These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
City Escape, due to features such boarding down the roads, grinding on rails, catchy music, and outrunning a giant truck. It was later remade for Sonic Generations.
Assuming you liked Shadow, Radical Highway is the end-all be-all of Highway based Sonic stages. The music combines with getting to a play a Darker and Edgier Sonic who is bent on revenge. No wonder it was the representative for the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations.
Broken Base: The alternate gameplay. Supporters of it say that the variety truly showed off the potential of the characters' abilities and was one of the best things about the game. Detractors say that the alternate gameplay was incredibly slow, completely unnecessary, and (nearly) dragged the game down if it weren't for the Action stages.
Catharsis Factor: Beating the Christ out of a Chao after getting another E rank grade after a mission may be disproportionate and unfair, but damn does it feel good.
Contested Sequel: While many consider this one of the best Sonic games ever, some don't like the level progression structure in comparison to the original, since the player is forced to cycle between multiple styles in the same story instead of choosing a playstyle along with the story. Some do like it as a way to streamline the story compared to the slower-paced Sonic Adventure.
Demonic Spiders: The Artificial Chaos. They have very fast attacks, only their head is vulnerable, and a few can reproduce or hide in their bodies to be invulnerable.
In the "Dark Side" ending it's shown that unbeknownst to Eggman, the laser has overloaded as he tried to fire it with the power of all seven Chaos Emeralds, which is what the Cannon's power was source was intended to be — whilst it's possible Gerald Robotnik underestimated the power of the Emeralds, in the "Hero Side" ending, Sonic manages to prevent the ARK's cannon from firing, potentially causing the resulting overload that occurs in the "Dark Side" ending. This makes even more sense when one remembers that in the "Hero Side" ending, there is a moment when you see Eggman's hand reaching for the Chaos Emerald. When Amy and Tails look out the window, and we have a clear view of the entire room, Eggman is gone, presumably having taken the Emerald to the cannon's core. Cue "Dark Side" ending.
The Last Story ending has a subtle reason for why Shadow powers down from his Super form and Sonic doesn't — you start the preceding boss battle with Sonic, and each successful hit switches the other hedgehog in, whilst the one who is not being used collects some rings to stay powered up, and it's a six-hit boss. Whilst travelling past the boss leads to the characters switching out again, Shadow is meant to be the one to get the last hit.
In later Sonic games, it is shown that Shadow survived falling to Earth from space. At the beginning of Sonic Unleashed, Sonic proceeds to do the exact same thing.
The title of Eggman's theme song "E.G.G.M.A.N." is strange, since Eggman isn't an acronym for anything. However, the way it's written does invoke the way the game's Boss Subtitles appear one letter at a time. You can almost hear the typewriter sound effect.
We all know Sonic had learned Shadow's Chaos Control and used that knowledge to escape from the exploding capsule with the fake Chaos Emerald. Now cue to final Sonic/Shadow fight in the "Dark Side" story and you will see that Sonic utilizes Chaos Control with the fake Emerald anytime Shadow loses track of him of the long pathway.
Gerald's prototypes of ultimate life were based on the mythos of Sonic Adventure. The Biolizard was created to mimic Perfect Chaos, and Shadow was meant to be Super Sonic. This explains why the Master Emerald shrine was on the ARK, the numerous Artificial Chaos, and why both the Biolizard and Shadow could use Chaos Emeralds.
Biolizard has gills on his neck approximately half Shadow's height, and several gills on either side of his body more than twice Shadow's height. He also has air vents at the base of his neck, not to mention the numerous pipes connecting him to his life-support system. Yet despite all this, he still has to hyperventilate. It's no wonder that he's the prototype.
When the Colony Drop begins, Professor Gerald's ultimatum is in the form of a video file. He's standing in front of what appears to be his cell on Prison Island. At the end, once he's finished his speech, someone off-camera asks him if he has anything more to say. When Gerald replies that he does not, that person barks out a "Ready!" to some other people off-screen. It takes a few minutes to realize this, but this appears to be Gerald's last words before he faces a firing squad.
In the Japanese version of Sonic X you can hear the gunshots.
From that same speech, he says that he "designed [Shadow's] mind to be perfect, pure" (or, in the Sonic X adaptation, he mentions that he will follow his orders without question). It's a long shot, but it could mean that he somehow manipulated Shadow while he was contained, possibly going so far as to change his memories about Maria.
