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The rise, fall and deafening crash of Sonic the Hedgehog

Hoo boy, here comes the worst. After years of dreadful Sonic games, each scoring low yet selling high, we were told the next Sonic game would be choice. It would reinvigorate the franchise and prove that an amazing 3D Sonic game was possible. It all sounded so lovely. Then we actually saw the game they were talking about.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Reviews start in the 5/10 range, if that's any indication of how wrong Sega was in assuming this was a decent game, let alone the next big thing. More bad camera controls, more fuzzy characters and now, worst of all, actual people interacting with all the squat, talking, super-powered critters. And another hedgehog, this time named Silver. And he's telekinetic. What the freaking hell, Sega? This game was dead on arrival before it even arrived in the first place.

Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis: Around the same time Sonic '06 wasstinking up360 and PS3, the nearly forgotten GBA was metaphorically kicked in the 32-bit nuts by this botched port of the original Sonic game. Yes, the first Sonic game from 1991. They messed it up. On the system with three technologically superior Sonic games. This is... this is literally unimaginable. It's slower and choppier than the 16-bit original, with butchered music and sound effects to boot. Christ.

These two turds, released so close together, should have sworn the entire planet off Sonic for good. But as has been the case for years, some of the handheld titles held up. Sonic Rivals, while not brilliant, reduced gameplay down to running and jumping - and it worked. This year's Rush Adventure added more to the first game's winning formula ("more" in the bad Sonic way) yet managed to keep the spirit alive.

Sonic and the Secret Rings got a free pass due to the lack of anything else to play on Wii at the time. It's alright, but the motion controls aren't all that great and after a few levels it all starts to feel the same. Points for slimming the cast and introducing Sonic to a new universe (Arabian Nights). Our review says otherwise, so consider this a dissenting opinion.

So - with all this madness behind us, and a journey that spans nearly two decades and all degrees of popularity, where's Sonic headed now?