When SEGA saw how great the Advance series went on the GBA, they would’ve been fools to not continue on with the games for the DS. With the aid of Dimps once again, they developed a game that ended up being that one game that people could say as evidence that SEGA didn’t ruin every game they made in the mid-noughties. A game that was fun, had cracking music, wasn’t buggy and actually had a new character people liked. At a push, even two. And personally, it was a great continuation of the series and another fun game.
Sonic Rush added to the Advance games in some ways, whilst cutting down in others. In most of the cases, it works out fine. The plot and story was greatly expanded than in the Advance games, and the stages were very varied and fun. The only big downside for me was the overall shortness of the game, but I’ll explain more later. Suffice to say, they certainly did do a lot to make this game fun and entertaining.
The story, for once, is kind of important and is split into two “stories” – one for Sonic and one for newcomer Blaze. There is also a third “story” which, as we all know by now, involves collecting those Chaos Emeralds. But in general, the story is as follows. Sonic and Tails are off adventuring, before they find more mechanical madness courtesy of (they assume) everyone’s favourite scientist who isn’t Dr Insano. Only, it’s not who they really think – it is in fact a man calling himself Eggman Nega; who is physically similar to Dr Eggman, but cold, calculating and certainly more of a threat.
Whilst they rush off to figure out this problem, Blaze arrives in Sonic’s world having decided to chase the original Dr Eggman after he made off with her sacred jewels, the Sol Emeralds. With Eggman seemingly being able to transcend through dimensions with a new device, he founds Blaze’s world and caused a dimensional schism, causing the two worlds to collide and release Eggman Nega (Blaze’s version of the Eggman) to Sonic’s world. So with the help of Cream the Rabbit, Blaze must stop Eggman, find her Emeralds and learn the true power of friendship (without the use of Personas or the heart of the cards).
This game introduces the concept that would reappear many times in the future: the “Rush” (or Boost) meter. This allows Sonic or Blaze to go faster than normal, as well as being invulnerable whilst doing so (though not invincible – spikes and such will still hurt you). It also introduces “tricks”; special moves that increase the Rush meter as well as increasing your combo points. Both of these are incorporated effortlessly into the game, with no loss in control or accuracy.
The overall game is split into 7 core Zones; each with 2 Acts and a Boss level; and a final boss zone. As always in Sonic games, they vary from vibrant green zones to technological space bases, and everything in between. Sonic and Blaze’s stories both cover the same zones and bosses, but in a slightly different order as to keep things interesting. In regards to difficulty, Blaze’s mode could technically be easier due to her ability to hover short distances, allowing you to clear gaps easier than with Sonic. Conversely, her boss stages are a little harder. But with Sol Emeralds as a reward for beating them, that would be expected.
For Sonic, his Emerald hunt is a bit harder. Within each Act lies a Boost ring. If you boost whilst on it and get enough speed, you get transported to a Special Stage. As before, you need to get enough rings in each part of the stage to obtain your Emerald. Only this time, your D-Pad is not your friend. Instead, the DS touch screen is your method for controlling Sonic in these stages. Simply slide the stylus to the left to go left, right to go right, and flick at the edges of the screen to jump. You can also perform reaction patterns when you hit certain buffers to gain extra rings. It takes some getting used to, but it is quite responsive and leads to some fun special stages.
One of the biggest changes in the handheld series was the type of music used. Gone are the classic musical instrumentals and in comes something more modern and electronic. This gives a soundtrack that can cause joy for one person, but intense ear-ache for another. Although you get that with many soundtracks, this seemed to cause more discussion than others. Personally, I did enjoy a few tracks on it (such as “A New Day” from the Special Stages) but a few were fairly generic and didn’t seem to add to the atmosphere of the worlds they were used in. On the plus side, we got a LOT of music with unique Blaze remixes of the tunes for all of her stages, which was a nice touch.
What sadly wasn’t a nice touch were the inclusion of Tails and Cream as side characters. Although in story terms they were useful, when it came to bosses, they weren’t. You see, each boss had their health gauge on the bottom screen, along with your helper. And they wouldn’t. Shut. Up. Every hit you gave the Eggmen, they chipped in with something. Every time you got hit, they said something. It got tiresome very fast, especially with those high pitched voices. Luckily, the other vocal work wasn’t as bad. Blaze and Sonic’s vocals were cut to general exclamations and phrases, with both the Eggmen receiving the same treatment meaning they didn’t outstay their welcome.
Another change in the series was the shift from 2D to 3D. Although the characters were a little blocky, they certainly aren’t that bad and oddly enough are better than the models used in Chronicles, which was made years later. The zone visuals were full of detail and vibrancy, making good use of the two screens available. The only downside being the seemingly odd pits that stretch two screens before a death is registered (due to the screens), but that was solved in some stages by insta-death barriers. Regardless, the graphics still hold up well today, especially when compared to other Sonic games on the system.
Overall, this was a strong continuation of the 2D Sonic games. It moved on from the Advance series and did a respectable job in keeping the games entertaining. It also managed a big achievement in a modern Sonic games – a new character that wasn’t loathed by half the fanbase and had a personality that was liked. Although it doesn’t capture the whimsy of the classics, it does go quite a way to replicating those days well.
|GRAPHICS||Some good use of 3D models, even if they are a little blocky. Not a bad look for something released early in the DS lifecycle.|
|MUSIC||A Marmite topic. I personally liked it, but the style of music might not appeal to you|
|CONTROLS||The control scheme is what we expect with this type of game – decent control over the character with little annoyance|
|REPLAY VALUE||The game is a decent length, but once you beat the final boss, the time trials are the only things that’ll keep you going|
|OVERALL||It’s a good first outing for Sonic on the DS, and it shows you how to actually introduce a new character correctly.|