Dreamcast trilogy: Sonic Adventure, Sonic Shuffle, and Sonic Adventure 2

The second part of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise covers three Dreamcast games, as we go to 1999. This post covers Sonic Adventure, Sonic Shuffle, and Sonic Adventure 2. Yuji Uekawa has redesigned Sonic and his friends and designed new characters such as Shadow the Hedgehog. Screenshots provided in this post are the courtesy of LongplayArchive (including others) on YouTube.

The first order of business is Sonic Adventure, released in late 1998 in Japan and later 9.9.99 for North America. This game includes kick-ass music composed by Jun Senoue. It is the first time that Sonic and his friends leap into a full 3D environment. Players control one of six anthropomorphic protagonists as they venture to defeat Doctor Robotnik and his robot army, who seek the seven magical Chaos Emeralds and the evil entity Chaos. Six player characters are unlocked as the game progresses, each with their own story and attributes. The playable characters are:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Jun-ichi Kanemaru/Ryan Drummond)
  • Miles “Tails” Prower (Atsuki Murata/Corey Bringas; Connor Bringas in the sequel)
  • Knuckles the Echidna (Nobutoshi Canna (also written as “Nobutoshi Kanna”, initially Nobutoshi Hayashi pre-2000)/Michael McGaharn; Scott Drier in Shuffle and the sequel)
  • Amy Rose (Taeko Kawata (Emi Motoi in Shuffle)/Jennifer Douillard)
  • Big the Cat (the late Shun Yashiro/Duke Nukem)
  • E-102 Gamma (Jouji Nakata/the late Steve Brodie; exploded/destroyed in the first game after his first English VA was marked deceased in 2001 before the release of Sonic Adventure 2)

Players may also discover Chao Gardens, hidden, protective environments inhabited by Chao, a virtual pet. Players can hatch, name, and interact with a Chao, and raise the status of their Chao by giving it small animals found by defeating robots. The Dreamcast’s handheld Visual Memory Unit (VMU) allows the player to download the minigame Chao Adventure, in which their Chao walks through a course to evolve and improve its skills. Evolving one’s Chao improves its performance in competitions called Chao Races. Eggs that can produce special types of Chao are hidden throughout the Adventure Fields. Players can earn emblems by playing through Action Stages, searching through the Adventure Fields, or winning Chao Races. Each Action Stage has three emblems that can be earned by replaying the stages and fulfilling objectives, such as beating the level within a time limit. Amy was given a red dress and boots since this video game.

The Casinopolis stage had a cowgirl in the original Japanese release, but it was later removed in the later versions due to its provocative nature.

Sonic Shuffle was released in late 2000. This is the first Sonic game without Michael McGaharn, who originally voiced Knuckles in Sonic Adventure. Sega contracted Hudson Soft, the developers of Mario Party, to assist with development. For the game’s graphics, they used the same cel shading technique used in their earlier game, Jet Set Radio. An online multiplayer mode was planned, but it was pulled so the game could launch in time for the 2000 holiday season. Although critics praised the graphics, the game’s excessive load times and poorly explained, overly complex minigames were found to be significantly detrimental to the overall experience. Critics classified Sonic Shuffle as an inferior clone of Mario Party.

Sonic Shuffle is a party game for up to four players, playing like a board game in a similar fashion to the Mario Party series. The game is set in a dream world called “Maginaryworld”, where a fairy asks Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Knuckles the Echidna, and Amy Rose to retrieve “Precioustones” to help her save Maginaryworld from Void, the game’s villain. The players can choose to play as one of these four characters, or Big the Cat, E-102 Gamma, Super Sonic, and a Chao if unlocked later. Each character has unique abilities they can use to traverse the game boards.

The 2001 Dreamcast game Sonic Adventure 2 marks the debut of Shadow the Hedgehog (Kōji Yusa/originally David Humphrey, then to Jason Griffith for 2005–2010 and later Kirk Thornton), a black hedgehog who is Sonic’s rival. The sequel to Sonic Adventure, it was the final Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Dreamcast after Sega discontinued the console.

Let me show you my REAL power!

