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Video Game / Sonic Heroes

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"It's time to crack that Eggman wide open... yeah, let's party!"

What goes up must come down, and yet my feet don't touch the ground... ♪

Sonic Heroes is an entry in Sonic the Hedgehog series which was released at the end of 2003. It's notable for being the first Sonic game to have Multi-Platform releases on all three sixth generation consoles; prior to this, Sega had quit making consoles and ported several re-releases of older games to the Nintendo GameCube and the Game Boy Advance (the Sonic Advance trilogy).

It must be Tuesday, because Dr. Eggman has a new plan to Take Over the World: a Doomsday Device which he claims will allow him to conquer the world in three days. Unfortunately for him, it seems his minion Metal Sonic (last seen in Knuckles Chaotix eight years earlier) is working behind his back as part of a revenge plot for being labeled obsolete. Worse yet, Metal Sonic has pulled a Robert Patrick and learned how to shape-shift. Eggman's declaration sets into motion a chain of events which sweeps up four teams of three in their wake:


Its primary gameplay gimmick is teamwork, and as such the story focuses on four teams of three: Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotix. Each team has a Speed, Power, and Flight character with an associated formation. Each formation can be immediately switched with the press of a button.

  • Team Sonic, consisting of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. Being heroes, they just want to stop Dr. Eggman. Their levels are squarely in the middle difficulty-wise.
  • Team Dark, consisting of Shadow (amnesiac and seeking answers), Rouge (found Shadow when trying to steal some treasure from Dr. Eggman and decides to help him) and Omega (successor to Sonic Adventure's Gamma with a similar sense of independence). Their levels tend to be the hardest, and are teeming with most enemies.
  • Team Rose, consisting of Amy (stalking Sonic yet again), Big the Cat (wants to find his friend Froggy, who's missing again) and Cream the Rabbit (wants to reunite her friend Cheese with his brother). Their levels tend to be the easiest due to the low enemy count and being shorter.
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  • Team Chaotix, consisting of Espio, Charmy and Vector from the titular 1995 game. Having opened a detective agency since their first adventure, they take on a mysterious client and investigate Dr. Eggman's new scheme. Their levels have a mission-based mechanic where you're asked to complete a certain objective in order to finish the level.

It was later followed up with Shadow the Hedgehog, which wrapped up the loose threads in Team Dark's storyline.

A teamwork gimmick would also be used in Sonic Advance 3, but with a team of two instead of three and the ability to choose different character combinations.

This game provides examples of:

  • Actually a Doombot: Eggman, after you crash his Albatross. Once your back is turned, though, the robot melts and reforms into Metal Sonic.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Despite his amnesia, Shadow appears to have recognize some events from Sonic Adventure 2. One, the first thing he does after being awakened by Rouge is rescue her from Omega (though Omega was shooting at him too so he might have just been killing two birds with one stone). Then, when seeing Team Sonic at the jungle, Shadow says "Look, it's that hedgehog.", implying that he remembers Sonic, and lastly, when Rouge talks about stealing the Master Emerald, Shadow remarks that some things never change. Granted, it's unclear how much is him genuinely recognizing anything or if Rouge gave him some heads up on past events for him to catch up on off-screen.
  • A.I. Breaker: If you fly out of the enemy team's reach in a team battle, they'll spin around in circles until you land.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Metal Sonic, the real villain of the game, has gained a personality over the years, and was disillusioned by never being able to fulfill his purpose of defeating Sonic; in a surprisingly astute move, he mutinies by locking up Eggman, taking over his empire, and impersonating him, as well as secretly copying the data of the heroes to become all-powerful. However, it's clear that he's not only a cold-blooded egotist, but also literally insane, as he believes he is the real Sonic, and Sonic is his "loathsome copy!"
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Egg Fleet and Final Fortress.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Metal Sonic spends the game scanning the heroes and gaining their powers: Sonic's speed, Tails's flight, Knuckles's strength, Shadow's Chaos powers, and (by way of proxies that have been in contact with him) Chaos's shapeshifting ability, manifested through metal instead of water.
  • Art Evolution: This game evolves upon Adventure's art-style. This is most noticeable when it comes to the character's fangs. Sonic and Rouge no longer show their canines when they talk.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The story ends with Shadow's origin being unknown. Is he the real Shadow, or an android created by Eggman? Heroes leaves it vague, but Shadow the Hedgehog would reveal through a tricky Easter Egg that, yes, he is the real Shadow and was rescued by Eggman.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • During team battles, flying out of the enemy team's reach makes them spin around in circles without attacking until you land. Since you can fly infinitely as long as you stay in one place, you can safely use Thunder Shoot until the Team Blast meter is full to make the fight much easier. That is, as long as the enemy team doesn't kill themselves first.
    • If you fall or jump off a ledge, the other two characters will follow you to their deaths.
  • Ax-Crazy: Whatever Metal Sonic did to upgrade himself, it has pretty clearly made him lose his mind. During the final battle, he shouts that he's a robot based on Sonic and that he's the real Sonic at the same time, to the point that he calls Sonic his "loathsome copy."
  • Badass Longcoat: Neo Metal Sonic.
  • Bag of Spilling: Each time you start a new zone, all your levels reset to zero.
  • Battleship Raid: Egg Fleet (a raid on multiple battleships) and Final Fortress (a raid on one massive battleship).
