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Sonic Adventure 2

Preview - we have played it, we have exclusive screenshots, we have all the info


With the game reaching the final stages of development, a demo has been produced for consumption alongside Sega releases in Japan, a tactic similar to the one Konami are going to use to introduce Metal Gear Solid 2 to the market in playable form. We tracked down a copy and gripping the young hedgehog by the tassels, attempted to find out just what Sega have been up to for all this time. Story-wise, the main protagonists are Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, with a liberal sprinkling of Dr. Robotnik along the way. Interestingly though, Sega have introduced a new bad guy into the mix, a little fella who appears to be an evil, psychotic manifestation of Sonic with a ruthless snarl and darker skin than our hero. Although neither the demo or the movie we have seen show anything more than a couple of facial close-ups, it's fairly certain he will be the major opposition when the time comes. Sega have had nothing to say about him… However, they have been telling anyone who will listen about the scope of the game. Despite the name, Adventure 2 will stray from the original's roots and opt for more of the fast-paced "classic Sonic" action we came to know and love on the Mega Drive. Adventure fields may be limited if they do indeed appear at all, but on the whole the game will be made up of self-contained action areas.

In With The New

The game is to become decidedly action-orientated, then, but despite the drastic changes to the overall style of the game, Sega and Sonic Team have decided to keep hold of the series' biggest virtue (some would say gimmick), Chao breeding. If you enjoyed playing with your little Chaos on your VMU between Dreamcast sessions then you, like us, doubtless be warmed to hear this. Unfortunately there was nothing to demonstrate Chao breeding for Adventure 2 in the demo we played. Thankfully though, the demo did demonstrate some of the diverse level design Sonic Team had in mind when they said "self-contained action stages." The game kicks off with a cutscene, as Sonic sits, bound and gagged in a highly beweaponed helicopter floating above a city. In a flash, our hero has broken free, strapped a snowboard to his feet and is floating away. Pretty soon he hits the ground, on a sharply inclined asphalt road, and you take control. Sliding down the hill faster than any snowboarding game we have ever encountered, Sonic has to collect rings, manoeuvre to avoid the oncoming cars and swerve daringly round corners. The road for what its worth puts up a fairly reasonable fight, with booster pads, jumps and other amenities to keep you guessing. The sheer fun of this several-minute-long section is overwhelming; it is literally something you can play all day.


Pretty soon young Sonic tires of the board, and jumps free to take a crack at escaping via his spindly legs. His shoes are something of an asset these days it seems, titanium-reinforced perhaps, allowing him to half-pipe various rails and girders around the city. Sliding all over the shop allows you to locate cunningly hidden secret areas, reminiscent of those high above the levels in the original Sonics, where only the most intrepid and daring could reach. To add some semblance of urgency to proceedings, it appears that a rather large truck is rapidly gaining on you, and unlike every other hedgehog with an ounce of self-preservation, you prefer to run directly ahead in an attempt to outrun it. The camera injects some spring into your Sonic by positioning itself ahead of him and looking back past at the rapidly approaching truck. Your only guide in this view is the trail of rings that leads you to the much needed boosts and bounce pads that help you to outpace the monstrous vehicle. Eventually you succeed and jump high into the air, landing gracefully on a giant switch, that signifies the end of the level. Phew. Taking a look back at the demo, several facts present themselves. Firstly, Adventure 2 is fast-paced in the extreme. Secondly, it features some of the most tantalising gamepad-hammering action that we have managed to track down all year. Moreover, it has some of the best graphics yet seen on the Dreamcast, far and away more impressive than the original and in line with much of what is being released at the moment.


The demo also features a reel of film that makes up footage of the rest of the game. Yet more interesting level design, and splendid graphical work makes itself known. We should point out that Sonic, Tails and Knuckles have all received makeovers, running smoothly and with real grace of movement. On the whole everything looks nicer, slicker, faster than before. Also of note is the audio accompaniment, which fits the action like a glove. As the pace and style of the game becomes more hectic, so too does the music. The voiceovers are also a lot more fitting, with some real work put into the dubbing. Although at this point the language is Japanese, we hope this improvement will be carried over when it comes to translating the game. Actually, this writer is rather hopeful that the West will simply get subtitles and the authentic Japanese voices will remain, but perhaps not. The control system too has been sharply tweaked. Every action is nigh-on instantaneously interpreted, and for the most part, the movement of the camera does nothing to confuse issues. Everything moves as you would hope and expect.


Ultimately, Sonic Team have wowed us into concession; despite our qualms, Adventure 2 looks like it will be a perfect rejuvenation of a classic series. We're glad to see the emphasis slip back in to the action fold, and equally pleased to discover how easily the classic gameplay seems to have been ported over. A full review is scheduled for next month, if we can wrench ourselves away from the review copy in time, that is. Related Features:-  Exclusive Sonic Adventure 2 Screenshots  Sonic Adventure Review