Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to the Sonic the Hedgehog Retrospective and Trivia article. Last time we looked at some of the spin-off titles, one of which was a overhead title SEGA called a “3D Sonic Game”. However, if us Sonic fans wanted a true 3D Sonic experience, we’d have to move up to the SEGA Saturn and SEGA Dreamcast. So, let’s get started.
Now Available On Your Sandwich: Sonic Jam!
Sonic Jam was a compilation pack released for the SEGA Saturn in 1997. At first glance, you might be thinking “WHAT THE CRAP IS A COMPILATION GAME DOING ON AN ARTICLE ABOUT 3D GAMES?” Well, you see, on the menu for this game, there is an option to go to the “Sonic World”. The Sonic World is a large 3D Hub World where you can play as Sonic, do missions, browse artwork, listen to music, and just relax. Pretty cool, huh?
While it basically serves the purpose of being a menu (I mean, it has the games, bonus features, and some other things) it has a great atmosphere and some neat little quirks that make it stand out. Firstly, like I previously stated, the Sonic World is a 3D hub world, and in this Hub world, you can do missions, collect rings, all sorts of things. You access the missions by standing on a red umbrella, and it gives you a little objective you have to complete in a set amount of time. It’s pretty good for wasting time, and if you’re bored, it’s fun to try and beat your best times. Some missions I could complete effortlessly, while others required a bit more skill. These missions were things I often did when I was up in my room in the middle of the night, and I needed to play something to help me fall asleep.
The way you access all the bonus content is pretty cool as well. There are buildings spread out all across the Hub world, and you simply walk inside the buildings to look at all the content. For instance, when you walk up to the “Art Museum”, you can browse all sorts of classic artwork. This also applies to music, videos, etc. I find that this is a unique feature that adds to the atmosphere, I don’t know what it is, though. I just find it very charming that to look at bonus content, you don’t just drag a cursor across a screen, rather, you move through the “town” and act as if you yourself are looking at everything. Almost as if you are Sonic, dashing through the green hillsides, speeding ahead without worries. Am I getting too deep again? Yeah, yeah I am.
Sonic himself controls pretty good. He moves pretty slowly, but his control is very smooth and actually could work in a main series title. My only request would be to crank up the speed a bit. For the few custom songs that appear in the buildings and in the Sonic World, it’s a tad forgettable. The graphics, ignoring that we’re on the Saturn here, are nice and get the job done. They give off a Sonic vibe, and truth be told, it would be cool if they ported this compilation to the original Nintendo DS. It would look right at home, and I’m sure it would be a good way to not only introduce modern gamers to these titles, but also give them a way to play these games on the go. Plus, the Saturn graphics look like the 3D graphics on the DS. So, in conclusion, this is a pretty good compilation title that allowed players to control Sonic in an open world 3D environment for the first time. The Genesis titles themselves also have a lot of added features like difficulty settings and an option for the spin-dash in Sonic 1, but it only makes this game even more awesome.
Have you ever heard of the Game.com? No, it isn't a website. The Game.com was a failed handheld released in 1997 by Tiger Electronics. Those who were unfortunate enough to receive this console found that it’s library of games consisted of butchered ports of console + PC titles that could be found at that time. The only Sonic game that oddly found it’s way on to the console was Sonic Jam. Obviously, the 3D hub world was axed, but the actual ported games have nearly all stages missing, Sonic 1 is nowhere to be found, Knuckles can’t glide or climb, a putrid camera, sluggish gameplay, and just a plain miserable time. Have a look for yourself.
Now, from here, I could talk about Sonic R or Sonic the Fighters, but I’m just here to talk about the main series outings. So, with the Sega Dreamcast launching in 1998 (1999 for USA and UK), Sega needed a go-to title to persuade buyers to buy their new console after the Sega Saturn sort of bombed. What was one of those titles? Sonic Adventure, of course!
Next Gen Adventures: Sonic Adventure!
Sonic Adventure was a launch title released for the Dreamcast in 1998, and at the time, was a huge hit! Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE loved this game back then. It was faster than Mario and Crash, it was on a next generation console, it had downloadable content, and it was amazing. However, as time progressed, the game aged, the internet grew more popular, and sudden hate was developed towards this game. I was confused as to why this was. I loved this game back then, I’m sure it’ll be good nowadays. So, let’s take a look back at Sonic Adventure.
In this game, you control 6 different characters in large 3D stages. There are also hub worlds that connect all the stages, along with hosting upgrades and such. Sonic is the fastest character who runs through platforming stages and attempts to either destroy the capsule at the end of the stages or grab the Chaos Emerald. This is my favorite gameplay style, as Sonic is the fastest, but he isn't too fast that he slips around everywhere. He once again operates of momentum and has the Homing Attack and Spin Dash button from 3D Blast. Sonic is the most agile character, and his stages have a certain flow to them that makes everything feel just right. To this day, no 3D Sonic game has ever had this flow since. Not even Sonic Generations, one of my favorite modern gen games, has this flow. Plenty of alternate paths, near perfect mix of platforming and speed, it's a 2D Sonic game brought into the 3D world.
Tails plays similarly to Sonic, except he can fly by pressing the jump button a second time in mid-air. However, instead of mashing the button to maintain air, you hold the jump button to fly. Also, instead of just playing through the stages, you're racing Sonic to the end, I guess making fun of the classic games where Tails was always left behind, in this game, he's always ahead. I...actually like that a lot. Tails can't Spin Dash anymore, nor can he Homing Attack, but he can spin his tails around to attack enemies. He's also pretty fun, as he shares similar level design to Sonic, and plays similarly too. No major complaints here, he's just not as fun as Sonic.
