After 1994's Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog sort of fell off the map. Though a number of spin-offs followed for years to come, Sonic Team moved on to other franchises like NiGHTS: into Dreams... and Burning Rangers. Five years after their last Sonic game, Sonic Team returned to the Sonic franchise for Sonic Adventure, the first all-3D Sonic game and a launch title for Sega's new Dreamcast console.
Sonic Adventure re-wrote the rules in which Sonic games were traditionally played. Not entirely unlike Super Mario 64, Sonic now traveled between a number of hub worlds referred to as "Adventure Fields" that housed NPCs and light RPG elements. As Sonic progresses though the game, "Action Stages" could be accessed from various entryways in Adventure Fields. Action Stages were more traditional Sonic levels, where generally the goal was to reach the end of the level as quickly as possible. Sonic's own base set of skills had to be changed from previous title in order to more easily navigate in three dimensions, most notably with the addition of the "homing attack" -- which allowed Sonic to automatically strike a nearby enemy or object by performing a mid-air dash. Homing attacks can even be chained together so long as more enemies are nearby.
The roster of playable characters was expanded from three characters in Sonic 3 & Knuckles to six total characters. Newcomers Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma appear along side the returning, but first-time-playable Amy Rose in addition to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles.
Story in Sonic Adventure is a much heavier focus than any Sonic title before it, with each character having their own unique plot thread that would often intersect with the other six storylines. Sonic and company were given cinematic cutscenes and fully-voiced dialog to help flesh the story out even further. Upon completing all six storylines, the player gains access to a seventh and final story which ties all the stories back together in a climactic boss battle and to ultimately resolve the plot.
Rather than start with a base skill set that you kept for the entire game, as you progressed in Sonic Adventure you would find upgrade items located in Adventure Fields and Action Stages that would bestow new abilities upon your character, such as Sonic's "Light Speed Attack", a move with a lengthy charge-up period that could be used to clear out entire groups of enemies at once.
Boss encounters were less frequent than in classic Sonic titles, and rather than occurring at the end of every stage or zone in the game. would instead occur at pivotal points in the storyline.
Plot, Characters, and Abilities
After finding himself in coastal town Station Square, Sonic encounters "Chaos", a bizarre, nearly-invincible creature made out of living water. After meeting up with Tails, the pair trace Chaos back to Dr. Eggman, who is feeding the monster Chaos Emeralds in order to increase its strength with the eventual goal of using it to conquer the world.Knowing they can't let that happen, Sonic and Tails team up to find the Chaos Emeralds before Dr. Robotnik.
Gameplay: The most traditional of the characters, Sonic's gameplay largely revolves around running to the end of the stage as quickly as possible while grabbing rings and destroying robots.
After failing a test flight of a new Chaos-Emerald-powered Airplane, Tails encounters Sonic who tells him about the "Chaos" monster he fought. The pair eventually learn that Dr. Eggman is trying to use the monster's transformations to conquer the world. Both agree that this cannot be allowed to happen, and set off to stop him at all costs.
Gameplay: All of Tails' stages are nearly identical to Sonic's, with one twist: he must race somebody else to the finish line using his flight ability to take specific shortcuts designed around it.
The last of his people, Knuckles was entrusted to guard a massive jewel known as the Master Emerald. Centuries ago, his people misused the power of the Chaos Emeralds for greed, and the Gods created the Master Emerald to help regulate the gems unpredictable and destructive power. As the legend goes, when things eventually got out of hand, the God of Destruction arose from within the Master Emerald to punish those who wished to misuse the power of the Chaos Emeralds. One night, Knuckles awakes to find a monster before him and the Master Emerald destroyed. He sets out to find the missing pieces of the Master Emerald in order to re-assemble it and restore it to its original state. Knuckles only later discovers that Dr. Eggman has shattered the Master Emerald in order to release the God of Destruction.
Gameplay: Knuckles' gameplay consists of exploring wide-open, non-linear areas using his gliding, climbing, and digging abilities. The main goal of these levels are to find three missing shards of the shattered Master Emerald, which ping on Knuckles' radar with greater frequency depending on how close he is to a given shard. Stages end when all three shards have been collected.
Always one step behind Sonic, Amy believes they are destined to be lovers, much to Sonic's chagrin. Upon finding her way to Station Square, she discovers a lost bird with a picture of his parents hung around his neck. As she sets off to help the bird reunite with its family, she encounters ZERO, a dangerous robot bent on capturing her and the bird.
Gameplay: One of the slowest characters in the game, Amy Rose's gameplay can best be described as "stealth-lite". Every single one of her levels involves either running or hiding from the invincible ZERO robot. If cornered, Amy can use her piko-piko hammer to stun ZERO temporarily or destroy other enemy robots.
