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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Was Chaos initially willing to go along with Eggman's plan? Or was he just an opportunist using the not-so-good Doctor until he no longer needed him? Did he finally turn on the doctor for letting him down too often or for leaving him to his fate on the downing Egg Carrier?
    • Is E-102 Gamma's consciousness unique to his programming as an Eggman robot, or does it originate from the bird inside him? There is evidence that points to the former (his theme song has "It's my pleasure. Ready to die." as a recurring phrase), but Gamma's ability to remember the bird's family at the end of his story lends credence to the latter interpretation. Regardless of the answer to this question, it has important implications toward Gamma's decision to "rescue" his E-series brothers by destroying them, as it paints Gamma's mission in one of two ways: either he is on a genuinely fratricidal crusade to "liberate" his friends from being used for Eggman's machinations by outright killing them, or he's unambiguously saving them by freeing their true selves. The latter is supported by the loading screen recaps, where he explicitly says he will destroy Eggman's "evil machines" and rescue the animals. This also changes the ending: is Gamma's flicky accompanying Amy fulfilling the promise they would meet again and showing that Gamma live on in a way, or is it just the bird thanking her for taking care of its child? The correct answer might be some of both.
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    • The lyrics to "My Sweet Passion" are so nonsensical that it has various interpretations. Some view them as being about Amy being a fangirlish Dirty Kid while others think they're about how Amy's desperate for Sonic's attention and would change herself for his sake.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper:
    • Tails tags along in Sonic's levels, usually picking up things you don't want, like animals that you can take into the Chao Gardens if you're only looking for specific ones to give to your Chao so that they take only the traits of those specific animals, among some other undesirable moments.
    • Tikal. Hitting her not only gives you useless hints, it also stops your movement, leading to time loss or even death if you are in mid-jump in front of a Bottomless Pit. There are levels that have to be solved without using hints, so running into her forces you to restart that level.
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
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    • The bosses with playable characters and the first few E-Series battles have particularly slow AI and can be defeated before they even so much as make a proper attack.
    • Amy's only boss fight against ZERO is pretty easy. All you have to do is hit the robot into the electric fence surrounding the arena and hit the button that is revealed by doing so, which can be done in under a minute.
    • Big's only boss encounter can be beaten in under 30 seconds, as the only thing you're required to do is literally fish Froggy out from Chaos 6.
  • Awesome Music: A majority of the music qualifies. Vote on your favorite here. It's a long list. It's part of the reason that even detractors think the game's atmosphere has held up even today.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Big the Cat started out as The Scrappy for a great many people, and not just because of his levels. However, he has garnered a plausible fanbase over the years to balance it, especially following his appearances in later games. While many still think his gameplay was executed poorly, some still appreciate his role as a more divergent laid back Sonic character.
  • Best Level Ever:
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    • Consensus seems to be Speed Highway, the fastest-paced Sonic level in the game. Sega appears to be part of the consensus, as they practically brought it back in Sonic Adventure 2 (under the name "Radical Highway") and chose it as the representative stage of this game in Sonic Generations.
    • Tails' Windy Valley and Sonic's Twinkle Park, due to those stages having plenty of shortcuts.
    • Emerald Coast for being a fantastic intro to the game with some impressive visuals and a pretty epic orca chase. Unsurprisingly, it ended up as the representative stage in the 3DS version of Generations, and even its orca chase makes a comeback in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) .
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Eggman pulling out a second Egg Carrier he just had lying around to fight Perfect Chaos. Chaos just blows it out of the sky in two seconds and no one mentions it again.
    • In Tails' Story: Tails running into Big the Cat while carrying the Chaos emerald infected Froggy counts as such, as Big crashes on the ground, Froggy escapes, Big moans about losing his friend again and leaves. This leaves Tails giving a Lampshade Hanging wondering what just happened and it's never spoken of again.
  • Broken Base: The "alternate gameplay." Unlike the earlier Sonic 3 & Knuckles, each character has their own goals and dedicated levels as opposed to playing essentially the same with a unique ability. Some love this for making the characters feel truly unique instead of "slower Sonic with X ability", while others dislike it for being disruptive to the game's overall flow. There's also a camp who believes that the alternate gameplay in this game is better handled than in the succeeding games, as while this game allows you to play through a single character's story all the way through, some later games force you to switch characters in the same story. Specific issues are:
    • Knuckles' treasure hunting gameplay is either seen as an enjoyable test of exploration similar to Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie or a slow-paced and confusing drag that doesn't fit Sonic at all.
