Sonic Adventure DX Preview: The Problem With Ports

There usually comes a problem within the video game industry. Those little things called ‘ports’ that the Nintendo Gamecube seems to have too many of these days. It wouldn’t be half as bad if the developers actually made any decent overhauls – take an example like 007 NightFire. Now, the Gamecube version seemed to have the same graphics as the PS2 version, when in reality the GC could have easily had the same performance as Xbox. A shame, that.

Even Sonic Team went under the ‘problematic port’ belt for a while, what with Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and all, which wasn’t the best of games to port, and wasn’t the best of ports either. So, naturally, when Sonic Team announced a port of Sonic Adventure 1… well, the world went silent. Even on the Sonic Stadium Message Board, members were betting on how immensely crap this port was going to be, and that ST would put no effort in whatsoever.

Boy, were we slapped in the face when we came across these – the first official shots of what is now dubbed “Sonic Adventure DX”. Go on, take a look. It’s a completely different world to what we knew on the Sega Dreamcast – and quite frankly, the DC graphics is what we were all expecting from the magic hands of Yuji Naka and co. If you haven’t already noticed what these screens above are levels of, here’s a quick recap:

Screen 1 – Speed Highway, Jim, but not as you know it.
Screen 2 – Twinkle Park as Amy
Screen 3 – Red Mountain as Knuckles
Screen 4 – Windy Valley as Tails
Screen 5 – Emerald Coast as Big
Screen 6 – Windy Valley as Gamma

Admittedly, at this stage, Sonic seems the most improved (remember his look in the DC version?), and at present the other characters and levels only seem to have improved textures and smoother edges. But it still looks much more accomplished than the Dreamcast version already – a classic game that seems virtually unplayable today due to the amount of bugs and glitches.

According to the Sega Website, there doesn’t seem to be much added in the line of gameplay – it mentions the graphics are improved to utilise the Gamecube hardware, and then rabbits on about all the features that we knew and loved from 1999’s game. But, as we know from Sonic Team now, they’re less than willing to spill anything about gameplay until E3 at the earliest.

So what should we expect to be added? Well, the many glitches in the original Sonic Adventure didn’t do much to the fun factor – so the de-bugging of the game is pretty much a given, otherwise lynch mobs would be the order of the day at Sonic Team HQ. It would also be really good to make Big’s levels just that little bit less tedious – the change of pace for Sonic players pretty much put them off the game outright. Oh, and Amy has to be more controllable than the Dreamcast game… slow that she is.

At the moment, except for the graphics, everything (officially) is exactly the same Sonic Adventure 1 that we know and love. But, with any luck, Sonic Team might just add a few extras. Some bonus levels, perhaps? Or maybe a 2-Player mode, now that SA1 succeeds (rather than proceeds) Sonic Adventure 2?

And nothing has been mentioned of the Chao yet. Well, we know that they are a definite inclusion – copies of Sonic Pinball Party will link with both SADX and SA2B. But maybe there is scope for a more controlled Chao Garden, with added bonus features? It could happen. Keep your eye on this space for more details.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.