For everyone who hates the yeast extract, someone loves it. That sandwich spread seems popular enough though, despite flaws. Even in a country that has a reputation for complaints.

That’s essentially what the original Sonic Rush was like for the DS. It received rave reviews, good sales and very high opinions, but there are those who were disappointed or downright hated it also for a few reasons. One was that the series has become far too speed based, lacking platforming; another was the apparent bad placement of enemies and a seemingly hollow planet as the setting (no other place could have that many bottomless pits!).

So, does Sonic Rush Adventure, the sequel, answer any of these problems? For a fair viewpoint, those will be kept in mind when reviewing this game, along with the reasons that many (including myself) loved Rush. I was keen to find out myself, so I Rushed (I can only apologise ~ Megadroid.) out to get it.

To get a synopsis down, Rush Adventure takes place after Sonic Rush, now set in a land of islands and seas. Sonic and Tails after being blown down by a storm must try to find their way home…but only after solving the problems plaguing the islands and their inhabitants. It’s a fairly simple story, and doesn’t much advance upon itself in that respect. There are smaller “sub stories” that last about 10 minutes, such as rescuing a bunch of “Vikings” or the new character Marine getting upset over something the others said. These allow a story to constantly feel there rather than as an excuse for the next level, so it’s pretty good in that respect.

That said however, the ending is almost pathetically predictable. However by this point you obviously like the game, so no worries as to it ruining anything.

But that bring us to the main point doesn’t it? The game. The big point that actually matters. Well, it’s rather simple. Sonic Rush Adventure is Sonic Rush with new levels for the sidescrolling. There are no new abilities for each character, and with the exception of a slight slower running pace for Blaze, their controls are not different either. As such, expect a veteran of Rush to absolutely destroy the first half of the game with little to no challenge at all. Level design however is improved upon Sonic Rush. Levels now feature safer areas away from pits, and enemies never seem to get in the way with a few exceptions in later levels. Platforming is a more obviously included aspect (again, in the later levels predominantly) with more sections designed to keep you slowed down. However this presents a new problem, after a fast section, your instinct is to hammer the rush button to perform a dash forward the second you hit ground. All too many times this hurls you off a ledge that you were meant to do some platforming from, and can be rather irritating. Having to chose between fast and slow with no prior knowledge becomes a rather common and unwelcome problem.

In addition to this, some levels feature intractable environments, in example for this flaw is the ghost ship level, whereupon you can grab anchors, spin around and launch off them. However if you press A you simply drop off downwards. Now A is your trick button, something you simply mash as much as you can in the air, so if you hit one of these in midair, chances are you’ll just fall right off. A very annoying occurrence indeed.

As a final error, the early levels are quite seriously “hold right to win.” I’m not kidding, I felt the original Rush had nice platforming and speed, but these early levels are ridiculously shifted into the “nothing but speed” category. It is theoretically possible to complete the first two levels without letting go of right at all!

That is not to say this games levels are bad. Faaaaar from it, indeed they are good. Very good. The later stages have some stunning fun sections within them, and even the odd good challenge to go along with it. You can reach some absolutely blistering speeds at times, and yet still have the sections where you need timing and aim to jump correctly over falling platforms, fire or enemies. In the end, the 2D side scrolling sections feel smooth, intuitive (for the most part) and fun. But really, after Rush, they didn’t have to do much to improve these bits.

Boss battles are, quite simply, one of the best things about this game, and all the modern 2D Sonic games for that matter. In fact…they are probably the best including the 3D ones as well! Exceptionally innovative in places, with great music and a difficulty level that is just right; this Hume found the bosses immense fun to play. They are slightly different from 2D sidescrolling in that they take place in a 3D environment, but with restricted lines of movement. It’s never unusual, and introduced nicely to give you a chance to see what to do first of all, even as it varies with each boss. One particular boss includes Sonic running up the screen, having to watch ahead of him for obstacles, it’s the only example of its type in the game, and is one of the best boss battles. The huge final boss (as in, not the final FINAL boss, you’ll understand when you play it…) is an absolute joy to fight. He is very tough, especially on hard mode, and has attacks that can leave you scampering for rings every few seconds.

The final FINAL boss however is a big disappointment after the stunning finale to Sonic Rush. Taking a generic form of Super forms against a big mech, it is slightly fun but nothing on the sheer brilliance of its predecessors. The fact that it is ludicrously easy doesn’t help matters either.

In between the traditional Sonic style levels is a new gameplay type however! As Sonic and his friends travel the islands, you have to cross water. Oh dear…as we all know, Sonic hates water. However all is not lost. Marine, a racoon inhabitant of the islands who lusts for adventure, has helped Tails build a variety of ships and vehicles for use! Beginning with a jet ski, and ending with a submarine, they all come in use at some point for getting across different types of sea. Travel on these acts as a touch screen minigame, from duelling cannons with the Frigate, to blasting around rocks in the jet ski. I must admit, I expected these to be cringe worthy game segments, but I was pleasantly surprised…when I found I was actually having fun with them! The 3D graphics many look dodgy up close, and collision detection can be slightly off, but they are good, honest fun to play. The only slight niggle is that the frigate and hovercraft occasionally suffer from a simply ridiculous amount of things on screen at once that you can’t see anything for blasts and water splashes.