    • Amy's gameplay is either seen as a nice change of pace from the fast-paced gameplay or Sonic or a slow, generic platformer with awkward puzzles.
    • Gamma's gameplay is either a destructive romp through hordes of Eggman's robots or an overly simplified or repetitive shooter.
  • Character Rerailment: According to Yuji Naka, Sonic was specifically redesigned in this game to look more like a "bad boy" in order to emphasize his intended personality, after having drifted into more of a cutesy character in the preceding years. While his lax attitude ("I don't show off, don't criticize") may seem at odds with both previous American depictions and later games, it's closer to how he was originally described in Japanese sources.
  • Cliché Storm:
    • The entire story is a checklist of many of the standard fantasy, anime and video game cliches (particularly those found in JRPG games like Final Fantasy). Band of heroes out searching for magical trinkets to save the world? Check. Evil mad scientist trying to get the trinkets himself to take over the world while putting up with them? Check. Evil monster is also giving them trouble along the way, eventually becoming the main villain and having a One-Winged Angel showdown with the main hero at the end? Check. Hero defeating the villain by literally using The Power of Love? Check, check, and check.
    • Gamma's entire story arc is a dime-a-dozen "Ronin Samurai who turns against his master to strike out on his own" story retold in the form of a robot foot-soldier (though this is more the case in Japanese media, as its not quite as common of a stock story in western media). Notably, his story arc was deliberately left unfinished in the Archie comic adaptation specifically because the writers realized that his story was "something you've seen a hundred times if you're a devotee of samurai movies".
  • Continuity Lockout: No mention of Super Sonic is made prior to his appearance in his own story. While you'd know that Sonic has a Super Mode if you played prior games, if you haven't, then it comes across as a Deus ex Machina.
  • Contested Sequel: This game started the trend of creating the series' notoriously Broken Base due to the leap to 3D, Gameplay Roulette, and cast expansion.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • E-102 Gamma is among the first and few supporting playable cast since the 3D era that rarely brings up bile, despite him being more-or-less exclusive to this game. This is due to his rather interesting plotline and gameplay, as well as having a surprisingly moving Character Development.
    • Tikal. Despite being the game's Exposition Fairy, the same role that rendered her successor Omochao loathed, she is beloved for her gentle, loving and selfless nature, a large contrast to all of the other echidnas seen in the game, and her tragic friendship with Chaos.
    • The Chao are adorable little fairy-like creatures who can be raised in gardens as part of a surprisingly in-depth virtual pet system. A large number of people have admitted to only playing the Adventure games for the sole purpose of raising Chao.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: In the English version, during the end of Super Sonic's story, Tails says "All's well that ends well," even though all of Station Square had just been demolished and flooded by Perfect Chaos's rampage, and unless the buildings were conveniently empty, at least half of the population had to have been killed, or at the very least injured. In the Japanese version, however, Tails instead expresses relief that all the destruction Chaos was causing has stopped once and for all.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • This game was well-received as the first 3D Sonic game, but introduced what future games would be criticized for overusing, including Sonic using the Chaos Emeralds as an 11th-Hour Superpower instead of an optional unlockable, Eggman being upstaged by a Monster of the Week that goes out of his control, and the presence of alternate gameplay styles.
    • The game started a trend in the series where it began shedding its surreal, cartoon-like tone in favor of a serious, sometimes whimsical shōnen style of plot and writing. While this game's story is rather serious, it wasn't too dark compared to the previous games (most of its darker elements are relegated to Fridge Horror and Inferred Holocaust) and its tone and Character Development made it far more ambitious than the Sonic games before it and allowed it to be well-received. As the series went on, not only did the novelty of having serious Sonic stories wear off, but later games tended to lack the Character Development and lore building to the original series that made this story work, and the dark aspects were ramped up to the extent that the series was seen as becoming an over the top parody of itself, reaching its apex with Shadow's spinoff game and the highly controversial 2006 game.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Tails' flying speed upgrade, the Jet Anklet, makes Tails faster than Sonic when he flies! The upgrade makes Windy Valley a joke and makes the rest of the game noticeably easier (when you're not wrestling with the camera, anyways). It's also one of the only upgrades you can get as soon as the intro ends, as there is literally nothing stopping you from getting it.
