Sonic the Hedgehog[a] (commonly referred to as Sonic '06) is a 2006 platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was produced in commemoration of the Sonic series' 15th anniversary, and intended as a reboot for the seventh-generation video game consoles. Players control Sonic, Shadow, and the new character Silver, who battle Solaris, an ancient evil pursued by Doctor Eggman. Each playable character has his own campaign and abilities, and must complete levels, explore hub worlds and fight bosses to advance the story. In multiplayer modes, players can work cooperatively to collect Chaos Emeralds or race to the end of a level.
Development began in 2004, led by Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka. Sonic Team sought to create an appealing game in the vein of superhero films such as Batman Begins, hoping it would advance the series with a realistic tone and multiple gameplay styles. Problems developed after Naka resigned to form his own company, Prope, and the team split to work on the Wii game Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007). As a result, Sonic the Hedgehog was rushed for release in time for the December holiday season. It was released for Xbox 360 in November 2006 and for PlayStation 3 the following month. Versions for Wii and Windows were canceled. Downloadable content featuring new single-player modes was released in 2007.
As development progressed, Sonic Team faced serious problems. In March 2006, Naka resigned as head of Sonic Team to form his own company, Prope. Naka has said he resigned because he did not want to continue making Sonic games and instead wished to focus on original properties. With his departure, "the heart and soul of Sonic" was gone, according to former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske. Sonic the Hedgehog was originally intended for release on all major seventh-generation consoles as well as Windows, but Sega was presented with development kits for Nintendo's less powerful Wii console. Sega believed porting the game to Wii would take too long, and so conceived a Sonic game that would use the motion detection function of its controller.
Therefore, the team was split in two: Nakamura led one team to finish Sonic the Hedgehog for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 while producer Yojiro Ogawa led the other to begin work on Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii. The split left an unusually small team to work on Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega pressured the team to finish the game in time for the 2006 holiday shopping season, so with the deadline quickly approaching, Sonic Team rushed the final stages of development, ignoring bug reports from Sega's quality assurance department and control problems. In retrospect, Ogawa noted that the final period proved to be a large challenge for the team. Not only was the Xbox 360 release imminent, but the PlayStation 3 launch was scheduled not long afterwards. This put tremendous pressure on the team to develop for both systems. Producer Takashi Iizuka similarly recalled, "we didn't have any time to polish and we were just churning out content as quick as we could."
Sonic the Hedgehog was announced in a closed-doors presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in May 2005. Later that year, at TGS in September, Naka revealed the game's title and said its release would correspond with the series' 15th anniversary. A demo version of the game was playable at E3 2006. A second demo, featuring a short section of Sonic's gameplay, was released via Xbox Live in September 2006. Sega released several packages of desktop wallpaper featuring characters from the game, and American publisher Prima Games published an official strategy guide, written by Fletcher Black. Sega also made a deal with Microsoft to run advertisements for the game in Windows Live Messenger.
The Xbox 360 version of Sonic the Hedgehog was released in North America on November 14, 2006, followed by a European release on November 24. Both versions were released in Japan on December 21. The PlayStation 3 version was released in North America on January 30, 2007, and in Europe on March 23. The game is often referred to by critics and fans with colloquial terms that reference its year of release, such as Sonic 2006 or Sonic '06.
Sonic the Hedgehog was well-received during prerelease showings. Reception to prior games Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog had been mixed; after a number of well-received showings and demos, some felt Sonic the Hedgehog could be a return to the series' roots. GameSpot said the game "showed a considerable amount of promise" after playing a demo at E3 2006, and GameSpy praised its graphics and environments. In 2008 GamesRadar said that it had looked "amazing" before its release.
GameTrailers and GamesRadar considered Sonic the Hedgehog one of the most disappointing games of 2006. GamesTM singled out the game when it ranked the Sonic franchise at the top of their list of "Video Game Franchises That Lost Their Way". The A.V. Club, Kotaku, Game Informer, and USgamer called the game the worst in the Sonic series, and the staff of GamesRadar named it among the worst video games of all time. The game remains popular for "Let's Play" walkthroughs, with players showing off its glitches. In 2019, a video gained popularity in which a group of voice actors dub over the game's cutscenes in a single take, creating a nonsensical, improvisational storyline about video game culture. The official Sonic Twitter account also mocks the game. The failure of Sonic the Hedgehog led to the direction of the series being rethought. The next main Sonic game, 2008's Unleashed, ignored the gritty and realistic tone of its predecessor. With Unleashed's sequel Sonic Colors, The A.V. Club wrote that "the series rediscovered its strength for whimsical tales with light tones."
Sonic the Hedgehog introduced Silver the Hedgehog, Princess Elise, Mephiles, and Iblis to the franchise; most have made few appearances since. Silver is a playable character in Sonic Rivals (2006) and its sequel, in Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (2007), and in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and its sequels, and is a minor character in the Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors (2010) and Sonic Forces (2017). He also appeared in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series published by Archie Comics. The main theme of Sonic the Hedgehog and the theme of Sonic, "His World", was sampled in Drake's 2017 song "KMT".
Originally, the Xbox 360 was equipped with only 256 MB of RAM, but Epic, the Gears of War developer, demonstrated to Microsoft that the console should have 512 MB of RAM to deliver much better performance. When asked about this, Epic Games Executive Vice President Mark Rein said in 2006: "So the day they made the decision, we were apparently the first developer they called; we were at Game Developers Conference, was it two years ago, and then I got a call from the chief financial officer of MGS and he said 'I just want you to know you cost me a billion dollars' and I said, 'we did a favour for a billion gamers'."
The Xbox 360 launched with 14 games in North America and 13 in Europe. The console's best-selling game for 2005, Call of Duty 2, sold over a million copies. Five other games sold over a million copies in the console's first year on the market: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dead or Alive 4, Saints Row, and Gears of War. Gears of War would become the best-selling game on the console with 3 million copies in 2006, before being surpassed in 2007 by Halo 3 with over 8 million copies.
Six games were initially available in Japan, while eagerly anticipated games such as Dead or Alive 4 and Enchanted Arms were released in the weeks following the console's launch. Games targeted specifically for the region, such as Chromehounds, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Phantasy Star Universe, were also released in the console's first year. Microsoft also had the support of Japanese developer Mistwalker, founded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Mistwalker's first game, Blue Dragon, was released in 2006 and had a limited-edition bundle which sold out quickly with over 10,000 pre-orders. Blue Dragon is one of three Xbox 360 games to surpass 200,000 units in Japan, along with Tales of Vesperia and Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Mistwalker's second game, Lost Odyssey also sold over 100,000 copies.
On November 6, 2006, Microsoft announced the Xbox Video Marketplace, an exclusive video store accessible through the console. Launched in the United States on November 22, 2006, the first anniversary of the Xbox 360's launch, the service allows users in the United States to download high-definition and standard-definition television shows and movies onto an Xbox 360 console for viewing. With the exception of short clips, content is not currently[when?] available for streaming, and must be downloaded. Movies are also available for rental. They expire in 14 days after download or at the end of the first 24 hours after the movie has begun playing, whichever comes first. Television episodes can be purchased to own, and are transferable to an unlimited number of consoles. Downloaded files use 5.1 surround audio and are encoded using VC-1 for video at 720p, with a bitrate of 6.8 Mbit/s. Television content is offered from MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Turner Broadcasting, and CBS; and movie content is Warner Bros., Paramount, and Disney, along with other publishers. 2b1af7f3a8