Sunday, April 24, 2011

Game On: Let's Play 2.06 - Sonic Adventure [Tails]

Game: Sonic Adventure [Tails]
System: Sega Dreamcast
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Players: Mark Greenfeld

Game Overview [As seen on GOLP 2.03]

In order to introduce this game, one must venture back to Sega’s previous console, the Sega Saturn. During a time without a major sonic title, Sega published Traveler’s Tales racing game Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast onto the console, and Yuji Naka, the lead programmer of the original Sonic games, was disappointed with the direction Sonic was taking. During the Saturn years, Naka was working on non-Sonic titles such as Burning Rangers and NiGHTS, but with the Dreamcast, he returned to direct the Sonic franchise. After going into full development early-1997, the game would be the Sega Dreamcast’s flagship launch title in late 1999. The game marks the first major Sonic title in which current Sonic Team Producer Takashi Iizuka was director, although he was Sonic 3 & Knuckles’ Senior Game Designer prior.

Sonic Adventure stars Sonic and friends in the crew’s first major 3D adventure. Sonic and Tails discover that Doctor Robotnik (Or Eggman, as Sonic calls him) is planning on collecting the seven Chaos Emeralds in order to bring Chaos, the God of Destruction, to full power in order to rule the world. Sonic and Tails’ quest is not exclusive to themselves, however; Sonic Adventure introduces multiple characters whose plots intertwine with each other in order to create a full picture on what is happening and why. Knuckles the Echidna is pulled into adventure after Chaos appears and destroys the Master Emerald, causing Angel Island to crash into the ocean. Amy Rose, the self-proclaimed girlfriend to the blue hedgehog, finds herself in a precarious situation involving the protection of a young bird from a nefarious E-Series Robot’s clutches. Big the Cat runs (or wobbles, really) toward action in order to find his friend Froggy who, for some reason, has become increasingly agitated and rambunctious. Finally, E-102 Gamma, one of Eggman’s E-Series robots, follows his master’s orders until he encounters Amy and the little bird, with interesting results. Once each adventure is completed, a final adventure opens to bring Sonic and the new nemesis together for a final showdown.

Each character has his or her unique game style and cutscenes, although some do appear similar when characters interact. Sonic’s stages are the longest and most straight forward: get to the end of each level. Tails has shorter stages, all of which involve races to the finish. Knuckles’ mission is to collect three pieces of the Master Emerald in each open stage. Amy has to get to the end of each level, all while running from Zero. Big’s levels are actually fishing mini-games more than stages, and E-102 Gamma’s areas are shooter-focused. Besides the action stages themselves, there are multiple Adventure areas where the characters must explore to find power-ups and new levels. Bosses fill the remainder of the game time, whether the battles are against other characters, Eggman, or Chaos.

Sonic Adventure had been seen with great acclaim, lauding its retention of Sonic’s platforming and fast-paced speed from the original series and bringing it into 3D, albeit with a number of glitches and a finicky camera system. It is seen as the biggest game for the Sega Dreamcast, and it is the highest-selling game for it, too, at 2.5 million sold.

Since then… [As of April 2011]

Sonic has grown and shrunken in prominence since his debut into 3D. Despite the game’s praises, it was not capable of keeping Sega in the black during the Dreamcast’s existence, and just as the much-anticipated sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, was about to release, Sega announced that it had stopped producing consoles and would reduce its focus to solely software. Just half a year after Sonic Adventure 2’s release, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle was released to the Nintendo GameCube, the first Sonic game on a Nintendo console. Sonic Adventure would never return as a franchise after 2, but Sonic Unleashed, released years later for all current consoles, would be called Sonic World Adventure in Japan, perhaps denoting its existence as a game fitting of the Adventure series title.

