This game is (or rather, was in the US) getting quite a reputation for itself recently. Sure, it may only be an upped version of Sonic Adventure 2 on Dreamcast, but what really excited everyone was the fact that Sonic was appearing on a Nintendo console… for the first time! Practically every Sonic fan in the known universe has been wanting this title since, and yes, even though it is just a DC port. Amazing, huh? But, it’s out in the US, toted for GC’s European Launch in May, and yet all the yankie video games mags, and even some UK Import mags, are ripping on it.
‘Come again?’ You may think. Isn’t this the one title that got everyone excited about GameCube in the first place? You’d be right about that, and it seems some Media guys like IGN and Gamespot, hell even NGC magazine can’t tell their arse from their elbows these days (The biggest crime must be IGN, which gave the DC version 9.7-odd out of 10, then gave the GC version 6 or so out of 10). Dread decided to get in on the US action, and it’s only here that you’ll find and EXCLUSIVE No-Frills Sonic Adventure 2 Battle Review, honest and true, by a hardcore fan (i.e. me), to the hardcore fans (i.e. you)…
The fact of the matter is, SA2B is no different to the original Sonic Adventure 2 on Dreamcast, (save for a few added features) it is a port after all. Most of the piss-take on the game seems to come from stereotypical views from GameCube reviewers alone, not other consoles. This seems totally frustrating as the reviewers haven’t played the original, therefore just play the game, fault it because “it doesn’t make full use of the ‘Cube” and walk off, congratulating themselves on an honest review.
The word of Dread is ‘Bollocks’! (Sorry kiddies, had to be said) If you liked Sonic Adventure 2 on DC, you’ll absolutely ADORE SA2 Battle, because unlike some games, Sonic Team have actually made an effort to add features in (Gasp, shock horror!) the tiny disc. Sure, the graphics are pretty much exactly the same as the DC outing, but back then it looked damn awesome, so any qualms there gets a slap by Dread’s fist. Secondly, the gameplay is second to none – like the original. One particular mag nagged about there not being anywhere to venture in the game… Duh! This is pure, back-to-the-roots Sonic action, not some namby pamby Mario runabout. What instantly springs to mind from that particular comment is that these mags seem to want all the games to be Mario, because it set the adventuring standard. Well, Sonic’s nothing to do with adventuring! It’s about fast-paced, ready-set-go action stages that you whizz past and bounce on baddies, then reach the end in record time. That’s why they call him the fastest thing alive.
Many other non-Sonic fans may think “Oh, that’s boring, just run past a level and that’s it”. You mustn’t have been playing Sonic games much then pal! There are many hazards to slow you down, including keys for doors, Bottomless pits, and other exciting features like Grind Rails, digging and gliding, and lock-on and shoot arcade-style action. In the game you get to play two sides of an excellent and ever twisting storyline, with each character having a rival counterpart. Sonic has newcomer Shadow, a robot created by Gerald Robotnik (Eggman’s Grandfather), Eggman has Tails and Knuckles has Rouge, a bat girl who seems to like shiny jewels a lot, the crow ^_^.
Sonic and Shadow’s stages are all about as-fast-as-you-like action stages, where you can run, bounce, grind and home attack your way across perilous pits and massive bosses. It may not sound like much to play when you read this out loud, but trust me these’ll be the stages you’ll come back to most of all. Perform tricks to gain a decent score. Tails and Eggman are in mechanic machines and stomp through levels in a more conservative style to Sonic and Shadow’s, shooting and blasting their way through doors, enemies and themselves eventually. Locking-on to more than one enemy and shooting them gives you bonus points. Finally, Knuckles and Rouge hunt for the Master Emerald pieces, Chaos Emeralds, and Door Keys, hidden throughout massive complex levels that will truly tax you with simple-to-tragically-difficult hints at hand. Collect your items in record time to catch bonus points with it. The vast variety of levels has to be admired at the very least, although the pace can sometimes jolt a bit – one moment you’re zipping along as Sonic, the next you’re slowing it down a tad as Knuckles looking to treasure. And another bad point that was carried along with the conversion, is that Knuckles and Rouge’s levels are a bit too complex, but then again you can’t have a totally easy game can you? EH IGN?
