What you have to understand about me is that for the three unfortunate years I spent in middle school, I was absolutely, positively, whole-heartedly, obsessively, and depressingly attached to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Of course, the only actual games from the series I had played at this point in time were Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic the Fighters, and Sonic R. I still hold those games dear to my heart, but some of them I've realized are actually shit bubbles (I love them nonetheless). Back then, however, I put these games on a pedestal above many others. I loved the characters (yes, even the annoying friends) and the fast-paced gameplay. I was one of those people who shipped Sonic and Amy ferociously and would cry watching montages of the two together with "You're Beautiful" playing in the background. At school I wrote a serialized comic strip called, aptly enough, "Sonic the Comic." I also spent over $100 to get a set of 2-inch Sonic figurines that were probably worth closer to $20. I used these figurines to make a web-series called "Sonic's World" which surprisingly got a decent amount of views, and more surprisingly are not so bad upon looking back (if you can ignore my prepubescent shrill voice and horribly contrived jokes).
If you want to watch the videos, here's the link
. It's good for a chuckle.
Now that you understand the sick dramatic irony of my situation, I think it goes without saying that when one of my friends mentioned a Sonic game had been released exclusively for the 360 I was both ecstatic and horrified at the same time. After all, it was great there was a new Sonic game to get my grubby hands on, but I was 11, had spent all my money on buying a Wii on day one, and always imagined I just wasn't ready to handle whatever the 360 had to give me.
But I needed Sonic. It was like an addiction--no, more than an addiction. I hopped from video to video until I had absorbed almost everything there was to know about the game without actually having a controller in my hands. I did read the comments, which were by and large very harsh but who was I to believe them? They just didn't get it. They weren't Sonic fans like I was. My excitement grew exponentially with every new thing I discovered. I started asking my friends if I could borrow their Xbox-es. I really did only intend to borrow it just to play this one game and then give it back, but looking back... yeah, that wasn't my brightest idea.
One of my friends straight up told me to just buy an Xbox 360 and get the game. I hadn't really even considered the idea... I didn't have the money and I certainly didn't think my parents would be willing to shell out that much for my hobby... but once the idea was in my head I couldn't get rid of it. I started scanning stores for used 360's every time I visited one. I finally found one for $180, which I could meet my mom halfway on. Of course, I got the warning that I would really have to make the most out of this system to make it a worthwhile purchase. This wasn't going to be just a one-game deal.
But I hadn't even considered any other games. As far as I was concerned, this might be the last game I ever played. Just based on all the things I had seen and heard, how could it be anything less than perfect? Would I need to justify the asking price with other games, when this could quite possibly be the only one I would need for the rest of my life? When I told my friends I had bought one I heard echoes of "The Orange Box" and "Halo" and "Call of Duty 4" and "Bioshock." BORING was all I could think. I had what I needed. I was ready to go.
And then I played it. Or rather, my friend who mentioned the game to me in the first place played it. That sniveling bastard started the game up without me and played through the opening scenes. We had a big argument when I came back about "How could you do this to me?" and "You're a guest here, this isn't your home" and blah blah blah... It's funny to think that there was a point in my life when one of my best friendships hung in the balance because of Sonic 2006. Not my proudest moment.
Anyway, I sat down and played the game. I had expected the abundant loading screens because of admonishing YouTube users. I had expected the glitches because I had read reviews. All of that stuff was inconvenient, yes, but because I saw it all coming I was able to write it off. But what no words or opinions can express to the nearest degree with littlest margin of error is the level of just how un-fun something can be.
Many people (myself included) enjoy bad movies. Some (also including myself) find bad movies more entertaining than good movies. I think the reason we're able to appreciate it for its total lack of quality is because we've seen enough good movies, and we've seen enough of the tropes and methods that work in these movies, that when we are faced with a bad movie, we get a kick out of identifying the individual aspects that work together to make the movie not work together. It helps when the filmmakers take the production very seriously--The Room, for instance--Tommy Wiseau really believed he was making a poignant piece. Each element of the movie therefore, was crafted with a specific purpose and idea behind it. This attention to dysfunctional detail is commendable, and makes it all the more fun for the viewers.
This is where the bad differs from the mediocre. Watching a mediocre movie or playing a mediocre game is like watching an Olympic runner celebrate his victory too early, just to get passed by the harder-working guy in second place right at the end. You want to say "Focus!" The runner clearly knows what he is doing! After all, he's in the Olympics, and leading at first place at that. But his hubris gets to him and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The same goes with mediocre entertainment. You can see where it's going and its heart may be in the right place, but it just won't get there and it ultimately hurts to watch.
Take this feeling and ramp it up to eleven to imagine my disappointment at Sonic 2006. I wanted so desperately to like it... I tricked myself to think I did... I depressed myself to think I did... I wanted to hold onto the idea that this game was everything I thought it might be. Maybe it was guilt, considering $240 total had been dumped into GameStop just for me to play this one game. Maybe I felt a small amount of betrayal. But when I ultimately admitted to myself that I just didn't like it, I felt a lot better about myself. I was able to kick my sudden buyer's remorse and experience more games to, as my mom put it, "justify the purchase."
And you know what? Even though that game did put me into a brief, but shockingly deep depression, I'm glad I played it and I'm glad I put out the money for it. My stubbornness pushed me into a folly, but I picked myself back up and--Oh my!--I still had a fully-functional HD console with plenty of other games to try out. I did end up getting all those other games my friend had suggested, and loving them. Over the years I've enjoyed some excellent experiences on my 360, including Bioshock, Oblivion, Deadly Premonition, Alan Wake, Prototype, Halo 3, Fallout, and so much more.
So yeah. Sonic 2006 is about as big as failures get. But without it, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Because when I accepted Sonic 2006 was a bad game, I started to adopt the motto "You win some, you lose some." Is it always worth it to risk it for the hypothetical biscuit? Perhaps not, but even if you don't necessarily win, you can always take your failure and make your own silver lining out of it.