Part One: Intro
While my first experiences with gaming involved the SEGA Master System and the Mega Drive, most of my childhood has been spent playing many of Sony’s consoles like the PS1 and PS2. Now I’ve gotten older I like to look back at the games that have passed me by and now have finally been able to play one of the games that made me wish I owned a SEGA Dreamcast: Sonic Adventure. As a kid, my favourite game was Sonic The Hedgehog 2 as I remember enjoying everything about that game and while I found it tough, it was a game i strived to complete and was really happy when I did so while my taste of the Mega Drive was brief due to my parents giving it to relatives, I have been a fan of the Sonic games for as much as I can remember. Now, Sonic Adventure was a game I knew about already as I read a review about it in a issue of Pokemon World (really weird if you ask me!) and wishing that i could play it but since I had a PS2 that my parents had bought me and my brother I really couldn’t do anything about it at the time. Now however, thanks to the Dreamcast Collection released by SEGA and the PlayStation Store not only have i been playing it for a while but now I know enough to write a review about it so, lets get started!
Part 2: The Story
The later Sonic games are known for having over the top stories with gimmicks thrown in like Werehogs, Aliens and even a Princess who, just like Peach and Zelda, needs saving. Adventures story though is easier to follow as it finally tries to explain why Knuckles has to guard the Master Emerald and explores the mystery behind the Chaos Emeralds as well as introducing the Chao who would appear in many Sonic games afterwards and Chaos, a mysterious creature that Eggman (obviously) wants to use for his own evil deeds. I found the story to be hard to understand at first and that is not really helped by the fact that you are able to choose any character to play as if you quit the game and load Adventure Mode again. While the other five characters need to unlocked by reaching certain parts of Sonic’s story, the fact that any story can be played at any time can make the main story of this game muddled up and makes me think that having a set story path would have been easier. Also, the dialogue can be annoying at times and people have expressed their annoyance at this game for giving Sonic an “edgy 90’s style voice and while I don’t have problems with it personally it has put people off this game.
Part 3: The Controls + Characters
Apart from Sonic, you are able to play as Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big The Cat and E-102 Gamma and each character controls differently and while its great to have each character access different levels and have every level altered to suit their abilities, it doesn’t mean all of them are great to play as. Before we discuss the giant cat in the corner though lets look at how each character plays.
Sonic plays exactly how you would think he would as his controls are mainly the same as all the other Sonic games. As he’s the Worlds Fastest Hedgehog, the levels are fast paced and has (technically) the longest story mode as almost every level can be played as Sonic. The later levels and bosses can be difficult but I never felt that they were too frustrating enough to rage quit. (unlike Sonic 06) He has the standard jump, spin dash and homing attack as well as other abilities that can be found during the hub areas that are dubbed “Adventure Stages.”
Tails controls are similar to Sonic’s but the homing attack and spin dash are replaced by the classic flying ability and a tail attack which can be upgraded to a spin attack too. His levels are similar to Sonic’s too but the main goal is centred around racing Sonic (and in one level, Dr Eggman!) to the end of the level and while his story is not that difficult, I found the final level to be very annoying at times and while some people find his constant Sonic focused dialogue to be annoying, I didn’t mind as I think his story just helped further define him as one of Sonic’s best sidekicks.
Knuckles’s controls are again similar to Sonic’s but are more focused around exploring levels instead of speeding through them. As his story centres around collecting the shattered pieces of the Master Emerald the levels are focused around the larger areas and you will need to use his ability to glide (which gladly is still OP,) the Emerald Detector which handily indicates where a nearby piece is and other abilities that of course, need to be found in the hub areas. As with Sonic and Tails, I didn’t have that many problems but sometimes it can be hard to locate a Emerald piece and in some levels you can spend a lot of time doing so which can get annoying.