    • Tails' flight in general. Compared to other 3D Sonic games, this one has easily the most overpowered flight ability. Tails gets a lot of height and distance, moves quickly, and goes even further and faster with the Jet Anklet. He can slowly descend to the ground or quickly dive down. There's no real height or distance cap beyond your momentum and flight stamina, which only drains while you're holding the jump button.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Using glitches will let you finish Casinopolis in seven seconds.
    • Some glitches in the game allow characters to enter usually inaccessible areas or play around with unused content in the game. For example, there is a glitch method for nearly every character to get into Sonic's Emerald Coast. Do be warned some of them have the potential of screwing up gameplay or save data.
    • Possibly not a bug, but if you use the Light Speed Attack (as Sonic) or Maximum Heat (as Knuckles) when fighting Chaos 6, it'll do double the damage and you can beat the boss in under a minute.
    • With Sonic, if you Spin Dash at the right angle and time your jump correctly in the sand cavern in the Mystic Ruins' jungle, you can get to the normally out-of-reach button to drain the sand out, allowing him to access the Sand Hill mini-game via the map like you would normally do with Tails. Both of them have unique idle dialogue for the level, suggesting it was originally a regular level that got demoted to a mini-game.
    • It's possible to use one animal on the same Chao repeatedly by placing the animal in front of it and picking it back up, rather than giving it directly to the Chao. This saves a lot of time searching for animals in the Action Stages, and it's basically the only viable method of getting your Chao to max stats.
    • A debug feature for the Egg Walker fight was left in the Dreamcast version. Pressing the Y button causes the boss to change its behavior.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The intro depicts Perfect Chaos crashing through a skyscraper, and then 9/11 happened only a few months after the sequel was released and almost exactly two years after this game's release.
    • Perfect Chaos flooding Station Square was probably destined to become this from the start, since it closely parallels the effects of real life tsunamis and hurricanes.
    • In the end of Tails' story, Eggman, having lost Chaos and the Egg Carrier, decides to destroy Station Square by blowing it up with a missile. But to his dismay, it fails to explode. He goes to detonate the warhead, but Tails beats him and disables it. Sadly, in Super Sonic's story, Chaos has obtained the seven Chaos Emeralds and transformed into Perfect Chaos, causing Station Square to be completely inundated and destroyed anyways.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • This game has a level named Lost World. Then 15 years later, we got Sonic Lost World. Not only that, but the first section of the Windy Valley level is called Windy Hill, which is the first level of Lost World.
    • The first four Chao Races are the Pearl, Amethyst, Sapphire and Ruby Courses. Steven Universe fans will get a chuckle out of it, since these four gems are three of the main characters. Also, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
    • Chaos 2 is the only form of Chaos that Sonic doesn't get to fight (Knuckles fights it instead). Less than a year after Adventure's release, Robot Wars Series 3 began in the UK and was won by a robot named Chaos 2. The name of its second opponent? Sonic.
    • Eggman criticising the Black Arms' wanton destruction of Westopolis in Shadow the Hedgehog (because he can't turn it into Eggmanland if it's not there) rings very hollow when you remember that in this game, destroying Station Square and building Robotnikland atop its ruins was his entire goal.
    • Eggman said "It's no use" long before Silver made it a meme.
    • Super Mario Odyssey features a world which eerily resembles Station Square, complete with realistically rendered humans. And if that and the use of a lyrical pop vocal track as the game's main theme wasn't enough, the ending of that game has an escape sequence with a rocking vocal song reminiscent of Crush 40's tracks. Both songs are also sung by Tails' later voice actor Kate Higgins.
    • One poster made to promote the Director's Cut was inspired by the film Speed. Fast forward to Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), and Sonic's favorite film is Speed itself!
    • Many jokes have been made about Love Live! music sounding like Sonic music, but Love Live! Sunshine!!'s "WATER BLUE NEW WORLD" stands out for sharing a similar name with Emerald Coast's first track, "Azure Blue World."
