The Saturn proved to be a dismal failure. While it had a strong (but small) cult following in Japan and the US, it simpy hadn't brought in enough money. Sega wasn't down for the count, though, and soon info was coming in about their new, 128-bit platform, which would eventually be called the Dreamcast. It was anounced that one of the first games for the console would be Sonic Adventure, a game that Sega promised would be a return to 'normal' Sonic gameplay.
The characters were given a visual makeover, an in-game storyline was set, and other new characteristics were intoduced, but even besides all this, it was definately a 'normal' Sonic game. With the sole exception of the tiny 3D world in Sonic Jam, it was the first true 3D Sonic platform game. For many fans, it was a sign that Sonic was ready to retun to his past glory.
The game took place on Earth, and instead of going level to level as the older games had done, there were now Adventure Fields with people to talk to and 'logical' entrances to actual levels. Two new characters were introduced: Big the Cat, a fishing pole toting purple cat whose best friend is a frog, and E-102 gamma, a robot on a mission from Eggman to find Big's frog. Each character had different gameplay and goals, for better or worse. Sonic had the classic, run-and-gun gameplay; Tails had to race Sonic to the end of the zone; Amy Rose had to outrun and outsmart a robot that had been chasing her all game; Knuckles had to find shards of the Mater Emerald; Big had to find Froggy by fishing for him; E-102 had enemy lock-on abaility, which was needed to keep his running time up. Some of these new gameplay techniques were fun, or at least tolerable (Tails and E102) while some were dull, slow, annoying and at times, very difficult (Knuckles and Big). Sonic Adventure also began to drop the Dr. Robotnik name that had been used outside of Japan for so long; instead, he was now being called Eggman as an insult.
All around, the game had a rather RPG-esque feel to it. Indeed, Adventure got its start as a Saturn RPG project years earlier, but was changed over to the Dreamcast very early in the console's design. Sonic Adventure became a mild success, but may have done much better if Sega had kept their fans' trust through the Saturn years. Alot of people simply had no interest in the Dreamcast, fearing another bomb of Saturn-like proportions. For the Sonic fans who held on, though, it was a breath of fresh air.
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