Reviews: Sonic faster than ever before, but better?
Sega released Sonic Rush almost a full year after the Nintendo DS first hit the scene. At the time of Rush's releases Sonic had not been part of a 2D adventure since his Sonic Advance days on the GBA
. Sega once again entrusted their mascot's first DS title to Dimps, creators of all three Sonic Advance titles. With Sonic Team overseeing the direction and the development how could they fail?
Old-school Sonic At Play
The DS may not be as powerful as Sony's PSP but it certainly crushes the GBA's capabilities all around. With that in mind, Dimps took the main complaint of the Sonic Advance series - the titles not being fast enough - and made sure not to make the same mistake twice. Or a fourth time, who's counting? In Rush, the players are given two fleet footed animals to tear up the terrain with; the perennial protagonist Sonic the Hedgehog and Blaze the Cat. These beasts of burden play a bit differently, but you shouldn't have too much of a problem switching between the two of them.
As for the gameplay itself, it is all classic Sonic. The levels are non-linear, allowing one to get to the end ring through various means. High, low or middle, it is all good in Rush. The speed is fast and furious with tons of bumpers, jumps and springs sprinkled throughout the levels. Dimps made sure to sprinkle in many classic level templates as well. Most notably, areas covered in water make a return. But remember folks, you are playing on a DS, so no spiking those babies after Sonic drowns for the fifth time only steps away from a bubbler.
There are a few knocks on the gameplay, though. A bit of a gray area for some is the difficulty. I tend to like a challenging title, but I can see a lot of people putting this down due to its brutal and annoying difficulty. Baddies are placed in the most obscene spots - typically right where you land - while the levels are littered with bottomless pits. As I said, I enjoy a challenge but levels can be designed as challenging without these annoying factors. Does anyone remember being really challenged by the Genesis titles? No, they where just races to the finish with deaths being few and far between.
Ahh, the classic starting zone. Crap, the classic break your controller zone.
Sonic With A Story
Games from the 8- and 16-bit generations are definitely not revered for their outstanding stories. Sonic Rush sticks to that bit of nostalgia by offering a ridiculously simple story by today's standards. Instead of New Super Mario Bros' tongue-in-cheek references to "Your Princess is in another castle," we simply watch Sonic yell "Wait, Eggman Nega" after defeating each boss. Then, end scene. ?#$%!
The majority of the story is told after defeating the world boss and is more focused on Blaze and Sonic's relationship rather than the baddies. Honestly, do we expect much of a story from Sonic? No. We want speed, rings and fluffy, vividly colored woodland animals. And that is what we got. The boss battles are also old school, and are spiced up by being presented in pseudo-3D or full 3D depending on the fight. The fights may have been spruced up for this generation, but they don't lend much to the story; they aren't on the same level of difficulty as the main game and they simply aren't very engaging.
A New Twist
Rush also sports a multiplayer mode, but it is hardly worth a mention. Players simply race each other to the end of selected courses, excluding boss battles. The only boon to the mode is that it can be played via a single DS cartridge, so your friend is not required to have the game. Sadly, this is the only feature of the DS that is really used aside from its power advantages over the GBA. Not that you have to use all the system's features to have a good title, but it just seems lacking. Heck, Sonic Rush barely uses the second screen. On stages it becomes a wider viewing area and during a boss battle Tails just shouts at you. Not that innovative.