Indeed these segments are linked with finding the Chaos Emeralds, as one must race Johnny (A robot pirate) on a jet ski to the Emerald. The later emeralds are very hard, and prove an interesting challenge for any player. The Sol Emeralds however, are collected by beating bosses on “hard” modes. These very often live up to their name, especially in the case of the final emerald.

One failing however (depending on your level of play) is the resource collecting. Some players may have little trouble if they can nail A and S ranks regularly, however others may find themselves having to play the levels multiple times to gather “resources” based on rank awarded in order to build or upgrade a ship. I personally did not have much trouble, however it can be easily seen how some players (particularly young ones) may find this boring and repetitive.

Character-wise, Sonic is the same as ever; however it is nice to see Tails tagging along as a sidekick for once, an idea which has been all too oft forgotten in modern Sonic games. Although he quickly goes back to the mechanic idea, they get some great dialogue showing them as a proper hero duo. For example, in early scenes they finish each others sentences and suchlike. Blaze, again, is not much different from before, showing the same reluctance to accept help in what she believes is her own responsibility, ironically despite Blaze being the “primary new” character of the Rush series, she shows little signs of actual plot emphasis.

Marine, the new character is…actually pretty good! Incredibly annoying and with a habit to just irritate players in cut scenes, one might think this ruins her. However the other characters are also aware of her recklessness and downright annoying attitude, and often make reference to it. This allows her character to be known as annoying while keeping the player in a sense of agreement with the others. It’s actually pretty well done.

To move on to the more peripheral aspects of the game, the soundtrack is top notch. With a few classic advance style tracks, a few ones no doubt inspired by Hideki Nagamuna (The sound Hume for Sonic Rush if you less nerdy Boomers don’t know ~ Megadroid) and finally, a good few of general unique design not yet heard in a Sonic game. Many of the tracks are highly catchy, while others can really make a level/boss feel great. Unfortunately, it has a bad side, many of the tracks are horrifically dull in areas they should be more drastic. Cut scenes suffer from monotonously repetitive loops of simple music, even in the most dramatic sections, whereas one of the later bosses against the robotic pirates has one of the least inspiring and fitting tunes in Sonic game history. This is meant to be a huge duel with the pirates who have been dogging your footsteps, but the music sounds like something you might hear in a cheap detective cartoon.

Graphics have remained mostly unchanged since Sonic Rush, 3D against 2D with the odd full 3D part. However the levels, as always look beautiful in the backgrounds with incredibly unique design work going on. It’s just a shame the high seas in the boat sections fail to mirror this, using very basic rocks and ice lumps when it could have instead gone with slightly more fantasyesque things to emphasis that this is Sonic’s world, not ours. The bosses however look glorious in their design and modelling, it isn’t a mainline console’s graphical quality, but do remember this is a handheld console after all!

On that note, it is again stated. This is for a handheld console, the game should therefore be acceptable to pick up and play quickly, even with multiplayer on the go. In that matter it succeeds, using the in game engine as the menu screen cuts down start up time dramatically. On the mention of multiplayer, it’s utterly brilliant. Sporting both single card and double card play, this allows two players to race as Sonic and Blaze. Each character is very highly balanced, with Sonic’s main speed being much highly, while Blaze makes quite ridiculous jumps, exploitation of their individual skills is the key to succeeding. After about twenty games in a row with my fellow Boomer in the real world, I had not got bored, and we had fairly even scores on most levels, so really, it is good.

As a note, Sonic Rush Adventure also sports an online multiplayer with leaderboards, so even for those of you rarely around others; there is the chance to play.

So to sum up really, Sonic Rush Adventure is a solid game. It’s not groundbreaking or an absolute classic, but it has a charm of it’s own with some great fun contained in that little DS cartridge. Aside from some sections where it just missed out on hitting the “awesome” level, it is definitely a healthy addition to the Sonic franchise.

Sonic and the Secret Rings
Console - Nintendo DS
Game Type - 2D Side Scroller/Variety
Players - 1-2
Publisher - SEGA
Price - RRP £29.99
Reviewer - Iain "Retro" Stewart
STC's Rating System:
Under 40 = Yawnsville
40-70 = Normalsville
70-80 = Fun City
80-90 = Big Time City
90+ = Mega City
Sonic and the Secret Rings Sonic and the Secret Rings Sonic and the Secret Rings Sonic and the Secret RingsSonic and the Secret Rings Sonic and the Secret Rings
Final Countdown!

Raves Raves
Varied fun gameplay.
Great multiplayer.
Simply genius bosses.

Graves Graves
Has a few niggles spread around.
Depending on skill, can be repetitive.