Sonic Adventure's Christmas DLC and How It Broke the Game

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Sonic has landed a movie role in which he plays an eldritch abomination.
Anyway. Let's ignore Sonic's mistreatment in the present and look back to Christmases of old, specifically the Christmas of 1999, when the millennium bug was striking fear into the hearts of common man and the Dreamcast was the coolest console money could buy (don't get it twisted: it still is). 
During the dates of the 17th of December and the 28th of December, Dreamcast gamers had the ability to install one of the first instances of downloadable content (DLC) ever (at least the kind we've all grown accustomed to in the last two generations) to their trusty VMU.
The "Christmas Party" download brings festivity to your game of Sonic by placing Christmas trees outside the station and in the town center. When players make Sonic jump at them, festive messages will come up on screen, wishing them a Merry Christmas. The music will also change to the Acapella version of "Dreams, Dreams" from Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. Hopefully no one back in '99 thought this was a sign that a NiGHTS sequel might be coming to the Dreamcast.

But amongst all this festivity is a terrible, dark secret... Some coal in Sonic's stocking. People who have played Sonic Adventure to death will know that to access the Speed Highway level in Sonic's storyline, you have to pick up an ID card that can be found on a triangle-shaped patch of grass in front of the Central District hotel. This then needs to be taken to the gate at the Cyber-net Inc. building, which will finally allow access to Speed Highway.
Problem is, when the Christmas DLC is installed, the largest Christmas Tree found in Station Square occupies the same space as the ID card. When the time comes to grab the ID card, the Christmas Tree will block the player from getting close enough to actually pick it up. Players who had already gotten past this point in Sonic's story had no need to worry, but players who had installed the patch before reaching this point may have found themselves quite frustrated indeed. Obviously all that needs to be done to retrieve the ID is to remove the data for the DLC from the VMU, but it's still a pain in the arse regardless.
Dreamcast fans can still get their hands on this cute Christmas DLC, along with a tonne of other Sonic Adventure DLC using a tool like Dream Explorer. Have you already given this Christmas DLC a try? Maybe you downloaded it back in the day? Did your progress get halted by that damn Christmas tree? Let us know your experiences in the comments, on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

Thanks for reading my festive ramblings. My name is Lewis. I run the website Alt:Mag where I talk about gaming, anime and other geek culture-related gubbins. You can see me ramble more on Twitter, @LewisJFC. Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Jennifer McMurray said...

I remember this DLC well, and I do indeed remember people getting excited about the NiGHTS music and wondering if the game would be ported to the Dreamcast or if a sequel would be made.

Thankfully since then we got a sequel on the Wii and an awesome remake of the original on PlayStation and an HD version of the remake on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows.

Oh, and since it's actually December 25th as I'm typing this. Merry Christmas everyone! :)