Originally released on the Dreamcast in July 2001, it was released a few months later in December for the Gamecube as SA2B. Both versions were edited by Sega and developed by the Sonic Team. Its best description is an “Adventure Platformer”. It has multiplayer for up to four players.
The plot is one of the more interesting ones in the Sonic universe which are generally not too deep (barring Shadow the Hedgehog). This one deals with the discovery by Doctor Eggman of a secret project by his grandfather to create a hedgehog. This hedgehog, named Shadow, views Sonic as an inferior version of himself, an impostor who should be stopped. People mistaking Shadow for Sonic has led to Sonic’s reputation and name being dragged through mud: the game starts with the US military arresting him.
There are a few sideplots such as the Master Emerald being broken into pieces, and much like in the prequel Sonic Adventure, the levels with Knuckles are a treasure hunt for emerald pieces.
The gameplay follows a dichotomy between the Heroes and the Darks. You can advance in either “tree” whenever you want, but the stories are parallel to each other. The Heroes include the playable characters Sonic, Knuckles and Tails, whereas the Dark mode contains Shadow, Rouge the Bat and Doctor Eggman. They all have parallel gameplay modes: Sonic and Shadow are classic Sonic levels, Rouge and Knuckles are treasure hunt levels, and Eggman and Tails have a shoot’em up aspect.
In the Sonic/Shadow levels, gameplay is fluid, and feels like a fast paced sonic game. All the bugs from the original version have been corrected. Some levels require a certain amount of patience to get through. It stays entertaining throughout though, and it is very fun (and encouraged) to replay your favourite missions.
The graphics are an improvement, but there are a few bugs here and there. The most notable ones are in the Multiplayer mode.
The music is generally considered very good. Some of the tracks have become fan-favourites, such as “Escape from the City”, “Live and Learn”, “Throw it all away” and “Biohazard”. The styles are varied, ranging from Rock to Pop to Electronica and even to Rap, all fitting with the levels and/or characters. Several of the rock songs were contributed by the band Crush 40, who are known for their work on various Sonic games. It is possible to choose to hear the original Japanese voice-acting with subtitles, though the English dub is excellent. The SFX throughout are good, and add to immersion.
There is a special mode in SA2/SA2B, a new and improved version of the Chao Garden from the prequel. In it, you can hatch and raise special little creatures called Chaos. These have a lifespan of several real life hours, meaning that you could spend a long, long time in this mode. You can acces different gardesn and feed the Chaos food you find throughout the normal-game levels. Based on what you feed them, they change appearance. They can change appearance twice before dying, becoming a cocoon between each stage. They can also reproduce, giving you a new egg.
You can also give them animals found in levels, which they absorb and gain the properties of (if you give a Chao a monkey, it can climb trees. If you give it an otter, it can swim better, and so forth). If you give the Chao enough food to boost running, it can come to look like Sonic or Shadow. Going to the Chao Garden with an evil garden (or mistreating Chao with a good character) will make the Chaos become “Dark chaos”, and doing it with a good character will make them become either “Neutral” or “Good”. Dark ones have horns and a spiky ball floating above their heads, while good ones have a halo.
Also called Battle Mode, there are three different modes: Racing, Treasure Hunt and Shooting Battle, all different versions of the normal single-player game modes. You can play in any of the normal stages, and there are even additional characters to play with: Metal Sonic, Chaos and Amy to name a few.
As I mentioned, it is encouraged and fun to replay levels. Both adventures are rather short, roughly 4 hours combined, but certain harder levels may slow you down. The replay value will add many more hours. (Spoiler) There is a third secret adventure to unlock. (Spoiler).
In 2012, a digital port named “Sonic Adventure 2 HD” was released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, letting you play SA2B on the three mentioned consoles with a lot of bugs fixed and improved graphics.
This remains the best Sonic Game on a lot of people’s lists. There’s no reason anyone who owns a Nintendo device (it is compatible on the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U) should not pick it up, as it can be found at very good prices. It remains a must-play for the Gamecube, and a masterpiece of the then-emerging 3D era.
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