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Pre-E3 06: Sonic the Hedgehog

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Today, the Sonic franchise is mostly known for it various animated series and relatively mediocre video games. Just look at the past two spinoff titles - Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Riders were both broken games that only the hardcore fans could dig. That's why Sega's totally rebooting the franchise, billing the aptly named Sonic the Hedgehog as a return to the vision-blurring speed of the classic platforming games.

Forget Knuckles, Tails and all the other characters that have bogged down the gameplay for years. This one's all about Sonic. In a nod to the first Sonic Adventure game, you'll balance time between speed-centric action stages and slowed-down town levels where you gather info for quick side missions.

The first level we saw took place in a set of city ruins, with high stone walls and strands of vegetation strewn about. Sonic handles with full 3D control, but his path is slightly limited - to keep the sense of speed up, exploration is kept to a minimum. You attack enemies by jumping on them, of course, but Sonic's repertoire of midair moves lets you keep frantically bouncing from one target to the next.

While careening through the air, you may notice a hovering launch pad or a speed bumper attached to one of those tall, stony walls. Hitting one of them blasts you to a different path hidden in the level. They all lead to the same end, but slight course corrections could net you more goodies and possibly a secret stash of items. So, while the action stages are centered on you moving forward, there's still a chance to break out - some of your actions can even reshape the destructible levels.

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