Hi, guys. I know I haven't been on in a long time, but you probably didn't miss me.
Anyways, Sonic Adventure 2. I'll just say it right now; I think that SA2 is overrated and overhated at the same time (*cough* *cough* ProJared *cough*). It seems that people are a little too harsh on the Adventure games, treating them like they came out just this summer, and not 15 years ago.
Overall, the opinions on SA2 are very divisive over the general public. Some love it, some hate it, some think it's in between, and some just love to blindly hate it because...dude, it's SA2.
But enough dillydallying, let's get onto the review and see what all the fuss is about.
As always, I will be grading the game out of 20 in 5 categories: Gameplay, Presentation, Graphics, Sound, and Replay Value. The five categories combined will result in the final score, out of 100. For example, if the game got 10/20 in every category, the final score would be 50/100.
Let's start with the plot. If you don't know the plot, then head over to here: http://sonic.wikia.com/wiki/Sonic_Adventure_2#Plot
I just don't feel like typing the story right now.
So, overall the story isn't that great. There are a couple of bulls**t moments, like
show spoiler»Oh, and don't forget the fact that the entire G.U.N. agency is ran by idiots who are either colour-blind or mentally challenged. Wait, Amy's a hedgehog, so should she be mistaken for Shadow, too?
Still, the story is better and more endearing than SA's story, which is quite simplistic in comparison. In short, it is a bit convoluted and hard to follow, but they made an effort.
Next up, the gameplay. The game has two separate story campaigns; Hero and Dark. The Hero campaign consists of three different characters, each with different play styles; Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. Sonic has speed stages, where he "rolls around at the speed of sound", Tails has shooting stages in his mech, and Knuckles has hunting stages, in which he has to find the three pieces of the Master Emerald hidden in the stage. The Dark campaign is largely the same, with Shadow, Eggman and Rouge respectively. Shadow and Rouge were first introduced in this game. Shadow is "the Ultimate Lifeform" created by Eggman's grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, and Rouge the Bat is a G.U.N. agent and is searching for information on Shadow.
This game is the first to have a ranking system, from "A" to "E". Your rank depends on how fast you do the stage, how many tricks you do, how many rings you collect, etc,. Your score builds up as you do all of those tricks. If you die, you will lose all of your points in the stage, and you'll have to start over from the beginning, which I think isn't very fair.
Each stage has 5 missions that, if completed, will give you an emblem. You will also get an emblem for getting all A-Ranks for a character, and competing in Chao races. You will get a reward for getting all 180 emblems, but it could takes years to do so.
The Sonic/Shadow sections of the game are definitely the highlights. High-speed platforming, loop-de-loops, corkscrews, racing towards rings at light speed, it's got it all! The only complaint is that these levels are a little too linear for my taste, and don't have enough rewards for exploring around.
There are 31 stages in the game in total, and Sonic and Shadow share 10 of them, with Sonic having 6 and Shadow, 4. I find Sonic's stages to be more polished than Shadow's, so I prefer his over Shadow's.
The Tails/Eggman sections are part of the weaker parts of the game, albeit mostly because of Tails' levels. Why is Tails in a mech?! Is he handicapped in the levels or something? I mean, he's totally capable of running through Sonic-style stages, so why is he in a mech? One of his levels, Hidden Base, rectifies this problem. Wouldn't it be much easier for Tails if he could just traverse the level on foot? Even better, he could have flown over most of the level if it weren't for the bloody machine. And to add insult to injury, Tails travels on foot in the Chao World, and even moves at a decent speed and can fly.
I know what it is. The developers got lazy and just stuck Tails in Eggman-style levels with a worse-controlling mech and made the levels as frustrating as possible. Yeah, that's totally what happened.
Actually, that's not far from the truth. During SA2's development, fans were asking if Tails will be playable in the game. The answers ranged from "We'll see" to "No". So, they probably rushed him in there for the fans. I wish they wouldn't have done that.
