Surprisingly, as hard as it was coming up with five good games from the past generation, it was even harder to come up with five bad ones!….With one exception of course and you all know what that one is and yes, it’s #1. In fact, some of the games on this list are actually fairly enjoyable. So I took off the “No spinoffs” rule this time and had to go with more “disappointing” or “blah” than outright “bad”. This does help show that Sonic’s been more on an upswing since the horrible 2002-2006 era, but it also shows were Sonic has fallen back.
Remember folks, these are just my personal opinions and yours may vary. Also remember that the previous generation is only Wii, 360, PS3, PSP and DS. Enjoy!
5 – Sonic Free Riders (360 with Kinect)
Now, I was originally debating putting Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity here since I actually had some fun with this one, but while I find Zero Gravity kinda dull, it’s still a solid and well put together game for the most part while Sonic Free Riders has some fatal flaws. Let me get the good stuff out of the way. As a Kinect game, Free Riders is decent. It’s got much more of an arcade feel than the previous two games in the franchise and a great soundtrack. I even managed to unlock every character and beat arcade mode with my 6’3/330 LB frame. That’s not to say that it controls great either. There were many a time where the motion I was using to launch an item would not pick up. However, the biggest control flaw was just the simple act of turning. Ducking down to speed up on a downhill slope? No problem. Jumping? No problem. Turning left? No problem. Turning right? You’re screwed.
See, unless you’re a contortionist, the body cannot bend backwards as good as it can bend forwards and the Kinect is not sensitive enough into seeing your body bend back. I ended up using tricks (like sticking your arms back) that would still only work half of the time. Then there’s the story. Wow! Sonic Heroes wasn’t as insulting to the characters as this game. The story is very simple. They are just in the race for money, glory and a huge trophy that Eggman is putting on under a fake costume for reasons I forget and don’t care about. It has Vector owning debts to loan sharks (has he been gambling?) to Rouge and her now lapdog Shadow trying to cheat in the race to just outright trying to steal the trophy. As bad as this make Rouge look, at least she’s a thief and treasure hunter. This completely demeans Shadows character and makes him look like a villains sidekick. The only real reason to check out the story is to hear the all new voice cast for the first time. Most of them are great but like a lot of Sonic fans, I was massively disappointed in the new voice of Amy Rose (Cindy Robinson). While she made some minor improvements in Lost World, she still sounds way too much like Minnie Mouse. Plus, Lisa Ortiz performance of her gave her more emotional range.
4 – Sonic 4: Episodes 1 and 2 (Wii (except 2), 360, PS3, Ouya, mobile phones and tablets)
I do tend to like this one more than a lot of Sonic fans out there, but there’s a reason I totally understand all the hate that I’ll get to in a moment. As a mobile game or even downloadable title these two Sonic games are pretty decent. Both have one glaring flaw that was better in the other game and both have a major flaw that everyone can’t stand. That’s get them out one at a time.
While I felt Episode 1 had pretty good (albeit too involved with the classics) level design (especially for DIMPS), it was obvious that the physics were off. They just didn’t feel quite right. Sonic moved very robotic-like and unnatural. Gone was his regular running momentum for speed replaced with a double jump for a quick bust of speed. It just felt a bit weird and took some getting used to. Then Episode 2 came along and fixed the physics up quite nicely while adding Tails. This helped a lot, but then the level designs ended up not flowing quite as nicely as the first game.
But the biggest problem that many people have with the game is the title alone. This is NOT Sonic 4!! Not by a long shot. It’s obvious that this was meant to be a series of mobile/arcade games that played up the classic retro Sonic gameplay but they decided to overhype it by calling it Sonic 4. It’s a nice mobile game, but you compare this as a sequel to Sonic 3 and Knuckles or just Sonic 3 alone and it doesn’t even come close. There were even rumors of it originally being called “Sonic: The portable”. A sequel always has to be either better or at least on equal footing to its predecessor or it’s a failure. This doesn’t even come anywhere close.
