This is probably the understatement of the century, but many of us develop emotional attachments to video games. It’s probably what fans the flames of nostalgia when we get to see ‘re-imagined’ versions of Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon on our screens; I certainly feel a pang of Something when I see Tomb Raider 2 load up, or even when I hear the Megadrive renditions of songs from Disney’s Aladdin. For me, one of the most memorable games I have ever played is Sonic Adventure 2 – that is, the original version. The one as it was presented on the short-lived Sega Dreamcast.
There are so many intense emotions attached to this classic Sonic the Hedgehog title. A large part of this is probably down to the fact that my teenage hormones were just kicking in, meaning that when I got to play the City Escape demo about two weeks prior to the title’s release, I didn’t just feel ‘excited,’ I felt euphoric. In fact, I probably played that level more times than is healthy. Has anyone else ever done that? My playthroughs of City Escape must number in the high dozens. (My teenage years were clearly a rich and varied time…)
Coupled with this euphoria was the abject horror that came with actually trying to lay my hands on a copy of Sonic Adventure 2. I was adamant that I would play the game at launch, which meant being at my local branch of Game from the moment the shutters went up. However, my ‘local’ branch of Game wasn’t actually ‘local’ – it was 10 miles away. 10 miles away meant getting the bus. Getting the bus meant going aloooooone to the big city. All. On. My. Own. I’d never done that. Seriously – travelling solo on the bus was the single most terrifying thing I had done in my life to date. (Apart from learning to swim.)
Nevertheless, I did it, and – as Wikipedia tells me – on 23rd June 2001 at the tender age of 13 I found myself in the centre of Leeds, UK, at around 8:30am sitting patiently on a bench outside Game waiting for the shutters to rise. The plan worked, by the way – I was the first person to enter the store that day, and I managed to buy Sonic Adventure 2 on the Sega Dreamcast before the hapless staff member had even tucked the store keys back into his pocket.
What followed was a solid weekend of saving the world from Doctor Eggman. And as we continue our journey across the emotional spectrum from insatiable elation to nail-biting dread, we hit the third emotion du jour – love. You see, I grew up with three sisters (and I’m not complaining – I love them very much.) However I’d always longed for a brother, and alas God had a different idea in mind when he assembled the clan ‘Survive.’
During this particular weekend, though, I had a ‘brother’ with me… His name was Richard, and he was the closest thing to an older bro I’ve ever had. He was my sister’s boyfriend, and when he arrived at my house and noticed that I was enraptured by Rouge’s high-stakes Chaos Emerald mission in the high tech Security Hall… Well, he was captivated too.
I can’t say my sister was overly thrilled that she had lost a weekend with her boyfriend to a high octane platforming title, but I was in my element. Spending a whole weekend with Richard, engrossed in Sonic Adventure 2, was an absolute joy, and a dream come true. I had a brother! We shared in the excitement of it all, and we had a fair few rows… Like most teenagers I had a fairly short temper, and I used to get indescribably frustrated with Richard for Not Taking The Game Seriously Enough. In fact he found it rib-ticklingly hilarious when we repeatedly failed to defeat the dreaded King Boom Boo boss, but I was like, mate, how’s this funny? We need to progress!!
What finally stumped us was a mid-air light speed dash during a particularly awkward part of Crazy Gadget, which pretty much put an end to our weekend of Sonic adventuring. That section’s still a bit of a lottery for me, even to this day. Bad game design or Al Survive ineptitude? Leave your opinion below.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Sonic Aventure 2 that’s where the fun times end. I can’t explain the exact circumstances that led to Richard departing from my life because I would probably end up in court(!) but I tried to remain as impartial as I could in the midst of what was, frankly, a very messy situation. I still regarded Richard as a brother in my late teenage years, and heck, even now I still have great affection for the guy.
It’s all so sad though! About a year after he and my sister broke up, I ran into him at a bowling alley in Leeds. I really wanted to say hey so I gingerly approached and tapped him on the shoulder. He quickly turned round to see who it was… then looked me in the eye and turned away again, saying nothing. Oof. That was a body blow.
That would have been in 2004, and I haven’t spoken to him since. So Richard – on the off-chance that you ever stumble across this article – consider this an open invite to say hello at some point. I’ll buy you a beer!
Sonic Adventure 2 was also the last purchase I made for the Sega Dreamcast, because not long after the game came out, my console died. And not long after THAT, the Sega Dreamcast went out of production. And THEN Sega stopped making consoles all together. Man, I couldn’t catch a break! Not only that, but I couldn’t even replay Sonic Adventure 2 because I had no means of doing so. Pff! It was only several years later, when I invested in a second-hand Nintendo Gamecube for the bank-busting sum of £20, that I was able to relive this rollercoaster of digital memories. And as awesome as I think Sonic Adventure 2 is, there is no way I can ever defend the infuriation that is Rouge’s Mad Space. What a ridiculous level.
Anyway, thank you for reading this Sonic sprint down Memory Lane. And do tell me about your memories of Sonic Adventure 2. Heck, tell me your memories of other great video games – I bet there are some fascinating stories out there. Leave a message in the comments below.