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Sonic Adventure 2 HD Review

Sonic Adventure 2

Eleven years ago, Sonic Adventure 2 was a divisive game. It was a turning point in the series, when a lot of fans started to write the series off. It’s often considered the beginning of the end for the Sonic series, and is remembered as the game where Sonic’s ensemble cast started to overshadow the Blue Blur – but unlike the underwhelming Sonic Adventure before it, or the slew of 3D let-downs that came after, at it’s  Sonic Adventure 2 was not a bad game. It was arguably the only 3D Sonic game with tight controls, solid physics, fun level design and exciting set pieces. Yes, you had to go on Knuckles’ scavenger hunts, and yes Tails’ and Robotnick’s robo-walker segments were a little goofy, but none of it was broken which, considering the company it keeps, is an impressive feat.

I actually enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2 quite a bit when it came out. Sure, a decade later I can appreciate that the story is trash, the cutscenes are terrible and the character models have aged horribly, but the core gameplay is still really fun, even when you aren’t playing as Sonic or Shadow. The levels are large enough to warrant exploration, but the main course is usually short enough to illicit a “one more level before bed” response, and can quickly turn into a beginning-to-end playthrough in one sitting. A lot of the complaints leveraged against the original Sonic Adventure were addressed in Sonic Adventure 2: the facial animations are better, the levels are less linear, the physics and controls are tighter, and there is no compulsory 4 hour fishing game. Truly, if there is a game that we can point to and say “see? Sonic games could be good in 3D,” it’s Sonic Adventure 2.

Sonic Adventure 2

The HD port for XBLA and PSN doesn’t change too much, but also doesn’t break anything, which is nice. Aside from the pre-rendered cutscenes, which remain in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, the game makes a smooth transition to wide-screen. The textures are given a nice update, but some of the models, particularly the main characters, act as an ugly reminder of the intermediate step between the 32-bit and 128-bit eras. Sonic Adventure 2 HD includes all of the multiplayer content that was released with the GameCube version, so for those of us that missed out on Nintendo’s console, there is a little added value in getting to run through stages with a friend at home. Unfortunately, online multiplayer is not an option.

Chao raising was left more-or-less untouched. You’ll still be able to raise Chaos and force them to raise and battle for your amusement, but a bug in the PS3 version keeps you from taking your water-spawn into the Kindergarten. Also, there is no analog to the VMU or GBA portable Chao garden, which seems like a pretty big oversight if you’re feeling nostalgic for Tamagotchi. Still, the Chao Garden was never a really central feature, and it doesn’t take away from the rest of the game.

Sonic Adventure 2

It’s hard to give an across-the-board recommendation to Sonic Adventure 2 HD – For better or worse, it’s still Sonic Adventure 2. If you enjoyed the original, then this is definitely the definitive version. If you didn’t love it on the Dreamcast, then wide-screen isn’t going to change your mind. I personally was pretty thrilled to play through it again, if for nothing else, than to know that my memories of the game weren’t completely kid-goggled. It’s still a fun game, and for $15, it’s worth going back to, if for nothing else, than for Crush 40’s so-genuinely-corny-it’s-fantastic soundtrack.

About Sean Kirkland

A Tulane-educated Master of Architecture and Monster Hunter apologist, Sean "SeanNOLA" Kirkland might have relocated to trendy Angeleno suburbs, but his heart remains entrenched in the Crescent City.


  1. No Chao Garden? I’m out.

    • How cool would it be to have VMU emulation on your iPhone?

      • I KNOW, RIGHT?! I keep saying “I want my phone to do more with my PS3 than cue up YouTube videos and act as a BluRay remote” but here we are, 6 years in and it still hasn’t happened.

        • Is it too much to ask for an app where I can buy Playstation Stores titles at work and have them loaded (and firmware updates) all ready when I walk through the door?

  2. Before anyone gets upset, realize I’m kidding. Good review.

  3. Basically, this review was ‘you’ll like Sonic Adventure 2 HD if you liked Sonic Adventure 2’

    I see a job at IGN in your future.

