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Ugh, stop twitching
sonic adventure unreview
games Posted 2001-06-18 11:44:12 by Jim Crawford
Super Mario 64 has really ruined me for lesser video games. I played Sonic Adventure just the other day, and it was pretty fun, but I just couldn't help but notice dozens of what I'd consider to be design flaws.

The linear sections of the game that you can speed through seem to be based on a warm and fuzzy sense of trust between the designer and the player: e.g. you trust that the track won't suddenly end or that this bumper won't send you to flying to your death. The most egregious class of what I'd call design flaws is where they seem to violate this sense of trust. I found sections of the game, especially on the second level, where it seemed to me that I had absolutely no control over whether I lived or died. Maybe I just have no skills, but it was irritating either way.

Also, the story/RPG elements of the game sucked. This is probably just me, but I consider playing RPGs to be work. The gameplay works out to: wander around trying to find the next level for twenty minutes, then play the level for five, then repeat. Trying to find the next level has the same mechanics as solving a puzzle in an adventure game, which could be fun, but the world is only implemented in as much detail as your average platform game. People that you meet talk like they do in RPGs: essentially summarizing what would be several-minute conversations into a single sentence each. It's probably a necessary artifact of having a game world populated with characters that can speak, but it's not one that I'm used to.

I wouldn't mind so much if the dialogue was well-written. (The problem was worse in Paper Mario, where the characters drone on about nothing in particular for pages, like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The problem being that the writer is not nearly as talented as Quentin.)

The dialogue during the cut scenes is especially awful. People don't talk like that unless they know they're being watched and are only pretending to talk to communicate with each other rather than the audience.

And Sonic in particular ... his voice grates, just because I've heard it so many times before. I looked up the actor's name, thinking it was Cameron Clarke, who's done voices for just about every cartoon in existence, but apparently they used an imitator. Or maybe every time I've heard that voice it was recorded by a different actor.

From what I saw, the story was a fantastic example of why you don't need a good story to make a good game. From what I've heard, the plot gets incredibly convoluted, and considering the quality of the writing as far as I saw, if I played much further I'd probably keep a book handy to read during the cut scenes. It'd be nice if you could skip them.

Speaking of wasting time, I really can't stand the loading time. It's only about four seconds between areas, but four seconds is still awful, especially when you're running around the overworld blindly looking for the key to the next level. I have little enough patience for that section of the game.

Well, that about wraps up what I have to say. Except that I hope coders can keep Gamecube loading times to a minimum. I think I may be the only person who appreciated Nintendo's decision to make the N64 cartridge-based.

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