At least Chao don't piddle on the rug . . .
It was 1991 when we first met our super-fast hero. When Sonic the Hedgehog appeared on the Genesis, it instantly became a classic. Gamers couldn't get enough of the blazing framerate and well-designed levels. Since then, Sonic and his pals have graced countless games, from the typical (Sonic 3D Blast) to the bizarre (Sonic Spinball, Sonic R).
Now, to herald the launch of the new Sega system, Sonic makes his debut on the Dreamcast. With a super-fast framerate and neat little extras, Sonic fans are sure to be pleased. Though good, Sonic Adventure is not Sonic's best game ever.
The plot is the same as usual. Dr. Robotnik has once again taken tons of cute, fuzzy creatures hostage and turned them into cute, not-so-fuzzy robot creatures. In order to combat this evil, Sonic and his pals must romp thorough a plethora of worlds and levels filled with platform madness.
You can play as six different characters: Sonic (duh), Amy the Hedgehog (his girlfriend), Tails the mutant fox, Knuckles the Echidna, E-102 the Robot, and Big the Cat (my favorite).
Instead of just playing the same game with a different character (a la Sonic & Knuckles), each character has specific levels and an unique view of the plot line. While a few of the levels for the different characters are remarkably similar, most are quite different. In order to understand everything that goes on plot-wise in the game, you have to finish it with each character.
As you might guess, the graphics are gorgeous, but we are talking about a brand new system here. Though not the best-looking of the first set of Dreamcast games, Sonic Adventure definitely holds its own. With sweeping valleys, dark caves, and even the eye of a tornado, the designers obviously wanted to use this title to show off the power of the Dreamcast. While that's all well and good, they should have been focusing more on gameplay.
At its core, Sonic Adventure is basically the same old 3D platform game at a much higher speed. Many gamers might find this boring. After taking the graphics into account, there just isn't anything about the gameplay that's new or different. While this might work with the younger gamers, more seasoned veterans will want something more.
There are two areas of play. "Adventure" mode has you exploring the landscape, finding objects and such, with no worries about any enemies attacking you. "Action" mode is more traditional, consisting of a level with a start and a finish. While this sounds neat, the "Adventure" mode is slow and frustrating, especially when interrupted by the extremely fast "Action" levels.
Though it doesn't have much to do with the game, a neat addition are the "virtual pets," called Chao. Several Chao Gardens exist throughout the game, allowing you to raise your Chao from infancy to adulthood, and even breed them. You can feed them, hug them, and race them. On top of that, any fuzzy creatures you free from Robotnik can be given to the Chao, who will then adopt that creature's characteristics (ie. give it a bunny, it'll get bunny ears).
If that's not enough, you can download your Chao into the VMU (Dreamcast memory card) and play a mini-game where you have to guide your Chao on its journey or even fight another friend's Chao. Isn't parenting great?
The music is absolutely horrible. From Tail's "I Wanna Fly" to Amy's strange "girly" music (don't ask me), it's really, really bad. Sheesh! Did they hire the band that did that awful Sonic song for the Sega CD again? Some people just shouldn't write songs. However, the voice acting is decent, partially making up for the bad music.
All in all, Sonic Adventure is a good, strong title - but not a great one. Die-hard fans of Sonic are probably really excited about this new addition, but most gamers could take it or leave it. Though Sonic is Sega's flagship title for the Dreamcast, gamers should really look towards NFL2K or Soul Calibur to witness the true power of this new machine. If Sonic Adventure is what a good game looks like, imagine a great one.