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: The characters do quite a lot of lampshading, especially in the later stages: How did Eggman build all those battleships? Why did he build so many? How the hell does Final Fortress stay in the air? Why would he add self-destruct mechanisms?
  • Big Bad: Metal Sonic.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Hang Castle and Mystic Mansion take place around and inside a haunted castle.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Big the Cat remains his dopey mellow self looking for his lost frog (again). He proves swiftly protective of the rest of Team Rose throughout the game though, especially Cream. He comforts her repeatedly when things start to get too daunting for her, and Team Chaotix hassling her for her Chao actually leaves him understatedly pissed off.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Sonic lets one out when you lose a life via Bottomless Pit.
    • Metal Overlord also belts one out when hit by a Team Blast.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Averted with Team Sonic (as they're all the same size) and Team Dark (as none of the members are really short), but played straight with Team Rose (Big, Amy, and Cream, respectively) and Team Chaotix (Vector, Espio, and Charmy, respectively).
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • "Look at all those Eggman's robots!" Doubles as Memetic Mutation.
    • Another rather egregious example is in the final level, when you press a self-destruct switch to detonate the ship you are currently on, Tails will say "Wonder why it self-destructed?" when in the original Japanese script he instead says "Why did he put a self-destruct switch there?"
  • Blow You Away: Speed characters have access to the Tornado Jump, which flips enemies over, removes shields, and can be used to climb poles and activate propellers. Once they hit max level, though, they can eschew using Tornado Jump entirely in favor of just using Homing Attack, as it gains Tornado properties at Level 3.
  • Bottomless Pits: Lots of them are present in the game, to the point where almost every single level after Power Plant is suspended high in the air.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Lost Jungle is a swamp in its lower areas.
  • The Bus Came Back:
  • Casino Park: The Trope Namer appears here along with BINGO Highway.
  • Cast Herd: The 12 playable characters are herded into four groups of Power Trioes with their own stories.
  • Character Level: Collecting certain power-ups allows individual team members to upgrade one level (with a total of three upgrades each), which allows them to do more damage to enemies and upgrades their abilities. The levels reset upon death or completion of a stage.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Rocket Accel is taught in the tutorial and proceeds to be unnecessary for the rest of the game, until one puzzle in the second-to-last stage demands its use. Thankfully, Sonic and Shadow can both circumvent this with the somersault motion of their Solo Attacks, though the momentum generated by Kick is largely counteracted by the conveyer belt moving in the opposite direction, requiring the player to rapidly chain together multiple Kicks in order to proceed.
  • Chess Motif: Four of Eggman's robots are named after Chess pieces; the three named ones are the Egg Pawn, the Egg Bishop, and the Egg Knight. While not named after a Chess piece, the Egg Emperor can be considered a King.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles provide the classic Blue-Yellow-Red arrangement, which in this game has been expanded in role to refer to Speed, Flight, and Power character types. This particular arrangement of colors can be found all over the game if you look, such as on certain grind rails.
  • Competitive Balance: There are three different character types in the game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Conflict Ball: Any battle between two teams has pitiful justification.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Losing a life results in not only losing all your points (more-likely-than-not annihilating your chances of getting a good rank for that level unless you hit an early checkpoint), but it also resets your level-ups, making whatever killed you before more likely to kill you again.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Stay idle as Team Dark and Rouge might say "I haven't seen the President lately." This references the United Federation's president introduced in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • When you get a E rank with Omega, he will say "I couldn't even beat Gamma or Beta."
    • In the cutscene before the Team Sonic vs. Team Rose fight, Amy tells Sonic that there's no way out of marrying her, which is similar to when she asks him to marry her in the Prison Island scene in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • In Casino Park with Team Rose, Amy mentions that the level reminds her of Casinopolis.
    • In Frog Forest with Team Sonic, Knuckles remarks that the mushrooms in the level are huge compared to the ones from his island.
    • Shadow's encounter with Sonic has some shades of their encounter from Sonic Adventure 2. With quotes such as "What was with that hedgehog that looked like my twin?" and "Just a fake. Like I thought." (He says the former at the START of the fight, for some reason.)
    • When you stand still for a few seconds in Hang Castle as Shadow, he will say "Sonic... Why does that name.. bother me so much?"
    • Shadow's quote "Even if I'm not real... I'm still the Ultimate Life Form... Shadow the Hedgehog!" sounds similar to his quote in a Sonic Adventure 2 cutscene where he mentions that he's still Shadow despite his memories not being real.
    • When Rouge comments about being near the edge of space while progressing through the Egg Fleet, Shadow replies with "Space? Did you say SPACE?"
    • In Final Fortress, Knuckles comments that the Egg Carrier is nothing compared to the massive fleet they're on. Also in the same stage, Amy comments that the stormy weather reminds her of when she was on the Egg Carrier.
    • In the Team Dark ending, Rouge tells Shadow that she's going to steal the Master Emerald since Knuckles is around here. Then Shadow comments that some things never change.
  • Costume Copycat: Metal Sonic disguising as Eggman through the entire game, while the real one is locked up and gives orders to Team Chaotix. Presumably the "Sonic" seen in the newspaper article that kicked off Team Rose's quest was also Metal Sonic in disguise.
