Sonic hasn't been doing
too great in 3D. Shadow was bad (even I can admit that), Riders and Rivals was rated as average
by critics, and Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and PS3 was labelled as one of the worst Sonic
games ever by critics and fans alike so it's not a surprise if people have been wary about this title messing up much like
most of the other recent outings. This game promised to bring Sonic back to his roots, but did it deliver?
Yes it did.
All the problems that made the other games bad in the eyes of many people have been stripped away (barring the backstep which
is sort of a camera problem since you cannot see where you are going) and you are left with the pure speed we know and love
You are given a new way of controlling Sonic; you hold the Wii Remote sideways, tilting the controller left
and right to move Sonic left and right. Sonic moves forward automatically unless you hold the 1 button to brake. The more
you move, the more speed you pick up, but if you hit something you slow down. Pressing the 2 button enables Sonic to jump,
and flicking the Wii Remote forward allows Sonic to use Jump Dash/Homing Attack. There is a learning curve with this game,
especially if you are new to the Wii; thankfully there are tutorial stages for you to learn the basics before you begin the
The storyline is simple; Sonic is awoken by a young female genie by the name of Shahra, who asks
him to save her world from an evil genie by the name of Erazor Djinn, who is erasing the pages from the Arabian Nights. It
appears that Sonic is a "legendary blue hedgehog"; hence Sonic travels into the book alongside Shahra.
The game is
not an RPG at all but it does have RPG elements. For one, by collecting Pearls you can help gain Experience, meaning that
you will level up if you have enough Experience. By levelling up you will be able to use more skills, making it easier to
play the game the way you want to play it and gets rid of some control niggles. You can play with speed skills, offensive
skills, or dark skills, and there are four rings in which you can assign any skills of your choice to. Two important skills
you will pick up are Speed Break and Time Break; enabling you to speed up or slow down depending on your situation in the
game. You won't be able to use these two moves however until you unlock the Soul Gauge.
There are eight worlds to play
in, one of them being the tutorial stage (Lost Prologue) and the other two being worlds loosely based off of Arabian Nights
stories. Each world has approximately 12 or 13 missions, including reaching the goal, collecting a set number of rings, completing
the stage in a set time, race and beat the wind genie, Uhu, go through the stage without dying/getting damaged etc) and each
missions have various ranges of difficulty. These missions give the game that little more replay value and I warn you, the
game is more challenging than a majority of the others.
There's also a Party Mode playable, which is fairly similar
to Sonic Shuffle, meaning it was semi-based off of the Mario Party series. There are many different features and ways to use
the Wii Remote, which uses it to it's advantage. The games are fun, and it's even better if doing multiplayer. There are forty
excellent games overall, some of which you need to unlock by collecting Fire Souls. Collecting Fire Souls also unlocks four
extra characters for Party Mode; Shadow, Cream, Silver and Blaze. Of course, you only have Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy
at first but still more than enough for multiplayer.
The graphics are beautiful and really show what the Wii can do
graphic-wise. Not much can be said on that front. The level design is lovely and Sonic looks equally lovely. The cut-scenes
are a break from the typical pure 3D stuff we saw in next-gen, and are set in book format, since of course, Sonic is
in a book. There are generally mixed reactions about the new cut-scene styles.
In regards to the music, there are a
few good tracks worth listening to, such as Sand Oasis' music though there are some bad or just plain annoying songs, such
as the one on Dinosaur Jungle. Therefore the music, like the cut-scenes, is a mixed reaction. Some people like the music,
some people find the music to be dull, cheesy or otherwise bad.
Voice-acting? Bad as always. Jason Griffith has made
a slight improvement as Sonic, but still, doesn't sound good enough. Sonic sounds like a wimpy wannabe cool guy, despite the
fact that he has emotion in his voice now. Shahra's voice actor is Bella Hudson; while she's also the actor for many other
female Sonic characters such as Blaze, Wave, Tikal and Maria, she does a somewhat decent job as Shahra. Erazor sounds
completely awful. Thankfully though, there's a Japanese voice option for those who would much rather listen to decent voice
Overall, is Secret Rings worth the money? I'd say it most definitely was. This was the boost to the
Sonic series that Sonic fans all needed. It's a good Wii game to add to your collection, and shows that maybe Sonic Team can
create a good Sonic game if they put enough effort into it. Apart from a few control response issues (which aren't too common
thankfully), the game works, it's fun to play, and it's quite recommendable. Just be aware that this is slightly more challenging
than other recent Sonic games.