  • Inferred Holocaust: Station Square is completely destroyed in the final battle.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: A recurring complaint towards some of the alternate character missions is that a lot of their levels are just truncated versions of Sonic's and are patronisingly simple to get through for the large part. Tails and Gamma suffer most frequently from this. As mentioned above, many of the bosses don't have particularly intelligent AI either and can be defeated in a matter of seconds
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Sonic Adventure reviewed quite positively during its initial release on the Dreamcast, as did its sequel, and the Updated Re Release of said sequel for the Gamecube. Sega went ahead and similarly re-released Sonic Adventure as Sonic Adventure DX. Despite being a faithful port that significantly touched up the graphics, fixed a lot of the glitches, and added a whole new gameplay mode and bonus character, DX received middling-to-negative reviews from most gaming publications, often times scoring several points lower than the reviews of the Dreamcast version of the game by the same publication. It got even worse when the HD port was released- some reviewers ended up rating it lower than Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Part of this can be attributed to the fact that DX was released in 2003 (over four years after the original) and platform games in general had experienced many new advancements in the interim, making the game look somewhat dated despite the graphical enhancements. It didn't help that, despite the new extra modes, its "Director's Cut" moniker was fairly superficial, with DX doing very little to polish up the blatantly unfinished elements of the original game, and actually made many things worse, particularly regarding transparency and lighting.
  • It Was His Sled:
  • Magnificent Bastard: Eggman's objective in this game is to destroy Station Square in order to build his own city, Robotnikland. To do so, he freed Chaos and turned him into his ally. Since Chaos grows stronger by absorbing the Chaos Emeralds (and would eventually destroy Station Square once he has all seven), he decides to collect them. As such, he attacks Sonic and Tails to steal their Chaos Emerald. Despite his defeat, he succeeds in stealing the Emerald when they are distracted. He then revealed to them his plan, expecting them to collect the Emeralds before him, which would allow him to easily steal them. While his plan works, he also collect two emeralds by himself, obtaining 6 Emeralds. When Chaos 6 is defeated by Sonic and Knuckles, Eggman fires a missile at Station Square, only falling because of the missile malfunctioning and Tails' interference. Despite his silly, over-the-top attitude, Eggman remained constantly a step ahead of the heroes for half of the story, reminding you why he's Sonic's archnemesis.
  • Memetic Mutation: The game has spawned several memes in and out of the Sonic fanbase, including:
    • ↑ & ↓ & ↻ ("Up and down and all around"), thanks to the sampling in Speed Highway.
    • "You're gonna crash, ah!" note 
    • "Oh no", delivered in monotone by Sonic or Knuckles during their character fight scenes. Mostly the latter, especially how Narmy it is. What's even more funny? It's originally from a beta version of the game where he had a different voice, and yet, it was left in.
    • GET A LOAD OF THIS! note 
    • The first verse of "Unknown From M.E.", particularly the lyric "Unlike Sonic, I don't chuckle".
      • "Knock Knock it's Knuckles".
    • "Aw yeah! This is happening!"
    • "The Sphinx looked so cute, I had to shave it" note 
    • Sonic's early redesigned design from before they smoothed it out in future games, with his lanky, noodle-like limbs and Dreamworks Face, is frequently poked fun at and referenced amongst fans.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Echidnas trampling and killing the poor Chao standing in their way just to get to the Chaos Emeralds and the Master Emerald. They didn't have qualms about taking down Tikal either (she wasn't killed though); even her FATHER Pachacamac didn't care, just as long as they seized the Emeralds. This wasn't a very good idea.
  • Narm:
    • The drowning audio. Special mention goes to the audio used for Knuckles — not only does he end up sounding like he's been possessed by Goofy, but it's used as part of a (mostly) serious cutscene near the end of his game. Above water.
    • As noted up in Esoteric Happy Ending, one of the final shots of Super Sonic's story in the English dub is Tails saying "All's well that ends well" - while standing on a collapsed highway in a decimated Station Square.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Despite all the goofy qualities listed on this page, most fans will admit it has one of the best stories in the series. The acting may be a bit wooden and stiff, but generally the cast pulls things together enough when the moment requires it. Particularly Tikal's flashbacks, which still possess a haunting charm.
    • The stiff robotic animation, for obvious reasons, has positive effect on E-102 Gamma's storyline. It helps that, due to his intentionally emotionless acting and design, his dialogue is the least hindered by corny execution.
  • Nausea Fuel: Failing to exit either pinball game in Casinopolis with more than 100 rings lands you in a sewer. Eww! And Tails has to race through it in his storyline.