  • Crutch Character: Team Rose is effectively the game's "Easy Mode." They have the shortest and easiest levels along with a Purposely Overpowered Team Blast, making them good for learning the ropes and seeing all the levels, but their low speed makes it extremely hard to get the later Chaos Emeralds with them, forcing you to use one of the other teams.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: All the Teams go through the exact same levels at the exact same times and fight Metal Sonic disguised as Eggman in the exact same fights. While there are enough differences in the actual levels, the storyline is a giant Contrived Coincidence.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Team Chaotix inverts this with the way their Team Blast works. The Team Blast gauge is filled by killing enemies and collecting rings, and with every enemy Team Chaotix kills with their Team Blast, they collect a few rings. If you are in a place or boss battle with enough enemies, it's possible to pull off consecutive Team Blasts.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: A mild example in the PS2 version, as the Cross (X) and Circle (O) buttons were not switched from their Japanese functions (being no and yes, respectively) when brought to the West, making menus rather frustrating to navigate.
  • Death Mountain: Rail Canyon and Bullet Station.
  • Determinator: Shadow, of all people, as proven in this stage dialogue:
    Rouge: Doesn't look like we'll be able to move on.
    Shadow: No problem, let's keep moving.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The Team Rose vs. Team Sonic boss has you (as Amy) beat Sonic up because he refuses her romantic advances. Granted, you also play as Sonic in the same situation, but the in-game dialog has Knuckles assume that it's Sonic's fault and the opening to the next level implies that Sonic ran away rather than fight back. Having a male hero try to force a woman into marriage would probably not be considered appropriate for an all-ages game, but with the genders reversed it's Played for Laughs.
  • Dreadful Musician: The Chaotix during their Team Blast. So awful they can annihilate everything around them. Outside the Limit Break, one of Vector's combo finishers is to use his singing voice to damage enemies.
  • Dueling Player Characters: The game has the characters split into four teams of three, with two of the other teams serving as Boss Battles during the game — Team Sonic & Team Chaotix fight Team Rose & Team Dark, whilst Team Dark & Team Rose fight Team Sonic & Team Chaotix.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: Team Sonic and Team Rose. Averted by Team Dark and Team Chaotix.
  • Eternal Engine: Grand Metropolis and Power Plant. Rail Canyon, Bullet Station, Egg Fleet, and Final Fortress to a lesser extent.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Metal Sonic. Surprisingly, it's just Ryan Drummond's Sonic voice given a robotic makeover. The same applies in Japanese for Junichi Kanemaru.
  • Excuse Plot: In contrast to the previous Sonic Adventure games, Heroes deliberately aimed for a much more simplistic plot with the general conflict, in order to serve as a "jump-on" point for newcomers to the series. The only exception is Team Dark's story, due to the subplot involving Shadow.
  • Fake Difficulty: The game suffers in a few places from cagey controls and awkward physics. Take the Special Stage Emerald Challenges, where you must race and overtake the Chaos Emerald at high speed while navigating through scattered mines — a difficult enough concept even if you didn't have to worry about the controls wigging out as you race along the walls, cutting your speed at the most awkward times. Not helping matters is the fact that the yellow Chaos Emerald—the third Chaos Emerald—marks an unexpected and considerable Difficulty Spike from the previous two to the point that it tends to be one of the last Emeralds collected by several players.
  • Fake Longevity: In order to unlock the Last Story, you must complete each Team's individual story, which is standard enough and has been Sonic Team's standby since Sonic Adventure. The problem is that each different story consists of four almost-identical playthroughs of the same 14 levels and 7 bosses, with the main differences being different arrangements of enemies and "longer" stages that often amount to extended repetitions. (e.g. in the Egg Fleet stage, Team Rose must merely reach Eggman's first battle ship, while Team Sonic must reach and destroy two battleships, Team Dark three, and although Team Chaotix doesn't have to destory any battleships, they have to contend with their second and final Stealth-Based Mission that is explained below.)
  • Fastball Special:
    • The Power characters can pick up the other team members and perform this for their aerial attacks.
    • Team Sonic's Team Blast, the Sonic Overdrive, has the team flinging each other over to the enemies close enough for Sonic to perform the Light Speed Attack. More specifically, Knuckles swings around Tails and Sonic with a Human Hammer-Throw, whereupon Tails then kicks Sonic at the apex of their jump to launch him and initiate the attack.
      Sonic: Blast away!
  • Flying Seafood Special: The Egg Fleet consists of ships that resemble sharks, sawfish, and manta rays. The (huge) flagship, Final Fortress, is a whale shark.
    Big: Look at all the fishy ships!
  • Forced Tutorial: Sea Gate in Team Rose's storyline.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Team Chaotix is about to fight the Robot Storm at the Mystic Mansion, Vector calls "Eggman" a mustache moron, before asking his client if he's the real deal (they had earlier defeated a fake). The client takes an odd amount of offense to Vector's remark before stopping himself. It's later revealed that their client was Eggman all along.
    • Before that, after defeating the Egg Albatross, Charmy remarks that their client sure seems to know a lot about Dr. Eggman, and Espio suggests that they're connected to Eggman somehow. Vector, meanwhile, drops a pretty big hint that he's already figured out that their client is Eggman.
      Vector: You know, oddly enough, I've had the same strange feeling about our client's real identity. [glances back at the dummy Eggman] It could be you-know-who...
