Crushing Disappointments: Shadow the Hedgehog

Let’s face it, SEGA can’t knock them all out of the park. No company can. Games have budgets and deadlines, and more often than not it’s more profitable to release a bad game and make some of your money back then cancel it and make none. SEGA is regrettably no stranger to bad games, especially in its awkward early years as a third party.

Among these bad games was a game that ultimately marked the decline of the company’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, into a pit of mediocrity. A pit the character wouldn’t even begin to climb out of until the release of Sonic Colors last year. This game was Shadow the Hedgehog.

Full article after the break.

Many people forget that Shadow was actually a pretty popular and well liked character back in his early days. Even after Sonic Heroes, Shadow had still amassed enough rep from his debut in Sonic Adventure 2 to remain high in the hearts of fans. When Shadow the Hedgehog was first revealed, there was a lot of excitement within the Sonic fan community for the game, because it was the polar opposite of the previous game, Sonic Heroes, in many respects. It focused on story, it was dark, and it was focusing completely on a fan favorite character, giving him a starring role for the first time. There were most definitely skeptics, probably more then I’m actually recalling right now, but the game certainly had many within the Sonic community excited.

Of course, then the game came out…and with it, the horrible truth: Shadow the Hedgehog was a bad game. No, not just a bad game, a VERY bad game. This was not a game that would divide the fanbase, it was a game that would instead unite in their hatred of it. Why? Where did it all go wrong?

The signs were all there...

In this day and age, the flaws would be immediately apparent from a single screenshot: it’s a dark game featuring a Sonic character with guns, almost completely divorcing it from all that a Sonic game was known for. Indeed, that was the problem: it was a Sonic game trying to be a Sonic game while also not being one, if that makes any sense. Much like most Sonic games, Shadow the Hedgehog is a speedy platformer, complete with loops, homing attack chains, springs, and everything else that the Adventure series was known for. The problem is this game also threw in gun play, which became mandatory in later areas of the game as you began to encounter tough enemies that could only be properly brought down with the use of weapons.

This game looks nothing like a Sonic game, from it's environments to it's enemies.

Essentially, the gunplay took what could have been a perfectly decent Sonic game and murdered any sense of pacing. This game constantly came to a grinding halt as you were forced to deal with enemy room after enemy room, gigantic enemies with ridiculous life bars, sprawling maze like levels that where difficult to navigate and required you to constantly move at a slow, plodding pace. What’s worse is the game wasn’t made to be fun at this pace. Navigating around levels and shooting enemy after enemy with a bunch of generic auto aiming weapons simply wasn’t fun. All of the AI attacked you, no matter which mission you where playing, forcing you to kill everything in site regardless of whether you where trying to help one side or the other. The slippery controls for Shadow himself and the absolutely horrid vehicles didn’t help matters. Neither did the dark, drab, ugly looking graphics. The story, one of the key features of the game, was easily one of the worst in Sonic’s history, only possibly outdone by Sonic 06’s equally confusing and borderline non canon storyline. It was filled with needless cursing, needlessly dark endings, and a storyline that was told in a ridiculously convoluted fashion to the point we’re you’re not even sure what’s the actual storyline and what was just nonsense brought on by choosing one mission over the other.

The notion of a super powerful hedgehog on a motor cycle packing heat should be full of awesome, not fill me with rage!

Perhaps this game’s biggest crime, is what it did to fans like me. I was one of those fans who became ecstatic when the game was announced. I was looking forward to this game all the way up until the day it launched, and even bought it on launch day. At first, I was able to even disillusion myself into thinking the game wasn’t bad. As I played more and more though, I began to realize….that this was going to be the first main series Sonic title that I would utterly hate. Looking at the review average this game got compared to past main series titles, it would seem most reviewers would agree.

Shadow the Hedgehog was the first main Sonic title to have an average score in the fives. It would not be the last either. Many Sonic fans couldn’t believe the sort of reception the game was recieving in the gaming press, to the point that some even sent death threats to detractors of the game, such as GoNintendo head honcho RawMeatCowboy. Shadow the Hedgehog would go on to represent a horrible turn of events for the Sonic franchise, which would have long reaching repercussions on the franchise’s credibility.

I didn’t lose hope in the blue hedgehog though. Not yet. Surely his next gen title, being done in the vein of the Adventure series I had such fond memories of, would be better….right?


