I’ve heard that sometimes, if you love something to the degree to which only a nerd can, your love can eventually morph into hatred because of how highly you hold your object of affection. If someone messes it up or does something “wrong” – especially if the person doing something wrong is the creator – your love twists and deforms into a rage which cannot be quelled. Star Wars fans know what I’m talking about. You know who else knows what I’m talking about?
Sonic the Hedgehog fans know what I’m talking about.
If you’re looking for a blanket statement regarding Sonic Adventure 2, then here it is: it is a failure. It was a failure when it released on the Dreamcast to critical praise, it was a failure when it re-released on the GameCube to less enthusiastic reviews, and it is a failure as an Xbox Live Arcade download in 2012. The game is a catastrophic mess in every category, and if you’ll indulge me a bit longer, I’ll explain why.
The best use of Sonic the Hedgehog outside of video games 1 through 3 is unquestionably his starring role in his ABC cartoon series and the subsequent transition from that series to Archie comics. That isn’t opinion, that’s scientific fact. The series introduced a great cast of characters, showed a world full of other anthropomorphized animals, and explained the depths to which DOCTOR ROBOTNIK sunk in his attempted conquest of the planet Mobius. So naturally, instead of rolling with that, Sega decided that the best thing to do with Sonic was to promptly ruin him with some of the most atrociously stupid writing in video game history.
Instead of living on Mobius with other talking animals, Sonic was a giant blue talking hedgehog who just so happened to live on Earth with millions of other speechless itty bitty brown, black, and white hedgehogs. This was the same Earth where we have a United States and a United Kingdom and a Germany… And a US president and a military and people and cars… And Sonic just exists here, somehow, and the Chaos Emeralds also just exist on Earth for some reason. And also there are other giant talking animals occasionally. And “Dr. Eggman” is a ridiculously incompetent terrorist boob instead of being Dr. Robotnik, a ruthless war criminal-slash-emperor.
The game opens up with Sonic in a plane, having been arrested by the military (I guess he forgot he’s the fastest thing alive, or maybe they caught him taking a leak?). Because the military is staffed entirely by idiots, they mistook Sonic the Hedgehog with Shadow the Hedgehog, despite the fact that Sonic is an enormous blue hedgehog with red shoes, and Shadow is an enormous black hedgehog with white shoes. I have a colorblind friend who would not make the mistake that the absurdly dense military makes in Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic jumps out of the plane, but instead of dying he runs through a populated city and avoids being hit by a giant tractor trailer that is literally the size of two story buildings.
You just can’t make this kind of crap up.
From here we cut to Knuckles arguing with a trampy vampire bunny girl who claims that the emerald is hers for…well, I’m sure it’s for some reason, although I truly don’t care to learn what that reason is. Both characters then watch the perpetually incompetent Dr. Eggman fail to steal the Master Emerald, which Knuckles destroys so he can take his ball and go home. After tracking down the emerald pieces, the story switched to Tails, who has a plane that transforms into a robot walker and shoots missiles, because why not?
If it seems as if I’m not invested in recapping the story, it’s because I’m not. I hate this incomprehensible mess as much now as I did when I originally played it on the GameCube, and even if the story wasn’t complete garbage, it wouldn’t change how awful the gameplay is. Sonic doesn’t work in 3D like this. He didn’t work like this in the last decade, and since there have been literally no changes to the gameplay at all, he doesn’t work now, either. The camera system is, without hyperbole, one of the most awful camera systems in video game history. It’s less noticeable when you’re playing as Sonic, since Sonic’s gameplay boils down to holding the left analog stick forward for two minutes and occasionally pressing A, but when you’re playing as Knuckles, God, it’s like you’re trying to wrangle a rabid cat using a strand of yarn for your rope. Tails’ gameplay is functional but incredibly boring, since mashing X kills everything that can even slightly threaten you before it has a chance to get close, but why the hell is Tails even in a giant robot walker instead of, you know, flying through all of his levels?
The lack of options for a remake is also insulting. There’s no way to change the camera’s controls, there’s no way to change button configuration, and there’s no way to turn off subtitles, though that’s probably for the better. The obnoxious background music is so loud that it constantly drowns out the terrible dialogue that the characters spit out during the awkward cutscenes (so perhaps that’s a blessing). While the music for Sonic’s levels is generally decent to good, Knuckles’ pseudo “rap” music made me want to shove chopsticks into my ears and push until I heard the sweet sound of silence.
The lip syncing is pathetic, the music is bad and too loud, the camera is horrendous, there are essentially no game options, the voice acting is terrible, the story is complete trash, there are no improvements to the gameplay, the boss battles are a joke, there’s no network support for the Battle mode, and every single character except for Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles should have their very existence erased from human memory. Sega ported the game in the laziest way possible AND THEN CUT CONTENT from the GameCube release of the game to resell it as DLC. That is absolutely unacceptable.
The one redeeming feature the game has is the Chao Garden, but is that one feature alone worth buying and subsequently playing this broken game?
No. It certainly isn’t.
3/10 – Review by Jared Brickey