While Mario games continue to raise the bar in terms of platform game excellence, poor Sonic never really managed to make the transition to 3D quite so smoothly. This 2003 port of the Dreamcast game is certainly one of the better 3D Sonic titles and is fondly remembered by many fans. Despite issues with the games camera and the now dated visuals, Sonic fans of all ages are bound to enjoy this colourful romp. The game was re-released on the Steam digital network in 2011, but we’re looking at the original 2003 CD release here.
Sonic Adventure should install without any issues on a modern PC. Simply insert the first CD and follow the on-screen prompts. If installation doesn’t start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “autorun.exe” file manually. Note that the installer will select a default directory of “C:\Program Files”, even on a 64 bit system. You may wish to change this directory, since the game needs read/write access to its folder in order to save your progress and other settings.
Once installation is finished, the game will try to run the games launcher program. Unfortunately, this program will not run on many modern PCs. Luckily you don’t actually need it in order to run the game, though it is handy for tweaking various settings. Fortunately the game stores its settings in a simple .ini file that we can edit by hand. We’ll show you how to do this later.
We weren’t able to find any official patches for the game, however there are several fan-made patches that are of interest. We strongly recommend that everyone downloads and installs the Sonic Adventure DX – Fixed Edition patch/mod. You can download this patch by visiting the page here.
Follow the instructions on the page carefully to install the patch. The patch comes inside a 7-zip archive, so you will need the 7-zip program in order to install it. You can download 7-zip here, and you can find some tutorials on how to use 7-zip here.
There are two files you need to download, the main “Full package” and the “Patch to upgrade 10/15/2012 version to 7/18/2014:”. Once you have both files, it’s just a matter of following the instructions under “SADXPC 2004:” to install it. Don’t forget to copy the WINDY02.PVM in from the second, smaller archive to the SADXFE folder too.
If you want to use an Xbox 360 controller, you will also need the 360 controller patch, which you can download here. Again, you will need to use 7-zip to extract the contents of the archive. Inside this archive there’s just one file, called “SADX360Patch.exe”. Copy this file to your Sonic Adventure DX directory and run it. A black window will appear and prompt you for “File”. type “SADXFE.exe” to patch the fixed version of Sonic Adventure, then press Enter. The program will now prompt you with “Save as:”. Type in a file name to save the patched executable, for instance “SADXFE-360.EXE” then press Enter. See the picture below for an example.
Now, when you want to play with your 360 controller, make sure you run the game by loading the SADXFE-360.EXE file. You will need to update your games shortcuts to point to this new file. There are some additional tweaks you might want to do to the controller bindings in-game, see the section “Configuring Controllers” for more information.
Tweaking visual quality
There aren’t many visual quality options to set in Sonic Adventure. Since the games launcher won’t actually load we will need to manually edit an ini file in order to change the options. Go to the Sonic Adventure DX installation folder and find the SonicDX.ini file. Open this in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with editing text files, see this tutorial.
To change screen resolution, find the line that reads “Screensize=0” and change it according to the values below, depending on the resolution you want.
0 – 640×480
1 – 800×600
2 – 1024×768
3 – 1152×864
4 – 1280×1024
Want to go even higher, or into a widescreen mode? Sonic Adventure was never designed to run in widescreen but despite this it seems to work pretty well. Certain elements may appear stretched or out of proportion of course, so it’s up to you. Here’s what you need to do to add your own custom screen mode.
1 – Download the latest version of SADX Tweaker from this link. Once downloaded, extract all the contents of the zip file to a convenient location on your computer.
2 – Optional, but highly recommended. Go to your Sonic Adventure DX game folder and make a backup copy of the games executable file. Typically the file will be SADXFXE.exe or SADXFE-360.exe (if you installed the 360 controller patch as per our instructions above). Just copy the file and paste it right back into the same folder, Windows will rename it “sadxfe-360 – Copy.exe”.
3 – Run the SADXTweaker.exe program. The spartan looking window shown below will then appear.
4 – Click on “File” and choose “Open…”. Now, browse to your Sonic Adventure Deluxe executable (SADXFXE.exe or SADXFE-360.exe) and click “Open”.
5 – Now, click on “Window”, a menu will appear, from the menu choose “Resolution Editor”. You should now see the little window shown below.
You now simply substitute the values in the Horizontal and Vertical boxes for whatever resolution you want to use. For 720p that would be Horizontal 1280 and Vertical 720. For 1080p use Horizontal 1920 and Vertical 1080.
6 – Click on “File” and choose “Save”. If you’ve edited the SonicDX.ini file to choose another resolution, make sure to edit again and set Screensize back to 0.
That’s it, next time you start the game it will run in your chosen custom resolution.
You may notice that on most modern PCs the games graphics tear or smear as you move Sonic around the environment. To fix this problem you need to force Vsync on in the game. Typically you do this by using your graphics cards control panel. On our Nvidia equipped test machine, we opened the Nvidia control panel, went to “Manage 3D Settings”, selected “Program Settings” and then added the SADXFE-360.EXE executable as a custom program. We then selected “ON” for the vertical sync option. See the documentation that came with your particular graphics card for more details on how to do this. You can also try forcing on antialiasing through the graphics cards control panel too, though this didn’t seem to have any effect on our game.
If you want to play the game with a 360 controller you should follow the steps under “Patching” to install the 360 controller patch. Once you have done this, you may want to reconfigure the controller bindings as the default ones are far from ideal. To do this, start a game and then press the “Enter” key to open the games pause menu. Now, use the arrow keys to select “Set up pad”. We recommend the following button bindings for a standard 360 controller.
Rotate Camera Right – RB
Rotate Camera Left – LB
Start/Set – Start
Cancel/Attack – Back
Jump – A (Green)
Action – B (Red)
Flute – Y (Yellow)
Troubleshooting and known issues
Game launcher will not start – The games launcher proved completely incompatible with our test machine. Not only did it not load, we couldn’t even do an “End task” in Task Manager to get rid of it. Edit the SonicDX.ini file by hand as detailed above and update your game shortcuts to launch the game directly (via the sadxfe.exe or sadxfe-360.exe file) rather than through “Autorun.exe”.
Problems saving games:- Like many older games, Sonic Adventure DX places its save game files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\SADX) or manually edit the permissions on the “SONICADVENTUREDX” folder. A tutorial on editing folder permissions is available here. For reference, the game places its save files in the savedata folder of the main Sonic Adventure DX installation folder.
Rainbow effect on the edges of some objects – Near the edge of some objects there’s a noticeable rainbow type effect. For instance, take Sonic or any of his friends to the train station and look where the wall meets the floor, there’s an instance of some strange colours as you move the camera around the environment (at least on our machine). We don’t know if this happens on older hardware too or if it is just a phenomenon you can observe on newer machines. If anyone can shed more light on this issue please do leave a comment.
Running the game in 1080p – Click on any screenshot to see a bigger version