Game Review: Sonic Adventure
by BigMak43, the HSM staff writer
This particular game review might just show my age a bit.
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a gaming system that was supposed to redefine “epic.” It would be so epic that Icelandic sagas would be written about its brilliance.
Well, it was epic. Epic fail. It failed harder than Lindsay Lohan’s last sobriety test.
What is this system, you ask?
Well, my friends, today we’re talking Sega Dreamcast. Good, old, (thankfully) long-dead Dreamcast.
Six paragraphs in, I know what you’re thinking: what does that sailboat of a system have to do with the PS3?
Sonic Adventure was originally a Dreamcast game. Now it’s available to us in the PlayStation world — with 99% of the epic glory of this lost treasure still intact.
Sonic Adventure saw a change in the basic format of the series: less straightforward paths comprised of collecting rings and killing baddies, in lieu of a more open-world Sonic experience. Two different levels, with different sub-levels to explore. It also boasts 3D(ish) graphics, which were (almost) top of the line back then. Don’t expect too much from the open world, though: not a lot of interactive elements. This ain’t Grand Theft Auto, after all.
In Sonic Adventure, you have a good array of characters to choose from Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and others, each with their own story. In this regard, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
(Think of that first-gen PS2 game, “The Bouncer.” Its one real hook was its Rashomon-like plot device of telling the same story from multiple perspectives, all with different moves and cutscenes. This is somewhat similar, just more pixelated.)
This is where like Bald Bull’s arrival in “Punch-Out!!”, things start to get harsh.
Controls. Decent, but there are many frustrating points in this game. From failed camera angles to just blatantly horrific controller sensitivity, even the best gamer on the planet would scream out in frustration like F. Murray Abraham in “Star Trek Insurrection” (or the audience as they’re forced to watch it).
The glitches in the game are even worse. You’re happily speeding around a corner and poof! You’re through a wall, and it’s say-hello-to-insta-die. Let’s just say that if Sixaxis controllers weren’t a bit pricey…I’d be needing some new ones right now. And maybe a fire extinguisher.
Graphics. Same as they were before: very blocky, old-school 3D. So, euphemistically, you could say they’re “a nice flashback” in a sense. Some HD facelifting would have been nice, but nopers — no botox for these jagged polygons.
Music. Ha! If you can call it that. It’s that good, late-nineties digital stuff. Mute works just as well. So does sticking a power drill in your ear.
Actually, if I’m honest, there was one tune that was kind of decent, in the same way, that post-nose job Jennifer Gray is kind of decent. It’s in the Casino, at the Cards Pinball.
(Here’s a completely off-topic tip: when it turns to night in-world, the casino opens. And if you go to the Cards Pinball as Sonic…many a free guy to be won. Just be diligent. A little tip for my peepz, yo.)
As a cute side-adventure, you can raise small creatures to race and such. Reminded me a lot of Digimon, frankly. It’s a neat little aside to try in the game.
Still. Despite the bad controls and camera, Sonic Adventure is actually quite fun, and a good showing of a classic game from a system that was dead on arrival. Sure, like nearly any game from that era, it’d be nice to re-experience it with George Lucas touch-ups. But even in its original, Han-shoots-first glory, Sonic Adventure is still a great showcase for how the series made the switch from 2D side-scrolling to a 3D open-world format that can still be seen to this day in the newest Sonic games on the PS3.
I give Sonic Adventure on the PSN a solid 6 out of 10. It’s just a decent game. With a price tag of $9.99 you really can’t go wrong if you want to try a classic Sonic game, or just replay it if you enjoyed it the first time around. It also boasts some PlayStation Home rewards, so for you Home addicts, a sweet Sonic shirt is always a nice addition to any closet. If it was fixed or updated in some of the ways mentioned above, it would be better. But, candidly, a part of me is glad they didn’t “fix” it. Yes, I just contradicted myself. Shaddap.
Bottom line: if you’re a Sonic fan and enjoy some Home rewards, this game will satisfy both cravings.
bigMak43 is a 31-year-old self-described “slacker gamer” whose opposable thumbs have gripped game controllers since the days of the Sega Master System. He is the magazine’s game reviewer as well as an avid Home user. He is a chef and lives in Massachusetts.