  • Older Than They Think: This isn't the first time Eggman wears goggles. In one episode of Sonic Sat AM, Eggman (or Robotnik as he is referred to in that series) is seen wearing a very similar pair of goggles to what he has in this game and all future Sonic games.
  • Padding:
    • For starters, all of the characters campaigns have long, slow-paced cutscenes that you can never skip in the Dreamcast version. The DX port fixed this by allowing you to skip all of the cutscenes.
    • The game also has you sit through the credits every time you complete each of the characters' campaigns, while you can skip it in the DX port, you will still be deprived the final completion emblems until you watch each of them in full.
    • The bulk of Tails' storyline is just simplified rehashes of Sonic's stages.
    • Amy's storyline consists solely of three short levels and a boss fight. The Dreamcast version tries to make up for this by making her adventure the most cutscene-heavy in the game (and unlike the DX port, you can't skip the cutscenes), but her story barely has any relevance to the main story, which makes her campaign's prolonged length even more egregious.
      • Both Sonic and Amy are sidetracked into completing a level that has no purpose in their story. Sonic enters Speed Highway to search for Amy only to find her getting kidnapped by ZERO in Station Square afterwards. Amy also enters Final Egg to search for Birdie's family, only to realise afterwards they are in the Egg Carrier instead. Both are fun enough levels, but seemingly only exist to bulk up either's campaign size.
    • Big the Cat's stages don't rehash the other levels' layouts or gameplay styles, but at the same time, his gameplay is completely unorthodox, and his storyline has almost no bearing on the events of the rest of the game, giving the impression he was added to artificially lengthen the game.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • Despite billing itself as a definitive version, the DX port to the Nintendo Gamecube from which all the following ports are derived has several problems and new glitches not found in the Dreamcast original.
    • To be sure, there are some improvements, the game now runs at an admittedly inconsistent 60 frames-per-second, the water now features a distortion effect, the cutscenes can now be skipped, the Game Gear titles have been ported over as unlockable bonuses, the playable cast now sport new, higher-polygon models, and a Mission Mode was added to give additional challenges, but none of the above makes up for the many mistakes made during the porting job.
      • As standard with many Dreamcast conversions, its unique VMU features were cut, leaving out the Tiny Chao Garden and several online means of gaining bonus varieties of Chao eggs and minigames to play. This leaves all but the market's stock useless.
      • Despite running on more powerful hardware than its predecessor, due to the unique architecture of the Dreamcast, a majority of the transparency and lighting effects in the environments have been downgraded. This would be an understandable compromise, if not for the fact that the new textures and changes to the engine hadn't clashed with the original version's aesthetics so starkly. This is easiest to see when comparing the water transparency effects, where subsequent ports create a filmy, greener hue to the clear blue water, notably in Lost World. Many particle effects have also lost their complexity due to a sloppy coding job, seen clearly while comparing the fire and laser graphics. The prominent wave effects in Emerald Coast are now static in the port. Also seen in Sky Deck, where the ports feature a static, unmoving skybox, lacking the dynamic changes to the clouds and wind currents as you progress in the Dreamcast version, and the darker palette and lighting that gave the level a unique visual flair.
      • A number of voiced lines either play in slightly worse quality, or don't play altogether. Eggman's commands in Sky Deck, for instance, where you'd get a quick warning about when he'd order the ship to move, giving the player time to prepare. In DX and subsequent ports, you're tossed about without any warning due to the level's soundbank missing those voice clips.
    • The 2004 Windows port, though maintaining the extras of the GameCube's DX port, is also marred with problems. It suffers from grainy-looking visuals, poorly re-sized HUD/UI elements, bad horizontal stretching, the game being prone to crashing when switching out to another window in fullscreen, keyboard controls can't be reconfigured, poor implementation of mouse controls (thankfully, they're optional), and poor optimization (at most, it will run at 30 FPS). The Chao system was heavily butchered as well — there is no equivalent to the GBA's Tiny Chao Garden or the VMU's Chao Adventure, leaving the Chao Transporter's sole functions as naming and deleting Chao; while the removal of the Dreamcast version's breeding mechanics and the Tiny Chao Garden meant that every jewel-color Chao except for gold and silver, along with most colors that are obtainable by breeding jewel Chao with shiny Chao such as translucent Chao, were rendered unobtainable. In all versions of DX, the Chao are generally unresponsive to being petted, the main way to increase happiness, and the only way to align them into Hero or Dark is with fruits bought from the Black Market, an expensive endeavor given how it's harder to earn rings in this game than it is in its sequel.
