The Mystic Ruins were redesigned in SADX with new textures, particularly in the main area. While the new textures are not bad for the most part, the level has had several changes that can be considered downgrades. Much like elsewhere in SADX, those downgrades primarily have to do with lighting and transparency.
The differences in lighting are noticeable as soon as you arrive in the stage. Note how the lighting on Sonic is simpler in SADX, and how the PC version looks almost the same during night and day.
Here’s an overview of the main area, which received the most changes in the ports. Some people may prefer the more “detailed” land textures in SADX. The lighting in the Gamecube version is a lot better than in the PC version, although it still looks a bit too bright at night. In the PC version you can’t easily tell which time of day it is because all screens look almost the same.
The Egg Hornet area was also redesigned. The palm trees in the Dreamcast version ignore lighting for some reason, which is fixed in SADX. The Gamecube version looks fine, but the PC version has broken lighting. The land in the PC version looks lit up in the evening and at night, and you can only tell the time of day by the sky texture.
The pond is one of the most criticized areas in the PC version. The Dreamcast version has a static water texture, the Gamecube has a moving distortion effect, and the PC version has a static water texture with additive blending. The waterfall is also more colorful in the original game. Whether DC or GC looks better in this area is a matter of preference, but the PC version (and all subsequent versions based on it) has the worst looking pond:
The sea textures were changed as well, they don’t look too bad with the Gamecube’s effect, but the animation of the waves washing the rocks doesn’t fit very well because of transparency issues. The problem is more noticeable in the PC version, which doesn’t have the distortion effect:
A similar problem happened to the water wave animation on the rocks here. Note how the PC version’s sea is even less transparent and adds fog, which affects the ocean:
The rock that blocks the passage to Angel Island sticks out in the PC version because of material color problems:
The Angel Island area was also redesigned. The “redesign” primarily involved removal of many decorations, such as trees:
This part has also lost some decorations and detail, making the area look more empty and lifeless:
The glow of the Master Emerald is more “green” on the Dreamcast:
The vibrancy of the Ice Cap area was reduced, and the environment mapping effect on the ice was made more transparent and less shiny. The area looks a lot more static as a result. The PC version adds blue material colors, which isn’t a problem but they don’t help the vibrancy too much:
This plant was changed in the ports, and its transparent parts were replaced with copies of non-transparent parts. Since the original model for this plant works fine in SADX as-is, it was unnecessary to replace it. In addition, the rustling grass sound made by this plant no longer loops in SADX.
The jungle area is also different in SADX. Some of the differences can be considered downgrades. The original game uses fog to enhance the atmosphere: for example, when you descend into the jungle, the fog thickens and you can’t see too far, but if you climb up or go to the temple area, the fog gradually disappears. This effect is removed in SADX. The fog is especially problematic in the PC version, where it washes out distant colors when looking at the jungle from above.
The top part of the jungle uses a lower resolution texture in SADX, but the models are less flat. The PC version completely ruins the jungle with broken lighting, fog and unnecessary material colors. In addition, the jungle entrance was not adjusted in the ports so it now clashes with the SADX redesign of the main area.
The water texture in the jungle is too transparent in SADX so it looks as if there is no water at all. Interestingly it’s one of the few areas in the Gamecube version where the water doesn’t have the distortion effect, which would’ve helped here. The water being too transparent is particularly a problem in the PC version because it’s the only version where the water is no longer animated. The original version had water animated by scrolling the texture.
The decorations around Big’s house have lost all animations in SADX and are now completely static:
The Final Egg base model has transparency problems in all ports, which are more prominent in the PC version. The light beams don’t render properly and go behind the glow effect. They also get dark outlines because of layering issues with the skybox.
Inside the base there are noticeable lighting differences. SADX removes the greenish tint across the whole level, reduces lighting detail on Sonic and replaces a few textures:
The tubes in this area are more opaque and less reflective in SADX:
Here’s an overview of the lower segment of this area. Note how the PC version has draw distance artifacts near the top:
From the comparisons it might seem that the lighting in this area was changed to give it a more “rusty” look. We can confirm this isn’t true because the vertex colors in this stage look almost the same as the Dreamcast version without lighting. Here’s a screenshot of the Dreamcast level with fullbright lighting compared against the SADX redesign of this area with lighting from the PC version. Although the SADX version of the level has lighting, it doesn’t affect the level as visibly as the original version.
The SADX version of Mystic Ruins has less downgrades than Station Square, and the Gamecube version looks fine in some areas, but lack of lighting, removal of decorations and design changes regarding color vibrancy make this Adventure Field feel unfinished. It could have been an interesting redesign if it wasn’t for the massive amount of issues affecting almost every single change introduced in SADX. These issues are fixed in the Dreamcast Conversion mod, which reverts this level to its original design. For those who prefer the SADX look of the Mystic Ruins, the Lantern Engine mod can improve the ambience by adding back Dreamcast lighting without reverting the level to the original version. Check out this section for more information on how to install mods on the PC version.