Sonic Unleashed
Developer(s) Sega (Xbox 360/PS3)

Dimps (Wii/PS2)

Publisher(s) Sega
LP'ed? No
Released 2008
Genre(s) Platformer
Platform(s) Xbox 360, PS3, PS2 and Wii
Input methods Controller

Sonic Unleashed is a video game released in 2008 by Sega for the Wii, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360.


Gameplay primarily consists of two modes. The first is 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. 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, Speed 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. As the player goes through the game, and Sonic gains more experience points, player is able to upgrade and gain new abilities for Sonic and Sonic the Werehog.

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 with platforming and puzzles thrown in. During night sections of the game, Sonic transforms to his alternate Werehog form, and gameplay shifts from fast-paced action to a slower, more platform-oriented style of gameplay. The Werehog form allows 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.

Console DifferencesEdit

Due to the different power and capabilities of the consoles of the PS3/Xbox 360 compared to the Wii/PS2, there are significant differences between the two versions of the game released. Note that there is an additional mobile phone release developed by Gameloft that sports completely different gameplay, so it is not considered here.

  • In the Wii/PS2 version, when you run into a specific part of a stage or hit a question mark in the action stages, Chip speaks and reads the words on the screen. In the PS3/Xbox 360, they are only read rather than spoken.
  • The hub world in the Wii/PS2 version consists of selecting an area to go than exploration. Also, the time of day is only changeable after the continent has been restored.
  • In the daytime stages, Sonic doesn't get an extra life after getting 100 rings in the Wii/PS2 version (nor are there extra life items), however, in the PS3/Xbox 360 version, he does (and there are).
    • In the Wii/PS2 version, lives work differently and are "permanent". Sonic, by default, always starts levels with 3 lives. For example, if Sonic lost 2 lives in a night act, he would regain them by the start of the next level. To obtain more lives, Sonic must visit areas in Gaia Gates that contain extra life items, which will permanently increase the number of chances Sonic has to complete a single level.
  • In the PS3/Xbox 360 version, Homing Attack and grab targets are green, while in the Wii/PS2 version, they are red.
  • The Mazuri levels were removed, as well as Empire City in its entirety, from the Wii/PS2 version (except for Mazuri's boss).
  • Sonic begins with all his abilities in the Wii/PS2 version, while he must acquire them in the PS3/Xbox 360.
  • 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/PS2 version. He also has significantly fewer moves than in the PS3/Xbox 360, and in the Wii/PS2 version, he collects Dark Gaia Force instead of Chaos Orbs in order to improve his abilities.
  • Sonic's top speed and Sonic Boost gauge can't be leveled up permanently and are determined by rings gathered in the stage on the Wii/PS2 version. If Sonic takes damage, he levels down by one bar of boost. The PS3/Xbox 360 version allows these to increase in level for the rest of the game.
  • In the 360/PS3 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/PS2 Version, the Sonic Boost works by pressing the boost button and the boost lasts for 2-3 seconds. It's filled by collecting Rings, performing Action Chains, and drifting. It costs one square of the bar to use a single boost and the bar can be increased by collecting Rings from a total of three bars to six.
  • Action Chains are a feature found only in the Wii/PS2 versions. 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 2 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.
  • Sonic must find Medals in the PS3/Xbox 360 version in order to access new levels. In the Wii/PS2 version, Sun and Moon tablets are used to access levels; the Medals are determined by rank or gathered automatically after certain missions, and they're used to unlock Secret Areas at Gaia Gates.
  • Gaia Gates are not present in the PS3/360 version. Instead, those versions feature fully explorable hub worlds.
  • In the Wii/PS2 version, the Gaia Gates serve as the hub worlds. 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.
  • Sonic's rank in the PS3/Xbox 360 version is determined by score and its worst ranking is E. On the Wii/PS2 version, regular Sonic's ranks are determined by completion time while Sonic the Werehog's are judged on three factors: level-up orbs gathered, completion time and number of rings gathered and the worst ranking of this version is C.
  • For boss battle rankings, the PS3/360 version is determined by score. The Wii/PS2 version uses time as its sole factor and has no ranks aside from S, which earns a medal and C, which doesn't award any bonuses.
  • Eggmanland is one long stage where Sonic switches forms in the PS3/Xbox 360 version. In the Wii/PS2 version, it starts with the daytime stage and missions before switching to 5 night-time levels. However, there is no explorable Gaia Gate.
  • In the "Jungle Joyride" stage on the PS3/Xbox 360 version, Sonic is seen running on the water, but in the Wii/PS2 version, Sonic appears to surf when he runs on it. This is also seen in a later game, Sonic Generations (3DS).
  • On the Wii/PS2 version, the Sky Chase minigames have been completely removed.
  • In the Wii/PS2 version, it is possible to Spin Dash. Sonic spins automatically whenever he boosts and encounters a speed pad. 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/PS2 version. For example, he only has one clip for boosting, while there are at least 3 in the PS3/360 version.
  • The Levels in the game are much more challenging in the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, and are much longer, while in the Wii/PS2 version, the levels are much shorter, and offer easier gameplay. Also, the PS3/Xbox 360 version is the only version in which the day stages have 3 acts for every continent.
  • On the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, the "Hedgehog Engine" is used. This is used to reflect light off everything on screen to produce CGI quality graphics in-game. As you would expect, the PS3/Xbox 360 versions of the game received more praise on the graphics front, however the Wii/PS2 versions were commended also. This engine is also used to load levels while you 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. Since the Wii/PS2 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.
  • In the nighttime stages, Sonic appears to run faster when dashing in Wii/PS2 versions compared to the PS3/Xbox 360 versions. His speed also seems to be less controllable and can shatter objects by running into them. Also, the "aura" on his attacks are blue in the Wii/PS2 version (and also red, green, and yellow), while it is purple on the PS3/Xbox 360, which is another thing to note at the graphical differences. Interestingly, the auras turn blue when Sonic activates his Unleashed Mode in the PS3/Xbox 360 versions.
  • In the Xbox 360/PS3 versions, the Star Posts or Checkpoints appears in the daytime and nighttime acts as well. But in the Wii/PS2 versions, the Star Posts appears exclusively in the Time Attack missions during the daytime sections, and they add time.
  • The Wii/PS2 versions of Unleashed are the last main-series Sonic games 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 by homing attacking, but can instantly be destroyed when touched.
    • They resemble the item boxes of the Sonic Rush series, and the design reappears in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing.
  • In the Wii/PS2 version, the night acts have names, and Apotos, Spagonia, Holoska, and Chun-nan each have three, Shamar and Adabat both have four, and Eggmanland has five. In the 360/PS3 version, each world (except for Eggmanland) have two acts (called Act 1 and Act 2).
  • The Wii/PS2 versions of the final boss (Perfect Dark Gaia section) has Super Sonic fight it by himself while the PS3/360 versions the Gaia Colossus fights Perfect Dark Gaia along with Super Sonic.
  • The PS2 version also has some differences between the Wii version. In the PS2 version, Sonic's looks and renderings are similar to his Adventure style. His quills also don't move like the Wii version. He even has a darker blue in the PS2 version.
  • On the Wii/PS2 version, Tricks can only be performed one button at a time, while in the PS3/360 version, all buttons can be performed simultaneously. 


