Revisting Sonic Heroes: A Glitchy Masterclass of Fun

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Thomas Richards
| August 31, 2023
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3D Sonic games don’t have the best reputation. Since Sonic Adventure brought the blue blur into the 3D era (there was Sonic 3D Blast, but we don’t talk about that one), people haven’t been silent about the blunders made by the speedy hedgehog. But, even with all their faults, these games are still some of the most fun I have in gaming today. And if you ask me, the pinnacle of these early 3D Sonic games is undoubtedly Sonic Heroes. Initially released in 2003 for the PS2, GameCube, Xbox, and PC, Sonic Heroes stands the test of time and is just as fun to play today as it was all those years ago. The story and characters are still a joy to experience again and again. And while the gameplay can be a little buggy, the game’s charm and breakneck speed (sometimes unintentionally) more than make up for it.

The Real Power of Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work. (SEGA)

Sonic Heroes is the sequel to the beloved Sonic Adventure 2. The game’s story takes place an unknown time after Dr Eggman destroyed half of the moon and Shadow fell to Earth. Now, Dr Eggman is back up to his old tricks and sends a letter to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, telling them they only have three days to stop him. After our trio accepts the challenge, they all run off to stop the Doctor once again (and let the tornado crash into a rock; don’t worry about it). It’s a basic premise for a Sonic game, but this is where Sonic Heroes stands apart from so many others; there are four perspectives on this story, which means four teams.

The main gimmick of Sonic Heroes is the team mechanic. There are four teams, each with their own story and characters to experience. I’ve already mentioned Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, who form Team Sonic (original, I know). Team Dark includes Shadow (who somehow isn’t dead), Rouge, and Omega. Team Rose comprises Amy, Cream, and everyone’s favourite fisherman, Big. We also get the return of Team Chaotix with Espio, Charmy, and Vector. Each team has a unique personality that shines through in cutscenes and gameplay. There are even a few surprises in store that impact future games. Each team plays slightly differently as well, but they all deal with the same glitches.

Gotta Glitch Fast

Get into formation. (SEGA)

The general gameplay for each team follows the same formula. Each team consists of a speed character, a flying character, and a power character. You switch between each character with the press of a button, allowing you to switch to the right character for the job quickly. Thanks to the helpful colour-coordinated rings at the top of the screen, you’ll know what type of character you’re controlling. Speed is blue, flying is yellow, and power is red. Most obstacles will have a character change gate beforehand to let you know which character is needed. You can also upgrade each character three times by collecting power-ups from enemies or passing a checkpoint. You’ll use each character’s abilities, alongside the team-specific team blast, to speed your way through each stage. That is if the glitches don’t send you through the floor.

Sonic Heroes is notorious for how unpredictable the game can be, especially on the PS2 (how I played it). You could be running and clip a wall, and you’d be sent flying through the map. Or you could be riding the rails at a later level and be launched into the unending abyss because you tried to switch rails. Whether or not you’ll experience these bugs, it’s a gamble, but I think they add to the game’s charm. I’ll always laugh when I see Sonic and friends uncontrollably bounce around the screen for no rhyme or reason. I’ll admit it can be annoying, but the laughs vastly outweigh the anger. It also helps that the game still looks visually unique, even today, and has an absolute banger of a soundtrack.

What I’m Made Of

I can see my house from here. (SEGA)

The early 2000s is a treasure trove of unique and interesting art styles, and Sonic Heroes is no exception. The game combines elements from the classic series with the (then) modern designs of the classic characters. The in-game models all look great, having a distinct style that I haven’t seen since. The bright colours and expressive faces make each level and cutscene a delight to experience. The environments are just as stunning and varied; you’ll never be bored. There are beaches, cityscapes, power plants, haunted mansions, and even a fleet of airships; there’s something for everyone. And the game has a soundtrack to match, which I still can’t get out of my head.

3D Sonic games are known for their over-the-top soundtracks. When a new Sonic game releases, your ears are sure to be serenaded by some absolute bangers. Sonic Heroes is no exception to this, having one of the best soundtracks ever to grace the series. You have the iconic opening song Sonic Heroes, performed by the Sonic veterans Crush 40. Each team also has its unique theme song, and they’re all guaranteed never to leave your mind. The level themes are no slouch either, with a mixture of relaxing melodies and terrifying piano. My personal favourite is the theme for the stage Egg Fleet. The rock vibe fits perfectly with running across a fleet of ships while destroying them one at a time.

The real power of teamwork. (SEGA)

Sonic Heroes is a glitchy masterclass of fun. The story, while basic on the surface, allows for character interactions I could’ve only dreamed about when I was younger. The gameplay is unpredictably fun, with only a hint of anger. And let’s not forget how amazing the game looks, as well as that banger of a soundtrack. If you passed on the game when it came out or have it sitting in a pile, telling yourself you’ll play it one day, play it now. I can personally guarantee that you’ll have a blast with the blue blur and friends.

Have you played Sonic Heroes? What did you think? Did the glitches bother you? Let us know in the comments where we fight over which team has the best theme song (it’s Team Sonic).

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