Sonic Adventure

Back in the day – it was very exciting. A couple of years earlier, Mario had redefined the platform game by making the jump into 3D in Super Mario 64 – now the shiny new Dreamcast console with its cute blue spiral (if you want to know, the reason it wasn’t orange in Europe was because it looked similar to a German company’s logo… damn them, I love orange) was getting Sonic Adventure – Sonic’s first foray into the third dimension.

Well, that’s not entirely the truth, and I like my nose the way it is – so to avoid a Pinocchio situation… there was a 3D game on the Megadrive, but Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island was a forced isometric affair – and didn’t really count.  A game called Sonic X-treme which had a 3D sprite render of Sonic and 3D worlds was supposed to be made for the 32X, then the Saturn but confusion and lack of approval from Japan led to the project being scrapped.  Which was a shame, because with its weird fisheye lens, little planets and gravity changing it had inventive elements which wouldn’t be seen again until Super Mario Galaxy.

But this isn’t a review of Sonic games that were never made, it’s about the first fully 3D Sonic game, Sonic Adventure. Originally released in 1999 – it had all the familiar Sonic elements – rings, star bumpers, a two tailed fox – and most importantly… speed. It felt like a proper Sonic game – with your brain taking that vital half second to catch up to everything that you saw on screen, something that later sequels (I’m talking about your `Werehoggy ass, Sonic Unleashed) didn’t seem to manage quite as well.  And it had Chao! Cute cute Chao! And you also get to raise your cute cute Chao in the lovely Chao garden.  They’re soooo cute (but mine, of course, were always raised to be evil looking… and cute)!

Not only did you have the cool running and ring collecting, there were also some ‘wow’ moments, like the jumping killer whale that crushed the track on the first Emerald Beach level, the tornado on the Windy Valley Level and cool winding cameras, loops, hollow trees, bosses, and a whole lot more.  It also introduced the ‘homing spin jump’ where pressing jump in the air would automatically send you where you were meant to be, meaning you could destroy eight enemies in a row to jump to the next area with ease. It was an easier, less precise experience than Mario – but that’s exactly what Sonic should be.

There were also some less than wow moments – with some really bad clipping and fogging in places, but given the speed of the game and the whooshy camera, that’s hardly surprising. What was less forgivable was the sometimes shonky collision detection. Sonic may be able to drill through walls with a Whisp in Sonic Colours – but he also did it in Sonic Adventure when he wasn’t supposed to. There are a few times where the camera spins around to face Sonic and you can see what’s going on behind him, but you are still in control for Sonic running and so many times I have swapped from pressing forward on the thumb stick to pressing back on the thumb stick. The speed at which the camera changes from one angle to the next, can get pretty disorientating.

Another change for Sonic Adventure was the different types of stages that you got – rather than just the traditional ‘action’ and ‘boss’ levels.  So, you played as Sonic (so cool!) and ran through the levels; played as Tails (so cute!) and race against Dr Eggman; played as Amy Rose (so annoying!) with her Hammer; played as Knuckles (so pink, er, I mean red!) to collect the chaos emerald shards; Big the Cat (so big!) to fish and robot E-102 Gamma (so shiny!) to shoot things. The variety was good in some cases (fishing for Froggy) and annoying in others… like Amy Rose’s levels, but at least there weren’t many of them.

There were also mini games, like Amy’s Whack-A-Mole style hammer game – which came along in the Sonic Adventure DX version which was re-released on Windows and for the Gamecube (a sad day when we saw Sonic on a Ninty console for the first time, sniff) as well as mission modes.  It’s this version which we get on Live Arcade (and the PSN network), because there is a ‘Sonic Adventure’ DLC for 400 points which will give you all those things as well (which also means cameos as Cream the Rabbit and a chance to play as Metal Sonic… the shiny metal bastard).

So – what about the game.  Well, it was the best selling Dreamcast game for a reason – and it’s certainly the best 3D Sonic game to date (although having seen Sonic Colours at the Sega Preview Event, that may be changing soon) – and it dates pretty well, and it’s a very faithful version.  Perhaps too faithful – there really isn’t any reason that the Xbox 360 version should have problems with collision detection, pop ups in the environment and areas where you fall through the freaking floor.  I know the phrase is, ‘if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it’ – but it was sort of broke, just round the edges, and it would be nice to have it cleaned up.







5 responses to “Sonic Adventure”

  1. Christopher Benson avatar
    Christopher Benson

    Sorry but you stated that this was sonic’s first attempt into the third dimension but i believe your forgetting Sonic 3D Blast for the genesis that took place on flickies island. That was sonic’s first attempt at a 3D game sure it wasn’t as great as we all expected it to be but it still counts i’m not having a go or anything i’m just stating a correction.

  2. Christopher Benson avatar
    Christopher Benson

    erm forget what i said i only read the first paragraph sorry

  3. Danny avatar

    As broken as this game often is, I still love it. Even the Big the Cat sections.

  4. Kalvaza avatar

    Nostalgia is a dangerous thing in video games. While this game is no doubt one of my most cherished memories from my childhood, I doubt it would have aged well, what with the kind of quality we expect from our games nowadays. It’s for the same reason I’m not keen on re-playing Goldeneye 007. I’m so tempted to hand over my points but I know I’ll be disappointed.

  5. Simon avatar

    I had this for my Dreamcast and loved the opening levels, but then I honestly think I got stuck and never played it again. Stuck in a Sonic game. Who’d have thunk it?

    Just tried the trial though and it’s still a great feeling, thundering through the levels.

Leave a Reply