Every single wonderful moment of the original Sonic Adventure Dreamcast title has made it to the Xbox Live Arcade/Playstation Network port. Allow me to list of all of those great moments in the following sentence: the parts where Sonic runs really fast. All of those parts that you hate, that you have erased from your mind to preserve the integrity of the game you once thought was a classic, have also made it into this port. Allow me to you use the rest of the review to describe those parts.
Sonic Adventure lived in my brain as a fun platformer with a few terrible moments, but was ultimately one of the games that made up the Dreamcast line up of quality games. Revisiting the game in this port has unfortunately soured my memory of this Dreamcast launch title. Sonic Adventures has not aged well, and worse, it calls into question those incredibly rare occasions where I have stood up for the Sonic franchise when it had clearly run off course at full speed.
As a port, the game functions well. It feels right and responds just like the original Dreamcast title, and it looks a lot better thanks to an HD upgrade. The game is presented in full-screen, with vertical bars taking up the left and right sides of your wide-screen television. There was a real missed opportunity to allow Sonic to take up all the available screen space, but it doesn’t really hurt the gameplay in any real sense.
Just hit mute
The music, of which there is nothing new (it is a port after all) switches back and forth from absolute musical atrocity to acceptably annoying. All the music is loud, distracting, terrible and incessant. Clicking through the menu to start the game restarts the main theme on each button press. They wanted to make sure that you heard the terrible music, and they can pat themselves on the back, because they can mark that mission accomplished.
Every character has about three to five stock animations that get reused depending on the circumstances. I know this is a Dreamcast launch game from 1999, but there is really no excuse for such limitations. Similar titles, and even launch titles of consoles prior to the Dreamcast had infinitely more polish that what is and was on display here for Sonic and the other characters nobody cares about.
Memories can be deceiving
Looking back on Sonic Adventure now, under this HD lamp, really shows off the lack of polish that made it to the shelves when the game originally launched. Unfinished animation, intentionally unsynced voice acting, and general bugs plague Sonic Adventure, and it’s not the the fault of the port, it is the fault of the source content.
The actual game, does have some moments of fleeting fun when you are playing as Sonic. Tails is pretty similar to Sonic, and experiences a few of the same fast paced moments of joy. Knuckles has an interesting set of moves that are fun to play with, flight being the main one, but his game type is frustrating. Knuckles must track down hidden objects with the help of sonar in an open explorable arena. Incessant sonar beeping isn’t helping his cause either. The less said about Amy’s slow paced, poor collision detection, hammer wielding, enemy outrunning gameplay, the better. I’ve already said too much. Playing as the robot, E-102, is actually different enough, and functional enough to not be a waste of time. Of all the available unnecessary characters, E-102’s game proves to be the most fun, but still makes the player wish that they still had control of Sonic.
I hate Big the Cat and think his Face is Stupid
'Big the Cat,' of all the ridiculous Sonic characters -- actually, of all ridiculous gaming characters ever, period -- can reclaim the prize he originally took in 1999, for being most pointless additional character and or gametype ever to be featured in a game. The Inclusion of 'Big the Cat' in Sonic Adventure, would be like including a platforming mini-game in 'Gran Turismo 5.' He is completely out of place and only serves to slow down the pacing of Sonic Adventure to a literal standstill. Or a sit-still if you prefer, because Big doesn’t even have the decency to stand up while he is fishing.
It’s not all bad, but it mostly is
The funny thing about all of this, is that there are some moments of genuine creativity. They are presented so quickly though, and as such an afterthought, that they fly right by you. The story for example, is terrible in every aspect, except for the way it is told. You get to see the story from the perspective of each character during the same period of time. It’s an inspired way to tell a story with many characters, but the story is so dumb, that it’s almost not even worth paying attention.
There is a brief moment playing as Sonic, where you have to step on switches to activate arrows that allow Sonic to run up and along the walls. The puzzle is incredibly brief and is passed by in a matter of seconds, but it could have been exploited to create some very cool gameplay scenarios. In fact, games like 'Ratchet and Clank' and 'Super Mario Galaxy' have built entire levels from this idea, and they were great! But here, Sonic literally runs right past it without even giving it a second glance.
I am being hard on Sonic, and perhaps even harder on an 11 year old game that has no business appearing on a modern console. Sonic can take it though, and he needs to. Many consider him their gateway into the world of videogames, and it is difficult to see my memory of a game I used to think was fun become incredibly tarnished. It’s not a bad port, and in some aspects it is not a bad game. When you are running at full speed as Sonic, hitting all the boosts, pulling off the loops, and outrunning the Orca whale as it demolishes the very pier you are running on (still the best part of the game), you remember why the game is so much fun. Those parts alone are almost worth the price of admission. It’s just that pesky rest of the game that ends up ruining all the fun.
Final Score: 5.5
Reviewed by Kyle Hilliard | 09.22.10
- Playing as Sonic is fun sometimes
- Perfect port, with a worthy HD visual upgrade
- Achievements are mostly friendly
Playing as anyone but Sonic is not fun all the time
Mute is a better option than the sound being offered here
Big the Cat
Will likely ruin your original memory of the game
Similiar Reviews: Sonic Unleashed (4.5) | Earthworm Jim HD (8.4)