Dreamcast Game Review – Sonic Adventure (Seizure Sonic!)

In a bigger fight than Street Fighter II vs. Mortal Kombat, there’s been the mascot war of Nintendo vs. Sega – Mario vs. Sonic. For those of you that have experienced what Mario has done for the Nintendo 64, it should be no surprise to see Sonic making a release date debut for the Dreamcast.

How does Sonic measure up to Mario this time? In certain aspects, such as graphics and speed, Sonic Adventure eclipses Mario 64. In terms of control, the action is not as intuitive.

Here’s the ugly truth that programmers do not want to let get out. They’re learning how to program for these new 3D environments. Mario gave a superb sense of control, but this is seldom matched – on any platform! Then you take Sonic, and kick the speed up to the sound barrier. The motion is insanely fast! It’s not surprising that the control is often frustrating.

Sonic combines the frustrating control with a steep learning curve. From the very first moment, Sonic Adventure has you battling it out, then it has you racing at break-neck speeds. While this could be quite a cool thing for veteran players, beginners can become frustrated. Sonic Adventure could have benefited from a warm-up stage.

The best part I remember from Mario 64 was the courtyard. Running around like an idiot for an hour was just a lot of fun – jumping, swimming, and all the while – learning the controls. “Hang on princess, I’m not ready to save you yet – I’m going to check out the waterfall first.”

The whole point is about fun. That’s why they’re called games. But ok… with that said, Sonic Adventure is still a great game. When you adjust to the speed, and get a handle on the controls, you’re in for a wild ride!

There’s more to Sonic Adventure than eye-candy and hyper-speed. There’s an intertwining story line, and lot’s of bonus games. You can play pinball, go surfing, and even raise a chao. (This is similar to the chocobos of Final Fantasy VII.) Keep in mind, if you want to enjoy most of these things – better get a memory card – as you’re probably not going to beat all the endings in one sitting.

There’s also a strong emphasize on exploration. You’ll have to figure out a puzzle, or find a key to move on to the next level. This part is necessary for the story line sequences, but it’s pretty boring. Where’s the fun in Sonic lugging heavy objects around a jungle?

Some parts you’d wish would speed up, while others you’d wish they’d slow down. Some of the visuals are downright breathtaking. At various action stage parts, you’ll be completely mesmerized at the speed and intrigues of the levels. Unfortunately, you be more concerned about a quick death. While in Mario 64, you’d often have to go out of your way to die. Here in Sonic Adventure, you blink wrong and you’re finished.

Despite it’s flaws, Sonic Adventure is one of the must have games for the system. It’s not perfect, but I guess that’s part of the charm. The only thing is, there should be a big warning label on the box: Intense speed may cause permanent cerebral trauma.

Graphics – Assuming your brain can keep up with the blazing speed, Sonic Adventure cranks out some amazing visual effects.

Sound – Some of the tunes are really kickin’ but others are downright annoying.

Control – There’s no way you can say the control in Sonic Adventure is perfect, especially when you’re out of control for most of the game. The little blue dude gets sucked into tornadoes and blasted out of speed ramps. The best you can do is try not to drop your controller, while your left in a dizzying display of speed.

Innovation – Look at how Sonic has grown. While I was expecting more from this game, it is clear that the original is utterly pale in comparison.

Playability – If Sonic Adventure isn’t fun for you at first, give it a chance. Your brain might need to adjust to the intense speed.