    • The Chaotix have to infiltrate Egg Fleet without being detected, while the other teams just fight their way through. Their client is Eggman and their goal is to free him from Metal Sonic, whereas the teams are all there directly or indirectly thanks to Metal Sonic's plans but he never planned for them to be there, so them being discovered before they reach the point where they can get the keys to his cell would be something Eggman would want to avoid.
    • In the scene where Team Dark defeats Eggman at Rail Canyon, because of their finding a destroyed Shadow Android, and later a large collection of Shadow Androids in stasis, people had been speculating that the Shadow they discovered in the beginning of the game may have been a robot. However, the same scene as their discovery of the destroyed Shadow Android had Metal Sonic stating that the Ultimate Life Form's data has been successfully copied, implying that yes, the Shadow that Rouge discovered is indeed the real Shadow.
    • In Hang Castle, an Eggman statue becomes a Metal Sonic statue when the castle flips upside-down.
    • Prior to Team Dark's first boss battle, after Omega threatens Eggman, Eggman remarks, "You must be Omega..." Even if he had abandoned him, it seems odd for Eggman not to recognize his own creation. That's because it's really Metal Sonic masquerading as Eggman.
  • Fragile Speedster: Speed characters are the fastest of the three classes, but have average power and the worst defensive options.
  • Free Rotating Camera: Subverted in Hang Castle, as some sections force you to keep the camera upside-down.
  • Friendship Song: The main theme song "Sonic Heroes" is centered around this, as is Team Sonic's theme song "We Can."
  • Furry Confusion: Vector is an anthropomorphic crocodile. Lost Jungle includes a giant non-anthropomorphic alligator as a hazard. Team Chaotix takes an alternate route through the level, so the twain never meet. Team Rose (which fights Team Chaotix after Lost Jungle) doesn't encounter the alligator either.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In a sense. During Team Dark's Chaos Inferno Team Blast, Shadow reaches into Omega's chassis and pulls out the green Chaos Emerald to perform Chaos Control (whether the Emerald served as a power source for Omega or the robot was simply safeguarding it is unknown, although, given subsequent games, the latter is more likely). However, you still have to collect that particular Emerald via the Special Stages (with any of the four teams). Later on, during the Last episode, where the teams reveal that they've been collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds separately, Omega is seen in possession of the green Emerald, implying that he still had it all along.
  • Geodesic Cast: Each of the trios are organized with the Speed-Flight-Power gameplay mechanic.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
  • Giant Mook: The Egg Hammers, who first appear in the jungle stages, then become a recurring mook for the rest of the game.
  • Gigantic Moon: The moon is absolutely enormous in the sky, taking up at least half of it and easily dwarfing any background structures and details. There are certain camera angles in which the moon occupies all visible sky. (Rather impressive, considering what happened to it in the previous game.)
  • A God Am I: The Big Bad. And with this newfound god complex comes some shades of Omnicidal Mania...
  • Gold-Colored Superiority:
    • The Gilded Egg Knight has more health than the standard Egg Pawn.
    • The Gold Cameron has a more durable shell than the Green Cameron.
    • The Gold Klagen are no tougher than regular Klagen, but will attempt to escape after abducting a character instead of hovering in place, making them more threatening.
    • The E-2000R is a gold-colored version of the regular E-2000 with more health.
    • And of course, there's Super Sonic in the Last Story.
  • Gravity Screw: There are switches in Hang Castle and Robot Storm that invert the gravity when pressed. The former stage has two different pieces of background music that change depending on if the gravity is upside-down or right-side up.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Super Hard difficulty, which you can unlock by getting 120 emblems and an A rank in every mission in the game. It's the Team Sonic campaign with elements of the Team Dark stages and bits of the Team Chaotix stages sandwiched in, but with a lot more enemies that have been considerably toughened up. There are also no continues, meaning a Game Over sends you all the way back to Seaside Hill. On the upside, you can save between levels, stack up on extra lives between stages, you don't have to fight any bosses or get the Chaos Emeralds in this mode, and there's no rankings or emblems to acquire either.
  • Haunted Castle: Hang Castle.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Vector calls Rouge a "broad" right before their fight.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Egg Hammers, which can only be destroyed by the Power character. In Mystic Mansion and Final Fortress, there is a Heavy-Egg Hammer variant that wears a Roman-styled helmet that shields its only weak point; the helmet can be removed by waiting for it to get dizzy after its Spin Attack, then knocking it over, or by using the Speed Formation's Tornado Move (or you can just Team Blast the thing).
  • Hey, That's My Line!: This exchange between Sonic and Shadow:
    Shadow: Well then, it'll be a date to DIE for!
    Sonic: Hey, that's my line!
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Each Flight member of their respective team is able to carry both their teammates while flying (though they do eventually tire out), even when the Power team members are several times their size. The latter especially applies to Team Dark (Rouge with Omega), Team Rose (Cream with Big), and Team Chaotix (Charmy with Vector).
  • Human Cannonball: This game features cannons where how it fires will depend on who the team leader is when you enter it. Entering the cannon with the Power member will give you free control of the cannon. Also, in Bullet Station, the player team will occasionally use a really big cannon, which is the size of an entire building.
  • Human Ladder: Any of the four teams can assume this position at any time, in order for the "Fly"-type character to take the lead.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During missions that require the Chaotix to slip past enemy detection unnoticed, approaching inactive enemies will usually trigger the below exchange.
    Espio: Hey, they're asleep. So stay quiet and move slowly.
