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why Sonic Adventure is the weakest of the duology for me


iambitter21

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HOLD UP NOW! now before all of you Adventure 1 lovers go attacking me, I agree that sonic adventure is very decent game, it's a very passable entry, perfect for newcomers, very ambitious. but I personally think that sa2 is the better adventure game in a couple of categories. (except the ambition)

The Dream was Casted, then torn apart (you can skip this if you want):

in 1998, the world was struck by a game, made by a company called: sonic team. it shook the ground 10-fold, It was phenomenal year, it was a phenomenal console, it was a phenomenal game...at the time, of course. after a while, sonic adventure (and it's successor) are seen as godawful games by the media and the fanbase. they say it's the "rocky start" transitioning into 3d, they say they we're "never good", they say they didn't age, well I mean... I guess they really didn't. the vision of what this game was aiming for has been overshadowed by the haters. but now, not a SINGLE PERSON can agree on the quality of this game...not even me since I'd think sa1 is an above average game, but RadicalSoda would dub it as below average game. anyways, enough digressing, here's the what you're really here for.

The ACTUAL review

Sonic adventure is broken down into 6 unique play styles, stories and characters. let's start off with the main man.

Sonic's campaign: this is unarguably the BEST one, without a doubt. sonic hasn't controlled so smoothly, so responsively since sa2. he has the perfect acceleration, his turning arc Is comfortable, and his jump arc is floaty, but not TOO floaty, I'd still prefer a more gravity affected jump arc like in project hero or sonic islands 2019, but the jump arc in this game is pretty fair. his levels are quite nice too, they're pretty linear sure, but I don't mind. you got levels like emerald coast, red mountain, windy valley and lots of other fast pace semi-open levels. boss fight are cool, his theme song is cool, and everything about Sonic's story (other than the cutscenes) is pretty cool. it's a solid 10/10 experience if you don't want to play the other characters, speaking of which...

Tails' campaign: Not as much depth as Sonic's campaign, but it has some merits: tails' arc on learning to believe in himself is an amazing character arc for tails. flying as tails is as broken as all hell and I love it, you can literally break Sonic's stages and it's wonderful. it's not that it should be exactly like this for all of the games continuing as it needs major nerfs (look at project hero, for example). his voice is cringe, highly expected by kid voice actors. and that's about it, it's a fair 6/10.

Knuckles' campaign: now this is something else, I can understand how some people would be indifferent to this type of playstyle, but I don't think it should be entirely panned just because it's "not sonic". speaking of, I kinda like knuckles' levels, well at least more than tails' levels. you're basically in a semi-open world, with a radar that can sensor all three emeralds (remember this for the sa2 review forum). later in these levels you'll need to check more hidden areas, like in blocks, or in an enemy, or even in the ground. It's a unique mix of the core gameplay, but it can be quite shallow at times, 7/10 for me.

Amy's campaign: she's...meh, not horrible. her acceleration is sluggish, her jump is floaty, and has a sweet little hammer jump. her levels are too puzzle based for it's own good, and it can drag on for far too long. Zero should've just been a set-piece and not a gimmick, Amy's levels should've been more platform-based...yeah, it's as meh as sonic 1, they're both quite mediocre, and can be easily improved on, 5/10.

Big's campaign: yeah, big the cat is terrible. his gameplay style is way too far from the usual action gameplay, even Knuckles, heck, even Gamma is more respectful to the action platformer genre. so what do you do? you fish...yep, just fish, fish for froggy, isn't THAT fun. we don't need to HUNT, we don't need to SHOOT, nope, FISHING is where it's at fools. It's a really bad experience, 2/10, just because I like Big the Cat as a character, not a gameplay character.

Gamma's campaign:...it's fun. that's all, it's simply, a fun campaign. I like shooting things as one of Eggman's Badniks. his story is quite deep: after a while of being one of Eggman's elite guard E-series robot's, Gamma gains sentience and decides to free his bird friends from their metal prisons. and at the ending... he dies, it's quite sad, and deep. I simply cannot agree to the fact that gamma is useless, he's so far from it, you can't even be allowed to say that with a story, that is that deep. it's...it's... it's a 6/10... there, it's fun, but it can kinda fade after a while, but not horribly tedious like big, or even shallow like tails. it doesn't really beat knuckles' gameplay though.

overall the gameplay (big not withstanding) is quite good. but there are some flaws that bring out the game.

