Sonic Unleashed (ソニックワールドアドベンチャー Sonikku Wārudo Adobenchā?, lit. "Sonic World Adventure"), is a game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series developed by Sonic Team and Dimps, and published by Sega for the Wii and PlayStation 2. It is a port of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Like the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, Sonic Unleashed follows Sonic the Hedgehog as he attempts to restore the world to normal after his nemesis, Dr. Eggman, has split the continents into pieces with the power of the Chaos Emeralds. It also deals with his struggles with his new beast form generated by Dark Gaia's energies, Sonic the Werehog.
At the beginning of the story, Sonic the Hedgehog is confronting his nemesis, Dr. Eggman, aboard his flagship. Eggman then activated the ships defense systems, activating the cannons and bringing forth a horde of Egg Fighters. After seeing the obstacles, Sonic boosted forward and began dodging the batteries fired from the cannons. Bounding across the flagship, Eggman brought forth his Mech and unleashed a flurry of machine gun fire. After running across the ceiling while dodging missiles, Sonic ran through the Flagship's hallway. Eggman fired his Mech's grappling hook-like arm and grabbed Sonic. After being pulled to Eggman in the Mech's grasp, Sonic summoned the Chaos Emeralds from within himself and became Super Sonic in order to stop him, destroying Eggman's mech, Eggman fled in his Egg Mobile and fled from his Flagship. After chasing Eggman through space and destroying half of his fleet, they finally arrived at Eggman's Research Facility and knocking Eggman himself to the ground. As a trap, Eggman pretends to plead for mercy. When Sonic is close enough, he activates the Chaos Energy Cannon, which traps Sonic in the center and begins drawing the Chaos energy out of Sonic and the Emeralds in a fashion that is clearly extremely painful for him.
After the weapon is charged, Eggman fires a laser at the earth to wake a monster known as Dark Gaia, splitting the planet. The dark energy of the Emeralds is brought out by the ray, transforming Sonic into a monstrous version of himself and rendering the Chaos Emeralds gray and powerless. Eggman then opens an airlock which sucks Sonic and the drained Emeralds out into space and down to earth. While Sonic is saved from a fatal landing due to an unknown energy source, he still ends up taking a heavy fall. After pulling himself out of the dirt, Sonic encounters a winged imp-like creature. Sonic then asks the creature what his name was and the creature couldn't remember his own name or history (which Sonic thinks he landed on him, causing the memory loss). Sonic agrees to help the creature restore his memory during their journey.
After exploring the city of Apotos, Sonic names the creature Chip and the two run into Tails at night. Tails immediately recognizes Sonic even though he is in his Werehog form and reveals that Professor Pickle of Spagonia University may be able to help them on their adventure. Once they reach Spagonia, they discover Dr. Eggman has kidnapped Professor Pickle for his knowledge on Dark Gaia. After traveling to Mazuri and freeing him, Professor Pickle explains the nature of Dark Gaia and reveals that restoring power to the Chaos Emeralds via the Gaia Temples would help the planet return to normal. Sonic then sets out to the seven Gaia Temples to restore the Emeralds and reassemble the planet. In Spagonia, Sonic and Chip run into Amy at night, who doesn't recognize Sonic in his Werehog form. He later saves Amy from Dark Gaia's influence and she, upon learning her savior's identity, decides to help Sonic and Professor Pickle. All the while, Dr. Eggman makes plans to reassemble Dark Gaia and finish Eggmanland.
During the restoration of the sixth Chaos Emerald and continent, it's revealed that Chip is in fact Light Gaia, the opposite of Dark Gaia, and he lost his memories because, like Dark Gaia, he was prematurely awakened by Eggman's laser when Eggman started the Time of Awakening, where Chip and Dark Gaia was meant to awaken, too early; likewise, Dark Gaia has not yet been fully reborn due to his premature awakening, and Sonic must stop Eggman before Dark Gaia's full powers return to its normal state.
At this point, Sonic travels to the location of the last temple, over which Eggman has built Eggmanland using an extraction of Dark Gaia's power. While Sonic is able to restore the last emerald and defeat Eggman's newest mech, Dark Gaia becomes complete, by draining the dark energy that Sonic had that turned him into Werehog, knocking Dr. Eggman out of the way to keep the power for itself. Sonic is too weak to move so Chip uses the Gaia Temples to form a body called Gaia Colossus to combat Dark Gaia with, Sonic recovers on the Gaia Colossus and helps Chip fight Dark Gaia. Chip and Sonic hold off the beast, but Dark Gaia manages to drown the planet in darkness, achieving its fully-matured form in the process. Sonic then transforms into Super Sonic using the seven Chaos Emeralds and takes Perfect Dark Gaia down with the help of Gaia Colossus, but the battle leaves him too drained of his energy to escape. As the final continent moves back into place, Chip flings Sonic back onto the surface while he remains behind. After Sonic wakes up, Chip's necklace and some parting words are found on the ground. Sonic then picks it up and puts on the necklace as a bracelet to remind them of their adventures together. The game ends as Sonic runs off with Tails, who is in the Tornado, to another adventure.
|Sonic the Hedgehog||Sonic is the world's fastest supersonic hedgehog, and values freedom and life by his own rules above everything else. He is kind at heart, but can be short tempered and is quick to throw himself into the middle of trouble without a second thought, remaining steadfast to the end. His personality is a juxtaposition of kindness and ferocity, as on the one hand he does all in his power to snuff out evil, but he also can't look away when somebody else is in trouble.