    Charmy: (loudly) Okay!
    Vector: (even louder) WHAT ARE YA DOIN'?! BE QUIET!!!
  • I Just Want to Be You: Hinted to be the cornerstone of Metal Sonic's motivation (see There Can Only Be One below).
  • Informed Attribute: Shadow is stated to have amnesia, yet in a few instances, he does seem to recognize a few things. In one example, he meets Sonic for the "first" time in this game, he refers him as "that hedgehog", implying that he's seen him before.
  • Jungle Japes: Frog Forest and Lost Jungle take place in a jungle with mushrooms the size of skyscrapers, and giant frogs that make it rain.
  • Knight of Cerebus: As soon as Metal Sonic reveals himself, the Lighter and Softer feel of most of the game suddenly breaks down.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Shiny mooks that only power characters can damage (such as the giant mooks).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When fighting the Egg Emperor as the Chaotix, Espio comments "This must be the final stage."
  • Leave Him to Me:
    • Various characters of any ability type will tell this to their teammates when encountering Eggman's robots or when approaching a specific obstacle to advance. A variant involves one teammate designating that another should take the lead due to the present state of affairs.
    • In the Last Story, Sonic tells Eggman that he'll take on Metal Madness on his own. The rest of the characters object to this and offer Sonic their help, which he eventually accepts.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Tons of it. Let's put it this way: all the teams are technically on the same side, but they continually fight each other for petty reasons and misunderstandings throughout the game anyways. This is especially noticeable with Team Dark, who keeps attacking people just in case their opponents might save the day before they can for their own reasons.
  • Levels Take Flight: Egg Fleet and Final Fortress. The former involves the player hopping from airship to airship as they gradually tear through Eggman's aerial armada before landing on his flagship.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to Sonic Adventure 2, at least. That is, up until Last Story.
  • Limit Break: Team Blast, a joint attack by the whole team that can be expected to decimate every robot in the immediate vicinity. Team Blast is enabled by filling its meter, by collecting rings, hitting enemies, and doing certain actions:
    • Team Sonic has Sonic Overdrive, a straightforward no-frills move, though it allows Sonic to use his Light Speed Attack while the Team Blast Gauge is resetting, either alone (in place of Blue Tornado) or when launched by Thunder Shoot or Fire Dunk.
    • Team Dark has Chaos Inferno, which stops time until the meter runs out.
    • Team Rose has Flower Festival, which gives everyone a level up and invincibility until the timer runs out.
    • Team Chaotix has Chaotix Recital, which generates a random ring value from every destroyed enemy, sometimes even enough to trigger a second Team Blast, and continues generating rings from destroyed enemies while the meter resets.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The playable cast bulges out at 12, the largest it's been in a mainline Sonic game. No past or future non-party non-racing Sonic game has as many characters.
  • Locked Out of the Fight: The jellyfish-like Klagen enemies are armed with tractor beams that can imprison a team member, rendering them unusable until the Klagen is destroyed or decides to let them go; letting your entire team get captured will cost a life. They also have a golden Elite Mook version that abducts a team member and attempts to fly away with them in tow; if it succeeds, that team member is lost until you hit the next checkpoint. If this happens, pray that you can progress without them. Or you can just use a Team Blast, which calls the lost teammate back to perform it (and yes, each teammate has a way to charge the Team Blast meter, even solo).
  • Locomotive Level: Rail Canyon and Bullet Station are massive railroad networks within an extremely large canyon, with plenty of armored trains.
  • Loud of War: Team Chaotix's Team Blast uses their horrible singing to cause the robots in their radius to explode.
  • Marathon Level: Almost every stage in the game is pretty long, but the most notable are:
    • Final Fortress, as to be expected from the last non-boss level.
    • Mystic Mansion from the Chaotix's story has you trying to extinguish all the torches in the level with Espio's whirlwind... for some reason. If you miss one, you have to search through the whole level from the beginning. A clean speed run of the level, skipping enemies, without having to backtrack for a missed torch, will take upwards of 10 minutes.
  • Mighty Glacier: Power characters are the strongest of the three classes and have decent defensive options, but are balanced through slower speed. Downplayed slightly in that, in-universe, just about every player character has some degree of Super Speed, but switching to Power Formation sees the Speed and Flight characters hang back to match pace.
  • Monstrosity Equals Weakness: While Metal Madness was somewhat challenging due to some cheap moves, such as a Three-Hit Kill if he encases the party in his energy prisons, Metal Overlord is an out-and-out pushover when faced with the souped-up Team Sonic. The only real difficulty is the fact that he's Nigh-Invulnerable to everything save a Team Blast, and it takes five of those to finish him off.
  • Mood Whiplash: The dark tone of the Last Story in contrast to the generally Lighter and Softer feel of the rest of the game.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The boss battles following Bingo Highway and Mystic Mansion are this.
  • Multi-Platform: The fact that the game was being released for all three of the then-current gen consoles was a major selling point. The PS2 version is generally considered inferior to the GameCube and Xbox versions due to things such as clipping and inferior framerate.
  • Musical Nod: The "upside down" theme to Hang Castle is composed almost entirely of an ambient remix of a riff from Sonic 2's Mystic Cave BGM.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Metal Overlord is so powerful that none of Team Super Sonic's attacks can hurt him, though they can counter his projectiles. Only the Team Blast can hurt him, and it requires five of them to finally finish him off. Knuckles and Tails lampshade it, noting that he's tough and asking if he's invincible after the fourth one.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The later Team Dark stages.