The major flaws of sa1:

Glitches: oh glitches, you sinful pieces of dog crap. sa1 is filled with them, some of the ground is quite buggy. you can't get stuck one certain places, you can fall through the floor if your not careful. to quote the geek critique.

Quote

"Learning how NOT the break the game, should not be the players responsibility"

So yeah, the glitches can really suck in this game. but now that we have modern technology, a remake would eradicate those glitch.

Unfocused Gameplay: as much as I love the ambition, and the other multiple characters and how unique they are, their really unfocused. "and in trying to do so much, it ends up being LESS than the sum of it's parts" - Geek Critique. if we're ever gonna do a remake on this game, I think letting sonic, tails and knuckles be the only mandatory characters to play and then when you beat the final boss, you can then play as the Improved Amy, Big and Gamma trio. that'll make the game a bit more focused

Big is crap: that's all

so, this game overall, it's a pretty decent 6/10 game, it's a very ambitious, yet messy game. bye. (oh and by the way, I played the Xbox360 remaster, so if the DreamCast version is any better, then I really wouldn't be surprised)

wait a second, I forgot about the music, I went through all of this review and I didn't mention the music... it's fire, we all know it's fire, it's atmospheric fire and I fricking love it!

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I enjoy SA1 more than SA2, simply because the only character in SA1 whose gameplay I found truly lackluster was Big's. All of the other characters are fun in my book. With SA2 however, I only fully enjoy Sonic's and Shadow's stages, which is of course only one third of the game.

 

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Call it a duology, strange that Sonic Rush met the same fate and the only games that remotely resembled both formulas were the last time Sega experimented with the idea. (06, Colors DS). If Sonic Adventure 3 does get greenlit, and I mean it boldly, then Sega has to give every Adventure fan high expectations and expand on Adventure 2's already nostalgic success. Enough hinting about a possible remake or a standalone chao-garden much like the Tamadachi-esque idea we got. Let's see what they have got waiting for us.

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I have literally never abused the physics in SA1 when playing it. I didn't even know you could until I watched a Lets Play. I think it's just way more fun to play than SA2 and honestly prefer it's approach to handling "darker" material.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I hold the same view. Sonic Adventure/DX’s story was more convoluted and I didn’t relish Big the Cat’s missions. In contrast Sonic Adventure 2/Battle had a compelling story, two sides Light and Dark, and had the most replayability via Chao Garden and getting A grades on levels. 

Adventure 1 was monumental on DreamCast, Sonic’s 3D iterations on Genesis (Sonic 3D), Sega Saturn and CD Rom (Sonic R) were good but not great, Adveture really took the 3D componet to the next level like Super Mario 64 had done for Mario. 

Sonic Adventure 2 perfected this, and had a higher replay ability. 

IMHO

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Sa 1 was the first 3D sonic game I ever play and enjoyed it very much besides when the egg viper fight when he after you beat him he crash down on the platform I I never knew were to go and fell of and had to start again but still great game.

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My general issue with SA2 is that it 'refines' a lot of SA1's concepts but only the NEW ones and more in terms of LIMITING them and restricting what the player can do, making it feel like a step forward, step backward approach to me. It forces its new gimmicks onto you a lot more while SA1 had that 'kid in a candy store' feel where you could select what you could do first at whim and generally pushes the gameplay innovations over the core Sonic gameplay till there's very little of the latter left, while SA1 at least had more of a balance.

Stuff like the newer more restrictive 3D mechanics, the darker storyline, and excess alternate gameplay styles feel a lot more like they have overthrown the classic Sonic staples in SA2, while in SA1 it at least feels more like they co-exist.

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Sonic Adventure 2's changes are all geared toward game balance and refinement. On one hand, Sonic Adventure's freedom and the way it rewards ingenuity is really appealing to me in a lot of ways, and it gets into the heart of why 3D platformers are fun without going all the way into turning Sonic into a collectathon(...for the most part). But on the other hand it's kind of hard to say skipping entire chunks of level with one really overtuned move on each character is all that interesting aside from the novelty of being able to do it. Once you CAN realize you can do it, there's not much interesting decision making to be made and very little skill required to keep it up. Tails and Knuckles especially crumble under this microscope. Sonic is a lot better just because you have the leverage the level's natural ramps and shapes to get anything to work but the Spindash is so powerful that no thoughtful building of momentum is really necessary. You could say this about the classic games too but having to stop and charge a spindash ate into your speed and flow in a way that just planning a good roll ahead of time didn't. In Sonic Adventure the Spindash charges so quickly that there's no reason not to just spam it, but doing that doesn't really feel all that natural or skillful. Combine this with the fact that Sonic is, comically, the only character that can't actually just curl up into a ball like the old days and we've broken the rolling system entirely. It might actually be the point where gaining and retaining speed stopped being all that interesting to do in Sonic games and it's the very first 3D one. Whoops.

