Sonic Adventure: Making an old Hedgehog THAT much older…

So Sonic the Hedgehog has had an interesting time of it in the last decade. Between being kicked out of the console race and actually joining Mario for different games (Olympics, Smash Bros.) the biggest disgrace put to this rodent has always been the abusive 3D garbage they put him through. For all the lauded talent at Sonic Team and Sega in general, they seem to be hopelessly incompetent in giving the damn hedgehog a fighting chance in a 3D environment.

Then again… there was one effort which was actually pretty good that came out about a decade ago to kick off the exquisite Dreamcast console of legend.

Naturally, I’m referring to the greatest Sonic debate given form: Sonic Adventure!

In this context, I should clarify that I’m discussing the recent XBLA/PSN downloadable version of the game and its “DX” add-on. For the record, I only bought this for the Xbox 360.

(Opening for Sonic Adventure DX)

Sonic is challenged by Robotnik to face some gelatinous abomination that he soon learns is a guardian deity being manipulated by the Chaos Emeralds. When Sonic realizes this, he scours the world for the help of his friends and the remaining Emeralds in an attempt to keep Chaos from being completely revived.

The real enemy that they fail to point out is actually THE DAMN CAMERA. It will fight you when you need it most (or when you need it at all) and will lead you into so many MANY spikey death traps and doom-filled chasms that you won’t believe your eyes or how inclined you’ll be to toss your controller in protest at cheap deaths… which is funny, because I distinctly recall my enjoyment of the original game being just like this, ditto for the gamecube reboot.

It’s sad, but cheap deaths occur constantly in this direct transfer from the Dreamcast. They didn’t fix a damn thing from its original days which is a mixed result because what they are currently selling online is the original Dreamcast version of the game with a separate “DX” Director’s Cut add-on (sold separately). Why is this problematic? Because it came out the exact same way on the Gamecube a few years ago and they hadn’t updated a damn thing back then and yet you need to pay extra for mind-numbing emblem hunting, 1 additional character (Metal Sonic) and some pointless mission modes. None of the technical glitches, camera problems, not to mention visual ticks are updated in this download, should you choose to buy it.

What do I mean by updated? Well, in ten years it doesn’t hurt to add some polish to justify a game that some people (ME!) have already purchased twice. As it stands, the only perk I can see from downloading this was a bevvy of achievements to prove I can beat Sonic Adventure. That’s cool and all, but you know what’s cooler? FIXING SHIT THAT SHOULD HAVE WORKED RIGHT TEN YEARS AGO!!!!

Now understand that Nintendo deserves a LOT of criticism for their active sabotage of their own industry and cowardly game design, in spite of sweaty fanboys rushing to their defense out of blind loyalty and misplaced affection, but Here’s the biggest reason Nintendo beat Sega, THEIR STUFF WORKS! Their releases take so long because they always work.

Nintendo doesn’t really need to update Mario games and Mario 64 is probably the best comparative example. Mario’s 3D romp works right the first time and the camera doesn’t actively work against you and the game isn’t a half-assed production that leads to constant cheap deaths. The reason the Wii-download of Mario 64 is perfect is because it was done right the first damn time and that shows to this day. That said, I still never finished Mario 64 or really found myself that enthralled by it because it didn’t have the same pace as the original games, an issue they sought to address with great fervor with every 3D Mario game since.

(Someone playing as Super Sonic in Windy Valley)

But I HAVE purchased Sonic Adventure three times now. The reason I keep buying Sonic adventure? It looks great and within its fluid action lies a lot of fun that beautifully emulates the platformer action of Sonic’s original games. It outshines Mario visually in so many ways and unlike the portly Italian, this rodent has always had style on his side. Not only that, but Sonic Adventure’s loose RPG application was enough to blow one’s mind back in the time of its release applying voice, story and an open world for Sonic to wander there was a lot of opportunity for fun to be had and a definite change in how this platformer would be perceived. Between blood-boiling moments of rage I’d catch myself in the classic “gaming hunch” so I could focus on the challenging fun I was having at high speeds. Sonic can also talk, unlike Mario who apparently suffered some brain damage and has a terrifyingly limited vocabulary. Style and Speech aren’t things to be dismissed, but Nintendo clearly thinks otherwise and thus immersion is never really a factor with Mario.

Sonic Adventure offers a story (not a great one, but an actual story), dialogue between characters, a multi-perspective view of the game through the eyes of all of Sonic’s friends, environments and visuals that look great to this day (despite the hideous facial ticks all the character have when they talk… ten years ago it was okay, but now it looks like Sonic’s face will tear off) and rock-solid gameplay that stands as the only decent transition of high-speed Sonic gaming in 3D to this day. There’s a reason this has always been so popular and the increasingly awful Sonic games Sega’s been putting out only steeled the gaming community’s resolve to demand a current generation re-release.

Yet instead of a highly polished, re-dubbed, camera fixed version of Sonic Adventure we have to make do with buggy Dreamcast leavings and lackluster Gamecube extras. It’s a dick move by Sega, but at least it’s a move in the right direction for Sonic.

At most, maybe we can hope for an update down the line where Sega addresses the horrendous flaws, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Considering I waited over a damn year for Sega to add Phantasy Star Universe’s final achievement, I think I’m done trusting them with pretty much anything. Especially maintenance on their own reputation.

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