The digital delights of Sony’s scrumptious PlayStation Network service know no bounds. Aside from letting punters compete in online gaming, stream films, browse the Internet and more, its premier attraction rests in the copious supply of downloadable games ripe for the picking. From PSN exclusives to PSOne Classics, minis and plain old add-on content, Sony’s online space is chock full of goodies battling it out for your hard-earned digital dollars.
Welcome back to another installment of Inside PlayStation Network, where every Monday – Friday we’ll pluck a PSN release—be it new or old—and put it in the spotlight for a thorough dissection. Fancy getting a new PSN game but don’t know what one to plump for? Perhaps this feature will help. Didn’t realize that a game was available in your region until now? We've got you covered. Or, perhaps you were musing over what those lucky Japanese folk were tucking into over in the Land of the Rising Sun? You can be sure our coverage will extend to those rare regional exclusives as much as those firmly embedded on the public consciousness.
Today, we revisit Sonic’s 3D debut with the 1999 Dreamcast classic, Sonic Adventure.
Developer: Sega Studios Shanghai
Region(s) available: North America, Europe, Japan
Sonic’s had a turbulent time of it since vertiginously spin-dashing his way into the realms of 3D gaming back in 1999. For many, the spiky speedster’s transition to 3D inaugurated a period of perpetual decline for the Sega mascot. Let’s not beat around the bush; aside from the anthropomorphic badnick basher’s brief affair with nostalgia in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, our hero’s CV this past decade hasn’t exactly been gleaming with recommendations. Still, while many have wasted countless hours wondering where it all went wrong, it’s worth remembering that Sonic 3D games weren’t always the colossal car crash many perceived. Okay, so a grand total of two games managed to offer more than a modicum of excitement, but the pertinent point is, it didn’t all go horribly wrong post Sonic and Knuckles. Naturally, we’re referring to Sonic Adventure and its sequel, ostensibly the poster boy platformers for the Dreamcast era. Here, we find the original repackaged with a splosh of HD paint for PSN and XBLA.
Sonic Adventure reunites players with our spiky blue hero and a gaggle of long-tie chums including Tails, Knuckles and Amy. Predictably, the oval-shaped Dr. Eggman rocks up again, hell bent on world domination. This time he’s brought along a chap named Chaos to facilitate his dastardly efforts – a bug-eyed being comprised entirely of water. Naturally, it’s up to Sonic to subvert Eggman’s plans once again, and quickly ascertains that in order to do this, he’ll need to snag all the Chaos Emeralds – the source of the creature’s power – for the umpteenth time. And thus, we have the template for another whirlwind platforming extravaganza. A sprawling, narrative-driven outing, Adventure is fundamentally a bifurcation of two distinct gameplay offshoots – Action Stage and Adventure Fields. The former has the spiky speedster whizzing through a series of vibrant locales, bopping badnicks on the head, trawling through eye-popping set pieces and racking up rings – basically, it’s a regular Sonic shindig, albeit in 3D. Adventure Fields, meanwhile, are your basic homely hubs, where the plot unwinds in all its cheese-tastic glory, and where you’ll have a snoop around for the connecting gateway to the next Action Stage. There’s three in total, each sporting an aesthetically diverse backdrop – Station Square, Mystic Ruins and the Egg Carrier.
Meanwhile, you’ll also encounter a sprinkle of special stages dotted throughout the adventure, such as those involving chasing down the Egg Carrier while perched precariously on the wing of a bi-plane, or hurtling down a mountain side on a snowboard as a deadly landslide thunders inexorably behind you. Adventure’s often viewed as the Mario 64 of Sonic games, and it’s not hard to see why. Sega’s obviously taken a leaf out of Mario’s raccoon-tailed turtle-bashing, with multiple objectives attached to each Action Stage – your reward being a Sonic Emblem, essentially Adventure’s answer to the plucky plumber’s shiny Stars. Completionists will have their work cut out chipping away at the more arduous, speed-centric requirements for unlocking additional emblems, where shaving seconds of your completion time can make the difference between failure and success. Needless to say, you’re going to have to cram every loop-the-loop, pitfall and baddie placement in to your noggin if you’re going to navigate each stage in the necessary time frame. And that’s only in Sonic’s shoes. As mentioned, Adventure also brings on board some familiar faces, each of whom sport their own unique, albeit less substantial outings.
Tails, for example, has to beat Sonic to the goal in each stage, Knuckles has to dig the dirt for Chaos Emerald shards, while blue buffoon Big the Cat sits on his backside all day fishing for his MIA pal, Froggy. As with the main adventure, each character has multiple Emblems to grab in each stage, elongating an already lengthy gameplay experience. Hidden emblems can also be found tucked inconspicuously away in Adventure Fields too, encouraging further exploration. Aside from enhanced visuals, the PSN iteration boasts obligatory online leaderboards, along with Trophy support – though sadly, the nostalgic 8-bit Sonic nuggets found in the DX versions of the game have been unceremoniously ditched. Still, the Chao garden makes a return (this previously formed part of the DC version’s VMU mini-games) which now takes up residence on the PS3’s hard drive for a spot of tamagotchi-esque babysitting. Add all that up, and you have one of the meatiest Sonic outings in recent memory in terms of the amount of content to chew through – hopefully Sega will see fit to unleash the sequel on PSN in the near future.
Tune in again same time tomorrow for another peak Inside PlayStation Network.