Review: Sonic Rush
October 15, 2006
A Rush Of Blood To The Hands
Dimps /DS /Everyone
It’s been a long, long time since Sonic the Hedgehog’s 2D heyday on the Genesis, when he was going sneaker to boot with Nintendo’s mustachioed, plumbing powerhouse. The turning point in that rivalry can be pinpointed at both mascots’ switch to the third dimension. While Mario’s 3D debut is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, Sonic’s showed a number of flaws that would never be fixed, and become more and more frustrating, in future editions. For years of troubled 3D platformers and random spin-offs, the only place for Sonic’s fan base to get their 2D fix was on portables, and each of those games have been competent, but unspectacular. But, new portable technology brings new portable possibilities, and with the DS, Sonic’s handlers are finally able to combine the 3D effects they love to fiddle with alongside the side-scrolling gameplay the true Sonic fans love. Throw that in with some extra features, and you have Sonic Rush.
The story has Sonic resuming his never-ending battle against the diabolical Eggman but now, Eggman has opened up a portal to another universe and brought over the darker in color, and therefore more sinister, Eggman Nega. Also coming through is a new playable character, the purple, oddly attired, and apparently Hindu Blaze the Cat, who joins the already bloated Sonic character list that only their mothers, and the purveyors of Sonic spin-offs, could love. Blaze starts out as a refreshing loner and badass who, as the name implies, is pyrokinetic. In the beginning, Blaze insists on fighting Eggman alone but, of course, this doesn’t fly with Sonic’s teamwork-loving pals, who badger Blaze about the power of friendship until she finally caves, just in time for the schmaltzy ending. Also dropping in are Sonic’s brainy sidekick Tails, and Cream the Rabbit, along with her little buddy Cheese (it pains me to know this much). Those two will serve as guides who do little more than squeak encouragement from the top screen during map sequences.
To go along with the classic Sonic idiotic story is classic Sonic gameplay plus a bushel of DS-inspired extras. The main action spans both screens, and combines pretty psudo-3D effects with Sonic’s signature fast paced 2D gameplay. The touch screen even gets some action during the half pipe bonus rounds, which are only accessible when playing as Sonic. The DS’s 3D capabilities even get a workout during the boss battles, which keep players on a track in a full 3D environment. The only catch here is that the two playable characters have to share the same 8 levels, and there aren’t enough differences in their abilities to fully warrant playing each level twice. Luckily, the gameplay is fun enough at its core to keep proceedings from getting stale during the repeats.
The levels themselves help in the fight against boredom too. Each level has 2-5 totally unique moves/interactive environment pieces that are an adventure in themselves to figure out and master. These range from wall walking to water sliding, and no two are anywhere near the same. There are also multiple paths through each level spanning either the top or bottom or both screens and featuring it’s own quirks and challenges.
Fun, good-looking, and challenging, and with a good amount of replay value, Sonic Rush is the best Sonic game of the last decade, and just another reason why no one, Sonic fan or not, should be without a DS.
By Zack Rovinsky