    • The game was re-released in 2010 on Steam, based on the Xbox 360 port but introduced new problems such as the game's launcher not saving your settings, game running a locked resolution, poor frame-rate despite the Xbox 360 version being capable of running the game at 60 FPS, and the game is presented in a pillar-boxed 4:3 aspect-ratio. A patch was released in 2014 that fixes the issues with the game's launcher not saving settings, fixed the controls (keys are rebindable), better support for higher resolutions, V-Sync, and FXAA. However, the issue with the game's frame-rate remains unaddressed, it still runs in a pillar-boxed display, and despite supporting controllers, the analog triggers and D-Pad of an Xbox 360 controller do not work at all despite being based on the Xbox 360 version.
    • The XBox 360, PS3 and Steam ports of DX have removed all of the unlockable Game Gear games. Since they made up 95% of the rewards for completing missions and collecting emblems, there are no short term incentives to collect emblems (aside from unlocking Metal Sonic by getting all 130) and no incentive at all to complete missions beyond getting 100% Completion.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • While most of the alternate playstyles fall under Broken Base, Big the Cat's fishing stages are rarely defended. If you jiggle the control stick even slightly the wrong way, you don't get the fish on the hook, you move the line the wrong way, and you have to reel it in exactly right or it will just magically get off the hook, at minimum stress, when it's right next to you. What's worse is if your line breaks, you lose a life!
    • For anybody who's raised a Chao, they'll probably have fond memories of waiting for nuts to ripen. Sure, there may be one extra fruit for each garden than there are in the sequel's gardens, but they also take a hell of a lot longer to grow. Have fun grinding rings for the Black Market fruits and listening to the constant complaining of your Chao's stomachs!
    • Speaking of Chao, they also have a hidden life points stat in the original SA1. Hurt them on purpose (or by accident, which happens to be very easy to do) and they'll lose life, which will trigger death if it runs out. Losing a fight in the VMU's Chao Adventure app can also prove to be fatal as well at times. Hope you've got a ton of spare nuts lying around.
    • Removing a Chao's animal parts is extremely tedious due to the lack of Chaos Drives and skeleton dogs, things that are exclusive to Sonic Adventure 2. The former boosts a single stat without replacing body parts, and the latter returns body parts to their normal appearances. If you're unable to use the Tiny Chao Garden to transport a Chao to Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, either due to not playing DX on the Gamecube or playing the Dreamcast or console/PC versions, you'll need a specific combination of animals and a lot of luck in order to clear a Chao of all of its animal features, which will probably have the side effect of altering its evolution due to the plethora of stats being influenced.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • As noted above in Franchise Original Sin, this game introduced a lot of things that would become cliches in the series like Robotnik getting upstaged or the Chaos Emeralds being used as an eleventh hour power-up. Thing is, at the time, this was all fairly revolutionary for the games (Robotnik had never been eclipsed as a threat by another villain), and a Sonic game containing Character Development and a serious storyline was a very ambitious move for the series.
    • While it was a stunning showcase for the Dreamcast and a critical darling and hot seller in it's initial release, over 20 years later, the game is really showing its age due to its now-dated presentation, unpolished and sometimes clunky design and game mechanics (especially compared to the later 3D Sonic titles), obvious problems with overreaching and padding due to the undercooked alternative gameplay styles (i.e. Big the Cat's infamous fishing stages, Amy's infamously short campaign) and ridiculously stilted cutscene animation. Whether one loves or hates the game, it's safe to say it no longer has the wow factor it had back in in the late '90s.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer:
    • The Chao Gardens are a surprisingly complicated, very cute Virtual Pet simulator that could work as its own game. The Chao racing and the way you have to go into levels to collect animals to enhance your Chao really extends the gameplay.
    • Running around the adventure fields. Despite, or perhaps because they are harmless fields, it is really easy to get distracted exploring them. Keep in mind the game came out two years before Grand Theft Auto III when Wide Open Sandbox really blew up, so the fields were a novelty.note . The music helps too.
