It’s rather odd that I would review this game before the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but I was a Nintendo fan back then but owned a Dreamcast before any other console in the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube/Dreamcast years. As a result, I probably actually played the two Sonic Adventure games more than the 2D, 16-bit games. Though I do readily concede that this series has become hit/miss at best, I have always had a good time with this particular game. There’s great, fast-paced action helped by the multiple styles of gameplay.
Plot: 8 out of 10
At first your only character available is Sonic. As you encounter other characters — Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, E-102, and Big the Cat they become available. Each character has his/her own plot. They all eventually have you fighting Dr. Eggman, who has found and controlled a liquid beast named Chaos. By feeding him the Chaos Emeralds, once used only by Sonic and Knuckles to power up, Eggman is able to make Chaos transform and grow stronger. We pretty much know going in that Chaos will get them all, but are surprised that this doesn’t happen in any of the six characters’ plots. No, it happens in one last plot that appears after all the others are finished.
This strike prevents you from using the trains to travel and stops a little girl’s father from coming home. Odd sociological theme in a game in which the characters are unemployed.
Other than Big (he’s trying to find his pet frog; that’s literally it), everybody has a solid story. There’s decent character development like E-102’s journey from bird to robot slave of Eggman to savior of his fellow animals inside robots, for instance.
Graphics: 9 out of 10
Visually, Sonic’s overdue entry into the 3D world was well worth the wait. He looks like I always would have imagined that he would in the third dimension. Cutscenes are particularly well-animated.
Sound: 8 out of 10
Each playable character has either a rock or heavy metal theme song to remind us that Sonic games the hip anti-Mario. They’re all quite good, as are the stage and overworld songs. Voice acting is almost as good, with the exception of Big. He’s got a high-pitched, annoying voice that really irks me. Throw in his weak plot and I really don’t like this character.
Whaling without a whaling boat can be very dangerous.
Gameplay: 7 out of 10
There is one very bad thing about this game: the camera. Although nothing like how bad it would be in more recent games, the camera can get out of sync in Sonic Adventure. Occasionally, it can even move behind a structure or wall, forcing you to move a bit to get it back behind you. This is very bad because you’ve obviously got to see yourself.
Still, the controls function pretty well. As noted, you use six characters. Each has their own style of play and levels, with Sonic, the star getting by far the most.
Sonic: If you are remotely familiar with this series, you know how this goes. Sonic goes through the levels, destroys robots (and frees the animals inside), and avoids obstacles. Very fun, but sometimes the camera is a problem as it has trouble keeping up with the blue speedster.
Tails: He can fly, making it very easy to get around on the overworld. His levels are about him racing Sonic to the destination. These levels are straightforward, making camera issues very small.
Knuckles: First playable in Sonic and Knuckles, Knuckles retains his gliding ability. The Master Emerald that keeps Angel Island afloat was shattered in an Eggman attack, so Knuckles is trying to find the pieces so he can rebuild the Emerald. His levels are about him moving around to find these pieces. Unfortunately, his gliding around makes for the worst camera issues of all the characters. The unusual challenge to wits rather than reflexes for this series is refreshing, though.
Amy Rose: A Pink hedgehog with an agressively romantic woman/shy man relationship with Sonic. But most of Amy’s plot is about her being chased by a big robot. Therefore, her levels resemble slasher flicks. Can you tell that horror games were extremely popular at the turn of the century?
You have a giant hammer, Amy. Use it.
E-102: A defecting robot of Eggman’s he moves slowly but has missiles and a targeting system. This is a really cool way to destroy monsters (plus, since he’s slow, the camera isn’t a problem).
Big: What’s Big’s missions? Fishing. It functions all right, but the fact that it’s fishing is kinda lame.
There are three mini-games along the way: virtual pet, racing, and flight simulation stuff.
In between levels, you search.
By this point, the problem of the camera should be clear. But as noted, there’s enough good stuff that it doesn’t ruin the experience.
Challenge: 5 out of 10
While the Genesis games were challenging, this one is surprisingly easy. There are a few tough spots, but only a few. Most of the bosses are nothing less than pathetic. The fact that you fight a number of them multiple times, with experience carrying over to the rematches, doesn’t help. This category would be scored higher if not for these bosses.
Knowing fictional cops, look elsewhere for help.
Overall: 7 out of 10
It’s not quite as good as I remember, and the reasons why foreshadowed the enormous problems the series would incur years later, but it’s acceptable. Not quite as good as the Genesis games, though.