Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: August 27, 2001
To the best of this author’s knowledge, there has only ever been one hedgehog whose fame extended across most of the globe. First introduced to the gamers of the world in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has been the key character in Sega’s roster of personalities, appearing in titles on every system released by the famed developer. Hip, blue, and cool, Sonic’s trademark speed and attitude made him a favorite with kids and adults alike, eventually paving the way for an animated show, fan conventions and eventually the founding of Sonic Team, Sega’s elite group of developers responsible for hits like the original Sonic Adventure and Phantasy Star Online. Having conquered the surface of Ragol with the latter installment, the team turned their attention back to their raison d’etre, and the end result was a new adventure for our spikey-haired buddy, known appropriately enough as Sonic Adventure 2.
At its heart, Sonic Adventure 2 is a fast-paced platform jumper, and in this respect it mimics the original quite closely. For variety, however, this adventure includes a few more participants than players have come to expect. Sonic’s buddies, Tails and Knuckles, provide backup for the heroic hedgehog and have their own levels — which play out quite a bit differently than the unstoppable sprint one tends to associate with this series. Further complicating the situation, there’s some stiff opposition to be found from the other side of the fence, for Sonic has an evil twin known as Shadow. In fact, the two are so close in appearence that the military, who (so the story explains) were responsible for Shadow’s creation, capture Sonic at the beginning of Sonic Adventure 2 thinking that he is their escaped “ultimate being.” While Sonic evades his pursuers, the fugitive Shadow has plenty of time to collect some friends, or at least allies, of his own. Dr. Eggman, the nemesis from the previous Sonic Adventure, is the second third of this evil triumvirate, while a mysterious female bat named Rouge rounds out the dastardly group.
From the beginning of Sonic Adventure 2 you must choose between following the good path or siding up with the dark characters. No matter which selection you take, the gameplay will have some similarities, since Tails and Dr. Eggman obviously studied at the same school for mad inventors, while Knuckles and Rouge are both hand-to-hand fighters. By no means does this imply that the two adventures are the same, however, as each character will have to explore unique environments and tackle different challenges and boss characters.
Fans of the original Sonic Adventure will be right at home in the hedgehog’s levels, as all of his old tricks are still here and Shadow can match the protagonist’s abilities toe to toe. This means that there are plenty of enemies to smash, seemingly impossible jumps to navigate, and more than a few different booster items that can launch Sonic up ramps, across gaps and so forth. In his downtime, it’s obvious that the blue bomber has been practicing, because he’s learned a few new tricks and even taken up snowboarding for a few highly entertaining sequences. One key ability later in the game takes a cue from Jet Grind Radio; Sonic can grind his way down rails and fence tops with ease, kicking up sparks all the way. Using a summersault, either of the hedgehogs can squeeze through tight gaps or under obstacles as well, and some areas require you to master this skill if you hope to evade an encroaching death. Later, once these speed demons have learned the proper techniques, small gems called Chaos Emeralds may be harnessed to summon vortices of wind and other supernatural effects. In traditional fashion, collecting rings is key to maintaining your character’s life and earning additional replays for every 100 acquired during the stage.