August 30, 2018

Dreamcast20 #16: Sonic Adventure

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega' most famous and popular mascot character, so it's no surprise that one of the Dreamcast's first major releases would be a new Sonic videogame. Sonic Adventure was a bold attempt to advance the Sonic franchise in much the same way that Nintendo had transformed and updated Super Mario Bros with the 3D action-adventure title Super Mario 64. To be honest, Sega's attempt was only a partial success - but those bits that did succeed were a lot of fun to play.

The reaction to Sonic Adventure back in 1998 was fairly divisive. Some players really enjoyed the game's attempts at a 3D environment and a more exploratory role for the player. Others felt that the game failed to capture the primary aim of a Sonic title; running very fast down a track to complete a level as quickly as possible. Certainly that sense of running through a level slightly too fast to feel one was in control was a key factor in previous Sonic games. The trick to enjoying Adventure seemed to be to acknowledge one wasn't playing a 'proper' Sonic game at all, but rather something entirely new.

The game is divided into two kinds of levels. The action levels are pretty much what players were likely expecting: typical speed-running Sonic gameplay in a 3D presentation - it wasn't a fully open world space, more like a corridor to run down, but it was energetic and fun and not too challenging. The adventure levels involved a lot more walking around a proper 3D environment undertaking a treasure hunt; sometimes they were fine, but occasionally these levels became interminable. The combination felt a little messy.

There was also a minigame attached utilising the Dreamcast's memory card, which had a small liquid crystal display that enabled it to be independently used as Tamagochi-style virtual pet. It was far from a necessary element of the game, but did add value.

Opinions really differ on Sonic Adventure. Some loved it, others hated it. I loved the bits I loved, and hated the ones I didn't.

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