The Wingspan

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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

Sonic Adventure 2 retrospective

RIP Champ
(Image from Wikipedia, Owned by Sega)
(Image from Wikipedia, Owned by Sega)

First released over 20 years ago, Sonic Adventure 2 marked the end of an era for its developing company, Sega. It was the swansong (finale) for their last game console, the Dreamcast, which was failing financially. 

Several decades after its release, the game is fondly remembered by many for a plethora of reasons. Introducing Shadow (one of Sonic’s rivals) to the Sonic franchise, it has brought back the recognizable music and energetic gameplay that fans know and love.

Sonic Adventure 2 is the sequel to Sonic Adventure, Sonic’s first big jump into 3D gameplay, the sequel refines the many aspects people disliked about the first game and adds various new features. Most notably, SA2 added rail grinding(riding rails) as a main mechanic that is still seen in the franchise to this very day. This mechanic also inspired one of the most popular Sonic designs in the franchise, the SOAP shoes, which are instantly recognizable to any Sonic fan. The shoes have a lot more detail compared to Sonic’s regular footwear; buckles, grooves, and design elements create a more unique look.

The game follows Sonic and his friends as they try to stop Dr. Eggman and his accomplices from conquering the world. The story seems rather simple at first, but numerous twists and turns are encountered as you keep playing. Each character has their own motives and reasoning for their mission, which brings several perspectives to the game.
The other big additions to the franchise include Dr. Eggman’s accomplices, Rouge the Bat and Shadow the Hedgehog. Rogue is a gem thief with ulterior motives, who joins Eggman on his quest for world domination. Shadow is a hedgehog, who was created to be the “ultimate life form” in every way. He is able to use a chaos emerald to control time, and has inhibitor rings he can take off to significantly increase his strength. He teams up with Eggman because he wants to avenge a loved one.

One of the biggest improvements to the game compared to its predecessor is in its structure. The original Sonic Adventure had six campaigns that heavily varied in quality and length. This made players less likely to play the whole game to its end. SA2 improved this by having a hero and adding a dark campaign, which streamlines the gameplay and makes the experience more enjoyable. The content is placed all together, making the game more digestible and bite-sized, instead of being separated, which can force players to slog through unwanted campaigns. SA2 also entirely cuts out some unpopular play styles from SA1, such as the “Big the Cat,” “E-102 Gamma” and the “Amy” stages.

Unfortunately, some of the style was lost in the sequel because the hub worlds presented in SA1 are notably missing in favor of a stage-to-stage game structure. This keeps the pace up but lessens the game’s atmosphere.

The soundtrack to this game is iconic and instantly recognizable, from the upbeat vibes of “Escape From the City” to the chill and mellow atmosphere of “A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup,” the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen. 

Julianne McAdams, an English teacher at Centennial, grew up with SA2. “I remember doing the levels over and over and over, specifically the first level, City Escape,” she recalls.

The levels in the game are highly replayable and you get faster and faster times and better ranks when you play them more.

The most important thing to McAdams is the very popular Chao Garden. “My entire life as a child was the Chao Garden, I was dedicated to the Chao Garden in a way that people are with Animal Crossing.” 

The Chao Garden was a mode in the game that allowed you to raise cute creatures called Chao and interact with them like a virtual pet. It would play very relaxing music as you fed them, held them, and pet them. It’s a feature that was in the original Sonic Adventure, and they brought it back for the sequel. McAdams’ favorite chao was Champ, “Champ was my goal, to make him a immortal Chao—he looked super weird cause I gave him every type of animal. I really loved him and he became immortal but then he became boring, he lost his spark—I also won a bunch of swimming races, Champ was a swimmer.”

Will Funk-Heiser, German teacher at Centennial, also reminisces about the beloved game. “I loved the music and the racing levels. I thought Shadow the Hedgehog was the coolest thing, but I was 12. I guess he’s still pretty cool. I spent a lot of time in the Chao garden  and the story was interesting,” he states. “I don’t remember a single plot point now, but I remember being Super Sonic in space and thinking that was awesome.”

An anonymous player echoes McAdams’ and Funk-Heiser’s sentiments, saying that they believe SA2 “is a very entertaining game with a surprisingly complicated (and at times dark) story for a Sonic game.”

Over 20 years later, Sonic Adventure 2 still leaves a profound impact on its players. Hopefully, a new generation of players will be the next to live and learn with Sonic and Shadow.


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About the Contributor
Joey Crossney, Design Editor