Sonic’s back! After 5 long years (if you don’t count Sonic 3D Blast) and 2 consoles later, Sega released the true successor to Sonic & Knuckles as Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast in 1999. Sonic was a launch title and was many Dreamcast owner’s very first DC game so Sega knew it had to give them a Sonic game that felt like a true return to form. However, it couldn’t be 2D because that would not feel like they were taking advantage of their powerful new hardware but it also couldn’t be as poorly imagined and realized as Sonic 3D Blast either. The end result is nice mix of action stages meant to showcase the Dreamcast’s graphic capabilities and give players that “Sonic” feeling as well as adventure sections complete with a true story, voice acting (which admittedly isn’t great), puzzles to solve and a limited open world feel. The plot involves Dr. Robotnik/Eggman attempting world domination via stolen chaos emeralds and the creation of a new enemy that appears to be made of water. After completing certain action stages you will re-connect with characters from your past (Tails, Knuckles) as well as new friends such as Amy, Gamma and Big. Once you have met up with each of these characters during the course of the game, you can then select them as playable characters for future levels offering nice variety and replayability. The music in Sonic Adventure is rock-based not unlike Sonic CD and still sounds good, if a bit dated. You also have the option to hatch and raise Chao pets which I had little interest in when playing this game so I skipped it. Supposedly you can save your Chao pets to your VMU and then have them fight against others who have done the same when linking two VMUs together but honestly, that novelty is irrelevant now in 2017. The action stages are memorable but the occasional bad camera angle will plague your ability to see what you’re doing and you’ll either lose a life or two falling off cliffs and bridges or else miss some power-ups. This is not an uncommon phenomenon for the late 90’s 3D games so I can’t fault Sonic Adventure too much for it. There’s a lot to this game that I have yet to uncover as the sheer size and scope of Sonic Adventure makes all previous incarnations look and feel simple (not a bad thing in my opinion). Sonic Adventure is to the original 16-bit Sonic’s that Mario 64 was to the 8-bit Super Mario Brothers games. Massive in scope, a bit overwhelming at first, but ultimately familiar.
The sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, was released two years later in 2001 at the tail end of the Dreamcast’s short life-span. As the first Sonic Adventure was the best selling title for the Dreamcast, it would have been a big mistake to NOT release a another game in the franchise even though the console was dying. Certainly this game was greenlit and began production well before the fate of the Dreamcast was sealed. I have not had a chance to really dive into Sonic Adventure 2 as I picked it up at a used video game store while on a business trip in December but from what I gather from what I’ve played and read about the game, you have two basic stories you’re taking part in. One is the “good” story line that pits Sonic and his friends against evil forces to save the world while the “evil” story line pits Robotnik and a couple of new characters, Shadow the Hedgehog and Rogue the Bat against Sonic and team to take over the world. This feels reminiscent to Sonic CD’s past, present and future parallel universes and Sega’s (or more accurately, Sonic Team’s) attempt to keep the franchise fresh. Definite kudos to them for doing something unique this late in the game. Sonic Adventure 2 looks sharper than the first and honestly, without the adventure aspects utilized in SA1, the gameplay is more reminiscent of it’s 16-bit ancestors in style if nothing else. The Chao pets are back but I just can’t see myself getting into that no matter how much the series wanted to push it as a fun side game.
I’ve only made it about half way through the first Sonic Adventure and just started Sonic Adventure 2 so that has to be considered when I discuss my opinions about both titles. However, I will say that I enjoy both games quite a bit and would recommend them to any Dreamcast owner, Sonic fan or fan of action-adventure titles in general. Great return to form from the Sonic Team!
Currently in my collection:
Sonic Adventure – game, manual, case B+
Sonic Adventure 2 – game, manual, case A-