Sonic Adventure was the best selling Dreamcast game of all time, so it’s no surprise that we would want to discuss the game on this week’s Round Table. The Sonic Adventure series had two main entries that were both on the SEGA Dreamcast, and both had a very different approach when it came to story and gameplay progression. As the series continued, SEGA took the blue blur in a various directions with titles like Sonic Heroes, Sonic Generations, Sonic Colors and the latest title Sonic Lost World. Despite the long gap between Sonic Adventure 2 and today, a very vocal group of fans still ask SEGA for a third entry in the series. The question we posed to our writers this week was would we want a Sonic Adventure 3? If so, what direction should the third entry take?
Like always you can tell us your own opinion on what direction Sonic Adventure 3 should take in the comment section.
To be honest, Sonic Adventure 2 left a sour note for me, once I cut through all the sentimentality of “the last Sonic game on SEGA hardware” and “Shadow sacrificed himself to protect the world Maria loved so much.” I didn’t care for the shooting stages, and the treasure hunting stages only got more annoying (though I confess that Meteor Herd is my favorite of them… funny, that.) That effectively cuts two-thirds of the game out and leaves a paltry 10 combined stages from the “speed style” ones, and even those were mostly corridors floating in space. Of those, Pyramid Cave was the only one that tried to be “different” by branching off momentarily.
“I stand firm when I say we had a glimpse of a Sonic Adventure 3 when Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 came out. It was “Adventure” in almost every aspect but the name.”
Anyway, if we’re talking an Adventure 3, I can safely say I don’t want it. The Adventure format, or at least how it was trending, was stuffing a lot of needless fluff into the game while muddling what felt like the main thing that made people play Sonic. I can already hear the, “Oh boy another GATTA GO FAST” fan criticism, but note my favorite SA2 speed stage is the one that tries to be slightly different.
The other common thing I hear from people yearning for an Sonic Adventure 3 is the chao garden. In fact, I’m convinced most of Sonic Adventure 2‘s fans just like the game because of chao. I didn’t care for them from the start and I’d rather the whole thing stay as far away from the games as possible. The fact SEGA hasn’t made them their own little mobile phone brand yet baffles me, but that’s another discussion.
I stand firm when I say we had a glimpse of a Sonic Adventure 3 when Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 came out. It was “Adventure” in almost every aspect but the name. It was also a terrible game for a plethora of reasons, so it doesn’t surprise me that Adventure-loving fans will quickly move the goal post when this point is brought up. I also believe that the critical failure of that title is what forced SEGA to explore Unleashed/Colors/Generations‘ 3D adaptation of the then-well-received Rush style of gameplay, and I was actually pretty happy with that decision, even if polishing was necessary still. (Fun fact: Sonic Unleashed, or World Adventure, did actually have the Adventure 3 moniker very early in development.)
I’ll end with the fact it wasn’t so much Adventure/Heroes/Shadow(Adventure 2.5) that made people sour on the concept of Sonic and his billions of friends so much that SEGA’s Adventure model sapping away from a Sonic experience.
Racing against Sonic? Cool!
Searching for gems because the Master Emerald explodes if you breathe in its general direction? No.
Fishing? Dear god why?
The mech idea sounded awesome when it was just for Dr. Eggman, serving as an expansion of his E-102 robot’s gameplay, and there’s much more to go on about Sonic Adventure 2‘s development to show how it became a much different beast, but again, that’s a more different discussion you’ll likely see on Sonic Retro soon if the people want it. But as it stands, no, I don’t want anything in Sonic Adventure 3 as I think it has no reason to exist. I’d rather SEGA aim for a hybrid of Generations‘ gameplay that seamlessly integrates Lost World‘s parkour and allows for greater exploration rather than railroaded gameplay. Sonic friends can return if they actually serve a purpose to gameplay or the plot and aren’t just there to complicate (read: treasure hunting) things for no reason.
I’m of the mindset that we will never, and should never, see a Sonic Adventure 3 in the present day. It’s just too far removed from 2001 to see a sequel, and unlike Sonic the Hedgehog 4 which was the first 2D console title since Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the 3D Sonic series has had more than enough titles between Sonic Adventure 2 and now. What would SEGA do? Have a modern day followup take place between Sonic Adventure 2 and Heroes? Would the SEGA and Sonic Team of today even want to timeline jump back to the Dreamcast era when the series itself has essentially rebooted with Unleashed? Not to mention the many games that are a Sonic Adventure 3 all but in name (which I’m sure other SEGAbits writers will go into). Having said all that, looking at this from my own perspective of the series in 2001 just coming off of Sonic Adventure 2, I really think they should have followed up with a Sonic Adventure 3 rather than Sonic Heroes.
