Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most iconic computer characters of all time, and has come to be the mascot for the Japanese Sega1 company. Although designed to help sell Sega's 1989 Mega Drive, Sonic's success has far outlasted that of the console he was created for and games featuring him continued to be played in the years following the Mega Drive's demise.
|Recurring Sonic Characters between 2000-2004|
Sonic the Hedgehog – The titular blue hero capable of jumping, rolling and spin-dashing. When in possession of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic transforms into Super Sonic.
Doctor Ivo Robotnik – Also known as Dr Eggman2, Robotnik is the mad scientist whose hobbies include turning the innocent animals of Mobius into evil half-robot monstrosities known as Badniks, as well as constructing various contraptions to fight Sonic with, all of which are vulnerable to being jumped on.
Miles 'Tails' Prower3 – a red flying fox introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic's constant companion. In later games he is even capable of carrying Sonic short distances. Tails is a skilled pilot, and has a Tornado biplane.
Knuckles – An echidna who jealously guards the Master Emerald and believes Sonic to be his enemy.
Shadow the Hedgehog – Mean, moody and magnificent, Shadow was created to be the Ultimate life form.
Metal Sonic – An evil, metal Sonic robot.
Amy Rose – A pink, female hedgehog who longs to be Sonic's girlfriend.
Big the Cat – a purple cat whose best friend is Froggy.
Rouge the Bat – a jewel-collecting female bat.
Cream – A big-eared rabbit who can flap her ears and fly, and has a Chao called Cheese.
Chao – A cross between babies and pets, Chaos regularly appear in Sonic games and can be raised to be good or evil.
Sonic the Hedgehog games released between 2000 and 2004 were designed for the following games consoles:
Sega Dreamcast - Sega's last game console released in 1999 was a revolutionary 128-bit console. It was the first designed for online gaming, marketed promising 6 billion players worldwide. Although popular at launch, it could not compete with the PlayStation 2.
Neo Geo Pocket Colour - A handheld console released by arcade company SNK in 1999. This was their last console due to the dominance of the Game Boy series.
Nintendo Game Boy Advance - A handheld console capable of playing previous Game Boy console's games. Later, smaller versions included the SP and Micro.
Nintendo GameCube - Nintendo's main console between the N64 and Wii, released in 2001. Games came on mini DVDs rather than Nintendo's favoured cartridges. It was considered more family-friendly than its competitors, the Xbox and PlayStation 2, and not quite as popular as those consoles.
PlayStation 2 - the follow up to the popular Sony PlayStation released in 2000.
Xbox – released in 2001, this was Microsoft's first games console, notable for its online gaming.
The following Sonic games were made between 2000-2004:
Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast - 2000)
After a fallow period game-wise, Sonic came back with a bang for his next game, to appear on the new Dreamcast console. Not only was his new game to be the first in actual 3D all the way though, he also sported a brand new look along with his old friends.
Dr Robotnik (now known as Eggman) had this time busted a watery creature called Chaos out of the Master Emerald. Now the race is on for Sonic and Co to find the chaos emeralds before Robotnik can feed them to Chaos and transform him to Perfect Chaos.
There was six characters to play as, Sonic (duh), Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose (her first game as a proper playable character) and new additions Big the Cat and E102 Gamma. Each character had a different story and gameplay style to follow. The game had a slight RPG feel to it, due to the in-between exploration stages. To get to the levels themselves you had to solve a puzzle, find a key or just get to the area where the level is placed.
Sonic's game was the usual running around, bopping badniks style, Tails' was to beat Sonic (and in one case Dr Eggman), Knuckles' to find the shards of Angel Island's Master Emerald. Amy has to protect a bird from a robot intent on catching her, Big to catch his friend Froggy4 after he is possessed by Chaos' tail and takes Big's 'lucky charm', which happens to be a emerald. E102 Gamma is a newly built robot for Eggman's side, yet after he has met Amy and her bird friend his bad programming starts to malfunction. He soon changes sides and frees other E100 robots in lock on and shoot style levels. All the characters bump into each other in some point in the game. The endings are different though, unless you count Sonic and Tails' which is different till they meet up for a victory run.
Super Sonic appeared in the game after you finished the other character stories. His simply consisted of running back and forth as Sonic, with a few billion cut scenes to clear up plot holes from the other stories. Then he had to take out Perfect Chaos (perfect because he's got negative energy of every emerald) Sonic gets to use the positive energy of the emeralds and takes out Chaos, this seems to calm him down and he his resealed in the Master emerald. There were no Special Stages to speak of here, there were a few mini games though and a new system, Chao.
