The controls are clunky, the voice-acting is terrible and the port is not brilliant - skipping on even optimising the game for wide-screen televisions. With that aside, it's hard to dislike this title if you have a reverence for its original release. Newcomers are advised to steer clear, but as a slice of nostalgia it's a worthy package.
It was a cold winter evening shortly after Christmas when we traded in all of our worldly possessions for a fresh Dreamcast console and a copy of Sonic Adventure. As such, looking back on Sonic Adventure with a critical eye is a challenging task for us.
The Dreamcast launch title is not the greatest platformer ever made. The controls are twitchy as Sonic hits high speeds and the camera is difficult to navigate. In bringing the title to the PlayStation Network, SEGA's not made the best possible job. The game is restricted to its original 4:3 screen ratio, meaning the extremities of the screen are filled by a bland and irritating border. Likewise, the performance can be a touch shaky (though the load times are drastically improved when running from the PS3's hard-drive). To cap it all, instead of including the original Director's Cut material from the GameCube re-release, SEGA's decided to slap a DLC charge on the extra content — forcing completionists to spend an extra £3 on getting the full experience.
That said, we love Sonic Adventure. If you've never played the title, then stop reading here. In 2010, there's no reason to return to the Dreamcast launch title. The voice-acting is poor, the visuals are understandably dated and the gameplay is clunky. It'd be a waste of money to pick up Sonic Adventure if you don't hold a place for the title in your gaming heritage.
But if you do - and the game's PSN rating suggests there are plenty of you that agree - this is going to be like a blast from the past. As we started playing, we found ourselves humming the classic tunes, mouthing the words of the "oh-so-rad" Sonic's dialogue. It's just a lovely piece of nostalgia, and it's great to have it so easily accessible on the PlayStation 3's hard-drive.
Because this is a review, we suppose we should discuss the actual contents of the game rather than replay our memories from the title's original launch. Sonic Adventure puts you in control of six different characters, each with unique action stages and crossing narratives. By completing each of the character's campaigns you'll discover a different section of the story which surrounds antagonist Eggman's plot to destroy the game's central hub with a mythological creature known as Chaos.
Some characters are more fun to play as than others - though the whole roster is dated by this point. Sonic is all about simple 3D platforming, while Knuckles introduces item discovery and Big The Cat provides some much-needed fishing action. Yup... It's weird. Sonic's campaign is the longest and most enjoyable - while the other characters tend to fill in the narrative gaps.
The campaign's a mixed affair. There are some highlights during the action stages, but the adventure aspects are far too repetitive to carry the game's farcical narrative. That said, there is a charm to the delivery of the dialogue - even though Sonic's "too cool for school" attitude will quickly begin to grate.
Sonic Adventure's biggest strength as a video game today is its soundtrack, which is still as catchy as it ever was. Again, there are high and low points, but on the whole Sonic's chilled catalogue of tunes should be pleasing to anyone who can stomach a bit of cheesy pop music.
It would be easy for us to over-rate Sonic Adventure. We could see flaws in the game design back when we originally played it in late 1999, but today they're glaringly present. And as painful as it is for us to say it, we know that makes the game a tough sell for anyone who didn't experience the game first-time around. Having said that, Sonic Adventure will always occupy a warm space in our gaming development - and that means we will always be able to gloss over the flaws and see the inner-charm that does fill Sonic Adventure with personality.
It's not the best game. It's not the best port. But it's Sonic Adventure. If that ignites some kind of reaction from within you, then it's absolutely worth a revisit.