“That isn’t to say I’d have completely scrapped what Sonic Heroes had to offer. I’d keep the story, but punch up the script and have many of the plot points make more sense…”
That isn’t to say I’d have completely scrapped what Sonic Heroes had to offer. I’d keep the story, but punch up the script and have many of the plot points make more sense and have stronger connections to past Sonic Adventure titles. For example, I’d explain what was going through Metal Sonic’s head during the original Sonic Adventure, and at the end of the game I’d reveal that Shadow was a clone of the original so as to keep Shadow’s sacrifice in Sonic Adventure 2 intact. Shadow 2.0 would let go of the Maria connections and set off to be his own hedgehog, unbound from his sordid past.
Gameplay-wise, Sonic Heroes had an ambitious concept of combining three characters into a team that you could cycle through, integrating Sonic Adventure 2‘s Team Hero (renamed Team Sonic) and Team Dark and then doubling it with Team Rose and Team Chaotix. But the end result just didn’t work for me. Instead, I would have reverted to how the first game had you playing as one character at a time, but I’d do away with the adventure fields so the game had the faster pace of Sonic Adventure 2. I’d also do away with the treasure hunting and mech shooting modes, putting an emphasis back onto the Sonic style of gameplay. Like the classics, each stage would have different ways to navigate based on who you are playing as. Yes, players would replay stages as they did in Heroes, but by being limited to one character, there would be unique routes to explore and secret areas only accessible to certain characters. You’d also have different cutscenes and motivations for characters, and to take a page from the Shadow the Hedgehog game, different characters could have different stage objectives.
As for the cast, I’d keep it small. A dozen characters was too much in Heroes, even if they made up only four teams. Instead, I’d have liked to see Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, and Espio as the main cast. Eggman would strictly be the unplayable villain, while characters like Metal Sonic, Vector, Charmy, Big, Cream, and Rouge would support the story and would be unlockable bonus characters for the time trial mode. I’d probably give Omega the boot, given he was a rehash of E-102 and was not all that central to the story.
And finally, the Chao garden. If there is one element that separates an Adventure game from any other 3D Sonic title, it’s this mode. While I enjoyed it during the first game, and liked the improvements made for the second game, I have to admit that it is the one element that nearly slipped my mind when dreaming up a Sonic Adventure 3. I would have been fine with it returning, but I’d rather Sonic Team’s efforts went into the main gameplay. Also, given the third installment would have appeared on the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube, there would be no VMU support, which was the one reason I imagine the created the chao garden to begin with.
If I had to sum up my Sonic Adventure 3 in a nutshell, it would take the best elements of the two previous games, shifting a gameplay focus to the Sonic-style with stages reminiscent of the Genesis classics. It would also have released after Sonic Adventure 2 in 2003. For me, Sonic Adventure 3 should remain in the realm of daydreams I had following the second game. Would I like to see a game released by Sonic Team in the future that plays similar to the game I described? Oh hell yes! But I do not need it to be titled Sonic Adventure 3 for it to become a reality.
Sonic Adventure is my favourite Dreamcast game, and my second favourite Sonic game of all-time, so I’d love for whatever form Sonic Adventure 3 takes to be more in the vein of that game than Sonic Adventure 2. As for what exactly I’d want out of it… well. I’d like Sonic Adventure 1’s greater focus on the Sonic style levels to return, since Sonic Adventure 2 kind of pushed that style of gameplay in line with all the other considerably less entertaining gameplay styles in terms of quantity, when it was easily the gameplay I wanted to experience the most.
If other gameplay styles do return, I’d be fine as long as they were done well; basically, fix the radar in Treasure Hunting and avoid making the levels too bloody huge, give any shooting levels Gamma’s speedier gameplay style compared to the slow, clunking Adventure 2 mechs, perhaps incorporate more solid stealth elements into Amy’s gameplay to make it feel less like an afterthought, and Big’s fishing… well, that’s something I don’t think reallycan be salvaged.
I’d also much rather they drop the super-linear design of Adventure 2’s Sonic & Shadow levels. Adventure 1’s were linear, of course, but they felt more open and interesting, and I overall have more fun with them.
I wouldn’t mind Adventure Fields returning either to be honest, they were fun to mess around in and they held nifty incentives for explorers such as Emblems and a few of the character’s upgrades.
