Alright, a quick disclaimer before I start spouting off about Sonic like I know what I'm talking about: I have only ever played one Sonic game. Properly, at least. I've certainly had a go on friends' copies of the older games, and I watched the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, if that counts — but the only Sonic game I've ever owned and played for more than 30 minutes is Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the GameCube.
However, I think that qualifies me to talk about Sonic, because it's clearly the best one.
So, here's what I know about the zoomy blue hogger of hedges: he's a bit sassy, his friends are all either perky or misanthropic, and he is entirely naked except for shoes. Oh, and he goes fast. I don't doubt that I've missed out on all sorts of Sonic lore by not playing the rest of his oeuvre, but I think I'm okay with those basic facts.
Sonic Adventure 2 is a 3D mostly-on-rails Sonic game that involves a lot of running away from things, and occasionally doing extremely tedious hide-and-seek levels while some so-bad-it's-good rap plays in the background.
It might sound like I think Sonic Adventure 2 is a bad game, but I don't. I love it. I love its weirdly earnest lyrical choices, where the characters narrate exactly what they're doing as you play. I love that Knuckles can fly for some reason. I love that Sonic — known for his speed — spends a lot of the time in-game just sort of walking around, because the areas aren't big enough for him to gather momentum. It's a game full of bizarre design decisions, and that's kiiiinda why I love it so much. I'm a fan of loveable jank.
But you've read the title, you know where I'm going with this, and you probably agree with me: the Chao Garden is the best thing that the Sonic series has ever done. I can confidently say this without playing any other Sonic games, because it's just THAT good. Feel free to disagree in the comments, of course, but I am right. Sorry.
The fact that someone at Sega took one look at the idea behind Sonic — platforming, but really fast — and thought, "You know what this needs? A Tamagotchi minigame," is incredible. What's even more incredible is that they could have left it at that, but instead they decided to add morality and an actual representation of hell to the mix. You know what's even more fun than raising a child-pet? Raising a child-pet that you repeatedly lob against a wall like a deflated football until it turns evil! Fun!!
The Chao Garden was the reason I played Sonic Adventure 2 as much as I did. Screw Dr Eggman and his nefarious plans; I was only interacting with the game in order to collect small animals to beef up my Chaos' stats, and earn enough money to keep them well-fed. Sonic's "missions" became a means to an end: this wasn't a 3D platforming adventure with a Chao minigame, it was a Chao game with a 3D platforming game bolted onto the side.
I was like a proud parent at a school sports day, cheering on my little Chaos as they competed in the Chao races. If given the option, I would have happily sabotaged the other Chaos to ensure that my little one emerged victorious. I would spend hours in the garden, alternately cuddling and yeeting the Chaos based on which alignment I wanted them to grow into. I do not truly care for Sonic; all I care for is Chao.
And yet, despite its clear appeal, we have not seen Chao Garden's true return in 20 years. Although versions of it have appeared in Sonic Advance, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, and even the 30th anniversary Sonic/Minecraft crossover, we have not had the chance to raise the little critters properly in two decades.
But pet-raising simulation games are coming back, slowly but surely, no doubt thanks to '90s nostalgia being in vogue. Neopets rumours, new hi-tech Tamagotchi generations, and games like Zoo Tycoon have proved that there's still a market for these games, and we certainly wouldn't say no to a revival of the Nintendogs series on Switch, either.
Let's put it this way: The time is ripe for a Chao Garden comeback. I just hope they don't resent me for being gone so long.
They haven’t for 20 years but I’m sure they’ll finally get right on that now.
I played this more than the actual missions.
I never really understood the appeal of the chao garden honestly, but thinking on it a bit more, it's probably a nice side attraction that you can sink some time into.
Heck if this were in a Mario game and the chao were yoshi I'd probably be all over it myself. I'd probably raise an army of fat yoshis.
Stupid round babies? Jokes on you, my Chao has a bigger IQ than Tails and Dr. Eggman combined!
Yes, I want them back.
One of the greatest time sinks.
I wish the most recent releases had the jewel eggs and other content that was previously Tiny Chao Garden exclusive. I mean, it's technically there, but effectively "dummied out"; only the PC version has access via mod tools.
