Sonic Adventure

a game by Sonic
Platform: Dreamcast
Editor Rating: 8.7/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 7.7/10 - 22 votes
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See also: Sonic Games

The Dreamcast has Sonic the Hedgehog fans dreaming of Sonic adventures, so here's an update for... Sonic Adventure in Japan.

As last reported in GamePro (see special feature, "Sonic Returns for the Dreamcast," November '98), in addition to its supersonic running action clocking a blazing 60 frames of animation per second, Adventure will sport a variety of gameplay built around six playable characters. Included in Sonic's crew are familiar cohorts--Tails, Knuckles, and Amy--and new guys, Big the Cat and the robot, E -102. Though you'll be able to play with any character on any level, each level will emphasize a particular characters strengths. For example. Sonic's levels will feature classic ringgathering, while E - 102s level will be a 3D shooter.

Sonic will get additional assistance this time. You'll capture creatures and, using DNA acquired during the game, evolve them into other helpful forms. Sonic also sports new skills, including the ability to climb structures, run up walls, and pop a spin dash that homes in on targets.

Sonic Adventure sounds like a blast--too bad U.S. gamers must wait a whole year to play.

Download Sonic Adventure

Dreamcast

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Don't count the Dreamcast out just yet--especially if you're a Sonic fan. Sonic Adventure may just change your mind entirely, perhaps inspiring you to start saving up for a Dreamcast purchase come this fell.

Oot of the Blue

Once you plug in this game, you're immediately swarmed by some of the best graphics you'll ever see on a home console system. Gone are the clipping, fogging, and bad polygon-meshing evident in the last Sonic game. Sonic R for the Saturn. From the smooth, seamless Sonic and enemies (like the massive killer whale that chases you in the first level) to the incredibly detailed, breathtaking environments (such as the tornado from the Mystic Ruins), Sonic Adventure takes you away from the normal humdrum of everyday gameplaying and seats you front row and center for the thrill ride of your life.

The gameplay is fundamental Sonic ring-gathering with a tremendous amount of interaction with both the virtual Sonic city (and all the citizens you must talk to) that serves as the background, and with other elements of the system like the save cards that are housed in the controller. In fact, everywhere you turn, there's something to do.

You can also play as one of five Sonic characters: Knuckles, Tails, Amy, the robot E-102, and a mysterious fellow known as Big the Cat You scurry through the levels looking for various objects such as Chaos Emeralds and Dr. Robotnik's animal-changing machines, dashing through loops and racing across bridges with so much speed that your eyeballs will need some pre-game conditioning.

Sonic Sung Blue

Sonic's sonics aren't as topnotch as the visuals in this Japanese version, strictly because of the abysmal caterwauling of the singer on the CD, who at one point warbles, "I'm looking for someone blue like you." Try the morgue, sweetheart The other effects, however, are right on target, including the comfortably familiar ring-snagging ping from past Sonic games.

The control is just as solid as in other Sonic games, although with the game's new 3D look, you may want to slow Sonic to a trot occasionally in order to see whats going on. Spinning and Spin Dashing are back, along with new trampolines and bumpers, one of which actually lets you hang from the button until you decide where you want to go.

Run For Your Money

The real joy of Sonic Adventure is that you can't put down the controller.

The adventure draws you into the chaotic, expansive world of Sonic and his friends, perhaps even bringing a nostalgic tear of joy to an old-schoolers eye. Sonic is fun, fast, and a great reason to purchase a Dreamcast. Run, don't walk, and jump into Sonic's new Adventure.

Go out the small door In the lobby and you'll be on the street with the Casino! Power up the shoes and ride the rings inside! Once inside, play one of the two pinball games (Nights or Sonk) to gather coins for the bank. When the bank vault is full, grab the Chaos Emerald! Wooooohoooo! Ride the wave of snow. Jump over minor obstacles, ride the fences and halfpipes, and smash through any ice blocks. Don't slow down or it's an eternal White Christmas for you!

Graphics

From the very first level through the tornado ride and into the wild Blues yonder. there isn't one part in the game that doesn't dazzle. Sonic Adventure is a spellbinding showcase for the new Dream-cast engine.

Sound

Yoko Ono couldn't have performed the music any better--and that's not a compliment However, the pain of the awful singing is offset somewhat by the crystal-clear effects along with the familiar Sonic bells and whistles from past games.

Control

With just a couple of buttons for jumping and Spin Dashing, it doesn't get much easier than this. You may find yourself struggling with some of the dizzying perspectives in Sonic's new 3D world.

Fun Factor

Whether you slow down to search for hidden areas or just barrel through the game at lightning speed, you'll find this the best Sonic game ever. An adventure like this comes about once in a lifetime.

