Sonic Adventure

Year: 1999
Platform: Dreamcast
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Genre: Action/adventure
Rating: ****

Finally! A Sonic game that isn't impossibly difficult to play! That's not to say that it isn't full of challenges, though. The biggest problem with the previous Sonic titles was that you couldn't save your progress and you only had a limited number of continues, meaning that unless you were very good and had at least a six hour chunk of time set aside, you had no chance of finishing the game. Not to mention the diminishing returns of having to play the same punishing levels over and over again to make any progress. Fortunately, "Sonic Adventure" makes all of those problems go away, leaving a fun and exciting action adventure game for all ages. Similar to the previous Sonic titles, "Sonic Adventure" is a superbly crafted game and a technology showcase. The graphics and level design are gorgeous, and the game speeds along at a blinding pace. As awkward as it is to hear the Sonic gang speak, both the Japanese and English voice talent is excellent. (I actually had a hard time deciding which language to listen to) I found the English voice of the glowing hint orbs to be particularly enchanting.

The twisted Dr. Robotnik is up to his old tricks again, collecting the mystical Chaos Emeralds to feed his growing Chaos monster. Ultimately he wants to demolish Station Square so he can build his own city on the ruins. Fortunately, Sonic and his pals (Tails, Knuckles, and Amy) are on the scene to deal with the Doctor's sinister plan. During the course of Sonic's adventure, an epic tale unfolds and the other characters are unlocked, including E-102 (one of Robotnik's robots) and Big the cat. All of these characters have adventures of their own to play, which are quite enjoyable. Tails' adventure and E-102's adventure are the most frustrating of the bunch as they are punishing time trials. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Amy (the cute pink Hedgehog who has the hots for Sonic) is my favorite character to play. She's impossibly cute, and having her whack enemies with her gigantic hammer is immensely satisfying (how undeniably Japanese). Now if only she would get a game of her own...

The only real complaint I have about "Sonic Adventure" is that the cinematic cut scenes are a real disappointment. The character animations are downright awful, as they are simply combinations of the characters' walk cycles and idle cycles, and they utilize poorly laid out and jerky linear movement paths. The result is a very cheap and unpolished look which is a stark contrast to how the rest of the game looks.