Review: Sonic Adventure DX (Nintendo Gamecube)
by Alex Williams on June 24, 2003

Game: Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut
System: GameCube
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Released: 6/18/03

Sonic the Hedgehog has been seeing a LOT of re-releases as of late. First came Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, a remake of the original Dreamcast SA2. Fans loved the upgrades it received, while the naysayers lambasted it mostly for the poor camera angles (and Knuckles’ emerald-hunting stages). Then came Sonic Mega Collection, a compilation of EVERY Sonic Genesis release, complete with a couple of surprises. More were pleased, but there were still others screaming for something more.

Finally there comes Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, the final part of the Sonic re-release trilogy. A port of the original Dreamcast game Sonic Adventure, this game has received a slight graphical facelift, as well as several additional features to entertain old fans and new comers alike. But the question remains: will YOU be entertained? Read on and find out! I promise I’ll give a fair opinion without concentrating on the negative.

STORY

While going out for a midnight run, Sonic sees a swarm of police cars speeding off towards City Hall. Curious, Sonic gives pursuit as well. He comes to find a giant aquatic creature, known as Chaos, is terrorizing the town. After fighting off the menace, he later finds out Dr. Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman, take your pick) is controlling the monster, and that he grows stronger when given the Chaos Emeralds. What follows is an intricately woven plot carried out by six different characters, each with their different motivations, goals, and stories. Each character has his or her own portion of the story. By playing as each person, you’ll be able to piece it together. Also, as each character grows as the story goes on. Truly a remarkable thing.

GAMEPLAY

As said earlier, you can play as one of six characters: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, Big the Cat, or E102-Gamma. You’ll initially only be able to play as Sonic, but as you encounter the other characters, they will be available for play from that point on. As the story unfolds, the characters will meet up, travel together, and separate. This is a unique approach to telling the whole story. Unlike SA2B, which featured many plot holes and discrepancies, the story in SADX is VERY tight, and pretty easy to follow.

Also unlike SA2B, which gave you six characters, but only three styles of play, SADX has a unique style for every character. This is something that the naysayers will bring up as a bad thing, considering that “every Sonic game is about SPEED, not treasure hunting, or shooting, or fishing!” To this, I bring this counter argument: when Sonic Adventure was released on the Dreamcast, it was Sega’s flagship title. Sega wanted to show off exactly what they could do with their new system, and with the different game styles, they did just that. Not only that, but they did it WELL. Things got a little crazy when Sega tried to refine they systems for SA2B, but SADX got it right. Also, much like the Mario cast, Sonic is an ensemble cast. Every character is part of a great whole. I just don’t know why it takes some people so long to realize this. (Getting off of my soapbox now…)

Anyway, on to the gameplay at hand. There are 32 main stages in the game, each split between the six characters. Sonic has the lion share with 10, while the others get 5 or less. In between levels, you’ll get the chance to explore one of three overworlds: Station Square, a giant city, Mystic Ruins, a mountainous region complete with a jungle, and the Egg Carrier, Robotnik’s lethal flying fortress. Exploration of these places will lead you to various power-ups for your characters, as well as hidden collectable emblems. And if you’re stuck, a floating sphere of red light will help point you on your way. But once you go into an action level, the REAL fun begins.

Sonic’s stages, as one might expect, focuses directly on speed. His levels concentrate on getting him from Point A to Point B in the shortest amount of time possible. Also, Sonic will be doing MUCH more in this game other than running, which was all he seemed to do in SA2B. You’ll be able to snowboard, ride around in bumper cars, and even take flight with Tails in the Tornado. Speaking of Tails, his levels parallel Sonic’s in many respects. First of all, he’s OUT OF THE MECH! He gets to run and jump on his own two legs! The catch is: Tails has to race Sonic AND beat him to win each stage. Luckily, with Tails’ flying ability, and a few conveniently placed shortcuts, it doesn’t pose much of a problem.

Now we come to Knuckles. Yes, his levels require him to find pieces of the Master Emerald. And he’ll have to use his gliding, climbing, and digging powers to help him. However, this task is MUCH LESS tedious than it was in SA2B. The radar at the bottom of the screen will pick up when you’re near ANY of the three Emeralds, so you don’t have to go searching for each one individually before moving to the next. Also, instead of having to decipher clues from monitors, the red spheres of light will point you in the right direction. Add to that fact that most of the shards are in plain sight (rather than digging for most of them), and you have a much more enjoyable Knuckles adventure.

Amy’s missions are few, but aren’t that bad. In order to protect a small bird she found, she must avoid a giant robot chasing her. She may not be able to spin-dash, but she has a giant mallet that works just as well. Her levels are more puzzle oriented as the emphases is taken off speed, and more into exploring.

Big the Cat is one of the new additions to the line-up, as his levels are completely different from the others. What does he do? Well…he fishes. His best friend in the world, a frog, gets possessed by a part of Chaos, and goes crazy. Big must travel to each location and fish his frog out of various ponds. While this doesn’t exactly fit into the Sonic universe too well, it does provide a nice change of pace.

E102-Gamma’s stages involve him good, old-fasioned gun combat. Simply hold down the button to lock on to enemies, and fire! If you’ve played SA2B before, this is where the inspiration came from for the Tails/Eggman mechs. E102′s levels are ridgedly timed to 3 minutes apiece, but you can get more time by executing higher combos with your gun.

