Review: Sonic Adventure

Debatably one of the greatest Sonic games ever created is Sonic Adventure, the game which seems to me the pinnacle of Sega’s gaming endeavours. Sega had been making Sonic games for around 10 years before Sonic Adventure was released in 1999, but as this was Sonic’s first big step into the 3D world, the game was noticed that much more. You have the ability to play as six characters, each with a unique aspect to them; Sonic has his speed, Knuckles can glide and dig around, Tails can fly around and so on. The game was well received by gamers of the time and was exclusive to the Dreamcast until a later date.

The game is an Action-Adventure (as stated in the title) and is really quite unique as a Sonic game, in the sense that it allows you to play as six different characters: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, E-102 and Big The Cat. As you progress through the game you meet each character and unlock them, allowing you to play them ingame, meaning you can use their special abilities and find out their side of the story. The game begins with Sonic returning to Station Square after a holiday, to find the city being attacked by a liquefied monster (later discovered to be created by Dr. Eggman). You must then speed around different locations such as snowy mountains, metropolitan areas, casinos, theme parks and even through tornados to find the Chaos Emeralds before Dr. Eggman, who can then use them to grant power to his monster. Although Dr. Eggman is not the only obstacle, at times you may have to fight some of Sonic’s closest friends who are also trying to find the Emeralds for their own reasons

The first time I played Sonic Adventure was many years ago, long after its release. I’d taken an interest in Sonic, especially as it was in 3D which was a new concept for me and the rest of the world in regards to Sonic games. After the release on the Dreamcast it was also available on GambeCube, PC and now available to download on the PS3 and Xbox 360, meaning there’s no reason for you not to play it. The game did so well they even released a sequel which paralleled the first. Being well over a decade old, the game’s engine and gameplay are rather outdated, meaning modern day and new-generation gamers may not be used to the difference, however this is no reason not to play it. A slightly more challenging style of gameplay shouldn’t deter modern players, as the comparatively challenging nature is mainly due to the fact that today’s games are easier than they used to be. Sonic Adventure has no difficulty setting, meaning that you have to really work for your progress and when you do it’s that much more satisfying.

The graphics aren’t anything special as the game came out a decade ago, but that isn’t what Sonic Adventure is about. It may be old-gen and some may not be used to it, but now, it’s a nostalgia trip for any Sonic fans or older gamers out there. It was the first Sonic game to feature full voice overs and gave each character a unique storyline, even a giant cat who spends the game trying to find his pet frog by fishing… The point isn’t to belittle the game for its out of date techniques, but it’s to immerse yourself in the history of the Sonic universe and have fun with the characters, helping Sonic and his friends on their adventure.

Despite its seemingly archaic features, there really aren’t that many things to gripe about Sonic Adventure, as it was this game’s success which most later-released Sonic games have attempted to imitate, and it still stands firmly at the top of my Sonic list. However there are two main issues which I can think of: The boss battles and the character named Big The Cat. Fights with the main antagonist see you continually repeating the same process in order to win, even on the final battle. This seemed strange, as despite the fact that each boss fight occurs in a different location, the surroundings are not used as effectively as I would have expected, perhaps by incorporating them in a way that requires their use in defeating the boss may have worked better. Also, the character Big The Cat doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the story, it’s more than fair to say Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and even Amy did their part to add to the experience, but a giant cat spending the game trying to find his frog really has nothing to do with Sonic. Prior to the game I’d never even heard of Big the Cat.

One great contrasting addition to the destruction the characters can cause in Sonic’s universe are the Chaos, and the interaction which the player can have with them. The Chaos are virtual pets which haven’t appeared in too many previous Sonic games. They are light blue creatures which can be cared for by the user if they so wish. While playing through missions, enemies drop miniature animals which you can then feed to your Chaos levelling them up in different attributes, you can then compete them in races. They’re a great contrast to the regular gameplay of Sonic and these little creatures really stick in your mind whenever you think of Sonic Adventure, they even get an upgrade in Sonic Adventure 2, giving gamers the ability to raise a good or evil Chao.

If I were to think of any tweaks that could be made, they would be very minor. For example, keep playable characters down to the ones who are relevant and bring something unique to the table, preferably not a fishing simulator. Also, there weren’t too many levels for each character. Sure, there were a lot overall, but around ten at the most for an individual and three at the least. Adding more would have made the experience last much longer.

Speaking from a modern-day perspective, I think Sonic Adventure is a great game to Sonic fans or any seasoned gamer. However I can see why some modern gamers wouldn’t enjoy it. The game was made in the last generation of gaming, and unfortunately, nothing can be done about that, unless Sega were to make Sonic Adventure 3. To continue the Sonic Adventure series would be a great idea for a new Sonic game as the recent Sonic titles have been lacking in comparison to Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. A new story and interesting gameplay would definitely reinvigorate the series and might even broaden the demographic to the newer generation, enticing the everyday gamers who seem to have forgotten about Sonic.

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