Sonic Adventure was one of the best games to grace the Dreamcast and its successor also hit the Gamecube on launch day. But was Sonic really all that good? Any gamer will recollect about Sonic's adventures on the Megadrive which easily rivals Nintendo attempts with Mario on the SNES. But while Mario's jump to 3D came with great success, Sonic became more of a hit and miss affair. Sadly the Sonic's second attempt misses the mark once again.
Sonic games have always had as much need for plot as Mario games, simply say Robotnick, or Eggman in this case, is up to no good, and only the speedy blue hedgehog can save the day. But Adventure 2 Battle has actually brought up a nice little plot, involving Eggman's plan to destroy the world using the Ark (Think Death Star and then law suit), with the help of Rouge, a diamond loving bat, and Shadow, a black hedgehog who can not recall his past. Only Sonic, Tails and Knuckles (and sadly Amy) can save the day and prevent Eggman's plans, as well as teach us the meaning of friendship, heroism, and bestiality. (That last one was made up)
Sonic games have always involved racing at momentous speeds, through colorful levels taking out the odd bad guy, but in SA2B you not only get to play as Sonic but as well as Knuckles, Tails, Shadow, Dr Eggman and Rouge the bat. IN SA2B there are 3 types of gaming styles; either racing around levels in a certain time limit and to trying to reach a goal leaping on enemies and collecting rings as you go as Sonic or Shadow, traveling around in robotic mechs and destroying pretty much everything using homing missiles as either Tails or Eggman, or searching levels for pieces of the Chaos emerald as Knuckles or Rouge. Although the variety adds quite a fresh feel to the game each style has a fault in its own respect. For example the racing levels are usually fast paced and quite good fun, yet when you are unexpectedly stopped by a wondering enemy, the whole game seems to slow down and takes an while to pick up the pace again.
The ability to control mechs is a very nice idea, but these are not Mech warrior type battles. Aiming is not required; simply hold B and point the analogue stick in the general direction of a badnick to auto aim and let go to launch missiles. The whole challenge of shooting and combat is minimal and the levels only take long to complete, due to the slow speed of the mechs. As well as having terrible controls, trying to hover and leap in the mechs is made extremely difficult but the camera angle, that always seems to pan in the wrong direction whilst in mid air, desperately searching for that vital platform to land on. Irritating does not describe it enough.
None of this compares to the scavenger levels though, which seem to have been made with out the intention of enjoyment. These levels require you to trot around environments and simply pray for your radar to bleep, signaling you are near to a piece of the chaos emerald. When this happens though, you must then dig into walls, into various passages and search everywhere for the green jewel. The fact these levels take so long, and can become so tiresome, means that only the persistent gamer or eager Sonic fan will actually try and complete these missions, as the clues given by the computers scattered about each level, are so irrelevant, the only way to find the emeralds is by pure luck and exploration. In the later levels, where you are timed, your hate of these levels will dramatically increase. Not good.
SA2B is not a port of a PS2 game, it's a direct port of a Dreamcast game. Better or worse, it does not really matter, a port can only mean the graphics will not be spectacular, and SA2B is no exception. The characters look blocky and chunky, and lack any detail at all. Despite colourful surroundings and effects, the whole game seems far too bland and unpolished. Even the FMVs, which in most games have much better graphics then the game itself, (see Final Fantasy VII) seem blocky and rough.
The sound in SA2B varies from actually quite good to extremely terrible. The voice acting in the FMVs and in game itself is not of a great standard and shows an absence of acting lessons. The constant shriek of Amy and Tails will make you realise the truth of this, which is a shame, as the cool sounding Shadow almost makes you appreciate the cut scenes.
The music in the game can be good in some levels with such great tracks as Escape from the City, and Live and Learn, but these are always followed by something pretty poor. Usually found in the scavenger levels. Notice a pattern anyone?
Sonic 2 is actually a long outing due to the fact you get to play as both good and dark characters, giving 30 levels to play, including the extra long Final Act. Also for every level you are given a grade and an emblem. You can collect emblems from either doing something special in a level, collecting 100 rings or just getting an A grade. In between levels you get to raise a Chao. Think Pokémon, and you'll be on the right lines. There is actually a fair bit of fun to be had in Chao raising. By taking care of these little critters in the Chao Gardens, and feeding them animals and items acquired by defeating enemies in stages, they will transform and level up into stronger and faster Chao. Take them into the Chao races and karate mini-games to win emblems. It won't be to everyone's tastes, but it's a fun little distraction from the main game.
This isn't a game for everyone. Fans of Sonic will likely find the most enjoyment out of it, but the clumsy controls and other annoyances will put the majority off.
At times, Sonic Adventure 2 feels like it has recaptured the feel of the 2D Sonic games with fast paced races and levels that can be toppled in minutes, however the addition of the other levels, namely shooting and scavenger, drop the game down in marks.
On the Dreamcast these graphics were considered good. Now that the next generation of consoles are among us, these graphics simply look dated and poor. Even though the colourful backdrops are present, they are just far too rough and undefined to be acceptable.
The songs in SA2B's soundtrack are actually very good, and some tracks not only fit the game itself, but are good songs on their own. Though the voice acting is pretty atrocious, just because Tails is 8, is no reason to make him sound like an uncomfortable toddler.
With multiplayer, a Choa garden, not to mention a pretty long single player mode, as well as a kart mode, and quite a few extras to unlock, and challenges to complete, there is a large amount to do in Sonic Adventure 2. It is a shame the rest of the game is so flawed.
There is no doubting Sonic fans will love this game, and even the more casual Sonic fans will find enjoyment, but the huge amount of flaws in the game are unavoidable. Everywhere you look you can find problems that cause a hindrance, and some of the extras are very weak, which makes Sonic Adventure 2 Battle a very flawed experience.