Each character’s story meshes with one another beautifully. Sonic’s is the tired-and-true, “I must save the day!” deal, but the others seem to be much more in depth. Tails looks at his past adventures with Sonic, and begins to realize he can do things on his own. Knuckles manages to get a glimpse into his heritage, and why he is guarding the Master Emerald in the first place. Amy goes from the helpless girl-in-distress, to a full-fledged heroine since she has someone to protect. Big is simply the guy with the one-track mind, oblivious to all around him. E-102′s story is perhaps the most intriguing. He is one of Eggman’s robots, but actually has a heart of gold. His story questions his existence, his purpose, and the fight to “save” his brothers. You have to play it to believe it.

The controls are easy to learn and very responsive for each character. If you have any questions, there are optional mini-tutorials for each one that pop up when you select your character. These are very helpful, and give you hints as how to accomplish your objectives. However, things get hampered quite a bit due to the faulty camera angles. Given certain situations, it is indeed hard to see what exactly you are doing. Believe it or not, however, the problems are not as bad as in SA2B. Also, the problems seem to happen in different areas. The levels for Sonic (mainly the later levels) seem to suffer more from camera trouble than the levels for Knuckles. You could be going very fast, when all of the sudden, you’ll reverse direction, or the camera will shift so you can’t see Sonic, or other annoying things. However, Sega HAS implemented some sort of a fix! When you pause the game, you’ll have the option of changing from “Auto-Camera” to “Free-Camera”. By doing this, many of the angle changes are disabled, and you can use the C-Stick to position the camera to your liking. But be warned: some areas are better off with Auto, while others are better with Free. You’ll need to decide for yourself as to when you need each feature. Overall, the camera problems aren’t impossible to deal with. You’ll be able to adapt to them given enough time.

Another new feature that has been implemented in the overworld sections are access to a map. When you pause the game, you’ll be able to see a map of where you are, and how to get to the different places. This is a HUGE time saver when trying to figure out where you are if you get lost.

GRAPHICS

The graphics for SADX have been given a well-deserved facelift from its Dreamcast counterpart. The character models have seen the most noticeable improvements. Each character looks a lot “shinier” than they did before, as well as more smooth. In some cases, such as Knuckles, the models have been changed to resemble the models in SA2B. The mouths, however, look the same as they did in the Dreamcast. You’ll notice this when the characters are speaking.

The frame rate has been upped to 60 FPS, but doesn’t usually stay there. Any and all cut scenes run at the same rate as the Dreamcast version, which makes the transitions seem not as smooth as they once were. The frame rate will drop a bit during some levels as well, but not enough to deter you from the game. You might not even notice it that much.

The backgrounds and scenery have seen some touch-ups, but overall, it looks a lot like the Dreamcast version of the game. While the game still looks pretty good regardless, some additional work could have been done to make the game look and run a bit better.

SOUND

The music and sound have been ported over from the Dreamcast version nearly flawlessly. The wonderful music hasn’t changed a bit, and is still one of the best Sonic soundtracks to date. Music ranges from hard rock, to rap, to some action packed ballads. Each track fits the stages their for perfectly, and goes well with the action. Also, each character has they’re own signature theme song. You’ll hear them as you play, and when you beat each character’s adventure.

The sound effects remain the same for the most part. I noticed that some minor effects were added and deleted from certain places during the course of the game, but not too many changes were made. The only noticeable grievance I have with the effects are that some of the lasers have been replaced with high-pitched tones that hurt the ears. They are few and far between, however.

Voices for the English version are pretty tolerable, much more so than SA2B. I’m pretty sure that some lines (not all) were redubbed by the cast. Even if they haven’t, new material was recorded for the game in the form of menu voices and certain quotes in the Chao Garden. Of course, there is the option to change the voices to the original Japanese if you can’t stand to hear the English.

FUN FACTOR

Now here is where the game really shines.

The main quests for each character are filled incredible visuals and a good amount of challenge. Even though the camera can be a bit finicky, some of the angles used are breathtaking. Zooming through a stage just right is a literal feast for the eyes. You’ll also be treated to a slew of mini-games, including snowboarding, bumper car racing, plane shooting (a cross between After Burner and Panzer Dragoon), and even a version of Whack-A-Hedgehog. There’s plenty here to keep you busy for a few days.

The Chao Garden also makes a return appearance. The SADX gardens have been upgraded TREMEMDOUSLY to take advantage of the Tiny Chao Gardens found in GBA Sonic releases. The Chao now look exactly like their SA2B counterparts, and also included are the stats meters used. You can also purchase items using rings you collected from the Black Market (previously unique only to SA2B). As stated above, you can also port your Chao to any Sonic GBA release. Another interesting feature is the ability to transfer your Chao between SA2B and SADX through the GBA. As far as the Chao racing goes, it is a bit more limited than SA2B, but that’s to be expected considering this is a Dreamcast port.

The Emblems also make a return appearance, and this time, they are actually worth collecting! Every 20 Emblems you collect, you’ll be able to unlock various Sonic Game Gear games for play on your TV. There are 12 to collect, which basically is Sonic’s entire GG history. You’ll get his 5 Chaos Emerald hunting adventures, including kart-racing games, a Marble Madness like game, as well as GG conversions of Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Two Tails-only games (I believe) are also included. This is a very welcome addition, and almost worthy enough to call this game “Sonic Mega Collection 2.”

Also available when you beat the game is the brand new Mission Mode. You’re given 60 missions to find and complete, divided among all the characters. You’ll need to search each overworld with each character to find various note cards. Each note card contains a simple mission to complete. These can range from smashing weeds with Tail’s tail attack, to saving a mannequin from drowning (I know). These missions only add to the gaming experience.

(By the way, you’ve probably noticed a lot of SA2B bashing here. It’s not that I don’t like the game, it’s simply that it could have been better.)

SCORES

Gameplay: 7.5
Graphics: 7
Sound: 9
Fun Factor: 8




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