During City Escape and the freeway chase segments as Tails or Rouge, cars are presented as obstacles. Running into them causes them to fly into the air and eventually explode. Some of them happen to be driving at the time. Think about it.
Fridge Logic: The government mistook Shadow for Sonic since they believed the former was one of Sonic's formes, a la Super Sonic. There was a Chaos Emerald in his hand, the citizens once saw Sonic transform, and the civillians only know one fast hedgehog.
Goddamned Ghosts: Seriously. Ghosts rarely pose a threat to the characters in the game. At best, they're just there to Jump Scare the players.
They are especially annoying in Pyramid Cave where Sonic has to go through a long corridor in a limited amount of time and there are ghosts all over the damn corridor that hold you in place and waste precious seconds.
Good Bad Bugs: The Chao Key glitch in the digital port. It allows any of the main six to access any of the multiplayer stages.
Another glitch relating to the Chao is that if you corner a Chao in the Hero Garden and give it an animal or drive, by immediately picking up the item again, you can keep giving the Chao the item an infinite amount of times. Good for raising up your Chao's stats.
Another one is during the first Sonic vs. Shadow fight where you can briefly tap the roll button but for some reason the animation doesn't play yet still treats the character your playing as, as if they were still rolling with invincibility frames and all, which results in a hilarious situation where the boss can't hurt you and actually get's damaged when they run into you.
The low mechanical humming of the Egg Beetle from the Egg Quarters level.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Remember the introductory movie of the remake? Shadow and Sonic did face each other, but never in Radical Highway... until the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations. Especially noteworthy considering the beginning of the very same boss battle has a different Shout-Out in the home console version, in that the intro movie is referenced by Sonic and Shadow's Mirrored Confrontation Shot; however, the battle itself takes place outside the Space Colony ARK.
Hype Backlash: Back when this game was first released and a few years after, it was considered the best of the 3D Sonic games due to its different styles of play and its surprisingly complex plot. Nowadays, those are the exact reasons people call this game overhyped and nowhere near as good as it was touted. This mindset generally set in after Sonic Unleashed (which fans generally consider when the series started to get good again) and continues with every subsequent game.
Magnificent Bastard: Shadow; he manipulated Eggman into thinking he was working for him so that he could get all the Chaos Emeralds in order to activate the Colony Drop, and even knew about Rouge's attempt to grab the Emeralds herself. In fact, the only reason he didn't succeed was that, with Amy's intervention, he decided to not go through with the plan after all.
The rap songs that play during Knuckles' stages combine this with Awesome Music.
The same goes for the City Escape theme, which has become ingrained into Sonic fans' minds in spite of (or thanks to) its utterly ridiculous lyrics and cheesy instrumentation. Jun Senoue seems to enjoy writing awesome music with cheesy lyrics and then making it work.
The scene with Eggman's demonstration of the EclipseCannon was full of this. Arguably, the scariest part wasn't watching the laser pass close by the skyscrapers and blowing a large chunk out of the moon, but was instead the timer seen at the end as Eggman laughs.
The boos from the haunted stages such as Pumpkin Hill and Death Chamber have yellow eyes and creepy smiles, and they will pop up unexpectedly from walls, floors, items, and in their smaller forms.
"BOOOOM BOOOO! AHAHAHAHAHA!"
Eggman's threats if you take too long on Crazy Gadget are surprisingly harsh for a kid's game.
Eggman: "Sonic, if you don't come here she will die!"
Paranoia Fuel: The ghosts in Pumpkin Hill, Aquatic Mine, and Death Chamber. Some of them are invisible and don't reveal themselves until after you get close to them, at which point they'll pop out in your face and grow very large before dissipating. They're scattered randomly throughout these levels, you have absolutely no way to detect them, and they will hide in the walls, inside objects, in the floor, etc.
Scrappy Mechanic: Hunting levels. Unlike the previous game, the radar detects the shards one at a time, and compounding with that, the levels are all really huge, which results in empty unused space since the locations of the shards are randomly generated. On your first time, completing a hunting stage will take upwards of 30 minutes, while replaying it to get the A-rank is a pure Luck-Based Mission.
