SEGA’s rerelease of Jet Set Radio was, in my opinion, excellent. After the so-so Dreamcast Collection rereleases, the first game of the SEGA Heritage Collection was a breath of fresh air. HD visuals, widescreen support and SEGA trying their best to retain as much of the original game as they could. My hope was that this trend would continue with the next two Heritage titles. Does Sonic Adventure 2, a game that is considered one of Sonic’s best 3D outings, carry on the SEGA Heritage quality or is it a step back? Read on to find out!
In 2001, Sonic Adventure 2 was Sonic’s 10th anniversary game as well as a sequel to the franchise’s first fully 3D main series title. Being a sequel, Sonic Team carried over elements of the first Sonic Adventure and made tweaks to the Adventure formula. Like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Adventure 2 was largely an improvement over the first game. The slower, monotonous elements like Big’s fishing stages and Amy’s slower paced stages were dropped. The adventure fields were scrapped in favor of a map screen. Treasure hunting and shooting stages returned, but they were faster paced and took place in unique stages, unlike the first game which reworked Sonic’s stages for the other gameplay styles. The Sonic gameplay, the main course of the Adventure series, was every bit as fun as the first game, but with a number of new abilities and an all around faster pace. The gameplay of Sonic Adventure 2 in comparison to its predecessor can best be described as leaner and faster.
It suffices to say that when it comes to the original Dreamcast release of Sonic Adventure 2, I love the game. It doesn’t quite top my list of favorite 3D Sonic titles, but it has aged well in my opinion, and is a great game when it comes to replayability. I’m also a big fan of the first Sonic Adventure, and when SEGA announced that the game would be rereleased back in 2010 under the Dreamcast Collection banner, I was eager to replay the game. Sure I’ve played the Dreamcast original numerous times, and even have my Dreamcast hooked up right next to my XBOX 360. But my hope was that SEGA would give me a good reason to want to replay the game, and perhaps the HD version would even replace the Dreamcast version as my go-to version of the game. Sadly, the HD rerelease of Sonic Adventure fell short in one key area: widescreen support. While the graphics were crisp and the framerate was solid, SEGA couldn’t be bothered to upgrade the game so that it took full advantage of modern television dimensions. The HD version also had minor annoyances like replacing the Dreamcast models with the Gamecube Sonic Adventure DX models, altered textures and lack of VMU support. As such, I haven’t returned to Sonic Adventure on my 360 since completing it for my Dreamcast Collection review.
With my stance on Sonic Adventure HD in mind, let’s take a look at Sonic Adventure 2 on XBLA and PSN. Does Sonic Adventure 2 HD do what Sonic Adventure HD don’t, er- didn’t do? I’m happy to say that yes, Sonic Adventure 2 does a lot of things right that the previous game’s HD port did wrong. For starters, every stage and menu have been given full widescreen support. Also, most cutscenes have made the transition to widescreen. Pre-rendered CG cutscenes retain their 4:3 size, so they are neither cropped nor stretched, but oddly some in-game cutscenes remain 4:3. I can only assume that this was due to elements off screen that would have been troublesome had the sides of the screen been shown. Regardless, the moments that matter, the gameplay, are widescreen and that right there is a big win for Sonic Adventure 2. The game itself is based on Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, the Gamecube rerelease of the Dreamcast original. Unlike Sonic Adventure DX, however, the upgrades largely left the look of the Dreamcast original intact. There are additions made to the multiplayer mode, which is confined to local play, and a bulk of the Battle content is available via a DLC download.
Other reviewers have been hard on the rerelease of the game, saying that problems that have existed since the original game remain intact. So yes, when playing the game in english, characters do cut each other off during cutscenes and at times the music is louder than the dialogue. There are also the aforementioned cutscenes that occasionally occur in 4:3. Also, apparently, people hate the camera in the game but I didn’t find it to be a problem. No more so than most other 3D Sonic titles, and no different from how it was in the Dreamcast and Gamecube versions of the game. The game obviously lacks VMU support, so an important element of the Chao Gardens is missing, but this is something that could never be done on any console but the Dreamcast. Also, Chao Gardens appear with the GameCube layouts, meaning some minor bits like a cave in the dark garden from the Dreamcast original are missing.
Overall, I really enjoyed the HD rerelease of Sonic Adventure 2. Note that I italicized rerelease, that was to emphasize that this is a rerelease and not a remake. With Jet Set Radio, as well as Sonic Adventure 2 and NiGHTS into dreams (review forthcoming), fans need to get it through their heads that SEGA are offering up these games just as we remembered them, for better or worse. Even if the dialogue is cheesy and the controls are not up to modern standards, Sonic Adventure 2 is largely the same game as the Dreamcast and Gamecube versions that SEGA fans are always gushing over. As such, I’m glad that SEGA retained the gameplay as well as the graphical and musical elements and brought the game up to HD resolution. I loved Sonic Adventure 2, and a lot of that love went unchanged with Sonic Adventure 2 HD.
• Sonic Adventure in true widescreen and HD
• Gamecube additions are far less intrusive
• Bonus documentary unlocked after 5 hours of gameplay
• Still one of Sonic’s better 3D outings
• Big’s cameos are BACK
• No console will ever replicate the wonders of the VMU
• Some in-game cutscenes are 4:3
• Audio issues are unchanged
• Battle content is extra