What goes up must come down, yet my feet don’t touch the ground! Seeing the world spinning upside down a mighty crash without a sound! These are the words that resonate in the mind of those players who loved Sonic Heroes for its amazing soundtrack. Sonic Heroes was the sequel to the amazingly corny, but fan-adored Sonic Adventure 2. Yet, somehow Sega managed to simultaneously let all of the fans who were expecting Sonic Adventure 3 down with the release of SH. What exactly happened that made Sega decide to change the formula which had brought it so much success in the past? We might never know, but let us take a look at Sonic Heroes. A game which dared to be different, yet somehow fell flat on its face.
Sonic Heroes was based around 2 primary concepts, teamwork and puzzle platforming. While many would argue that this left the concept of speed out of the equation the second Sonic Adventure game did not have speed as a primary element either (with only a few stages dedicated to the eponymous Sonic). Each team consisted of three characters and elements such as power, speed, and flight. Utilizing these elements the players could solve the puzzles that the game threw at them, but therein laid the problem.
The puzzles were hardly challenging and at times they were mostly annoying obstacles preventing you from running at full speed. The combat was shallow and boiled down to keep spamming the attack button. Every once in a while the meter on the screen would fill up and allow the characters to do a devastating team attack which could wipe out the screen, but it was fun only the first few times. Finally the speed sections were limited and while the scenery of some of the stages was amazing (as well as the music) it simply did not make up for the bad design choices.
The story was also rather goofy and with such a large variety of characters the time dedicated to each one is limited. The stages are also repetitive with each character visiting the same area and the only change being the length or in Team Chaotix’s case the objective. Every few stages they would fight against an opposing team and continue onward as if they hadn’t just beaten up their acquaintances/friends. Obviously Sonic and friends never truly cared about each other. But, then again this might have actually been a consequence of the sloppy story-telling in Sonic Heroes.
You see the story in Sonic Heroes was a garbled mess of plot threads left hanging and unexplained events.
In Sonic Heroes we find out that Shadow is still alive, but we don’t know how he is alive nor does the game bother explaining this until the end (and even this only serves to raise further questions). Robotnik got captured by Metal Sonic who happens to be the big bad of the game and has managed to create damn near perfect clones of the good doctor. Metal Sonic wants to absorb the data of all of the heroes via some inexplicable method which involved having them go through trials to find him.
Chocola and Froggy are missing and Team Rose must find them. Team Chaotix is hired by some strange voice over a radio which turns out to be Robotnik who is stuck in a closet somewhere in one of his bases. All the teams gang up on a twisted version Metal Sonic (Metal Overlord) who copied all of their abilities and nobody ever mentions the event again, but there was a kickass song playing in the background! This was also accompanied by Tails and Knuckles having a super mode that they have never used again and was extremely lame (they gained orbs which allowed them flight around their bodies).
This of course was a simplified version of the story, but it covers all of the major details. A sad aspect to consider is that Sonic Heroes was meant to harken back to the days of old Sonic. You can see elements of this in the casino stages and even in the lighter and softer storyline. But, it just wasn’t the Sonic game the players wanted. The game which came after this was Shadow The Hedgehog and event that game failed to live up to the name. It would be years before the next good Sonic iteration would happen, and it finally came to be with Sonic Colors and Generations.
Sonic Heroes wasn’t what everyone expected. Unfortunately through its experimentation Sega didn’t mix the right elements to make it a great game. It was average at best and you could read some truly hilarious reviews on GameFaqs.com.