Sonic? on a Nintendo machine? HUH?!?! What’s this crazy world coming to? Two rival mascots now representing the same box, who could have predicted this? Not Nostradamus for sure, the end of the world maybe; this? NEVER! Not ten years ago these two — Mario and Sonic — loveable characters were at each others throats battling it out for leader of the videogame industry. Now companies that once hated each other are working together; ever think the phrase “this is too much!” is heard far too often these days. So what’s next? A cross-over title? Luigi gets his own game, and now its Mario and Sonic that are ruling the piped worlds, doesn’t seem to fit huh? When I first booted up the new Sonic on my GameCube it felt quite odd seeing that Sega title run across my screen. A rivalry I had grown up with, just about the first video games I knew. It’s a little hard to get over. Enough of my dumbfounded ness, lets get to it.
First thing you’ll notice about the new Sonic title is that its got style. Its oozing, dripping and flowing from every cavity it’s little Mini-DVD. For the most part all of this is inherited from its parent company, Sega. They definitely know how to make a game, and didn’t hold back an inch here.
To tell the truth, Sonic the Hedgehog has never looked better, clean animations, heightened clarity, more special effects, and faster speed. You’ll be squealing like a school girl when you get to play this game. It just looks so smooth, and certainly tops its former Dreamcast Predecessor. What this title does have in common with the original sonic adventure is the storyline, and basic one-player mode/scenario.
As in the last game, Sonic and the Eggman are still dueling it out for those darned Chaos Emeralds, to.. Well you know, rule the world. There are two different paths you can choose from the start. You options are either the “Hero” or “Dark” adventures. In each you take control of 3 characters. Your cast consists of Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails in the first, and Eggman, Shadow (a fresh looking black sonic dupe), and Rouge (a bat :-/) in the second. I’m sure you can tell which of the characters are the coolest in the game. Obviously the best characters end up being Sonic and Shadow, the age old battle of black and white, good-guy vs. bad-evil-looking-look-a-like-of-the-good-guy. But that’s not all; these two have also been endowed with the coolest, most complex levels out of the bunch; making their levels also the most exciting to play, along with being the most repayable.
While I found this to be fun, it unfortunately means that they’ll be the only levels your going to be looking forward to. It was nice when you really didn’t have to use the bad characters (meaning slow?paced), but in SA2B, its sadly inevitable. While Knuckles used to be quite the ?bad ass,’ he’s now been over-Shadowed, by the better hog (catch the pun? ;). Knuckles’ levels are often quite boring in comparison to the any of the hog ones. The same goes for that bat girl; and the worst out of the 6 characters are of course Tails and Eggman, as usual.
Most will find this setup to be mildly annoying, but I guess Sega figured if they were to put characters in the game you had damned well better use them. While this cast of comparatively proletariat characters do detract from the experience of the game, they don’t devalue it enough as to make you ever even ?think’ about stop playing it.
On the plus side of things, each and every one of your characters performs, reacts, and controls like a dream. Completely responsive controls, almost as if this title was created solely for play on a GameCube. Most companies seem to be having a difficult time utilizing the Nintendo controller to its max potential. Sega does it flawlessly. A game like this makes you think twice about the initial oddity of Nintendo’s controller design. SA2B just about puts the DC version to shame in this area. Sega seems to have overhauled the response system from the DC SA.
The graphical content in the first SA was definitely an impressive endeavor for the DC, it was literally ?the’ reason you had to own one upon its launch. To see this game in action was pure bliss. The same can be said of SA2B to a certain extent. This game will continuously make your jaw hit the floor, as you run through levels with staggering speeds. Your Sonic and Shadow will be moving at blindingly quick pace when you get a hold of ’em. And the speed of the characters will only be bested by the quality of graphics engine. Everything always looks so smooth and fluid. Sega has used ?lots of lighting effects; reworked the real-time shadows; stabilized frame-rate; and added a higher poly count. Really, what more could you ask for, this games on par with the best looking GC titles out now, if its not the best. Personally I think SA2B is a game that fits Nintendo’s image perfectly, its light hearted, looks great, and has oodles and oodles of creativeness, inventive level design, and color palettes for days. There’s only one problem, and it lies in the same place where the SA before it faulted, camera work.
I’m not sure what problem Sega seems to be having with its camera direction but its certainly not working. Sure the game is so fast-paced that it’s not easy to come up with some kind of all-around pleasurable method, but just as in SA, the camera swings to strange angles, distorting your view of the characters, and their position to where you want to be; certain places you wont be able to see your characters if you don’t quite make a jump, or can’t quite see where you’re actually trying to get to. Its disappointing really, a lot of the time it feels ok, but its got a long way to get to perfect, that’s for sure.
In addition to faulty camera work, the sound-track isn’t exactly ?great’ either. I’m not quite sure why game developers now a days have a fetish for cheesy rock theme music, but its beginning to annoy me. Sure you want something hard when your grinding down a 100 ft. rail Tony Hawk style, or running with blazing speeds through roller coaster like twists, turns and loopty loops. But it doesn’t have to be cheesy, number one, and doesn’t have to be like every other sound track on the freaking earth either (two). It’s upsetting to hear the continuous droning of vapid power-cords and riffs that I could have written with less ?flexible’ parts of my body. Sega and their Sonic Team really needs a new musical director. I seriously get tired of hearing these cheap rock rip-offs time after time. The only thing that saves the jejune like tunes is that you aren’t ever actually focusing on the banal-like lyrics, or the namby-pamby ?hard rock guitars’ while cruising at an easy 90mph into a wicked curve. But you could see how the less ?exciting’ parts of the levels could annoy any type of primate.
What does help Sonic Adventure 2 Battle however, are the highly strengthened 2 player modes. The number has now been upped to 30 Two-player mini games. I had a blast with my friends on the DC Sonic Adventure, and that only had a few modes to play with; in comparison, this game is like a god-send. You can now play/race on every level with a character list of 12 to choose from. The other six are some of the coolest cats in town, all hailing from the previous games (gotta’ show respect). Sega has now given you the ability to play with: Amy Rose and Metal Sonic (from Sonic CD), Chaos Zero and Tikal (from Sonic Adventure), and two different Chaos robots (?boring). Each of the twelve characters has distinctive strengths, weaknesses, and attacks in the battle mode. I may be old but this game has got sleep-over material for weeks! The battle mode will engulf you with fun, excitement, and more fun; invite your friends, parents, cousins, neighbors, and beat ?em all; seriously some great multi-player action going on over at the Sega camp, they did a great job with this one.
All in all, both Sega and Nintendo have a great title on their hands. Though the game suffers from a few often annoying problems, the predominant core of SA2B is still held with its main character Sonic (and Shadow). Those two set the precedent, and truly bring you back to the spirit of what a Sonic the Hedgehog game used to be all about. Whether you’re a fan of Sonic or not — though I don’t know anyone who isn’t ? and you have a GameCube, you should pick this one up, it’ll be worth its value in replay, and multiplayer alone. Props to Sega on the title, its great ?wonderful, fantastic, terrific, astounding, divine, glorious, sensational, and super — to have a new and improved Sonic game, I’m loving it, just fix the camera.