Sonic Rivals PSP
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Sonic Rivals Product Details
Released on 01/12/2006
- Unique “Head-to-head experience!
- Single Player Mode: Competing one-on-one with each of your rivals will feel just as competitive as if playing against an actual player!
- Multiplayer Mode: Go head-to-head with your buddy and trip, shove, even vault over each other as you hurtle towards the finish line at breakneck speed!
- Sonic style 2D gameplay in true 3D environments, custom-built for the PSP!
- Race in Sonic’s traditional 2D gameplay, but throughout obstacle-filled 3D tracks, enhancing the thrills of the race!
- Built from the ground-up to maximize the technical potential of the PSP.
- 4 characters, 4 different storylines: select Sonic or one of his rivals and play through each of their story through fast and winding stages!
- Extensive rewards system based on trading card-collecting to enhance your character’s various skills as well as character customization.
- WiFi connectivity allowing you to wager trading cards for various multiplayer challenges!
Everyone's favourite hedgehog speeds stylishly onto PSP...
Sonic Rivals marks the first PSP outing for Sega's super speedy cool blue mascot, and a welcome change in direction from some of the series' more recent releases on the bigger home systems. Unlike Sonic Heroes, Shadow The Hedgehog et al, this takes Sonic truly back to his side-scrolling roots, albeit in a slightly different way to the DS's superb Sonic Rush.
Rivals, you see, is something of a hybrid Sonic title. Indeed, its not even been developed by Sega themselves, but freelanced out to Death Jr. developers Backbone Entertainment, who have mixed the franchise's now-favoured 3D visuals with its ostensibly old-school 2D sensibilities, and fused Sonic's typically platform-esque exploits to a race-based dynamic which can't help but remind us of the old MegaDrive Sonic's splitscreen multiplayer mode.
So, what we've got here is a racing game starring Sonic characters, with 3D visuals, but running on a 2D plane. The racers, enemies and gameworld objects themselves are all modelled in impressive-looking polygons, and the camera has a tendency to swing around from time to time, giving the impression of a full 3D title, but this is nonetheless far closer to our fondly kept memories of the hog's early nineties golden days than any of his latest efforts, which is something older Sonic fans the world over will be happy about.
Having said that, we've still got the new-school Sonic stable of characters which have gained so much mainstream success over the last few years. Sonic himself is joined by Knuckles, Shadow and Silver (plus an additional unlockable character – we won't spoil it for you), who in the main Story mode are out to stop Eggman (he'll always be Robotnik to us) from turning their friends and all they hold dear into playing cards using his latest evil invention; a super snazzy (and probably multi-millioned megapixel) camera.
It's a fittingly fast Sonic rendition this, and one which retains the series' inherent style and feel.
Each of the characters has their own motivations for chasing the ghastly egg-shaped scientist; Sonic, for instance, wants to save his friends while Knuckles is trying to retrieve the Master Emerald which he can't seem to stop losing. Some guardian he is. What this boils down to in gameplay terms is actually a pretty straightforward race between two characters each time towards the end of level goal, making use of a host of Mario Kart-like power ups along the way, and both generally trying to stop their opponent from getting there first.
Areas (or ‘courses' – they're really a bit of both) themselves are spread over six zones – each with the typical Sonic themes; forest, ice, machine fortress, etc – and broken down into three acts, with a boss at the end of these. Whereas bosses break up play with a more traditional platforming style of play, requiring you to avoid their attacks and go for a weak point, the race sections can prove tricky enough to prevent you seeing the bosses any time soon, which gives the game a longer play duration than you'd expect.
And for the most part, it's immensely enjoyable stuff. It's a fittingly fast Sonic rendition this, and one which retains the series' inherent style and feel, with twisting corkscrews, lopping loops, well-placed springs, perfectly positioned speed boosts and a whole bunch of robotic bad guys to stomp. Power-ups too fail to interfere with the ebb-and-flow of your normal Sonic side-scroller; actually enhancing the experience and adding an element of strategy, with each character boasting their own special power-up moves. Sonic, for example, has a super-fast speed boost when he picks up a Star, while Shadow's uses the same collectable to forcibly slow down his opponent.
This isn't a system without it's drawbacks, however. Most notably, jumping seems to actually prove faster than running, which is something we can't really see the sense behind – isn't Sonic meant to be the speediest thing in existence ON the ground? This is especially frustrating when your bounding about the place, hop over a speed boost, and need to double back, wasting vital seconds.
Really a rather good adaptation of Sonic style gameplay into a racing format.
Likewise, the speed-factor isn't helped by the odd obstacle which requires context-sensitive presses of the X or O buttons to hop over – meaning you'll often hurtle into a log, for instance, stop dead, press a button, then be on your way again. Because of this, memorising the courses becomes an absolute must, which isn't exactly easy to do with scenery whizzing by at an otherwise alarming rate of knots.
Such minor detractions can be overlooked, however, because Sonic Rivals really is a rather good adaptation of Sonic style gameplay into a racing format. Unfortunately less easy to accept are the workings of the camera, which, while often fine and dandy, will sometimes fling itself right round when it shouldn't, without the controls moving to compensate – so you'll be pressing left on the analog nub, and Sonic will be moving right. It's all very disorienting.
But that's really the only major flaw here, and certainly doesn't happen enough to overly spoil your enjoyment. Sonic detractors may point out that there's still a questionable sense of control with it all being basically holding one direction and pressing jump and fire occasionally; but the inherent speed and streamlined nature of Sonic has always been it's most appealing factor, and when you're careering to the end of the track a mere few yards ahead of your opponent, you'll be thankful for this single exhilarating aspect.
Aside from the singleplayer story, there's a Challenge mode where you can pick two characters and race on any of the unlocked courses, and a well-done Wireless multiplayer option which adds a considerably degree of longevity. Here, players can wager the cards earned through winning races in the main game, adding extra incentive to multiplayer battles with your mates. On the other hand, for the less competitive, cards can be swapped wirelessly too, so there's an element of that Pokemon-style gotta-catch-em-all factor here that further rounds off the package.
Sonic Rivals is by no means a ‘proper' Sonic game, but its biggest success is that it feels very much like one, while implementing the races in a way which makes the usual platform play all the more compelling. It's a great addition to the PSP library, and a worthy first folley for Sega's most famous face on gaming's most powerful portable system. Thank hog for that.
- Speedy Sonic gameplay done well in a race-based format
- Level design feels like a typical Sonic game
- Brilliant Wi Fi multiplayer with added card collecting element
- Camera issues
- Jumping faster than running? Wha?
- Questionable sense of control
Review by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: PSP
Review Published: 23.11.06
Two decades of Sonic! And it only seems like yesterday that we first saw him speeding through rings, racing off the edge of the screen, and trouncing Dr Robotnik back on the Sega Megadrive.
Created by Yuji Naka back in the early 1990s, Sonic was Sega attempt to rival Nintendo Super Mario, and while the plumber remains a classic in his own right, Sonic hasn done too badly for himself, giving platform fans everywhere a taste for fast-paced action and colourful levels.
Sega hero shows no signs of slowing down either no pun intended. Later this year, Sonic Generations will be hitting the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and Nintendo 3DS. It promises to blend elements from Sonic 2D origins with his later 3D adventures, and the word on the street is that it one of the best Sonic games Sega has seen in years. Here to the next 20, Sonic!
Sonic Rivals Review (23/11/2006)
Everyone's favourite hedgehog speeds stylishly onto PSP...
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