XBLA Review: Sonic Adventure

Sonic’s first real 3D adventure gets the XBLA treatment, for better or worse…

I grew up playing Sonic games, perhaps more so than Mario. But I was one of the many fans who were disappointed by the blue hedgehog’s transition into 3D. As it stands, there hasn’t been a truly great 3D Sonic game. Having said that, Sonic Adventure was the first and showed some promise that sadly, future games never really evolved from. I first played Sonic Adventure on the GameCube as the DX version and never really connected to it, so several years on can I finally play the game till the end?

Well, I did and I have to say it isn’t as bad as a lot of people say it is. The story may be a bit lame compared to what I used to read in Sonic the Comic, but it does just enough to get you through it. The one problem I found is the game is set up in a hub and you have to find each of the levels yourself. This would be fine, but it can be tough to find your goal at times and the layout is slightly confusing.

As with the original, you can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big the Cat and E-102. Sonic’s levels are a case of going from A to B in typical Sonic fashion, as is Tails’ campaign. Knuckles story revolves around hunting down pieces of the Master Emerald, Amy’s story is to avoid a robot who keeps chasing her, Big the Cat’s story is to keep capturing Froggy on a fishing pole and E-102’s story is to “rescue” his robot friends by defeating them. Once you complete each story, you unlock the end game where you play as Super Sonic for a final boss fight against Chaos.

The game still has all the problems such as an unpredictable camera, controls that will frustrate at times and you will die a lot, sometimes even through glitches like falling through the floor or gliding through a wall. Each character handles differently, but the worst character has to be Big the Cat. He’s slow and his only weapon is a fishing pole, luckily his campaign is short. You can also upgrade your version of Sonic Adventure to the DX Director’s Cut for an additional 400 Microsoft Points, which adds 50 new achievement points, 60 missions and the ability to play as Metal Sonic if you collect all emblems. The problem with this is that to get the full Sonic Adventure experience, it’ll cost you 1200 Microsoft Points altogether.

There are also a number of mini-games that earn you emblems for reaching certain specifications and then there’s the Chao Garden where you raise Chao’s to perform in races. This would be fine, but the way to do it is incredibly tedious as you have to feed them the animals you get from the main levels and spend rings on treats to level them up to race standards, they will die eventually as well. It’ll take a good few hours to get your Chao to the standard you need and by then, you’ll probably lose interest.

Sadly, Sonic Adventure is in 4:3 letterbox mode and cannot be stretched to fill the screen. So if you have a widescreen TV, then you’ll see the borders around the game like you can see in the screenshots. Visually, the game is showing its age even if it’s in 720p. Levels lack detail, lip syncing is terrible, but somehow the framerate is always consistent. The voice-acting is awful and the music is perhaps the cheesiest you’ll find.

The Verdict

Sonic Adventure isn’t the terrible game it’s made out to be, but it does have its share of problems that disappointed fans back in the day and will still disappoint them now. The price tag of 1200 Microsoft Points for the full experience (800 for Sonic Adventure, 400 for DX Upgrade) won’t go down well either. On the plus side, I do hope that Sega release Sonic Adventure 2 as I rather enjoyed that.