By Video_Game_King 22 Comments
Oh, it only seems like yesterday that I briefly talked about this game in haiku form. In reality it was....seriously? Three years ago? How have I kept this up for so long? Anyway, if you can get past the insulting tone, you'll notice that I played a lot of games for that haiku thing. The reality is that I only played them for as long as it took me to write a haiku. This time, though, I went all the way with Sonic Adventure 2, and I have to say that my opinion has only changed a little. You want a game filled with the stupidest goddamn things imaginable? Sonic Adventure 2 is for you. Do you want a game that plays well? Cover the #2 with your hand and pretend you're playing the first game.
But speaking of Sonic Adventure 1, remember the wacky faces there? Well, Sonic Adventure 2 also has wacky faces, but in a different way. Rather than have mouths twist and contort into weird shapes, you're getting stuck with Cro-Magnon brows and these weird monkey slit mouths. It's really hard to describe through text. Like maybe everybody's permanently doing some kissy duck face? And don't get me started on the humans, because I don't have a lot to say about them. They just look weird. I'd say all of this is distracting and makes it hard to take the story seriously, but was there ever really a chance of that happening? Half the cutscenes are Betty Boop plotting with a clitoris-nosed man who can only speak in grumbling whispers, and the other half are Knuckles generally having a poor voice actor, too.
And that's not even getting into the content of the story. It all begins with Sonic being arrested and jumping out of a prison helicopter. The game assumes you're playing the dark scenario first, which has its own weird moments (like convincing me to find the words "Return of Jafar" on the box somewhere), but I started with the Hero path and found out the main problem with concurrent storylines: they have to bend and contort in the strangest ways to interact in any meaningful way, logic be damned. Perfect example: Sonic breaks out of confusing imprisonment, snowboards down a busy street, only to be chased by the world's least practical semi truck for reasons that are only explained after the fact. Surprisingly, the game gets dumber from here. Characters will just appear in random locations without motivation or reason (Sonic especially); the villains want to destroy the world until they suddenly don't; Star Trek is referenced in the stupidest way imaginable; and for whatever reason, Amy has a role in the story. Don't worry, though. For the most part, this is the good, "we don't take ourselves too seriously" kind of dumb, not the "we can't write a good story to save our lives" kind of dumb. Hell, that's partly why I was able to put up with the game's more melodramatic bullshit from time to time: I can just laugh it off instead of simply groaning in pain. To be fair, there are moments in the story where I do groan in pain, like when Shadow quite literally calls himself cool, but thankfully, such moments are few and far between.
In the story. In the actual game, though.....well, that is the game: groaning in pain. Why is that? Well, Sonic Adventure 2 combines speed with an utter lack of control. I mean, if you ignore the controls (why you'd do that, I don't know), the game knows its shit. The levels are complex enough to demand your attention from time to time, but for the most part, simple enough that you don't need to do much in them. I know that doesn't sound like the most enthusiastic of recommendations, but that's really the best way to approach a speed-based game like this. It certainly isn't about the gameplay. It's about going really fast and seeing things blast by you. As long as the game can deliver on that, that's all that matters, and all the loops and chase sequences and different loops in this game certainly deliver.
Wait a minute, that's not all that matters. I mean, you still need to be able to play the damn game, and this is where Sonic Adventure 2 crashes face-first into the wall, resulting in a bloody mess. Don't get me wrong; as long as you hold forward, for the most part, you'll be fine. But then there are those times you have to turn. Sadly, both Sonic and Shadow make wider turns than the 914 wheeler you have to avoid early in the game, resulting in a litany of pointless deaths. This makes it impossible to have fun with the speed. You can't get lost in the moment when there's a very good chance the game's going to kill you. You're just going to be too careful and fidgety around any sort of challenge to get any enjoyment out of the game. Hell, I broke down into a sobbing mess whenever I was forced to use the light speed dash because of how many times it broke on me and resulted in a dead hedgehog. The only way I could be coaxed out of this hysteria would be if the game got rid of the controls (like in the last paragraph) or the speed (like in the next). Just anything to make me forget about all the dead hedgehogs.
This probably explains why the best parts of the game have almost nothing to do with speed. That doesn't explain why these portions aren't particularly good, either. The worst offender of the two (there are only three modes of gameplay, and I've just finished explaining one of them) are the stages where you have to find the pieces of the Master Emerald. On paper, they sound perfectly fine: here's an environment to explore and some sort of radar system for finding your whatevers. Find those whatevers. But for whatever reason, it just doesn't work. Maybe it's because the environments are fucking huge and lacking in direction. Maybe it's the fact the radar only applies to one Emerald piece at a time, and only within five feet of the damn things......No, it's more the lack of direction. Not even a hint system could save these confusing levels, although that may be because the hint system isn't particularly good in the first place.
