Sega. Sega. Sega. What happened? Sonic the Hedgehog is the series that got me into gaming. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Genesis is the first game I ever played. Even the less popular Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Spinball and the Sonic Adventure series have a charm that can’t be matched. Why are you subjecting Sonic to asinine filth like this? Why am I playing three characters at once? Why are Amy, Cream and Big the Cat in this game? NO ONE LIKES THEM! Who the hell is Omega? The inclusion of Knuckles Chaotix characters is a cool if obscure choice but I don’t want to play as them. Why do you have them collecting crap instead of going through levels like everyone else? Why did you leave out Mighty the Armadillo from the Chaotix game? This game frustrates me as a fan and as a gamer because this could’ve been at least good if not great.
Sonic Heroes was supposed to be a more traditional title after Sonic Adventure games. No story mode, no 3D hub world. You would just pick a character and go through the 14 levels and boss battles. However, you would not choose just one character but you would choose a team. Team Sonic comprises of Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles “Tails” Prowler, and Knuckles the Echidna. Team Dark is Shadow the Hedgehog, Rogue the Bat, and E-123 Omega. Team Rose has Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit, and Big the Cat. Finally, Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee, and Vector the Crocodile make up the Chaotix team. Each member of the team represents a Speed Class, a Fly Class, and a Power Class. Each class has abilities and moves the other classes can’t do.
That’s the first problem with this game. Each of these characters had most of these abilities before by themselves. Most of these characters don’t need the others in their team. Except that Sega took away some of the character’s moves so that they have to work together. Sure, Sonic can’t fly or glide but he had an aerial attack and had the ability to blow up enemies without being such a weakling. Knuckles now has to glide by holding onto Sonic and Tails’ hands in a triangle format. He did that on his own before. That’s his thing! The other problem is the premise of these characters. I’m in the minority when I say that I enjoy the multiple characters in the Sonic universe. However, Sega seems to take this to mean that we want to play as them. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Shadow. Those are the only characters I want to play as. Rogue, Amy and the Chaotix team aren’t interesting enough to play as. Cream and Big are annoying and most prefer they weren’t even around. Omega was just created because they didn’t have a dark heavy character!
So the premise isn’t great. How about the graphics? They’re shiny! Too shiny! Most of the characters, enemies, locals and items have no texture to them and maybe that lends it a cartoon feel but to me, it seems lazy. Never did I feel like I was in a Cartoon Network show. There’s a lot of clipping as well, a lot of jagged edges and everything as a whole lacks polish. However, the game does look nice and looks smooth and some of the more cinematic events in the game look good and does have that wow factor. Sound is classic Sonic with ring collection, bouncy springs, casino sounds, corny voice acting and cheesy music. It’s not great but it serviceable and fits the gameplay well. “Let’s blast through with Sonic Speed!”
When you actually start playing the game, however, that’s where everything falls apart. Why does the characters feel floaty when jumping? Why does the control not auto align when running on a pre designed section? Why do power characters just run across the ground punching randomly at nothing? Why do fly characters never hit enemies who are right in front of you? Why does the homing attack for the speed characters not work? Honestly, the controls and game mechanics of the game are broken. The controls are so broken that I had to come up with a different way to grab onto these swinging posts because the homing attack for Sonic didn’t work and I kept dying. You are going to run off the track, killing yourself. You are going to attack characters but instead miss and go off the track, killing yourself. You are going to fly over pits but run out of strength and drop right out of the sky, killing yourself.
The controls aren’t the only thing killing the gameplay though. The level design is awful. Levels go on for too long and there’s not enough of them at the same time. There are too many sequences that disrupt the flow of the game. In this respect, using Tails, Rogue, Charmy and Cream is disheartening because the flying sections are boring. Sonic Heroes works best when you’re running fast and destroying Robotnik’s baddies. It would’ve been better if those two aspects could be done by one character. Also, the levels set up for some cheap deaths and some sections turn into trial and error. Pretty bad for a game with a rating system dependent your score, which is based on completing the whole level fast and without dying.
The futility of the different teams is also a nagging problem. Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotix is essentially normal difficulty, hard difficulty, easy difficulty and boring difficulty. Teams Sonic, Dark and Rose are essentially the same games and levels with some changes to affect difficulty. Team Chaotix has you search for items in each levels so you can continue. This idea wasn’t fun in Knuckles’ levels in Sonic Adventure and they aren’t fun now. You’ll find yourself backtracking because you missed something and many of the levels aren’t designed well for this type of treasure hunting gameplay. Furthermore, I though Sega wanted to get away from the explorative platformer in favor of linear levels and action based gameplay ala all the other teams in this game! At least Epsio has ninja stars!
This is when Sonic truly started to go downhill. Although the Sonic Adventure games aren’t held in high regard now, they were revered then and I still feel that they are okay games. Also, you can see that some genuine effort to make a epic Sonic game in those titles. Sonic Heroes loses that and even with its problems, it could’ve been saved if it had some sense of charm. When Sonic Heroes does work and the glitches and the problems don’t show, it’s a fun game and enjoyment can be had. However, when it doesn’t, you won’t be able to complete the game. Seriously, I couldn’t beat the game because in the third to last stage, you need to use the homing attack to cross a bottomless pit but I couldn’t because the homing attack doesn’t work and I couldn’t come up with a workaround. The game mechanics are so broken I couldn’t complete the game. I did however beat the game back in the day when I use to cheat with my Gamecube’s Pro Action Replay disc.
Some Sonic games nowadays are showing promise but this was the first indication of trouble in the Sonic universe. Don’t pick up this game. Don’t rent it. Don’t play it. The only people I can recommend this to is Sonic fans who are willing to overlook its flaws. However, like me, you’ll soon grow tired of it and your only consolation will be that it’s not as bad as Shadow the Hedgehog, or the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog. Why is it that when I play a Sonic game, I have to lower my expectations? Why is it that these game’s best quality is just seeing Sonic doing something? Why is Sonic being BASTARDIZED like this!? Sega. STOP MAKING BAD GAMES! STOP RUINING SONIC! I’M FREAKIN’ SERIOUS! You did good with Sonic Colors, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing but then you started pulling crap like Sonic Free Riders for Kinect. Don’t start that shite again! I need to play something amazing. Soon.
2 out of 5
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