Sonic hates boredom and being tied down, so much of his time is spent running towards the next danger or adventure.
|Sonic the Werehog||As a side effect of Dr. Eggman's latest foibles, Sonic now undergoes an extreme physical transformation whenever the sun goes down, but his heart remains the same. Almost. Sonic the Werehog is still willing to put his life on the line for his friends without any due consideration, but his dedication to helping his new friend regain his memory is in no small part out of guilt that it was most likely his own fall from space that caused the problem in the first place.
As a Werehog, Sonic is not as fast as his usual self, but he makes up for it with ferocious combat techniques. His powerful arms are able to stretch allowing him to attack enemies from a greater distance, and to reach distant ledges, poles and bars with ease.
|Chip||In a classic scenario of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Chip lost his memory after Sonic's fall from outer space. As he no longer knows who he is or where came from, he decides to join Sonic on his world adventure to try to rediscover his identity.|
|Dr. Eggman (a.k.a. Dr. Robotnik)||An evil scientific genius who boasts an IQ of 300. By skillfully luring Sonic right into a most devious trap, he was able to successfully awaken Dark Gaia. But will he be equally successful in taking over the world?|
Gameplay primarily consists of two modes. The first is the 3D and 2D side-scrolling platform gameplay, rendered with 3D visuals (as found in the Sonic Rush and Sonic Rivals series), with seamless shifts to behind-the-back, third-person stages, all set during daytime. Concepts returning from past games include Sonic's trademark high-speed gameplay, as well as improved lock-on for automatically targeting and hitting enemies. In the 2D gameplay, sliding across the ground also returns, and a new feature, "Drift" allows Sonic to slide around a corner at high speed. Players will also be able to perform a new side-step maneuver known as "Quick Step", allowing Sonic to instantly dodge obstacles to the left or right.
An on-screen Ring Energy meter can be filled by collecting rings, which is used to activate a temporary speed increase known as Sonic Boost, during which time the camera uses a fish-eye effect and motion blur; hitting enemies and obstacles will reduce the meter. Action Chaining allows the player to collect energy more quickly, by collecting rings faster or by stringing together sets of actions, including button input sequences, some of which will be in midair. Repeated action chains will allow the player to perform special moves or access different routes in the level. Shield pick-ups from previous games will make a return, protecting Sonic from various hazards.
The second is 3D beat-em-up style gameplay combined with platforming and puzzles. During these nighttime sections of the game, Sonic transforms to his Werehog form, and gameplay shifts from fast-paced action to a slower, more platform-oriented style of gameplay. The Werehog form grants Sonic a great deal of strength, and gameplay involves smashing enemies and destructible environments, whilst his stretchy arms will allow him to reach high platforms and perform special attacks. The Ring Energy meter changes to two bars, Unleashed and Vitality; the Vitality Bar acts as a health bar and replenishes by collecting rings, whilst the Unleashed Bar activates with a button to increase attack strength, decrease vitality loss from enemy attacks, and enables special moves, and replenishes by defeating enemies and destroying objects. As the player goes through the game and Sonic gains more Experience Points, the player is able to upgrade and gain new abilities for the Werehog.
|Wii Remote & Nunchuck||Classic controller||GameCube controller|
|Control Stick||L Stick||Control Stick||Left stick||Walk/run|
|Hold + Control Stick||Hold + L Stick||Hold + Control Stick||Hold + Left stick||Crawl|
|Quick Jump/Spin Attack|
|Jump > Shake Wii Remote||Jump > /||Jump > //||Jump >||Homing Attack/Air Dash|
|Jump > /||Jump >||Jump >||Jump >||Stomp|
|Shake Wii Remote||Sonic Boost/Air Boost (when Boost Gauge is full)|
|Move +||Move +||Move +||Move +||Slide|
|+ Control Stick left/right||/ + L Stick left/right||/ + Control Stick left/right||/ + Left stick left/right||Quick Step left/right|
|+ Control Stick left/right||+ L Stick left/right||+ Control Stick left/right||+ Left stick left/right||Sonic Drift left/right|
|while on wall||while on wall||while on wall||while on wall||Wall Jump (2.5D sections)|
|Shake Wii Remote near a Ring||near a Ring||/ near a Ring||near a Ring||Lightspeed Dash|
|Wii Remote & Nunchuck||Classic controller||GameCube controller|
|Control Stick left/right||L Stick left/right||Control Stick left/right||Left stick left/right||Walk|
|Control Stick left/right x2||L Stick left/right x2||Control Stick left/right x2||Left stick left/right x2||Dash|
|Shake Nunchuck||Left-handed attack|
|Shake Wii Remote||Right-handed attack|
|Shake Wii Remote + Nunchuck||+||Two-handed attack/Were-Hammer|
|Dash > Swing Wii Remote + Nunchuck||Dash >||Dash > +||Dash >||Were-Claw|
