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Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut

Review By:  AJ Middleton

Developer:  Sonic Team
Publisher:  Sega
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, GCN GBA Cable (various Sonic games)
Date Posted:  11-26-03

After the amazing success of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on GameCube, Sega decided to release the true first installment of the series, Sonic Adventure, on the Cube as well.  But like with 2B, some little extras were added onto the Dreamcast hit.  The result?  Sonic Adventure DX Directorís Cut.  So does Sonicís first adventure on the Dreamcast match his first on the GameCube?  Will it also be a Playerís Choice hit?  Letís take a look. 

Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scrolling, quick action game.  Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a side-scrolling, quick action game.  Heck, even Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, when not in a story scene, was pretty fast paced.  But, as soon as you get into Sonicís story, youíll discover something unheard of in Sonic games- an actual world?!  Yes, when not in an action stage, Sonic and pals will run around the Adventure Field.  There are three fields in all, including Sonicís home, Station Square, and a mysterious place called the Mystic Ruins.  Each field has rooms to enter, people to talk to, and sub-areas that add a whole new dimension to Sonicís quest.  The designers tried to even add the RPG element of event chains, but they are pretty weak and almost pointless sometimes.  Nevertheless, although it takes away from the speed aspect, itís a very cool twist that adds a feeling of connectivity between stages.  Also, it gives a place for certain emblems to hide that arenít prizes for beating the action stages.

The stages.  To discuss these, the division of the story must be looked at.  Unlike SA2Bís two sub-story game, SADX has its plot divided amongst six different characters, each with their own unique types of level.  The heroes are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, E-102 Gamma, and Big the Cat.  Somehow or another, these six individuals all get thrown into Eggmanís latest plan.  And what is that exactly?  In this adventure, Dr. Eggman has broken the seal on a mysterious aquatic creature named Chaos.  He needs to gather the 7 Chaos emeralds in order to bring Chaos to his full power, which will allow Eggman to take over Station SquareÖand maybe even more.  So naturally, Sonic jumps in to try to save the day!  Sound familiar?  Eh, the basic Sonic plot.  SADX DOES have a few twists, but nothing will throw you off completely.

But the characters are what make it all worth it.  Sonic, in his adventure path, meets up with Tails, which unlocks him as a playable character.  Tails and Sonic, in turn, find Knuckles, unlocking him.  Basically, as one character meets another, they become playable.  And as this happens, their stories and levels unfoldÖ

Sonic owns the fast paced action stages, as usual.  The point of his levels is too get to the end to reach some goal, depending on whatís going on in the plot.  Sonic will receive an upgrade that enables him to perform the Light Speed Dash.  But unlike in SA2B, he now needs to charge before using this move.  Oh, and Tails follows him around.

Tails, who is NOT in a giant walker, naturally follows his hero around.  Tailsís stages are usually the same as Sonicís, but his goal is to reach the end before the hedgehog does.  In a way, all of his levels are like races.  And since heís free of the giant piece of metal, Tails is free to fly around now!  This can enable him to find shortcuts when up against Sonic.  And with one of his upgrades, a speed boost, the advantage is with the Fox.

Knuckles is thrown into the story after the Master Emerald shatters, so his levels STILL consist of him trying to find the pieces.  But, things are a little different this time.  The levels are considerably smaller, and the radar will detect all 3 pieces at once instead of just one, making things a little easier.  Knuckles will eventually gain a special move that allows him to send off rays of energy.  Useful?  Not at all.

Amy Rose, Sonicís girlfriend, stumbles upon a lost bird and is determined to help it out.  But one of Eggmanís robot also wants the poor creature, so Amy spends her adventure and levels trying to evade the robot, Zero.  Like Sonic, Amy is trying to get to the end of the levels.  The only differences are that her goal is always an escape balloon; she can fight with a massive hammer that she pulls from somewhere, and that Zero is always on her tail.  Sure you can hit him to slow him down, but heíll never be completely beaten even with Amyís acquired spin attack.

