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Microsoft Xbox 360 @ Sega / Shin Force
Sonic the Hedgehog (working title) Preview
Geoffrey Duke
Sonic Team
1x DVD
Import / Domestic
TBA, 2006 (Japan) 
TBA, 2006 (USA) 
3rd Person
     > Fans of the Sonic franchise have been waiting for a new Sonic game starring Sonic himself for at least the majority of the game this time, since the best-selling Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast gave them their first taste of how exhilarating it is to rush through colorful 3D locales at breakneck speeds while smashing laser-wielding robots to pieces. The new next generation Sonic game is said to be built around stages providing the same sensation of speed, marking the franchise's long awaited return to its roots in all its original colors. Instead of having a game bogged down by separate characters going off on mind-numbing scavenger hunts and unoriginal shooting missions that send your mind wandering off miles away to escape the tedium, however loveable they may be, like we saw in Sonic Adventure 2, Yuji Naka has decided that perhaps itís best for Sonic to have some "alone time" again. The Sonic and Shadow stages in SA2 were by far the most enjoyable simply because speeding through levels at a lightening pace to then run rings around an end-of-stage boss (and at the end of Sonic's first stage, a large flying armoured one armed with heat seeking missiles for you to dodge) couldn't have been more fun. Now why did those stages only comprise 1/3 of the entire game? More of the same gameplay would be nice.

     > On a more serious note, do we really want a completely mainstream Sega? I shudder at the mere thought of it. Sega cloning games born from the latest trends is not the answer to its problems. Sega should in fact strive to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual tastes especially now that only the richest of publishers can afford the luxury of being creative. With that in mind,  Shadow The Hedgehog for the current gen's three leading consoles is Sega's latest attempt at bridging that widening gap by giving us a game with a darker look and feel to it containing the kind of senseless shooting mayhem many people crave so hungrily starring a morally ambiguous character many Sonic fans felt deserved his own game (the anti-hero hedgehog). It's good to see Sega aiming to branch out with this popular intellectual property, but at the same time, not abandon Sonic's roots (Sonic's main appeal has always been rooted in speed). Both Shadow The Hedgehog and Sonic 360 should give everyone what they want. After Sonic Heroes sold far in excess of a million copies world-wide on almost nothing but brand recognition alone, only a fool would doubt Sonic's popularity. The franchise's total sales rivals that of Final Fantasy and Myst, which is no small feat.

First Impression
     > Sonicís true colors shine through once again. Could this game mark Sega's comeback from relative obscurity? I certainly hope so; it should turn out to be something we can all enjoy. Sega has only just started to turn things around, really. Sega reps at E3 drew everyone's attention to the fact that this next generation Sonic title they were seeing was running in real-time. If these are indeed in-engine graphics (and I have no reason to doubt that they are considering the power of the next gen consoles) then the new Sonic game for the two major next generation platforms (PS3 and Xbox 360) is shaping up to be something quite special indeed. Perhaps Sega taking a multi-platform approach is a sign of things to come too. I'm sure Sonic fans cannot wait for their latest speed fix.
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