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Sonic Rush

One of the most enjoyable handheld Sonic titles out there.

It's been a long time since I could pick up a Sonic title like this without any worries about it being a bad game, because, quite simply, Sonic Rush is a very good game. I know not everybody is going to agree with me on this, but this game, much like the Advance series before it, proves that Sonic just seems to work better in 2D, or in this game's case, 2.5D. I think Sonic could work in 3D but the method often hasn't been executed as good as what it could have been whereas a lot of 2D Sonic games (not all of them) turn out fine.

Now why do I enjoy this game so much? Well, I admit I enjoyed it from the very moment I went into the story mode and instantly was thrown into the very first level. It doesn't leave you hanging around looking at story cut-scenes. There is a story, and it's not a perfect one, but this game seems to focus on its gameplay more than anything else, and that alone makes this game enjoyable to me.

The general story is that, obviously, Eggman's up to something... or at least the guy looks like Eggman. What's more, there's a mysterious female cat who goes by the name of Blaze hunting down mysterious 'Sol Emeralds'. I admit, Blaze is actually one of the few new characters in the series that actually interests me, and is perhaps the best new addition to the Sonic cast. Eggman-Nega, however, in this game, comes across as nothing more than an Eggman rip-off especially in design, and I cannot say I'm fond of his character.

But forget the story. It's an okay story, but the real bulk of the game is in its gameplay. When you first start story mode, you're thrown right into the game. You only get to play as Sonic at first but as you progress through his story, you will unlock Blaze the Cat as a playable character, thereby meaning you can only play as one of those two characters. It sounds limiting, but what I wanted was a simple, fast-paced experience with Sonic and I got it. I don't need to be able to play as every Sonic character under the sun to enjoy the game.

Quite simply, you charge through the levels at top-speed, regardless of which character you play as, moving from screen to screen. There is a new boost system in the game, which can give you new spurts of speed, making you go faster. But as you can expect, this system drains each time you boost, so to replenish your boost meter, you have to destroy robots, perform tricks or hit a checkpoint. The boost meter is also important for entering the special stages in Sonic's levels, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Sonic and Blaze do play drastically similar to each other, but they do have minor differences which are easy to take note of. For one, Blaze is not as fast as Sonic is in terms of running, but she can perform tricks better than Sonic can as she can fire herself further into the air, while Sonic does not go very high at all. One minor gripe I have with the story mode is that in both stories, you will progress through the same levels, albeit in a different order. Though their minor differences in gameplay exist, it's difficult to say that playing through the level as one or the other feels that much different.

Now, the special stages. This is the only real point in the game where you have to use the touch screen. Remember Sonic 2's half-pipe? That pretty much summarizes the special stage in a nutshell. You use the touch screen to control Sonic, moving him around to collect a specified amount of Rings. If you get enough Rings, you can get the Chaos Emerald. Thankfully, this is only found in Sonic's levels, so you do not need to enter any special stages with Blaze, which is one major difference between the two stories in the game, and a welcome one at that.

The boss fights are almost 3D, and are actually pretty fun. Eggman or Eggman-Nega (depending on whether you're playing as Sonic or Blaze) attacks with various weird machines and you have to stop them. While you're in battle, your partner who helps you along in your journey (not playable, not even following you in the levels) cheers you on, and on the screen where they are, is also the amount of hits the boss has left. Some of the bosses are pretty easy, but as you progress through the game, they become more challenging.

The story mode is the main bulk of the game, but Sonic Rush also has a time attack mode enabling you to try and beat your records on various levels, which gives you a reason to possibly pick up the game for a short time even after completing story mode. I certainly kept coming back just for this.

What's more, the game has a pretty cool multiplayer, only for two players though, where you can race each other through the levels. What's more, you only need one cart to support the game between two people. The multiplayer is pretty fun, but my one gripe with it is that sometimes when playing it with somebody, it lags. I'm curious to know if this happens on anybody else's copy of the game, but this is a frequent problem I have when playing this game with friends.

The graphics look pretty good. The levels are colourful, and have the general Sonic feel to them that you'd expect from the series. The characters themselves look pretty good too. But one of the other highlights of this game is without a doubt, the music. It fits the fast-paced nature of this game, and is extremely catchy. Despite that, there is one minor negative with this game that I have and it's the voices. Thankfully, you don't hear too much from them, but it doesn't change the fact that I would much rather have not heard Sonic's bland, emotionless yells, nor Tails' girly tone, or Cream's screeches. Blaze, Eggman and Eggman-Nega sound fine though.

I'd like to make one thing clear though; Sonic Rush is not totally comparable to the classics. Sonic Rush has a lot of aspects of the classics, such as the fact that it's more of a 2D game and has the standard things like Rings and loops. But other than that, Rush is also quite different to the classics as well. You didn't see the boost system in the classics. You couldn't go between two screens in the classics. With that being said, Rush has a lot of classic elements, but is not meant to be exactly like one of the classic Sonic games.

Overall, I recommend Sonic Rush very highly. Some people may not like it too much, but for me, this is the best handheld Sonic game I've played so far. Not even the sequel, Sonic Rush Adventure, has topped this handheld Sonic game for me, though the second and third Advance games come pretty close. If you're into fast-paced side-scrolling platformers, in my opinion you cannot really go wrong with Sonic Rush.





Review by Swift.

Fans and their reviews of video-games. xD