|Two/three left-right combos > Swing Wii Remote + Nunchuck||Two/three left-right combos >||Two/three left-right combos > +||Two/three left-right combos >||Were-Wallop|
|Grab > Swing Wii Remote + Nunchuck||Grab >||Grab > +||Grab >||Beatdown|
|Four hit combo > Swing Wii Remote + Nunchuck||Four hit combo >||Four hit combo > +||Four hit combo >||Earthshaker|
|Unleashed Mode > four hit combo > Swing Wii Remote + Nunchuck||Unleashed Mode > x4||Unleashed Mode > x4||Unleashed Mode > x4||Wild Whirl|
|Unleashed Mode > Four hit combo >||Unleashed Mode > Four hit combo >||Unleashed Mode > Four hit combo >||Unleashed Mode > Four hit combo >||Crescent Moon Strike|
|Four hit combo > Shake Wii Remote/Nunchuck||Four hit combo > /||Four hit combo > /||Four hit combo > /||Claw Charge|
|Hold near an object/ledge/bar||Hold near an object/ledge/bar||Hold near an object/ledge/bar||Hold near an object/ledge/bar||Grab|
|Grab + Shake Wii Remote||Grab +||Grab +||Grab +||Throw object|
|/||+||Activate Unleashed Mode|
- Amy Rose
- Chip (first appearance)
- Gaia Colossus (first appearance)
- Dark Gaia (first appearance)
- Perfect Dark Gaia (only appearance)
- Dr. Eggman
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Professor Pickle (only appearance)
- SA-55 (only appearance)
- Egg Beetle (Mazuri)
- Dark Gaia Phoenix (Chun-nan)
- Egg Devil Ray (Spagonia)
- Dark Moray (Holoska)
- Dark Guardian (Shamar)
- Egg Lancer (Adabat)
- Egg Dragoon (Eggmanland)
- Dark Gaia (Eggmanland)
- Perfect Dark Gaia (Eggmanland)
Eight Stages exist in the game on seven continents, all of which are based on real-world locations. For each Stage, there is a Village that acts as the Adventure Field to access it. Each Stage is placed on a different continent on earth, with these locations including:
- Apotos (Windmill Isle): This is the first Village and Stage in the game, while also serving as the backdrop to most of the tutorials. Its architecture is influenced by Greek Mediterranean architecture, like the real Greek island of Chora, Mykonos, Greece. It also looks similar to the Greek city of Santorini.
- Spagonia (Rooftop Run): Influenced by western European architecture, like the real Italian city of Siena.
- Mazuri: The sandy, desert-like level inspired by Africa. It is only playable for the boss battle against the Egg Beetle and as a hub world.
- Holoska (Cool Edge): An icy location, most likely based on Alaska (due to the name).
- Chun-nan (Dragon Road): Inspired by China's architecture, this Stage includes a run along what looks like the Great Wall of China.
- Shamar (Arid Sands): Designed to resemble a Middle Eastern desert landscape, likely Petra, Jordan.
- Adabat (Jungle Joyride): Inspired by Angkor, Maldivian, and Southeastern Asia themes, this Stage contains many flowing rivers and high cliffs.
- Eggmanland (Eggmanland): Eggman's empire, based on an island near the fifth continent. The stage is combination of an amusement park and a factory.
Progression through the stages is mission-based. First, the player must traverse through the hub worlds to find the continent's Sun and Moon Tablet, then head over to the Sacred Shrine as marked on the map. They must then complete a set of missions in order to proceed. In the daytime, the acts consist of one full act and several shorter missions, while at night, they consist of three (four in Shamar and Adabat; five in Eggmanland) full acts and very few missions. Once the mandatory acts and missions are completed, a half of a Planet Tablet will be obtained. Once both halves are obtained, the player must find the guardian of the Gaia temple to put it back together in order to access the boss.
The development of Sonic Unleashed was announced in April 2008. The game was originally intended to be the third installment of the Sonic Adventure series and subsequently, at an early development stage, had the working title Sonic World Adventure, complete with work-in-progress logo. However, the development team began to introduce enough new innovations to separate it from the Sonic Adventure titles, and so a new title, Sonic Unleashed, was decided upon. It was then later revealed that the game's name in Japan would in fact remain Sonic World Adventure for its release there.
One of the main objections that the producer, Yoshihisa Hashimoto, had alongside the development of the game were ways to avoid having the game "on-rails" like in the past titles, but still maintaining an interactive feel while presenting vigorousness and sense of speed. This intention lead to eclectic actions, implementation of actions such as the Quick Step, Drift, Stomp, and Sonic Boost, the latter carried out from Sonic Rush; and additions of objects that change paths depending on the correctness of the button input, which would become the Real-Time Interactions. The Quick Step idea was drawn from the fact that usually, the player moves in a 3D gameplay using the left stick, but since it is analogue, it limits the user’s move to linear directions. So it is difficult to let them run non-stop within a complicated 3D environment by the left stick alone. Thereby, a system that allows Sonic to move quickly and avoid the obstacles was needed and that was when the technique was brought.