Sonic Adventure 2 on the other hand nerfs the shit out of the Spindash but props up things like the light dash and the bounce bracelet instead. Two moves that actually have utility without invalidating other options. Duds like the Light Speed Attack are unfortunately still around but there's nothing ridiculous like having a high charge up time for the light dash when you could straight up cheese over a lot of those same gaps with the spindash. Shortcuts are more deliberate and specific in their demands but they ask for a little bit more competence or reaction time on your part. A newfound emphasis on scoring has you engaging with the level more to rack up points, whether it be through fighting enemies or doing tricks. There are some missteps here: the reigned in Spindash has more utility than people give it credit for but it still feels a little too weak. The somersault undercuts another clear opportunity to bring back loading for a reaction based challenge instead. It's still not perfect, but it's a lot more well rounded and a reasonable second attempt. Further iteration probably would have hit on something special, so it's a good thing they kept working on this and didn't gut every movement option that wasn't the light dash in the next game. 

I'd extend that same conclusion to Knuckles. A lot of people hate the fact that the pacing is so much more controlled by the radar and how often Knuckles is boxed in, but it's hard for me to accept being able to beat entire levels as Knuckles in under 30 seconds easily as a viable alternative. I think the main thing holding Knuckles back at this point is his kit but they were afraid to rethink it as much as they did Sonic so they tried to fix this problem with other means instead. Levels like Death Chamber and Meteor Herd generally have more shortcuts and ways to get around than players give them credit for but Rouge's levels just aren't up to the same standard. A lot of padding and busywork gets in the way of you getting where you need to go. If they try this again they need to swallow their pride and seriously asses whether having complete freedom while gliding is worth sacrificing everything else. 

With Sonic it's a lot more subjective, but I actually consider the treasure hunting in the second game a straight improvement. The radar change is an annoyance, but a minor one in the grand scheme to me. I think the main reason people think otherwise is because they straight up didn't want to engage with treasure hunting to start with so Knuckles's content is mercifully brief in the first game. I'm generally willing to meet Sonic Team halfway on most things though and found more I could dig my teeth into here. 

The shooting levels are difficult. I'm not particularly fond of these but I never was fond of Gamma either. I think it's another case where people value having more control over the pacing than anything and in a Sonic game that's fair. Shooting galleries in SA2 are more likely to lock you down until all enemies are gone, which is fair enough. I just think that the game really gets hit by the lack of enemy variety here. Instead of enforcing clunky platforming, going all in on the bullet hell aspect where you charge your attack while dodging theirs would have been a lot more fun. More enemies with more types of projectiles and more movement options for tails specifically geared toward dodging attacks would have gone a long way on this compared to power ups where he can..break specific types of boxes. This is probably the game's lowest point. There are some flashes of brilliance with the bigger focus on level gimmicks in Eggman's side but Tails doesn't get as much of that same love. I actually like the airlock gimmick on Eternal Engine now that I'm a chad who's good at the game but they don't do fun stuff like that all that often in this campaign. 

Them dropping the hub and the 6 storylines is something that doesn't bother me. It was the right decision for this game, and I think that's more important than trying to keep everything from the last one in tact. Sonic Adventure 2 is always throwing new stuff at you and keeps the pacing going at a lighting speed. It reminds me of a loud and crazy arcade game, and I don't think that's a bad thing. In comparison Sonic Adventure is throwing a lot of repeat content of you and this only gets exacerbated by it's structure. You will be running around those same 11 levels and 3 hub worlds a lot before you're finished compared to Sonic Adventure 2's variety. Picking up Sonic's campaign alone gives you a lot of that same variety without any of the jarring gameplay switches but I think playing Sonic Adventure 2 to completion is a lot more fun to do than playing SA1 to completion, especially if you just lean into the fact that you're going to be doing a lot of different things and try to master all of it. The genre shifts in games like Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101 prepared me for this moment where I become an SA2 defender. 

