The Dreamcast is still one of the most beloved consoles amongst core gamers despite its short life-span. So when Sega announced they were resurrecting the game via downloadable titles, you can imagine the excitement. Sonic Adventure is the first to be released, which is fitting considering it was the first game released for the system back in 1999. After over a decade of remembering how great this game was I have to admit, I was a bit shocked. Sonic Adventure has not aged well. My memories of this amazing Dreamcast game have been slowly crushed after spending some time with Sonic and his furry friends.
If you played the original game back on the Dreamcast you will be familiar with the idea behind Sonic Adventure. You play the majority of the game as Sonic in a 3D world filled with vibrant levels modeled after extravagant set pieces such as being chased by a killer whale. Once you meet up with the other characters you unlock the ability to play as them in the story mode.
There is no shortage of content in the game. Each character plays completely different. There are fishing mini-games, virtual pet raising and various platform segments that build on the strengths of each character. The problem that immediately rears its ugly head is that none of these feel polished or smooth. From the awkward camera angles that can never seem to keep up with Sonic’s speed, to the horrible clipping and falling through the levels, this game feels like a rushed project from day one.
The game is built around a hubworld that you must traverse to get from one level to the next. This wouldn’t be so bad if direction wasn’t an issue. More often than not it will be difficult to figure out where you are supposed to go next. There is no clear path and you will spend lots of time getting lost. The sporadic camera doesn’t help matters either spinning around at awkward times almost making you sick in the process.
As far as upgrades go this game does not deliver them at all. Outside of Achievements/Trophies and the quintessential leaderboards, this game feels identical to its original release. The bullet points will call out 720p visuals, but they fail to mention that they will be displayed to you in a 4:3 display. The in-game graphics are also just high-res versions of the original, which we all know ends up making mediocre looking games even more so after the aging process. It seems games from the early years of the 3D era feel much more dated when compared to today’s titles.
For anyone feeling extra special you can download the DX upgrade that basically turns the game into the Gamecube/PC version released post Dreamcast days. This adds a ton of new missions and even Metal Sonic. At 400 points or $5 though this is a hard pill to swallow considering the original game should have probably just included this to soften the disappointment that came with the realization that Sonic Adventure truly has not aged well.
Even with all of my complaints though it is hard for me not to feel the nostalgia pouring from the game. From the crazy intro featuring one of the most iconic songs created for a game, I felt like I was back in 1999 all over again. Sonic Adventure has one of the most eclectic and incredible game soundtracks of all time, and it really is catchy and fun. The controls may drag you down with their inconsistency, but once you get past all of that the nostalgia will definitely put a smile on your face.
Therein lies the problem though. Nostalgia is the only reason Sonic Adventure is worth playing through. If you have never played the game before you will certainly be insulted at some of its shortcomings and wonder why so many people have talked about this game for the past decade plus. This is not the HD remake we had all hoped for, but in hindsight that is probably a blessing as the archaic controls would have likely ruined it. Here is to hoping the next batch of Dreamcast releases don’t soil my childhood memories of awesome.
Review copy provided by publisher.