Now I know I am a Sonic fan and as the elder of the T1 team I have a lot more nostalgia than the others to call upon – However knowing that when the review code for the HD Re-Release of Sonic Adventures 2 landed it was instantly put aside for me, I am starting to get the impression that I might have been typecast!
Originally released back in 2001, I do vaguely remember playing it on the Dreamcast. It was actually the last Sonic to be released for a Sega made console, though it was later ported to the Gamecube as well.
When you start the game your first real port of call is the story mode, this comes in two variants ‘Hero’ & ‘Dark’. Hero puts you in control of Sonic (naturally), Tails & Knuckles while the Dark team consists of Dr Robotnik and saw the introduction of Shadow the Hedgehog & Rogue the Bat.
Gameplay wise these two teams are basically a match, for example the Sonic/Shadow levels are the classic get though the level as fast as you can, collecting all the rings type affair. Tails/Robotnik levels involve running around in Mechs shooting anything that moves, while the Knuckles/Rogue levels involve finding a number of items hidden in the level.
You need to have finished both stories to get to the final ending of the game, but once you do this is when the game opens up a bit and gains some re-playability. Each level contains a set of extra ‘missions’ that give you a reason to go back and do them again. From collecting 100 rings to finding the hidden Chao, it changes it up enough not to be a complete grind.
What however is very grinding are the visuals, controls & camera.
While they have put some effort into putting a HD gloss on everything, a lot of the time it is VERY apparent that this is a game that is over a decade old. It’s not that they are terrible, just that they are not as improved as I would have hoped for. I guess after playing Generations and seeing what that did with City Escape, I may have set my bar a little high on that aspect
Likewise with the controls, I was hoping they would have done something to make them a bit more responsive and closer to modern standards. Unfortunately at times it is damn near impossible to control the game, though once you get used to it (again) those times become fewer.
The camera however is downright criminal. Thinking back now I actually realise that it was god awful back then, but I guess I must have dismissed that on the grounds that honestly all cameras were. Unfortunately they do not appear to have done any work on it, only now were used to the cameras actually helping us rather than hindering us (most of the time anyway).
This is all over-ridden by one massive saving grace, and the main reason regardless of what i have just said many Sonic fans will still buy and play this game, is the fact that the Chao Garden has remained intact.
Now I know many of you will not be old enough to have played this game or know why the hell this is such an important factor, but it really was the ultimate pet game out there.
In the garden would be little AI creatures called Chao. When they hatched it would then be your job to raise them and help them evolve. They would all start as the same simple Chao but depending on how you looked after them they would take on different characteristics and stats.
You see as you play the main game you would find little animals and chao drives. When you gave these items to the Chao in the garden they would have different effects on them. Drives for example would just imbue them with a pure stat boost however the real fun was had with the little animals.
For example, showing a Chao a few peacocks would increase its flight stat but the Chao would also eventually sprout a set of tail-feathers as well. After a while they can even evolve into a new form, including some unique forms like the Sonic & Shadow Chao.
Because of the number of variations you can produce, it really helps keep the game alive as you will want to replay the levels to collect the items needed to keep your Chao happy and evolving.
Here at 8bitalliance we do not put scores on reviews, which means it’s about time to start wrapping this up. On one hand it is a mediocre platformer that is really showing the ravages of time despite a HD gloss being added. On the other, it really is one of the best Sonic games when it comes to re-playability factor with the extra goal to the levels and the lure of the Chao Garden.
I think on the re-playability factor alone this is worth a purchase, particularly if you never experienced it the first time around.
This review was written for Thirteen1.com with the game provided by Sega