First Impressions: Sonic Team brings the blue ball back from NeverNeverLand to fight his Shadow!
The day I got my Dreamcast was one of the best days of my life. At that time, I finally realized what Sega's little white machine was actually capable of, and from there, I decided to make Sega and the Dreamcast prominent figures in my life, but that might not have happened had I not bought what I still regard as my favorite game of all time, Sonic Adventure.
The ?wow factor? Sonic Adventure was amazing, and it seemed as if you were sucked in right from the opening video. You became enthralled as you watch Sonic and his friends try to thwart the evil plans of Dr. Robotnik, taking me back to the good old Genesis days, where games were about having fun instead of about large game companies making a buck. Well, Sonic Team is set to bring us that joy once again, with a project years in the making, and headed by gaming-god Yuji Naka, Sonic Adventure 2 is about to hit store shelves and the Dreamcasts' of gamers everywhere.
Those who bought Phantasy Star Online have already gotten a little taste of SA2, in a one level demo was included on the CD, which hardcore games everywhere have played hundreds of times. This one level redefines the graphics, gameplay, sound, of the system through a 5-minute demo, leaving gamers yearning to play a little more.
The first thing you'll notice is the redesign that Sonic has received. He seems more agile and slick now, he also seems thinner. It also appears that he has turned into an Olympic gymnast overnight. Sure, he was pretty nimble and quick before, but with SA2 Sonic Team has pretty much told the world that ?you ain't seen nothin' yet.? Sonic now comes with a slew of new actions and moves, the most obvious being his new shoes. They allow Sonic to ?grind? or slide on just about any surface, so he's even quicker than before. If you love Sonic, I guarantee you'll get a little misty eyed the first time you see our Blue Hero slide down a fifty foot railing, you'll find your faith in Sonic Team reaffirmed once you view this spectacle. Besides grinding, Sonic also has a new somersault technique, which allows him to kill enemies or break down barriers. You'll find that Sonic does many different types of jumps now; he'll do a few flips or barrels in the air that are pretty cool to watch. Sonic still retains his homing attack from the first game and it'll soon become your main form of attack, as it's the easiest to perform.
Sonic's patented ball roll (where he curls up and drives at enemies) is still there, but used very rarely as it can get pretty tricky to use in a 3D environment. But never fear, Sonic Team will indulge all the old-school Sonic lovers by bringing back an action which has disappeared over the last few games: the bar flip. Sonic will once again grab onto a bar and spin about it in gymnast style. When he lets go he is launched into the air and can reach prodigious heights. In conclusion, once gamers pop SA2 into their Dreamcasts', they'll be treated to a newer Sonic, who still manages to maintain an old-school flavor. Sure to please newer gamers and nostalgic Sonic lovers alike.
Thus far into this preview, it may seem that Sonic is the only character in the game, yet, the truth is he's not. While Sonic is most certainly the cornerstone of the series (it's named after him you know), he wouldn't have made it this far without the help of his companions. One cool thing about SA2, is that you'll get to play as both the bad guys (Dark Side) as well as the good guys (Hero Side). On the Hero side, you'll find the usual Freedom Fighters, Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles ?Tails? Prower, and Knuckles the Echidna. But over on the Dark Side you'll find some new faces, Shadow the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, and ? get this ? Robotnik (Dr. Eggman). Yeah, that right, you'll actually get to play as Robotnik, how wild is that? While little information has been released on all these guys, your pals at Gaming Target have done their best to sum up what we know so far.
Tails will once again play an integral role in the plot. This time he'll be using his technical genius to build mech-suits and other various weapons of war. In SA2, the good and bad guys will be paired up, and butt heads throughout the game. Tails' chosen adversary will be Dr. Robotnik, and theirs will be the engineering battle. You'll get to control each in different weapons and try to blast your enemies apart. Little is known about the control scheme, but considering it's Sonic Team, expect only the best.
Knuckles and Rouge the Bat will be gong at it in this incarnation of Sonic Adventure. As in the previous game, Knuckles will be trying to find pieces of the Chaos Emerald (can't he keep that thing put together-eh?). But this time, Rouge will be there to try and find the pieces first. Who will win? Only you can tell that. Rouge will play more of a mysterious role in SA2, her origins and intentions seem to be unknown. However, she is one nicely designed character who seems to be a fusion of Amy Rose (Sonic Adventure) and Morrigan (Various Capcom fighters). The battle between these two should be a fierce one, and perhaps we'll find out a bit more about the past of Knuckles.
The final character in this game is one of the coolest I've ever seen: Shadow the Hedgehog. That's right, another Sonic clone, but unlike Metal Sonic from back in the day, it seems that Robotnik doesn't control this one; in fact, Shadow seems to be the head honcho of this fearsome trio. From what Sonic Team has released, it can be deduced that Robotnik created Shadow, but persuaded Robotnik to use the ?Ellipse Cannon? to take over the world. Sonic Team has hinted that Shadow has some ulterior motives of his own, what could they be? Sonic and Shadow will be squaring off in this title, and both will control very similarly. Shadow promises to be just as fast as Sonic, and through use of his hover-skate type shoes, he may prove to be even faster. In addition, Shadow has ?Chaos Control? which lets him use the powers of the Chaos Emerald to control time. How will Sonic contend with all this? Eh, Sonic always finds a way, and Sonic Team promises it'll be the most fun and exciting way possible. You gotta love ?em.
Something that was missing from Sonic Adventure was the 2-player mode. Well, Sonic Team has heard the pleas of its fans and has implemented this mode. Besides a few screenshots, we don't know much more about it. Sonic Team has managed to keep pretty tight wraps on this project, and isn't telling much.
But, we do know that the Chao's will be back and badder than ever. But Internet options are still up in the air, will the ?Online Rankings? return? Considering all the cheating that went on the last time around, I wouldn't be surprised if Sonic Team scrapped the whole thing.
Sega is really hyping this project, various contests are being held by Sega of America, while Sega of Japan is releasing one of the coolest collectors editions ever (Please SOA, bring it stateside).
This may be the Sonics' last outing on a Sega console, and no gamer should miss that. Sonic Team has a lot to live up to with this game, and from what we've seen so far, this may be on of the best platformers ever. Stay tuned as more should be revealed at E3, and Gaming Target is on the case. Count the days ?till June 23rd...