“If other gameplay styles do return, I’d be fine as long as they were done well…”
Chao Garden… I wouldn’t mind as long as it were made fully optional, i.e. no emblems to gain from it. I’ve played through two seperate copies of Sonic Adventure 1 on Dreamcast, and both times I didn’t go anywhere near the Chao Garden, so I really wouldn’t shed any tears if it got the axe.
I don’t want an Sonic Adventure 3 just for the sake of having an Sonic Adventure 3 though. If we continue to get games such as Generations and Unleashed, well, that’s just as fine by me, since I also enjoyed those games. And if we get a Sonic game up to the quality I feel Adventure 1 held, then I don’t give a flying toss what it’s called.
There’s no denying that a Sonic game that outright used the Sonic formula from 2001 wouldn’t fair particularly well today. Though on that note, there’s also no denying that some other legendary SEGA franchises released around the same time would need to be completely reworked to live up to modern standards (Shenmue for instance). The Sonic Adventure formula has some great ideas. The speed stages are still a lot of fun, most of the game play modes remain decent diversions, I love Sonic Adventure 2’s Chao gardens, and I still enjoy running around the adventure fields and re-solving the original Adventure’s very basic environmental puzzles.
The Unleashed formula is too fast and too linear, not allowing for nearly enough platforming. Sonic Lost World was a step in the right direction, but was too often hamstrung by poor level design, a focus on combat, and an underutilization of the parkour mechanic. It would be a healthy exercise for the next Sonic game to take a back to basics approach to Sonic’s game design rather than trying to reinvent the wheel again. For all of the Adventure series’ flaws, Sonic’s stages are still a lot of fun even fifteen years later, and would make for solid basis for a new game. What Sonic needs is solid stage design and polished mechanics, not a new gimmick, and to me the Adventure series represents Sonic 3D game play in its purist form, without any of the issues I mentioned above.
So yeah, bring back the slower speeds of the Adventure games. Bring back the adventure fields so we can have something to explore and sink some time into (optionally of course). Bring back the chao gardens with all of the depth they had from Sonic Adventure 2. Bring back Sonic’s friends. A lot of these things worked backed then and still work now, and what doesn’t work could have if they had been implemented more intelligently.
“The Unleashed formula is too fast and too linear, not allowing for nearly enough platforming.”
For instance, be sure to give us plenty of alternate paths and places to explore (optionally) in these slower Sonic stages. Inject those adventure fields with some interesting secrets, like some hidden 2D stages or boss encounters. Allow us to grow and modify our chao gardens and trade and compete with others online. Design all of Sonic’s friends around Sonic’s game play style rather than trying to pack 3-6 different genres into one game (Tails’ racing stages are a great example of this). Finally, don’t put too much emphasis on combat or enemy rooms or convoluted mechanics. Sonic games are at their best when they flow at a continuous, brisk pace, and this is something the Adventure series’ Sonic stages mostly excelled at.
Sonic Adventure was a series that was very much a product of its era. Conceived while the PS1 and N64 were the prominent systems in the marketplace, the approach to gaming during that time was to embrace all that was exciting about 3D. It was a change most notably seen in platformers, with these traditionally 2D-playing games being greatly expanded, their sidescrolling being replaced by free-roaming worlds and a variety of different styles of gameplay offered in lengthy quests.
” Though I don’t want to say that Sonic Team has become totally devoid of creativity, I think it’s pretty valid to say that while they still know how to deliver quality Sonic gameplay, they’re hopelessly detached from the pulse of modern gaming when it comes to branching out and attempting to develop new styles of play.”
Sonic Adventure took clear inspiration from this blueprint. The idea of multiple characters, each with their own distinct styles of play, along with an explorable hub world between levels, was something very new to the series and something it hadn’t really ever attempted before. And for the most part, the excitement of exploring Sonic’s universe in 3D for the first time and the still somewhat fresh concept of platforming in 3D allowed many to overlook the “not always as fun” gameplay of the secondary characters. What helped in both Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adveture 2‘s case was that each character’s story fit well into the puzzle, combining to form a sense of epic scope and to create a real storyline that you got to explore from each character’s perspective.
The concept was a little less novel by the time Sonic Adventure 2 rolled around, but Sonic Team seemed aware of this, eliminating the hub world entirely and decreasing the amount of stories to two. But they still managed to shake things up by allowing the villains to be playable, something that actually turned out to be a major breath of fresh air. They kept the clockwork plot, and of course, the greater prominence of the Chao and the Chao Gardens helped to increase the replay value and to keep you playing as the different characters.