E-102 Gamma is a new face in town.  He is one of Eggmanís E series robots, and his mission is to recover a frog that stole Chaosís tail.  But while on his mission, certain circumstances force him to override his purposeÖhmm.  Gammaís controls and feel are like that of Eggmanís walker in SA2B; he has a laser that he can lock on with, and he will gain the ability to hover.  Gamma, being a robot, has a finite battery, so when trying to beat his levels, a timer will count down on the top of the screen.  Only by locking on to targets can you recover time.

Big the Cat is the sixth character.  Now, I honestly donít know what possessed the designers to throw him in this game.  Heís slow, dumb, and adds NOTHING to the plot but a little comic relief, and I stress little.  Poor Bigís frog, Froggy, acquires Chaosís tail and goes running off.  Big, oblivious to Eggmanís plan, goes on a quest to find his pal.  All of Bigís levels are fishing games.  Yes fishing.  Fish in the pool for Froggy.  An upgrade will be a belt that lets him float on water (useful), and fishing lures.  Loads of fun.  Luckily, he doesnít have that many stages.

With the six characters, youíd think that the game is pretty long and involved.  Well, it isnít really.  The stages are not equally distributed to the characters.  For example, Sonic has 10 while Big only has 4, and poor Amy has 3.  Of course, this is because of how late some of the characters come into the plot, but it really makes some people (coughBIGcough) feel like pointless cameos.

Yet, despite the little flaws, the adventures are fun.  Itís interesting to see the story in six different perspectives, but it also gets very repetitive after awhile.  For example, because Sonic and Tails are usually together, youíll end up seeing the same cinemas and levels for both of them.  This gets oldÖquickly.

Speaking of cinemas, letís talk SADXís visuals.  The graphics themselves blow SA2Bís away.  SADX gives us smooth characters, including NPCs, more things to look it, as in buildings and trees, and suburb lighting effects.  In the level called Casinopolis, Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles just look beautiful.  In one level, Sonic even looks a little cel shaded.  Itís not Starfox Adventures, but itís no Super Mario 64 either.

But every good gamer knows that pure graphics donít mean anything if they arenít executed correctly, and this is where we see a part of SADX that makes it embarrassing.  First of all, the camera is AWFUL.  I mean, this thing is sickening.  It likes to not follow you, stay stuck behind walls, and just go wherever it feels like sometimes.  You would think and HOPE that something that glaringly bad would be fixed for a port, but alas, we hope too much.  But still, seeing the inside of a wall instead of Knuckles in a ported game on such a powerful system just makes it feel sloppy.

Oh, and add the massive use of invisible walls to the list of sloppy things.  I havenít seen invisible barriers used as much since the early N64 days.  Walk towards the water, and a wall stops you.  Walk near the edge of a cliff, and oops!  Youíre saved from falling off by a wall!  And they tend to be places very far away from their targets too, so it again feels sloppy.  For example, the wall blocking you from the ocean is actually on the end of the beach.  Give me a break.  Is it really that hard to make the character swim, fall off, or make them say something cute that means, ďI canít go this far?Ē  Also, in the Mystic Ruins, you CAN get around an invisible wall and fall to your doom.  If youíre going to block us off, do it properly.  Geez.

But the gameís music makes up for the sloppy presentationÖsorta.  As usual, itís of A quality.  SADX brings us rock, hip-hop, jazz, pop - you name it.  But there seems to be an absence of singing in this soundtrack.  In fact, I donít recall any song having singing, sans the character theme songs and Follow Your Heart, the main theme.

But, the music is cancelled out by the voice acting.  Itís SO slow and off. Itís bad enough looking like a poorly dubbed Japanese movie, but taking a 2 second break in-between sentences is a little pathetic.  Sometimes, a character will take his or her sweet time to respond to someone else.  And believe me, a potential emotional scene is completely ruined by this awful lag.  Are their reaction times THAT slow, or was some programmer just lazy?  The voices are completely the opposite of SA2Bís quick responses.  Oh, and Eggmanís mouth never moves for the whole game!  Whatís going on here?!