Another concept that the project leader of Sonic Unleashed, Yoshihisa Hashimoto, sought for was to make "more than 2 rings makes little difference in the game play." So, the "Ring Energy" concept was created; in which collecting many Rings is rewarded, marrying the concept of the ring and the speed. As more rings collected, more energy is accumulated and the faster Sonic will be. By consuming Rings, it also allows Sonic to "Sonic Boost," "the fast accelerating feature."
Along the way, the team also came with the Werehog concept, which dates back when he and Sachiko Kawamura wanted to "implement a stimulating element." And based on that, they wanted to transform Sonic into something wild. And added that they worked to give him a "special ability" emerging from the note that "If Sonic uses his legs and runs fast, so it will probably be fun to have Werehog use his hands for a powerful and light action." Thus, coming up with the idea of stretching arms, although they knew that such concept may collide with mixed reception from fans early in development. The storyline of Sonic Unleashed had also a prominent part in the development. And it was early decided that the story should be very simple and easy to understand, but not get rid of it entirely.
In term of models' design, the Art Director Sachiko Kawamura looked at redesigning the Sonic character model, aiming to create the 'ideal' Sonic that fans around the world would recognize. She tried to find a balance between the modern design of Sonic the Hedgehog and his classic appearance in the original titles. One of the many noticeable changes to the Sonic model was the placement of his mouth, which appeared on the side of his face when used in cutscenes to resemble the look of the original model art for the character, rather than the center as had become the norm in previous 3D games, though the "usual sub characters" were excluded from that change. As for the design of the levels, each was based on a real life locale, stemming from the idea of "what if Sonic were in the real world?". Even though its cues were taken from reality, the game still strove to be more cartoony than the previous effort. Additionally, due to Sonic being faster than he was in previous titles, each action stage was conceptualized to be as long as 10 to 20 kilometers (6-12 miles)
The game was developed internally by Sonic Team. It is a multi-platform release on the Wii, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. There are two development "silos" that work on two separate builds of the game: one for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version, and one for the Wii and PlayStation 2 version. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions run on Sega's "Hedgehog Engine," which has been in production for three years and produces a frame rate of 30 frames per second. The Wii and PlayStation 2 versions do not take advantage of the Hedgehog Engine, instead using a modified version of an existing, internal Sega engine.
The Wii version of the game was developed specifically to take advantage of its controller's capabilities, with notable differences in gameplay. The game uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk option; whilst character movement and basic actions are assigned to buttons, certain actions will benefit from physical movements. It supports the GameCube controller, and also the option of using the Classic Controller. The levels, whilst sharing the same styles, themes and motifs as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, are different to those shared between the Wii and the PlayStation 2 versions, and Dimps was only involved with design of the daytime stages for these versions.
Initially, it was stated that Sonic Unleashed was to be intended solely as a single-player experience, and would not offer any multiplayer or online modes. This was then cast into doubt when references to online modes were alluded to around E3 2008, but a later interview reiterated that Unleashed would have no online modes at all.
The title was first brought to public attention when the Sonic Unleashed name was trademarked by Sega on 12 March 2008. Screenshots of cut scenes, artwork, and a video were leaked ten days later; the title was then officially confirmed by Sega on 3 April 2008 with a small selection of screenshots and an updated video.
|Role||English voice actor||Japanese voice actor|
|Sonic the Hedgehog||Jason Griffith||Jun'ichi Kanemaru|
|Sonic the Werehog||Tomokazu Seki|
|Chip||Tony Salerno||Ryōko Shiraishi|
|Amy Rose||Lisa Ortiz||Taeko Kawata|
|Miles "Tails" Prower||Amy Palant||Ryō Hirohashi|
|Professor Pickle||Dan Green||Chō|
|Dr. Eggman||Mike Pollock||Chikao Ōtsuka|
|SA-55||Christopher Collet||Mitsuo Iwata|
|Additional voices||N/A||Tamotsu Nishiwaki|
The soundtrack of Sonic Unleashed was released as the album Planetary Pieces. The game's theme song is "Endless Possibility" sung by Jaret Reddick. The themes of the various continents are developed with the culture of each region in mind. Each stage features instruments that are synonymous to the real-world area that the levels are based on, with the exception of Eggmanland, which uses synthesizers to emulate the industrial theme. The ending theme, "Dear My Friend", is about the brief but touching friendship between Sonic and Chip. The game's orchestral theme, "The World Adventure" plays during the title screen and the credits, and is used as a leitmotif throughout the game. Most of the soundtrack was composed by Tomoya Ohtani, who had previously composed Sonic '06 and Sonic Rush Adventure. The orchestral tracks were performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Game Informer||6.5/10 (Wii)|
|Nintendo Life||6/10 (Wii)|
|Nintendo World Report||4/10 (Wii)|
Sonic Unleashed received mixed reviews. Initial anticipation when the first media for the game was revealed was high, as the demonstration videos hinted at a possible return of Sonic to his traditional platforming roots, especially after the decrease in the series' popularity and critical success after Sonic's transition to three-dimensional gameplay and a number of poorly received titles in the franchise that preceded it, such as the 2006 games, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis. However, critical reception to Sonic Unleashed was mixed, with a Metacritic aggregate score of 66%. GameSpot gave the Wii version a 7.0 out of 10. The added element of motion controls for the Werehog sections, as well as text-based hub worlds and better Werehog level design and camera system, were reasons cited for the higher review scores for the Wii version of the game, though a few review websites, such as 1Up.com, gave the Wii version a lower score than its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts.
