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Shadow the Hedgehog – GameCube

Shadow the Hedgehog – GameCube

shadowPlatform: Nintendo GameCube

Developer: Sonic Team

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): November 15, 2005

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

And we thought Sonic Adventure had a ton of edge and huge balls. Shadow the Hedgehog introduces a new breed of Sonic games loaded with more action than ever before. For decades you’ve been playing on the good side with the good guys, always fighting evil and ridding the world of tyranny. But today is the day you get to be somebody else. Today is the day your balls drop as you get a chance to really put some hair on your chest with Shadow in his debut as the main character of a game. Shadow the Hedgehog has style, pizzazz, ferocity, and plenty of action. Are you going to do the right thing and use your power for good? Or are you finally ready to use it for evil? The choice is yours.

Shadow the Hedgehog made his first appearance in Sonic Adventure 2 as Sonic’s rival and eventual friend(ish). While entirely equal to Sonic in terms of sheer speed, Shadow possesses a few of his own little unique tricks. Shadow has a storied past spanning all the way back to the evil Dr. Robotnik’s grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, who is actually Shadow’s creator. While Shadow shouldn’t be thought of as evil or a “bad guy,” it should be known that he is often misled by his troubled past that Dr. Robotnik continuously exploits. Through an abundant willingness to “shoot now, ask later,” Shadow can often be mistaken as entirely evil considering the color of his fur and his selfish and rebellious attitude. In fact, during development of Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow was originally called “Terios,” which translates to “reflection of.” Originally intended for just one game (Sonic Adventure 2), Shadow was an instant hit with fans, thus leading to his rise in popularity among fans which led to his inclusion in the majority of Sonic games since 2001. And Shadow the Hedgehog is his chance to finally shine!

shadow 1

Suffering from amnesia, Shadow begins to ponder his life and why everyone calls him Shadow. In fact, his name is one of only two things he can remember, the other being “that gruesome image.” The image he is referring to, of course, involves a young girl named Maria getting gunned down by a group of uniformed agents. Who is this Maria and why does that name mean something to him? Shadow’s thought is broken when he sees a cluster of dark red clouds swooping in over the city. The clouds open and begin dropping monsters which are part of the Black Arms group. The leader of the Black Arms, Black Doom, appears and speaks to Shadow. Black Doom tells Shadow to recover the 7 Chaos Emeralds and he will tell him about his past. Shadow doesn’t want to help but knows he must in order to uncover his dark past…

Shadow the Hedgehog introduces an entirely new adventure in the Sonic universe and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I wasn’t fortunate enough to play this game in 2005, but I did get to experience playing as Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast. Yuji Naka, Sonic’s creator, noted, “In both Sonic Adventures there had already been shooting sequences, but you did not get to move fast. This time, we wanted to go even further and mix shooting and speed.” Great concept Naka, because Sonic is supposed to be all about speed.

Many of Shadow's friends lend a hand in helping him out.

Many of Shadow’s friends lend a hand in helping him out.

In Shadow the Hedgehog, you have the option to choose to do good or do evil with Shadow, and your actions result in a variety of ways in which the game can play out. In fact, there are an astounding 326 ways in which the game can play out! Technically you only have to go through six levels to get from start to finish, but there are 23 total levels which can be accessed by playing through the game as Dark Shadow, Hero Shadow, or Normal Shadow. The ability for the player to choose their destiny was an incredible idea and a very unique one for Sonic. Sure, Sonic CD featured a similar aspect in which players could beat a level in the good past, good present, good future, bad future, etc depending on their actions, but it wasn’t entirely up to the player. In Shadow the Hedgehog, however, the choice is 100% yours to make.

To access Shadow’s Mind System, you must either perform in favor of the Black Arms creatures or perform in favor of the GUN agents (humans). For example, if you kill a GUN agent, your Dark Gauge (meter) will build up, and once full, you will awaken Dark Shadow for a short period of time. During this time, Shadow will have invincibility, unlimited ammunition, and Chaos Blast. If you awaken Hero Shadow, Shadow will have invincibility, unlimited ammo, and Chaos Control. Choosing which particular Mind System to access does not affect which mission you must complete. That choice is still yours.

shadow 5

 

As you can see, Shadow the Hedgehog features some wildly unique gaming elements. It’s a nice change of pace for a Sonic game and I thoroughly enjoyed the awesome story. The best part about the story is the fact that YOU get to write whichever story you want! They give you a leading off point, but you write the ending. Furthermore, Shadow the Hedgehog‘s story and overall tone is considerably dark and heavy which makes great for older audiences. It’s especially cool detail in which the game uses cinematic sequences between levels that are catered directly to the path you have chosen. It’s very apparent that Sonic Team was adamant about not only creating a solid action/platforming game, but something you could really sink your teeth into. And Shadow the Hedgehog is definitely deep enough for that.