But you make it through these confusing levels, and maybe even some Sonic ones, and eventually come upon the mech portions. Don't get your hopes up. You just walk forward and blast any robot that's in your way. Repeat until the level just ends. Nothing particularly awesome about it, but nothing offensive, either. Sure, the aiming's a tad iffy, but coming off Knuckles, these portions seem focused and penetrable. At their worst, they're a mindless distraction from the game proper. There's also some Chao stuff, if you're into animal abuse (I am), but who the shit comes to Sonic Adventure 2 for the Chao? You come here for the hedgehogs on the cover and an adventure delivered at sonic speeds. Too bad the loose controls completely prevent that from ever being fun or enjoyable. I imagine the other features could make up for this if they were genuinely good instead of laughably dumb.
But you know what? I'm willing to forgive this game of all its flaws for one very simple reason. No, it's not the music (which is good) or the graphics (which aren't), but for the simple fact that Big the Cat was brought to justice. When I first saw him in Prison Island, I simply thought he was imprisoned for his crimes against existence, but the reality is far more beautiful than that could ever be. He'll reappear in other levels, which may sound worse, but understand that he is always suffering. His existence is one where he is endlessly reincarnated into the living world, only to suffer eternally, whether by drowning, asphyxiation, or simply gazing upon the sweet release of death he shall never enjoy. Do you really need anything else, knowing you'll get everything you could ever want in this simple feature?
- This is about the quality we're dealing with with these cutscenes.
- The Sonic and Shadow portions control exactly how you'd expect a super fast hedgehog to control: unrealistic and probably not ending well.
- Oh, and there are other modes that exist and stuff.
This was supposed to be it. This was supposed to be the week that I revealed the origins of Nanako'Sho. But then I found this mildly amusing video. So next week, then.
I just now got the joke. Acrobat. Until now, I simply thought he was an athletic rodent and the game was kind enough to point that out......You do realize that I have absolutely nothing to say about this game, right? At least not anything you didn't already know. Well, except for one minor detail: this isn't a bad game. A poster-boy for what's wrong with mascot games, maybe, but not a bad game. More just incredibly average and hard to write about.
Part of that is because there's no story, or at least none that I can parse out. I don't even have a basic idea of what I'm doing. Am I trying to stop somebody? Save somebody? Escape somebody? No clue. The closest I can remember is saving Aero's girlfriend at the end of the second level, and then continuing the game for reasons that aren't clear. I'd say it's to escape the terror of the game, but that's a lie. You can never escape the terror that is Aero the Acro-bat. You think that things stop being scary once you leave the circus? Hell no! You're still gonna run into fire-breathing clowns and hellishly twisted levels. And not in a good way, either. More in a "WHEN WILL IT END!?" type of way that I'm certain the developers were never going for. Oh, and the music kinda sucks. So far, so bad. I actually have some reasons not to want to play the game. Hopefully, the actual game mechanics make up for that.
Eh, kinda. I'd tell you what your goal is, but I think we've established what a problem that is, so let's leave it at "get to the end of the level". That doesn't sound awesome, and indeed, it isn't. I'm guessing that's why the levels are made non-linear: so you actually have something to do. Surprisingly, it works. Spreading the goals all about a level makes you focus more and pay attention, almost like you're being pulled in to the experience. So hooray for that. My only real complaint is that some of the secrets are telegraphed WAY too easily (maybe don't mark off which walls you can walk through Aero), but again, most of it works out. The non-exploratory stuff, on the other hand, not so much. That's generally more hit and miss. Anything conforming to that earlier exploration stuff is automatically fun, but roller coasters and conveyor belts? I guess there's a twitch value to these, but that's not really enough to carry the segments. They just feel too simple and lazy, especially compared to what I'm doing in all the other levels. You don't follow up "pay careful attention to how the level branches out" with "press a button now".
Especially when pressing that button doesn't always work. Oh, I didn't mention? I probably should: the controls are kind of iffy. You've got a lot of functions to manage, but for whatever reason, only a two of them are really useful: drilling up and drilling down. Coincidentally, neither of those functions work too well, because Aero's a rebel who doesn't listen to your rules. YOUTH CULTURE FOREVER! Which probably explains all those early deaths as a result of missing the one jump you needed. Granted, you're back in the game less than a second later, but it's still kinda annoying to replay that one section partially because Aero is such an indecisive bastard. And why would I ever need to hover for a brief second? It can't really act as much of a buffer for hitting the ground, since any other button on the controller can do that just fine. Other than that, though, Aero's a satisfactory game which defies descriptions that aren't completely dry and devoid of emotion.
- The story ends after two levels, but for whatever reason, just keeps going long after that point.
- Gotta love that level design (except when you don't).
- Wish it controlled better, though.