REVIEW: Sonic Adventure

Poll Winner: SONIC ADVENTURE

The Saturn had went its entire lifecyclesa without a Sonic the Hedgehog title, a fact most people consider a large contributing factor to the system’s failure. Sega was not about to let that happen again with the Dreamcast. In 1998 the Sonic team released Sonic Adventure, a full 3D title that has the player controlling not only Sonic, but several other characters in the universe. Sonic Adventure saw fantastic sales but conflicting review scores. The game spawned a direct sequel Sonic Adventure 2 in 2001.

Oh boy, of all the games I’ve reviewed so far Sonic Adventure may be the one that proves to be the worst offender of rose-colored glasses. Nostalgia is the only thing this game really has going for it. Sonic Adventure is a totally free reign 3D game, a bold step for a Sonic game and one that I think is a bad idea. The combination of high speed and free reign over movements is too much for an overhead camera to cover properly, even on today’s consoles. Sonic Adventure‘s camera is atrocious. It constantly got stuck in corners, walls and behind enemies, making some sections almost unplayable. Its full of bugs, mainly characters sliding around without walking and at times clipping into the environment and getting stuck. The graphics were unimpressive, especially coming back to them now. The voice acting was awful, unbearable even at times and is a problem that would actually continue to plague Sonic games for quite a while afterwards in my opinion. 

Having multiple characters in the game, each with their own side of the story and own objectives to do is a really cool idea and was a great way to get players interested in new characters within the Sonic universe, but in practice was not done well because most of their stories are either very short or incredibly boring (Big the Cat I’m lookin’ at you buddy). Look don’t get me wrong, Sonic Adventure is a slight step up over Sonic 3D Blast, but its in essence a game full of decent ideas that were poorly executed. Though this 3D outing turned out bad, it did show us the potential Sonic has in a 3D or semi-3D environment and ended up being refined in its sequel Sonic Adventure 2 and in the more recent Sonic Generations.

Sonic Adventure‘s only saving grace, the ONLY thing it has going for it, is of course the soundtrack. What would a Sonic game be without a top notch soundtrack? The scores do a great job of modifying their sound to come off as more believable orchestral instruments, while still maintaining that classic and fun old school sound we loved on the Genesis’ Sonic games.

Sonic Adventure is not a good game to go back and play. If you loved the game as a kid like I did, do yourself a favor, keep those rose-tinted glasses on.

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REVIEW: Mr. Driller

Never Played: MR. DRILLER

Namco had its fair share omr drillerf hits over its many years in the video game industry. Among those most notable titles like Pac-Man and Tekken was Dig Dug. The game that was going to become Dig Dug 3 ended up becoming what we now know as Mr. Driller. Unlike Dig Dug, Mr. Driller is a puzzle matching game similar to games like Columns and Bejeweled. Mr. Driller came to PlayStation and Dreamcast in 1999 to decent sales and reviews.

I picked up Mr. Driller a long time ago in a small lot of Dreamcast games but until now hadn’t played it. The art style is very Japanese anime influenced, with cute expressions and bright vibrant colors, much like its ancestor Dig Dug which was interestingly enough the first game review I did on this blog. The music also has a lot of J-Pop flavor to it and I felt it suited the game very well. Mr. Driller‘s play style is one I’ve grown to love in my almost 30 years of gaming. Dr. Mario, Tetris and Lumines are personal favorites of the genre. Mr. Driller has a lot of elements those games have but with an interesting twist: you have to control a character who is actually inside of the giant falling blocks to create chains and clear levels. While drilling your way through the levels you must dodge the falling blocks or else be squished. That simple mechanic is enough to make Mr. Driller feel like a genre all of its own and adds an extra layer of difficulty you don’t really experience with other similar games. 

At first I was having trouble with the game because I was trying to go slowly and methodically like I’m used to in games like it. But I soon discovered that in Mr. Driller you must learn to love and embrace the speed. You have to get in the zone and into kind of a flow if you want to have any kind of impressive success in Mr. Driller and I really like that aspect of the game.

If you are a fan of timed matching games or puzzle arcade games then Mr. Driller is definitely a must-play. It provides a unique take on the genre and I’m a proud to own this game.

