As a staunch Nintendo fanatic, it was neigh impossible for me to warm up to Segas little blue challenger to Marios throne. Now that I am well past that stage in my life, I can admit to liking the hedgehog although still not as much as Mario. I liked Sonics propensity for insane speeds, his tude and the way that all played into the gameplay. Having never totally experienced Sonic in all his 16-Bit glory, I was eager to get my hands on his first journey in the world of 3D. It may have taken almost a decade and millions of angry letters from disgruntled Saturn fans, but Sega has finally unleashed Sonic and friends into a 3D world. Unfortunately, Sonics blazing speeds and developer inexperience have him tripping over his own feet throughout the entire game.
In truth, there arent that many problems with the game, its just that the few problems that exist are fatal to the game as a whole. For one thing, Sonics manic gameplay worked well in a 2D world. Way back on the Genesis, controlling Sonic meant hitting the run button, occasionally hitting the jump button while watching Sonic bounce of walls and go through loop-d-loops. However, if you take that same gameplay and throw it into a 3D world, problems will crop up. As Ben mentioned the camera system is now notorious for its ineptitude. This wasnt a concern for a Sonic game until now and it shows. The very fact that it never could keep up with the action on the screen made everything that should be easy—like turning corners and collecting coins—all the more difficult. Its constant shifting always had me guessing as to which direction I was to be pointing the analog stick and thanks to the aforementioned speed, this made navigation a lot harder than it should be.
Ben was too kind when he commented that the game "could have gelled more." Sonic Adventure just a mess from beginning to end. It was like Sonic Team was envious of all the side games and multiple objectives crammed into such hits as Super Mario 64, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Banjo Kazooie. With all the "extra" that I was expected to accomplish while playing I am really surprised that I continued playing as long as I did. And it isnt even that they werent all fun—because they were—its just that having so much to do with so little focus did nothing but confuse and overwhelm me.
Sonic Adventure does have its good points. The graphics are great; even when reduced to a blur during Sonics high-speed runs and the soundtrack is lively. The vocals and sound effect samples are some of the best Ive heard in a videogame, let alone a 3D platformer. Its just that Sonic Team tried too hard to match Shigeru Miyamotos efforts with Super Mario 64 and The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time on their first try. They should have seen this as an impossibility from the beginning. After all, Miyamoto and his development team had well over three years to learn how to design Super Mario 64 and even longer to develop The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time—a luxury Sonic Team would never have. But excuses aside, the end result was no where near what it could have been, and thats hardly what fans were expecting after all these years of waiting. A sequel is on its way, but it will have to prove two things. It will have to redeem Sonic Team as a top notch mascot-game developer and it will have to show the world that Sonic can hack it in the 3D world once and for all.