Sonic Frontiers set to revive Sonic Adventure’s Chao Garden minigame
Sonic games have always been fast-paced, but Chao Gardens allowed players to slow down and enjoy the game in a different way.
Announced at the Game Awards, Sonic borders already makes comparisons with Breath of the wild with its gorgeous aesthetic and shift to open world gameplay. The open areas on offer offer the chance to move at full speed and perhaps find hidden secrets as players once again help Sonic the Hedgehog foil Dr. Eggman’s nefarious plans.
A hidden secret that players hope to make a return to is the Chao Gardens, a hidden garden where the Chao live. Although he has not been seen in a Sonic game since the early 2000s, the idea of ââopen areas – similar to what Sound adventure had with hub worlds – makes fans hopeful.
There are many reasons for wanting to reclaim the Chao Garden, starting with the Chao themselves. Despite their frequent appearances, the Chao Home Gardens only appeared in a handful of games from early 2000 – Sound adventure and Sound adventure 2 for consoles and Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic pinball party for handhelds. In each case, there is a location separate from the areas where Chao can safely thrive. Once players find this garden, they can hatch, feed, and raise Chao. These tiny life forms are full of personality and easy to get attached to. Taking care of them is fun and calming after moving through the levels, and it carries over to the gameplay. Purchasing fruit or toys for the Chao requires Rings, which can be earned through levels and apply to both handheld games and consoles. But at really increase Chao’s stats in console games, there are tiny animals in both Sound adventure games and Chaos Drives in Sound adventure 2.
Improving a Chao’s stats is paramount when it comes to the mini-games that come with it, Chao Racing and Chao Karate. Chao has several different stats, which Animals add and subtract, and Chaos Drives are added. The higher these stats, the easier the Chao can navigate through the various race obstacles. Once a player sees where their Chao needs upgrading, they can run and hunt the animal or Drive they need. Players who became addicted to Chao Garden began to pay more strict attention to what the various robotic enemies were dropping so that they could better take care of their Chao.
This feedback loop also encouraged playing at the different levels, as specific animals are found at specific levels. Animals that improve swimming stats, for example, can be found on the beach and water levels, while bats and ghost dogs – which provide an interesting, legless aesthetic, as Chao adopts the traits of the animals with whom they interact – are found in the spooky levels of the mountains. Chaos Drives randomly drop from GUN bots, but players looking to boost certain stats will quickly learn which colors correspond to which stats and which angle for which ones they need. By having the stat boosting items in the levels, Chao Gardens encourages players to keep playing long after completing the story and earning the emblems.
The Chao Gardens would also reward players for completing story missions and earning emblems, as the more emblems the player had, the more rare items would be unlocked on the black market. Rare Chao Eggs could be purchased at higher levels for rings. And in Sound adventure, there were three Chao Eggs hidden in the central worlds that players could find and bring to Chao Gardens. In Sound adventure 2, players had to play both scenarios in order to lock in the full potential of Chao Garden. Players were rewarded for playing the game and exploring, further encouraging players to come back for more game sessions.
So why has the Chao Gardens been phased out? It certainly wasn’t that they weren’t popular – entire websites revolving around Chao’s care and maintenance are still active to this day. Whatever the reason SEGA removed the feature, fans are hoping that with each new game, they will bring the feature back – and with Sonic borders open advertising worlds, seen for the first time with the adventure poles of Sound adventure, fans are tentatively hoping. The Chao Gardens have added hours of gameplay and replayability to already enjoyable games, so their arrival in a new game would only make this game better.
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