What would make a Sonic Adventure 3 difficult, though, is that 3D gaming is no longer new to us. Playing as Amy Rose is no longer, on its own, an exciting feature, so it’s important to make sure that her gameplay is actually foundational and adds to the experience, not detracts from it. Unfortunately, I don’t think Sonic Team knows how to do this anymore. Though they’ve had separate groups within the studio work on series’ like Phantasy Star Online and Puyo Puyo in recent years, along with the occasional Saturn sequel, (Nights Journey of Dreams on the Wii) the team has been mostly glued to Sonic for something like a decade.
They’ve created only 1 new IP (Billy Hatcher) and one licensed game (Astro Boy on the PS2) but that’s really it as far as their chances to branch out and experiment with new ideas that they could have then taken back to Sonic. They’ve instead been existing in something of a bubble, and though I don’t want to say that Sonic Team has become totally devoid of creativity, I think it’s pretty valid to say that while they still know how to deliver quality Sonic gameplay, they’re hopelessly detached from the pulse of modern gaming when it comes to branching out and attempting to develop new styles of play.
As a result, I think the best strategy that could have been used for a Sonic Adventure 3 would be for Sonic Team to simply not try to branch out. The idea of the other characters with their own storylines is now dated and isn’t really necessary. Instead, Sonic Team should focus on pure Sonic gameplay, but with strong adventure elements included. Bring back the hub worlds, bring back the Chao gardens, bring back the epic scope, but don’t bring in the filler gameplay unless you really have a solid vision and idea for it. The question Sonic Team should be asking itself is whether all the gameplay being introduced into one of their titles would stand on its own, in its own video game.
If not, then they should really consider not including it at all.
I don’t think the idea of an adventure-themed Sonic game is a bad one; in fact, I think there’s a sizable portion of the fanbase who would love to see it. Expanding the gameplay will help the series to reach a wider audience than just die-hard Sonic fans. But the gameplay has to be well thought out, in the spirit of Sonic, and most of all, it has to be fun. Sonic Boom represents the complete wrong way to go about this, and if this is really the benchmark that Sega is setting for their most famous series, then Sonic Team may not even be remotely compelled to attempt to raise the bar and make the character once again a serious contender.
I will say that I’m in the camp where I liked Sonic Adventure way more than Sonic Adventure 2. It wasn’t because of Shadow or the more serious story, but it just didn’t feel as fun as the first one. I would play both games back to back and came to a decision that the reason Sonic Adventure was just a better game is due to the pacing. While I liked playing as Sonic and Shadow (which basically play the same), I didn’t like playing as the other characters that broke up the action. I bought a Sonic game to play as Sonic, not his friends. I know that the first title also had ‘friend characters’ but they actually handled it quite well, not forcing you to play as them as the main story mode. They where extras and you knew it wasn’t Sonic and weren’t forced to try them if you didn’t want to. Sadly, Sonic Team went and changed this in the 2nd game.
“Sonic Team should also really work on the ‘Adventure’ aspect of the game, while Sonic Adventure offered a few hub worlds, they all felt very empty.”
Sonic Team should also really work on the ‘Adventure’ aspect of the game, while Sonic Adventure offered a few hub worlds, they all felt very empty. I loved exploring what I could with each character and trying to see if I could find secrets. If Sonic Team ever makes a Sonic Adventure 3, a nice big open world to explore and find new areas and unlockables is a must. The whole hub world idea was scrapped from Sonic Adventure 2, which is a bit tragic. I understood the idea was getting the people as fast as possible to the next stage, but I think allowing the option of exploring a hub world or just playing the stages back to back would have been the best solution. I think the hub world could also serve as a place to have some of Sonic’s friends as NPC but not playable. We don’t want to have playable characters just because it will be better marketing. Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations and even Sonic Lost World proved that gamers are willing to buy a Sonic only game.
But there is the thing, I don’t think it should be a Sonic only game. The adventure series has always had more than one playable character and I think it would be pretty awesome to continue that with a realsitic number. I say keep it at three playable characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles “Tails Prower and Knuckles the Echidna. But how would each character and each of their stories fit into the larger puzzle? Personally I think they should all have their own motivation and not just be following an adventure along with Sonic.
I think Sonic the Hedgehog’s gameplay should take all the best pieces that they have built over the years in Sonic Generations, Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World to make really tight feeling 3D game. Offer up multiple paths per stage to to add to the replay value and actually have some sort of level design instead of just ‘set pieces’ and hollow paths that make you go one way. As for the storyline, does it even matter? Sonic speeds stright to Eggman to stop him from unleashing an evil plan.