The greatest of Dr. Eggman's E-series robots, Gamma is tasked with completing various odd jobs for his creator. After witnessing the horrible fates of his E-series robot brethren after they failed to accomplish the mission objectives issued by their evil master, Gamma begins to question his own programming.
Gameplay: Gamma's feature mechanics that bare passing resemblance to shooters like Panzer Dragoon and Rez, where you move a laser crosshair around the screen in order to lock on targets and then release the fire button to take them all out in sequence. Compared to other characters, Gamma has a unique health system in that a timer is constantly counting down to his inevitable death. By shooting enemies and chaining together shot combos, time gets re-added to the clock, forcing players to constantly keep moving forward.
Big the Cat
Big the Cat's life begins and ends with fishing in nearby streams and ponds with his best friend, Froggy. But one night, when Froggy swallows a Chaos Emerald and begins to acting strangely, Big is forced to go on a quest to find out where his friend has gone and what could be causing his strange mood swings.
Gameplay: Big's levels often involve a smaller section of one level with a large body of water where the player can cast a lure and go fishing, similar to Sega Bass Fishing. The goal of each fishing challenge is to hook and retrieve Froggy, who is swimming in the waters somewhere in each level. Players can also catch other fish as well, to set high scores depending on a given fish's weight.
Aside from Hot Shelter, which is never entered by Sonic, all of the action stages for the other 5 characters are made up mostly of parts of Sonic's action stages. In this sense, Sonic Adventure has only 11 unique action stages (Sonic's 10 stages, plus Hot Shelter) although the stages can differ wildly between characters. Because of varying (and sometimes slower) gameplay styles, the other characters tend to use only a portion of Sonic's full stage, or may be required to traverse the stage in totally different directions. In addition, enemy and object placement differs for each character, and some areas (such as inside the castle in Amy's Twinkle Park) are unique to certain characters.
Located in "Station Square"
- Emerald Coast
- Twinkle Park
- Speed Highway
Located in "Mystic Ruins"
- Windy Valley
- Ice Cap
- Red Mountain
- Lost World
- Final Egg
Located in "Egg Carrier"
Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions
On June 10th, 2010, it was officially announced that Sonic Adventure would be hitting Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.This downloadable version of Sonic Adventure was based off of the PC port of Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, released in 2004. Though some changes were made to bring it up to standards with the original release of Sonic Adventure DX, it was still missing a number of enhanced graphical effects exclusive to the Gamecube version of the game.However, this version features Achievements/Trophies, Avatar awards, and individual time trial leaderboards for many of the game's levels.
Sonic Adventure was released on Xbox Live Arcade on September 15th, 2010,with a PlayStation Network release hitting five days later on September 20th, for $10 (or 800 Microsoft Points). Despite being based on the graphically enhanced release of Sonic Adventure DX, this version only contained content from the original Sonic Adventure.
A week later, a supplemental DLC pack was released, adding in all of the extra content from "Sonic Adventure DX:Director's Cut". This included the brand new "Mission Mode", and the ability to unlock Metal Sonic for use in Time Trial Mode. It is,however, missing the 15 unlockable Game Gear games that were part of the original Sonic Adventure DX release. The "Sonic Adventure DX Upgrade" DLC was priced at $5 (or 400 Microsoft Points), making the complete Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut package cost $15 in total.
The Xbox Live Arcade/PC release of Sonic Adventure was later packaged as part of the disc-based Dreamcast Collection, released in February 2011 for PC and Xbox 360.
Due to his impressive work on Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic & Knuckles, musician Jun Senoue was given a more commanding presence in Sonic Adventure's soundtrack along side other Sonic Team music artists like Fumie Kumatani, Kenichi Tokoi, Takeshi Taneda, and Yukata Minobe. Sonic Adventure contained six vocal tracks:
- "It Doesn't Matter - Theme of Sonic" by Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli of the band Crush 40
- "Believe in Myself - Theme of Tails" by Jun Senoue, Karen Brake, Terry Woods and Maxine Waters
- "Unknown from M.E. - Theme of Knuckles" by Atsushi Kosugi, Marlon Saunders, and John "Dredd Fox" Simpson III
- "My Sweet Passion - Theme of Amy" by Atsushi Kosugi and Nikki Gregoroff
- "Lazy Days ~Livin' in Paradise~ - Theme of Big" by Atsushi Kosugi and Ted Poley
- "Open Your Heart - Main Theme of Sonic Adventure" by Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli of the band Crush 40
Additionally, after the release of Sonic Adventure, Sega published a vocal remix album, featuring the talents of bands Transmutator, Spahn Ranch, Sister Machine Gun, and Razed in Black, plus the work of Chris Vrenna, Mark Blasquez, Cevin Key, Kevin Moore, and Steve Tushar.
