Happy 20th Birthday Sonic Adventure!

Sonic Adventure celebrates it’s 20th anniversary today after hitting screens in Japan way back in 1998.

We take a look back at what made this game one of the most enduring Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and why SA1 was such a trailblazing title in not only the series, but in video game history.

The Hype

SEGA of the 90’s certainly knew how to pull out all of the stops when it came to generating a buzz around the next Sonic game, and the anticipation of what was in store brought kids and grown-ups alike to fever pitch…and the announcement of Sonic Adventure was no different.

On the 22nd of August 1998, a few thousand lucky punters were invited to attend the first presentation of Sonic Adventure at the Tokyo International Forum – an event that was luckily recorded for posterity (which you can watch below). The first foray into the world of 128-bit high speed action was introduced by Yuji Naka, entering the stage in Rock star fashion by emerging from a balloon to a face-melting guitar riff.

The event also showcased a “Making of Sonic Adventure” semi-documentary presented in a light-hearted manor, in which Sonic Team embarked on a fact-finding trip to central America to visit the Tulum Ruins, the Caribbean Sea, the Tikal Ruins of Guatemala, and Machu Pichu amongst other locations – all of which influenced stages in the game.

Some members of the Team even became ill on their research trip from altitude sickness – talk about dedication to the cause!

The design

Sonic has undergone several redesigns in his 27 ½ year history (we won’t mention the most recent!), but most fans regard the Sonic Adventure iteration of the neon protagonists to be one of the most successful. Characters traded their pot-bellies in for coloured irises and longer limbs, allowing for some incredibly elastic posturing that would become Yuji Uekawa’s instantly recognisable stylisation which remains the norm for modern Sonic artwork to this day. While the classic design of Sonic has since been translated to 3D, the modern Sonic style allowed for a much easier transition to the medium.

Dr Eggman was given a particularly significant redesign, along with both western and eastern franchises aligning on the Japanese name (although Robotnik would be kept as the name for his grandfather in the sequel).

The story mode

Story was not an element that featured heavily in Sonic the Hedgehog games until Sonic Adventure; in fact, one of the initial ideas while the game was on the development bench was to in fact create a Sonic RPG. For Sonic Adventure to include cut scenes and a narrative was a significant change to the game, and novel in that it in itself was derived from the intertwining stories of six different protagonists (one in fact executed in very few other video games at the time).

The seventh and final story in the game, and the true conclusion only accessible once all six main stories were completed, crescendos in the final showdown with Chaos with the player taking the controls of Super Sonic – something undoubtedly cemented as one of the most memorable video game conclusions for many Sonic fans.

Sonic Adventure was also the first Sonic the hedgehog game to include voice acting (besides SEGASonic Arcade) – and while the jury might still be out on the quality of the dialogue, SA1 is definitely one of the most quotable!

The soundtrack

Hum the Green Hill Zone theme and just about any video game fan will tell you that its from a Sonic game – indeed, the soundtrack has always been a core component of what makes a Sonic game so, well, Sonical!

While Sonic Adventure is not the first video game to include vocal tracks (Sonic CD was doing that five years before) it is one of the first to have a fully-fledged album-like feel, complete with a swathe of character themes and a main anthem Open Your Heart, performed Crush 40, that is unparalleled in magnitude. The intro FMV undoubtedly still brings goose bumps to many!

The shift to a rock-centric soundtrack, a decision made by first-time Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue, was a bold move; the music for the original trinity of Sonic games were after all composed by Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True (and most likely Michael Jackson), resulting in a prolific pop influence. However, the move would prove highly successful and would be followed up with the equally popular Live & Learn in the sequel.

The magic of the soundtrack however derives from a brilliant use of multiple genres – rock, pop, rap, electronic, and jazz to name a few all feature throughout.

The game’s soundtrack has endured long enough that it has been celebrated since with the Sonic Adventure Music Experience, which saw Senoue-san and company re-record and perform key songs from the game and its sequel.

DLC

The Dreamcast was the very first games console to provide a connection to the internet as standard, and as such, Sonic Adventure is the very first game in history to include downloadable content! This came in the form of the Sonic Adventure Christmas download, which was only available for the first few days of release (it was no longer available after Christmas day). While this content only included Christmas trees in station square which played played music and gave a seasonal message when interacted with, it was another example of how SEGA and Sonic games were well ahead of the curb.

Happy birthday Sonic Adventure!

What makes Sonic Adventure special to you? Let us know in the comments!

 

Perfect Chaos Appears Over England

So while the re-release of Sonic Adventure on the Xbox Live Arcade has been generally slated by just about every online magazine going, it appears that one God of Chaos hasn’t been too impressed with these reviews, and has thus manifested to smite them.

Young Callum S was out at sports practice today when he took this snap:

Which is obviously…

Sweet Tikal’s ghost!

I think it’s too much of a coincidence for this to be anything else than Perfect Chaos himself. It’s time for mass hysteria, street riots, looting, pillaging and everything that generally comes with impending armageddon!

Hopefully you’ll once again open your heart to a classic hedgehog title, and it’ll be be alright.

Thanks to Callum for theis awesome photo!

Senoue Announces New Sonic Album

Sonic composer extraordinaire Jun Senoue gave visitors to his website a nice surprise on Christmas Day as he announced a new ‘Best Of’ compilation album, to be released soon in Japan. No information has been revealed other than the title, ‘True Blue’, the fact that it has 21 tracks and the rumour it may well include the ‘Open Your Heart’ Remix from Lee Brotherton that had ears wagging way back in 2006. Continue reading Senoue Announces New Sonic Album

Remix of ‘Open Your Heart’ Imminent

Remix Factory, the producers of the E.G.G.M.A.N. and Boss remixes in Shadow the Hedgehog, are to release an exclusive remix of Crush 40’s ‘Open Your Heart’ for Sonic’s 15th Anniversary.

Jun Senoue and LB have been working together for the last month or two on some collaborations, and ‘K-Klub vs Crush 40’ appears to be only one of these projects surfacing. The remix will be promoted during the Summer, as Sonic turns 15.

The decision to use the legendary ‘Open Your Heart’ perhaps has more to do with the fact that this track is the defining theme of not only Sonic Adventure, but the turning point in Sonic the Hedgehog and a firm announcement of the blue blur’s console return in 1999. If anything, it has become part of the soundtrack to a generation of Sonic fans, old and new. Continue reading Remix of ‘Open Your Heart’ Imminent