Coincidentally, I've been replaying the Xbox 360 Sonic releases and had the pleasure of playing that bullshit boss encounter yesterday. I can't disagree with you, that section is, tonally, just nuts; and if it seems jarring to us now, I wonder how it was received when the DX version was released back in 2003, two years after 9/11!Drathnoxis said:Sonic Adventure ends with an entire city being hit by a tidal wave out of nowhere caused by an ancient god. Tens of thousands of people are no doubt dead, with property damage in the billions. Tails, while observing the wreckage: "All's well that ends well, right?"
What I think this underlines though, is that Sonic isn't a franchise that has been corrupted or subverted or "lost its way" relatively recently. A more sober assessment would be that Sonic was NEVER a coherent, self-contained franchise - or if it was, that period lasted about three years and the TWO DECADES of subsequent Sonic games have been various degrees of failure at attempting to recapture a winning formula that has since bolted the stable, flown the nest, and which the contemporary game playing public wouldn't want even if you could do the impossible and crystalise it. A bit like the Mario series, every game release is either a Greatest Hits tribute act or else an irrelevant digression.
I learned recently that the entire Knuckles story arc in Sonic and Knuckles (1994), with the Mecha-Robotnik and Super Metal Sonic antagonists, has been rubber-stamped as non-canon by Sega themselves. That's how long it took for the first cracks to appear! Three years.