Sonic Adventure (Review)

Most would argue Sonic Adventure doesn’t need a review, however in a world where every new 3D Sonic title is ragged on for being buggy and a poor representation of Sonic. Sonic Adventure reminds us that Sonic can be 3D it just hasn’t been done right in quite long time.

Now I’m not going to lie, I played through Sonic Adventure recently and it was my first ever playthrough. I did play the sequel for a couple hours on PC about a decade ago, but I didn’t enjoy the gameplay using a keyboard, so this time I played the original on the Dreamcast. Lets just say it was definitely made for that controller because it controls much better using the original controls. Not to mention I was also blown away by the graphics for a 1998 game. There’s nothing quite like playing a retro game on it’s original equipment just to be officially blown away by the quality. In 1998 I was still playing games on PC with ‘Wolfenstein 3D type’ 3D graphics at best, I could never afford a Dreamcast until recently, so in all honesty I never really knew what quality was on offer back then.

Onto the game itself, you start with some cutscenes, and an introductory boss battle and action stage mixed in, that help show the player the basics of gameplay alongside setting the plot of the story. Personally I found the Chaos 0 boss battle at the start a little jarring, not so much because it was out of place, but because in terms of Sonic games I’ve played the past 10 years, it didn’t feel familiar. It was an incredibly easy battle anyway, and obviously simply a way to address combat mechanics and get used to working with Sonic in the first ‘true’ 3D Sonic game. You then jump into Emerald Coast which is a very familiar 3D Sonic experience and very Green Hill esque, very ‘un-jarring’ and a great introductory action stage to start with.

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The game introduces you to a hub world and as you play through, you find further hub worlds called ‘Adventure Fields’ and you find out how to unlock action stages as you progress. You also unlock other playable characters throughout Sonic’s story including Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, Big the Cat and E-102 each with their own story and abilities.

There’s also the Chao garden where you can interact with Chao and level them up via small animals you find when defeating enemies throughout the game. These Chao can be raced in Chao Races or transferred to the VMU for a minigame ‘Chao Adventure’ where you make your Chao faster and stronger.

However what was potentially the most interesting thing about the game was how ‘non-buggy’ it was for a 3D Sonic game. In the recent years as many people would know, most 3D Sonic games are kinda glitchy, or the gameplay mechanics are kinda poor. Things like ending up underneath a 3D object and having to try and get out. Things like Sonic being unreasonably slow or not jump correctly, or somehow warping to a different location, or controlling.. just terribly.

Of all the things Sonic Adventure does right, it’s refined gameplay, very few glitches and very good speedy Sonic gameplay, as well as some clever gimmicks, but these gimmicks never get in the way of core Sonic gameplay. As someone who’s played a number of recent 3D Sonic games, jumping back to an old one I was instinctively waiting for a glitch to happen at certain places, but it never did, even when the graphics were not quite keeping up with the gameplay, the game mechanics remained true to what it was attempting to achieve. For example, If the models in certain areas of the game were particularly ‘short on polygon’s’ the collision detection would still work as intuitively as you would hope for.

Which is why I say at the top of the post “Sonic Adventure reminds us that Sonic can be 3D it just hasn’t been done right in quite a long time.” It really does show us that Sonic works as a 3D game, without having to be buggy and with gameplay mechanics on point. I think we’d all love to see Sega/Sonic Team create a new Sonic game as polished and refined as Sonic Adventure, one that felt like a game made because the creators love Sonic and love game development and genuinely want to make a polished title worth buying. I’m sorry if that is the intention with recent 3D Sonic titles, but it honestly feels like they are churning new Sonic titles out because Sonic sells and that’s it, that’s certainly how Sonic Forces felt to me. Imagine a 3D Sonic with the same love and dedication put into it that Sonic Mania had?

But to get back on track with Sonic Adventure specifically, as mentioned, it is a solid 3D Sonic game and would recommend it to the following people:

  • Those who haven’t played it but:
    • Love Sonic games
    • Love Dreamcast games
    • Rag on 3D Sonic games all the time and suggest Sonic can’t be 3D
  • Those who have played it but:
    • Miss it
    • Have forgotten what a good 3D Sonic game is like

It is kinda hard to fault the game, if I were to fault it would probably simply be that it tried to achieve things that the graphics of the day, and controller weren’t quite equipped for. I mean the controls and graphics for the time were awesome! But for someone playing in 2018, it really is a little jarring. Otherwise a very solid 3D Sonic game.

Rating: 4/5

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Featured and Post Images: All images are taken by the author of Gaming Detour.

I must apologise for the quality of all images included, I don’t (currently) have any equipment for taking screens from the output of my consoles, hence I use a phone camera, which I maintain, is better than nothing.

 

5 comments

  1. I would argue that most works could use a review – even universally acclaimed/panned ones. After all, sometimes when one gets caught up in the reception of a given work, it can be difficult to ascertain its true quality based off of what the fans/detractors say about it.

    As for Sonic Adventure, I’d say it gets a lot of flak for sending the series into its downward spiral, but in all honesty, I’d argue that criticism is better lodged toward Sonic Heroes – the first core Sonic game I’d go as far as calling outright bad. For its time, Sonic Adventure was actually a solid effort at making a 3D Sonic game. The problem I have with the game is with it is that it’s clear Sonic’s scenario is the one that got all the effort – the other scenarios range anywhere from decent, but flawed in execution to bordering on outright bad. What’s clear is that none of them are fleshed out as well as Sonic’s scenario. Sonic gets ten levels, all of which he explores the majority of, while the others are usually stuck with smaller chunks of those same stages. Again, this wasn’t a bad attempt, but the execution is a little off.

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    • I definitely see where you are coming from, I think I’m a little more positive as I’ve recently played Sonic 2006, Unleashed and Forces in the past year, and the most recent has been Adventure, and all I could think is, “gosh this is so much better!”.

      But you are right it’s clear pretty early you don’t as much with the additional characters as with Sonic, however from my perspective, I probably would’ve been happy with just the Sonic story, so anything beyond that, felt to me like a bonus.

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    • It’s aged as well as any other early 3D game imho. If you can looked past the low polygon count (and it’s not even that bad for 1998!) to me, it’s an incredible game.

      Also yeah you’re right about super sonic, that should’ve been featured more in the game.. but you kinda get used to Super Sonic not showing up much these days, so it didn’t really bother me :/

      Like

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