I still remember breeding an invisible Chao. Just eyes, mouth, and the emotion-bubble... thing floating around.
I actually spent a lot more time in chao garden then in the game its self! I was sad when I had to get rid of one, and I had a lot of cool named ones, I love it, naming, taking them to school, Idk why they wont bring it back, but maybe in this new game they well, Ya I know its wishful thinking but I really want it to come back.
@roy130390 Same here.
The day SEGA decided to scrap the Chao Garden after Sonic Adventure 2 and the day they thought up the boost formula for the gameplay in 3D Sonic games were the two darkest days in Sonic history.
I've been playing a lot of Sonic Adventure 2 lately - trying to unlock all A ranks. I also just recently figured out how to semi-legitimately get the character chao off of my japanese promo disc and into my english copy of the game on GCN:
Sounds like it's time to port the game again.
Naked except for shoes? Excuse you but I think you’ll find he wears a rather fetching pair of gloves
Is anyone watching the 30th anniversary symphony? The whole intermission was just a 10 minute video feed of a Chao garden. Sega knows.
Just a heads up, in all official media the plural of Chao is still Chao, likely so it doesn’t get confused with Chaos. 😛 thought the author should know that at least.
That being said, man I miss the Chao Garden. I’ve resigned myself to it never returning but it was literally my favorite thing in any Sonic game…
I've given up hope on ever seeing my little dudes again. The fact that we haven't gotten at least a mobile cash in of them in all these years makes me really think that SEGA straight up hates them.
Stop making me feel old! First you tell me the N64 is 25 and now sonic adventure 2 is 20?
Somebody get me a damn wheelchair! I'm officially a geezer.
When I realized that my GameCube memory card was corrupted, the first place my mind went to was the genicide that had just occurred to my chao garden.
Losing the hundreds of hours spent in Melee, or the Itchy & Scratchy movie you got for 100% in Simpsons Hit & Run, was nothing in comparison.
You just want WHAT?
They should just make it a stand alone game/mobile game. It was kinda pointless to even use the chao garden at all in the first place lol.
The trailer is kinda subtle about it, but I have a suspicion that that guy wants to kill chaos.
I actually loved the Rouge and Knuckles hide-and-seek levels, but yeah I definitely played more of the chao garden stuff than I did the main game.
SEGA can’t even get Sonic right, I don’t see how they could make the Chao garden right with their one-and-done development.
They said they took it out along with emerald hunting to make the game series more appealing to casual gamers.
I don't think we're going back.
You do no it's on xbox
Loved the chao garden but part of it is cause it was great motivation to learn the stages and speedrun them along with trying to A rank them for the secret stage.
Made me appreciate the stages that much more since many of the later games have pretty meh stages
@chocolate_supra I missed some of it, so I didn't watch, I got to check it out later.
I was the kind of Sonic fan that bought the games because of the Chao Gardens, the Sonic games themselves were just fluff I had to play to collect rings and resources.
I really wish these could come back.
Even if they just ported the chao garden from adventure 2 into a new sonic game then i would buy it.
Kate proving yet again why she’s the best out there.
@Xenobound94 Really? Not the day they thought he should romance a human?
Excellent write-up, Kate! Love your humor and eloquent snark. And yes, Sonic Adventure 2 really is the best Sonic game. I only played a few Sonic games growing up, but I loved Adventure 2 for everything you mentioned.
@Yosher In fact, that should be the next Yoshi game!
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is my childhood. Spent soooo much time on that Chao Garden. Chao Karate was heartbreaking and pretty disturbing though.
They could easily make a game around just the Chao Garden. Don't know why this isn't a thing.
"But you've read the title, you know where I'm going with this, and you probably agree with me: the Chao Garden is the best thing that the Sonic series has ever done. I can confidently say this without playing any other Sonic games, because it's just THAT good. Feel free to disagree in the comments, of course, but I am right. Sorry."
No, don't apologize for being absolutely correct. If Sonic is Inspector Gadget, then the Chao Garden is Penny & Brain.