Sonic Unleashed received mixed reviews. The day time stages were widely hailed and loved, with fans and critics praising the breath-taking speed, visuals, style, and gameplay. The game's graphics were praised as well, for both versions. The switches between 2D and 3D was received well, and brought the game recognition.

On the negatives, fans and critics both complained about the werehog stages for it's clunky controls, over abundance of gimmicks, lack of speed, combat and uninteresting puzzles. The daytime stages were praised for the sense of speed but criticised for the lack of control while playing these levels. The story also had several complaints, as being too cheesy or not deep enough. The HD counterparts were received notably worse than the Wii/PS2 counterparts, with framerate and control issues dragging the HD offerings down to scores worse than that of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).


Johnny reviewed Sonic Unleashed shortly after his series of 3D Sonic reviews, acting as an epilogue. His initial receptions were generally positive, mostly to the day time stages. An 8/10 was quickly issued, but as time wore on, the HD counterpart fell shorter, and in his Then and Now section, his first episode was concerning that of Sonic Unleashed, re-assigning the score to a 7.5/10. Elliot questioned Johnny's reasons for not reviewing the Wii version, where Johnny responded with a blunt answer clarifying his disgust for the WIi version. Elliot would later take it on his shoulders to review the game, bashing the HD version, while Johnny grumbled about the WIi edition. In the end, a score was not assigned, and after Elliot left the reviewing race, it probably won't have one.

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