Chao are little creatures, they hatch from Eggs and are very cute. They act like babies and toddlers, needing you to feed them and help them grow. They go though three stages, birth, evolution and another evolution. Sadly they don't grow beyond toddler and die, yet they do breed with each other so chances of running out of them are low. You can enter them in races which get you emblems, not that these are really worth collecting. For nothing happens when you collect them all, which is a real shame.
Sonic Pocket Adventure (Neo Geo Pocket Colour - 2000)
The first official Sonic game on a non-Sega platform, Sonic Pocket Adventure was much in the mould of the first Sonic games. Most of the level ideas come from Sonic 2 and 3. It has a few extras, like puzzle parts to put together and collect in the game. Sonic only appeared on his own, yet in 2-player mode Tails appears. The only real difference in the game between the early Sonics and this one are Sonic and Robotnik's appearances, which are the styles from Sonic Adventure.
Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast - 2001)
Sonic returned to the Dreamcast again in one of his most anticipated games ever. In the build up to the game, Sonic Team sent out odd shots showing a strange black and red hedgehog and others hinting at new powers. The game's story was unknown till it came out. Robotnik breaks into G.U.N. military base to get his hands on a project his grandfather was working on. It turns out this project is a artificial hedgehog called Shadow, heralding himself as the 'Ultimate Life-form'. Shadow steals a Chaos Emerald and everyone thinks Sonic has done the bad deed. Sonic escapes the military and, along with his friends, sets out to clear his name.
SA2 is a definite update on the graphics of SA, the characters look smoother and streamlined. The gameplay is great too, there's plenty to unlock along the way and loads of emblems to collect that were worth getting this time. A 2-player mode was put in also for certain levels, cart racing and the Chao race. The main 2-player games are ok but are not as entertaining as you want them to be and seem to be rushed efforts. The Chao system is improved, the small creatures are cuter than ever and have new types of evolution. Depending on which side you use to raise your Chao, they can become Angel Chao or Devil Chao. They can now also learn skills at Kindergarten and be taken to the doctor (though that usually is of little use). They still use animals to grow and gain skills but now also use "Chaos Drives" to boost certain abilities. With all that the game has a high lasting appeal and is more like the original than the last few games that came before this
Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (GameCube - 2001)
A few months after SA2 came out SEGA shocked the world by ditching the Dreamcast and becoming a third party game developer. Even more shocking was of the news that Sonic Team was producing a ported version of SA2 with some extras... on Nintendo's GameCube, home of Sonic's old rival Mario! Little was changed to the main game except for a few cosmetic tweaks here and there. The Chao system had an update, you could check your Chao's stats by simply picking it up (or giving it an animal) doctors gave you more info and now, as well as racing, you could now watch your sweet little Chao pummel another in Chao karate. The black market that was on the Sonic Adventure 2 website is now in the kindergarten closet and you could get much more. It also was the first game to use GBA-to-GameCube connectivity, which worked with...
Sonic Advance (Game Boy Advance - 2001)
A more back-to-basics Sonic game than any other, Sonic Advance is a nice change to the 3D treatment of Sonic's normal adventures. The neo-geo game was good but this is better, it is in any case more original than Sonic Pocket Adventure. This time you had no real plot to speak of, just that Eggman was being a pain again and you had to stop him. Sonic didn't go alone though, you could also play as Tails, Knuckles and making her playable 2D debut, Amy Rose. Along with just the same old run-and-bop-the-bad-guys idea you had a few new moves. Sonic (and surprisingly, Amy) could now grind rails, each character had a attack of their own and had some great sprite animations, even the waiting animations are worth seeing. The Chao Garden also appears (with one Chao egg waiting to be loved) it serves the same function as the Visual Memory (VM) Unit did for Sonic Adventure, to raise Chao stats.
The Chao garden is pretty much the same as the one on Sonic Adventure; you hatch an egg, feed the Chao, give it toys and play games (one being a matching game and the other an odd version of paper, scissors, stone) it's other relation to the old VM Chao functions is that when you connect the GBA to the GameCube you can upload your little chao in the 2D garden to the 3D one on Sonic Adventure 2. The music has some remixes of the older tunes from Sonic games.
Sonic Mega Collection (GameCube - 2003)
All of Sonic's Mega Drive5 games on one disc, it's really more a rehash of Sonic Jam but as well as Sonic 1,2,3 and Knuckles also includes Mean Bean Machine and Sonic Spinball and as unlockable bonus games Ristar and Flicky. It also has a load of adverts for the games (including the odd but funny Japanese ones) and scans of the covers for many of the US sonic comic (including one full issue). But unlike Jam there is no extra Sonic game like Sonic World with the load of information that Jam had. Though this is more for the new generation of Sonic fans that never have played the originals, Jam was for the hardcore Sonic fan.
