Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game franchise that has had one of the most inconsistent track records of any franchise. Some of the games have been considered the greatest of all time, while some are best to be forgotten. Until 1998, Sonic was a mostly 2D series, sans a few spinoffs. This was until the Sega Dreamcast was released. Launch title Sonic Adventure was the first true 3D main series Sonic game. While the game was well received when it was released, many have gone back on their word and nowadays feel the game isn’t very good and hasn’t aged well. Let’s find out if that’s the case.
Sonic Adventure’s gameplay style is super varied, focusing on a variety of characters instead of Sonic alone. The playable characters are Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails the Fox, Knuckles the Echidna, Amy Rose the Hedgehog, E-102 Gamma, and everybody’s favorite, Big the Cat. Let’s start with Sonic. Sonic’s gameplay is very simple, get to the end of the stage while going fast. These levels are fun, but are sometimes marred by glitches and camera issues. There are times where I’m going through the level and I’ll clip through a wall or fall through the floor. These glitches aren’t my fault and are sometimes frustrating. The camera will often spaz out and cause death as well. These glitches are prevalent in each gameplay style, but are the most glaring in Sonic’s. Tails’ gameplay is similar to Sonic’s except that instead of getting to the end normally, you race your opponent instead. Tails is fun, but can easily break the game by flying over obstacles and beating the level faster than intended. This may be fun, but it’s a major flaw in the game’s design.
Knuckles’ gameplay is the first major shift. Instead of going from Point A to Point B, Knuckles is searching for pieces of the Master Emerald in a treasure hunt. There are three of these emerald pieces in each level and are found by a radar. The radar flashes different colors depending on how close you are to the emerald. These emerald pieces can be in the ground, inside enemies, and inside inanimate objects. These levels are fine for the most part, but can be cryptic at some points and require patience. This issue was actually made worse in the sequel, but that’s a story for another time. Amy is where the gameplay starts to get worse. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but there’s nothing special about it. Each level consists of running from a robot from Point A to Point B, which can be very boring.
E-102 Gamma, or Gamma for short, has one of the most interesting gameplay types. Gamma is a robot and his levels are based on shooting everything in sight and getting to the boss of the level as quickly as possible, since they’re timed. Gamma’s gameplay can be very fun, but also frustrating because the times can be really tight. Luckily, by shooting enemies and objects you can gain more time. Big the Cat’s gameplay is generally considered the worst part of the game. A major detour from the usual Sonic gameplay, Big’s stages consist of fishing for his best friend: Froggy. There are almost no positive factors to this gameplay, as the fishing controls are awkward and confusing. Froggy can also randomly break the line, causing you to lose a life. Big’s gameplay is boring and the worst part of the game. While Big is objectively the worst part of the game, he’s become a character that people love to hate. There’s even a fangame being made called “Big’s Big Fishing Adventure 3”! The gameplay is inconsistent, but has aged okay.
The controls of the game are what show how old this game is. When speeding through levels quickly with Sonic, you’ll notice how awkward they are how turning the analog stick can make Sonic jolt around. It’s also very easy to slip off platforms because the controls are awkward. The controls also are very inconsistent. Sonic’s new move, the homing attack, lets Sonic dash through the air and attack an enemy, and can do it in succession. Sometimes when attacking a chain of enemies the homing attack just won’t work and Sonic will fly off in another direction, sometimes causing him to fall to his death. The slippery platform controls are prevalent with all characters and sometimes it’s safer to go slow than fast, since the inconsistent controls can cause death.
The graphics of Sonic Adventure were very good for the time. The Sega Dreamcast was a 128 bit console, and these graphics were nothing like anybody had ever seen before. These graphics were miles ahead of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation, and have aged semi well.
The music of Sonic Adventure is fantastic. With Crush 40’s rocking tune “Open Your Heart” acting as the game’s main theme, the soundtrack kicks off with a bang. The music varies from Rock to Pop to Jazz to Techno to Hip Hop, and Sonic Adventure’s soundtrack remains very popular among Sonic fans today. While the gameplay may not be great, the music will always be fantastic.
Sonic Adventure was the first attempt at a full fledged 3D Sonic adventure, no pun intended. There are plenty of flaws in this game, and I honestly can’t say I enjoy the game today. The semi decent gameplay can’t make up for the horrible controls and camera issues. The music and graphics are nice but they don’t help the gameplay. Sonic Adventure has not aged well.