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Sonic Unleashed (Wii) Review

Review for Sonic Unleashed on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Poor old Sonic's not really had much of a chance to lick his wounds after his dreadful first HD outing, what with being Rushed into DS sequels and having to collect up Secret Rings. It's rather worrying, then, that another game has arrived so soon; is this another quick and futile attempt by Sonic Team to revitalise the series, or have they stumbled upon the right formula for the future?

It all kicks off, rather excitingly, with a space-based showdown between Sonic and Robotnik (yes, yes, we know he's called 'Eggman' now, but we're flying the flag for tradition here) in which, shock horror, the blue wonder's nemesis actually convincingly gets the upper hand for once. He steals the power from the Chaos Emeralds, splits the planet into pieces, awakens a big monster and fills Sonic with a dark force that transforms him into a werehog before sending our favourite little blue chap headlong to Earth/Mobius/wherever Sonic lives now below. Things are not looking good…until Sonic squashes a little red flying chihuahua and teams up with him to save the world yet again.

What's the reason behind the werehog, then? Officially, it's to lengthen the game, as creating a game with 'proper Sonic' levels alone would have been tiny due to the amount of time, effort and money needed to create them. We can't help but think, however, that another reason is that Sonic Team have become set in their ways of offering more gameplay styles than are strictly necessary. They've been a bit sneaky this time, too, by saying there are no new characters (Chip the flying chihuahua-thing excluded) - technically true, but werehog Sonic is so drastically different to normal Sonic that it might as well be another addition to the ever-growing roster of friends. Still, only core characters such as Tails, Amy and Robotnik are with Sonic this time aside the throwaway humans, so we can't whine too much.

Screenshot for Sonic Unleashed on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Sonic Unleashed is basically two games spliced together: daytime, normal, speedy levels as the Sonic we love, and night-based beat 'em up levels as a mysteriously stretchy armed werehog Sonic, who actually isn't as bad as he sounds (though we still think it would've made more sense to put Knuckles in the beat 'em up sections and whack a big 'Sonic & Knuckles 2' sticker on it). In the Wii version, Dimps, take the helm for the day stages - Sonic Team still deal with the night - and so it plays a bit like a big screen version of the Sonic Rush games, only not as frantic and without as many death pits. Good. The action smoothly switches between 2D and 3D on a fairly regular basis, there are no significant camera issues and, generally, it's the probably the best 3D that Sonic's been involved in, with the exception of the HD versions of this very game which, quite frankly, are superior to the Wii version. Dimps have really gone to town with random set pieces and sections of pure speed that glides of your control (but only briefly) too.

With Wii's obvious lack of power in comparison to PS3 and 360, all the levels aside boss levels have been entirely reworked. This works in its favour on some stages, particularly werehog ones, but on others they just seem bare compared to their HD counterparts, which is a crying shame when you see levels like Cool Edge Zone day, which are completely different between both versions but are both excellent in their own ways. We were thankful when we didn't have to sit through the stupidly long HD Eggmanland again, which has been chopped into nice pieces for the Wii edition. The Wii version is much more linear than HD versions and leads to you sitting down playing the same day time level three or four times in a row with different objectives - similar to the optional missions in the HD versions and in Sonic and the Secret Rings, but made mandatory. They don't take too long so it isn't a major deal, but it would've been nice to have seen extra, all-new acts rather than 'collect 270 rings' challenges. Dimps have also chucked in a couple of nice touches that you don't see elsewhere; Mega Drive-stylee spikes and, more significantly, when you go extra fast by boosting just before you hit a speed ramp Sonic curls into a ball and actually does a spin dash. We nearly wept with joy, but then just opted for a big grin instead.

Screenshot for Sonic Unleashed on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The day time levels are great then. Don't expect to see much of them, though. In fact, the Wii version's title should probably be Sonic Leashed, as that's would be a more accurate reflection of normal Sonic's status throughout the majority of the game. For every proper day Sonic stage, there are at least two night time werehog stages. Right at the start you get to literally play a few tutorials and a level as normal Sonic and then have to play six or seven night stages before you even catch a glimpse of the sunshine again. It's very poorly paced and well over half the game is spent as Sonic doing a wolf impersonation, probably even edging towards the 70% mark. For reference, you spend half, or just under half, the game as a werehog in the HD versions. Why, then, is the lion's share of Wii Unleashed set at night? Oh, we get it; motion controls.

See, in the day, the only motion necessary is a quick thrust for boosting and the same for homing attacks. At night, though, you've got big claws to smack things with, so obviously it's essential to use motion controls for every single attack. This acts as a warning to other Wii games; don't use motion for standard attacks, because the combat will degenerate into a boring waggle-fest. In addition, you also have to swing the remote around to propel Sonic across poles and even have to do a climbing motion to clamber up posts by moving the nunchuk and remote alternately. Thankfully there are options to use Gamecube or Classic controllers. Use these options, because you'll have a lot more fun with the game when you do.

Screenshot for Sonic Unleashed on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Despite our complaints about the night, it really isn't too bad. Yes, there's way too much of it, but the design of the levels is far, far better than it is in the HD versions and they're manageable sizes, too, with each only being a maximum of around ten minutes; the HD versions can clock in at up to four times that on a first play, which is frankly ridiculous. The stages really are totally new and separate from the HD versions; there aren't as many needless deaths in the Wii version, and it's just more fun and inventive, with a lesser emphasis on continually hitting things. In some ways the Wii night stages are more like the old Mega Drive Sonics than the actual Sonic stages. Another plus that the Wii edition has over HD is the linear progress mentioned earlier; in the latter version you have to go exploring around looking for medals to open up new levels, but not so in the Wii version. Levels open automatically for you and medals are just used to open up optional doors, so no need for ridiculous treasure hunts just to play the game that you bought in this one. Ratios of day to night stages and optional motion controls aside, we actually don't have major problems with either of the styles of gameplay, and that is an absolutely massive compliment to the game, both Wii and HD, with what's come from Sonic on home consoles the last few years (Secret Rings excluded).

