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Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity


Zero Gravity is an easy and short experience which doesn't leave much of a lasting impression.

The original Sonic Riders came out in 2006 and was met with mostly average scores, but still a sequel came out, this time on the Wii and PS2. Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity intended to take a unique spin on the racing series, introducing the ability to manipulate gravity. This game was also met with average scores, with some people saying it was better than the original and others saying the original is better. Personally, I find the original to be the superior Riders game.

Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity changes a lot about the original Riders, with some new stuff in there and some stuff removed. Though ultimately, it looks the same on the surface when looking at the menu. The game still has a story mode, it still has a Free Race mode and you can still do missions like in the original, as well as other things.

The story is rubbish, no two ways about it. It was so handled so poorly that I struggled to understand what was happening on many occasions. The story consists of meteors landing on the planet, called the Arks of the Cosmos, that the Babylon Rogues are looking for. These meteors appear to have a negative effect on Eggman's robots, making them go haywire. It seems like Eggman isn't involved when he actually is. It's handled so sloppily that it almost feels like a rushed job. I have to wonder why a story was added into a racing game anyway.

Once you get into the gameplay, you will quickly learn just how different it is from the first Riders game. For one, there is no air system. This is actually a good change, as the air system in the first Riders was incredibly irritating and prevented the game from being as enjoyable as what it could have been. In this game, you do not really come off of your board unless you pick up a power-up which enables you to attack your rivals, and when you do you actually go faster. I suppose that also brings me to the point that, unlike in the first Riders, you cannot attack your opponents on your board. You can overtake them and talk smack to them as you ride past them, but no attacking unless you collect that certain temporary power-up.

The gears move a lot slower in this game, which is somewhat annoying. While Riders was out of character in that when the characters came off of their gears they'd run slowly, in this game, the gears move slow and this is actually worse as you will spend the majority of the game on them. There are five types of gear, but only three mainly used which attribute to the types of speed, flight and power. The difference is though, that it is the gears that define the specialised shortcuts you can take and not the character. For example, if you use Tails and the Advantage-S, you will only be able to take speed shortcuts, as the Advantage-S is known for being a speed type gear.

Throughout the races, it is important to utilize shortcuts, as you will need them to win races. Hence, you will need to use gravity skills and specialized type shortcuts such as Air Rides and rails. However, to Air Ride, grind or bash through walls, you need to upgrade your gear throughout the race. To do this, you need to collect certain numbers Rings which will make your gear better throughout the race. It is somewhat irritating that you cannot grind, fly or bash through walls from the start with some gears, but it is easy to get used to.

Gravity moves are a new feature in this game - gravity control and gravity dive. Gravity control is used mainly to get around sharp corners and onto accessible walls, which serves to freeze the character in mid air and turn them to a certain direction. Gravity dive allows the character to rise in mid-air and streak forward without the use of their board. They can also use meteor burst in this instant, riding off of objects that come floating towards you to raise the gravity bar and speed up. The gravity bar is on the bottom of the screen and so long as it is somewhat filled, gravity abilities can be used. Once it is empty, gravity skills can no longer be used.

There are three types of controls for this game, but it is unfortunate that only one of those three types work decently. Two types of control use the Wii Remote. The first control scheme consists of pointing the Wii Remote at the screen. It is incredibly uncomfortable to use, pointing the remote at the screen to turn the players and shaking the remote to use gravity dive. The second scheme is like that of Sonic and the Secret Rings, holding the remote on it's side, and while it could have worked very well, the turning is incredibly sensitive which is a let down. The third control scheme is the Gamecube controller, which works relatively well, but is disappointing as the game is for the Wii, not the Gamecube.

The graphics are nothing special at all. They look like the graphics in the original Riders, but the character models are quite poor in a few instances within the cutscenes. They are fairly disappointing because the Wii is capable of producing better graphics, though at the same time, they are not completely terrible due to their resemblance to the first Riders game.

The music, I admit, is an improvement over the first Riders. It sounds fairly decent, fitting the levels well. The sound effects work decently enough as well. Though admittedly, this game features the worst performance from the 4kids voice actors yet. Very few of the characters managed to display emotion within their voices, which doesn't make them very believable within the cutscenes of the story. Easily the worst voice is Rouge's, who thankfully isn't in the story mode, but still is awful to listen to. Thankfully though, there is a Japanese voice option included, so for those who do not want to listen to the terrible voice-acting, there is thankfully an option there that doesn't including muting the television.

Overall, Zero Gravity is, in my opinion, a mixed bag. For me, it is not as good as the original. The original was better due to it's challenge and the fact that it was much faster-paced than this one. The fact that this game is slower than the original is a let down as it doesn't have the same exhilaration given when racing in the original. The fact that this game is so easy is disappointing - it barely challenges you at all. Worst of all, it's short; the story mode can be finished within approximately two or three hours, and the same amount of time, if not less, can be used to get through all of the missions. Because you will be finished with this game in barely no time at all due to it's easy difficulty, there's not much here that will keep you busy for a long while. This game could probably be beaten within a dedicated day. Hence if you really insist on trying this game, I'd rent it.





Review by Swift.

Fans and their reviews of video-games. xD