Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sonic Rush Adventure

Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2007
Systems: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Sonic Rush + Sonic Adventure + actually good.

0:01 A seagull flies overhead. Sonic and Blaze the cat are on a jet ski, while Tails has to ride a dolphin. An unintelligible voice warbles in the background. SONIC RUSH ADVENTURE the title blares.

Tails and Sonic are flying in a storm. They're looking for an energy source or something. The plane's engines go out and they're sucked into a vortex. They wind up unconscious on a beach. Cliche much?

0:03 Some girl with an Australian accent named Marine finds them. Her extreme use of Australian slang like "crikey" is kind of endearing. Would be even better with voice acting instead of text, I bet. They've washed up on "Southern Island" in the middle of the ocean. Heh.

0:04 The next day Marine launches a ship but then crashes it. Tails wants to build her a new one to repay her for her kindness, but the materials are cut off. I smell a mission coming on...

0:05 So they hop over to Whale Point and... nope, still more talking. Ugh. The materials are metals and jewels.

0:06 All right, time for some old school 2D run and jump gameplay. I get to practice my moves. Left and right walk, holding them down run. I don't recall anyone having to explain this to me back in the Genesis games.

0:07 Hitting R in mid air does a new sky dash. New to me anyway... I haven't kept up with Sonic since the early Dreamcast days.

0:08 Sonic can now do flips and tricks mid-air to charge up an invinci-dash meter.

0:09 If we find some "blue material" and "iron material" we can build a waterbike. Blue material? That's the best name they could think of?

0:10 Now Sonic is in 3D and in Marine's house. A cheesy animation brings the materials IU got from the training level together and creates a waterbike.

0:12 I draw a route for the waterbike with the stylus, but there's only one place to go to so the route seems kind of pointless. Time for a mini-game. Touch the stylus to the screen to accelerate forward and slide left and right to collect rings and hit jumps. It's surprisingly fun. The zippy soundtrack helps a lot. One problem.. the L-button dash isn't quite responsive enough.

0:16 So now we've made it to the destination island. Marine suggests we name it Marine Island. Not like Gilligan's Island, I hope.

0:18 The first real level. Took 'em long enough. I love the crazy retro-techno soundtrack. It feels a lot like the classic Sonic games -- Sonic 3 especially -- but with some new twists, like sliding on vines, and jumping through hoops doing air tricks. Lots of opportunities to get up to full speed, but not so many that you feel it's out of control.

0:21 At high enough speeds, Sonic runs on top of the water. Sonic is Jesus!

0:22 An abrupt switch to 3D for a short section requiring jumping between three rails. Jarring.

0:23 First level over. I got some "green material." Thankfully there's no more talking here, it just transitions right into the next stage.

0:24 The graphics are nice and bright, but the background art makes it hard to tell which platforms are actually platforms and which are just painted on.

0:26 I feel like I'm missing half the game speeding through the multi-path, high-flying levels. This will require some more playthroughs.

0:27 Act 2 clear. Another C grade. I wish I knew what went into these ranks. I'm guessing I need to be faster.

0:28 A short cut scene introduces the first boss... giant tyranno-bot. I'm on a 2D platform, he's in the background. He reaches in to bite and I dodge and jump on his head multiple times. Then he charges along the line of my platform and I jump on his head some more.

0:29 We fall into another area. The scenery is different, but the enemy's attacks are pretty much the same.

0:31 He's finally down. He explodes in a pixelated fireball. A weak boss battle... I never really felt like I was in danger. I got a B this time! Whoo!

0:32 Ugh, more talking. We run into Tabby the Koala. He tells us to go southwest. Sonic is getting annoyed with Marine's chipperness. I'm getting annoyed with these story pieces altogether. They just slow things down, and that's not the Sonic way.

0:35 The next island is an island of machines. What will they think of next? Really, can't they think of something not horribly contrived?

0:36 Marine runs off amid Sonic and Tails talking about being careful. The writing is cute, but still slows down the action too much.

0:38 Sonic just bounced off a large drum, into the screen, and back again over and over. I'm weirded out.

0:39 Sonic has some hang glider thing that just appeared out of nowhere. Hitting up catches air. Kind of interesting.

0:40 The levels are tending a little towards the "hold right and rush forward as fast as possible" mode. It's barely interactive at some points.

0:43 Some more enemies are finally showing up in the levels. Dealing with them is a nice change of pace from just run run run.

0:45 Act 2 done. More talking... Marine was worried sick about us. About US?!?!

0:49 Just finished an... interesting boss. Basically a big floating robot with hanging globes. Hit the globes at high speed to send them sailing into the main portion. Pretty easy... but I got a C rank, so I guess I could do better.

0:50 Marine: "There's got to be some secret organization trying to stop me. They're jealous of my famous adventures and want to put a stop to them! But I won't give up! Never! You can't make me! You buncha no-good dingos." I'm imagining this in a charming Australian accent. She's a character, and a well-written one at that.

0:52 So before I can move on, it seems I have to replay the levels I've already done to get more "material." What a gyp. I know the levels have some replay value, but I'd at least like to play through the whole game once first.

0:53 Ah ha. Exploring the house I can now set boss difficulty to "normal" from "easy" I can also turn on time limits for added challenge. Nice to have these options, but why are they so hidden?

0:57 I finish the first level for the second time, this time focusing on going as fast as possible. I get a B and two green material. Nice.

0:59 Playing for speed again. When rushing through, the game feels kind of like a 2D version of SSX -- doing tricks in mid-air to gain speed-granting boost. Interesting twist.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Brings back the old school feelings of the original Sonic trilogy better than any recent title yet.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sega.


Alex said...

I'm a fan of this format. Not to sound critical, but it does remind me a bit of the "first 15" segment they used to have on "Attack of the Show." Of course, that was only 15 minutes instead of an hour...but yeah.

So yeah, thanks.

I'm a fan since the Ombudsman days -- keep it up!

Kyle said...

The Ombudsman days... that takes me back. I'm never gonna live down that name either... it'll be on my epitaph!

Never actually seen the "first 15" segment on AOTS. Is it still running?