One console with Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot. Who would've ever believed... Well, here you go folks. Our preview for Sonic Adventure 2 for the GameCube.
Thanks to GC-Inside, we now know that the GameCube port of SA2 will be named 'Sonic Adventure 2 Battle'. Apparently the GCN version will include completely reworked multiplayer scenarios. At a blistering 60fps, 'Battle' will contain enhanced graphics, and the ability to link up Sonic Advance (GBA) to the GCN game for Chao breeding and kart racing!
With Sonic set to hit the GameCube on Japan's shores just 5 days before Christmas, us North Americans shouldn't expect too long a wait to get our hands on the title. We'll bring you any new information regarding Battle when it becomes available.
Last updated: 08/23/2001
Rewind back to the early 90's, Sonic vs. Mario and Genesis vs. SNES. Two of the closest and most heated rivalries in videogame history were currently being played out. Sega had an in your face attitude with the Genesis' apparent "Blast Processing", while Nintendo was fighting tooth and nail with Mario and Zelda in their arsenal. We all know how that war played out, as Sega is now a third party.
Sonic Adventure 2, the sequel to the original Sonic Adventure launch title, was released for the Dreamcast back in May (2001), and was greeted with mixed reception.
Graphically, the two games in the 'Adventure' series were both top notch at the time of release. SA1 made that considerable leap from the PSX and N64 that you would've expected from the PS2. The textures were crisp and gorgeous, the speed was daunting, and the various gameplay experiences and modes were nicely mixed together. Though the game ended up living up to the Sonic name, it was not without its problems.
As it was a launch game, SA1 featured quite a few bugs. Often you could get stuck in, or even fall through walls, and the game would occasionally stall. However, the definitive complaint with the game was the camera. You see, Sonic wasn't the only thing that could get caught against walls, and even if the camera had managed to stay clip free from any surfaces, it still featured some horrific camera angles. Platforming could get very frustrating, as the cinematic approach would often undermine the practical.
Sonic Team set out to improve many of the quibbles gamers had with SA2. Gone were the bugs that littered the first installment of the 3D series. The beautiful texture work was back, along with some nicer models, which featured excellent self shadowing. Unfortunately, though slightly improved, the camera again just wasn't up to the task.
Aside from the camera, many people felt that the gaming aspects ranged from excellent to downright horrid. Aside from the truck full of mini games and experiences, Sonic Adventure 2 features 3 main modes of gameplay: platform, shooting, and adventure.
Both Sonic's and Shadow's (AKA Evil Sonic) stages featured insanely fast and linear levels, some timed and some not. The majority of those who have given their opinion of the game feel that this type of play is the crown of the Adventure series. Exhilaratingly fast, the action just blows you away; successfully capturing the epitome of the Sonic franchise.
Unfortunately, Sonic and Shadow's stages make up only 1/3 of the overall game. Dr. Robotinik (or Eggman) and Tails both had stages, which were a mix of shooting and platforming. Both characters travel through their levels, once again in linear fashion, firing away at targets in their miniature mechs. The shooting system is very similar to Star Fox 64's locking on mechanism, but SA2's shooting stages allow you to lock onto multiple targets.
The platforming is quite slower in comparison to the hedgehog stages, and is often quite mundane. Nothing special and nothing horrible, Eggman's and Tails' stages are quite average.
Then comes Knuckles and Rouge (a new character to the Sonic franchise). Instead of attempting to reach the end of a linear level, these two characters get to explore multiple wide open, enclosed areas. Each stage requires you to find 3 shards of a giant emerald, which was purposefully broken during the beginning of the game. Their are a few glaring problems with Knuckle's and Rouge's stages in the Dreamcast version.
First of all the radar system is all out of whack. Though some emeralds are floating, or at least visible, the majority of them must be dug out of the ground. This means, you must heavily rely on your radar system, which is more or less a beeping 'Hot/Cold' meter. If you get closer to a shard, the radar starts beeping more, until it starts beeping like crazy.
Now this worked out great in SA1. The problem with the radar in SA2, is that it will only recognize one shard at a time. So if you're inches away from the second piece you're supposed to find, you'll never know. This can be particularly frustrating in the timed stages.
The second problem occurs in the placement of the slivers of emerald. They're often random. So while you can get clues from monitors that occupy each stage, they're often too vague to help you out. Eventually, you'll discover that one of the pieces you spent 20 minutes looking for was about 1 inch to the right of where you were often digging, covered by a repeating texture. Oh the horror.
Overall, Sonic Adventure 2 for the Dreamcast is quite hit and miss. The Chao raising (think Tamagotchi, but deeper and fun), hedgehog levels, graphics, speed and some of the mini games are great fun, whereas the rest of the game and the camera work is average to dreary. Judging from the short video shown at Spaceworld, the Sonic model looks to have been improved, and the wonderful textures have been faithfully converted over to the GameCube.
The question remains; will Sonic Team just do a straight port, or will they address the overly apparent camera and gameplay issues? If you have never played the Dreamcast version, you should definitely keep your eye on this one. Though half of this preview was shrouded with negativity, Sonic and Shadow's levels really are a blast, as I found myself playing them over and over for weeks on end. Once certain abilities are gained in later levels, you can go back to the early stages, and use your new found powers to access new areas.
For those of us that own, or have already played Sonic Adventure 2, we'll just have to see if Sonic Team has any changes in store for us.