Games with Sonic in them are cool. The ‘blue streak’, as he is sometimes called was one of the coolest console mascots back in the days of the Genesis. The games focused on him, and only him (with the exception of Sonic & Knuckles). [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i], however, is not cool, as we will find out as this review goes on.
The first thing you might notice about this game is that it’s a Sonic title… on the Nintendo Gamecube console. Yes, now that the Dreamcast has gone under, the blue hedgehog has made his way onto a Nintendo console, but with mixed results. [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i] is merely a simple port of the Dreamcast’s [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i] released a year before in 2001. While there are some changes to the game in [i]Battle[/i], it really won’t matter which system you play this on. As the title suggests, [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i] is the sequel to the Dreamcast hit Sonic Adventure. However, this time around, the developers have changed around the game a little. In the first installment, you could choose which character you want to play as after you unlock them by playing as Sonic. In [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i], instead of choosing which character you play as, you choose from two different stories, the Hero story, or the Dark story. Each story takes three different characters going through two different stories, each story meeting with the other from time to time and eventually, clashing at the end to see which side wins. The Hero story stars Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, and Knuckles the Echidna, while the Dark story stars Dr. Eggman, and two new additions to the Sonic universe; Rouge the Bat and Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic’s alter-ego.
The three characters in each story go through their own different types of levels. Sonic and Shadow play through corridor-like speed levels, while Tails and Dr. Eggman pilot mechs through simplistic shooting levels. Knuckles and Rouge go through huge levels, looking for different items ranging from Chaos Emeralds to keys. This is where [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i] and [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i]’s first problems emerge.
The shooting levels that you take Tails and Dr. Eggman through are incredibly simplistic. In [i]Battle[/i]’s case, all you really do is go through the level, hold down the ‘B’ button, lock on to enemies and other objects, and release to fire missiles at everything that your laser-sight picks up. Older gamers will easily complete these levels, and they seem more suited to the younger audience. The levels that you take Knuckles and Rouge through are just plain annoying. Those consist of you taking either character and running around the level until your locator at the bottom of the screen begins to flash, playing the ‘hot or cold’ game basically. These levels become incredibly tedious, and as luck would have it, the game chooses to play these kinds of levels the most.
However, as boring as the other two gameplay types are, Sonic and Shadow’s levels are very fun to play through. In fact, these levels are probably the only fun part about [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i], as they are much more compelling than Tails’ or Rouge’s levels. The problem is, Sonic and Shadow’s levels are scarce compared to the other character’s levels, and since their levels are really the only fun levels in the game, it’s a real blow to the overall quality of it. Most platformers are praised for making games with a variety of gameplay genres, but [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i]’s gametypes get very tedious and are just plain unchallenging.
As mentioned earlier, [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i] is a port of the Dreamcast’s [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i], so you might be wondering if there is any sort of difference between the two. In short, yes, there is a difference, but if you played [i]Sonic Adventure 2[/i] on the Dreamcast, the Gamecube’s version is really no different. The Gamecube version contains a multiplayer section, but compared to other great multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i]’s multiplayer is lacking, and isn’t really that interesting in the end. The graphics are slightly better than the Dreamcast’s version, but they are by no means incredible. The framerate is higher than the Dreamcast’s version, so there is a plus, but again, it is really no reason to play it again on the Gamecube. The game has horrible voice acting. All the characters seem pretty lifeless when they talk, especially Shadow, who has that ominously dark, evil dialogue, but fails to back it up with an ominously dark, evil voice. I’m going to use Knuckles as an example though, as when he talks, it sounds like he really isn’t aware of what’s going on around him, and sounds completely random. The voice actor who played Knuckles’ voice obviously is not very good at bringing his characters to life. To top things off, the models still move their lips like they are talking in Japanese, so the dialogue looks strange and off because of it.
Now, while Knuckles and Dr. Eggman’s levels are bad enough on their own, they are worsened by the horrible camera angles. Knuckles and Rouge’s levels are especially hurt by the camera. In fact, the camera in [i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i] is one of the worst cameras I have ever seen in a video game. Strangely enough, the camera really isn’t a problem in Sonic and Shadow’s levels, which is probably one more reason why they are so much better than the other character’s levels.
The music in the game has a mixed reaction from me. Each character’s level has a different form of music. Sonic’s music has a lighthearted pop-rock feel to it, while Shadow’s is the same, only darker sounding. Knuckles has hip-hop and rap music, while Rouge has annoying pop sound to it, and Tails’ is mostly rock while Dr. Eggman’s seems like a sort of mechanical grunge. While most of the songs (save for Rouge’s songs) are slightly catchy, some are marred by lyrics like ‘I’m gonna follow my rainbow’ and ‘live and learn’. One problem with the music is that, at times, the character’s dialogue is drowned out by the music, although with the horrible voice-overs, that may be a blessing in disguise.
[i]Sonic Adventure 2: Battle[/i] is very disappointing. Its storyline is compelling enough to keep most people interested, but the voice-overs will make it hard to enjoy cutscenes. Combine this with simplistic gameplay and a bad camera and you’ve got a perfect candidate for a weekend rental. While some may be drawn in by the challenge of making all ‘S’ grades in every level or the Chao Garden (which is surprisingly interesting), it really doesn’t take very long to complete the game, and unfortunately, has very little replay value, unless you are intent on a perfect score on every level. It’s quite obvious that any future Sonic title should focus itself on the blue hedgehog and his trademark speed alone, rather than the other minor players in the Sonic universe.