I own Sonic Adventure 2 for the Dreamcast, I own Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for the Gamecube and now I have a copy of it for Xbox Live Arcade as well. Strangely this marks the first time that I’ve actually played it. After the discovery a few years back that Sonic Adventure isn’t nearly as fun as I remember, I was curious to see what I would end up thinking of this one about a decade after it’s debut.
Sonic Adventure 2 tells the story of Sonic and chaos emeralds and doppelgangers and human people and Eggman’s grandpa plays a role and also space. The story seems like it should be straightforward but holy hell do they ever have some Metal Gear Solid length cut scenes at times. It’s hard not to blank out after 10 minutes of Sonic Adventure story. I’m sorry but what’s happening is not riveting enough to get all this dialogue. It doesn’t help that the voice actors seem to be delivering the lines as slow and bland as they can possibly manage.
The story is divided into 2 sections that can you choose from the beginning - Hero and Dark. As you’d expect, in Hero you control the good guys (Sonic, Tails and Knuckles) and in Dark it’s the villains (Shadow, Eggman and Rogue). Each character has a distinct type of gameplay. Sonic/Shadow are your typical running and platforming stages, Tails/Eggman are more focused on shooting, and Knuckles/Rogue is a mix of platforming and treasure hunting.
The Sonic/Shadow stages are easily my favourite. These stages are well put together and when you get a solid chain going of attacking and dashing, it feels real damn satisfying. Unfortunately these stages are where one of the biggest problems of the game come into play - the camera. You want your game camera to always give you a clear view of the action so you always know where to go and are able to aptly judge distance and those sorts of important details. This camera wants to go against the grain and show you exactly the opposite of what you want to about 60% of the time. You can try to adjust it, but often this camera doesn’t want to be adjusted and will just careen all over the place. Nothing like dying because the camera all of a sudden decides it wants to face you so you’re jumping around blindly. Also the final Sonic mission in space was one of the more infuriating experiences I’ve had in recent memory. This is largely due to the bad camera but also by Sonic’s occasional decision of “you can’t control me, I do what I want” which led to him spinning off the side of a platform.
The Tails/Eggman stages has them piloting a mech suit and shooting everything in sight. There’s also some platforming but the emphasis is definitely on shooting. These sequences are ok, the shooting and targeting mechanics feel fine, but it’s a little mindless. The platforming parts actually work pretty well, introducing a hover mechanic. For the most part though, you’ll be running through a corridor, stopping to target some guy and shoot them with missiles, proceed to next corridor, and so on, and so on, and so on.
The Knuckles/Rogue stages.....oh god these stages. I wasn’t a fan of the Knuckles levels in Sonic Adventure, and nothing has changed. There’s a good chance I like them even less now. In these levels you are given free reign to run around the stage, and the goal is always to find three of a certain object. You find them by paying close attention to a radar at the bottom of the screen which lets you know when you’re close to one of them. You also get clues to point you in the right direction. I really don’t care for these levels. I just don’t enjoy wandering aimlessly around a sometimes very open environment, hoping to god to get a ping on this radar so this will all finally end and I can hopefully move on to something a lot more fun. Sometimes they even throw a timer in there to make it extra fun! These levels are a complete chore and it seems like there are almost more of them than Sonic stages, and I don’t like that balance.
The music is as hilarious as ever. Of course the City Escape song is a classic and is legitimately awesome. Some of the others though…wow. The Knuckles stages usually have this one guy rapping and it’s pretty god damn amazing. I’m 90% sure the lyric in one of them is “you can die, I don’t love you” which is incredible to hear in a Sonic game. Unfortunately the novelty wore off fast since the song repeats ad nausea so by the time I would complete a Knuckles stage, I would have heard this rap song no less than 6 times. It goes from funny to tragic real damn quick.
I was kind of blown away by the amount of side stuff in this game. The Chao raising makes a return, where you can raise your little guy, increase his stats, and have him participate in activities. I will admit that I never get too deep into the Chao breeding, but what’s there is surprisingly deep and you could definitely sink some time into this.
In addition, we have the endurance mode where you take on all the game’s bosses back to back, there’s a kart racing mode which is a neat inclusion but is honestly not all that fun, and of course each story stage has several different missions you need to complete in order to unlock the game’s 180 emblems. The idea of beating some of these stages under the conditions they set seems insane to me, but for the 10 dollar asking price you get a whole lot to do here.
I wanted to like Sonic Adventure 2 more than I could. The Sonic/Shadow stages are a lot of fun, despite rampant camera issues, the Tails/Eggman levels have their moments, but the Knuckles/Rogue stages are a slog and I never wanted to go through them when they arrived. Therefore only about 60% of the game was fun to me. Not a bad ratio, but not enough to walk away too satisfied. Maybe this is one I needed to play when it first came out, but as of now, fun, but likely forgettable.