Sonic the Hedgehog, the tenured mascot, a 90s reaction to the success of Mario, catapulted Sega to a neck and neck competition with Nintendo itself, yet 14 years after his debut. The character was wearing stale with the public, Sega would have to try to capitalise with a newer “hero” to underscore the post 2000s emotion. This was Shadow the Hedgehog, a broody trebled, the angst-ridden counterpart to Sonic, and in 2005, he got his own spinoff.
Shadow the Hedgehog sees the titular protagonist suffering from amnesia, right in the middle of an alien invasion. Shadow has a choice, Team up with the aliens, help the humans, or go it alone. Or any combination of the three. Which combination you chose will take you on a path down colourful and vibrant levels filled with a plethora of obstacles, turning cities and military bases into urban parkour playgrounds.
In terms of game-play, it feels similar to the standard 3D Sonic games of the time. But with the dark broodiness of Shadow. The additions of guns are interesting, gone are the days when you were limited to just jumping on the heads of enemies. You can now take them out with pistols, assault rifles, and alien blasters. By aiding each side in the level, you can build up a respective meter and that can give you a temporal invulnerability or an explosive blast. You can also pilot a multitude of vehicles, you’d think that one of the world’s fastest hedgehogs wouldn’t need transport, but it’s impressive how many times vehicles come in handy.
You’ll also meet a representative of the light-side and the dark-side in each level, the game brings out a cast of familiar faces and brings in some new guys into the mix as well. They give you a specific objective, which objective you chose will decide on which next level you’ll get. There are just under 200 unique combinations and different endings depending on which path you chose, aiding replay-ability by a significant factor. There’s also some split-screen multiplayer which is as fun as split-screen multiplayer modes can be.
Shadow infects the game-play of the 3D Sonic games with a dark edge, breathing in a to the franchise} It’s a lot like strong black coffee, not for everybody, but a good choice for people who like it, this game is literally about going your own way and playing to your own style. Shadow ends up being more than just a re-skinned version of a beloved protagonist but a paramount entry into one of gaming’s most beloved franchises.
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