To list all Sonic games since Sonic Adventure would be tiring, but major Sonic titles since the Dreamcast include Sonic Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and Sonic Unleashed. Another team within Sonic Team created Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight, and Sonic Colors, all for the Wii. Most recently, Sonic has been coming back to 2D with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (developed by DIMPS) alongside the release of Sonic Colors for Wii and DS. The HD development team behind Sonic Unleashed is now working on Sonic Generations for Xbox 360 and PS3, a game in which modern and classic Sonic meet and venture through the three generations of Sonic, using both styles of Sonic games. It is expected for a late 2011 release.

Meanwhile, producer Yuji Naka would work on a number of new franchises on Dreamcast, including ChuChu Rocket, Samba de Amigo, and Phantasy Star Online while Sonic Team USA worked on Sonic Adventure 2. Years later, he would leave Sega to form Prope, creating such games as Let’s Tap and Ivy the Kiwi?. His latest project is Rodea the Sky Soldier, a flight-based action title heading to 3DS and Wii thanks to Kadokawa Games; a release outside of Japan has not been officially been announced.

Sonic Adventure itself has seen a number of rereleases since its Dreamcast debut. In 2004, Sonic Team and some members of NOW Production brought Sonic Adventure onto GameCube and Windows as Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut. This edition includes slightly improved visuals, improving the lighting and models of each character, but the game’s glitches were not fixed. Included with the main adventures are 60 missions which are available for players to complete in both adventure and action stages, and if all Emblems are collected, players can play as Metal Sonic. Furthermore, as players earn emblems they unlock the ability to play from a collection of twelve Sonic Game Gear titles. This year, Sonic Team Shanghai brought Sonic Adventure to Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. This version is the DX version of the game sans the extra game content, and the mission content is available as DLC. Players can also experience Sonic Adventure through the Dreamcast Collection for Xbox 360 and PC, which contains three other Dreamcast-gone-XBLA titles in one retail disc.

The Let’s Play

Mark Greenfeld was all too eager to jump into Sonic Adventure, especially with the idea to have the game played by three people and span several episodes. He decided to take second dibs on whom to play, and Tails was easily chosen as his primary choice. Being a hardcore Sega fan, he was sure to do well, and with luck he was capable of getting through Tails in one whole episode.

Tails is among the longer segments in the game, but he is pretty straight forward. Mark moves through his story and, barring a few glitches here and there, he completes the whole story in one sitting. No need to wait for a second part for this one! He also dabbles a little with the Chao segments of the game, although he was pressured to move onward rather than stick with raising a Silver Chao.


Even though we had lost our other player for the day, we took the opportunity to make the commentary as lively as possible, and by that I mean we bothered Mark continually throughout his playthrough. Whether it was singing Tails’ theme song or mimicking the bad voiceovers, we ensured to keep his anger high and our gameplay as active as possible.

It had been a long while since Mark had played Sonic Adventure, and as such he had a rocky start to his adventure. Sometimes he found himself unable to find his way around the Adventure maps, but he was good at venturing through the actual stages, sans a few incidents. Meanwhile, he took it upon himself to try out some Chao raising, despite the nearby audience’s disinterest. This ultimately led to increased banter between the three people. By the second half, the insanity began to grow, which lead to a funnier outcome.

The recording was alright, although the room was perhaps more acoustic than we would have preferred. The result is the occasional moment when our voices on the sidelines become hard to judge amid the loud game soundtrack. Furthermore, the recording devices began to create a heavy buzzing sound, which can be heard within the recording, much to our dismay. And we had commentary during the credits…but the audio was nearly impossible to hear, so years later I removed the commentary for the sake of our ears.

As for continuing the Sonic Adventure playthrough, we were unable to do so. Ivan was always too busy with other projects, and while we attempted to complete Knuckles later on, a glitch prevented progress beyond a battle against Chaos. We never ventured into the secondary threesome, and considering what else we recorded I am somewhat thankful for it. For now. Perhaps Third Rate Game Play might finish the game as it stands, but for now, Sonic Adventure is done for us.

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