Most of Sonic’s levels involve him running at top speed, bouncing off of walls, and collecting rings, something that felt dated even when this game was first released. The backgrounds are full of detail, beautifully colored, and offer a plethora of animation … but you’d never know it, because you’re too busy flying through the stages getting to the end.
It could be argued that Sonic has always been about running at high speeds and dodging enemies, collecting the occasional ring, and so on. But I’d hate to think that these are the only elements the creators took from those classic Genesis Sonic games. When you play as Sonic, there is no real exploration, and there’s very little incentive to look for extras.
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, the levels in Sonic Adventure are really well put together. They are all very unique looking, and offer different enemies and challenges. I’d even go as far as to say some of them are really a lot of fun. Unlike most platformers, you never really know what’s coming next in Sonic Adventure. In one section of a level you’ll be running through a cave, only to find yourself on a snowboard being chased by a giant snowball. But those diversions from the regular game are all too brief, and only happen a hand full of times throughout the game.
When you aren’t rushing through the stages, there is an adventure world you have to work your way through. These areas involve a small part of a city, pyramids, caves, and more. These levels simply require you to solve a puzzle, or do some kind of action, to further the story along. While most of the time it’s fairly clear what needs to get done, there are a few times where there is no help, and you simply have to figure it out trial and error style.
These adventure areas are the weakest part of this game, and are filled with invisible walls and almost no interaction with the environment. They tend to simply break up the action, and can be frustrating on more than a few occasions. They also don’t seem to fit, since they require you to picture a regular sized Sonic doing the same things a human would do in a city, like shopping or eating out.
Once done with the speedy hedgehog, Sonic Adventure offers the ability to play as a number of other characters connected to the main quest. Tails, Sonic’s annoying child sidekick, has probably the least inventive levels of the set, however, they seem to be the most fun, as well. In his five missions, Tails will have to race against Sonic in levels you’ve already played, but are fixed to make it more even (not to mention take advantage of his flying ability).
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