After Sonic Team's game design guru Hirokazu Yasuhara left the group and disseminated back in to Sega in 1995, the man he was training as an apprentice took his place: Takashi Iizuka. After his stint as "Lead Game Designer" on NiGHTS: Into Dreams..., Takashi Iizuka approached Yuji Naka with his idea for a "Sonic the Hedgehog RPG". Yuji Naka was impressed with the direction Iizuka wanted to take the franchise, and rumors began to circulate about a new "Sonic & Knuckles" game in the weeks leading up to its public unveiling in August 1998.
During production, members of Sonic Team took a trip to Central America to gain inspiration for some of the game's locations. Many photos taken of the various Mayan Ruins they visited ended up being directly incorporated in to actual in-game textures, and characters like Tikal and Pachacamac were named after locations the team visited.
When unveiled, Sonic Team and Sega held a large public event in Japan, where they debuted the first gameplay footage of the game followed by a live performance of the game's theme song, "Open Your Heart" by Jun Senoue. The evening was topped off by an appearance of Japanese Sega Saturn mascot Segata Sanshrio, who got the crowd to chant for Sonic's return.
After the game's release in Japan, Sega and Sonic Team knew the game was not as finished as they would have liked it to be, so in the year leading up to the September 1999 release of the game they established Sonic Team USA, based out of San Francisco, in order to polish and refine the game further. The American release of Sonic Adventure was later re-released in Japan as "Sonic Adventure: International Edition".
- This is the first Sonic game to use the name "Doctor Eggman" when referring to Robotnik. In Japan, Dr. Robotnik was always known as "Eggman", but his name was changed for the North American releases of the Sega Genesis Sonic games because of focus testing. The English dub of Sonic Adventure features a scene where Sonic refers to Dr. Robotnik as "Eggman" as a taunting nickname, unifying his name across the world. In future games, the name "Robotnik" is gradually phased out entirely.
- This is the final game Naoto Oshima (the original designer of Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman) is credited for. It is rumored he left Sonic Team after a dispute with Yuji Naka over which direction to take the Sonic franchise for Sonic Adventure 2. For unknown reasons, Naoto Oshima's name was removed from the credits in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut.
- Sonic Adventure was originally designed to run at 60 frames per second, but crippling amounts of slowdown meant the game had to be reduced to 30 frames per second instead. Sonic Adventure DX, the Gamecube port, attempted to restore the 60fps framerate, but even then, the framerate is known to fluctuate between 60 and 30 frames per second, and sometimes even lower, depending on what is on screen.
- At least one boss is known to have been cut from the game: A giant, three-headed mechanical dragon. Sonic and Tails would have faced off against it in the Sky Chase Action Stage. Remnants of this boss still exist in the game's code.
- When Segata Sanshiro got the crowd to chant for Sonic's return at the game's unveiling, their chants were recorded and used in-game during the game's final story where the residents chant for Sonic to defeat the game's final boss.
- Chaos was designed specifically to be the sort of creature that would have been impossible to render on the previous generation of hardware (fully transparent animated polygons).
- Some of the songs in Sonic Adventure are remastered versions of tracks Jun Senoue composed for the Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast. Specifically, the theme for the bumper car segment of Sonic Twinkle Park's action stage, and the theme for Tails's Windy Valley action stage.
- In the Sega Genesis Sonic games, collecting the seven Chaos Emeralds and then having 50 or more rings would transform Sonic in to Super Sonic. In Sonic Adventure, Sonic only transforms in to Super Sonic at a pivotal point in the storyline, but an unused tutorial voice clip suggests that Super Sonic was at one point meant to be playable outside of the game's final boss encounter, just like the Sega Genesis games.
- Elara Distler, voice actress for Tikal the Echidna, was actually the Sound Engineer's girlfriend at the time this game was produced.
- John "Dredd Fox" Simpson III, who does the rap portions of "Unknown from M.E. - Theme of Knuckles" is the voice actor for Sony's Parappa the Rapper.
- During their Central America excursion, Yuji Naka reportedly became very ill and was forced to sit most of the trip out in his hotel room.
- Though not normally selectable, both Tikal and Dr. Eggman are available in the game's code as playable characters. Neither of them have any appreciable move sets, and cannot interact with scripted level triggers. However, when playing as them, the player can access a few debug commands not normally selectable with other characters. It is possible they were meant to be playable characters at some point during development.