    • The optional Super Hard Mode, which is ironically less difficult than the requirement for unlocking it: all A-Ranks.
    • Even the Sonic stages (which is what a lot of newcomers are going to play automatically, this being a Sonic game) are rather difficult when they rely mostly on rails. The broken camera and controls brought over from the Sonic Adventure series aren't really helping, either.
    • Inverted with Team Rose stages, being designed for novice players. They are shorter versions of Team Sonic stages with less enemies and traps and weaker bosses. In addition, Team Rose has a Purposely Overpowered Team Blast. However, Team Rose is slightly slower than the other teams, making the later Special Stages nigh-impossible to complete with them.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Team Chaotix loses a life if detected by a frog in Frog Forest.
  • Not Me This Time: Throughout the story, all of the teams pursue Eggman when he unleashes the Egg Fleet to conquer the world. However, it is later revealed in the endings that not only is Eggman, for once, not responsible for the world domination plan, but in fact he was locked up by the one actually responsible: Metal Sonic.
  • Not So Stoic: Even Shadow of all people gets startled by the sudden appearance of a pumpkin ghost in Hang Castle.
  • Off-Model: The boxart shown above; although he's in front of Sonic, Knuckles is much smaller. This was later fixed for the PAL boxart.
  • One-Winged Angel: Metal Overlord.
  • Palmtree Panic: Seaside Hill and Ocean Palace.
  • Panty Shot: Amy and Cream both show this in Team Rose's cinematic cutscenes.
  • Parasol Parachute: Big does this with his umbrella, as a direct Shout-Out to My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Pinball Zone: Casino Park and Bingo Highway both have many pinball tables.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: At 3'7", Knuckles is the only Power character who doesn't tower over Speed and Flight types; for reference, he's only four inches taller than Sonic.
  • Playing with Fire: Power characters can use fire attacks. This actually becomes relevant for Team Dark in Mystic Mansion.
  • The Power of Friendship: More like the real superpower of teamwork!
  • Power Trio: All four teams have three members each.
  • Precision F-Strike: Downplayed, but still significant: In the English dub, Amy Rose occasionally blasphemes. It's not much, but it pushes the envelope for something G-rated.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: Nearly every cutscene is pre-rendered, the only ones that aren't are the occasional level introductory cutscene, which not every stage even got.
  • Purposely Overpowered: Team Rose's Team Blast, to make their gameplay even more beginner-friendly. In addition to destroying all nearby enemies (like all Team Blasts), it levels up all three characters and gives them a shield and an invincibility power-up.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Super Sonic and Metal Sonic, whether it's the normal one, Neo Metal Sonic, or Metal Overlord.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Chocola never appeared before this game, and hasn't appeared since. (Maybe he's back at home with Vanilla?)
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Compared to the Darker and Edgier stories of the Sonic Adventure duology, the story and overall tone of this game is much more lighthearted and juvenile.
  • Rewrite: Takashi Iizuka confirmed that the Chaotix were "re-imagined" for the game — not "re-appearing", which may mean that their debut game has been written out of canon.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Rising lava at the end of Power Plant (with Team Sonic, at least).
  • Robot Wizard: One of the robots in Hang Castle and Mystic Mansion is the Egg Bishop, which can cast a healing spell on any robots it is near, including itself. When flipped over with a tornado jump, the Egg Bishop becomes the Egg Magician, which retains the healing spell, and also casts a spell that can drain rings from any team players within range of it.
  • Rod And Reel Repurposed: Big can use his fishing pole as a bat and Amy and Cream as balls to attack enemies. He can also swing his fishing pole in a circle to attack enemies around him with his lure.
  • Scenery Porn: In true Sonic tradition, the color palettes for everything here are vivid and refreshing.
  • Secret Final Campaign: Get all the Chaos Emeralds and beat every team's story to unlock the True Final Boss which has you using Team Rose, Team Chaotix, and Team Dark in that order for the first portion of the battle, followed by Team Sonic becoming Team Super for the final showdown.
  • Sequential Boss: Egg Albatross has three different segments with different weaponry and attack patterns, which must be destroyed in succession. The final phase is none other than the Egg Hawk, the game's first boss, though it lacks its rotary attack from the first showdown due to the level layout.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Egg Pawns and Egg Knights can show up carrying shields, which can be removed by Speed characters' tornado attacks or by just breaking them through damage. The E-2000 enemies in Egg Fleet have a shield built into their left arm that they can use to block attacks, and will do so very liberally; you'll have to bypass this by either stunning them or waiting for them to fire their laser cannon.
  • Ship Tease: Shadow's instinctive reaction to Rouge's presence is to save her once Omega starts letting loose with lead, despite having no logical reason to do so aside from maybe wanting to pay her back for being the one to let him free. Even if you don't view their scenes through romantic lens, Heroes marks the beginning of the pair's True Companions status that has endured ever since.
  • Shock and Awe: One of the main abilities of Flight characters is Thunder Shoot, which can be used to paralyze enemies.
  • Shout-Out: Metal Sonic mimics the liquid metal shtick of Terminator 2's T-1000.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The end of Team Chaotix's theme.