This is great and all but I expect Thursday crab news tomorrow (seriously, though, this mode was legendary)
The encore tracks at the Sonic Symphony (Escape from the City, Live and Learn) were truly astounding. That Symphonic Metal sound they created for the concert was phenomenal. It not only made me hope that the soundscape of Sonic would use that style moving forward, but it made me want a Sonic Adventure 3 so so much!
I bought Sonic Adventure 2 on Steam last year to play with the Chao garden again. I wish they would add more content on them in future games. That would make me want to buy more Sonic games honestly..
@Ulysses Heck yeah I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
Sonic Adventure 2 Choa Garden was so fun addictive back on the Dreamcast days.
Forget the Chaos Emeralds; I just want Chaos
You know what's even more fun than raising a child-pet? Raising a child-pet that you repeatedly lob against a wall like a deflated football until it turns evil!
@KateGray Well, this isn't the recommended route into a real Shin Megami Tensei game... but if that was your path, I won't complain.
I think Mr. Vogel could use your counsel in attaining this level of enlightment.
God I loved the Chao Garden so much, I barely remember the rest of the game.
Although I grew up playing the first Sonic Adventure on PC, I had a demo disc containing the second game's first few levels. I wish so bad they'd remaster or remake The Adventure games as they were both top notch!!
Also had a friend who owned a copy of the game on Dreamcast and told me about how addictive and unique the Chao Garden was, I was fascinated by how it utilized the VMU unit
PS: Chaos were adorable!
I've been saying this for years. Sega & the Sonic Team are missing out not enhancing and adapting the Chao Garden into newer games or at least not making a mobile game out of it at this point. Will they do it though? Honestly I doubt it and it's a shame because it has so much potential and it was quite an in depth system they had in SA2B. It's like they don't like money and don't want to succeed.
We really just need a 3D sonic game, mix of adventure with boost mechanic no 2.5D 2D parts forced in keep that to Sonic Mania games. With a Chao Garden better than the previous. That's it just some good stage design and a fairly okay story and they'd actually make a good game again.
@KateGray I have to say, I always enjoy reading your articles because your sense of humor (or maybe it's sarcasm or cynicism?) is very similar to mine. But more than anything else your polls are consistently brilliant and you deserve a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize or whatever for every one you make. Also, I must have spent hundreds of hours in the Chao Garden in Sonic Adventure during college instead of doing whatever it is you're supposed to do to in college, but I barely remember anything of the garden in Sonic Adventure 2. I know I spent a lot of time on that game, too... maybe it was because I hated those hide-and-seek levels with such a passion that it blocked out all memories of the parts of the game I did like. Or maybe it was the "oh crap I should probably not fail out of college" point of my life. I think both are probably true.
@kurtasbestos ah, the Pollitzer Prize, you mean?
(thank you for being so lovely!!!)
I really really liked and played the hell out of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on my Gamecube... and a major part was grinding for rings and parts for my chaos!
I just love those kind of games. Small and lovely animals or creatures who can evolve and adapt. And the competitions where very motivating for me and just to discover how they will change if I give them these small animals or those robot-parts... and how they change their appearance and everything.
It was amazing and I want it to continue for so long now, but I had less and less hope the last decade. But still a little hope remains... Just make a good chao game already! I mean it was just a "small" part of Sonic Adventure 2, but it was very fleshed out.
The Chao Garden could help SEGA a lot, it's a gold mine, but no, here's more Wisps.
Ah. The Chao Garden. I have.. oh so many memories of raising my Chao there besides my brother. We would play for hours and hours earning rings and collecting animals to give them to our Chao. We were a tag team of Sonic and Knuckles. God.. I miss those days.
I still remember it so vividly, it's one of my favorite memories too. I'd love for the Chao Garden to return, it truly would be a dream come true. Oh @KateGray you've got me feeling all nostalgic now. All I can say is.. thanks. This article really brightened my night. Cheers.
@Fujimoto-San sounds like we have very similar experiences with the Chao Garden! 😊
@KateGray Yeah. It sure does!
To those ppl that didn't choose the first or 2nd voting choice i have to say this . You are all dead inside
Also i miss my dreamcast . All i have is the VMU with my chaos . I miss my lill cretins
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