Open Your Heart to 20 Years of Sonic Adventure
Aw, yeah! This is happening!!
Sonic Adventure, for me, is more about evoking pleasant memories and feelings than it is fun to actually play. Actually sitting down with it and enjoying it on its own terms is rather than constructing a house of cards; impressive and satisfying, but one false move and the whole pointless thing falls apart.
Enough has been written about how the bug-riddled, glitch-stricken, haphazard and overambitious Sonic Adventure was the beginning of the end for Sonic, but for all its undeniable technical problems, there's a freewheeling sense of invention running through the whole thing which brilliantly captures the irrepressible verve of the Sonic series, warts and all. At times it feels as though it's been designed to prompt playground chatter. Didja you see the NiGHTS Into Dreams flythrough on the pinball table? Didja find the showers? Didja find the secret area under the casino? Didja climb to the pirate ship? And that's all on one level.
It’s that sort of game. A constant stream of memorable experiences, for better and worse. Think about Big the Cat’s fishing levels. Everyone complains about them, but isn’t it amazing that they’re in there at all? Fishing levels. In a Sonic game. It’s astonishing. But then there’s Twinkle Park with its bowling, its roller coaster ride, fun park go karting, and castle clambering. There’s the horrible, borderline unplayable camera disaster Sand Hill, but there’s also the atmospheric, borderline majestic Ice Cap with its haunting cave and subsequent hi-octant avalanche escape. Love them or hate them, you remember them all. Now tell me what happens in Uncharted. Thought so.
Later Gamecube/PC re-release Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut added a tiresome, pointless Mission Mode as well as a suite of unlockable Game Gear Sonic games, but added in even more glitches and issues to the point that the aforementioned house of cards came an absolute cropper.
Sonic Adventure, like life itself, is a series of moments. It is also much like life in that it can be absolutely bloody awful. But I wouldn’t want to be without it.