Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut - Gamecube Review
July 14, 2003
Well it looks like I'll be playing less of my Dreamcast. One of the biggest reasons I still busted out the classic console was too play this DC title released on that unforgetable day - 09/09/1999 the day when Jesus Christ came back for the second coming, and that second coming was the Sega Dreamcast. The graphics still held up today and it featured one of my favourite soundtracks ever. I loved blasting through Sonic and Tail's levels. Smack a couple of monkeys with Amy's mallet. Treasure hunting with Knuckles and blowing the shit out of stuff with E-101. So how does a 4 year old DC title hold up today, for me it actualy holds up well.
I'll go through my minor nit-picks first and move onto the what a brother likes...
The camera is a sore spot. Playing it today isn't as big an an issue as it was back in the day. Over the past 4 years we've had a host of games with god awful cameras (Earthworm Jim 3D, Spawn, Pac-Man World 2, The Terminator, ect.). Overall it's not bad, only within a few rare spots of the game it becomes as issue. The game now includes a free camera mode which you control with the C-Stick which makes the experience much more enjoyable. I personaly still stick with the original auto camera. Tust me, it won't piss you off like that Pac-Man World 2 camera. Holy shit! What a piece of art that was.
A minor complaint goes towards the uping of the game's framerate. SA1 for the DC ran at 30 fps. For the GC, the game has been bumped up to 60 fps. Including beefed up graphics and major texturing reworking, seems to cause the game to drop bellow the 60 fps range and head back to 30 fps. An oddity but never gets in the way of the gameplay. Back to the graphics, they are much better but not ground breaking. SA2 for the GC still looks fantastic, sadly the reworked SA1 looks just above average. However, it still looks light years better than a bloody PS2 launch title.
Another minor complaint are Amy and Big's stages feel incosistant compared to the rest of the game character's stage designs. They're slow. I don't mind them but when your ripping through Sonic's and Tails levels and having a blast collecting emeralds in Knuckles levels then finaly blowing shit up with E-101, Amy's and Big's levels aren't up the calibur. They feature some good level design and some very cute moments but they are SLLOOOWWWW... And this is supposed to be a rip-roaring SONIC ADVENTURE. I still enjoy playing them, especialy to watch the narrative unfold for their own indvidual storylines and how it effects the overall plot.
Sadly the interent options have been removed. You won't be able to go online with your Cube to download goodies for the game, talk in chat rooms/messageboards or trade your beloved Chaos online. This was such a great DC addition and I miss it on the Cube. Then again I'm not surprised it ain't there since it wasn't included in SA2:Battle.
SADX still holds up today in the gameplay department. The game never realy feels like a platform 3D game like Mario 64 or Rayman 2, rather an exploration of differents genres such as the racing game (Sonic's levels) too 3rd person shooters (E-101's levels). Sonic is his own bag, baby. The level design faithfully represents the original 2D Sonic titles more so than SA2. SA2 felt like an evolution in Sonic 3D design, where as SA1 compliments the original 2D worlds. Take your pick, Sonic fans still seem split by the titles. Half of the fans think SA1 is still superior too SA2 where as the other half (where I fall in) think SA2 is the superior title. Both games feature fantastic level design. Worlds stretch forever and feature fast paced Sonic and Tail's antitics to Amy's key/door opening exporation and so forth. What is nice is that each character represents different types of gameplay. Of course E-101's shooter levels and Knuckles treasure hunting levels are here. There is even an excellent fishing game represented by Big's charcacter. The game features a hell of alot of gameplay and the game plays even better with the GC controller. Buttons are perfectly lined up and feel comfortable for the user. Control reflects your characters abilities. Sonic features loose controls for his high speed anticts. Try completing the Emerald Coast under 2 minutes too get one of the tougher Sonic Emblems, it can be done and I smiled in disbelief when I did it (and I unlocked a GG game at the same time doing it - more on that later...). I love how you have to be just as quick and reflexive with the controller as Sonic is with his toes to complete levels. Tails in control is pretty damn close to Sonic. E-101 is a friggin' walking tank with tight controls and lots of gun blastin' action.
Yeah, I mentioned it in THE BAD, but hell the graphics are still an improvement over the original DC title so that is in THE GOOD. The charcter models almost closely resemble their SA2:Battle counter parts. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy look great. Texturing is also greatly improved. There are times in Knuckles levels when your climbing a mountain and you swear it looks photo perfect. The lighting looks phenominal. You can feel the hot sun beat against Sonic's brow. It's amazing how lighting can make a game look fantastic.
