Faster and more manic than ever
Sonic and his friends are among the most recognisable icons in video games. Since his birth 14 years ago, Sonic The Hedgehog has spanned several generations of video game systems, appearing in over 30 games that have sold more than 38 million units of software. Consistently a top-selling franchise, Sonic The Hedgehog continues to be a popular icon worldwide in 2005 and one of the most recognized and celebrated video game characters of all time.
What’s happened to Sonic the Hedgehog? Perhaps it’s our reactions that are slowing down with age rather than Sonic speeding up, but in the Xbox 360 latest version he does seem to have been injected with some sort of performance enhancing drug that sees him accelerating over ramps and doing the loop-the-loop faster than we ever remember in the days of the Sega Mega Drive.
We played Sonic the Hedgehog at a recent private event and found him extremely difficult to handle, spending more time plunging to our death then remaining on terra firma. Admittedly we didn’t spend loads of time exploring the Tropical Jungle and Kingdom Valley with our spiky friend, but the time we did spend gave us a bit of a headache and left us yearning for the therapeutic Viva Piñata that was being played across the other side of the room.
In Sonic the Hedgehog the controls are simple; but far too over-sensitive for our ageing fingers. The two main buttons that you’ll use control the jump and attack function of the Hedgehog but you’ll also need to utilise three other buttons in order to rotate the camera. The action is so fast and furious that we were moving our head round in a Stevie Wonder motion feeling rather sick as we sped over the speed-enhancing conveyer belts and spiralled into the air in order to execute a bounce attack; reacting swiftly to the environment around you and any enemies that cross your path is crucial and we just didn’t feel in control of the manic hedgehog.
But what are we complaining about? Sonic the Hedgehog games have always been about speed and if it’s speed that you’re after then you certainly won’t be disappointed. Once again you’ll be whizzing around collecting as many rings as possible in order to boost your speed and attacking foes with Sonic’s array of manoeuvres, including the sliding kick and the spin dash. Sega have added variety to the series by creating different pathways to explore and have included a number of different ways to reach areas, including latching onto the feet of an eagle, snowboarding or using a catapult to shoot over to a far away ledge. Once again Sonic can also spin off enemies in order to reach high places and will bounce off any static objects, like the ball bearing in a pinball machine, as you struggle to keep him on track. Some of the static objects will stop you dead in your tracks and others will spark off some impressive visual effects that make the most of the Havok physics engine.