We do have one glaring problem with the Wii version above all else, though, and it's this that pushes along to our conclusion below. Levels are cut, including practically two entire continents (Mazuri and Empire City) and Tails' plane levels. We can see no real reason why this has been done, but it leaves a couple of gaping holes which were filled with delicious gameplay on other formats. Most insulting is Tails' introduction towards the start, where he is threatened by an absurdly-sized monster in a cut scene. The movie ends, you're revved up for battle and then…another cut scene comes in showing were-Sonic talking to Tails having just dispatched the monster. We might, might, excuse it if the reason was Wii couldn't do the battle justice, but the fact is it's a fairly standard battle with an over-sized foe rather than a proper boss, plus all the other bosses are in tact. Big red cross for that one, Sonic Team.

Screenshot for Sonic Unleashed on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Neither of the modes really stands out (unlike in the HD versions, where day is infinitely better) and are both solid. Just switch to Classic controller before you play to avoid unnecessary motion controls. Also, don't expect the braindead enemies to do anything other than act as springboards; the levels themselves are your challenge.

Graphics

The night levels are a bit bland, but the day time is great looking if a bit fuzzy around the edges.

Sound

The music is brilliant, with only one vocal track in sight. Listen to Rooftop Run and Cool Edge music and tell us otherwise. Shame that you can't switch off the voices or switch to the Japanese language track, but the music is worth the score.

Value

There's a decent amount of game in there, and you're not struggling trying to find medals in this version either, leading to a much less frustrating game on the difficulty front. If you're expecting pure Sonic, though, you'll be disappointed by the amount of werehog.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

Sonic Unleashed proves that Sonic Team are back on track with Sonic in some respects, but there's still a way to go before they get it right - trimming the unnecessary night-style stages away, or evening the mix of gameplay, would be a great start. It's not as good as the HD versions due to the focus being on the werehog, though, rather than being evenly split, and the cut out levels and sections add insult to injury. If possible, buy it for PS3/360 instead, which, if we were to review games from those formats, would get another couple of points overall.

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29.01.2009

8

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Developer

Sonic Team

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (26 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Fab review Mr Mike, good stuff. Agree pretty much with all points made


IMO the daytime stages on Wii are tighter/better designed, but the Wii version overall has been gimped compared to the 360/PS3 game - 2 levels omitted, and more warehog levels.

Would definitely like to see a better balance - and an improved night time section. The night level\'s platforming elements I found were very good, it\'s just the enemies and restricted areas that pissed me off.

There definitely needs to be 3 proper daytime acts, instead of 1 good one and missions you\'d probably never replay.

Sonic Team could have made this their best 3D release yet. would have preferred 3 proper stages per region, and the platforming/slower sections left for challenges/optional bonus content.

Ideally:

- 3 true Sonic levels, 3/4 characters to choose from.
- Time attack for each of the levels (possible GP feature, doing the whole act in one sitting)
- 7 to 8 different worlds
- Varied bosses (this whole chase Robotknik/Eggman business is so boring now)
- Race mode (cmon, this could have been piss to implement)

( Edited 29.01.2009 13:20 by jb )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

i wouldnt really agree with this review this game is atleast a 8 for me !
and i prefer it with motion controls instead of classic, i mean why do u people hate the motion controls ? it adds fun to the game !

"Sony always wins baby.. Sony always wins.." - Chad Warden on pstripple
Brawl FC : 2191 - 6919 - 2772

For the climbing/swinging sections I could see why you think that, but I couldn't disagree more for the combat. Every enemy, sans bosses, could be taken down with nothing more than a few flicks of your wrists. Motion combat works better in games such as No More Heroes, where it's not used for every attack but just for special moves. If they'd used a similar approach here it would've worked a lot better in my opinion.

Agree with you completely J. I do think it's Sonic Team's best outing in 3D when you play the 360 version, and it's a real shame that the Wii version got trimmed down. Secret Rings is still the king on Wii.

Haven't played this yet but I hope to get it soon..

Nice review though, seems the Warehog levels have been a general complaint.


.:Zelda Adventures:.
u guys are DNA.

Both of the versions are good but the 360 version is better, because of the fact that there are more levels and you have to get the power ups to do special moves. The Wii version is good for controls when playing as the warehog. The music is awsome.



SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999

Wii one is way to easy but tis still good. The 360 version is awesome though, alot more challenging which is what I like Smilie

Nintendo Network ID: LKR000               PSN: LKR000     
3DS: 1246-8696-120                              GT: LKR101

I've been playing it for a while and it seems to me as a 7-8 type of game and not a 6.

Graphics are very good (specially compared to most 3rd party games) and the game is pretty fun and fast (Werehog aside).

It's a good game. I personally could have done without the incredible number of Werehog stages in the Wii version, but the day stages should effectively silence the various winers out there that complain about the old Sonic gameplay being gone. It's back. and it's exactly what you asked for, but you have to finish the werehog levels first.

(insert evil laugh here at earliest convenience)

Sonic boldly goes where no one has gone before.

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