    • Like many pinball minigames, the pinball machines in Casinopolis are this. They also have catchy music and animations to go along with them.
  • Signature Scene
    • One of the most famous parts of the game is the part in Emerald Coast where Sonic outruns an orca chasing him, which was recreated in the 3DS version of Sonic Generations.
    • Speed Highway has also become iconic with regards to Sonic Adventure, particularly the second act where Sonic races down the side of a skyscraper. Heavily featured in pre-release footage, it was also the chosen representative of Sonic Adventure in the console version of Sonic Generations.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: This is the game that introduced the Chao: adorable little virtual pets that you can feed and give small animals to play with.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Try the Ski Slope Snowboarding missions (53 and 54) in the DX version's mission mode and you'll find it is very hard to not go crazy trying to beat them. To add insult to injury, you risk running into a bug that crashes the game if you save mission 53 as your last one.
    • Mission 58 has you running from the boulder in the Lost World. The catch? You have to collect twenty-something flags in the process. Not bad on its own, but the camera makes it impossible to get the flags on the first shot because it's looking at the boulder instead of in front of you, and if you go too slow and get hit by the boulder, you'll miss two to three patches of flags for your trouble. Did we mention you had to get every single one? Made an absolute joke if you can manage to spin dash under the boulder after triggering it.
    • Some of Sonic's A-Rank levels are horrendous, and the first level (Emerald Coast) is a prime example. It's a fairly straightforward level to run through on the C and B levels (finish the level and finish with 50 rings, respectively). For the A-Rank, though, you have only two minutes, forcing one to spindash almost nonstop through the entire level while taking all of the stage's normal shortcuts (as in the ones the developers wanted you to take, not Game-Breaker shortcuts found by speedrunners). It gets worse with levels like Red Mountain and Lost World, to name a few.
    • Knuckles' A missions are just as bad, requiring the player to find all of the Master Emerald shards in under a minute, which can be a bit of a problem in levels like Red Mountain and Lost World. Sky Deck is at least merciful enough to give the player 2 minutes to find all of the Emerald shards, but the point still stands.
    • Big's A missions. Catch a 2000g fish and then catch Froggy. It doesn't sound hard, but there's pretty much only one fish that big in each level, and the fish you catch respawn. Doesn't help that the fishing mechanics can be buggy (see Scrappy Mechanic). Thankfully, it can be made easier if you remember it's a dark blue shark you're looking after.
  • That One Level:
    • Hot Shelter as Amy. It's not especially difficult, but it's like the level equivalent of Goddamned Bats: very long and full of annoying mechanics like doors you have to open by twizzling the analogue stick (which, if you have the PC version of SADX, means mashing the arrow keys in the correct order) and key hunts. Meanwhile, the robot Zero is chasing you and putting you under constant pressure the whole time. No wonder the developers gave it an A-Rank time of 6 minutes 30 seconds...
    • For Sonic's side, Lost World is very long and arduous and can be especially difficult on a first play since much of the level consists of a series of puzzle-solving mazes that can be quite hard to figure out if you don't know what you're doing.
    • The first two sections of Sky Deck with Sonic are also notorious for their very large number of Bottomless Pits and collapsing platforms, not to mention all the guns shooting at you at the same time. Many players find it even harder than the final level of the game. That it suffers from the largest number of glitches and collision issues out of all the levels doesn't help either.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • For those that don't consider the alternate characters Scrappy Mechanics, many complain that their story modes are too small and undeveloped compared to Sonic's. None of the five extra characters gets more than five levels (only half of Sonic's ten), and there's only one level that Sonic doesn't visit (Hot Shelter). Some even believe they should have been allowed onto Sonic's levels instead of being given their own goals and sections of levels. Amy gets hit by this harder than any other character due to the fact she has the least amount of levels totaling in at only three, plus a single mini-game, and fairly minimal activity to do in the Adventure Fields.
    • Chaos 1 is given a character model, but lacks a boss fight. And since Eggman starts giving the Chaos Emeralds in pairs after Chaos 2, Chaos 3 and 5 are never shown.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Concerning the end of Amy and Gamma's stories, which were located at the now-sunken Egg Carrier, there was a missed opportunity of Amy learning that Birdie's relatives were inside Gamma and Beta as well as the two meeting each other for the very last time.