3- Sonic Rivals (PSP)
Sorry Hogfather, but I find this game dreadfully dull. The 2nd one wasn’t quite as bad and the story mode was full of voice acting (not to mention Espio getting his own story for the first time), but the first game was flat out BORING! Developed by Backbone Entertainment whose only previous work on Sonic games was some fairly weak Genesis ports, Sonic Rivals is supposed to be an on foot race to the finish using classic 2-D level designs. Sadly, it’s those level designs that are the games biggest flaw. They are just flat out bad (worse than DIMPS IMO). The game has way too much trial and error and it’s either very easy to defeat an opponent or frustratingly hard. There is some enjoyment to be had if you’re a real die-hard Sonic fan, but you have to scrounge through a lot of mediocrity to find it.
2 – Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)
UGH! I can’t believe I ever defended this game. This game made me realize I was being way too soft on certain Sonic games and giving them a free pass. It starts out well enough. The CGI intro was pretty awesome with Sonic taking out a ton of bad guys while managing to not drop his chili dog. The story was pretty good too with Sonic taking a “been there, done that” attitude after being in a similar situation in Secret Rings. Also, the damsel in distress being the villain was an awesome twist that I did not expect. Even the first half of the game isn’t….TOO bad. The new mechanics cause a little too much stop and go and backing up to talk to villagers sucks. Also, the early boss fights were a bit too tricky for their own good. But it was okay…..Then I got to the second half of the game.
At first I was elated! There was a false ending complete with credits only to find out the game was nowhere near finished and you can now play as the other knights….yippee. This is where the game completely turns into crap. Y’see, the cruddy controls in the first half of the game weren’t too bad because the levels weren’t that hard. Once you beat the Black Knight however, the difficulty ramps up to about double and those poor controls become very apparent and painful. What’s worse is that this is the first game in a long time to finally let you play as other characters besides Sonic and their controls are much, much worse. At least Sonic will rarely stop unless he needs to charge an attack. Kunckles constantly stops to swing his sword like an idiot and Blaze has a kind of flying move that makes her go by too many enemies only to have them attack her from behind. I forget what Shadow does because frankly, I’m just not a fan of Shadow and play him as little as possible. Their poor handling makes it so I had to redo some levels over and over again. I’ve never seen a game nosedive so bad from the first half as this game. This was the worst selling Sonic game on Wii and it’s easy to see why. Two games in and the storybook series is dead. Frankly, it’s better off staying that way.
1 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (360, PS3, My nightmares)
You knew this was coming. Sonic ’06 is so bad, that I dare say even if it had another year of development, fixed its glitch issues and even shortened it’s loading it would still be in this exact same spot for the utter piece of garbage it is. The Final Fantasy knockoff story is absolute crap, the character design is horrible and it’s mechanics are all over the place. This is even before bringing up the fact the game had the worst loading times ever, was broken and glitch-filled in many places, had very poor physics and was an absolute chore to try and control. Outside of the horrible Sonic 1 port on the GBA (same year), this game was the absolute bottom of the barrel for Sonic games and would be a curse to the franchise for years to come.
There was only two good things to come out of Sonic ‘06. One, it didn’t get any worse. Everything only went up from there. From Secret Rings, to Unleashed to Generations, the quality of Sonic’s games managed to (mostly) climb up. Two, it’s the “Manos: The Hands of Fate” of Sonic games. A game so bad, you can come back to it just to point and laugh with your friends at just how bad the game really is. Then cry and yell in frustration when you try to play it serious. Let’s hope we never, EVER get another Sonic game as bad as Sonic ’06 ever again.
Well, that’s my two cents. Here’s the staff with some of their picks (and they apparently forgot that Sonic Lost World is current gen) . Tell us yours in the comments below.
5: Sonic 4 Eps 1+2
4: Sonic 06
3: Sonic Lost World 3DS (Haven’t played the WiiU version, so not sure)
2: Sonic and The Black Knight
1: Sonic and The Secret Rings
5: Sonic Genesis (That GBA port) ED NOTE: That’s from two generations ago.
4: Sonic Unleashed (Wii & PS2)
3: Sonic 4 Saga.
2: Sonic & The Secret Rings
1: Sonic & The Black Knight.
(Why no Sonic 06…. because everybody knows how terrible that is, theres other games which should share equal shame).