Yep, as I hinted in part 1 of my lookback featuring Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, I wanted to do my next one on Sonic Unleashed for the Wii! Have a look at part 1 right here (and comment! I’d really love some more feedback. ).
So now onto the lookback:
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps/Xeen/O-TWO Release Date: Nov 18th 2008 (NA) Nov 28th 2008 (EU) Nov 27th 2008 (AUS) Dec 18th 2008 (JP)
So this is what everyone considers to be the afterthought version, the side project, the thing to chuck out there for a quick buck… which apparently worked too well as the Wii version was apparently not only the highest selling version, but APPARENTLY outsold both the PS3 and 360 versions combined. Well that’s one reason Wii got Colors exclusively.
So for a long time we always thought it was mainly by Sonic Team with Dimps doing the daytime design work, but after exploring the endless world of the interwebs, I found the websites of Xeen and O-TWO and spotted the Wii version on both sites under games they worked on. As I noted last time, those two indeed worked on Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, and there’s the old interview where a Sega employee (think it was at one E3) where it was said it indeed used the Zero Gravity engine, all signs point to it being correct.
The game runs in 480p, 16:9 widescreen like Zero Gravity and all other Sonic games on Wii, however it runs in 30fps, also like every other Wii Sonic game except for Zero Gravity. Why did a spin-off accomplish what main games wouldn’t do? At least not until Sonic Lost World, and even then Zero Gravity is a locked 60fps where Lost World dips at times…
For those unfamiliar with the latter two teams, Xeen actually was the main dev of Rhythm Thief on 3DS and O-TWO mainly works on various 3DS eShop games like Skater Cat and Cube Tactics, they also helped on the more recent Puyo Pop games.
So here’s another thing to point out and it’s a biggie. The Wii version was basically the darling of most review sites, while the HD versions were slammed and some even rated it lower than Sonic ’06, ouch. I’ve only played the 360 demo in terms of HD version experience and it wasn’t my cup of tea, all the footage I’ve seen so far shows it being NOWHERE near as bad as Sonic ’06, and no, I don’t think Sonic Boom will be either, there was more than just technical issues being why Sonic ’06 was poop.
So what about the Wii game itself you ask? Well I REALLY liked it, it certainly has some glaring issues which of course I’ll dive into, but first let’s talk about the gameplay.
It’s very true the game is pretty one-sided in favor of the Werehog stages, basically for every day stage, you get 3 night stages. Some night levels even take place like 3-5 in a row, yikes. But the daytime stages are purdy fun. One thing I really enjoyed was the limited boost usage where it’s divided into small bursts at a time rather than go hedgehog wild. It allows you to strategize more in when to use it, also I like how after every 30 rings collected, its max amount increases AND fully restores it. I also like that *puts flame shield on* it’s SLOWER! I don’t like boosting like a bajillion miles and hour with little to no control, no sir, I don’t like that. Just give me a sense of going fast but being able to see things around me and being able to control what the hell I’m doing while boosting!
A major bonus on Wii is the medal system, you never have to worry about searching far and wide (I ain’t singing it, get that out of your head!) for medals, instead they’re rewarded depending on your rank in all levels, where as B gets you one, A gets you two, and S gets you all three medal in the level. Much easier. I just encourage you to try and get an S rank in the night levels on the first go if you don’t want to play them again.
Speaking of the night levels, here you focus on using the Wiimote and Nunchuck to fight in a sort of Wii Boxing/Punch Out style, and honestly, once you get the hang of it, it works REALLY well, I never used another control setup, I know, crazy right?
S ranking in the night levels is a bit tricky, you have to collect all the experience (called Force), rings, and beating the stage fast enough. But just be quick and break and collect everything you see and you should be okay. Here’s a tip: instead of punching boxes and whatnot, RUN into them, they break automatically thus saving you a lot of time.
So how about dem graphics? Well it’s no secret it’s not as pretty, and frankly, it’s not even close to the graphics of the Colors team’s output (Secret Rings, Black Knight, and Colors), hell, the game runs in 30fps so to me it’s kind of beneath Zero Gravity. Plus there’s something BIZARRE about the image quality where when the Werehog stages begin, he looks VERY weird with how the jaggies move about, like it’s not polished and… ugh, I can’t put my finger on it! The game could’ve used the useful Deflicker technique where it softens the image to reduce jaggies, like a free fake Anti-Aliasing of sorts. A lot of Sonic games on GC and Wii used it, as most famously Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl. It honestly helps a bit I’ve noticed, but I’m no expert so…
Also need to mention this graphical glitch in the first main daytime Adabat stage where you reach the bottom of a 2D section where you’re on the water, and the water just flickers really badly, but this is the only case of that, but it always does that there.
However, when played in HD on Dolphin, it surprisingly shines! Here is a gallery made by a person named zetabio who made DOZENS of screenshots of it in 1920×1200.
So all-in-all, I really enjoyed the game and I highly recommend it as long as you’re not going to puke as soon as you look at it and don’t mind the Wiimote controls. Actually it supports the GameCube controller (not usable at the moment on Wii U of course) and the Classic Controller if you prefer.
I’d give it an 8.0 out of 10. It’s not my fav Sonic game, but I still really enjoyed it as I said. It’s hard to say if I prefer Zero Gravity over Unleashed, I kinda prefer Zero Gravity due to it’s vastly superior polish.
That’s it for now! Hope you’ve enjoyed the 2nd lookback. Hopefully I’ll do another down the road again, but these two were the most under the radar/underrated of the console games last gen so I felt the warranted lookbacks the most.