18 responses to “Crushing Disappointments: Shadow the Hedgehog

  1. CosmicCastaway says:

    I actually really enjoy Shadow the Hedgehog. I like the multiple path structure of the story mode and some of stages like Sky Troops.

    The only thing I didn't like about the game was the swearing. I hate hearing the Sonic characters being potty mouths.

  2. ezodagrom says:

    Other than vehicles and guns, there's two other things I really hated in the version I played (PS2 version), which is the horrible framerate and the slippery controls (the controls would probably feel less slippery with a proper framerate though).

  3. CosmicCastaway says:

    Yeah, I also have the PS2 version and the framerate does get a bit crippling sometimes.

  4. -nSega54- says:

    The GC version had a bad framerate too. I don't know if it was any better or worse but it was pretty awful.

  5. nuckles87 says:

    Yeah, I played it on GC and the graphics where pretty bad for the most part. I rather liked the Tron esque levels though.

  6. Sega Uranus says:

    I think this is a really strange article type. How can anyone be disappointed by a game all about Shadow the Hedgehog?

    And just because it is a continuation of the Sonic Adventure 2 story does not mean it is part of the main series, the key point here is that "Sonic" is not in the title.

    Annnnyways, I am one of the only people in the world that completely hates the new Sonic Team but does not completely loath this game. It had some good concepts, mostly bad, and some just really bonkers, but overall I kind of have a soft spot for it. Not just one of those "So bad it is good" games, but I generally do enjoy some of the elements in the game. The parachutes were great and OutRun-style level progression was a good idea done extremely poorly.

  7. I've noticed that "I think this is a really strange" is the lead in to just about everything you type, sanus. 😛

  8. Sharky says:

    ^It's a passive/agressive kind of insult to what other people write and he doesn't agree with.

    So let me get this right, Sanus… You HATE Sonic Team, of today, the ones that made Sonic Colours, Puyo Pop Fever 1,2 and are working on PSO2… But you have a soft spot for Shadow the Hedgehog.

    Well there we go then…

  9. Sega Uranus says:

    I did not mean it as an insult all, I simply meant that I was confused that anyone actually was disappointed by Shadow's game, even the announcement of it seemed like a big joke by SEGA gone horribly wrong.

    And I think you are looking way too deep into my words. Just because I said I have a soft spot for Shadow's game does not mean I like it or think it is better than any of the other Sonic Team made games, I think it enjoyable on a comically bad level, where as I just find something like Sonic Heroes boring. I do not even own Shadow's game anyways, so what is the point in bringing this up?

    Ya blockhead!

  10. CosmicCastaway says:

    @Sega Uranus

    I agree with what you said earlier about how this game shouldn't be considered part of the main series. I've always considered Shadow the Hedgehog a spin-off and that is why it was OK for it in my eyes to do more off-beat stuff like adding guns and vehicles.

    This game was by no means a disappointment for me, I've had a lot of fun hours playing it.

  11. Radrappy says:

    It was a terrible disappointment that the game even got made and you have terrible taste if you like it.

  12. It wasn't a disappointment for me. I got it really cheap, had no expectations, played about 10 minutes of it and traded it in.

  13. Sharky says:

    Sanus, Maybe you don't remember because Sonic fans like to pretend it didnt happen but back in the period after SA2 and before Shadow released almost EVERYONE in the Sonic community was blabbering about how awesome Shadow was and how he needs his own game.

    I remember a poll set up by Sega asking which Sonic character should have their own game and shadow won by a landslide…

    Loads of 'sonic fans' were more interested in the 'dark, antihero' crap of the Shadow character…

  14. CosmicCastaway says:

    I participated in that poll as well. I voted for Tails, but Shadow ended up winning.

  15. nuckles87 says:

    Yep, Shadow had a lot of cred back then and I was looking forward to a spin off game featuring him. I thought gun play could work because Ratchet and Clank was awesome.

    Oh and I voted for Knuckles. 😛

  16. Sega Uranus says:

    Yes I remember the polls and such from back in the day, I realize a large amount of the fanbase loved Shadow, you missed what my point was.

    What I meant is that most normal people did not like Shadow at all and were turned off completely by an evil-looking Sonic character. To stress my point like I pointed out earlier, a lot of people who saw the original trailer actually thought it was a joke completely.

  17. Autosaver says:

    "normal people"

    Logic = Thrown out the window

  18. CosmicCastaway says:

    I actually think most people did like Shadow as a character, at least in Sonic Adventure 2.

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