Video Game Review: Sonic Heroes (2003)
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Video Game Review: Sonic Heroes (2003)

It's time for some new heroes!

Video Game Review: Sonic Heroes (2003)

To most fans, the transition from 2D to 3D was a hard one for Sonic, and the series lost a lot of its focus in the process by trading in speed for action adventure elements and introducing a cast of characters. However, Sonic Heroes strips away a lot of the elements that slowed down the Sonic Adventure backpedals on a lot of the design decisions made in the Adventure games. It's truer to its 2D roots than any other 3D Sonic game before it.

1) Story

The game gets away with this by giving you control of three characters at once and dividing the characters up into four different teams--Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotix. Even though all teams progress through the game at the same time in the same stages, they have different stories and objectives.

A) Team Sonic

Team Sonic's plot is as simple as the plots in all 2D classic Sonic games. Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles Tails Prower and Knuckles the Echidna received a note from Dr. Eggman. In the note, Eggman said that he just developed an ultimate weapon, and in three days he'll conquer the world. With no time to waste, the three heroes begin to chase down Dr. Eggman, and stop him and his plans.

B) Team Rose

Team Rose consists of Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit, and Big the Cat... Yeah, he's back! Anyways, each member wants a certain someone / something. Amy wants Sonic, Cream and Cheese want to find their Chao friend, Chocola, and Big wants to find Froggy... YEAH, HE LOST THE DAMN FROG AGAIN!!! However, there is no fishing in this game... Thank god!!!

C) Team Chaotix

Team Chaotix consists of Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee. They run a detective agency, and they have received a walky-talky through the mail. The mysterious device has some tasks for the Chaotix to do, and the team goes with it because they need the money to pay the rent (it stated that they'll be rewarded if all is complete).

Also, I assume that Mighty the Armadillo forgot to set his alarm clock yet again. Seriously, we haven't heard from this guy since Knuckles' Chaotix! What happened?

D) Team Dark

Team Dark consists of Shadow the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat and E-123 Omega, and this story is actually more immersive than the other three. It begins with Rouge sneaking into Eggman's base to find a secret treasure. She was probably hoping for jewels or money. Instead, she found Shadow inside a capsule, who apparently survived his fall from outer space at the end of Sonic Adventure 2. Also located in the base is Omega, who immediately begins firing at Shadow thinking he's one of Eggman's robots.

Each member has something different that they want. It's kinda like Team Rose, but more specific in some way. Rouge still wants to find the secret treasure, duh. Omega is angry with Dr. Eggman for locking him in the base, and wants to destroy everything that represents Eggman...including the doctor himself. Meanwhile, Shadow is suffering with amnesia. Not only he doesn't remember who he is, but he also doesn't remember anything from Sonic Adventure 2. In the end, Rouge decides to make the three a team and hunt down Dr. Eggman, so everybody wins...for the most part.

What do I mean by that? Well, Shadow's memory loss is never addressed throughout the story, and that's my biggest problem with this team's plot. Why does Rouge, or anyone else for that matter, never explain Shadow's past to him? Anyway, we don't have an answer...for now that is.

2) Gameplay

Before I talk about the gameplay, let me just say that I fully recommend the Nintendo GameCube version of this game. The Sony PlayStation 2 version is the worst with its horrible frame rate and bad collision textures, the Microsoft Xbox version is not as spot on as the GameCube version, and I never had experience with the PC port.

Anyways, Sonic Heroes strips out a lot of the shooting and hunting stuff found in the Sonic Adventure games, but it retains the large cast of characters. Each team member has his or her own strengths, and your abilities as a team change depending on which character you have set as the team leader. The team members are color-coded for easy reference, so blue characters have the most speed, yellow characters can fly, and red characters can bust through blocks that are otherwise impenetrable. The game makes it easy to switch your team leader on the fly, and you can cycle through team members by simply pressing the X and Y buttons. There are times, such as when you're in the air, that you're unable to swap out your team leader, which can lead to some awkward moments. It generally works well, though, and once you've mastered the different team formation abilities, swapping out team leaders becomes like second nature.

There's a little bit of light combat, which requires only a bit of skill and strategy for proficiency, but for the most part, Sonic Heroes tries its hardest to recapture the hectic pace of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games. You'll race down lots of narrow paths that are loaded with speed strips, corkscrews, and loops; you'll bounce off of strategically placed bumpers; you'll grind along miles of rails that seem to be suspended in thin air; and you'll frantically try to outrun pursuing enemies and rising lava levels. The different level themes, which include Sonic staples like the sandy beach, the sparks-and-fire factory, and the ever-popular casino-inspired pinball machine levels, will feel familiar to Sonic fans. The levels are loaded with lots of different paths that cater to the strengths of the different team leaders, thus allowing you to lean on whichever of the three team formations you feel most comfortable with. The level designs are pretty straightforward, though you'll occasionally find portions that aren't entirely intuitive. The game's not terribly long, and most players should be able to wrap it up with ease. Fortunately, it is free of the action adventure filler that made up large portions of the Sonic Adventure games, thereby providing a more satisfying experience overall.

In the end, Sonic Heroes works the way it's supposed to, and the action is fast and exciting. Unfortunately, the game mainly suffers from spastic controls. I mean, what did they do the controls here??? In my last two reviews, I have commented that Sonic controlled perfectly in a 3D world. His top speed, weight, acceleration... Everything was precise. Now, someone probably mentioned that the speed in the previous games wasn't enough because the acceleration here is through the roof. As a result, the control can be slippery at times, and that's only when I'm in speed formation. My first time playing this, it was so frustrating to go through levels with these controls. Now... I'm used to it, and I don't have problems with it, but it can still get you angry every now and then.

3) Special Stages

Unlike the Adventure titles, the Chaos Emeralds are integrated into the plot...sort of. In order to collect them, you have to find a Special Key located in the second act of a zone, and then you have to complete the zone without getting hit. Then, you'll be teleported to a Special Stage, where you can nab a Chaos Emerald.


... I'm sorry. At the end of the day, if you want to get all the Chaos Emeralds, get them with Team Rose. Since they have the shortest stages, it'll be less painful to retry when you eventually mess up.

4) Overall

Sonic Heroes is the closest that Sonic Team has gotten to doing a 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game in the classic 2D fashion. The only thing that's so disappointing is the controls. It's a thing that could be remedied with a an extra month of fine-tuning. In the end, though, it's still a purer, more action-packed Sonic experience than both Sonic Adventure games. Sonic Heroes is easy to recommend. This also the last main Sonic game to feature the original voice actors of these characters. I'm talking about people like Ryan Drummond (Sonic), Scott Drier (Knuckles), David Humphrey (Shadow), and many more. By the way, they're the best voice actors in terms of main Sonic games. COME AT ME, BRO!!!

Most fans either don't love this game as a whole or only enjoy it when it involves a love-starved pink hedgehog, a rabbit with a high-pitched voice and a big purple cat that's voiced by Duke Nukem (Jon St. John). Me? I actually enjoy Sonic Heroes as a whole, and I think you can too.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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