Boss downgrades

It’s unfortunate, but almost every single area in the game received downgrades in SADX, and the bosses are no exception. In many cases the problems you see in boss battles are related to stage downgrades, but there are also several boss-specific effects broken or removed, and certain issues are specific to the PC port. This post is an all-in-one boss marathon so it’s going to be a little long, but that’s only because all bosses in the game have issues that weren’t there in the original game.

Chaos 0

This is the area you see first when you start the story, and one of the most memorable scenes in the game. Most of the downgrades to this area are the same as Station Square downgrades – for example, window reflections had the environment mapping effect disabled and are now a simple texture. Here’s an overview of the area as seen in the first cutscene:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

You can see that the variety of textures is a bit less impressive in SADX, for example the windows on the police car use the same texture as window reflections. In addition, none of the glass surfaces have the distortion effect that was there in the Dreamcast version. The back lights on the police cars are no longer lit up for some reason.

During the cutscene you can notice that the lights cast on the ground by the police cars are no longer there in SADX:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

When Sonic jumps on top of the police car, you can see that the flashers no longer have a reflective surface, and the rotating pieces inside them are missing:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Those rotating pieces are actually still there, but you never see them because the parts of the police car model are rendered in an incorrect order.

Finally, let’s have a closer look at the police car. Which one do you think looks better – the Dreamcast one with all those reflections going on, or the SADX one, where the reflections were replaced with static low-resolution textures? Even the windshield has lost its textures for some reason.

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Some people say the SADX one “looks more like a real car”. That is a pretty dumb argument because 1) this is the wrong kind of realism to be looking for in a game about a cartoon hedgehog, where the environments are supposed to be bright and colorful, and 2) the SADX car isn’t more realistic because it removes the shiny surfaces, which are characteristic of real cars. It’s pretty obvious what the designers of the original game were going for: a visually impressive, cinematic look similar to this. Now look back at the comparisons above and see which one does a better job at recreating that: the one from a 1998 game with metallic reflections, or the one from a 2003 game with plastic surfaces and low-resolution textures?

I’m inclined to believe the only reason they redesigned the car was that it had rendering or performance issues in its original design (which is ironic considering the redesigned model also has rendering issues). The remodeling is also extremely lazy. Here’s what you can see underneath the SADX car if you look at it in a model editor:

The circled areas are leftovers from the Dreamcast model. The developers were so lazy they didn’t even bother to remove them. They just moved those pieces deeper inside the car so that they are no longer visible. “Enhanced port”, yeah.

Right before the battle with Chaos begins, you can see that he looks slightly different in each version of the game:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The greenish glow around Chaos’ chest and torso in the Dreamcast version is added by the palette lighting system, which is missing in the ports. But the most noticeable difference is the blue coloring of Chaos in the PC version. This is not a design change. It’s an oversight in the PC port, which makes the game process material colors even when it’s not needed. The console versions of the game don’t do that (but the nextgen console ports do).

When fighting Chaos, you can see the overall blandness of lighting in the ports, as well as reduced vibrancy of the environment:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Chaos 2

The removal of palette lighting causes Chaos to lose detail on his torso:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

As you play this battle, you notice that the lighting is different, but the most noticeable change is the windows. Now you can barely see the city background through them, and even when you do, it’s missing one layer so the cool “parallax” effect is no longer there. It would still look kind of acceptable, but the added fog makes sure the background is washed out in both ports:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The columns in this fight are supposed to become transparent when they are close to the camera. This only happens on the Dreamcast, however:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

Chaos 4

The pond has lost the murky green texture and is now more transparent. The reflection effect was also toned down slightly:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Chaos has lost the green specular lighting specific to this area and looks more generic now, although the Gamecube’s distortion effect compensates for it somewhat:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

When fighting Chaos, you can also notice the green glow on rings and characters as they also use a green specular palette in the original game. It’s missing in SADX for obvious reasons:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Did you know that in the Dreamcast version the pond has a green texture while Chaos is swimming in it, but changes to a different texture when you beat him? You can see it briefly before Chaos falls into the pond and after you defeat him. This doesn’t happen in SADX. Not a big deal, but why not?

Chaos 6

This boss has suffered mostly from lighting downgrades. In the Dreamcast version Chaos’ model used a special palette that gave it a dark, intimidating look. The Gamecube version’s attempt to recreate that is only somewhat successful, and the PC version looks like garbage as always:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

During the fight you’ll notice that the green glow on the Eggmobile and some objects is now gone and is given to Sonic instead, and something is wrong with the skybox in the ports:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The skybox is split into two pieces, and one of them is animated. This is the same as in the Dreamcast version, however in the ports the animated piece has an incorrect Y position (it’s supposed to be below the ship so that you can see it only near the edge of the battle area), which places it right into the sky, creating visible seams between the animated and non-animated layers of clouds:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Perfect Chaos

This boss fight has a lot of downgrades stemming from code bugs in the game’s transparency sorting system, as well as some really bad lighting downgrades. Let’s discuss lighting first, since it’s the first noticeable difference you see right away.

