Review by ShadowGuardian9

Reviewed: 11/02/06

Sonic is not-so-super in this decent port.

When the Dreamcast was released by legendary game company Sega, a launch title was the return of a gaming icon: Sonic. The blue blur that made a legacy on the Genesis, after a long hiatus, returned in a 3-D masterpiece. After the Dreamcast’s untimely demise and Sega’s departure from the console market, many wondered where Sonic would go. Sega surprised many by bringing a remake of Sonic Adventure 2 to the Gamecube, the console of their former rival Nintendo. With Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on store shelves, Sega planned the remake of their legendary character’s original Dreamcast adventure. Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut is Sega’s remake of the original Sonic Adventure that took the gaming world by storm. Does it live up to its amazing pedigree?

Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut follows the same storyline as the original Dreamcast hit. Robotnik (now named Eggman) has returned with a whole new plan. Using the ancient creature Chaos who was trapped inside the Master Emerald, Eggman enters Station Square in another attempt to take control of the planet. As expected, Sonic enters the fray to stop him. As in recent Sonic games, Sonic isn’t alone. Sonic is joined by five other characters who show their involvement in the battle against Eggman. Classic friends like Tails and Knuckles arrive, along with Amy Rose, the girl hedgehog who Sonic met back in Sonic CD. Also along for the ride is Big the Cat, a peace-loving cat whose pet frog disappears after Eggman’s arrival, and E-102 Gamma, a renegade robot who is out to investigate his mysterious past as a servant to Eggman. Quite a crew, and with their personalities, the six Sonic stars have their own gameplay styles.

2-D Sonic games were all about moving at lightning-fast speeds in fantastic environments, and Sonic Adventure brought the concept into 3-D. DX also shows the high-speed action, courtesy of Sonic and Tails’ levels. Sonic’s levels are true 3-D platforming; nearly all you do is run through amazing levels. Sonic’s levels emulate the side-scrolling games of the past extremely well, providing a maddening pace integrated with the inventive levels. The controls are well-translated, with Sonic’s homing attack still a major part of the game. Sonic’s levels are easily some of the most impressive and fun sequences in the game, not only translating well, but being fun on their own.

Tails’ sequences are very similar to Sonic’s, but there’s a twist. Instead of simply reaching the end of the level, Tails has to prove himself by getting to the end of a level before Sonic. A majority of the running gameplay is similar to Sonic’s, but sometimes Tails has to take to the air for a quick shortcut. The levels are structurally the same as Sonic’s, but some of the shortcuts can be a bit annoying when flying. Overall, though Tails’ levels retain much of the Sonic levels’ speed and style.

Knuckles, Sonic’s hot-headed rival, doesn’t follow the former level style. As protector of the Master Emerald, Knuckles is quickly involved in the battle against Chaos. However, in Chaos’ arrival, the Master Emerald is shattered. It’s up to Knuckles to find the pieces of the Master Emerald and rebuild it. Knuckles’ levels are treasure-hunting levels; Knuckles must traverse through expansive levels to find emerald pieces. His trademark glide and climbing abilities are still here, making the exploration aspect rather fun. You’ll most likely miss the high-speed action of the Sonic or Tails sequences, but Knuckles’ treasure-hunting adventures slow down the action to a reasonable level without bringing the gameplay to a halt.

Amy Rose, the spunky and self-proclaimed girlfriend of Sonic, finds herself chased after by one of Eggman’s robots after rescuing a helpless bird. Now out to protect the bird, Amy must escape capture from the robot. This translates to her levels, which are similar to Sonic and Tails’ “get-to-the-finish-line” levels. In Amy’s levels, she must reach the end of a level, while also trying to avoid capture from Eggman’s robot, who is chasing Amy through the whole run. It’s relatively slow and can be a small bit frustrating, but Amy’s levels are hardly a chore and can be rather fun to play.

Next up is Gamma, Eggman’s former servant who is out to understand the existence of himself and his fellow creations. Unlike the former characters, Gamma likes shooting things rather than running. His levels are slower shooting levels where points are accumulated by massive combos. These levels can be a fun distraction, but Gamma’s controls are slippery and simply walking can be a true ordeal. Many of the levels also can be annoyingly designed, with enemies appearing out of range and getting in an attack. Not a disaster, but far from an accomplishment.

