Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
With the death of the Dreamcast, Sega turned their efforts to multi-platform development. However, like too many companies, they opted primarily for the simple solution to building a library of games: porting. Hence, amongst others, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. Don't get me wrong - this is a fantastic game. But it's a fantastic game that pushed the Dreamcast. The GameCube is at least 4 times more powerful as a console, and despite all the added bits, this still has all the hallmarks of the Dreamcast game, right down to the low polygon counts. First, the similarities:
Sonic Adventure 2's single player is split into three distinct adventures: the Hero game where you have to forward the course of good, the Dark game where you need to kick booty and take over the world, and the Final game where you join forces to. uh. not die. Next, there are actually three types of levels. Sonic & Shadow have traditional 3D platformer levels much like from the original Sonic Adventure, where speed is of the element. Tails & Robotnik handle like the E- 102 character from the original, with the focus on the lock-on auto-fire cannon they use. Finally, Knuckles & Rouge have to fly around & locate three pieces of the Master Emerald, again like in the Dreamcast prequel.
The single player mode isn't actually all that large - 30 levels in all, including bosses etc. The idea is to re-visit every single level another four times to complete a total of five increasingly difficult missions to earn "emblems." There are 150 of them in all, and they unlock extra options from within the game, especially in the multi-player mode. It's great (if bloody frustrating at times) while it lasts, but am I the only one who lacks the patience to re-play a level that many times?
Of course, there is a little more to the game than the single player. Firstly, let me tell you of Chao. Chao are Tamagotchi by another name. Every level contains a key which grants access to Chao World, where your pets are born and raised. When you enter, resources captured from defeated enemies & rescued animals are released into the garden so you can "feed" them to your Chao. For example, feed a Rabbit to your Chao and its run & Jump abilities are greatly increased. These abilities are needed to enter your Chao into competition with other Chao in Chao events such as Chao Racing & Chao Karate. It's actually pretty engaging for anyone with the right mindset (i.e. The Sims players), but not really my style. If I WAS obsessive about my Chao, however, there's be no reason to leave them at home when I have important things to do, as your Chao can be transferred to Sonic Advance for the GBA by use of the linkup cable, so you can continue to raise the thing within the somewhat lower tech confines of the Tiny Chao Garden. As the first game to do anything like this, it'll be interesting to see how the technology develops.
The other GameCube-specific development is the Battle part i.e. 2 player. All of the single player modes are transferred in one way or another, so (for example) you can have Robotnik Vs Tails deathmatches in small cramped arenas. To be honest, the multiplayer modes aren't all that engaging, with one exception: Sonic races involve some superb action with frequent grinding down mile-long rails, and is great fun for about an hour.
To conclude, is this a good game worth parting with cash for? Yes and no. If you dislike platformers, steer clear. If you want a multiplayer game, steer clear. If you already have the Dreamcast game, steer clear. Otherwise, you're in for a highly entertaining, adrenaline-packed game that'll make a great addition to any discerning GameCube owner's collection.
Gaming Hexus rating: 7/10
(About the Gaming Hexus rating system: The score system is inspired by Edge magazine. Basically, we're bastards. Since 5/10 is halfway between perfect and shite, it's the rating given to average games. By definition, 6 or above is "above average", and probably worth owning. And we really don't hesitate to award low scores for bad games.)