Like Chaos 6, Perfect Chaos also uses a special palette in the Dreamcast version. The ports don’t compensate for it in this case, and Chaos’ model just has no lighting as a result:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The Egg Carrier 2 model has strange white specular lighting in SADX that makes it look ridiculous:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

It’s especially bad when the camera zooms in during the cutscene. The Gamecube version looks bad but passable, but the PC version is complete garbage. Lower texture quality is also quite noticeable if you look at the background:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Now let’s discuss broken or missing effects. This level has several issues, but all of them can be compared in a video. Have a look at what happens when you attack Chaos:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

You can see several problems with the scene compared above:

  1. When Perfect Chaos is hurt, he explodes into water splashes that fly all over the place. The animation for these splashes is stuck on the last several frames in the Gamecube and PC ports, which makes the whole scene a lot less impressive.
  2. The waterfalls have a particle effect at the bottom, which is missing in the ports. Well, it’s not missing, but it shows up only a few times depending on the camera angle. This is caused by a bug in the alpha rejection system, which makes them invisible.
  3. There is some faint mist around Chaos’ location, which also randomly appears and disappears in the ports due to a bug with alpha rejection. More on why that happens in the Transparency section. Most of the time you just don’t see it.
  4. When Chaos emerges from the water, the tornadoes around his body fade in slowly in the Dreamcast and Gamecube versions. In the PC version they just pop in.
  5. On the Dreamcast the tornadoes around Chaos’ body have a cool UV animation that makes them look like they’re spinning in opposite directions. The animation is still there in SADX, but it’s harder to see which direction the tornadoes are spinning because the animation is choppy. This might be the result of increased framerate in the ports.

Let me also briefly mention the Super Sonic model. His body has lost the environment mapping effect and is now using a static yellow texture:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The distortions created by the environment mapping effect react to camera changes, but the yellow texture always looks the same:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Egg Hornet

Apart from losing palettized lighting like the Mystic Ruins, the Egg Hornet battle has some other downgrades. For example, the Egg Hornet model’s reflections are a lot less vibrant in the ports for some reason:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

When Egg Hornet attacks Sonic, it rotates as if it’s digging the ground. This works fine in the original game and the Gamecube port, but the rotations are missing in the PC port:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Egg Walker

This boss fight was updated to reflect the changes made to Station Square, but the cars in this area are still using their shiny Dreamcast models as opposed to the updated SADX models you can see in the Adventure Field. However, the most noticeable problems with this boss are 1) lighting on the Egg Walker model and the rest of the stage, and 2) missing skybox in the PC version:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

If you look closely, you can notice that the sky is slightly more purple in the Gamecube version, which is the same color as the missing skybox in the PC version. This is caused by added fog on the Gamecube, which didn’t translate well in the PC port. The Gamecube version has several fog modes that allow the fog to disperse in different ways, while the PC version only has linear fog, which is why the sky is obscured completely by it. The only thing the developers had to do to fix this in the PC version is to reduce or disable fog, which isn’t even needed in this area.

Egg Viper

This area is suffering from major lighting downgrades and loss of detail, which are noticeable even in the cutscene leading to the boss fight, although the very beginning of it doesn’t look too terrible on the Gamecube (why ruin color variety though?). As always, the PC version is the worst of all:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

This low-resolution wall texture behind Sonic looks like a good area the “enhanced port” could improve upon, but nope. This goes back to my argument that the developers only updated the areas that had rendering issues in their original designs, and the “upgrades” came out of necessity rather than a legitimate attempt to improve the experience. The lighting on Sonic isn’t bad here though:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The area where you see the Egg Viper for the first time suffers from pretty terrible lighting downgrades, with the green shading missing entirely and the Egg Viper model being lit up for no reason on the Gamecube. The PC version is even worse than that:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The walls in the area where you fight the Egg Viper were changed to look more “rusty”, and the spinning dot effect behind the walls was removed. The lighting was also simplified, although the Gamecube version doesn’t look too terrible. But it can’t be called an improvement over the original by any means:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The lighting on the platforms is also simpler in the ports:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

The Egg Viper fight had a few unique lighting effects that barely survived the Gamecube transition (surprisingly), and are completely missing in the PC port. But first, let’s look at the start of the fight to see the spinning dots effect in motion. You can also notice that the Egg Viper model has lost its specular glow in the ports:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

One of Egg Viper’s attacks is a huge explosion. This explosion also colors the walls red in the Dreamcast version, which looks pretty cool. The effect is still there on the Gamecube, but it isn’t as bright, and the PC port is so broken the effect is missing entirely:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

A similar effect can be seen when Sonic hits the Egg Viper. This time it’s a bright red flash, which is also less bright on the Gamecube and missing completely on PC:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Another effect is seen when the Egg Viper charges a ball of plasma to attack Sonic. On the Dreamcast the walls flash blue with an increasing amplitude. This effect is broken in all ports. On the Gamecube the walls just lose all lighting, and the PC version does nothing at all:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

E-101 Beta

The boss area was redesigned to reflect the changes to the Adventure Field. Other than the dumbed-down character lighting it doesn’t look too bad, maybe even better than the original level. It’s certainly one of the few areas in the game that don’t look terrible:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Zero/E-101R

Apart from the downgrades specific to the Adventure Field where this fight takes place, there are some problems with the E-101R boss. The model loses the subtle pink specular light for generic white gloss in the ports, but the main problem with it is the issue with the glass floor, which is specific to the PC version. You can see that the particle effect has transparency sorting problems with the glass floor on PC:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

When Beta does the ramming attack, the effect around his body is less vibrant in the ports. For some reason it’s blue on the Gamecube and dark grey in the PC port:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

Here’s a closer look at the ramming attack, where you can see the simplified lighting and the less vibrant “motion blur” effect:

Dreamcast

Gamecube

PC

As you can see, all bosses have downgrades in SADX, and the boss fights that were the most impressive on the Dreamcast (Chaos 0, Egg Viper, Perfect Chaos) have suffered the most. It’s really sad that a lot of people play the massively downgraded ports of Sonic Adventure on the Gamecube, PC and nextgen consoles without realizing how much inferior they are to the original Dreamcast game.