Shooting stages too. Big, slow levels where you just run around in a clunky robot shooting everything with the same type of gun in a series that's all about going fast and blazing through levels. Even worse is that they outnumber the Sonic and Shadow stages, and the fact that the previous game's shooting levels were much faster-paced, with an agile protagonist.
Egg Golem with Eggman is pretty annoying too, and it doesn't help that unlike Sonic who can jump out of the quicksand if he falls in, the much heavier Dr. Eggman will instantly sink and cost you a life (Eggman's battle DOES add stable platforms down there to avoid it, but it's pretty easy to miss those, even when hovering). Not to mention that, unlike Sonic, who is smaller, faster, and can take multiple hits (as long as you pick up your rings), Eggman is bigger, slower, and has a limited health bar as well. Also the Golem is malfunctioning after Sonic defeats it, so Dr. Eggman has to deal with it being considerably faster and more erratic with its attacks and movements.
The 2nd Tails vs Eggman battle, the level has no rings, meaning no regaining health, and your enemy will pull out special attacks that do massive damage are extremely hard to dodge with the slow character you use.
The driving missions where you cannot hit the wall or any of the other cars, mainly because of the dodgy controls and how it almost seems like the cars are trying to specifically hit you in those missions.
Security Hall and Mad Space is this for the treasure hunting levels due to the sheer size of the worlds, the bad clues given and, in the case of the former, the five-minute time limit. It doesn't help that in Mad Space, some of the hints you get are reversed not just in text, but also in meaningnote For example: if they say above, they actually mean below.. Worst of all, not all of them are reversed, meaning you might have to spend time going through the whole stage just to find them.
Crazy Gadget, due to the element of Gravity Screw and the maze-like final section where a single wrong move can lose a life.
In hard mode, this level is nearly impossible. Of all of the levels in the game, none has more differences between normal mode and hard mode (or at least major differences) than this level. For example, this is one of only two levels in the game where you encounter the exploding artificial chaos enemy. note These are artificial chaos whose bodies dissolve into many smaller "cells" that approach you and explode when you're near them. The only way to defeat one is by attacking its floating head. In the first four missions, you have to fight three of these enemies, but in hard mode, they're everywhere. Sometimes you need to fight two of them at once, and that's not the worst part. At one point, you must home attack beetle enemies to move straight up. If your timing is off even slightly, you fall into the acid pit below. In another area, you have to home attack beetle enemies to cross a gap while you're upside down. If that wasn't enough, you have to go through the maze at the end at least TWICE because the switch to activate the final rocket is now in a not-so-obvious spot (it's under a black container on the green block). note There are several shortcuts that make this section easier and reduce the number of times you have to repeat the maze. On the plus side, even if you die and have to restart from the second checkpoint, it is still possible to A-rank the mission from there if you play through the rest of the level well enough, though that's no easy task.
Final Rush and Final Chase for Sonic and Shadow, respectively. The former is frustrating because it's filled with grind rails that you have to precisely jump on, or else you end up falling to your fiery death (which is easy to do if you're going too fast). The latter is frustrating because it's filled with pillars that make Shadow spin around (which many players have criticized for being wonky or glitchy) and for having several Artificial Chaos, some of which you have to bounce off of just to get to one of said pillars.
And then there's the dreaded Cannon's Core. You have to play as every character (except Shadow) back to back, and each character's segment is roughly the size of an average stage on its own. There are very few checkpoints, quite a few annoying puzzles and mechanics, Artificial Chaos galore, and if you lose all your lives (or if you're forced to shut off the game console) before finishing all five segments, you have to start the whole thing all over again.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The game never explores how Eggman feels about his family being murdered by a corrupt government; in fact he doesn't seem to care at all despite allegedly having a great amount of respect for his grandfather. The whole plot is just about Shadow and his feelings. It's a shame, as it could have worked as a great Freudian Excuse for Eggman's behaviour throughout the series. Of course he wants to take over the world; the world is run by a cruel military that destroyed his family!
Uncanny Valley: The human characters (sans Eggman) look a little... off.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Shadow, the "real" central character of the game, is on a quest to destroy humanity because the government murdered his best friend, an innocent child, in order to cover up his existence. She was also the daughter of his creator Gerald Robotnik, which is made horrifying by his speech, which actually begins with the statement "This is a death sentence for every human being on earth" and ends right before he's executed by a firing squad.