Gaming Revisit: Sonic Adventure

Thirteen years ago on September 9th Sonic Adventure released for the Dreamcast in North America. This game is legendary in two ways. One, it was defining in terms of the characters and introduced the term ‘Eggman,’ for America, and two, it brought Sonic to the 3D realm and defined how future games would work. Adventure did what Super Mario 64 did for the plumber, it revolutionized the series and brought it to bold new heights. 64 was critically acclaimed by fans, it somehow had all the classic Mario elements yet was something completely new. Like it or not, 3D was becoming the new major thing. So, just as with everything, the rival company would jump on board. (Like how Sony released Move and Xbox released Kinect after the Wii did its motion control thing.) Adventure was the revolution of the Sonic series. Before, the stories were very minimum in favor of extremely fun and fast paced sidescroller action. Rather than go the Mario route and keep things severely simple, Sonic went the other way for a pretty complex story. (And they kept getting more and more complex with the final ‘big’ story being in the universally panned (but I still like it) 2006 game.) Obviously after playing Adventure 2, Heroes, Shadow, and 06, the writing for this game is rather cheesy. Of course, this being the first story based Sonic game, it had to introduce the characters in a way that longtime fans could appreciate and that new fans could get into. (Because for a lot, this was their first Sonic game.) Thirteen years later, it still holds up well, even if the mouth syncing for the English words is laughable bad. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that everything I’m about to say is coming from the PSN release of the DX version.

My first Sonic game was Adventure 2 Battle for the Nintendo Gamecube. I have such great nostalgia for it, it’ll probably get a revisit somewhere down the road. After that came Heroes, Shadow, Riders, Unleashed, I’ve played all these games. I’ve rented DX in the past many years ago, but I never did play it in its entirety. So to be able to go backward and play it was truly a treat. There are six stories to do, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Gamma, and Big. Once you beat them all, you get to play as Super Sonic and battle Perfect Chaos. All these stories interconnect in one way or another. (Even Big’s useless story interconnects, more on that later.) In simple terms, the story is about Dr. Eggman whom has a creature called Chaos working for him. Every time the blue thing gets a Chaos Emerald, he grows bigger and stronger. By the end, Chaos betrays Eggman and goes on a rampage now that he’s in his Perfect form. There are, however, deeper things at work. A pretty straightforward story on the outside, but on the inside you see there’s more to it. In each character story we’re treated to flashbacks. An echidna named Tikal drops hints in every one of them, making the player think what the heck is going on. I’m rather disappointed this is Tikal’s only story appearance, she’s such a great character.

Like in the games after this one, each character has different abilities and ways they beat the stages. Sonic is of course the most simple to get, you just run straight. As a veteran player it’s easy to jump in, but it must have been something else for the players whom was running in a 3D world getting chased by a killer whale for the first time. Sonic’s main adversary is Dr. Eggman, whom serves as the final boss in his mode. It’s also the longest mode. This is also technically Sonic’s first ‘real’ appearance. In the previous games he’s a short chubby hedgehog  whom is pretty much given no lines, so it was really up to the player to give him a personality. Here we have the defining character for games to come. Laid back, always ready for a fight, and a true ‘hero’ in every sense of the word. Tails is portrayed as his best friend/sidekick. Since their together a lot, both their stories play similarly. Except the crash. Here we have Tails monologuing of how dependent he is of Sonic. In today’s standards it’s pretty cheesy, but back then it was important. So when Tails in the end says that he has to become independent, it was character development. Knuckles has come quite a long way, from laughing in Sonic’s face back in the old days to honorable protector. However, his dialogue is the most cheesy. It’s really hard to not burst out laughing every time he says something completely obvious like “I know…I’ll follow it back to Eggman’s base.” I do like how this game references some of the past adventures. When they realize that Eggman has taken the Emerald, Sonic shouts, “Knuckles, did you let him trick you again? ” which references when Eggman had him fooled the whole time in Sonic 3. The other reference is in Amy’s story when she flashes-back about the ‘good old days,’ showing us scenes of Sonic rescuing her from Metal Sonic back in Sonic CD.


