Genre: Action-Adventure Platformer
In the world of Sonic, many purists will tell you that the series hit it’s peak while the series was still in it’s infancy. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles (or both together, as they were often played) are generally considered the height of the series just before it jumped the shark (or in this case, the killer whale). While they were definitely the height of the series, I feel that the two games that were released on the Dreamcast, the last system that Sega put out, were the height and fall of the series: Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. Today’s article will feature Sonic Adventure.
I’ll start with one of the biggest differences. Jumping from 2D to a 3D medium in Sonic Adventure was a major change. Traditionally, Sonic had been a swift running platformer, where the cool king of the 90’s, Sonic the Hedgehog, bounced about as a blue blur, freeing animals from the clutches of evil robots created by Dr. Robotnik. As you go, you collect rings, rescue shards of the Chaos Emeralds, and overall are racing through the levels as fast as possible to rack up dem points. The original games only included a basic shield bubble buff, which was added onto with a magnetic ring-attracting shield. By Sonic 2, a sidekick, Tails the Fox (a tan two-tailed fox who could fly and added second player capabilities) was added. Sonic & Knuckles added in another character, Knuckles the Echidna, an ambiguous red guardian of the emeralds who could glide and climb along walls.
In the 3D versions, the game split into further gameplay differences. Other than the obvious translation into another movement axis, Sonic Adventure introduced six different gameplay modes over six different characters during the single player adventure mode. Sonic’s traditional race platforming gameplay, Tails’ flight simulation, Knuckles’ scavenger hunt, Amy’s bird chasing hammer time, Biggs’ fishing extravaganza and E-102 Gamma’s robot shooting gallery are all interesting in their own way. Ambitious, certainly, and varying degrees of fun (acquiring 100% in the fishing game just to find Froggy can be… a struggle). Overall, it was a good attempt. The game can be frantic, hectic, and exhilerating – like a racing game as much as a platformer, with crazy angles and quick camera changes.
Going back and forth between different levels was done through a city. While it was creative, it could be a bit annoying to navigate through. Interesting and pretty, but it could get confusing to figure out where you needed to go if it has been a while since you’ve fired up the game. It’s different, not necessarily in a good way, but they gave it the ol’ college try.
Graphically, the game is good. Smooth 3D graphics that really showed off the Dreamcasts system power combined with some pretty backgrounds made for a real visual treat. The characters were well rendered for the time, and even random NPCs looked acceptable. Other than being nice looking, the backgrounds had a good amount of actual movement, which never necessarily ended up being busy, but could occasionally be a distraction.
When it came to the music… the music was just great. Actual music written and performed by bands was fun, and just delightful. Each character had their own theme and soundtrack, and it really added to the whole atmosphere. It was bright, it popped, and it just made playing the game a positive and happy time.
Sonic Adventure was well done. It was a departure from the rest of the series, and brought the games into the 3D realm. There was a story added in, sure – not a bad story, but it’s not the draw of the Sonic series. It will be hard to grab a copy on the Dreamcast (I lent my old Dreamcast out, actually, and wasn’t able to play the original again for this review). It can easily be found on XBox Live, PSN and Steam for cheap, and even cheaper during any number of sales. Pick it up, check it out, and stay tuned for Part 2!