I'm not too interested in discussing tone or story in this post but I wasn't bothered by any perceived changes. It's easy enough to believe it takes place in the same world as the first game with emphasis on different aspects of that world. I also think that the plot is actually set up well to bring out the best in most of the characters. Sonic is actually seen pushing authority figures aside to do what he thinks is right instead of it being a footnote on his bio while he saves baby animals from world maligned super-villains. He actually receives a decent foil in the form of Shadow and the same with Knuckles and Rouge. Tails gets to stand up to Eggman several times under pressure on his own with this game which reinforces his development in the last one instead of walking it back. Sonic Adventure is a slower paced mystery where the characters have to comb over the same area multiple times and are forced to be more introspective for answers. Sonic Adventure 2 is more like an action piece where the stakes are always high and the emotions run even higher. They're both pretty different tonally but the most important part of Sonic's world are the characters and that part is mostly kept in tact. 

 I'm not sure which Sonic Adventure game I prefer but I'm actually pretty glad that they both feel pretty different. As much as I'd want a third game to improve on several aspects of this one, I hope it's also not afraid to pursue it's own new ideas, mechanics, style and feel when the time comes. The Sonic franchise is messy but the way to build a series with long term viability is a healthy amount of this exact kind of experimentation. It's important to remember your roots, but you can't grow if you're too concerned with them.

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My general problem with SA2 is how much it ENFORCES linearity, and demands you take 'the long route' for each and every turn just to progress at all.

SA1 was indeed flawed, but it got the freedom right. Sonic as one fan pointed was originally designed to feel like 'a giant skatepark you could play around in'. SA1's biggest flaws was that it underestimated the player's abilities too often and allowed cheesing the levels to be WAY too easy. Speedrunning and zipping through the levels in a short amount of time was always a thing in the better 2D games but the key factor was that you had to MASTER THE GAMEPLAY to be able to do so. Much like a real skatepark, you still need to learn all the tricks. Knuckles' freedom in the treasure hunting levels isn't a bad thing, but the fact most of the emeralds are placed in about three or four very easy to find hiding spots is the let down. Same for Tails' momentum gain being in the form of boost rings that simplify the level over unique vertical shortcuts and routes.

SA2 amps up the need to master, but in a way that often takes away the player's freedom and in some cases even adds cheap 'fake difficulty'. You now have to progress through the levels EXACTLY as it tells you and even worse they add tons more cheap deaths and convolution to the whole thing. It's like they decided to port over some of the busywork of SA1's Adventure Fields in to the actual levels, which doesn't work as well since at least in the latter when you finished it once it was over and done with and you could play the levels as you desired, while now they're the actual main gameplay. The emerald radar limitation is a small but VERY important factor in this, since it seems to exist solely to lengthen the gameplay artificially and make progression more linear in a way that's so obvious and unnecessary it becomes frustrating. Even besides that however, the not always easy to follow puzzles and mechanics tend to make emerald hunting in many levels feel not very fun, again more the busywork part of the game, which unlike SA1, you HAVE to get through just to reach the 'good bits'.

This carries over into some other missions. Find the Chao is not a search through the levels and a testament to their detail a variation in layout but a very regimented list of instructions which you need a particular special ability for each character to even get through. There's no playing around in these levels anymore, you work through them as you're told.

I feel like this was the thing that left people so evasive of the Adventure era and its diversity in ideas like characters and what not. Not they had them, but that they set them all up in a very restrictive busywork sort of way that you WILL go through just to get to the 'fun' freestyle bits of the game, which gradually became more and more sparse.

Also I'm divisive about the new moves since while some are okay on paper, they're still cluttered on the two button format which makes it way too easy to screw up a jump and fall to your death, severely putting me off using them. Putting light dash and body slam on the same button was a TERRIBLE idea, especially with how often rings are placed over BOTTOMLESS PITS.

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The only way to demand mastery is to limit freedom to a degree. Even the most open ended 2D games aren't anywhere near as free as Sonic Adventure is. Sonic Mania specifically actually has some really tricky segments required to even access some of it's shortcuts as Sonic which was a pleasant surprise for me. It made trying levels over and over again a treat. The essence of mastery in a game comes down to demanding the players do things a certain way to get the result they want. There can be ways to make the task easier but if you give them too easy of an option it kind of makes the challenge pointless. 

