Sunday, 29 May 2022

Virtua Sonic #3: Into Dreamcast


 Hello, Hedgeheads, today we are going to be discussing Sonic and his venture into the final system that Sega has created to date. I’m Virtua Neptune and this is my take on the Blue Blur on the Sega Saturn 2-- I mean the Dreamcast. Please keep in mind that this is all my silly opinion and if you have different views on these titles and their legacy, by all means, share them in the comments. Just remember to keep it civil and respectful.

The Dreamcast was a follow-up system that any Sega Saturn fan could ever want. Not only did it possess Star Wars games (which are strangely absent from the Saturn), Marvel games and Capcom fighters, but the Sonic games it possessed were far better received and have even garnered acclaim from both gamers and critics. Many Sonic fans will tell you that despite their clench factor, the Sonic Adventure games brought about a whole new genre that the Blue Streak could explore.

That’s not to say these games were perfect. It was, after all, the introduction of the infamous Big the Cat and his stupid frog named Froggy (I’m sure that took all night). These were the worst parts of the game. The biggest complaint is that the platforming in a 3D environment was sometimes atrocious. Some of the tasks made you perform especially awkward feats with your characters (namely Knuckles’ emerald missions) and sometimes this alone would cause players to rage quit. 

Still, the gameplay itself had some amazing moments of fast paced, amazing action. The moment of glory that comes to mind is when Sonic commits cold blooded murder, flying away from an exploding helicopter and surfing down a declining street being chased by a semi-truck. Yes, perhaps the devs were compensating for the more frustrating aspects of the Adventure games, but we came out on top with a gaming moment of greatness.

Then we need to consider the fact that this is definitely two of the best outings we’ve ever seen Sonic in the third dimension. This includes his outings into the 360/PS3/Wii era. It’s honestly sad to think that they got it more right here than they would when 3D graphics were edging more toward the more modern cleanliness. It really goes to show you that, once again, the love put into a game is worth far more than the money. 

With the addition of the Chao pets, Sega spawned an entire game within a mini-game within the game! People were playing these games for eons just so they could raise a better Chao in their Chao daycare. The mere fact that you could transport these chaos onto a Tamagachi were enough to keep fans breeding them to be winners! (Article now rated R)

Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 can be considered deeply flawed, but no more so than many games that are considered masterpieces by the mass populace. The gameplay is gripping, and the graphics show off the 6th Gen graphics as they move away from that blocky, pixel-heavy look more and more. Our hero has definitely looked worse. 

Such as a game where you play as popular Sonic characters in a boardgame-like environment where you compete against computers or other players. This was a totally original concept and was not at all worse in every way. It rose to the top of the charts and did not bomb as an abysmal failure at all. Yes, I am doing this whole paragraph sarcastically, isn’t it sooooooo great?

Sega has had some bad ideas, but this one is a real head scratcher. Kart racers are one thing to get wrong, but a concept so simple as a competitive boardgame? Take my word for it, this is not worth your time. However, if you find it cheap enough and you’re a true blue fan? Why not? Some bad games are good times. You may even like it.

As for me, nope! This game was a solid waste of precious time in Sonic wrapping paper with a bow on top. The gameplay is not only terrible, but it is also boring. The cut scenes are the very beginning tell you the inconsequential storyline that goes along with the game. They drone on and on and try as you might, the story makes no sense and means nothing. The English voice acting is among some of the worst you’ll ever hear in the Sonic franchise. 

Once you get to the game, the entire system seems like it does nothing but screws over the player while giving them no opportunities to recover from the losses. One minute, you’re on the side of the board with all of the hidden gems, the next minute you’ve been shot all the way across where all of your opponents are so they can screw you over more. There are also boss battles across the board. They are one hit kills, go figure.

The mini-games are, by far, the worst part. They are so brainless and are just another way for you to fail, unless you get very, very lucky. Any time the games are free roaming, they are ridiculously hard to control to avoid the traps, like in the beach segment with the crabs. There’s also a shape building mini-game like Tetris, where you throw shapes into a shape outline and it’s nearly impossible to get it right while the score makes no sense. You get the idea, the mini-games are garbo and one of the many features that were half assed throughout the entire game. 

Then comes the Sega Smash Pack! Yes, this one is a collection that only has one Sonic game in it, the original for the Genesis. That’s right! Sonic came full circle when it came to his roots. He started out in the beginning of the life of the Sega Mega Drive and with that same game, he appeared in his roots in the very last console Sega ever made. How poetic. So, along with a whole bunch of other games, if you wanted, you have another port of the original. Merry Christmas. 

Problem is, it’s not so much a port as it is an emulation, meaning it was an afterthought. Nothing was done to improve it, however, it was downgraded in overall quality to make room for the rest of the Sega Smash Pack! Well, it was a cool thought while it lasted, right? It’s okay, Sega. We still love you! 

So, yes, the Dreamcast era for Sonic was not without its pitfalls. Whether you love raising Chao to compete or couldn’t look past some of the flaws, Dreamcast certainly left its milestones in the Hedgehog’s lore. The mere fact that they were able to give us a few more unique additions to the Sonic Franchise is something to be grateful for. Sometimes, it’s nice to keep things in house. 


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