Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) went through many ideas and changes during the development process. What follows is a collection of items related to the game's development.
Beginning development after Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog was meant to be a rebirth of the series, taking elements that people had praised in the preceding Adventure titles and bring Sonic "back to his roots." Nothing pointed more to the idea of using this game to celebrate what made Sonic the Hedgehog the "Most Famous Hedgehog In The World" then naming the game after the first in the series. However, instead of keeping things simple, the staff behind the creation of the game came up with numerous ideas they wanted to flesh out, wanting the game to also be the ultimate Sonic experience.
The existence of what would become Sonic's 15th anniversary celebration became known to the masses during the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2005, where a video was shown behind closed doors of what the team hoped to accomplish with the game. Although an unplayable demonstration, the video was leaked to the Internet and speculation began to run wild. Some of those questions were answered later that year at the Tokyo Game Show, where a playable demo of the game was showcased. Although not a full level, the demo was meant to display the new technology behind the game, including the day/night cycle visual effects and the use of the Havoc engine for the physics.
It wasn't long after this outing, however, when the original Executive Producer of the game (and one of the founding fathers of the Sonic franchise) Yuji Naka announced his resignation from Sega, going off to eventually create his own development studio, Prope. Without this central figurehead, pressure was put upon the director of the game, Shun Nakamura, to release what Sega would hope to be a stellar title in the Sonic franchise, and to help relaunch the brand for the new generation of consoles.
Fate would not be on the side of Nakamura and the rest of the team, for development of the sprawling game would prove to be too short. Pressured into having the game ready for Christmas of 2006 regardless of the consequences, the game was shipped to less than stellar reception from critics. Many of the features that had been promised were absent, control issues and prominent bugs littering the product. For many, it became the worst Sonic game released, and for a few, it was considered a contender for being the worst game of all time, promising too much and not delivering.
Originally, there was also intended to be a port of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 to the Wii, but it was decided that too much time would have to be spent to recreate the game on the hardware, especially if they wanted it ready for the system's release. Instead, their resources were devoted to creating an original product for the console, Sonic and the Secret Rings. The director of Secret Rings, Yojiro Ogawa, who was also meant to be the director of the entire 2006 project, was extremely sympathetic to the final product, saying "The reason why we probably ended up with what we see today, involves a lot of reasons. One is that we did want to launch the title around Christmas, and we had the PS3 launch coming up, but we had to develop for Microsoft's 360 at the same time and the team had an awful lot of pressure on them. It was very hard for the team to try and see how we were going to come out with both versions together with just the one team. It was a big challenge."
Even though the game itself was met with much criticism, the soundtrack to Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was better received. Featured tracks included the brief return of DREAMS COME TRUE to the Sonic scene. Teaming up with R&B artist Akon, the group revisited SWEET SWEET SWEET, the melody of which had been used previously in the ending moments of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Insight into the development of the game's story, as well as selected concept art, was leaked to the Internet before the game was released in the form of the "SONICNEXT_allscript" file. An internal document saved in XSL format, it was originally obtained by an anonymous UK tester who gave it to the Sonic fansite Sonic Cult. Other interesting tidbits, such as Princess Elise's original name being Princess Oliga, are found within. It can be obtained here (info) (948 kB).
To celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog's 15th anniversary and his first game on an HD console, it was decided that a new hedgehog character should be introduced in the game, playing off the type of world Soleanna was meant to be. The character, Silver the Hedgehog, was originally named "Venice" after the real life city Soleanna was based on. The internal naming of the character still refers to Silver as "Venice" in the Xbox 360 Marketplace Demo, as well as the final product. The following images are a collection of potential designs for the character.
The following is a collection of concept artwork for the minor characters who exist in the world of Princess Elise and Soleanna from Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sonic overlooking Soleanna. By Barrett Meeker.
One of the iconic images in the game. By Cemre Ozkurt.
Shadow the Hedgehog. By Cemre Ozkurt.
An early render of Dr. Eggman, in his redesign for the game.
Egg Gunner. By Barrett Meeker.
The new look of the Eggmobile.
These screens, taken by the gaming website IGN, were taken from the initial unveiling of what would become the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog. Shown behind closed doors at E3 2005, the demonstration dates from late May of that year.
This demo was at TGS 2005, which was held from September 16 to 18. Movement of the characters was twice as fast as what would be found in the final product, the debug mode also being enabled for this showing. Being only a technical demo and not meant to be an exact representation of the final product, the debug mode allowed players to move their character anywhere and helped to avoid deaths from falling into pits.
At the beginning of February 2006, the following screens were made available at Sega Europe FTP. A great part showed the lightening changes due to day hour on a level. There are three screenshots not depicted in the following gallery, one which ties in with the last two, and two other unrelated to the time change theme.
The following are various images released by Sega to promote the game, many of which contain noticeable differences from the final product.
The mach-speed section of Kingdom Valley.
Miscellaneous promotional screens, many lacking a HUD:
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