    They're gonna kick your... (gong noise)
  • The Spiny: One of the Flappers sprouts red spikes every few seconds to make itself Homing Attack proof. Downplayed with spear-wielding Pawns and Knights, whose weapons will cause damage if you Homing Attack into them but are otherwise fully vulnerable.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Knuckles Chaotix in some ways. Not only does Heroes reintroduce the Chaotix characters themselves, it is also the first major game in the series since Chaotix to feature a teamwork-style multi-character gameplay dynamic. And of course, it is the first game after Chaotix to feature Metal Sonic as a primary antagonist and involve a One-Winged Angel form of him as the final boss.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Amy flies into this territory in this game due to the flanderization of her obsession with Sonic.
    Amy: Sonic, give up! This time, you're MINE!
  • Stance System: Each team basically operates as one, so each formation thus represents a stance:
  • Standing Between the Enemies: Rouge does this to Shadow and Omega in the start of the Team Dark story, which then leads to the three teaming up and find Eggman together.
  • "Staying Alive" Dance Pose: Big will turn to the camera and strike one of these if he goes through a rainbow ring.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Team Chaotix has to deal with no less than two missions where they cannot be seen or else they instantly lose. The first stealth mission has you avoiding frogs while the second mission requires avoiding enemies altogether. Their extra mission in Ocean Palace adds a stealth requirement to the regular objective.
  • Stealth Pun: Vector is an alligator detective...
  • Stock Subtitle: "Heroes."
  • Stone Wall: Flight characters are the weakest of the three classes, but make up for it by having the best defensive options. While actually faster than the Power characters, their unique mechanics make gaining and keeping momentum very difficult.
  • Story Arc: Team Dark's story continues the story of Shadow the Hedgehog that was introduced in Sonic Adventure 2, which would be concluded in Shadow the Hedgehog (and, to a lesser extent, already in Sonic Battle).
  • Suddenly Voiced: Metal Sonic, who goes back to being The Voiceless in all subsequent games. The Chaotix also have their first speaking roles here.
  • Super Mode: Team Sonic does this to beat Metal Overlord, although only Sonic visibly changes. Tails and Knuckles remain their usual orange and red colors and gain similarly-colored Battle Auras instead.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Egg Emperor, apparently; if you use a glitch to force Amy to phase through the "death plane", Egg Emperor's charge attack will follow you through the death plane.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Speed beats Flight, Flight beats Power, and Power beats Speed.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: Some of the later levels like "Bullet Station" and "Hang Castle" require solving puzzle-embedded mechanics.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Implied with Shadow and Omega. As Rouge tries to get them to team up and find Eggman together, the two give each other an uncomfortable glare. They soon put aside their resentment later on.
  • There Can Only Be One:
  • Three Approach System: Each member of ther respective team fits the archetype of Speed, Flight or Power. The current leader decides the current approach of the trio, with a Speed character leading allowing fast speeds and homing attacks, a Flight character leading allowing safety and an advantage against aerial enemies, and a Power character leading allowing powerful attacks.
  • Timed Mission: Team Sonic's (as well as some of Team Chaotix's) extra missions involve having to complete their levels with an additional time limit.
  • Title Drop:
    • The beginning of Team Sonic's story when they get the "invitation" from Dr. Eggman. He starts the letter off by exclaiming "Guess WHAT, Sonic Heroes?!"
    • Another one comes in the ending, right after Metal Overlord reverts back to Metal Sonic.
      Metal Sonic: It's no use... but why can't I defeat you?
      Sonic: Because we're Sonic Heroes.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • In Team Dark's ending, Rouge and Omega discover a room full of robo-duplicates of Shadow aboard the Final Fortress in tubes that looked suspiciously like the one the playable Shadow was kept in in their opening cutscene. This casts doubt on whether or not the Shadow that joined them on their quest was the real Shadow or just a robot, but Eggman reveals in the final battle of Shadow the Hedgehog that he is the real Shadow, whom Eggman recovered after Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Inverted with Metal Sonic. He's become so insane, he goes in and out of saying he was built to destroy Sonic, and then deludes himself into believing he is the real Sonic, and that Sonic is his copy!
  • Tomorrowland: Grand Metropolis and Power Plant.
  • Tornado Move: Sonic and the other Speed characters can whip up a tornado by rapidly moving in a circle while airborne.
  • Totally Radical: Sonic and Knuckles dip into this on occasion with lines like "That was tight!" and "Too cool!" It makes sense for Sonic, to an extent, but Knuckles? Not so much.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: They didn't even try to hide Metal Sonic coming back.
  • Tranquil Fury: Espio and Shadow are this by default. Also the usually loud mouthed Vector manages to pull this off effectively in the Chaotix ending, where after realising Eggman can't pay them, he nonchalantly chastises the doctor for promising what he doesn't have, and begins cracking his knuckles menacingly. Eggman immediately realises he's screwed.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Shadow, of the physical trauma variety.
  • True Final Boss: Two of Metal Sonic's forms in the Last Story: Metal Madness and Metal Overlord. The first form is fought by Team Rose, Team Chaotix and Team Dark respectively, while the second is fought by Team Sonic in their Super States.
  • Turtle Power:
    • The giant turtles of Ocean Palace, which serve as platforms.
    • An enemy version comes in the Camerons, a series of robotic turtles that come in green and gold colors and appear as recurring enemies. Green Camerons can be destroyed with basic Power attacks, but Gold Camerons either have to be flipped on their backs to hit their undersides, or be destroyed with the Team Blast.
