When someone tells you to think of the most magical place in the world, what comes to mind for you? Hawaii? Niagara Falls? Jamaica? The correct answer is the Chao Garden from the Sonic Adventure series!
The Chao Garden from the original Sonic Adventure
Boy, does that bring me back. I can hear the theme song for it already. I can see the coconuts or fruits or whatever the heck it was that fell from those trees. I can hear the Chao making their dumb noises and I can imagine them crawling all over the floor. What a freaking great time killer!
The banging theme song from the Chao Garden in the original Sonic Adventure <3
Then came Sonic Adventure 2 and MAN did they overhaul the Chao raising mechanics. Now you could have good, neutral, or evil Chao and their appearance drastically changed. Oh, and you could unlock additional gardens! One for Hero Chao and the other Dark Chao. It's insane how much depth was packed into this side hustle for an already stellar game!
Left: Hero Chao, Right: Dark Chao
Below: neutral Chao Garden
Above: Hero Chao Garden
The Hero Chao Garden is what dreams are made of! You've got that sweet sort-of diving board and that GLORIOUS fountain. CHEF'S KISS.
Above: Dark Chao Garden
Here we go, baby. The Dark Chao Garden! Look at that blood red water! The sad, wilted trees, the little cage hanging above the pool! Truly terrible but so great at the same time.
The Chao Gardens were an absolute joy to goof around in. Whether you just came there in-between levels to goof around and throw Chao all over the place or you actually took it very seriously and bred Chao like a champ, it was a total time sink. Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 were peak Sonic. Not just in the 3D platforming, which I'll admit was pretty jank at times, but also because of the music, the attitude, and the wonderous Chao Garden.
It's insane that they haven't attemped to bring it back in newer Sonic games! It would have been so rad to have in Sonic Frontiers after zipping and zooping all over the world. Just chillaxing and taking a load off with your Chao homies and raising them to the best Dark dragon-creature-thing with the best flying stats you've ever seen this side of the Mississippi!
Here's to you, Chao Garden. Sega may have forgotten about you, but us fans have not! Especially not this Chao fanatic here.