The game also makes the playable debuts of Dr. Eggman (the late Chikao Ōtsuka/the late Deem Bristow; both original Eggman VAs died — Bristow on January 15, 2005, and then Ōtsuka one decade later on the same date) and Rouge the Bat (Rumi Ochiai/originally Lani Minella, then to Kathleen Delaney for 2005–2010 and later Karen Strassman), a female anthropomorphic bat who is Knuckles’ rival and the second female character to be added to the Sonic franchise. The game uses the (rather childish) Comic Sans MS font for most of the game’s dialogue and text (the HD version later uses a font that is very similar to the childish font, so players won’t complain). In the Hero campaign, players control Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, who fight to save the world; in the Dark campaign, players control Shadow the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman and Rouge the Bat, fighting to conquer it. Each campaign cycles through levels of its three characters, telling different sides of the story. Levels have a variety of themes (such as cities, jungles, desert pyramids and outer space), with some followed by boss fights. The two campaigns’ stories occur in parallel; completing both campaigns unlocks a Last Story with all six characters, culminating in a final boss fight.

Sonic and Shadow play fast-paced levels, emphasizing platforming. Their homing attack can lock onto robots created by Eggman and G.U.N., and they can grind on rails. Tails’ and Eggman’s levels are slower and oriented towards multi-directional shooting; they are confined to mechs in which they can jump short heights, hover and shoot enemies. Knuckles’ and Rouge’s levels are open and feature action-adventure gameplay with treasure hunting; in each level, they must find three shards of the Master Emerald. Their search is guided by radar and puzzle-based clues from harmless robots. Knuckles and Rouge can glide, defeat enemies with punches and kicks and scale walls, digging into them to find power-ups.

Adventure 2 has the health system found in many other Sonic games. The player collects rings scattered throughout the levels; being hit by an enemy while holding rings causes the player to drop them all, while being hit without rings causes them to lose a life. Tails and Eggman have the customary health bar, which is slowly refilled by collecting rings. Dying with no lives results in a game over screen. The characters can obtain permanent upgrades that grant them new abilities; for example, one allows Sonic and Shadow to dash along a sequential trail of rings to reach distant platforms, while another lets Knuckles and Rouge attack powerfully enough to break certain containers. Chaos Drives can be used with the player’s Chao (small, anthropomorphic animals).

At one point a friend and I LITERALLY Time Stopped (Sonic)/Chaos Controlled (Shadow) each other and both of us couldn’t move. This also marks the debut of Omochao (Yo-kai Watch star Etsuko Kozakura/originally Lani Minella, then to Liza Jacqueline for Riders, then to Rebecca Honig for Secret Rings, Laura Bailey, and later Erica Lindbeck).

The game has several two-player modes. Players may race on foot through new (or altered) levels, have shoot-’em-up battles in mechs, hunt for Master Emerald shards or race in go-karts. A few characters are playable in these modes, but not in the main game; Tikal and Chaos from the original Sonic Adventure are playable in the treasure-hunting game, as are Amy Rose and Metal Sonic in the foot-racing levels and mechs piloted by Chao and Big the Cat in the shooting levels.

As with Sonic Adventure, Jun Senoue served as sound director and lead composer. Additional music was contributed by Fumie Kumatani, Tomoya Ohtani, and Kenichi Tokoi. The soundtrack is primarily melodic rock, with some hip-hop and orchestral tracks. As in Adventure, each character has a musical theme. The game features performances by returning vocalists Tony Harnell, Ted Poley, Marlon Saunders, Nikki Gregoroff and Johnny Gioeli, and new vocalists Tabitha Fair, Todd Cooper, Paul Shortino, Everett Bradley, Kaz Silver and Hunnid-P. Crush 40 (consisting of Senoue and Gioeli) debuted on the game’s main theme, “Live & Learn”. Production of the music lasted from April 2000 to February 2001; after this Senoue, along with others, created sound effects.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle

In 2001, Sega departed the console business to be a software publisher. Sonic Adventure 2 was ported to the Nintendo GameCube as Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on February 11, 2002. Battle has more detailed textures and additional geometry, and adds multiplayer options including new abilities, upgrades, and exclusive characters, and removes online play. Big the Cat is replaced by a Dark Chao in multiplayer mode. Battle also upgrades much of the Chao system, with a Chao’s stats viewable within the game, and the option to transfer Chao from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle to the Tiny Chao Garden in Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, and Sonic Pinball Party with the GameCube-Game Boy Advance link cable. If a Game Boy Advance is connected without a game, a version of the Tiny Chao Garden can be copied temporarily into the Game Boy Advance memory. This version also introduces the Chao Karate feature.

This wraps up another Sonic trilogy. Hope you enjoyed it!

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Cory Roberts

Freelance illustrator, manga artist, and character designer. Creator of the upcoming Radical Flannel. (He/him)