Amy’s story revolves around protecting a lost Flicky (which are also present in a couple of Sonic games) from Zero, one of Dr Eggman’s robots and reuniting it with its family. While Amy still comes off as a annoying character as she still chases after Sonic at one point in the story the levels are actually not bad as you have to run away from Zero while using her Pico Pico Hammer to destroy enemies and obstacles and the final boss fight against Zero is a good one too as you have to knock it into a electric field to damage it. The problem is that I find her story to be rather short and easy and it just seems like filler to hold the story together.
E-102 Gamma is a character that is really out of place as its controls are really different to the others and while at first the story is straight forward, it quickly becomes nonsensical. This is because E-102 Gamma’s story revolves around it following Eggman’s orders until it decides to not only class him as an enemy, but sees to it that every E series robot must be “rescued” by basically destroying them and then itself which in my opinion, is insane storytelling. The levels are based around targeting things with a laser so they can be destroyed so you can get more time to complete the level but this leaves me with a question: Why the need for this story? While E-102 Gamma plays a part in Amy’s and Big’s story and is a sub boss for Sonic and Tails, E-102 could have easily been a NPC character and still have helped moved the story along. So while it may have helped other characters stories, in my opinion it didn’t even need one.
Now we come to Big The Cat. While I have no problems with Big himself as he is useful in Sonic Heroes, why did SEGA think including fishing in Sonic Adventure would be needed? All you do in Big’s story is fish in the levels to catch his friend Froggy who since colliding with Chaos has now grown a tail and has run away, which means its part of the main story so you have to complete Big’s story at some point. The power-ups are basically lures and better rods and a float so you can fish while on the water so at least SEGA have put some effort into giving you a reason to push on. I have no problem with fishing games, none at all, but what annoys me is that SEGA had no reason to make this part of the main story as it would have been better as a mini game or something and as all you have to do is catch Froggy to complete a level, it makes catching the other fish useless. So while its great to see a homage to SEGA Bass Fishing, one of SEGA’s classic titles I think its pointless to force the player to play Big’s story to unlock the true ending.
Part 4: The Graphics + Camera
As with most Sonic games, the graphics are great and are on par with most games during that era and show off each of the games diverse levels. Emerald Coast happens to be my personal favourite level as not only is it the brightest and my opinion the best way to kick start the “Action Stages” as SEGA calls them but also contains one of the greatest set pieces in a Sonic level as it sees Sonic running as fast as he possibly can on a pier while being pursued by a killer whale that is crashing through the pier. While the graphics and level design are great the big question of every 3D Sonic game will always be about the camera as it can struggle with the sheer speed of the game and in Sonic 06 it proved to be a big problem. Thankfully its not as bad in Adventure’s as the camera can be moved with the shoulder buttons and it doesn’t intrude with the set pieces as it becomes fixed in one place during them but there are times where you may have to stop so you can adjust it for a better view and that can become annoying at times.
Part 5: Music
One thing that has always been a constant in Sonic games is the good selection of music available and as with most of them, Adventure’s soundtrack has more great songs than bad. Whether its Emerald Coast’s sunny and cheery guitar composition to Twinkle Park’s jolly techno-crossed-with-organ style that just fits the level perfectly, you’re bound to have a favourite song in this game as every song has been designed to fit the level its been created for. Another constant for Sonic games these days is the main theme that is always performed by a singer or band and while they will always be classed as cheesy, songs like Escape From The City and Open Your Heart, which happens to be Adventure’s theme, are now classed as some of best songs in any Sonic game.
Part 6: Epilogue
Overall, this is a really fun game and while it has its fair share of problems like unimportant filler characters, slow camera, bad dialogue and is controversial due to it being the start of Sonic’s “rad 90’s” phase the good level designs, great music and the great sense of speed you get while playing as Sonic make playing this game worthwhile. While it may not be perfect, this is still a great game to play and now that it can be bought quite easily as it can be bought from the Xbox and Playstation’s on-line stores, there is never a bad time to play this classic Sonic game.
NiceGuy Rating: 7/10
If you have any questions just comment below and don’t hesitate to contact me @a_morris if you have any further questions or just want to talk about games!