It’s been 12 years since Sonic the Hedgehog first graced Sega’s 16-bit Genesis, ushering in an age of cute animal-driven platformers and mascots with attitudes. This was the first game that could really compete against what was, at that time, considered an unstoppable force: Nintendo.
But in a dozen years, things have a funny way of changing. The industry is different, the games people play are different, heck, even the gamers themselves are different. And while games may have moved from hand –drawn sprites to 3D polygons, one thing that never changes is how popular characters are milked for everything they are worth.
A good case of this is Sonic Adventure DX, a GameCube port of a game that came out only four years ago for the Sega Dreamcast. It’s also the prequel to the extremely disappointing Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, which was released to almost unanimous scathing reviews.
If Sonic Adventure DX seems a little unnecessary, it’s because it is. Perhaps it’s a way of completing the Sonic collection, or maybe it’s just an easy way of making a few bucks and preparing everybody for the upcoming multi-platform Sonic sequel. Or perhaps Sonic Team wasn’t satisfied with the game, and felt like it needed to be done correctly, just like George Lucas, who won’t stop tinkering with his original Star Wars films.
Sonic Adventure DX does offer a number of changes over the original Dreamcast version. For starters, it’s quite a bit better looking. The game is still using simple textures for the backgrounds, but the character models, enemies, and visual effects have been beefed up considerably. It’s not until you actually revisit the original version, that you appreciate the extra attention the graphics have been given.
Many of the glitches and camera problems found in the original game have been addressed, though a few have snuck through. GameCube users will also be able to take advantage of the yellow analog stick when using the Free Camera mode, which comes in handy, but has a funny way of turning itself off whenever you leave one section of the map (or die).
All these improvements mask what is perhaps the worst part of the game. Four years after its release, Sonic Adventure just feels dated. Not dated like playing the 16-bit Sonic’s, at least that’s nostalgic, instead Sonic Adventure falls apart because it’s trying to do things that have been done far better for a number of years. Games like Jak & Daxter and Super Mario Sunshine have really pushed the envelope of 3D platformers, and by their standard, this Adventure just comes up short.
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