Amy’s story is technically not the shortest, but you’ll beat it the fastest. I will admit I was never a fan of her. I didn’t see past her “I love Sonic!” persona. This game was too a defining one for her, since she had only one story appearance, back in Sonic CD. Here we see her having an obsession over Sonic, but once an birdie comes, that takes priority. Zero is this green robot that’s constantly after them throughout her story. First off, that robot wasn’t even named in the game. (Besides in the boss battle and instruction manual.) In fact, he’s quite random, with having no lines and absolutely no purpose. They could have at least done something with that guy. While Sonic is the most popular mode, my favorite was Gamma’s. Alright, technically this guy’s story doesn’t have much to do with the main thing, but it’s still the most interesting and engaging for a few reasons. For one thing, we get to see exactly what Dr. Eggman does inside his ship through the eyes of a robot. We see that he treats his robots not as individuals, but as workers, not mindless, but just workers. We’re also introduced to Gammma’s older brother ‘Beta.’ Things become interesting when Dr. Eggman ordered him to get the birdie from Amy. He accidentally enters the wrong room and sees Beta getting something done to him. Gamma simply says “Beta?” Then he leaves the room, saying that was the wrong door, and presides to enter the other one holding Amy. This sequence is one of my favorites in the game. He tells Amy to give him the bird, but the latter says no, and he says “Why not?” I love that, in his logic why would a creature protect something when she could save herself? He can’t compute that fact and lets Amy go. It’s character development as we see him realize Eggman is the true villain. His story is also the saddest. The player becomes emotionally attached to him, (which is a huge feat considering the other characters get pretty cheesy lines) and in the final battle against his brother Beta, he dies. Such a well made story. While Gamma doesn’t return, (that mindless Chaos Gamma in Battle does not count) five years later in Heroes a new robot called Omega kind of takes his place in that he’s a robot created by Eggman, but betrays him. He’s the one I grew up with, but I could understand the people that call him a Gamma rip.

I really wanted to give this game a 4.5/5, cause it did deserve it…until I played Big’s story. The fishing levels is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a Sonic game, and maybe all video games for that matter. On your first try you’re going to keep throwing your pole in there, watching Froggy bite it, then swim away. Big’s story is technically the shortest, but due to the fishing, it becomes longer than it should be. If it weren’t for minor things with the frog, this part of the game could have been written out completely. Plus, Big is what you get when you combine a stereotypical strong but not smart guy with a really Barney-like voice. It wouldn’t be until Heroes when this guy got an actual role again. (And I guess he wasn’t exactly a hit there either, to this day he hasn’t gotten any real roles.) While Eggman would technically be called the main antagonist, Chaos is the final boss. He’s established pretty well early on, as the first thing Sonic encounters. If you’re not like me, then you wouldn’t know the first thing about this guy. Longtime Sonic fans even whom have not played the game know the story of how Chaos is not evil at all, he just wants to protect the Chao. Everything comes full circle when he transforms into his monstrous Perfect form.

It’s also important to mention that this is the first Sonic game we see humans. Here we have the characters walking around peacefully, so it looks like it’s a normal thing for the citizens to see talking hedgehogs holding grocery bags. Anyways, it’s notable that this game introduces ‘Super Sonic.’ Sure, it has appeared in previous games, but here it was officially named. It’s also the first game to have Crush 40 do music for the series, with such stellar results. Obviously Open Your Heart is the highlight, and it really shines in the final battle. Perfect Chaos is fun to look at, but the actual battle is anti-climatic and rather easy. Of course, the Dreamcast could only go so far with making a giant water monster and little hedgehog battle of grand scale. The game is rather easy all around, but still a fun play. I’m a little surprised Chaos never really returned, (the optional fight in Battle does not count) he has a great backstory. Sure, the game doesn’t do the best job in explaining it and he has far too little appearances, but in the end, he’s a fine character and great final boss that Generations improved upon twelve years later. It’s also worth mentioning how great the animation looks in the cutscene where Station Square is flooded and Perfect Chaos makes his entrance, truly impressive.

Sonic Adventure is a modern classic. While 3D Blast is technically the first 3D Sonic game, this is the one that revolutionized the series. When played today, obviously its cheesy writing shows, and it’s far too easy. But, one can still appreciate the heart (well, besides Big’s story) and see how this game defined the characters for years to come. You can also view it as an experiment of sorts. All of the faults were corrected in its sequel, Adventure 2. (Better story telling, higher difficultly, and less glitches.) If you’ve never played this game, I highly encourage you to download it off the PSN or Xbox Live. Thirteen years later, it still holds up. (And I don’t know about you, but the statue in front of the Burger Shop still gets to me this day.)


And this is just for Godzilla fans, but doesn’t Perfect Chaos resemble Biollante? I think so. Even their roars sound similar.