As for the other playable character Knuckles, I think we should just drop the whole treasure hunt gameplay. Its lazy, not well planned and not fun to play. I think he should be more ‘grounded’ in speed and focus way more on creating a fun platforming game. One of the issues with Sonic the Hedgehog is that you always have to balance speed with platforming, make Knuckles the character that offers pure platforming bliss. Knuckles’ story can deal with him figuring out how to restore Angel Island to its former glory and what happen to his people, which was briefly touched upon the first game and later abandoned.
As for tails I would make it more of an action platformer where you use various tools of Tails to reach new areas where you platform around finding new technology which allows him to upgrade his weapons. Have some stages where you get to do some rail shooting in the tornado. The story for Tails can simply be that he is tired of being a side kick and wants to venture on his own and have his own adventures.
But who are all the baddies? Easy, just make them robots from Eggman. But at this point it might as well be a new title, since having ‘Sonic Adventure 3‘ on the box will probably hurt sales seeing as how its been over a decade since the last game came out (not counting ports). But there is a lot they can do, Chaos can even have connectivity with smart phones so you can always feed them.
But now I’m just getting ahead of myself, I think Sonic Adventure 3 should take more aspiration from Sonic Adventure and much less from Sonic Adventure 2. But those are my two cents.
The two core elements of Sonic Adventure that I would like to see is the ability to play as other characters, a deep story and finding areas to go and explore. The trouble is, the core Sonic element that Sonic Team abides by doesn’t see the same level of polish, let alone Sonic’s friends who suffer from boring gameplay. All of these mixed perceptions of what people think should define a Sonic game have been mixed with every new iteration. Because of the sense of speed established since Unleashed, the other characters will have a hard time complimenting Sonic’s gameplay while creating a unique and engaging experience. While I would be okay with playing as Amy, the pace of her gameplay, assuming they don’t try to go the Sonic Heroes route where everyone suddenly moves just like Sonic, but their levels suffer from…the fact that you already played those levels that Sonic Team created through the use of copying and pasting level geometry.
“With these complaints, you’d think Sonic Boom would take the gold. You have exploration elements, all of Sonic’s friends are not only playable, but they’re more integral to the story”
Have you ever noticed the philosophical undertones in Sonic Team games? They don’t seem to make for the most exciting mythos. Or at least, they’re told vaguely through different perspectives, and when translated to other languages, sometimes the meaning isn’t brought over exactly, possibly to ensure Sonic gets that E rating. We’re not missing out on some juicy f-bombs uttered by Sonic to Dr. Robotnik, nor is it going to be among the greatest works of our time. Sonic Adventure‘s war is hell message with the Chao and Knuckles’ rage-induced ancestors and Shadow’s internal struggle to find out if his existence matters and whether or not he is real, these made for some interesting, if overshadowed aspects of the story., which is meanwhile tied to Sonic fighting Robotnik who has thwarted his plans for over 20 years, it can make for a hard time to try and surprise people with a new story as Sonic Team struggles to appease seasoned fans while attracting new players. Oh yeah, remember when the moon exploded? Continuity is also a real issue for Sonic, and the origins for some of these characters doesn’t really seem to matter, so why be invested in a story that loses its importance entirely with each new iteration?
With these complaints, you’d think Sonic Boom would take the gold. You have exploration elements, all of Sonic’s friends are not only playable, but they’re more integral to the story, and on top of that, Sonic and friends have to take care of a new enemy that could potentially be more threatening than our tried and true mad doctor. That said, its certainly not the same style of Sonic game I’m used to, and certainly not a Sonic Adventure I would expect. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but at this rate each new Sonic game will have this amalgamation of ideas and concepts that people like out of all the Sonic games all the while trying to come up with something new.
So that Sonic Adventure 3 may not be coming anytime soon, but lets say if we were highly likely to get one today. The process of English dubbing in video games from Japan have improved, 3D Sonic games have gotten to be in a better style, and perhaps we can see a better incorporation of Sonic’s friends while combining skill and speed together to build an interesting story, plus with mobile devices and better access to downloadable apps, maybe we an even get a Chao Adventure 3 to go along with it? My personal feeling is that no matter whose hands you put Sonic Adventure 3 in, it’ll have a difficult time hitting the nostalgia people want, the gameplay will have these one or two quirks that hold the game back just enough to prevent it from hitting the right notes due to the pacing being all over the place. The same problems Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 had back then wouldn’t be resolved due to a clash of ideas of what people like and dislike about the franchise.