Sonic Heroes Review
Sonic Heroes was the first outing of the Blue Hedgehog on multiple platforms – and my introduction to the series.
As we come to a close on the Dream era, we finally arrive at my introduction to the Sonic series: Sonic Heroes.
The story is split between the four playable teams: Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose and Team Chaotix with one unlockable story after beating all four. Each team is comprised of three characters and Sonic Heroes has the most playable characters in any platform game with 12 total characters.
Team Sonic is the classic trio of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. Their story begins with Tails and Knuckles finally catching up to Sonic as he tours around the globe. Tails hands Sonic a letter from Dr.Eggman stating that Sonic has three days to stop his latest super weapon, so the three set out to try and put a stop to Eggman’s latest nefarious scheme.
Team Dark is an odd combination of Shadow, Rouge and new character E-123 Omega. Team Dark’s story starts off with Rouge getting a tip off about Eggman’s supposed secret treasure hoard at one of his old facilities. Rouge infiltrates the base to find no riches but a strange capsule in the middle. As she begins hacking the control panel on the capsule she accidentally awakes the last of the E-100 series robots E-123 codename “Omega”, and inside the capsule lies Shadow who was thought to have died at the end of Sonic Adventure 2. After a fight, the three decide to band together to track down Eggman. Omega wants to track down Eggman for revenge, Shadow has amnesia and believes that Eggman holds the key to his past and Rouge wants to get her hands on Eggman’s treasure.
Team Rose is another odd trio of Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit and Big the Cat. Their story is that Sonic is suspected of absconding with Big’s friend Froggy and a relative of Cream’s Chao Cheese and Amy wants to force marriage with Sonic.
Finally we have the return of the defective detectives Team Chaotix, comprised of Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee and Vector the Crocodile. They had recently been employed by someone and are receiving their orders via a radio.
Overall the story is a bit more simplified than Sonic Adventure 2 which some may see as disappointing but I personally love it how its split between the four teams. It allows you to experience the world from the perspective of a new set of characters.
Gameplay is a standard formula for the Sonic series. The levels are structured similarly to Sonic 1 and 2 meaning you have two stages set in the same surroundings and then you get a boss fight and many of the stages I fondly remember such as Frog Forest with its somewhat relaxing music, Rail Canyon with its adrenaline fuelled soundtrack and its similarities between Red Mountain and Sky Rail and the intro stage of Seaside Hill is by far one of the best first levels in the Sonic series.
In terms of controls, the characters all control pretty well and the three separate members of each team are split into three skill categories: Speed, Power and Flight. Speed type characters are capable of using the homing attack and creating wind based attacks. Only Sonic and Shadow can use the Light Dash and with the exception of Amy, they can use the wall to wall jump. Amy does have some additional moves such as being able to hover short distances after a jump. Flight type characters are capable of flying the team over short distances and paralysing enemies with Thunder Shoot. Power types are the best for dealing with large groups of enemies and riding wind currents as well as activating and destroying parts of the environment. Using all three team members is imperative for completing the levels and you can switch between them with the circle and triangle buttons on Playstation 2, the x and y buttons on Gamecube and y and b on the Xbox.
The theme of teamwork is not just used in the story, it is also used in gameplay as there are some enemies that can capture your team mates and some can even cause them to de-spawn. This is especially troubling as without that one team member, some sections become impossible.
As for the attacks each of them have their own uses and are especially useful as enemies now have health bars and can take multiple hits before being destroyed. However there is a chance for an enemy to drop a coloured power core upon being destroyed. Red power cores increase the level of the power character by 1 and add to your overall power type score, blue power cores add to your speed type score and level up the speed type character and the yellow power cores add to your flight type score and level up the flight type character. The levelling system is simple yet effective. Whenever a character levels up, their attack power is increased slightly and flight type characters can fly for longer. The same rules apply though. One must have at least one ring with you to protect against losing a life and your goal is a giant ring at the end of the stage with a few exceptions, one being Team Sonic’s Egg Fleet due to the fact that the team unexpectedly stops mid air as they begin their attack on Eggman’s flagship.
Another exception being a majority of Team Chaotix’s levels, they have a mission based system where they have to accomplish set objectives such as collect items or rings, remain undetected by enemies or destroy every enemy in the stage. The other teams meanwhile have a set difficulty. Team Rose is the easiest and have the shortest stages, Team Sonic are the standard difficulty not too hard but not too easy and finally Team Dark is the game’s Hard Mode, with strong enemies encountered early on and changes to some of the stage hazards.
At the end of each stage your given a rank based on your time, rings and score, but there is also a score for each team member, the highest rank you can get is an A and the lowest is E. There are two missions per stage, with the extra mission’s objectives differ depending on team. Team Sonic’s extra mission is to speed run the level under a set time limit, Team Dark’s is to destroy all enemies in the stage, Team Rose’s is to collect 200 rings and Team Chaotix undertakes a harder version of the normal mission.
There are a grand total of 14 levels with four boss battles. Each set of levels has a theme and a gimmick whether it be the boulders of Seaside Hill, the pinball tables of Casino Park, the rain summoning frogs of Frog Forest or the Supernatural switches of Hang Castle and I personally love every single level in this game. Special mention to Mystic Mansion as this was the level I remember the most due to the sheer weirdness factor of the supernatural switches. In fact I personally call it Luigi’s Rejected Mansion.
Though not everything is as good as it could be. The Special Stages are very poorly controlled mainly due to how fast your going and in the second level of every zone you can find a Chaos Emerald in the special stage. It is not just the special stages that control badly. The pinball stages control like a greased pig on roller skates while traveling down the San Francisco cable car hill while said hill is frozen. Despite these two control issues, the game is pretty dang good, a lot of it is memorable and while some people hate the repeating elements I can personally give Sonic Heroes an A rank.