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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

Sonic Team

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Whiz-bang speed

- On-the-fly character switching

- Good one for the kids

- Four playable teams

- Some multiplayer

 

 

- Idiot-proof

- Hard to stay "in" some levels

 

 

Review: Sonic Adventure DX (GC)

Classic Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)

Action Figure: Sonic the Hedgehog

Review: Super Mario Sunshine (GC)

 

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Sonic Heroes

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

I was disappointed with Sonic Heroes (SH).  Maybe not for the reasons you might think.  I was ready to get my hate on for the title.  The early press hadn’t been kind to Sonic Team’s latest effort so it struck me as a little disappointing when I found myself enjoying hour after hour of SH.  At times, I even stopped thinking (critically, anyway) and just had fun.  SH has its flaw, some of them frustrating, but it’s still a good game, particularly for younger gamers.

 

sonic heroes          sonic heroes

 

You assume control of a group of three Sonic characters, each member having a unique ability.  Though there are four different teams the abilities remain (generally) the same: Speed, Power, and Flight.  In the case of Sonic team, there is Sonic (speed), Knuckles (power), and Tails (flight).  Your currently controlled character can be changed on the fly to suit any given situation.  Glass need breaking?  Switch to Knuckles.  Need to knock airborne enemies out of the sky?  Use Tails.  It’s only working as a team that they’ll be able to succeed.

 

And almost without fail, the game prods you along so there’s no guesswork.  Every time you come upon a roadblock, one of the characters invariably spouts a very obvious and blatant “clue” as to which character you should be using.  (And the big signs further emphasize what you’re supposed to be doing.)  At the beginning this makes sense but by the 3rd stage it should be gone.  Even on the much later stages you still get the clues making progress extremely obvious.  Clearly, for younger and more inexperienced players this makes sense but for everyone else they’ll be searching for a way to disable this feature. (There isn’t a way, but try changing the languages in the option menu to one that you don’t understand.)

 

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There is still some challenge involved with SH, mostly involving staying “in” the level because dropping into oblivion is an ever-present danger.  Sometimes your team gets moving so quickly it can be hard to keep a bead on them, which makes spotting deadly drop-offs even more difficult.  Other times it comes down to hitting a bumper wrong.  The enemies don’t pose much of a problem unless you’re dealing with 4 or more enemies at once.

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SH looks great – plenty of splash and zooming animation.  The levels tend to follow Sonic’s original outings, starting with a temperate zone then moving into the pinball casino zone.  Whatever the level, they look good.

 

sonic heroes          sonic heroes

 

Sonic Team did a very good job getting the control right.  Even when confronted by a tricky timing situation, the control helps and because the four playable teams are all similar, once you understand the basics you’ll be comfortable trying different teams (extending the play time in the process).

 

Although the character switching adds gameplay possibilities to Sonic Heroes, most of them are negated by the too-obvious clues.  Most everything else is enjoyably familiar – the characters, the machinations of Robotnik (or Eggman as most refer to him), the blazing-fast visuals – which could help usher in a new generation of Sonic fans while giving old Sonic fans a kick of what made the originals so fun.  Plus, it's waaaay better than Sonic Adventure DX.

 

- Omni

(February 5, 2003)

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