Sonic, Sonic, and more Sonic…it seems like the little blue hedgehog from the 90’s is everywhere these days. For 15 years Sonic has been zooming along at breakneck speeds on our consoles, until most recently, when Sonic has been slowed down a bit on the next-gen systems. Well, Sonic has landed on the Nintendo DS for the first time, and like the Neo Geo Pocket Color, get ready for a nostalgic romp through the Sonic universe.Speed has been the cornerstone of the Sonic franchise since its inception, showing that the Sega Genesis had a faster microprocessor than the Super Nintendo. Those were the days… but I digress. Since Sonic made the jump to systems such as the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube, etc. the Sonic titles have lost some of the speed that they once had, instead focusing on 3D level design and more open ended game play. Sonic Rush returns the Sonic franchise to its origins, with a 2D, side scrolling adventure with all of the classic Sonic elements. Not only do you get the classic loops, trampolines and the like, you get to take them faster than ever before. This could be the fastest Sonic game ever produced, as you can really scream through the levels. Now, this is also a little bit of a hindrance because you really can’t make split second decisions while rolling so fast, missing an object or a turn to a different part of the level. For me, I’m willing to forgive that to get back to the Sonic of old.
The game play is a throwback to the original games on the Genesis. Scream through the level, grabbing rings along the way. Destroy the enemies in your way (which is even a little easier in this game while rolling) and clear the stage. Along the way are the standard Sonic obstacles like the corkscrew and pinball bounce pads. If you can get through the stage with enough rings, you can go to a bonus stage and try to capture one of the Chaos emeralds. There’s also a little Tony Hawk-esque trick system built into the game if you want to play Sonic with a little bit of style. I don’t know if it was needed, but it isn’t bothersome. In Sonic Rush, you can play our favorite hedgehog, or Blaze the cat. Although very different in appearance, both characters control pretty much the same, but it does open up more replay value with the addition of multiple endings. During the Boss battles, several 3D elements are thrown into the mix, which raises the intensity a bit. The level design is very extensive, with plenty of little nooks to find, and varies nicely from level to level. If you wanted to go everywhere, it would take you quite awhile.
Graphically, it is exactly what you would expect, very vibrant colors and great looking levels, if you want to slow down enough to look at them. The characters animate and look great as you run through the game. The boss battles add another dimension and some nice graphical effects. Sonic Rush has a fun soundtrack, albeit a little quirky. There are also some fun voice effects from the main characters during the game.
So, how did the programmers use the DS technology? Well, the entire game (save boss fights) is played on both screens, giving you a better look at your surroundings. Sometimes you go zooming from one screen to the other and can lose track of what is going on. It takes a little while to adjust to it, but it makes the game much better in the long run. As far as the touch screen goes, its really only used in the shoot runs in the bonus stages, like in Sonic 2. Other than that, the touch screen is absent, which is a blessing for me.
The game does not sport an online mode, but does have a multiplayer feature. It only requires one copy of the game and 2 players can race through one of the stages. You get to race a friend through one of the stages, and there are hidden power-ups along the way. It is OK, not the greatest in the world, but it’s nice to have some form of multiplayer.
Sonic Rush gets back to the roots of the series. It has all of the fast and fun game play you would expect from a Sonic title. The levels are varied and lengthy, the Boss fights are great, and it’s just flat out fun. The graphics are cute and the music is fun. On the downside, it takes awhile to get used to the viewpoint, and, at the end of the day, you really have played this game before. It’s Sonic with a new coat of paint. If that’s OK with you, then Sonic Rush is worth the time.
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