After over a decade away, it appears as if 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog (or Sonic ‘06 to all the savvy hedgehog connoisseurs out there) is once again available on the Xbox Marketplace. And it’s only $5, if you still happen to have an Xbox 360 hooked up to your television for whatever reason. (h/t Fanbyte)
While universally panned at launch after a rough development cycle, Sonic the Hedgehog is considered something of a cult classic today. It’s a little like how people watch The Room because of its stilted acting and convoluted, dead-end plotlines. The blue blur’s first foray into the seventh console generation controlled terribly, looked pretty bad even by 2006 standards, and featured the now-infamous moment where a human woman kisses a dead Sonic.
Like, seriously, try to watch this scene (beautifully remastered in 8K resolution) without screaming.
Sonic the Hedgehog was originally removed from digital shelves in October 2010 to, as former Sega exec Jurgen Post put it, “increase the value of the brand.” This left physical copies as the only way to (legally) acquire the game over the last decade.
“We could make a lot of money on back-catalog Sonic titles, but let’s keep the number of Sonic games available under control,” Post told UK magazine MCV at the time. “Otherwise, you can have cannibalization. If there are 10 Sonic games on the shelves, with people seeing Sonic Rush DS or Sonic Rush Adventure, this may not help our overall strategy.”
Other unpopular games believed to have been digitally delisted or removed from physical circulation in this purge included Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Sonic and the Black Knight.
It’s doubtful, however, that Sonic the Hedgehog will ever be backward compatible on newer Xbox consoles. Microsoft has done a great job making sure several old-school games can be played on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S with some additional bells and whistles, but that program is officially donezo (that’s a serious business term, by the way) as of June 2019.
Of course, the Xbox backward compatibility library did get a whole mess of new games last fall, so never say never.
Update 05/24/2022 5:10 p.m. ET: Refined language about previous Sonic games being made unavailable for purchase.