We revi e w e d the Japanese version of Sonic Adventure in our April issue (see "ProReviews"), and with its outstanding graphics, rich environments, and speedy-Sonic pace, it's likely to be one of the darlings of the show. Old-timers will remember that Sonic was the flagship title for the Genesis. But sometime during the mid-'90s, Sonic games hit a lull; Sonic Spinball and (ugh) Sonic R really tarnished the brand. So Sega is smart to release the hedgehog's newest tide with the high-quality graphics and action-oriented gameplay that return Sonic to his roots.

Basically, the game has Sonic and his friends racing around and gathering rings and Chaos Emeralds. But unlike past Sonics' visuals, the 3D backgrounds lend a depth to the game that's breath-taking to behold. Nuances like out-of-control camera angles and amazing water effects should push the game to greatness, while hidden areas, power-ups (such as faster shoes and invincibility), and flawless character design should guarantee long-lasting playability. If Sonic Adventure's release coincides with the Dreamcast's, make it your first purchase.

You can't have a Sega launch without rolling out the spokeshog. Sonic Adventure puts Sonic the hedgehog in a wild velocity-busting adventure with some of his old friends (such as Tails and Knuckles) in seven levels of all-out 3D platform-style mayhem. Sonic really pushes the Dreamcast into eye-blitz territory with spectacular graphics and amazingly fast gameplay that includes a wild ride inside a tornado and an avalanche run during which a giant snowball chases you. You won't have a minute to spare (or a finger without a callus) after tearing through the game's challenging worlds--one even focuses entirely on pinball machines.

Although already out in Japan, Sonic Adventure has undergone some minor changes for its American debuc For instance, the camera angle has been slightly tweaked. While most changes were based on American tastes, the Japanese version had strong voice talent for Knuckles and Sonic that will hopefully be duplicated (although we could live without Tails's ridiculous voice).

Regardless of the changes, Sonic will be the most fun you'll have with your Dream cast If you're looking for a game with depth and stamina, Sonic will fit the bill perfectly.

Overview

I’m something of a latecomer to the Sonic games. I’d played a few times on friends' systems, but didn’t have a Sega of my own. A couple of months ago I picked up a used Genesis along with Sonic I, Sonic II, and Sonic and Knuckles. Since then I’ve been avidly playing through any Sonic game I could lay my hands on and loving every minute, so when I got the chance to take his first Dreamcast adventure out for a spin I was pretty excited. Fans of the series will find plenty to like—all the high-speed action is still there, along with an involved storyline and gorgeous 3D world to explore.

All the favorite Sonic characters are back, along with all their moves and tricks. Of course, there are new characters to interact with as well as new tricks and moves for Sonic and friends. Dr. Robotnik (a.k.a. Eggman) is using the power of seven magic Chaos Emeralds to create an indestructible monster and destroy Station Square. Sonic and company are on a quest to outwit the evil doctor and find the missing emeralds before it's too late. Along the way they will have to flee from a killer whale along a tropical beach, snowboard down icy peaks, race through mysterious ruins, fight their way through a flying fortress, and fly through a giant tornado—all in a day's work for our heroes.

Gameplay

Up to now Sonic has been (mostly) limited to 2D—Sonic Adventure changes that completely. This 3D makeover retains the sensation of speed found in previous titles and merges the classic Sonic gameplay with breathtaking 3D landscapes and an involved adventure-style plot line.

The game opens with a brief battle against Chaos (a liquid creature created by Dr. Robotnik). Once Sonic defeats the monster, he takes a break at the pool until Tails crashes an experimental plane onto a nearby beach. Tails convinces Sonic to follow him to his workshop, where the two run into Robotnik again. After he steals the Chaos Emerald which Tails had been using to power his plane, Sonic and Tails start off on a quest to stop Robotnik’s plans to use Chaos to destroy Station Square and raise his own robot city in its place.

The gameplay splits between adventure sections where you have to solve puzzles and explore for clues, and action stages which are more along the lines of earlier Sonic games. As you progress through the adventure stages, new action areas are unlocked. Completing each action sequence in turn allows you to explore more of the adventure areas. Each action stage sees Sonic (or one of the other characters) racing around vast landscapes, often at a frantic pace. Most action stages are fairly linear, but some of the later stages offer several branching paths to completion. All the familiar Sonic moves are present—spinning to kill enemies, bouncing off springs, and collecting rings have transitioned to the 3D world beautifully.

Each character has its own style in the action stages. Sonic and Tails are geared toward racing through at top speed, while getting Amy or Knuckles through a level may take more thought and planning. I found the levels with Big to be the most annoying in the game. Generally he must use his fishing pole to hook and reel in his missing friend Froggy. While this premise isn’t bad, the implementation is awful. It takes forever to get the stupid frog hooked on the line, and then it’s a several-minute fight to try and reel him in. Often as not the stupid frog will slip off the hook and you’ll have to try all over again. After several attempts to get through even the first level with Big in any reasonable amount of time, I gave up and switched to a different character.

