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Sonic Heroes Package Art
†GENRE
††Platformer
†DEVELOPER
††Sonic Team
†PUBLISHER
††Sega
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-2
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Sonic Heroes

Finally, an original Sonic title brought straight to the GameCube. Itís nice how Sega is treating Nintendo and their fans by bringing Sonic Heroes to the GameCube first. After Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and the shockingly bad Sonic Adventure DX, they certainly owed us. With this title, theyíve paid off the debt ten fold. Sonic Heroes isnít just an excellent Sonic title, itís one of the best to come along since Sonic made the transition to 3D. To put it simply, Sonic Heroes is more like Sonic the Hedgehog 5 rather than Super Sonic 64 Part 3. It keeps with the traditional, hyper speed Sonic gameplay that evolved so much in the days of the Genesis. Sega has certainly brought a smile to fans of the blue blur once again.

visuals

While certainly not as groundbreaking as the original on the Sega Genesis, this title certainly shows a lot of glitz and glamour, even though the character models are slightly outdated. When it comes to this title, itís all about the level design. Strangely enough, weíve all played these levels before, only in 2D. Youíll go through temples, jungles, casinos, and anything else you remember from the classic 16-bit quadrilogy. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in adrenaline. The speed of this game is frantic and borders on the edge of insane sometimes. With its quick pace and fast action, itís amazing to see that the frame-rate never dips. Through the entire game, itíll run a solid 60 fps. Itís an excellent achievement for Sonic Team after the fatal frame-rate hits that last yearís Billy Hatcher took.

With the lightning speed this game sets for the gameplay, youíd think that the camera would simply be one huge giant pain. After playing through Sonic Adventure DX to refresh my memory, it was amazing to see how much the camera system has improved since then. While it can still be extremely frustrating with the ďalways-onĒ cinematic setting, the camera is simple, adjustable and fluid. It follows the action with ease although thatís not to say that you wonít ever suffer ďunfairĒ deaths due to camera faults. It can easily be said that Sonic Heroes is the best looking Sonic title ever.

audio

Youíre sure to remember the up-tempo pop rhythms featured in the Sonic Adventure series. If not, they sounded like the popular 80ís rock band Journey, only with a j-pop flavor. Yeah, it was that bad. While this style of music returns to Sonic Heroes, it certainly isnít as bad. The main theme song especially is instantly memorable and even if you try your hardest not to catch the main chorus, youíll still be singing it at work or school all day long. Just try and dodge any strange glances you may get. The sound effects themselves are produced nicely, which is the usual standard for Sonic Team. The quality is great, providing crisp and clear noises to the fast paced action. Your favorite classic sound effects are still here like the ring, force field, and jumping sounds. Sonic certainly has grown in the past 12 years, but thereís certainly no reason for him to dodge away from his roots. There are plenty of vocal stylings in this title as well. Within each level, every character will talk to each other, giving hints or just explaining the situation theyíre going through. Unfortunately, Tails' voice still makes you want to give him a serious beating step child style. Some things never change.

gameplay

For those of you lucky enough to pick up the demo disk in your pre-ordered copy of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! back in 2003, youíre pretty much on the right track as to the experience youíll get from Sonic Heroes. Combining the classic play mechanics that made the classic series so addictive and a new set of team-based skills, this is probably the most in-depth Sonic title yet. The controls can be slightly complicated, especially when youíre essentially controlling three characters through each stage. Youíll be switching in between your speed, flight, and strength characters with the push of a button and performing their own specific actions in order to proceed to the end. Whether it be crashing through boxes, flying to a new, elevated platform or using a flower as a helicopter, thereís tons upon tons of moves that are available to each team in this title.

There are four teams in the game. The Sonic team consists of the classic Sonic characters: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Thereís also the Dark team, the Rose team, and the Chaotix team. They all have the same powers, even though they look different. You can play through each team in story mode, even though the story is generally the same, boring, Dr. Robotnix mischief. Donít expect everything to be all happy sunshine and roses, however. Once youíve gone past the first 10 stages or so, youíll be faced with some of the most challenging 3D Sonic gameplay youíve experienced. Unless youíre a hardcore Sonic fan, youíll have to grit and bare it to the last stage in the final dungeon in order to make it to the finish line. Thatís just a warning, not a criticism. Thereís a rating system, a challenge mode, and plenty of multiplayer modes, which increases the replay value to the nth degree. If this doesnít entice you enough, youíll just have to check it out for yourself.

multiplayer

One of the best multiplayer experiences in the Sonic series is here with Sonic Heroes. If you had fun playing through Sonic Adventure 2 Battle with a friend, youíll easily have a lot of fun with this one. Thereís a Battle Race mode that pits you and a friend against each other, using any team youíd like through any level in the story mode youíd like. You can even go through the entire game racing each other to the finish. There are also six unlockable multiplayer modes that you can get by collecting the emblems in the story and challenge modes. What more do you want? Cooperative mode? Sounds scary.

overall

This is certainly one of the best Sonic games available on any system. Having gone back to the roots of what made the gameplay so much fun in the 16-bit days and adding tons of new stuff, youíre bound to see why this title is so much better than the ďAdventureĒ series. Unfortunately, we may never see a Sonic title with an actual storyline until they manage to port the cult classic Sonic CD. If youíve already picked this title up, you may want to check out Sonic Mega Collection also since it features all of the good Sonic titles that came before Sonic Heroes. This is certainly one of the titles that may go unnoticed by casual gamers, but if you have a chance to check this game out, youíll have to do so as soon as you can. You donít want to miss out on one of the first great GCN titles of 2004. Funny enough, itís the first GCN title of 2004. Well done, Sonic Team.

dojo doubletake
I really like the direction they took this game into with the new team play aspect. They really did an amazing job designing the levels so that you give all three characters equal playtime. Within the first level I was switching in and out of the various team formations at ease.

Unfortunately, technical issues limited the game from being the dream title it could have been. Sonic Heroes is the glitchiest title Iíve played since Superman 64. Aside from numerous crashes, I often found myself flying through surfaces, being shot off in a random direction with Sonicís homing attack, and simply dying for what seems to be no reason at all (those imaginary robots can be a real pain). Because of these major blemishes in the titles programming, the game lacked not only the flow of the 2D Sonic titles, but the past two 3D Sonic games as well. These technical downfalls transform our speedy hedgehog into a lagging mishap. At this point, the only aspect of this title I can call fast is the amount of time it takes to complete.

The real motivation to continue playing Sonic Heroes is its multiplayer features. The only real setback is that it features two-player split screen as opposed to four-player matches. This is understandable though as it keeps the two-player mode running smooth and reduces clutter in a game that contains so much action.

Overall, I feel that Sonic Team really needs to take a step back and re-evaluate their star franchise. Due to brand loyalty, Iíve dished out the money for each iteration in the 3D series. But itís starting to suffer the same fate as Tomb Raider did. Sonic Adventure was an amazing title for its time. But as years pass, you canít resell gamers the same game with miniscule tweaks year after year and expect them to come crawling back for more. While Sonic Heroes may be the best of the next generation Sonic games, it isnít enough of an improvement considering how long theyíve had to tweak and polish the gameplay.

I canít recommend anything over a rental for Sonic Heroes, even to its most hardcore fans (that includes me). Itís a tough thing to say about a franchise that practically raised a generation. The Sonic I once knew isnít really the same Sonic he used to be. 7.5/10

-- John Guesnier



final score 8.8/10





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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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