nothing inside. Even the music is a shell of its former self. I still feel the Jun Senoue vibe but it feels out of place in the haven’t-I-been-in-this-green-and-blue-platformy-world-before locale.

And this all says nothing of the other two hedgehogs you get to play as, both just as gimmicky as Sonic himself. Guns, cars, and psychic powers. Wow, I almost miss Big the Cat and his fishing pole. The only hope I see is Sega going so bankrupt on their crappy games that they’re forced to develop Xbox Live Arcade titles. As a last ditch they bring back Yuji Naka and unleash the ultimate 2D Sonic game on the world!

From the Archives