Review by lufia22
"The same 'ol Sonic. Good or bad?"
Ah, Sonic the Hedgehog. I have a few good childhood memories of playing Sonic on my friend's Sega. They used to seem such great games. Now that I play them on the Gamecube collection of them, they don't seem as great as they used to be, but still good. Why do people like Sonic?! I mean, all you do is run back and forth between levels, bouncing on springs and jumping on enemies. I mean, hasn't that gotten a little old now, we are in the age of next gen consoles and you haven't seen a new 2D Mario in a while that actually stuck to the normal Mario formula.
2D Sonics have not changed since the original release. It's still the same side-scrolling, fast paced levels that you've grown to love. But the fact that it's such a simple formula and so easy to just pick up an play is what I think keeps drawing people to it, whether anything new has been added to it. Come on, you still see the same type levels in every single game. It always starts in some lush area like a beach or a forest and you always gotta have that pinball level, can't have Sonic without the pinball level.
So now that that's out of the way, let's see what draws me to love the same formula time and time again.
They're simplistic. Think normal, Sega Genesis Sonic with smoother graphics. Character animations are nice, too bad a lot of things are unnoticeable due to the small screen but I can't wait to try this game out on the Gameboy Player for the GCN. The scenery is bright and colorful, just like in every Sonic and is especially beautiful on the SP. What's more to say? If you love Sonic graphics then you'll love these even more. The only drawback IS that sameness. I really can't wait until they actually introduce something NEW to Sonic, gameplay wise or level wise. There needs to be something added to spice it up and new scenery could be part of the answer.
''Bleep bloop bloop.'' That's what I think of when I think of the music in this game. Same old ordinary music, I'm not even sure if they've changed any of the music in the games. The music definitely doesn't take advantage of what the GBA could do, but what can I say? It fits the game so deal with it. It's not like anyone really cares about the music when you're running at top speed through some loop-de-loops, collecting rings like a mad man.
Ugh, this is something that has definitely not been tweaked since the old games. There's really hardly any SFX and what there is isn't noticeable but fits. Just nothing great.
Okay, I won't hold it against Sonic for not having a good story. I might not even figure it in with the final score, who knows. So your animal friends have been turned into robots to serve the evil Dr. Robotnik. Doesn't that just want to make you go, ''Muahahahahaha!!!!'' Okay, past that, there is no story. The only conflict between you and the evil Dr. Robotnik is when you fight him and his evil creations. I don't even think he makes a comment or anything towards you except ''Go collect chaos emeralds'' at the end of the game, and I'm not even sure if that's him saying it, it just has his picture above the words.
It's not like any other Sonic game has had much of a better story but I think there has been at least an attempt a couple of the other Sonics, especially the Gamecube/Dreamcast ones. Why not try and add on in the GBA games?
Let's cut to the chase, there's nothing new. You have 6 Scenes and each scene has two levels and then there's the Final Zone. All of the levels are basically remakes of old levels. And worste of all...the pinball level is more frustrating than fun! The only challenge to this game are a couple of bosses, Amy, a couple of levels, collecting Chaos Emeralds, and that's about it. The game is pretty easy.
Amy? What do you mean by Amy? Well, this game features four characters you can choose to play the game through. They all go through the same levels they just have different abilities. Sonic is, of course, the fastest of them all and can grind rails (big woop). Tails can fly and swim, which can allow you almost infinite freedom as to where and how you want to take the level you are in. Knuckles, the coolest of the bunch, has a sweet (yet mostly useless) punching combo, he can glide, and he can climb walls, almost giving him as much freedom as Tails just in a cooler package. Now to Amy. Amy...the most diverse out of the bunch. She has a hammer and that's it. She can't roll up into a ball and charge up her speed, she can't jump on enemies as she can't turn into a ball, she's totally reliant on that hammer. She has different moves from all the rest, like a high jump or two different air attacks, but she needs these to survive. She is probably the hardest character to play through the game with.
