I agree with your points completely on why you think Sonic Adventure 2 is the best game. Though I was never a fan of Shadow as a character, how the story portrayed him and his eventual death at the end of the game was surprisingly well done for a Sonic game. This however, isn’t enough to give it credit as the “Best” Sonic game. Even though the graphics were very good for the time, and the music is unbelievable good (Thank Crush 40 for that), the controls were inconsistent at best, and the gameplay was very erratic.
Sonic and Shadow were great. The stages were fast paced and varied. Getting things like the light speed dash let you get to secret areas in earlier stages was pretty cool, but I don’t think anyone liked Knuckles’ and Rouge’s treasure hunting stages. Seriously, did ANYONE like the treasure hunting stages? The Tails and Eggman stages were…okay I guess? I mean they were just run through, hold down the shooting button and blow shit up. Very simplistic, but forgettable.
I also can’t leave out the Chao section. I know a lot of people who spent hours upon hours on these things, including myself. They had surprisingly detailed mechanics in their growth. You can tell SEGA spent a lot of time on this part of the game. It was very fun and addicting, so what more could you ask for?
As you might guess, I don’t find Sonic Adventure 2 to be the best game. I do have to say it was where the series hit its peak. Sonic Heroes definitely didn’t sell very well compared to Sonic Adventure 2, and we all know what game came after that. (Hint: Sonic 2006) That was definitely a rough road for a few years. And those few years stained the series forever, in my opinion. No matter what SEGA brings from this franchise, it will always have people denying any chance of the games being any good, just because of a few bad consecutive releases. Sonic Unleashed sadly gets the biggest rep, being the predecessor to Sonic 2006, but I’ve already got my rant on that on my youtube channel.
So, my favorite Sonic game? It’s really hard to pick one, solely because I have a soft spot for two types of Sonic games, the classic 2D style and the modern 3D gameplay. That means Generations would be the perfect fit right? Not exactly, since I don’t particularly like the way classic Sonic plays in that game. To be honest, Sonic Generations showed me how obsolete the classic gameplay really is nowadays. Classic Sonic felt very slow, had no height on his jump, and a few stages (like City Escape) were very linear in design. Putting it side by side by the Hedgehog Engine run modern Sonic really shows the difference in speed and style.
My favorite classic game is Sonic the Hedgehog 2. With the inclusion the spin dash, it made the game much faster than the first game, and the level design was all over the place. Mystic Cave Zone was always my favorite stage of the series. It also has one of the toughest boss fights I’ve ever seen in a Sonic game. Was there much to the story? Not really, but the gameplay and controls were flawless.
In terms of 3D game play, it does goes to Generations because I believe SEGA has mastered the Hedgehog Engine in this game. Where Sonic Unleashed had the original, the game was all speed based, without too much thought in the level design. Everything was trial and error; you die, you get a little further, you die, you get a little further, etc, etc. Sonic Colors had too much platforming for me and the game felt far too slowed down, but Generations stuck it right down the middle. Fast paced stages that have a million directions to go and some platforming thrown in here and there. The biggest thing is the game isn’t anywhere as difficult as the prior two games. If you made a mistake in Unleashed or Colors, chances are you were going to die. In Generations, if you forget a jump or don’t take the right turn, you go to a different part of the stage that takes a bit longer to get through. Once you spend a long enough time in one stage in Generations, you really see just how massive they tend to be.
I’ll be completely honest here, I don’t find story elements to be important in a Sonic game, similar to how it works in the Mario series. If the story becomes too complicated and takes too big a part of the game, it could go down the same road that Sonic 2006 went, where the story was filled with plotholes and made absolutely no sense half the time. Could it be used to spice up the game? Absolutely! The stories were my favorite part of the Adventure series. I have to agree that SEGA is focusing too much on the childish side of the storyline, but let’s not look too deep into it, since the main focus of the series is the gameplay after all.
P.S. – I would kill to play an Archie based Sonic game. =P
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