Positive elements of Unleashed remarked upon by reviews include the environments, such as the "postcard-perfect architecture" and the graphics, with stages looking "absolutely gorgeous" and being "very pretty and lovingly animated", with one reviewer comparing them to a playable Pixar film. The title being nominated for "Best Graphics Technology for the Wii" by IGN in its 2008 video game awards. The soundtrack to the game was also praised as being an improvement on more recent installments in the series; use of an orchestral score, rather than rock as in more recent games, was appreciated.
An overwhelmingly negative reaction was given by critics to the Werehog concept and corresponding night-time sections, which contributed greatly to the lower-than-expected review scores. Complaints stemmed from the game's change of speed, from high-speed daytime sections to the slower, night-time sections; the "pace-breaking combat levels" were described as "plodding," as well as "lethargic" and "combat-heavy." Further to the change of pace, the new style of gameplay that accompanies the night-time levels was widely criticized, involving "frustrating" platform elements and combat described as not "terribly interesting" and "boring," some reviewers felt that the Werehog as a concept did not mix well with the daylight areas and traditional Sonic gameplay; GamePro's review described them as "dreadfully out-of-place", while IGN stated that they have "nothing to do with Sonic whatsoever," feeling that the Werehog was "being slapped on" to the Sonic experience.
In stark contrast to the Werehog sections, many reviewers found the daytime levels to be enjoyable, especially the "exhilarating" sense of speed they provide; with "the most satisfying gameplay of any Sonic title in years," the game "perfectly captures the feel of classic Sonic." Many also enjoyed the mixture of, and transition between, 2D and 3D sections. Indeed, many reviewers remarked that they would have appreciated the game more had it comprised solely of, and expanded upon, the daytime levels.
Aside from the Werehog levels, further aspects of the game were criticized, contributing to the mixed review scores. The quests that players must undertake in hub-towns were described as "inane" and "tedious," where "figuring out what happens next involves aimlessly wandering through towns and speaking to citizens, only to discover that most of them don't know what we're looking for." The story and overall tone of the game, including the new character Chip, were criticized, some remarking that it was too juvenile, or comparable to that of a Saturday morning cartoon. Most reviewers also felt that the English voice acting for characters was poor. Some fans however feel that this is one of Jason Griffith's best roles as Sonic in a long time.
Despite the divided opinions, Sonic Unleashed has sold over 5 million copies (both versions combined) as of 2012, making it one of the highest selling Sonic games of all time. 
Archie Comics stated that they had plans for an adaption of Sonic Unleashed, and made one a few months later. The adaption was simply titled "Sonic Unleashed" and featured the scene where Super Sonic changes into the Werehog, but with some minor changes, such as the Gaia Manuscripts never being mentioned and Chip being nowhere to be seen. Following the reboot of the series that occurred at the end of the Sonic & Mega Man: Worlds Collide crossover, the new continuity quickly introduced an adaptation of Sonic Unleashed to the main storyline as opposed to the non-canon previous adapt. Again a number of changes took place:
- Sonic's World shattered due to the lingering effects of the Genesis Waves as opposed to having a weapon powered by the Chaos Emeralds fired at it.
- Sonic's transformation into the Werehog is delayed, and caused by exposure to Dark Gaia's energy seeping out of the planet as it begins to break up.
- Chip is found by Knuckles the Echidna and the Chaotix rather than Sonic, and is given his nickname by Charmy Bee.
- The Freedom Fighters and Uncle Chuck, Tikal, and Chaos from Sonic Adventure, and various other characters take part in the adaption who did not appear in the game.
- The storyline of the game is interrupted by a story arc inspired by Sonic the Fighters and by the Worlds Unite crossover.
A Japanese magazine has also released a manga adaption of Sonic Unleashed. This manga was the first sighting of Chip. Close to the game's release, Sega revealed a trailer for an upcoming short animated film tilted Sonic: Night of the Werehog. The film, starring Sonic and Chip, has no dialogue, except for two instances where Sonic says "whoa" and "oops." The film is about 10 minutes long and was released in November 2008 alongside the game.
Differences from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, the Sonic Boost is performed by holding down the boost button. It works continuously and can be filled by collecting Rings and can be leveled up to increase the bar length. In the Wii/PlayStation 2 Version, the Sonic Boost is segmented instead of continuous, so pressing the boost button will use a boost which lasts for two to three seconds, with a single boost costing one square of the bar. It's filled by collecting Rings, performing Action Chains and drifting, and can be increased by collecting Rings from a total of three bars to six.
- Sonic begins with all of his abilities in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, while he must acquire some of them in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version via progression. That being said, in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, Sonic will still face mandatory tutorials on certain moves at roughly the same points where he would have unlocked them in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- Sonic's top speed and Sonic Boost gauge can't be leveled up permanently and are determined by rings gathered in the stage in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version. If Sonic takes damage, he levels down by one bar of boost. The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version allows these to increase in level for the rest of the game.