    • E-102 Gamma's story, while already decent, could have served as a more thorough Villain Episode campaign that goes into focus about how Eggman set about his plans of enlisting Chaos and outdoing Sonic throughout the first half of the game. However, after its training run, a huge Time Skip occurs in Gamma's campaign mode, with its only use in the main plot before its Heel–Face Turn being to collect Froggy and distract Sonic with a minor battle.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Some of the side characters' quests are very barely connected to the main story. This makes Tikal teleporting them to her timeline seem a questionable resort:
    • Amy's in particular barely relates to Chaos' arc outside the Emerald Birdie is holding in its locket for half the story. It does drive a large chunk of Sonic's story.
    • Big's story involves Froggy's similarly limited connection, also holding an Emerald and for some reason possessed to carry Chaos' "tail". While he at least fights Chaos in his finale, his contribution to defeating him is far less significant than that of Sonic and Knuckles.
    • E-102 Gamma, despite serving Eggman, is only involved through collecting the two aforementioned Emeralds and a short obligatory fight with Sonic, otherwise outshone by Chaos as his top mook and spending the rest of the game in a mission "saving" its brethren who are even more disconnected from the main story.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Many NPCs have some pretty strange and low-polygon models, with the most blatant of their weird features being their squarish and disjointed limbs. While the playable characters had their models retouched for DX, the NPCs didn't, leaving the contrast even more jarring. The new, shinier character models make this worse, if anything, now standing out noticeably from the game's overall aesthetic with longer, lankier limbs seen in the cast's later redesigns without accounting for the moments where the original models are still used.
    • As mentioned above in Narm, whenever a character speaks, you can expect their facial features, especially their mouths and eyebrows, to gyrate erratically. Again, DX did nothing to fix this despite the obvious improvements visible in the sequel and its port, both of which precede DX.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity:
    • In the DX port, if you glitch your way into Twinkle Park with Knuckles and manage to get to the second part of the level, do not put Knuckles into the bowling ball launchers — it'll trap him in place and won't let you launch him, forcing you to restart or quit the level.
    • Super Sonic's story has no saves and is meant to be completed in one go. However, one of Sonic's upgrades is skippable, so if you put off collecting it until Super Sonic's story, some ports will force an autosave at that point, and attempting to load that save later will bring up a Dummied Out recap screen that unavoidably crashes. The only way to fix this is to erase your entire save file and redo all six stories.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Though it looks rather dated now, Sonic Adventure was designed to showcase the power of the Dreamcast in comparison to the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 at the time, and it shows. Vast, highly detailed environments, advanced level architecture and other fancy effects for the time had multiple review publications saying that even PC games of the era didn't look as good as Sonic Adventure. This was most obvious with Chaos, who featured numerous transparency and morphing effects which were impossible to accomplish on other systems.
    • Underneath the hood, the original Sonic Adventure has a rather advanced palette lighting system that afforded the game a lot of atmosphere (keeping in mind that this was a time where most games didn't even have lighting engines). The DX port noticeably watered down the visuals, removing the lighting engine entirely, which makes its initial reception more understandable going back to the Dreamcast release.
    • The FMVs for the game still look pretty impressive to this day, especially the opening and the cutscene of Perfect Chaos invading Station Square. Keeping in mind this was CGI from the nineties.
  • What an Idiot!: The first third or so of Sonic's story has him and Tails repeatedly getting Chaos Emeralds snatched away by Eggman. While the case outside Casinopolis is somewhat understandable (Eggman ambushed them and used a knockout gas before they could do anything) in the first case (right after they beat the Egg Hornet) Eggman just snatches the Emeralds off the ground while the two aren't paying attention and in the third case he steal two more when Sonic and Knuckles get in a squabble over who should hold onto the Chaos Emeralds, causing them to drop both of them and allowing Eggman to feed them to Chaos.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Adventure was made as this to pull the Sonic series, and by proxy Sega themselves, out of the bad rut they had fallen into during the Sega Saturn years.
  • Woolseyism: Despite the aforementioned Narm plaguing the English script, it bothers to make different dialogue for each interpretation of the story (which the Japanese version only did sparsely in key scenes). This is especially effective in Tails' story, where Deem Bristow makes his performance as Eggman sound much more sinister and intimidating from the young fox's perspective (especially in the final parts of the story).

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