The 2006 reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog was supposed to be a turning point for the blue blur. It was the character's first outing on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware, and Sega clearly wanted to make an impact. The game, simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog (commonly referred to as Sonic 06), was a visual leap forward for the franchise and offered three playable characters, including telekinetic newcomer Silver, with separate but interwoven story lines.
But the game was a massive flop. Critics slammed the ambitious but poorly written story, which combined time travel, all-powerful gods and a post-apocalyptic future filled with nothing but fire and abandoned skyscrapers. They hated the finicky controls, too, as well as the uncooperative camera system, agonizingly long load times and glitch-riddled levels. Patient players were rewarded with a passable-at-best blend of platforming and action as well as open-world zones that were barren and seemingly half finished.
Oh, and it was also the game that had a universally hated kiss scene between Sonic and a human princess.
Many consider Sonic 06 to be the lowest point in the franchise. The PS3 version has a 43-percent rating on the reviews aggregation site Metacritic, which is lower than Sonic Forces, Sonic & the Black Knight and Shadow the Hedgehog -- the hugely divisive game where Sega's black-and-red antihero skated around with sub-machine guns and said "damn" a lot. Most Sonic fans want to forget the game was ever released. But not Ian Moris, a developer known online by his handle ChaosX. Instead of condemning and ridiculing the title, he's one of a select few trying to fix it.
Sonic 06 has never been officially ported or released on PC. That means the only way to play the game is with a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Xbox One via backwards compatibility. With 'P-06,' Moris wants to remake and rebuild the unloved platformer inside Unity, a popular engine that supports a variety of platforms, including PC. Along the way, the developer wants to improve the game's visuals, fix its worst bugs and tweak some of the gameplay fundamentals that made it so difficult and unenjoyable to play at launch.
To date, Moris has released two demos that are free to download. The most recent version, released last month, offers five stages or "acts" from Sonic's story line. These include Wave Ocean, an early level that lets you briefly play as Tails; Dusty Desert, a slower-paced zone where Sonic carries Princess Elise; Flame Core, a notoriously dark area with a playable Knuckles section and Kingdom Valley, which momentarily swaps Sonic for the psychic Silver. Some acts also include Super-Speed Stages -- a final section that propels the blue blur forward automatically at a frighteningly fast pace.
The most obvious change is the load times. The original Sonic 06 made players wait anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds to access the next portion of the game. P-06, meanwhile, keeps these interstitials to three seconds or less. If you own a half-decent gaming PC, they'll often appear and vanish before you have a chance to read the tips or mission summary on-screen.
Many characters have entirely new moves.
The levels are more vibrant and detailed than the original game, too. The tropical water in Wave Ocean, for instance, is a brighter blue and has more distinct, tightly packed waves lapping against the sandy shores. The hedgehogs are livelier -- Silver's head quills sway and glow brighter as he's powering up a psychic attack -- and move faster than they did in the official release. Sonic has more momentum, and Silver, who used to be painfully slow, has a faster glide move to quickly navigate each level.
Many of the characters also have entirely new moves. During a Super-Speed Stage, for instance, Sonic can now perform a quick bounce and brake to avoid catastrophe. Silver has been given a long-range Psychic Shot, while Tails and Knuckles can perform attacks inspired by their Sonic Adventure move-sets.