- Action Chains are a feature found only in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version. When Sonic strings together certain types of combos, he can create an Action Chain. The more moves Sonic does, the more Boost power he gets.
- Action Chains must be initiated with destroying two enemies consecutively. They can be continued by destroying more enemies, touching speed pads, starting grinding and ring dashing. However, they cannot be continued by boosting, drifting, stomping, using jump pads (and their blue springs), or using pulleys.
- Whenever Sonic dashes across water in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version's daytime stages, he is seen running on the water. But in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, Sonic appears to surf when he runs on it. This is also seen in a later game, Sonic Generations (3DS).
- Likewise, Sonic will keep his momentum when dashing across water in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version to likely accommodate for the fact that the boost button cannot be held down, whereas in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version he must remain in motion whenever he is on water to prevent himself from sinking.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, the player can access the Spin Dash move by either pushing the boost button at the right times during takeoff in day stages, boosting shortly before or after running onto a dash panel, or boosting in certain areas (such as right before a loop).
- Sonic the Werehog is the only one who levels up and what he gains is predetermined when he acquires a certain number of orbs in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version. He also has significantly fewer moves than in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. In addition, he collects Dark Gaia Force instead of Chaos Orbs in order to improve his abilities.
- In the nighttime stages, Sonic appears to run faster when dashing in Wii/PlayStation 2 version compared to the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. His speed also seems to be less controllable and can shatter objects by running into them.
- Additionally, dashing is done by flicking the stick in the same direction twice, rather than using the shoulder buttons.
- The "aura" on Sonic's attacks are blue in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version (and also red, green, and yellow), while it is purple on the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, which is another thing to note regarding the graphical differences. Interestingly, the auras turn blue when Sonic activates his Unleashed Mode in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
Levels and progression
- The Mazuri and Empire City levels were not included in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version (except for Mazuri's boss).
- Stages in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version tend to be faster-paced with brighter contrast and narrower pathways, requiring reflexes and memorization for survival. On the other hand, stages in the Wii/PlayStation 2 versions of the game use more subdued colors, have wider pathways/more environmental space, and utilize a greater variety of alternate routes, focusing more on efficient usage of speed to reach the goal.
- Stage progression in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version is mission-based (specifically the daytime half; the Werehog's missions are completely optional, aside from tutorials), much like the Sonic Storybook Series. With each continent he visits, Sonic must first play through the day stage normally, before replaying it multiple times with a constantly changing goal. Missions for both Sonic and the Werehog are present in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version as well, but all of them are optional.
- The Town Stages in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version are menu-based, which involves selecting an area within the town to go to as opposed to exploration. The townspeople spoken to are static portraits rather than being fully animated. Also, the time of day is only changeable after the continent has been restored.
- Sonic must search for Sun and Moon Medals in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version in order to progress through the main campaign. In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, Sun and Moon tablets are used to access levels instead, and these are gained automatically. The Medals are earned based on the player's rank, or gathered automatically by completing missions, and they're solely used to unlock Secret Areas at Gaia Gates.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, the Gaia Gates serve as the hub worlds, which replace the Entrance Stages from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. In them, Sonic can use his medals to open up various puzzles, which are home to a variety of extras (including extra life items). Their only other function is to serve as a simpler level select.
- The levels in the game are much more challenging in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, and are much longer, while in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, the levels are much shorter, and offer easier gameplay.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of the game, there are generally more day stages than night stages, with each continent (apart from Eggmanland) having 2-3 day stages and 1-2 night stages. In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version however, there are more full night stages than day stages, with each continent having only one full day act (except for Apotos, which has two) and 3-5 night acts.
- However, some of the optional missions in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version come with their own exclusive level geometry, suggesting that the developers might have originally intended to include more daytime acts per continent.
- The nighttime acts in the Wii/PlayStation 2 are also named, unlike the daytime acts and all of the acts in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version features Tornado Defense levels, which are absent from the Wii/PlayStation 2 version.
- Eggmanland is one long stage where Sonic switches forms in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, it starts with the daytime stage and missions before switching to five night-time levels. Also, there is no explorable Gaia Gate.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, the "Hedgehog Engine" is used. This is used to reflect light off everything on screen to produce CGI quality graphics in-game. As people would expect, the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of the game received more praise on the graphics front, however, the Wii/PlayStation 2 version was commended as well. This engine is also used to load levels while players play them. This is needed to keep up with the incredible speeds Sonic reaches in the daytime stages of the game without encountering too many framerate or slowdown issues. It can allow Sonic to reach in excess of 300 mph (483 km/h). Since the Wii/PlayStation 2 consoles cannot handle the capabilities of the Hedgehog Engine, the daytime stages were created by Sonic Team in cooperation with Dimps to supply alternative but similar gameplay.
