Putting lipstick on a hog.
Joining the ranks of Star Wars, E.T. and Apocalypse Now, Sonic the Hedgehog gets the Director's Cut treatment. And exactly what is a Director's Cut? It's the power of revisionism that turns guns into walkie-talkies and lets Greedo shoot first.
Sometimes, a Director's Cut makes a good thing better, but usually it's just about selfish perfectionism and squeezing every last red cent out of memorable product. And so it goes with Sonic Adventure DX, the Director's Cut of the now nearly 4 year old Dreamcast original, Sonic Adventure. Have any of us been clamoring for this? I mean, it's great to have an almost complete canon of Sonic on the Gamecube, but not when itÂ¹s a poorly executed port like DX.
The story remains untouched. Sonic and all his pals must rescue the world from an imminent attack by Chaos, a water creature hell bent on destroying things. You play as a variety of Sonic characters through missions that reflect each character's perspective of the crisis. The "select a player" concept works out much better than the force-fed alternating characters of Sonic Adventure 2.
The DX edition changes the look of the character's with what seems like brand new shader routines (unlike a texture map, which is an image file, a shader is defined through coding). The characters look a little more rounded and much shinier, but not necessarily better. They stand out from the stages because originally they didn't have that glossy sheen. It's a little distracting. However, the environmental texture maps throughout the stages also received some polish. Compared to other Dreamcast port jobs like Skies of Arcadia, DX seems much sharper and more solid.
But apparently when you fix one thing, you break another.
If I had to choose between better textures or a steady framerate, I'd go with framerate time and time again, especially when you consider that the star of the game is known for his speed. Unfortunately, I'm alone in this, because the framerate in Sonic Adventure DX is not steady. A solid framerate is the most basic demand of the series; the choppiness of DX stabs a sharp blue quill right into the heart of the game.
And somehow these frame skips make the already annoying camera even more temperamental. The camera works on the principle that it should point out where it thinks you are supposed to go, but objects can sometimes completely block out the camera or it will whip unnaturally into place, causing disorientation and painful headaches. Shouldn't the point of a Director's Cut be to fix the problems?
Instead of fixing the important issues, DX offers a new 'Missions' mode where you must undertake silly, meaningless fetch jobs throughout the hub areas of the game. The Chao creatures also make a comeback with GBA to Gamecube connectivity through three GBA games: Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Pinball Party. Having any of these GBA games means you can save one of your Chaos onto the cart and take him with you for some virtual pet hijinks.
DX also offers emulation of no less than 12 Game Gear games, which are earned by collecting emblems throughout the main game. The emulation is mostly solid and features a nifty adjustable screen. It's great getting a chance to play the original Game Gear Sonic again; it stands up well with the classic music and hidden Chaos emeralds. The rest of the Game Gear games aren't quite as special, but at least they included the ability to split the screen and play two-player Game Gear games.
The audio is identical except for Dolby Digital II audio processing. I'm among the scant few that actually like Sonic Adventure's weird, kitschy J-pop tunes. There are several theme songs assigned per character, each filled with odd bits of Engrish and 80's rock riffs.
I enjoyed this game on the Dreamcast and wanted this port to bring it back in full glory, but it didn't happen. More time should have been spent on fine-tuning the port instead of rushing to release it in time for the Sega Happy Meal promo. The Game Gear titles are a welcome bonus, but having to play through the broken game just to get them is a hassle. This might be what the 'Director' intended, but it doesn't make my cut.