You heard me mention Chaos Emeralds. Of course. Most Sonics that I know of have some secret in almost every level that you can find and try to complete. In this one you get to collect Chaos Emeralds. What it does is pit you in this ''3D'' sort of free fall-tunnel level where you have to collect a certain amount of rings to get the Chaos Emerald. If you fail, you don't get it and you can't reinter it unless you exit the level and find it again. Mind you, these can sometimes be difficult to find. Not to mention it's very hard to tell where on the screen you are in comparison to the rings you're trying to collect. I find myself missing them by a mile but from the looks on the screen I thought I was right on top of them. Guess it takes a little getting used to. To tell you the truth, I haven't really attempted to try and get them, but I have found a few and failed miserably at them.
Alright, back on track. This sonic features mostly everything from the other Sonics. If you like other Sonics then you'll like this one. The only thing I notice different (but it's very slight) is that levels are set up more around unpredictability than other Sonics I have played have. In other Sonics you can see spikes coming a mile away most of the time, in this one you could be sent running at top speed which actually leads straight into some spikes. Oh well, you may not think it's different but that's what I found.
What about the bosses, lufia?! Ah, the bosses. They follow the same formula as any boss in the Sonic series does. They are predictable, take one strategy to beat them, and have three attacks at max. There you go, that sums up the bosses. The only difference I see in this game from the others is the fact that you can't just keep jumping on the boss over and over again and literally beat them in 5 seconds like you could in some of the older games. In this one, you can most of the time only pull off one hit on the bosses at a time without losing rings, maybe two if you're lucky.
This game also sports a Time Trial mode as well as a Chao Garden. We all know aht Time Trial is, no big deal unless you like trying to beat levels as fast as you can. The Chao Garden intrigued me yet disappointed me at the same time. You get ONE egg that will hatch into a chao and that you can train by petting, feeding, and playing with it. You can buy food and toys for your Chao as well that will raise its stats. To get money you have two mini games to play from. One is a memory type game where you try and match and remember face down cards by flipping them over. This game is very tedious and usually unrewarding. The other game is a weird version of paper, rock, scissors (or rock, paper, scissors, whatever you are accustom to). You have three slots, each one has a random card, either rock, paper, or scissors. You go back and forth between those cards and shoot them at a bunch of cards that spin around a rectangle track. Sound weird? You're right. You can shoot the card that beats one of the cards spinning around to get rid of it and score some money. You can shoot the same card at the same card that is spinning around to make it go away but have no points added on. If you shoot the card that loses to the card you shoot at, then you lose that slot to shoot at. The object is to clear all the cards spinning around the rectangle so that more will fill their spaces. You lose by either losing all your slots (the three of them) or running out of time. Wow, just play the game and figure it out! My only gripe about the Chao Garden is that it's pointless unless you own Sonic Adventure Battle 2 for the GCN and you hook this game up with that game.
There's just a few quirks here. Every character basically has the same control except for one move they usually have special to themselves, except Amy, who is totally different from the rest. They all control fine except for a couple of things. One, grinding with Sonic can be a pain. It's hard to figure out when exactly you should press the button to grind, etc. It's just a cool feature that doesn't add much, so no big grip there. The other thing I hate is a small problem with hit detection. Lets say you're jumping on an enemy (or a boss in particular). Sometimes it bounces you up, like it should, out of harms way yet sometimes it doesn't. Some of you might know what I'm talking about, some might not. Because of the minority of these issues, it won't hurt the score hardly.
This Sonic is all about replay. You have four characters to beat the game with, each unique in their own respect. You have the Chaos Emeralds to collect to unlock something. You then also have Time Attack and the Chao Garden to fool around with. If that doesn't sound like replay to you then the pick up and play aspect of Sonic should ring a bell. Sonic is just plain fun.
If you like Sonic then you will like this game. It's a great game to have if you are a fan or just want a fun game to have as a handheld. I don't think Sonic will ever lose it's charm, even if it always stays the same. But, with Sonic expanding even more on the GCN, I hope they do decide to do something new with the 2D version of Sonic. I think new levels, a story, and maybe a few gameplay twist will keep people even more satisfied with the Sonic series.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/28/03, Updated 07/28/03
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