I’ve been talking a lot in my reviews about games from recent memory that I love to bits, but when I was younger I was lucky enough to win a Nintendo GameCube, I was also a massive fan of any 3D sonic game.
Sonic Adventure 2 is one of those games where it was good at the time but has a fair share of issues. So, I’ll try my best to take off those nostalgia goggles and work out if this game was that good in the first place.
Being a 3D sonic game you are going to be immediately struck by some crash 40 songs and feel like you’re 10 years old again. The game gives you a Hero and Dark story mode to play through, they both offer the same events from different perspective and add together to create a larger story. Each story has 3 different types of playstyle, you have the Speed missions featuring Sonic and Shadow, Mech missions with Tails and Eggman, then the annoying treasure hunt missions featuring Knuckles and Rogue. The Hero mode starts of incredibly strong with a chase mission as Sonic with ‘Escape from the city’ playing in the background, everything feels fast and exciting and you feel like you are in for a good sonic game. You do feel this through the rest of the game but that’s mainly when you are playing these speed missions.
That’s the problem though, there’s only around 4 of these in each story, Mech missions have you playing at a slower pace as you hover between platforms and use a lock on missile launcher to defeat enemies. When you’re in a mech you feel like you should be going faster but the game seriously tries its best to take away any speed you start to form. This along with the loud screeching sound it makes when you lock onto something makes you wish the section was over. While it wouldn’t be so bad on its own, straight after a fast-paced sonic run through an environment feels like you just crashed into a brick wall at the end of a track.
But these sections don’t feel as slow compared to the treasure hunt sections, these sections involve Knuckles or Rogue flying around an environment to find shards of the chaos emeralds, there are 3 per map and when you come near one you have a scanner that dings depending how near you are. The first map is quick and small, you could do it in around 5 minutes or less. However, any of the ones after that are massive and have the shards placed in the most stupid places ever, the environments don’t usually fit in with where you are in the story. There was the one that involved a water plant where you had to control the water level among several floors to raise and lower platforms, replaying this game I had to stop for a bit after this one because it got on my nerves a bit too much.
Out of the 3 playstyles Speed will be the one you get excited for, but that becomes a problem when it comes up and you feel like saying “oh thank god, the good bit”, you shouldn’t look at an entire product with the mind set of “It’s good if you ignore at least 70% of the game” in that case it’s just not good. The actual story of the game makes the experience feel worth it, it serves as an introduction to the character of shadow and manages to stay interesting if not over the top. Seeing the story from both perspectives adds a bit more depth and serves towards some memorable lines of dialogue between characters.
This is where things start to feel a little shaky as well. During cut scenes, all the characters move around too slow and have the appearance of wax dolls. Then during other cut scenes, the entire art style takes a 360 degree turn and looks like an entirely different game. As you can tell from the screenshot it’s not for a good reason either. I haven’t even mentioned the audio issues with the game. Dialogue doesn’t even match what the characters are saying and the background music is always way too loud so you might not even hear the characters are saying. Even if the music takes a back seat, characters will talk at the same times and it feels like you are watching a primary school production of Oliver.
While the story mode has all these issues persisting through it, the game offers a separate type of game within itself. This is where the chao garden comes in. Chao’s are essentially baby pets that you look after, you can level them up and increase their stats by collecting items through the story mode. Chaos can gain certain traits if you give them certain animals and their appearance will change accordingly. While this might sound like a small distraction on the side it actually has a thought out system with its own activities.
When I was younger I would spend hours taking care of my chaos. In the garden, you can enter your chaos into either races or fighting sports. Racing works as you expect with chaos running against each other with a stamina bar that gets used as you continue. However, each race can have an environmental twist on it, it can be a swimming, flying or climbing section. This is where certain stats come into play as you try to breed a good all round chao that can swim, fly and climb at incredible speeds. Fighting is a slower type of activity as chaos engage in 1 on 1 slap fights, these don’t feel as fun as the races and you can feel it as an early fight takes a good amount of time to finish. While playing through the story you can leave your chao in a school environment where he will learn new skills while you’re not with him, this is more for you really as it doesn’t alter how well they perform in activities. In the same place, you can name your chao and check its health. These are all here for the player’s sake, if your someone who cares about virtual pets then it feels right for you, there’s no gameplay benefit to doing any of this.
I’m trying to come up with some closing words on this game, it’s a very strange experience and brings me to a cultural issue with products like this. People really enjoy something and give good credit to it, but it involves pretending the bad parts don’t exist. This is something I did with the game growing up as I refused to see that it was bad, while I was having fun running around as sonic and looking after my chao I had to pretend that these were the only things that were in the game. Now that I’ve played through again I can’t help but see those faults, and I think people should be able to do the same with games/movies they love. Therefore, I’m going to give two scores on these types of reviews, one to address those initial thoughts and feelings I have on the game and another score that takes in how good of a game it is against my nostalgia.
What I gave it: 8/10
What it deserves: probably 5/10
The Game is only fun for a solid third of the entire time and it doesn’t age very well. Playing it now when you didn’t as a kid makes you question why it’s raved all the time.