    • I know I’ve covered this topic before, but if a game (or any media) is being re-released, the proper etiquette is to review the work being done in the latest version, not to critique the existing work. There are plenty of reviews of Sonic Adventure 2 out there – if you’re curious as to whether that game is any good, that’s easy enough to go find out. The information you really need from a review of a re-released work is whether or not the game you are familiar with translates well in this new format (which in this case, it more-or-less does).

      Look at it this way: let’s say someone made an audiobook of Moby Dick and sent it to me for review. I’m not going to write a review of Moby Dick, because history has already passed judgement on the story – it’s a classic. As a product reviewer (which is really what we do here) I would review the things that the audiobook brings to the table: is the narration good? Are the character deliveries good? How is the foley work? etc. If you’re wondering whether or not you’d like Moby Dick, there’s a wealth of other articles in existence that already speak to that. Another one would just be adding more waste to the internet, and wouldn’t really tell you anything about the product.

      • That makes sense. Well, except for waste on the internet. It’s already beyond polluted 😉

        I’m curious did you play NiGHTS HD at all?

  4. “Sonic Adventure 2 HD includes all of the multiplayer content that was released with the GameCube version”

    Incorrect- you have to pay 2.99 for the Battle Mode.


  5. I bought Sonic Adventure at launch on June 19, 2001. I still have the receipt from Funcoland. Anyone remember them.

  6. How come there’s not a single screenshot of Sonic?!?

    Other that that, good review.

  7. I remember the parts of the game where you’re not platforming as being totally boring with flat dialog that was like a bad JRPG. Or am I thinking of the first SA?

  8. Good review, DarkCloud. Hopefully, you’ll cover NiGHTS…

  9. I would have liked to see SEGA give a discount if you buy both Sonic Adventure 2 and NiGHTS. Maybe both for $20.

  10. Good to see that Sean’s still reviewing and that Sonic still hold up. I was thinking about getting this, but the $15 price triggered second thoughts. I ended up buying Castlevania: LOS for the same price instead.

    • Good call. I need to finish up LoS before the sequel, but it’s SO LONG!

      • It’s almost too long. Did you get the feeling that they extended it just to make it seem epic?

        • Not exactly. We got to have a nice talk with the director back at e3, and he definitely has a story that he wants to tell with the LoS games, and the length has to do with being able to tell that story in-depth. There’s a lot more to Gabriel than being angry and hitting stuff with swords on chains, so it couldn’t be as short as a GoW game.

          Still, my arms get tired playing an action masher like that for so long!

  11. So if someone only played the PS3 Sonic games, would this be a huge step back?


    Thanks, NOLA I was thinking about downloading this. I never played the original but I did like Sonic Generations.

  13. I saw your site was down for a bit. What’s going on here?

  14. So NOLA, what do you think the best 3 Sonic games are? Just the first 3 Genesis games?

    Also, why do you like Sonic and not Mario? They’re kind of the same thing.

    • You’re right the first two Sonic games and either 3 or Spin ball are all primo.

    • My favorite 3? I’d have to say Sonic 3, then Sonic Adventure 2, then Sonic CD. Sonic 1 and 2 were great, but 3, SA2 and CD were all the best of their times, and also had the best music (which is one of the most important things about the Sonic franchise)

      As far as the Sonic vs Mario debate, I grew up on Sonic, so I have no nostalgia for Mario. Mario games are fine, but by the time I was old enough to spend my own money on games, I wanted something other than platformers, so Mario never really had a fair shake with me. Even when we had an NES, Mario was the game my Mom played while my brother and I waited to play Contra or TMNT2. The idea of waiting my turn to play a “2 player game” when we could be playing simultaneously didn’t gel in my tiny toddler mind.
      I was just the right age to catch Sonic fever really hard. I was in 1st grade when Sonic came out, so as the brand grew, I became the target audience for the Genesis. I watched SatAM AND Adventures of Sonic back-to-back, every saturday (before walking to Michie Stadium to watch USMA football, of course). That was MY childhood. I realize other kids probably got Super Nintendos and watched the infinitely retooled Super Mario Super Show, but I drew that line in the sand early and never looked back. I got Shining Force, Ranger X and Shinobi 3 while those other kids were playing Metroid and Donkey Kong Kountry, and I genuinely believe I got just as much out of it. I never owned another Nintendo system until college, when my girlfriend bought a Wii, and I’m fine with that fact.

