If you remember Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, then chances are you raised plenty of Chao. The original Sonic Adventure introduced the minigame, allowing players to hatch Chao and teach them skills like swimming, running, flying and stamina. Sonic Adventure 2 expanded on the feature by creating Chao alignments, turning Chao into Dark, Hero or Neutral adults.
Chao raising proved extremely popular in the original Sonic Adventure titles. As it turns out, the minigame was relatively advanced for its era, turning Chao into a proper form of virtual pet raising in a field that was struggling to create realistic pets. To this day, Chao are still well-remembered among fans. And those early 2000s memories are one of the reasons why the Sonic fandom is excited for the Chao Resort Island fangame.
Chao Resort Island lets players choose Sonic, Shadow or Knuckles, and raise Chao from an egg into adulthood. Like the original Sonic Adventure games, there's Chao alignments, fruits to feed Chao, abilities to teach, and items to play around with. The game allows players to raise eight Chao per resort, meaning that players are allowed to balance a significant number of Chao inside the game.
There's also time and seasonal changes that can be made, and there's a variety of Chao games to play to test out your Chao's skills. In many ways, it mirrors that original Chao-raising experience that Sonic Team fine-tuned, making it a solid nod to the original Sonic Adventure titles.
Not to mention, the graphics look fantastic. The entire feel behind the game is like a GBA title from the early 2000s. Check out some gameplay footage below to see what the fangame looks like in action:
'Chao Resort Island' Brings Back Nostalgia
Chao raising has more or less faded away from Sonic's more recent releases. It's almost as if Sega looked back at Chao as an early 2000s experiment, a novelty in artificial intelligence that was fascinating for the time but ultimately didn't click with the gameplay elements traditionally expected from Sonic the Hedgehog.
On some level, that's understandable. Sonic went through some growing pains after the Sonic Adventure titles, and Sonic Team needed some time to realign themselves with what fans wanted to play. Chao were quirky and unique, but they felt like additions that specifically worked for the Sonic Adventure games. It makes sense why Sonic Team left their legacy to the early 2000s.
But raising Chao was always fun. And it felt uniquely appropriate to Sonic, even if it was unlike anything that the series had ever embraced before. At its core, Chao raising was a fun minigame added onto the Sonic Adventure games, a take-it-or-leave-it option that ended up expanding the lifetime of both Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. Players could pick up animals and bring back Chao. They could raise legions of Dark Chao, or compete to create the most athletic Chao around. Beyond a doubt, caring for Chao was legitimately enjoyable. And it felt like Chao were real pets, too.
Sonic Team has been pushing the Sonic franchise into bigger and brighter directions in recent years. Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations were both excellent starts for the blue hedgehog, and Sonic Forces seems like a powerful restart for Sega's iconic mascot. But it's important for Sonic Team to hold onto the parts of the 2000s that worked well. As Chao Resort Island shows, fans certainly loved raising Chao. Maybe it's time to bring back Chao again.
With today's technology and AI capabilities, Chao may be more impressive than ever. And it may just be the perfect addition for Sonic Forces' Nintendo Switch addition. But for now, it seems like Chao are lost to Sonic's budding middle years. Lets hope Sega regroups and brings back the minigame in the near future.
Should Sega bring back Chao? Share your thoughts in the comments below.