As for Eggman's stages, I don't think they're that bad. I like the idea of Eggman going through the stages in a mech, and his stages aren't as tedious, frustrating and cumbersome. My favourite level is Cosmic Wall, where the space physics are beneficial for Eggman, as they allow him to levitate and move around better.
All in all, I don't mind Eggman's stages, but Tails' play style needs a LOT of work.
Knuckles/Rouge's stages aren't too great, either. I guess the best thing to do is to compare them to the Knuckles stages in SA1, which are pretty enjoyable and fun.
So, what did Knuckles' SA1 stages do right that Knuckles/Rouge's stages in SA2 didn't? Well, first of all, SA2's stages are much bigger than SA1's. This can present a problem, and most of stages take this idea and take it WAY too far. Take Knuckles' Meteor Herd and Rouge's Mad Space, for example. Both stages are bloody massive, but Mad Space is 1000x worse, as it introduces wonky gravity gimmicks that are extremely hard to work with the first time around, until you realize you can get out of a planet's gravitational pull with a rocket. It's still a pain in the a**, though.
The radar system was also butchered, as it only notifies you about one emerald piece at a time. As many of you know, this was a stupid and tedious way to stretch out the time it takes to beat the level. Seriously, you'll be standing right next to an emerald shard, and the radar will not notify you about it until you collect the one it wants you to collect. What a piece of crap.
There is also a hint system, but it is butchered yet again. In SA1, the little hintballs
show spoiler»will show you which direction one of the emerald pieces is. But in SA2, the hintballs were replaced by the hint boxes that were found in the HUB worlds of Sonic Adventure that gave you good tips and advice. But this time, they give you hints on where the emerald pieces are. Their hints range from kind of obvious to downright cryptic nonsense, depending on how good you are at the game. But even then, they're difficult to get the answer from, as the emerald shards are hidden in random locations in the level. It doesn't sound like a bad thing, but trust me, it can get really cryptic.
If I had to pick whose levels I liked more (or found more tolerable), it would be Knuckles', because...well, Mad Space. Need I say more?
Knuckles/Rouge's stages can have some moments of enjoyment here and there, but it becomes boring, tedious, and almost unbearable at times.
All of the characters have upgrades that you can get in the levels. Sonic has the Light Speed Dash, which returns from SA. But instead of charging it up during a spin dash, you just go up to a trail of rings, press B and you're off! The Light Speed Dash isn't perfect, and a lot of the time, you will be finding yourself doing a Somersault instead of the Light Dash, mainly because you have to be pretty much facing the rings dead-on for it to work. And if you don't line up with it, then Sonic would do something else triggered by the B button. The Light Speed Dash is mapped as the same button as the Somersault, grabbing objects, Magic Hands, gravity-switching in Crazy Gadget, and a lot more things, so be careful.
Every character can obtain the Mystic Melody upgrade. It is useful for beating the Lost Chao missions, but nothing else, really.
There are other upgrades, too. Shadow has some of the upgrades that Sonic has, Knuckles and Rouge can get the Sunglasses, where if put on, they can see and collect items that they never saw before, and Tails and Eggman have cannon upgrades. Most of the upgrades are useless, like Magic Hands, and can be selected from the action window in the upper-right corner with the Y button. It's way too time-consuming to use, though. If you actually use the action window a lot of the time, you'd be wasting precious seconds cycling through the attacks, which will prevent you from getting "A" Ranks. Take my advice; don't use the action window unless you are prompted and forced to.
Now, the Chao. Returning from SA, the Chao World is definitely more...fleshed out.
