Sonic Unleashed by Sega brings back the world-famous speedster hedgehog in a game that is really two games in one. Sonic, thanks to the dastardly deeds of Eggman, has a daytime aspect and a nighttime were-hedgehog aspect. Depending on the light, Sonic looks different, has different skills, and goes through different tasks. The result is a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde game that, if it pleases you on both levels, will feel like you got two for the price of one.
For hardcore Sonic speed demons, however, if can leave you frustrated that you can’t get at and play only the fast-action races when you want. Locked levels mean that you have to play through in the prescribed order and that means beating up bad guys and solving sticky button timing moves playing the were-hedgehog levels to get to the pure racing fun of the original Sonic levels.
The story behind the Sonic and game tasks is that Eggman breaks open the planet to release Dark Gaia from the center of the earth in a mad scheme to dominate the globe. He neutralizes the Chaos Emeralds and shoots Sonic down onto the disintegrating planet.
Sonic's task is to find and visit the planetary shrines where he has both sun and moon gates with several challenges in a variety of environments. He then faces a boss battle after which one of the emeralds is restored and one of the planet’s broken parts moves back into its proper place. His companion is a tiny winged creature named Chip who has lost his memory but who seems to know all the secrets of the place and of Sonic’s special moves as a were-hedgehog. Sonic’s other helpers include Professor Pickle, Tails and Amy Rose.
The racing portions are my favorites, hands down. I don’t normally like racing, but these deliver a joyous rush as you kick through, loop around and fly over the course. It’s pretty easy to get a passing grade, but you see other options for higher scores and wilder detours as you shoot past that make you want to go back again and again. The lowest score is a “C” and the highest is an “S.” An “A” score will only net you two out ot the possible 3 medallions. You need to collect medallions for access to the side-doors in the shrines.
The elements that are particular to Wii play involve using the remote in only a few ways. Superspeed is reached by giving the remote a shake. And hits in the fights are also done with a shake of the remote. Other actions like swinging from one bar to the next or climbing a pole also involve waving the remote and nunchuck in more active gestures than button pushing. However, this is not a game designed as native to the Wii, and so expect a lot of button pushing as well.
All in all, this game is a blast, though the daytime elements get a higher score than the night. I enjoy it most when the game gates lead alternately to day and then night so that your series of challenges changes. Sonic the speedster and then Sonic the puzzle solving fighter could be two games all to themselves. Instead, they’re neatly packed together in one game with an ongoing story and its own curiosity: who exactly is Chip and why is he so important? You’ll have to buy the game and play it through to find out.
Sonic Unleashed Home Page
published by Sega
Rated E10+ with animated blood and fantasy violence