Game Review: Sonic Adventure
Genre: 3D Platformer, Adventure
Developer: Sonic Team
Available Platforms: XBLA, PSN, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PC
ESRB Rating: E
Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_Adventure (No real webpage for the game itself anymore)
Sonic Adventure sees our trusty blue hedgehog trying to save Station Square and the surrounding area from Dr. Robotnik and his menacing creations. The latest opponent? A creature called Chaos who gains power and new forms based on the consumption of Chaos Emeralds that are scattered throughout the land. You’ll take part in trying to stop Eggman from collecting the chaos emeralds in an attempt to thwart his efforts, and will gain the ability to have several friends join you in the adventure as well.
When visiting a remake on XBLA, you have to keep in mind the limitations of what you’re getting. Sonic Adventure is based off the Dreamcast game of the same title, and it appears to have made the trip to the next generation untouched, almost in spite of itself. This means that all the good comes packaged with the bad, annoying and frustrating as well. You navigate through a variety of settings that have a free roam feel to them as you work towards stage points that are objective based (generally making it to the end of the stage with some exceptions). You’ll gain some powers along the way, but majority of the game has you trying to speed through maps, freeing your animal friends from their robotic traps, making accurate jumps, and trying to enjoy the spectacle that goes on around you.
While the game sat on the fringe of my memory as I played it (I never could remember what came next, but it was immediately familiar when it happened), it still presented plenty of surprising and fun moments. The level variety in this game is fantastic, and you’ll be looking forward to the next stage to see what surprises lay in store for you. The action is fast when the game lets you be, but it certainly fights you as much as it frees you. The music, while grating at first, actually becomes an impressive if not eclectic mix that I have to admit grew on me, and the ability to unlock and play other characters helps develop the story more. The game also feels like a 3D sonic should, playing fast with a focus on collecting coins and freeing animals while following a set path. When the game’s levels are open and free are when the game shines the most.
But as good as the memories are that this game brings back, it also painfully reminds you why you wanted to forget this game. First thing I recommend is hoarding those extra lives, because while you won’t go through too many at first, by the later stages, you will be tearing through them thanks to a terrible camera combined with ridiculous jumps and uncertain paths. It seems like no effort went into trying to fit wonky hit detection, and you’ll often end up going from top speed to a dead stop while running straight for no reason, or getting stuck in circular tubes, or not able to hit creatures with your spin attack as you endlessly circle around them only to fall to your doom. Overall, the game just lacks any sort of polish or tweaking that would show some care went into porting the game. The voice acting is grating, though that’s just a product of the original’s shortcoming.
vttym’s take: This game will wow you at times as you blaze through a level at top speed while triggered events happen all around you. The spectacle alone is almost enough to recommend the game despite all of its quirks, and the level variety is a lesson to aspiring platform developers. But I cannot look past the fact that no effort went into trying to address awful camera issues, touchy controls, and glitchy running. What’s the point of being able to run fast if I can’t control or, worse, can’t avoid bugs that cause me to stop-start my way through levels? Without improvements, this game just feels dated, and becomes a disappointing return to glory for Sonic, and one that only true fans or ardent nostalgia seekers should pick up.