  • Underground Monkey: The Flapper enemy has eight different variants where its color determines its ability; they come in red (no weapon), green (cannon), blue (machine gun), neon green (lightning), yellow (searchlight), magenta (bombs), dark purple (retractable spikes), and silver (only destructible in Power Formation).
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Due to their "client" giving them rather arbitrary conditions for progressing, Team Chaotix's runthrough of the game switches gameplay styles quite a bit, which can be quite jarring, especially if the player beat all the other teams' playthroughs first.
  • The Unfought:
    • Dr. Eggman appears to be the Big Bad throughout most of the game, but the player gets a Bait-and-Switch when they discover that it was actually Metal Sonic impersonating him and that Metal Sonic is the true villain of the game.
    • Neo Metal Sonic is also never fought before he transforms.
    • Story-wise, each of the teams only faces two of the remaining three. Team Sonic never meets Team Chaotix, and Team Rose never crosses paths with Team Dark.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: Once every emblem is collected and every stage and boss is cleared with an A rank, Super Hard Mode is unlocked. While the stages are more difficult, the bosses are not fought.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The characters find a statue of Dr. Eggman at Hang Castle. They comment on it. Then they flip the level over, revealing a statue of Metal Sonic. Not a single word is said about it.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake:
    • Espio's Leaf Swirl makes him invisible and lets him dispatch enemies by throwing ninja stars. Since Vector and Charmy can no longer see Espio, they just stay put and teleport to him when he shows himself again. Trouble is, if you jump into a cannon while you're invisible, your teammates don't follow you in, and there's no way to fire or otherwise exit the cannon until they do. You are forced to restart the entire level at the expense of one life.
    • For Seaside Hill's extra mission where you need to find all 20 hermit crabs, the game sometimes glitches and two of the crabs never spawn, forcing you to restart to complete the mission.
  • Ur-Example: This is the first 3D Sonic game with a "Boost" function that is gained by collecting items and has a power bar. Here, however, it can only be found in the Special Stages, and is ultimately unrelated to the boost gameplay from later Sonic games.
  • Variable Mix: Hang Castle has two different versions depending on the stage's orientation, while Mystic Mansion progresses through different parts as you go from one area to another.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The aptly named "Final Fortress" level, which takes place entirely on Eggman's giant flagship with the most powerful Elite Mooks available, a plethora of rails over Bottomless Pits sections, laser cannons at the ready, and a dark and stormy atmosphere throughout.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Metal Overlord, upon his defeat.
    "Guooooo! Why! I had it all! I am the ultimate overlord, Metal Sonic! I am the real Sonic!"
  • Villain Song: One possible interpretation of the True Final Boss theme, "What I'm Made Of", is Metal Sonic telling Sonic about his maddening motive to finally defeat him and prove his worth.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: Another possible interpretation of "What I'm Made Of" is Sonic's Badass Boast to Metal, daring him to try and copy his power and see how that works out for him.
  • Visible Invisibility: Espio can be turned invisible to the other characters—or at least, the enemies—using his Leaf Swirl technique.
  • Walking Spoiler: Metal Sonic, although the "Spoiler" aspect has largely been done away with among most fans in the years following Heroes' release.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: The end of the first scene of the Team Rose story; with Big.
  • Wall Jump: Sonic, Shadow, and Espio can perform the Triangle Jump, which is this in a nutshell. Espio's, uniquely, allows him to stay on the wall for an indefinite amount of time.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Final Fortress has several of these. Towards the end of the stage for both Team Sonic and Team Dark, you have to avoid twelve of them, side by side, while rail grinding, followed by a much bigger cannon that you have to switch to Flight Formation to avoid.
  • We Can Rule Together: Of a sort. More like "I can rule, and you can benefit," but mostly an attempt to get out of skinflinting the Chaotix.
    Eggman: As soon as I conquer the world... (dramatic fist raise) I will PAY YOU!
  • Welcome to Corneria:
    • "Look at ALL those Eggman's Robots!"
    • "There's more?"
  • Wham Line: At the end of the Team Chaotix story:
    Vector: Dr. Eggman, I presume.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: During Egg Fleet and Final Fortress, the characters will occasionally comment on the sheer size and scale of Eggman's battleship fleet, wondering how he was able to build them all and why he built so many. One of Vector's idle quotes in Egg Fleet is him remarking that Eggman must be really rich to afford all this.
  • The Wild West: Rail Canyon and Bullet Station are massive railroad networks within an extremely large canyon. As it was built and operated by Dr. Eggman, it has a metallic, industrial look to it, but Eggman fully embraced the western setting in his decor and unusually (for him anyway) large amounts of wooden structures.
  • Wingding Eyes: In Team Chaotix's introductory cutscene, Vector and Charmy get the $ eyes since they care about money. Averted with Espio, as he is suspicious about the payment promised.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The first stage, Seaside Hill, has received a form of this, as it has since appeared in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and its sequel Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, and as the representative of this game in Sonic Generations.

"Our next adventure awaits us, so there's no time to waste! Yeah! We're Sonic Heroes!"

Sonic Heroes! (Sonic Heroes!)
Find you, confine you, defyin' your reign!
Sonic Heroes! (Sonic Heroes!)
Settin' the stage for a hero's parade!

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