Well, can we find some refuge in SADXís other features?  Aside from Adventure Mode, SADX has 3 more.  First we have Trial Mode.  Here, you can view emblem results, play sub games that are included in the adventure, and replay stages that have been beaten.  Normally, you play the simple C Level of each stage in the adventure- get to the end; collect the emerald pieces, etc.  But through Trial, you can complete the A and B levels.  These are equivalent to SA2Bís missions, but there is no letter ranking.  For Amy, Sonic, Tails, and Gamma, the Bs consists of beating the stage with 50 rings or more.  Amy and Sonic must beat the stage under a specific time limit for A, while Tails has to beat an even faster Sonic.  Knucklesís As and Bs are quite simple, with having to find all emerald pieces under a time limit and finding them all without using any hints, respectively.  Gammaís A is to beat the stage under a time limit, and Bigís As and Bs are to catch large fish for Froggy.  More diverse than SA2B, but simpler as well.

The 2nd mode is a true Mission mode.  This feature is unlocked after beating a characterís story.  In it, you wander the Adventure Field searching for Mission cards.  After finding one, youíll get a hint of what to do to complete the mission.  For example, with Tails, one may tell you to stop some growing weeds.  You then have to find the area and complete the task.  Some missions may take place in the Field, but others may actually be in a level.  These are fun, although finding the cards can get tedious after awhile.

The 3rd mode is one of the coolest, which is the Mini-game Collection.  By completing missions and gaining emblems, old Sonic Game Gear games are unlocked!  True Sonic nostalgia!

Oh, and of course, Chao raising exists in the game.  But donít expect to take them to Kindergarten or to do karate; there is none.  The Chao in SADX have 3 gardens, a Black Market, the races, and animals.  Obviously, SA2B is the TRUE home of Chao raising.  However, you can still send your SADX Chao to SA2B, via the Tiny Chao Garden in Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, or Sonic Pinball Party.

As for difficulty?  Sadly, SADX isnít much of a challenge.  The levels arenít very complicated, the bosses, including the final one, are too easy, and the Trial Mode provides replay but no I-need-an-A-rank frustration.  The hardest part for me was being able to stand Bigís levels!  But donít get me wrong!  Itís a VERY fun game that will be sure to keep you going hours after the adventure ends.

SA2B had so much multiplayer that the ď2BĒ was added to the original title.  SADX and multiplayer, on the other hand, donít get along well at all.  Why?  There practically is none.  Two players can only play in a few Game Gear games and in Sonicís action stages as Tails.  But donít get too excited; the Tails thing is a joke.  Normally, the computer controls Tails as Sonic runs around.  A second controller can move him, but the camera wonít follow the flying fox.  His only use is to get rings and defeat enemies, but itís more of a pain than help to use him.

On a final note, SADX has 130 emblems.  Most are rewarded after beating the levels of the action stages, but some have hidden themselves away in the Adventure Fields, and others are rewards for the Chao races.  However, just like in SA2B, a prize awaits those who have found all 130.  What is it?  Youíll have to see yourself.

Highs:

  • Sonic's first next-generation game on the 'Cube!  Woo!
  • Nice graphics
  • Excellent music, as usual
  • Six characters, providing six different points of view, making the presentation of the story pretty unique
  • An Adventure Field - unique and brings things together
  • Loads of after-adventure extras
  • Fun fun fun!

Lows:

  • Sloppy camera, walls, and voice acting.
  • Just too sloppy for a port!
  • A standard Sonic plot, and pretty short at that
  • Big the Cat...and his levels
  • Kinda easy
  • Not enough Chao
  • No (real) multiplayer!

Final Verdict:

As soon as you get over the sloppiness, Sonic Adventure DX is a very fun game.  Is it better than Sonic Adventure 2: Battle?  Thatís entirely up to your own personal preference, although I think that its sequel is an overall better game.  Yet, no fan of Sonic should go without playing this!  And since it has so much extra to do, renting isnít an option!

Overall Score: 9.0

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