The biggest problem I had with the adventure sections of the game was the choppiness of the storyline. I started playing as Sonic and ran through all his levels first. Playing this way left me somewhat confused about the storyline, as it seemed to leave huge gaps in the plot and sequences that didn’t connect to anything else that was going on. After playing the other characters it started to make more sense, as each reveals different sections of the overall story. After several character switches I finally began to figure out the overall plot line, but there are still some sections that don’t make sense, even after several days of playing.

The game also suffers from several bugs. In many areas the characters will fall right through what should be solid floors. I’ve had cases where a character can walk across a section of floor, turn around and go back over the same spot and fall to its death. Characters also seem to get stuck in areas where there aren’t obstacles. These problems didn’t happen too often, but often enough to become annoying. The game also will not allow you to skip the cut scenes. I restarted my game a couple of times and found that even though I had already seen a scene and wanted to skip ahead to the action, the game forced me to sit through the entire sequence. The problems are not overwhelming—I enjoy this game a whole lot more than it annoys me and plan to keep playing for a long time. There are lots of secrets and twists in the levels to keep you playing over and over again, as well as extra touches that boot the fun factor. One cute addition to the game is the A-Life system. You can find eggs throughout the game that will hatch into Chaos characters that can be raised in special garden areas. You can even load the Chaos into the VMU (Virtual Memory Unit) and play a mini virtual pet-style game to train them. Once trained, they can be loaded back into Sonic Adventure and entered into races that can win you special bonuses and awards.

Graphics & Audio

I’m mainly a PC gamer—I like my high-end 3D card and top-end sound card. Until now, I’ve not found a console system that could match it for overall quality and impressiveness. Dreamcast has changed that. Sonic is the first (and so far only) game I’ve played on the new system, and I was blown away. The 3D modeling and lighting and smoke effects rival anything my Voodoo card can do, and the textures throughout the game are sharp and beautifully rendered. From brilliant explosions to water effects that actually look wet, the visuals are mind-blowing. Some sections of the game look better than others (the game uses a slightly lower resolution for high-speed sequences where display speed is more important than full visual quality), but overall the game is more than a match for any 3D game—console or PC. There are a few problems with the graphics, particularly with the game’s camera. As you race around the levels there are many places where it gets stuck behind walls or other objects, making it impossible to see what the character is doing. This is always frustrating, and sometimes deadly—several times I walked off ledges or was killed by enemies I couldn’t see. Also, there are times when the camera angle switches perspective, but the game does not take this into account when dealing with the controller. You can be barreling along the track just fine, only to have the camera angle switch and suddenly the direction that was forward on your controller is now backward or sideways—perhaps a minor nitpick, but very frustrating nonetheless. Additionally, there are areas of the game where the frame rate slows down a bit—usually when there are a couple dozen or more enemies on screen at the same time. In my opinion this is less forgivable on a console system where the designer knows exactly what hardware the game will run on than it is with PC games where you can always upgrade the system for more speed.

The music throughout Sonic includes a little of everything. From hip-hop to tribal, techno to ethereal, the soundtrack blends well with the action onscreen. My favorite tracks are the wind chimes found in the ice caverns, but all the tracks are great. Each character also has its own theme song—I particularly like Amy’s "My Sweet Passion" and the theme for E-102 (the robot). The only problem I had with the soundtrack was that in some sections I found it overpowered the game action—an option to set the music volume would have been a plus. If you have a Dolby surround system you can hook up to your Dreamcast, I would highly recommend it—the music is even more impressive when it comes from all directions.

The sound effects throughout the game are very effective. Classic sounds like the ring pickup chime and the whine of Sonic spinning up to speed are still there, along with a host of new clangs, honks, and explosions to fill out the audio scene. My one complaint is with the voices of the characters in the cut scenes. The English version is lackluster—the voices themselves are great, but the pacing of the dialog is off, making the characters sound less than excited about what’s going on. I ended up switching the audio to Japanese and toggling on the English subtitles—I didn’t understand the speech, but the characters sounded more involved with the story.

Bottom Line

Sonic Adventure is a great game that provides tons of fun and lots of replay time—Sonic has made the transition to a 3D world with style. All the fun of the original Sonic series is here and, while it does have some glitches, at the end of the day it’s a superb addition to the Sega family. With its magnificent visuals and fast-paced gameplay, it will stay on my play list for a long time. While other games on Dreamcast look promising, this one alone has made the new system worthwhile in my book.

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