- Additionally, the Wii/PlayStation 2 version has all the cutscenes pre-rendered unlike the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, which has the non-CGI cutscenes rendered using the aforementioned engine. This makes them clearer and far less darker than in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, although the cutscenes do run slightly better in the latter version.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version's opening cinematic, the screen format is cropped to 21:9 (2.37:1) and the game logo will appear. On the Wii/PlayStation 2, the screen format is un-cropped and is at its original screen format of 16:9 (1.88:1) and the game logo does not appear. Furthermore, the opening cinematic from the Wii/PlayStation 2 version can be watched with English voices on Marza Animation Planet's official website without subtitles and the game logo as well as the Bonus DVD in the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Selection with Japanese subtitles and the Japanese logo for the game, in which is shown in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- Additionally, the cinematic is shown after the title screen in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, while in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, it plays before the title screen.
- The Mazuri boss battle stage is rendered differently; the Wii/PlayStation 2 version has the path move towards the right, while the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version moves it to the left.
- When controlling the Gaia Colossus during the Dark Gaia boss fight, instead of slowing approaching it while dodging boulders and lasers, the Gaia Colossus instead immediately fights Dark Gaia in a third-person fighting-style gameplay. The Gaia Colossus is also only controlled once instead of three times.
- All three Sonic segments of the Dark Gaia boss fight are played back-to-back, and there is no time limit as to how fast Sonic has to complete the level.
- Sonic attacking Dark Gaia's eyes are done within the gameplay itself, rather than in a separate cutscene.
- The Wii/PlayStation 2 version of the final boss (Perfect Dark Gaia section) has Super Sonic fight it by himself while in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version the Gaia Colossus fights Perfect Dark Gaia along with Super Sonic.
- Instead of controlling Super Sonic to disable Perfect Dark Gaia's shield, followed by a series of quick-time-events, Super Sonic instead immediately faces Dark Gaia, and uses Ring Energy to boost into its eyes.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, when the player runs into a specific part of a stage, the level halts as Chip speaks and reads the words on the screen. On the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, they are only read rather than spoken by using the Hint Rings, and they do not interrupt gameplay.
- Sonic's rank in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version is determined by score (which consists of time, rings, enemies destroyed, and points acquired). On the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, regular Sonic's ranks are determined solely by completion time while Sonic the Werehog's are judged on three factors: level-up orbs gathered, completion time and number of rings gathered.
- The worst rank obtainable in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version is an E, while the worst possible rank in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version is a C.
- Receiving an E in any act in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version causes the Results BGM to play an alternate version that is poorly performed. This does not happen when the player gets a C rank in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, but the track will play when failing a mission.
- Chip does not appear in the rank animations in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version.
- For boss battle rankings, the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version is determined by score. The Wii/PlayStation 2 version uses time as its sole factor and has no ranks aside from S, which earns a medal and C, which does not award any bonuses.
- For the final fight against Dark Gaia, the player can only earn a rank after beating the boss a second time in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, while in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, the rank is earned right away.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, regular Sonic uses his E-rank animation from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version when getting a C-rank, his B-rank animation when getting a B or A-rank, and his A-rank animation when getting an S-rank.
- Sonic the Werehog has completely different rank animations in between the two versions,
- In the daytime stages, Sonic does not get an extra life after getting a hundred rings in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, nor are there extra life items; however, in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, he does, on top of extra lives being collectable on their own.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, lives work differently and are "permanent". Sonic, by default, always starts levels with three lives. For example, if Sonic lost some lives in a stage, he would regain them by the start of another stage. To obtain more lives, Sonic must visit unlockable areas within the Gaia Gates that contain extra life items, which will permanently increase the number of chances Sonic has to complete a single level.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, Homing Attack and Grab lock-on reticles are green, while in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, they are red.
- During some segments where Sonic flies through the air to attack a target through a real-time interaction (such as during the Egg Lancer boss fight), Sonic will Air Boost towards his target in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, or Homing Attack towards it in the Wii/PlayStation 2 versions.
- Whenever Sonic is running along a wall, he'll either run along it slanted upwards a bit (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3) or run along it completely perpendicular to it (Wii/PlayStation 2).
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, it is possible to Spin Dash. Sonic spins automatically whenever he encounters a speed pad in mid-boost. Also, at the beginning of the level, if the player presses the boost button or swings the Wii Remote just as the countdown ends, Sonic will not only start off with a Spin Dash, but he will also get one free boost. If the player presses the button or swings too late, Sonic will trip and fall over for a few seconds.
- Sonic has fewer voice clips in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version. For example, he only has one clip for boosting, while there are at least three in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, the Star Posts or Checkpoints appear in both the daytime and nighttime acts. But in the Wii/PlayStation 2 versions, the Star Posts appear exclusively in the Time Attack missions during the daytime sections, and they add time.
- The Wii/PlayStation 2 version of Sonic Unleashed was the last main-series Sonic game until Sonic Lost World to feature item capsules in levels. In the night stages, these hidden objects hold extra Gaia force, Unleashed force, or hidden extras. In day stages, they only hold hidden extras. In Gaia Gates, they can hold hidden extras, extra lives, or unlock missions.
- They behave slightly differently than other Item Boxes in the series. They cannot be destroyed with Homing Attacks, but can instantly be destroyed when touched.
- They resemble the item boxes of the Sonic Rush series, and the design reappears in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
- The PS2 version also has some differences compared to the Wii version. In the PS2 version, Sonic's looks and renderings are more alike to his appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). His quills also do not move like in the Wii version, and the PS2 version gives him a darker blue shade.
