Sonic Adventure 2 HD proves Sonic’s still got it.
Sonic The Hedgehog has had a bit of a checkered past. He experienced monumental success and worldwide recognition in the early 90s, when Sonic 1 and 2 came out for the Sega Genesis. Over the last decade, he’s seen a lot of ups and downs. It can be argued, however, that some of his best games came out for Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast – the best of which, most fans will tell you, is Sonic Adventure 2. This is the last Sonic game to be released on a Sega console, a few mere months before the system stopped production. It’s safe to say that the Dreamcast went out with a bang.
Sega has, smartly, been remastering and re-releasing its Dreamcast games in high resolution for the modern crop of gamers. Some have argued that this practice is unnecessary or some kind of cheap cash-in, but it can’t be denied that there are a lot of gamers who haven’t played these old classics, and plenty of fans who’ve long since traded in their old consoles. I love the fact that we live in an age where we can quickly download titles like Sonic Adventure 2 HD ($9.99 on PSN, 800 MS Points on XBLA) or Jet Grind Radio and experience them in all their colorful, hi-res glory, without the need to hunt down an overpriced used Dreamcast on eBay.
Sonic Adventure 2 HD has a bit of an insane story involving an evil, cloned version of Sonic named Shadow, Dr. Robotnik (Eggman?) wanting to blow up the moon, and other such silliness that feels like it belongs in Metal Gear Solid 2. But that’s not why you downloaded this game – you’re here for the gameplay. Sonic Adventure 2 HD delivers on this front.
Sonic Adventure 2 HD is split into two sections. You can start the game off playing as either the hero or villain sides. Sonic and Shadow play in the same manner as most will remember from Sonic Adventure 1, running at super-fast speeds through ramps, loop-de-loops and even grinding rails while collecting rings and avoiding deadly obstacles. Tails and Eggman control walking mechs in shooting levels – just blow up everything in your path with missiles and bullets. Rouge and Knuckles have a bit of a weird gameplay style where you fly around trying to collect emeralds. Sonic and Shadow have the best levels, where the Knuckles and Rouge missions can be very frustrating and quite boring. That said, Knuckles gets to run around in the awesome Pumpkin Hill level.
Sonic Adventure 2 HD includes online leaderboards, so your best times will be recorded forever (or, at least, until the servers are shut down). There’s an optional DLC ($3.00 / 240 Microsoft Points) that enables the Battle functionality from the Gamecube release, which allows 2 player competition, but there is no real online functionality. This is a shame, since the extremely popular Chao Garden mode would be even more addictive if it allowed for online trading of Chaos between players. Chao raising is surprisingly in-depth; you can find intricate guides online on how to raise them with the animal properties and attributes you want. You can collect animals and other things in the main game, which can then be used in the Chao garden to further develop your pets. Once your Chao is all grown up, you can have them compete in races, and if you’ve purchased the Battle DLC, karate matches! It sounds simplistic, but it really is kind of addictive.
You’ve also got Boss Battle, which is a mode where you play through only the boss fights and attempt to beat them as quickly as possible. There’s a cool kart racing mode and more! Once you’re finished with the Sonic Adventure 2 HD main story mode, you’ve got plenty to keep you interested for a while.
If you’re like me and never had the chance to check out Sonic Adventure 2 on Dreamcast or Gamecube, now’s your chance. The game still holds up, despite some camera issues and some dated gameplay design. The Sonic and Shadow missions alone are worth the purchase price. Hopefully this re-release is successful, and leads Sega to begin work on Sonic Adventure 3!