The graphics, music, and sound effects are all top notch in Shadow the Hedgehog, which has been standard throughout his entire run. Other than the “choose-your-own-adventure” story mode, the most impressive aspect in Shadow the Hedgehog is the graphics. This game is no-holds-barred action with extreme speed sequences, and it looks great. The enemies are decently animated but have a bit of a bland look. The environments, however, are done up really well with great shading and no visible polygons (when moving fairly fast, that is). The environment is the coolest thing about this game as we no longer have to deal with the pansy-esque bright and happy stages that Sonic is famous for. Now we’re fighting bad guys (and maybe good guys?) in prisons, on dark streets, and more. But unfortunately, that’s about as far as I can take Shadow the Hedgehog in a positive direction.

shadow 3

Shadow the Hedgehog suffers some serious blows that make the game a tough sell, especially considering what was intended to be its biggest appeal: replay value. With various paths at the discretion of the player, the replay value should be extremely high, right? But the negative aspects of the game bring most players to a halt long before they even beat it. And if they do beat it, it’s tough to imagine having to do much of it again. I find the game to be pretty damn fun because it’s a new experience. The edginess of Shadow the Hedgehog paired with its dark and gritty overtones make for an excellent concept, but fundamental mechanics seem to have been an afterthought.

shadow 6The controls are a bit clunky, namely Shadow’s homing attack which can often send him plummeting to his death or make him attack the wrong guy. The game also places heavy emphasis on using guns but did very little to fine-tune the feature. When Shadow is wielding a gun, there is a very weak and inconsistent lock-on aim feature as well as an entire lack of a manual aim feature. Essentially, it’s easier to attack using a spin-dash, homing attack, or jump dash than it is to use ANY of the various guns. Furthermore, Sonic Team’s desire to fuse shooting sequences with speed falls flat on its face because of the complicated way in which Shadow shoots.

Level designs are okay, at best, but feel wildly uninspired and sort of boring. They are mostly linear and loaded with way too many obstacles and enemies that impede Shadow’s speed. I do like some of the loop-de-loops and some of the rail-riding sequences, but there really aren’t enough of them. Sonic Team wanted to create a different experience, and they did a great job at that, but it really doesn’t feel ENOUGH like a Sonic game. They easily could have given more consideration to the level design to give it a Sonic feel with Shadow’s dark and often evil attitude.

Overall, Shadow the Hedgehog is neither bad nor great, but it is a decent game. There are an insane amount of paths and directions one can take to get to the end of the game. If you can get past the uninspired level design, shoddy control mechanics, and shitty gun controls, then you might be able to take full advantage of the various choices you can make if you play the game again and again. And if that’s you, then Shadow the Hedgehog has a high replay value. But for the majority of us who prefer favorable game conditions, you’ll likely only play through this game once.

Sonic Team is becoming famous for pushing conventions (and sometimes conventional wisdom), but there is nothing special about creating the same game over and over with a slightly different shade of color, and they seem to have a firm grasp of that concept. Just look at Sonic Riders, Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic Unleashed, and Shadow the Hedgehog. Very different from the Sonic you remember, right? Shadow the Hedgehog is definitely a new experience for Sonic lovers, and is one that gives players a chance to stretch past their comfort zone and potentially take a ride on the highway to hell. Shadow is a great character but he doesn’t perform too well in his first and only leading role in a game. Maybe he’ll get another chance at redemption one day, but it has been a long time since Sonic Team created a new sequel. Shadow the Hedgehog had a lot of potential, and does have some fine moments, but leaves much to be desired.

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry


Nerdberry here. It’s about time I updated this badboy (been a loooong time). I’m currently loving time on my Xbox 360, as I destroy aliens left and right through the Gears of War games (man these games are good).

But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my love for retro-gaming! My wife and I just bought a house (December, 2015) and we have a baby due ANY DAY NOW (my mini-nerdette-berry is 1 day late as of December 10th), so I haven’t fully unpacked the hundreds of cartridges that I own.

BACONEER ENGINEER EATIN’ STEER… AND PORK.

 
 

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