Sonic Advance 2 (Game Boy Advance - 2003)
This sequel to Sonic Advance improved on some of the cons of the last game. There was more speed added to the game and fewer slower sections, trick moves like the ones in Sonic Adventure 2 now added to overall game play. When the characters run they really run, when they get to a certain speed they get an extra boost and run like crazy with multiple images behind them. A new character is also introduced to the staple of Sonic characters; Cream the rabbit.
Cream is a young rabbit out to save her mother (who has become the latest hostage of Robotnik) as are Sonic, Tails and Knuckles which makes up the plot. Though Cream, Tails and Knuckles have all become hostages at the beginning anyway, so Sonic has to go save them. Cream is pretty much in the same mould as most Sonic characters, she spin-jumps, runs fast and flies (yes you heard me a rabbit that flies). Though she has one thing that makes her different, she has a Chao called Cheese. Cheese is a neutral Chao who wears a bow tie; he follows Cream in the game and has a homing attack that is used whenever Cream points out a bad guy to him. This makes Cream the easiest character in the game, she is more suited to those new to Sonic.
The Special stage now has be accessed by each character and to enter must get 7 special rings in levels, the stage itself harks back to the pseudo 3D stages in Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. Yet no blue and red balls appear here, instead you are required to collect 300 rings which are scattered all over the place in a time limit, you also have 'Ring multi-players' that boost your rings, collected on their own get you 10 but when collected with rings can be worth more. There is also more to unlock than Advance, for each character you complete with all Emeralds certain things will open up to you such as the mini Chao garden, which is the first Emerald prize, and 2 hidden characters.
Sonic Adventure DX (GameCube – 2003)
Based on the Dreamcast's Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure DX was an expanded 60-mission version and billed as a 'Director's Cut'. As well as a modified version of the Dreamcast game, the release also allowed the previous Sonic games designed for the Game Gear to be unlocked and played. A good way to reminisce, but Sonic Adventure DX disappointingly did not deliver anything new.
Sonic Pinball Party (Game Boy Advance – 2003)
A sequel to Sonic Spinball In order to rescue Tails and Amy Rose, Sonic must win a pinball competition. Levels were not only inspired by Sonic, but also other games by Team Sonic, the designers behind the Sonic series. Also included were mini-games, which could be played by up to four people, provided they each had a Game Boy Advance and a connection wire.
Sonic Battle (Game Boy Advance – 2003)
The last Sonic game for the Game Boy Advance, this is a fighting game. The plot involves a robot named Emerl, which may or may not be evil. The game itself involves fighting other characters, with characters having life bars. The game included a few mini-games available to play. This was actually the second Sonic fighting game, after an arcade game.
Sonic Heroes (GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2 & PC - 2004)
In this game, players choose one of four teams to play as, and within each team there are three characters. Each character in the team has a special ability - Speed, Power or Flight, with one of each in each team. Players can swap which character in their chosen team at will. The teams are:
- Team Sonic - Sonic, Tails, Knuckles.
- Team Dark - Shadow, Rouge the Bat, E-123 Omega.
- Team Rose - Amy, Cream, Big.
- Team Chaotix - Espio, Charmy, Vector.
The plot involves Dr Robotnik announcing that he wishes to conquer the world, with Team Sonic wishing to stop him. Team Dark want revenge on Dr Eggman, Team Rose wish to locate missing persons while Team Chaotix, previously seen in 1994's Knuckles Chaotix, are a detective agency hired by a mysterious client. The game introduced a new character in E-123 Omega. It is enjoyable, easy to pick up and play, and one of the better Sonic games made during this period, becoming a best-seller on all the platforms it was released for.
Sonic Advance 3 (Game Boy Advance - 2004)
Similar to the two previous Advance games, although the chao garden has a reduced role. Sonic and Tails must rescue their friends and defeat Dr Robotnik and his new robot sidekick, Gemerl, a modified Emerl from Sonic Battle. Players begin playing with Sonic and Tails and can unlock other characters including Knuckles, Amy Rose and Cream. The game involves a new 'tag play' function, in which the players choose two characters to play as, similarly to Sonic Chaotix.
Sega Superstars (PlayStation 2 – 2004)
This release was for the PlayStation 2 eye-toy and featured several mini-games. Players move their bodies to complete these games, one of which has a Sonic the Hedgehog theme.
|Into the Immediate Future|
The second half of the first decade of the 21st Century would see Sonic playable on new games consoles, including the Nintendo DS and Wii, the PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360. He would even show Olympic spirit and team up with his closest rivals, the Mario Brothers.
Sonic will continue on, there's many years yet for ol' blue spikes.