Knuckles runs on the same basic formula as Sonic, except he can glide, climb walls, and can dig through the ground. However, he doesn't do platforming or do races through large stages, Knuckles wanders around boxed-in areas trying to collect 3 pieces of the Master Emerald in each stage, since it was shattered earlier on in the game. You use a radar to navigate through the areas to find the Master Emerald shards. As a kid, I hated this gameplay style, and I would use any cheat devices and glitches to avoid playing through these stages. However, as I got older, I got used to the gameplay. It isn't great, as not only as it not the most fun thing in the world (nothing is more fun than being boxed in and being forced to run around without any freedom) but Knuckles controls good, the radar does a good job of telling you where the shards are (even then, there's a hint system) and the level designs are OK, too.
Now it's time for Amy's first playable appearance in the series, and she kind of sucks. She's slow, boring, and she has no way of speeding up. Amy also cannot jump into enemies, and instead has to use her hammer to attack enemies. She can either use it while jumping so she can jump into enemies, slam her hammer while standing still, or she can do a 360 spin attack. However, unlike in the Sonic Advance game, Amy is not acrobatic. She is sluggish, boring, and it drags. This sounds like crap, but her stages have good level designs, and I find her narrative one of the most interesting besides Knuckles' for some reason. The narrative is lengthy and would take a full article to explain, so check out this link to see it for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_Adventure#Plot. But yeah, this gameplay style does slow down the gameplay to a screeching halt, and although the stage designs are good, when the gameplay is bad, it doesn't work out. Thanks for sucking, Amy!
"Oh, you're welcome!" Big the Cat fishes. We're playing a Sonic game. This is out of place. I don't need to say any thing else. Also, Big is slow, fishing is buggy at times, you're fishing for a frog and the frog NEVER latches onto the line, and navigating the hub worlds as him are a nightmare. E102-GAMMA is a shooting character, which may seem out of place, but unlike Big, the mechanics are fun and is playing through fun adventure stages. However, I HATE how Gamma controls. It may be just me (it's probably just me) but he is overly floaty and E102's control is pretty slow, sluggish, and even delayed at times (it is just me). But, the shooting mechanics are fun enough, and the stages are well designed. It's fun enough, but I don't like how Gamma controls.
In the hub world, there aren't any missions to do like in Sonic Jam, but there are people to talk to, upgrades to discover, small and confined but still giving you that sense of adventure. The upgrades range from useful (Jet Anklet for Tails to allow him to fly faster) necessary for the gameplay (Light Speed Dash for Sonic to allow him to zip through a trail of rings) and pointless (Fighting Gloves for Knuckles; allows him to...uh...hold down the attack button). Despite that, this motivates you to survey the landscape, and that was always fun for me. As a kid, I would look around everywhere, not just in Hub Worlds, but in the actual stages, for items, just like I would do in the classic games. Like I said, the stage designs are (for the most part) a 2D Sonic game brought into the 3D world. I would say more, but this article would go on for centuries, (apparently written pieces of nonfiction can be measured by time) so I'll make a conclusion.
In conclusion, Sonic Adventure is a good game. Would I say it's great? Yes it is, but only in my opinion. A lot of people are either impartial to this game, or hate him. 5/6 of the game is truly good. It would be a 4 out of 6, but the presentation really makes this game cooler, as I like the graphics style in the original Dreamcast release and the soundtrack is fantastic. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Gamma are fun, and the other two gameplay styles are bland, boring, and unfun, which unfortunately drags down the experience. However, I recommend playing this game. Not as much as I would the classic games, but I do recommend playing it.
Sonic Adventure was originally developed for the Sega Saturn. As a matter of fact, Sonic Jam's Sonic World was a prototype for Sonic Adventure, testing Sonic's movement in a 3D world. Realizing the Saturn was already dying and that they would need more advanced hardware for such a big game, development was moved over to the Dreamcast. Since the hardware was more advanced, they wanted the environments to be more realistic. So, to get their ideas for the locations, the developers traveled to different parts of the world, took pictures, wrote notes, and returned to Japan to report their progress.
So, where did the franchise go after the jump into the third dimension? A bunch of successful toy lines, an anime that lasted for one full year, both terrible and amazing video games, slippers, national events, lines of plush toys and collectibles, an appearance in Super Smash Bros, a successful crossover with Mario, posters, video games for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles, parody web series, clothes, a skating event, cameos in TV shows, movies, and other video games, skins for video game consoles, Sonic, two balloons in the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and a legacy that will live on in the hearts of many forever. Although some parts of the franchise were rough, we still love the hedgehog for the impact he had in media. He changed the way we looked at platforming games, that every platformer doesn't need to play like Mario, Sonic taught us how to appreciate works of art, and how to immerse ourselves into a world full of pixels and polygons. But most importantly, Sonic got me started on my art career. Thank you Sonic and thank you guys for listening. I'm SegaFanatic, signing out.
OH PS, I DIDN'T DO SONIC ADVENTURE 2 BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE ON THIS WEBSITE DON'T LIKE IT WHEN STUFF FROM THE 2000'S IS INCLUDED IN ARTICLES.