For a character who had earned his reputation in high-speed, side-scrolling platform games during the 16-bit era, Sonic Adventure was a distinct departure for Sonic the Hedgehog. It was a 3D style game that mixed both action and adventure stages and featured numerous playable characters from the Sonic universe. Both at the time of its release as well as during today’s day and age, the general reaction from critics and Sonic fans has been mixed. Some view the Sonic Adventure games as the last truly great titles in the series, while others point to it as the beginning of the popular mascot’s downfall.
Graphics and Sound (2 out of 5)
One thing’s for sure, and that’s the fact that the visuals are pretty rough by today’s comparison, though I guess that’s not a total shock considering that this is a remake of an old Sega Dreamcast game. The character models are particularly ugly, as they look choppy and lack proper detail, and the camera view is problematic. Also, there are sometimes graphical flaws. For example, in one stage, upon reaching the finish, I was treated to Sonic and Tails standing by the goal, with the blue hedgehog’s fist going right through his partner’s head. There’s voice acting, but on the whole it’s pretty mediocre. The biggest problem with the voices isn’t the quality of the acting, though, it’s the fact that the lines are often hard to hear, mainly because the music is far too loud and drowns them out. These production values may not have been bad upon the game’s initial release, but they most certainly have not held up well, especially when compared to its sequel, Sonic Adventure 2. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to award this category a below average score.
Story (3 out of 5)
The overarching story focuses on a creature named Chaos, a powerful entity that is working alongside longtime Sonic foil Dr. Eggman. This creature feeds off the energy of the Chaos Emeralds and grows into a more powerful form each time. Sonic the Hedgehog, his friends Tails, Knuckles and Amy, as well as some new faces, all have to team up to combat this new nemesis. Each character gets a crack in the spotlight, as the game divides up the game into individual storylines, each telling a different part of the story and ultimately coming together and culminating in a final battle against Chaos. It’s a great idea, but unfortunately the execution is rather sloppy, as not all of the stories intersect well and many event scenes fail to play out in exactly the same way. That would be forgivable if we these were supposed to be flashback sequences, and each character remembered events differently, but they’re not. Still, the story was considered entertaining enough to be adapted into a plot line for the Sonic X Saturday morning cartoon show, so certainly that has to count for something, right?
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
Sonic Adventure DX is essentially a 3D action/adventure game, which means there will be a lot of running, jumping, and collecting of various items, with a few character-specific power ups thrown in for good measure. Actual objectives vary by individual character, however. Sonic levels are mostly high-speed action, with the blue hedgehog traveling from start to finish and battling enemies in a traditional fashion. Amy, meanwhile, spends a lot of her time fleeing from one of Eggman’s robots, while Tails usually finds himself in a race against another character and newcomer Big the Cat spends much of his time fishing. Again, this is a great idea, but it stumbles in its implementation. I’m all for gameplay variety, but some of these styles of play are downright dull (Big) or annoying (Amy). Even with so many characters to play as, and despite a crude early implementation of the chaos-raising minigame, this one will last most gamers just two to three days, tops.
Overall Rating (2 out of 5)
In its heyday, when it was first released for the Dreamcast back in 1998, it may have been a three or even a four-star game. However, the passage of time and the advances in video game technology have not treated Sonic Adventure kindly. That’s not to say that this is a terrible game, but it looks and feels very, very dated. Both it and the Gamecube version of its sequel, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, are available for about the same price (definitely less than $20, and possibly under $10 if you’re lucky). Yet the sequel is a much better, much more refined game. If you enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog on the Xbox 360 or PS3 and you haven’t played this game yet, it might be worth checking both this game and its sequel out, but if you’re only picking one, make it Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.