January 6, 2009

Sonic Rush (DS) review

Sonic Rush
Nintendo DS
SEGA, Sonic Team, Dimps Corporation

Released in 2005, you'd expect this game to be one of those really bad stinkers you'd find in regular consoles. Fortunately for series fans, this game reminds everyone why Sonic is still popular in the first place.

With Dimps once again taking the reins on this 2D platforming adventure from the GameBoy Advance to the Nintendo DS, it's a no-brainer that the game would be what Sonic really is about: speed and fun.

Like the extremely popular New Super Mario Bros. coming after it, it models the characters in 3D and the environments are in 2D with some 3D elements thrown in the mix. And like that other game, it works extremely well. The character models look good, and the environments are extremely colorful and varied.

The action however, unlike that other game, occurs on both screens instead of only on top, and the developers utilize both screens to nice effect (as well as giving you a bit of a heads-up on whether there's an enemy above).

But the thing that matters most in a Sonic game is the speed, and the game delivers on that promise as it introduces a mechanic that makes the blue blur even faster- a dash attack. While you can dispatch enemies by jumping, you'll have to slow down to see them, thus the dash attack removes all that and lets you enjoy adrenaline-pumping speed continuously throughout the level. This dash attack doesn't last very long, however, as there is a limit to how long you can do it indicated by a meter on the left side of the screen. You can fill up this meter, easily enough, by mashing the B button mid-air, and this causes Sonic (or Blaze) to do tricks. This system is rather addicting, and you'll want to rack up the points and maintain the dash attack's limit.

Other than that new mechanic, it's all a return to roots for Sonic in this considerably successful entry in the series. It goes back to the magic of the Genesis Sonic's, while managing to keep the whole experience fresh and exciting.

But then again, there's also the way it handles Multiplayer. Regardless as to whether the other DS has a copy of the game or not, the game lets you select from all the stages available in the game (as long as you have played it in the single player campaign) for multiplayer play. And unlike that other mascot's game, it also loads extremely and relatively quick even if the other DS doesn't have a copy of the game. This is an approach to Download Play that I extremely like, and also a factor that makes it addictive for me.

Unfortunately, there are a few cons that keep the game from getting a perfect score. While this is personal preference, I think the game's music is rather grating. While not enough to make you throw the DS to the wall, it's still pretty annoying. And then there's the random placement of enemies on the stage. While there are power-ups that make you invincible to them, it's only occasional as the game expects you to use your Dash attack regularly. It does make sense, but in the first playthrough, you'll simply find this fact annoying. And then there's the button-mashing you'll have to endure in some bosses. There are times when you'll have to alternately press the A and B buttons just to win a boss battle. OK, perhaps this is just a way for us to feel more rewarded when the boss is defeated (and a way to put a bit more variation), but in my opinion, it's more annoying that way.

Overall, the game is still top quality, and I recommend a purchase, not only for Sonic fans but for platforming fans everywhere too. Of course, there's the more recent Sonic Rush Adventure (which is also excellent), but that's for another day (ie, when I finish it).

Rating: 8.7/10

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