And finally there’s Big. Big is out to find his pet Froggy, who has disappeared from his house in Mystic Ruins. So how does the guy find his friend? He fishes. Yes, fishing. After running around at speed of sound as Sonic, treasure-hunting as Knuckles, or shooting down robots as Gamma, Big fishes. This is easily the most frustrating and least fun portion of the game, as the controls are clumsy and the levels are boring. It can take a ridiculous amount of attempts to get even a small catch. Big is the perfect example of how diversifying gameplay can go horribly wrong. Plus, he’s just annoying.

All of these characters must be unlocked in the Adventure Mode except for Sonic, who is the only character at start. The Adventure Mode takes place in a hub world, where levels are entered through passageways. Simply exploring the hub allows for a character to find Emblems which can be used to unlock secrets. Emblems are also awarded upon completing a level or revisiting a level and completing a certain objective, like getting to the finish in a certain amount of time or collecting a certain amount of rings. However, there aren’t as many objectives as the levels in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, so getting all the objectives done can be too easy.

This is a remake, so there’s surely some sort of extra content or upgrade from the original. To the game’s credit, there are some upgrades. One of which is the newly-added Mission Mode, where certain objectives are found throughout the hub then must be performed in the hub or other levels. The objectives range from finding a hidden shortcut in a level to finding a certain set of rings. The objectives are quite diverse and sometimes fun, but many of them can be frustrating, especially in finding the correct path.

Another major upgrade is the Chao Garden, a major piece of replay value in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. As with the original, you can raise the cute critters called Chao, increasing their stats, entering them in races, or simply just raising them. You can transfer Chao between DX and Sonic GBA games like Sonic Advance using a GBA-GCN link cable, and then transfer them to Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Raising Chao in the many Gardens is lots of fun, making the Chao Garden still a great bit of replay value for the game.

The graphics in DX, however, are poor. There’s a ton of pixelation and clipping throughout the game, and an extremely erratic camera doesn’t help. If this was a new game, this might be able to be looked over, but this is a remake. There was an opportunity to make the game look better. Sonic Adventure 2 looked great in Battle, but DX doesn’t look good by any means. Audio, however, is very good. The high-intensity rock music of past Sonic games is still in top form, and the voice acting is passable. The graphics are poor, but the audio remains a very good element of the game’s presentation.

Pros
+ Remake of an amazing game
+ Sonic and Tails levels fast and fun to play
+ Chao Garden still lots of fun
+ Knuckles and Amy levels solid and inventive
+ New Mission Mode surprisingly deep

Cons
- Gamma’s levels are a bit too slow
- Big’s levels are VERY slow and VERY boring
- Graphics are poor
- Not much extra content
- Big the Cat

Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut could’ve been an amazing remake of an amazing game, and a majority of the gameplay remains in tact, but the game feels more like a re-hash than a remake. For the most part, Sonic and Tails’ levels are pure adrenaline-pumping madness and an extremely good example of how Sonic games should be in 3-D. Knuckles and Amy’s levels are slower, but still retain an impressive amount of freedom, while still keeping the controls fast and responsive. Gamma’s levels, however, are a bit too slow and the controls are a bit too inaccurate to be one of the game’s strongest points, but still retain a decent amount of the fun factor. Big the Cat’s levels, however, are just too slow and tedious to be useful for anything other than story progression. As for the game overall, the graphics are sub-par and messy and the lack of extra content (outside of the moderately interesting Mission Mode) makes the game feel dated. Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut does a great job of keeping the gameplay in tact in its transition to the Gamecube, but keeping something in tact doesn’t necessarily mean improving, as the game clearly shows. There were so many things that could’ve been done to bring Sonic Adventure onto the Gamecube in brilliant effect, but many of these opportunities were sadly missed. All in all, the game has a tendency to be dated, but if you’re looking for some high-speed platforming, Sonic Adventure DX is a good choice.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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