Raising Chao is a bit of a different experience in SA2. First of all, there is only one garden unlocked at the get-go. If you treat your Chao very well, then it will become a Hero Chao. If you mistreat it, it will become a Dark Chao. Making your Chao either one will unlock another garden; Hero and Dark Garden respectively. You can also feed it fruit, like in the original, but if you want your Chao to win the races that you can enter it in, you will have to give it Chaos Drives, found in enemies in the stages. These help your Chao get faster and stronger so your Chao can, eventually, win the races. Also new is the Chao Kindergarten. You can leave your Chao there for a while so it can learn new things, like dances. Also added is the Black Market, which is accessed using the Internet. This is where you can buy items, like rare Chao, with emblems. I never bothered with it, because...I don't have dial-up Internet. Or a broadband adapter.
Exclusive to the Dreamcast version is the Chao Adventure game on the VMU, which returns from SA1. I didn't really bother with it, but it's pretty much the same, but with different graphics, lowercase text, and a Scold option. Yeah, I don't get it, either.
There is also a 2-player versus mode, where you and your friend can race each other in different levels in the game. I don't have a second DC controller, so I didn't get to try this out, but I did look up some videos of it, and it does look pretty cool.
So, I think I've covered everything for gameplay. Overall, the Sonic/Shadow stages are great, but the Tails/Eggman and Knuckles/Rouge sections are not very enjoyable or original. It only makes it worse that the worst parts of the game make up the majority of it.
And now, the presentation. The cutscenes in the game are extremely awkward. So were SA's, but these are even more awkward. Both games have both similar and different reasons for the cutscenes being awkward. SA's English voices were just dubbed over the Japanese animation, therefore resulting in the voices barely matching the lips. As for the awkward animations and such...that's either new hardware or sheer laziness.
SA2's cutscenes, really, have no excuse to be awkward. Once again, the English voices were dubbed over the Japanese animations, but the game was made in America. Why did they put Japanese lips in there, instead of English lips? How did that happen?
This also results in a character's sentence being cut off frequently, which, again, is really awkward. Oh, and don't forget the terrible English voice acting.
Yeah, it hasn't improved much from SA, but some voices were improved, like Knuckles', which was replaced by Scott Dreier, arguably the best voice for him. Deem Bristow as Eggman has seemed to improve a bit, too.
But the thing in the cutscenes that overshadows all of this is the music. (Or the fact that it is played so freaking loud that you could barely tell what any of the characters are saying at any time.) SA had this problem, too, but it was mercifully turned down when compared to the sequel.
But if there is one thing that SA2 improved on compared to the original is the graphics. They are definitely much more appealing, with new models, more background images, and, overall, a more polished look. Also, 60 frames-per-second. That's already a winner right there.
In short, the graphics are very impressive (even today), but the presentation can't help but show the age.
The soundtrack is, overall, not too, too bad, either. It's very hit-or-miss, some hits including "Live and Learn" (one of my favourite songs in general), "Escape From The City", "Green Forest", "Metal Harbor", "Pyramid Cave"...I'd better stop myself from listing every Sonic stages' music. Knuckles' consists of cheesy rap songs (which are a guilty pleasure of mine), Rouges' has smooth jazz (I'm gonna hear the Mad Space tune in purgatory), Tails' and Eggman's are more laidback, easier-going rock when compared to Sonic's, and Shadow's is...nonsense. Literally.
The only thing that gets my goat about the soundtrack is that it's not as diverse as SA's. Sure, SA had rock and rap, but it also had orchestral, J-pop, and lots of other styles of music that make it very diverse and, thus, better and more interesting.
SA2's soundtrack is 60-80% rock, and although rock is one of my favourite genres of music, I think I'd need a break from it once in a while.
So, the results are in; let's see the scores!
The Sonic/Shadow stages and the Chao World are definitely the highlights of the game, and you can get some enjoyment out of the other characters, so I'll give it a 13.
Characters' sentences being cut off, and all of the other problems combined earn it a 12.
Actually, I've changed my mind; this is the highlight of the game.
A little too much rock and horribly laughable English voice acting, but not too bad overall.
Replay Value: 14
If you have the nerve to do so, you can try to get all of the A Ranks in the game, which, at the rate I'm at, could take me years.
Final Score: 72/100
"Huh. No problem."