Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces are coming out later this year, so it’s time to take a look at the 3D Sonic games. I’ve already reviewed the classic Sonic games, but now it’s time to take a look at the well-known but often divisive 3D games (along with some other Sonic-related stuff along the way in-between).
Finally, we get to the game that set the stage for 3D Sonic games…for better or worse.
Sega was in a deep trouble, what with the Sega Saturn not doing well (in the west, did well in Japan) and was already announcing another console when the Saturn was still around resulting in many gamers losing their trust with the company. Sega later released the Dreamcast in 1998 in Japan then everyone else got it in other countries in 1999. Sega knew that they needed a proper Sonic game for their console and it needed to be a launch title…or as close to a launch title if you count Japan since it was released a month after the Dreamcast was first released.
Sonic Adventure (ソニックアドベンチャー Sonikku Adobenchā), developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega and was released on December 23rd 1998 in Japan and in 1999 in the US, Europe and Australia.
This game introduced new…everything. From a new story to new characters, everyone has voices and most importantly, new character designs. My first experience with this game was the GameCube port like most gamers at my friend’s house. When I got the Wii, I got Sonic Adventure for GameCube, which I beat the game with my friend and it was a great experience I will forever treasure.
A few years ago I got a Dreamcast and finally got that console’s port of Sonic Adventure so I was going to review that port but it didn’t matter which port I review. But something went wrong with the game disc so I had to play the modern console port, the PS3 port to be precise…it was on sale.
Wait! This game has a complex plot…when I mean complex, I mean sort of messy, so where do I begin? And yes, I will spoil this a bit because this is Sonic and the last time Sonic had a decent plot was the one that didn’t need words to tell the tale.
Sonic has to battle Dr. Eggman (UUHHHHH, now I really do need to call him Eggman, don’t I), but Dr. Eggman has a new weapon, Chaos, a strange life-form that was sealed by Tikal because her father wanted to use the Chaos Emeralds for power, but was freed by Eggman. Dr. Eggman wants to use Chaos to conquer Earth, but not before destroying Station Square, killing none of the people since they were there one second before disappearing in the next nanosecond…uh?
So Sonic has to stop Eggman and Chaos, Tails tries to rely on himself for once, Knuckles has to collect pieces of the shattered Master Emerald as Angel Island plunges into the sea…again, Amy Rose has to protect a Flicky Bird called…Birdie, whilst being tracked down by Zero, E-102 Gamma is shooting his own partners and Big the Cat has absolutely no business being here but Yuji Naka was probably snorting crack and saw Duke Nukem dressed in a cat suit (if you haven’t got the joke, you’ll get it later).
The story is…yeah, it’s sort of messy but I saw a let’s play where they edited it so the story progresses in the correct order regardless of the playable character and I enjoy it more when it was in order, but when you actually play it, some parts make no sense but I enjoy it nonetheless.
I’m just going to say this now, but Big the Cat is one of the most pointless characters made for the game. Heck, he’s a filler character, what’s his story? He lost his frog friend and has to get it back due to some misunderstandings. Is this important to the overall plot? NO! Did he just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong predicament? YES! Would the game still be good if he wasn’t included? The game would still be good without him, lets move on!
DID YOU KNOW? The 3D gameplay you see in Sonic Jam for the Sega Saturn was a prototype for Sonic Adventure.
Now this is something I didn’t realise at first, it’s a free-roaming game like Super Mario 64 and I love this aspect of the game. The game has hubs including Station Square with the hotel, train station and a theme park called Twinkle Park, in which cute couples go free…now before Sonic enters, you’ll see a few feminists approaching the place and rioting right before the cutscene ends, but it’s very unlikely you’ll see them…just a thought?
You can take a trip on a train to go to Mystic Ruins where Tails lives and upon entering a cave when it’s opened for you, you can explore Angel Island where the Master Emerald is and can be in different states depending on what character and timeline you’re currently playing in. Then there is the Egg Carrier where you can access depending on which character you are.
