Sonic Adventure: review

Sonic, along with Mario, is one of gaming’s iconic characters. His recent games however have been pretty poor 3D efforts, that have tarnished the platform star’s legacy. Sonic Adventure was Sonic Team’s first attempt at a 3D game on the ill-fated Dreamcast. But has the game aged well since its release in 1998, or is it another reason why the speedy Erinaceinae (Kevin showing off – Ed) has returned to his 2D roots with Sonic 4?

The plot of the game has you facing Dr “Eggman” Robotnik yet again. Eggman has recruited a new weapon against Sonic, a watery creature called Chaos. This villain changes shape, and gets larger every time Eggman feeds it Chaos Emeralds. So it’s up to Sonic, and the ever annoying Tails, to get to the Chaos Emeralds before Eggman. The game has six different characters to choose from, and each has their own separate adventure within the game. Naturally Sonic is tasked with the larger main quest, with the focus on speed thrills and platforming.

The 'chase' levels are good fun, and thankfully don't overstay their welcome.

There are three Adventure Fields that make up the main game; Station Square, the Mystic Ruins, and Egg Carrier. These three main hub areas are basically used to push the plot onwards, with very little gameplay involved, and lead onto the best part of the game, the Action Stages.

The sense of speed when you play as Sonic is exhilarating, although the 3D aspect makes it hard to avoid obstacles on the track, and it can be very frustrating when you have a good head of speed,only to see Sonic clip an obstacle and stutter to a halt. Also the speed of Sonic makes it very difficult to negotiate moving platforms. Having said that though some of the levels are really well designed, and it could be argued that some may well have inspired Super Mario Galaxy – with Sonic running up walls and getting pinged around like a pinball in some truly rollercoaster levels. Some of the mini levels like the snowboarding and pinball are also well crafted and entertaining.

This annoying blue border is the symptom of a lazy conversion.

The main quest is fairly non-linear, which is one of the game’s biggest problems. We spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly around the levels trying to figure out what to do next. The only hint you get comes from a glowing star that appears in the Adventure Fields, which tells you to go to a certain area. As these levels have very little in the way of interaction, they get dull very quickly. The camera also frustrates, with you having to manually adjust it most of the time, and it sometimes gets stuck on the scenery – making it impossible to see what’s happening. We really do feel this flaw should have been addressed prior to the game’s release. We were also disappointed to see that there was no widescreen option, so instead there is a large blue border on both sides of the screen, which just smacks of a lazy conversion. The soundtrack and voice acting also grate, with the music being a horrendous mix of 80’s soft rock, which sullies the original’s catchy mix of tunes, while the voice actors are just annoying. But then who has ever played a Sonic game for the plot and characterisation?

The snowboard level is brief, but is a lot of fun.

Sonic Adventure is a really hard game to judge. At times it can rival Super Mario Galaxy with some of its insanely creative levels, and exhilarating rides that are unsurpassed even today. It’s such a shame that some almost fatal flaws nearly derail the flying hedgehog, as this game is so agonisingly close to being an all-time classic. It does show, however, that Sonic can work in 3D. They just need to learn from what went wrong in this title, and then perhaps Sonic can stand beside Mario on the King of the Platformers podium once again.

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Written by Kevin M

I’ve been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70’s. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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