Okay, a quick warning before I start spitting on Sonic as I know what I’m talking about: I’ve only played one Sonic game. Own, at least. I certainly had a copy of the old friends ’copies of the games, and I watched it Sonic the Hedgehog movie, yes that counts – but the only Sonic game I’ve ever played and played for over 30 minutes is Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the GameCube.
However, I think it qualifies me to talk about Sonic, because he is clearly the best.
So here’s what I know about the zoomy blue hedgehog shoe: it’s a bit silly, its friends are all lively or misanthropic, and it’s completely naked outside of the shoes. Oh, and go fast. I have no doubt that I have missed all sorts of Sonic traditions by not playing the rest of his work, but I think I agree with these basic facts.
Sonic Adventure 2 is a Sonic 3D game mostly on the tracks that involves a lot of running away from things, and occasionally doing extremely tedious levels of hiding while some so bad rap is good to play in the background.
I might think I think Sonic Adventure 2 is a bad game, but I don’t. I like. I love their strangely serious lyrical choices, where the characters narrate exactly what they do while playing. I love that Knuckles can fly for some reason. I love that Sonic – known for his speed – spends a lot of time in the game just kind of walking around, so the areas aren’t big enough for him to gain momentum. It’s a game full of weird design decisions, and that’s why I like it so much. I’m a fan of lovely jank.
But you’ve read the title, you know where I’m going with this, and you probably agree with me: Chao Garden is the best thing the Sonic series has ever done. I can confidently do this without playing other Sonic games, because it’s just THAT good. Feel free to disagree in the comments, of course, but I will I know right. Sorry.
The fact that someone at Sega took a look at the idea behind Sonic – platform, but really fast – and thought, “You know what it takes? A Tamagotchi minigame,” is incredible. What’s even more incredible is that they were able to leave it, but instead decided to add it morality and a true representation of hell to the mixture. You know what’s even more fun than raising a pet? Raise a pet that repeatedly fights against a wall like a deflated kick until it gets bad! Fun !!
Chao Garden was the reason I played Sonic Adventure 2 as much as I did. Screw Dr. Eggman and his infamous plans; I only interacted with the game to collect small animals to reinforce my Chaos stats, and earn enough money to keep them well fed. Sonic’s “missions” became a means to an end: it wasn’t a 3D platform adventure with a Chao mini-game, it was a Chao game with a 3D platform game wrapped around the side.
I was like a proud parent on a school sports day, encouraging my little Chaos while competing in Chao races. If I was given the option, I would happily sabotage the other Chaos to make sure my little one came out victorious. I would spend whole hours in the garden, picking alternately and clearing the Chaos based on what alignment I wanted them to grow. I don’t really care about Sonic; all that interests me is Chao.
Yet, despite its clear appeal, we haven’t seen the true return of Chao Garden in 20 years. Although versions have appeared Sonic Advance, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, and even the Sonic / Minecraft crossover of the 30th anniversary, we haven’t had the good fortune to raise small businesses properly in two decades.
But pet breeding simulation games are back, slowly but surely, no doubt thanks to the nostalgia of the 90s that is in vogue. Neopets noises, new high generations Tamagotchi, and games like Magnatu Zoo have shown that there is still a market for these games, and we certainly wouldn’t say no to a renaissance of the Nintendogs series on Switch, either.
Let’s just say: The time has come for a return of Chao Garden. I just hope they don’t regret going so far.