- The PS2 version also sports longer load-times.
- In the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, Tricks can only be performed one button at a time, while in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, all buttons can be performed simultaneously.
- The Wii/PlayStation 2 version has backward compatibility to its console successors (PS3 except for Slim and Super Slim models for the PS2 version and Wii U for the Wii version). The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version is incompatible with it's console successors (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) due to hardware incompatibilities.
- As of April 2014, the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version is downloadable and also sold as a disc while the Wii/PlayStation 2 version is only sold as a disc.
- In the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, Sonic appears to slow down when he begins to side scroll but in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, Sonic retains his speed.
- Cutscenes are skippable in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, but not in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version.
- The in-game language can be changed in both versions of the game, but in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, it only affects the in-game text, whereas it changes the text and the voice acting in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- The bonus Sonic and Chip cutscene from Chun-Nan appears in both versions of the game, but the ones for Holoska and Adabat only appear in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- Sonic Unleashed was originally going to be titled Sonic Adventure 3, until the team decided to make this game more focused on Sonic.
- This is the final main series Sonic game to feature the 4Kids Entertainment voice cast (except for Mike Pollock).
- Sonic Unleashed is the third Sonic game to receive a rating of E10+ from the ESRB.
- The game's art direction and cut-scenes are widely inspired by animations of the Pixar Animation Studios, which explains why the humans have a cartoony appearance in contrast to the anime-styled or realistic looks from the previous games.
- The cover artwork was originally going to use lenticular printing to have Sonic turn into the Werehog. For unknown reasons, the idea was scrapped and the two were split in half instead.
- In the opening cinematic, a Dreamcast console can be spotted when Eggman pushes the button to fire the laser. It is seen again later when the Egg Dragoon is defeated. In the cutscene where Sonic loses his Werehog transformation, a Dreamcast can be seen to the left of Eggman. The Dreamcast also makes an appearance in the scene after the Egg Dragoon is defeated; when Eggman is seen attempting to command Dark Gaia to destroy Sonic, the Dreamcast, along with a controller and a game case (with Dr. Eggman's 2D art for Sonic Rush as the cover) can be seen to the right of Eggman.
- This is the first main series game to not feature Knuckles the Echidna since Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and the first console game to not feature Shadow the Hedgehog since Sonic Adventure 2.
- It's worth noting that they were planned to appear in the game, but were later scrapped.
- Tails, Amy and Professor Pickle do not seem to have been affected by Dark Gaia. The Professor even remarks that he knows his assistant is affected by Dark Gaia, and that he must do something to help him.
- One cutscene contains a reference to the ending of Sonic the Hedgehog CD. The cutscene plays after the first exorcism of the game. During the cutscene, Sonic (in his Werehog form) is seen carefully putting Amy on the ground after having saved her, with her eyes closed, then quickly leaving by swinging across buildings when she opens her eyes and turns to look at him. Much like how in the ending of Sonic CD, he put Amy on the ground, and then, while her eyes were still closed, he carefully backed away and then ran off just as she opened her eyes.
- This is the only Sonic game where Sonic never loses the Chaos Emeralds throughout the game.
- On the official website, the rating in the trailer showed is E10+ but the audio is the "E for everyone" rating clip.
- This is the final main series Sonic game on the PlayStation 2, as well as the last Sonic game to be released on a 6th generation console.
- For some reason, when Eggman split the earth open, none of the oceans and water fell into the core.
- Dr. Eggman's artwork for this game has the same pose as his artwork in Sonic Channel.
- During nighttime stages in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version, when Sonic picks up a box, the box's shadow won't show up but Sonic's shadow will continue to show.
- The Wii/PlayStation 2 version of Sonic Unleashed notably has more blood than the HD versions, as shown in multiple instances other than Dark Gaia's transformation listed above. During the fight with Dark Moray, green blood sprays out of the monster every time one of his warts is destroyed. During the running sections of the Dark Gaia fight, droplets of green blood fly into the air after Sonic attacks one of his eyes.
- In the cutscene "A New Journey" when Sonic looks around after the fall, if one looks at the Chaos Emeralds in the shot, they will see the purple emerald has still got its color.
- The daytime level theme for Savannah Citadel has a similar melody to the opening of the end credits medley for Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit).
- This game shared a few things in common with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
- Both the main characters turned into a wolf-like being in numerous points in their respective game (Link becomes a wolf when he's in the Twilight Realm and Sonic becomes a Werehog at night)
- Both main characters were accompanied by a supporting character (Midna for Link; Chip for Sonic)
- Both games have a character who suffered amnesia (Ilia/Chip)
- Both games have a major antagonist alongside the series overall antagonist (Zant and Ganondorf; Dark Gaia and Eggman)
- The cutscene "Tails in Danger!" notably has an extra scene in the Wii/PlayStation 2 version of the game that is not present in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. At the very beginning, a door is shown opening, where the Titan and other minions can be seen behind it, before it switches to an overhead view where the rest of the cutscene plays out. The cutscene in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 versions of the game starts from the overhead view.
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