      • Wait, wasn’t Sonic 3 the one you got for a birthday/Xmas and beat really quick? I remember you mentioning that on the podcast.

        Or was that Blue?

        Anyway, with all the HD collections and retro compilations, now would be a great time to catch up. I’m been playing through the Kirby games and now realize how much I missed.

        • That was me. I got Sonic 3 and the 3-button arcade stick and beat it in one sitting. That being said, I had already rented it like 4 times at that point, so I was pretty good at it by that point.

          • I remember Sonic 3 being a bit easier that previous Sonic games. I think it was during that time when games started becoming less frustrating.

          • That and the save feature didn’t make a lot of sense in a short game. Part of the challenge and tension of Sonic 2 was getting all the way to MechaRobotnick, only to realize that if you screwed up, you’d have to play the entire game over again.

      • That’s cool and all, but don’t you feel like you missed out on a big chunk of gaming history.

        SNES, GameBoy Advance, N64, DS. Across all those platforms there were some exclusive games that any hardcore gamer would enjoy. I’m hardly a Nintendophile, but just playing Pokemon is something that gives you a good base of reference for other games. I’d encourage you to catch up on lost time.

        • Des, Blue, Sage and Jeremy, I hope you didn’t miss out on any big chunks of gaming history.

          • I haven’t missed much, mostly the smaller/niche systems, like the Sega CD, TurbuGrafx-16, Neo Geo, Neo Geo Pocket Color……and the PlayStation 3(TROLLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!).;)

        • Sorry, I should have clarified: I did own the nintendo handhelds (GameBoy, Pocket, Color, GBA and DS), just not the consoles. Had Pokemon Blue the Christmas it came out – but I think that was more of a pop-culture footnote than a shift in gaming.

          Also remember: there have been a LOT of games. No one has played them all. I don’t hear very many people saying “WHAT? You only had a SNES? You missed out on Phantasy Star 4! That was a huge part of gaming history!” But it was, and a lot of people missed out on it. That just means their player background is different. I don’t begrudge anyone for not having played Shining In the Darkness, or Herzog Zwei, or Mutant League Football or Dune 2, and those are all Genesis-only games that had an undeniable impact on the landscape of gaming. Mario is just one franchise I skipped, but I think I’ve gotten a lot more in return.

          • Jesus Hates Casuals

            Anyone who missed General Chaos, Ristar, Red Zone, Tin Head, Jungle Strike, Subterrainia, Alisia Dragoon, Skeleton Crew, Soldier of Fortune, Steel Empire, Dynamite Headdy, Target Earth, Valis 3, Grenada, El Viento, Contra Hard Corps, Ranger-X, Arcus Odyssey, Chiki Chiki Boy, Ghouls n’ Ghosts, ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron and Rolling Thunder 3 is dead to me.

            Genesis/Mega Drive rocked!

          • I like the way this thread was turned 😉

            Sean, you really think of Pokemon as a footnote in gaming? It inspired data sharing, collection, light RPG bits in games. I think your underselling GameFreak/Nintendo. Its one of the few games that people can play and enjoy from 8-80.

            My grandma even caught a few.

          • Me in 60 years.

          • …I missed most of those. 🙁

            I’ve always loved Sonic, but Sega’s franchises as a whole didn’t start appealing to me until the Dreamcast. Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, the 2K sports series, Sega Bass Fishing, Sega Rally Championship 2, and Chu Chu Rocket all got a ton of usage in my house. Because of those games, Jet Set Radio Future, and Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, I morphed from “Sonic fan” into “lifelong Sega fan”.

          • If all SEGA ever made was 4 Phantasy Star games, I’d still love them.

            Whatever happened to Renovation? Arcus Odyssey, Gain Ground, Valis III, Arrow Flash, Exile, Gaiares. So many great games.

          • @PixelPusher I meant that in that I felt Pokemon had a greater impact on pop culture than it did on videogames. It’s impact on gaming was an increased focus on collecting and a short-lived overall increase in JRPG sales, but it’s impact on Pop Culture over the past 15 years has been massive and ongoing.