The story kicks ass. You complete the game with a character, then move on too the next and you'll see how Sonic's story connects with Amy's and how her's connects with E-101 and so forth. The total story unravels with the completion of each character's stages. The story is very interesting and has some very cool emotional moments. I love how through each of the characters, you not only unravel the mystery of Eggman and the evil Chaos, but the characters learn more about themselves. You'll find they are complex little critters with their own ambitions and agendas even when faced with obsticles which require co-operating. Sonic Adventure has one serious kick ass story.
The audio also kicks ass. I love the voice actors, English or Japanese. SADX is one of those rare titles that allows the user to select English or Japanese speach and subtitles. Take your pick and go from their. The actors are great with alot of great cinematic moments, funny and touching delivered with skill. The music compliments the game so well. All the charcters have a rockin' 80's style theme song and in turn they have instrumental versions of their respected themes for emotional moments of heightening whether it be extremely exciting or character despair. Very, very well done. Sonic's theme rocks as well as all the other charcters. The Chaos have their own cute little tunes for races and you'll tap your feet to some of the newly fully orchestrated versions of classic 16-bit Sonic tunes.
It wouldn't be a DX:Director's Cut without extras and this title is full of them. Of course we have the standard extras that came with the original release, featuring the many mini-games you experience within the main game, including fun track based shooter levels in Tail's airplanes too Amy's mallet game where you get to Whack-A-Sonic.
The Chao raising game has also returned and heavily improved. A complete A-Life game in itself, you'll play the hell out of. Featuring SA2:Battle improvements including the display of stats when you pick up your Chao, a store now exists to purchase food and toys for your babies. Plus the gardens have also grown in size. Players will find themselves raising the various critters and watch them grow into different types of Chaos, ones who specialize in swiming or others that are best at flying. As you progress through levels you'll collect rings used to purchase items within the store and little animals, used to improve your Chaos various abilities. Your are able to import your babies from SA2:Battle or another person's copy of SADX via GBA link cable and a copy of Sonic Advance 1 or 2 (or Sonic Pinball Party if you you live close to the U.S. and can snag a copy from Target). You can also store your Chao within the tiny GBA gardens for travel interaction. Also, included is a brand new GBA link cable game featuring Sonic as he helps Cheese the Chao find his missing buddies. A very nice mini-game indeed. As you can tell the Chao raising game is a huge game in itself and you'll find yourself very addicted to it.
There is a brand new Mission Mode featuring various quests for all the characters to do. They range from the simple (grab the man and take him to Station Square), to the more challenging (collecting all the flags while snow boarding down Mystic Ruins Angel Island). It's a nice addition to the game and will have you playing for hours. As you complete missions and collect Sonic Emblems, you unlock a Sonic fans dream...
GAME GEAR CLASSICS!
Finaly to round off the extras we have the complete library of Game Gear games. The list is as follows -
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic Drift Racing
Sonic & Tails
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Sonic & Tails 2
Sonic Drift 2
These titles are complete and perfectly emulated. They range from the solid triple-A (Sonic 1 & 2, Sonic & Tails) too the average (Sonic Drift 1 & 2, Mean Bean, Sonic Spinball) too the awful (Sonic Labryinth, Tails' Adventures). The Game Gear was a powerful, backlit portable handheld system which tried to compete with the green screened GameBoy back in the day but sadly failed. It was esscentialy a portable Master System, featuring some great classic titles. Sonic The Hedgehog 1 & 2 GG Games are ports of the original Master System versions. You can read a full review of the first game right here. Literaly we have dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay here. You'll find yourself lost in Sonic's 2-D, 8-bit adventures just as much or more so than his 3-D adventures. In interviews, Yuji Naka often joked that he was originaly going to call SADX, Sonic Mega Collection 2. We got a great laugh from it but hell, his joke wasn't without some point of truth.
Not only was Sonic Adventure a great game with a hell of alot of gameplay, but now you get a beefed up Chao Garden, GBA to GC connectibility, Mission Mode and the complete library of Sonic Game Gear games. This game will have you busy for a long, long time and to top it right off it's been budgetly priced. Pick it up at Wal-Mart and it's priced 20 to 30 dollars cheaper than a newly released title. I've always loved this title. From the graphics, music, gameplay and mutliple intertwining storylines, Sonic Adventure DX is a blast for fans and new fans alike. It ain't perfect with minor clipping, shitting and dipping but damn I sure love this game! Since it's original DC release, I still played a few levels every couple of weeks. I have never got tired of this title which is saying alot. Today I'd say 80 percent of my rents/purchases are of titles I am so looking forward too but shit I playem' and they're boring. Sonic DX isn't. For many of us, the rebirth of Sonic in 3-D was a spiritual moment. Much like Moses bustin' a cap into the red sea, splitin' it in two. The Pope also enjoys the title as well. I spoke to him on the phone yesterday and we both agreeded it was great playing a DC classic anew on our Cubes. Word.