Even when you finish the game, there’s a ton of extras to do, such as complete various missions in the levels such as ‘Collect 100 Rings’ to get more Sonic Emblems – the sign of achievement. There’s also special items that you can collect in the levels too – grab a Chao (pronounced ‘Chow’) Key (found in a light blue box somewhere in the stage) to get taken to Chao World, the resident virtual pet breeding place. This aspect is abso-bloody-lutely genius. You start off with an egg in a standard Chao Garden to hatch, when it does, you’re left with a hungry baby blob. That’s your new friend. You can train him/her/it/whatever by supplying it with Chaos Drives from enemies, or animals littered within the levels elsewhere. Giving your chao certain colour-coded animals/Drives ups their abilities in a certain area – Power, Run, Fly, Swim. Your chao also has two new bars – Mood and Belly. And giving your pet nuts from the garden will increase their stamina bar too.
So, why do you need these blobs again, you ask? To race with of course! Just like greyhound racing, you train, you nurture, you race. Winning certain tournaments wins your chao a toy to play with in the garden. BUT! There’s more! A GC Exclusive feature, this. Not only can you race your chao, but you get to battle your Chao out in Chao Karate! This is the absolute nuts (erm.. chao nuts ^_^)! You pit your chao against others in three tournaments open to you, and then you sit in the sidelines while your chao is battling for a prize. At one point, your chao may not even want to fight anymore, by sitting down, leaving itself open to a beaten-in head. You gotta encourage it by repeatedly tapping A or else your Chao’s head’s gonna hurt. Annoying sometimes, perhaps, but oh-so ingenious.
You can teach your chao abilities at the Chao Kindergarten – a pre-school, if you like. There, you can check it up with the doctor, talk to the principal, take it to a classroom to make it learn a new pointless-but-novel ability like playing the trumpet, or head for the Chao Black Market, where you can purchase special chao items with your rings. When your Chao grows up, depending on which character you use, it will grow to become a Hero or Dark chao. Choice! But what really makes this feature so special is the added bonus of Sonic Advance. Using the GBA/GC linkup cable, you can upload your chao on Sonic Advance to the Chao Garden in SA2B, in gorgeous 3D and all. Or, you can download your Chao in SA2B to Advance to nurture it if you happen to be going to Grannie’s for the weekend.
But the next major change is why the game has the added ‘Battle’ slapped at the end of the name. The two player mode has been added and modified for ultimate pleasure! Unfortunately, no four player as people were hoping for, but there’s at least a dozen more additions to the multi-player, which makes this game worth getting alone for! You can also choose characters of the same side, for example, P1 and P2 can choose Shadow and Metallix. Some of the added levels for play are included in shots above, and many of them are very nice, although some of the extra Sonic and Shadow races are merely grind racing or the boarding bit at the start of City Escape, but many other fantastic levels have been added on top of those poor-sounding stages. The 2-Player mode menu looks much nicer too, very warpy and polygony, but that’s not the point really ^_^.
My final word? Oh. My. God. If you thought Sonic Adventure 2 was good, wait till you get the full factor of this baby! The mechanics and style of play is exactly the same as the original, so you’re not buying into an unfamiliar game here. The added features make this game pure bliss to play, even if it isn’t perfect with all the glitches that were carried over. To be quite honest, you’d think that Sonic Team would try to iron them out, but that would be the only minor gruff point I’d say about this game. I do have a major gripe of this game though, and this is why you’ll never see me raise it up to a higher mark. Two words. Sticky, Jumps. It plagues the game, and is the most annoying thing in the history of the world – it detracts from gameplay MASSIVELY I’m afraid, and the only sour point in this game, to say better get the DC version if you can’t handle the irrational sensitivity of the ‘A’ Button (Unfortunately, this is nothing to do with a faulty disc or the GC controller – Sonic Team managed to get an extra glitch in, and it’s a doozy -_-). But all in all, it’s generally good. It just goes to show that all journalists that rip on this game has been smoking too much of a certain plant to be caring what the game was actually like. My final word? Hypocrites, the lot of them. Ditch IGN and all their PS2 bashing glory and head down to your EB’s or whatever – snap this game up now! If you’ve never played SA2 before, you can up this grade to an 8 out of 10… hey, the STICKY JUMPS, people! ^_^