Sonic Adventure: RETROspective

written by Incognito

 

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Okay, Sonic Adventure is a tough one for me to look back on. So, I played it again all the way through with the Steam version of the game. Also, with some mods on it to make it look just like the Sega Dreamcast version or as close to it as I could. Funny story about the Steam version, it’s essentially a port of a port of a port. Anyway, while playing through I figured “oh man, my fond memories of this game are gonna be crushed. It has to be all nostalgia.” I was surprised that I genuinely enjoyed the experience over again. I wondered maybe it was still just because I felt nostalgia for it. I wondered why that any time I hear people speak of this game that it is usually in a more negative light. Well as we take a look in depth I will try my best to understand the heavy criticisms given.

Sonic Adventure was released onto the Sega Dreamcast in 1998 as a release title for the system. It sold well at the time and received critical acclaim with over two million copies sold by 2006 and was the Sega Dreamcast’s bestseller. Reviewers at the time lauded the game’s visuals and gameplay, calling it a major technological advancement for video games; some even speculated that it could popularize the Dreamcast. While others were frustrated by the camera controls and glitches and reactions to its audio were mixed. Also, people hate the cat. Big the cat is the considered the worst character to feature in a game by many lists and articles. Why y’all hate the cat so much? I get it, his voice was annoying and he followed a frog everywhere but, he is a nice guy, no?

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So, let’s talk about the story. You can play as 6 different characters which all have an overarching storyline. Sonic’s story is the most fleshed out and longest of them all, I mean it has to be right? He is Sonic after all. Throughout the adventure as Sonic you meet the other five heroes which consist of Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma. What a cast of characters I must say. Doctor Robotnik is giving Sonic a hard time once again as he has found a new way to “defeat” Sonic and friends. During his research, he learns about an entity called Chaos; a creature that, thousands of years ago, helped to protect the Chao and the all-powerful Master Emerald, which balances the power of the seven Chaos Emeralds. With all of that in place you go through the overarching stories as the six heroes in each way help to stop Chaos and that disgusting Eggman. Plenty of chicanery on Eggman’s behalf and lots of “gotta go fast” on Sonic’s part. How fun is it to play through those scenarios is the question I am sure you want me to answer.

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I’ll be straight up with you, Sonic Adventure is a down right buggy mess at times. The camera angles are atrocious for a speed running, loop de loop, high jumping, action platformer. The controls sometimes disallow you to even control Sonic properly with how sensitive they can be. The map design can be confusing and convoluted I even fell through the map just by running on the wrong edge of the road. Trying to attack an enemy can literally put you into an endless loop of Sonic himself just spinning around the enemy over and over again before actually hitting said enemy at all. I had to literally restart the game trying to attack enemies because it would just get stuck. With all that being said, the game is amazing. I know I sound crazy but when everything is working right and flowing well together it just takes you away. The music hits at just the right time in the level with you bouncing through the air; it truly is a sight to behold.

 

The biggest issue to me is the monotony of the game itself, once you have beaten Sonic’s story mode you have beaten the game. I know there are 6 other storylines but, honestly most of them see you revisiting the same areas albeit with a twist on gameplay. Amy is being chased by a robot named Zero. Running through most levels with her is a chore because she is one of the slowest characters aside from Big the Cat. Tails’ is almost no different from Sonic in the sense that you literally race Sonic through the same levels you already just played with a few sub levels that are different here and there. Big the Cat is just Fishing Simulator 1998; don’t even get me started on that mess. Knuckles, boy I love Knuckles as a character. I really do. I used to complain about his levels as a kid, but finding the 3 split pieces of the Master Emerald is so much easier than I remember, to the point where it was actually enjoyable. To say the least this game is packed with a good amount of content.

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Being a release title for the Dreamcast you would think this would be a masterpiece. It really does feel more like a beta disc at times. The graphics are not amazing but they aren’t horrible either. With so many great releases in the year of 1998 you would think Sega would do everything they could to polish their game to the highest of standards, but if that were the case the market would be a different place with Sega still in the console market. The soundtrack for the game in my opinion is way better than people give it credit for. I fondly remembered it before my revisit this month and it gives me the same feelings it always has. With there being a Steam version, and it selling pretty well with mostly positive reviews, who am I to say if it holds up to today’s standards. Well, I am Incognito and welcome to RETROspective because that’s what I do. Sonic Adventure is an amazing game. Flaws and all I do believe this should be experienced by as many people as possible. I will admit it is not a game for everyone, but those of you who would love it will become fans of it and then be disappointed by future titles. All jokes aside this game will always be up there for me on my list. Sonic Adventure gets my RETRO seal of Approval!

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