You play as 6 characters so of course I’m going to start with Sonic (you have to anyway), his levels are simply Sonic levels in 3D and they’re pretty good, the levels work near enough well with him. His controls are some of the best in a 3D Sonic game…as in no other game has since surpassed the freedom of controls Sonic has here, I’ll say this now. He has the most stages to play in, like:
• Emerald Coast
• Windy Valley
• Sky Chase Act 1
• Twinkle Park
• Speed Highway
• Red Mountain
• Sky Chase Act 2
• Sky Deck
• Lost World
Most characters cannot access all the levels unless you glitch it out or something.
Tails can fly as usual and can attack enemies with his two tails. His levels consist of racing against Sonic, in some levels you can use your flight to your advantage to get in front. AAAAAAAAND the Tails levels are much better than Sonic R altogether, good job Sonic Team.
Knuckles can glide and climb up on walls. His levels consist of collecting pieces of the Master Emerald and that’s about it, but they’re fun and the radar will easily take you to the nearest Master Emerald piece…I wish I could say the same thing for the next game.
Amy can’t run fast like Sonic but has a hammer to destroy enemies. The missions consist of running away from a robot called Zero, who has been chasing you down throughout her part of the story.
Gamma’s levels consist of tank controls that aren’t PS1 tank controls since you still have full control, but since he’s a robot, he controls well and shooting is really fun.
THEN…Big the Cat, voiced by Jon St. John, who also voiced Duke Nukem (remember the joke earlier?), and his levels are the worst…but surprisingly they’re not impossible. The levels consist of fishing which is so out of place in a Sonic game anyway and to me, it’s more of a hindrance and an irritant at times but not as incredibly horrible as I once thought.
The graphics haven’t exactly aged well, especially the character models, they’re OK but my main problem is…their facial expression, it’s HORRIBLE, you’ll end up laughing at it or feel awkward, some characters will statically walk in one spot like when Eggman is walking to an escalator and he’s doing this and Knuckles is just standing there talking and by the time he decides to chase him, he’s already gone. There is also some gameplay problems, I’m clipping everywhere, the camera is not implemented well, especially the Lost World stage with that stone snake.
The level design is OK, they do the job well for being at least memorable and playing through them are decent, there are some moments I didn’t enjoy, not just Big’s levels, like Tails’ Sky Chase levels in which you have to play four times, two each with two characters and I’m only saying this because they quickly get dull overtime…in fact they get boring after the first level. And of course I’m going to love the Sonic levels, especially those that let me go fast.
The music is really good and awfully catchy, I do enjoy the classics style of music but I guess that the series needed to be upgraded and it was the mid-to-late 90’s so we needed radical s***, and the music had to change to fit with the times, mostly the electric guitar and stuff but I really like it, even the characters get their own theme song, and they’re great too, from Tails’ I WANNA FLY HIGH, to Knuckles’ national anthem…yeah, it’s that cool.
Overall, Sonic Adventure isn’t perfect, it was the first 3D Sonic game and for what it is, it’s a nice evolution. The gameplay is great minus Big’s story, the controls and physics, especially for Sonic, are fantastic and it’s something that should be refined for later games…though I doubt that will happen anytime soon. That’s the thing, this kind of gameplay will probably never be replicated seeing the much later Sonic games and it’s boost-to-win mechanics, but one can dream…fans…get to it.
Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourite 3D Sonic games, I really like it despite it’s flaws. I’m not entirely fond of the character designs since that cartoonish look of the classic series that is more admirable, appealing and timeless, are replaced with designs that look like it came from the 90’s, haven’t aged well and somehow are the designs that are still used to this day.
The graphics haven’t aged well, ESPECIALLY THE GAMECUBE PORT…no, no, it’s ok…bloody Game Grumps. The music is awesome, the story is ok…I’ve had enough of this game, this review took 4 years to produce and the reason being that the game died, it’s the only game I’ve ever played and reviewed where I’ve had issues throughout.
You can get it on the Dreamcast, GameCube, Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Steam.
Next week is the other Sonic Adventure game that people adore…if you played it on the Nintendo GameCube, it’s Sonic Adventure 2.