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Sonic Heroes – Xbox

Sonic Heroes – Xbox

Sonic Heroes Cover

     Platform: Xbox

     Developer: Sega and Sonic Team

     Publisher: Sega

     Release Date (NA): January 27th, 2004

     Genre: Adventure, Platformer

     Nerd Rating: 7.25/10

Reviewed by THEbipolarBear

 

 

 

This is Team Sonic, with (from left to right) Knuckles, Tails, and Sonic.

This is Team Sonic, with (from left to right) Knuckles, Tails, and Sonic.

Sonic Heroes was one of the first games I had ever bought for my newly acquired Xbox, and it was really my first cognitive experience of the Sega-created Sonic world. I bought this game solely for the reason of playing as Tails – my favorite character ever since Sonic Advance 2 released a couple years prior. But even though I thoroughly enjoyed playing the members of Team Sonic, I ran into some serious flaws that even my ten-year-old self noticed. These minute flaws, strewn throughout the story, gameplay, mechanics, and overall impression, added up to bring down what could have provided Sonic Heroes with a score of 8/10 or even a 9/10. Even still, the game was enjoyable and there were never any rage-quit moments, but as for Sonic’s Xbox debut, all fans expected a little bit more than what was offered.

One of the best features of this game is the opportunity to choose your team. These teams include Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles), Team Dark (Shadow, Rogue, and Omega), Team Rose (Amy, Cream, and Big), and Team Chaotix (Espio, Charmy, and Vector). Even though each one of these selections only slightly changes the gameplay, it still allows for increased replayability as well as a local multiplayer mode. The main team is obviously Team Sonic, so that is what I consider the base gameplay; therefore, I’ll spare you the plotline of the rest of the teams – all of the stories end up with almost the same exact gameplay anyways.

For Team Sonic, the game opens up to a fairly generic cutscene, with Tails piloting his presumably homemade airplane with Knuckles. They catch up with Sonic, who is pointlessly zooming through the desert (maybe running from Wile E. Coyote?), and shove a page straight out of the Harry Potter world into Sonic’s face. Dr. Eggman (previously known as Dr. Robotnik, depending on how old you are) tells Sonic through the page that he is going to conquer the world in three days (thanks for the heads up, I guess). Sonic and his team accept the challenge despite Tails’ call for caution, zoom off into the distance, and from there, it’s the first taste of gameplay.

Tails pilots his plane close to Sonic to give him Dr. Eggman's note.

Tails pilots his plane close to Sonic to give him Dr. Eggman’s note.

The best and worst feature of Sonic Heroes is the ability to switch up who leads your team. It allows for the player to better handle obstacles, such as using the much quicker Sonic for loops and wall-jumping, the sky-worthy Tails for tall walls and airborne enemies, and the spike-gloved Knuckles for destroyable walls and big enemies. Every team has these three classes, identified as speed, flight, and power respectively.

Although this is a great concept and adds a lot of diversity to the gameplay, it takes away the most iconic aspect of all Sonic games – pure speed. I can’t give a valid reason to justify why Sonic Team decided to make this devastating change, but it did result in the biggest flaw of the game. Even two years prior in Sonic Advance 2  where both Knuckles and Tails were present, speed was never sacrificed in the name of diversity, but both characters still had their defining traits. So, in conclusion, the in-game character selection did add another dimension to Sonic Heroes, but it took away the most loved feature of the Sonic franchise by lagging down the previously fast-paced gameplay.

This shows both Team Rose and the appearance of common obstacles.

This shows both Team Rose and the appearance of common obstacles.

Speaking of fast-paced gameplay, the entire game can be played through with a single team in about 2 and a half hours. Although the storyline is decent and the voice acting is good, there are constant reminders and hints of who to use and how to defeat certain obstacles. This low level of difficulty made the entire game feel a little bit like a tutorial, and if the storyline wasn’t as clear, I would’ve been surprised when the game ended. Of course, you could always go back to play with another team, but the only team that is truly different than the other three is Team Chaotix. This is because Charmy, the flight character, can use flowers as portals and Espio, the speed character, can turn invisible, which somehow makes him impervious to lasers. Anyways, while this is not a game-ruining flaw, it does stack on top of the other minor shortfalls, which ultimately brings the entire game down.

sonic heroes

And now for the greatest and most prevalent complaint of 3D Sonic games – the mechanics. When you compare Sonic Heroes to atrocities such as Sonic the Hedgehog ’06 and Sonic Free Riders, it really isn’t that poor of a game. But when standing alone, this game has two central flaws that detract from the gameplay’s quality, bringing what could have been Sonic Heroes’ Nerd Rating of 8.25 down one full point. Those two major flaws:

  1. The first major flaw is the speed character’s ability to dash through coins. To do this, the player presses  “X,” causing you character to zip through a line of coins. This is necessary in some situations, but I noticed that the controls seemed somewhat unresponsive. Sonic would only zip through one coin at a time, or he would dash as if there were no coins present, leaving you far away from the line of coins you were trying to collect in the first place – a particularly annoying event during time-based challenges.
  2. Secondly, when traveling at high speeds around loops, the camera would zoom out for a more cinematic view, and suddenly, forward wasn’t up on the joystick anymore. This is a serious killjoy while flying through the track and then painfully coming to a dead stop due to something that is out of your control. Furthermore, all of the camera angles are atrocious. This actually inadvertently adds to the difficulty, causing the player to stop and gaze around the area for the next switch or lever from the team leader’s point of view. The main effect of this flaw was occasional dry moments of staring into space while the clock kept ticking.

 

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as they appear in-game.

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as they appear in-game.

Other than the above, I actually have zero complaints with the graphics. Speed, flight, and power all have excellent controls, and while they might have gotten a little repetitive, the constant switching around kept me entertained. Also, Even at age 10, Knuckles’ questionable voice acting had my pre-pubescent self in stitches.

Certain things kept this game in my Xbox console for many hours after the first playthrough. The first and foremost is the amazing soundtrack. Sonic is famous for great soundtracks, and Sonic Heroes is certainly no exception. It’s so amazing that I’ll add it at the end of this article – a present for reading through this entire review. The multiplayer mode, although it had me and my brother at each other’s throats for Team Shadow (I was younger and less strong; therefore I grew to love Team Sonic), it also added many interesting moments of gameplay that always called for round 2. And finally, my favorite zone kept me coming back again and again, playing at my inner love of gambling. This zone was aptly named Casino Park Zone and was full of slot machines, pinball, and bingo as well as high-speed rolling. So, overall, this game is one of the better games in the 3D Sonic realm, and if you’re an avid Sonic gamer such as NerdBerrySonic Heroes is a definite necessity.

All of the playable "heroes" in Sonic Heroes

All of the playable “heroes” in Sonic Heroes

How I Rated Sonic Heroes

Sonic Heroes is so infuriatingly inconsistent that it is incredibly hard to put a set number on it. After the first hour of gameplay, you could easily set it at 8.5 or even higher. Two hours later, depending on how many bugs you ran into through your first playthrough, that number could drop down to near 5, causing for a lot of writing (as seen above) and a lot of indecision. Seeing as I’ve owned it for nearly a decade now, I can only say that once you acclimate yourself to the flaws, you can really appreciate the finer aspects of this game, and that’s exactly how I factored the score. So if you’re looking for a flawless game, this isn’t for you, but if you’re in for a decent game worth playing two or three times along with hours of head-to-head multiplayer, go ahead and add this to your collection. The original Xbox version is now supported on Xbox 360, so what’s stopping you?

Written by Nerd Bacon

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