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REVIEW: Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Personal Favorite: STREET FIGHTER III: THIRD STRIKE

Over the years of both arcade and console gaming the Street Fighter franchise has solidified itself as the best in the 2D fighter business. Following the many different versions of Street Fighter II, Capcom thirdreleased Street Fighter III to arcades. The game wasn’t nearly as successful (or as good in my opinion) as its predecessor. After a second try with Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, the game still saw only small success. It would turn out that third time is the charm though, as in 1999 Street Fighter III: Third Strike came to arcades and Sega Dreamcast. While sales were still low, feedback from fighting game fans was overwhelmingly positive and the game still remains a cult hit even to this day.

I should start off with letting you know a not well kept secret: I am a huge fighting game fan, particularly Street Fighter. I’ve had great success and fun with guides and YouTube videos within the fighting game community. You may think that makes me biased towards a game, but I would actually argue I’m even harder on Street Fighter games than other fighters because I’ve come to expect so much from Capcom over the last two decades. Third Strike‘s cover art showcases the cast in a not too exciting layout. Gameplay itself is visually impressive. With a 2.5D look, clean edges and fluent animations. Sound effects are excellent, parries sound satisfying and the sound track is decent.

What makes the game play of Third Strike different from other Street Fighter games is the parry system and its take on the super meter system. In Street Fighter games there is a super bar which fills up as a character takes damage and deals damage. Once full, players can spend that bar on a high damage, special mechanics laden Super attack which is typically unique to that character. In Third Strike each character has a variable number of super bars that are also of a variable length. They also have multiple options of supers to choose from per character, adding even more depth to match-ups. Instead of using an entire bar for a super, characters can also spend Super meter on EX moves which are upgraded versions of their unique special moves. The parry system allows the player to tap the joystick towards their opponent at the exact moment they would be hit. If the timing is precise and the player also correctly guessed it to be a high or low attack then the attack is parried. A successful parry lets your character avoid all recovery frames they would’ve spent blocking, allowing them to freely retaliate on their opponent. The parry system adds an immeasurable amount of depth and skill to Third Strike, making it the most technical and difficult Street Fighter game in most fan’s eyes.

The main issue with Third Strike is it was never well balanced (meaning the tools and overall usefulness of each character isn’t close enough to being balanced across the cast). Well let me rephrase that, it was as balanced as most fighting games, but it didn’t match the really good track record Street Fighter games have had in cast balance. To the average gamer the level of balance Third Strike has is probably more than adequate. To fighting gamers who mainly play Street Fighter games the balance issue is quite noticeable and well-known. A third of the cast is all but unusable in high level tournaments. Again, that’s typical for most fighters, but not what we’ve come to expect from Capcom fighters.

Overall Third Strike is one of the favorite fighters ever among die-hard fighting gamers as its parry system, personality, skill gap and high technical level make for a hardcore fighting gamer’s wet dream. If the cast was more balanced I believe it might’ve been the best fighting game ever. With studios moving towards more beginner friendly mechanics in their fighting games we may never see another Street Fighter title with this high level of technicality. If you missed out on Third Strike, its worth the revisit.

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REVIEW: Sega Dreamcast

DREAMCAST REVIEW

The Dreamcast is one of the most aesthetically appealing consoles to me. The pure white design with the primary colored buttons, the wide variety of shapes and the very cool looking controller are the total package. When playing these games I found the system’s performance to be strong also. Sound was clear, colors vibrant and graphics a small step above the N64’s. It did however run a tad bit loudly compared to all other consoles I’ve reviewed so far.

What I loved most about the Dreamcast is definitely its controller. The analog stick is one of the most comfortable and responsive I’ve ever used. It is really light for a controller of its size. I dc contalso really like the feel and responsiveness of its triggers. The GD-Roms had no trouble with reading or freezing. I also enjoyed every game I played of its limited library. This is actually a very good, very enjoyable console. Its a shame that the PS2 put it in an early grave and thus it didn’t have time to flourish. We could’ve had even more cool and creative console games like Chu Chu Rocket, Mr. Driller, Shenmue and Crazy Taxi were.

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