The classic games have a lot of alternate routes but I honestly think people overestimate how open ended they are sometimes. They have a completely linear structure and most of the paths are designed to be accessed and played in a certain way less you just get booted down to a lower one. There's some open ended design but Sonic Adventure and a lot of 3D fangames take this way further than those games do imo. Not necessarily a bad thing but it's worth examining. 

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9 minutes ago, Wraith said:

The only way to demand mastery is to limit freedom to a degree. Even the most open ended 2D games aren't anywhere near as free as Sonic Adventure is. Sonic Mania specifically actually has some really tricky segments required to even access some of it's shortcuts as Sonic which was a pleasant surprise for me. It made trying levels over and over again a treat. The essence of mastery in a game comes down to demanding the players do things a certain way to get the result they want. There can be ways to make the task easier but if you give them too easy of an option it kind of makes the challenge pointless. 

The classic games have a lot of alternate routes but I honestly think people overestimate how open ended they are sometimes. They have a completely linear structure and most of the paths are designed to be accessed and played in a certain way less you just get booted down to a lower one. There's some open ended design but Sonic Adventure and a lot of 3D fangames take this way further than those games do imo. Not necessarily a bad thing but it's worth examining. 

I get that, but I do think SA2 and its successors tended to mend that to a fault, not just adding a stipulation to freedom but ABOLISHING it in any form and restricting nearly every level into a very linear amount of busywork, rather than still having that sense of freedom and alternates but making players GET GOOD to reach it.

Again Find the Chao and Emerald Hunt do not feel like a testament to how well you've mastered roaming the level and finding every secret it has but just how good you are at following orders without straying. There's almost no way of making them go faster or smoother, which in some cases can alter the challenge from being a too simple 30 second pushover to being a too convoluted 10-15 MINUTE headache.

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2 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

I get that, but I do think SA2 and its successors tended to mend that to a fault, not just adding a stipulation to freedom but ABOLISHING it in any form and restricting nearly every level into a very linear amount of busywork, rather than still having that sense of freedom and alternates but making players GET GOOD to reach it.

Again Find the Chao and Emerald Hunt do not feel like a testament to how well you've mastered roaming the level and finding every secret it has but just how good you are at following orders without straying. There's almost no way of making them go faster or smoother, which in some cases can alter the challenge from being a too simple 30 second pushover to being a too convoluted 10-15 MINUTE headache.

I've always preferred more linear platformers over open ones so this might just be a personal taste thing.  "Do it right or die" describes some of the better games in the genre for me pretty well. 

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11 minutes ago, Wraith said:

I've always preferred more linear platformers over open ones so this might just be a personal taste thing.  "Do it right or die" describes some of the better games in the genre for me pretty well. 

Well I do like linear games like Crash Bandicoot, but as said, SA2's issue is that it turns a lot of it into busywork and makes it more restrictive and convoluted than it needs to be with little reward for getting better at it besides just being able to progress. They could have amped up the limits and difficulty for emerald hunting a LITTLE but not to the excess manner of limiting the radar and hiding every emerald through a tedious puzzle. There's a reason Security Hall is hated because it's all of these issues exacerbated, going back and forth with all these annoying and unclear switch puzzles with absolutely no way to speed up the process, even if you've mastered the game, it's just drawn out busywork.

SA2 doesn't feel like it's hindered freedom through clever and enjoyable level design and challenges the player has to master as much as it has just put 'no entry' boards over everything.

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It feels like there's a disconnect here over what people prefer in terms of player progression.

Both Adventure games adhere to very different design philosophies in spite of being built on the same engine, so depending on what you prefer in your video games, some changes can feel intrusive.

 

Personally speaking, I somewhat prefer SA2's approach to its design as I just mesh better with trying to master its mechanics for the best possible result. Most of my frustration when I was younger mostly came from an inability to master things as quickly as I would have preferred but I was also an impatient kid who wanted instant gratification. The older I got, the more I appreciated what it did. Especially since I replayed SA2 a lot, which just reinforced my skills.

 

That said, if you're the type of player who prefers more freedom and control over the challenge, then I can understand why SA2's changes are bothersome, as its design is the very antithesis of SA1's more open ended level design. And I think thats why these two games tend to divide people so much.

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