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TSS REVIEW: Sonic Rush Adventure

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This topic was good and got turned into TSS REVIEW: Sonic Rush Adventure at some point.

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If Sonic Rush taught anyone in 2004, it's that the blue hedgehog can still be relevant in the gaming world. It certainly wasn't the perfect Sonic game (and many even said that the reason it was critically acclaimed was because it wasn't as lame as recent console titles), but it showed that a decent game could be made with a little original design and some franchise savvy.

That savvy - the use of a minimal number of characters and the return of zone gimmicks and other design features that defined a Sonic game - has been explored further in Sonic Rush Adventure, a sequel that once again deals with the dimensional rifts taking place between the worlds of Sonic and Blaze.


Owing to the 'Adventure' part of the game's name is the new major addition to the gameplay. In Sonic Rush, you had a world map which showed the stages which you had to progress to. In the sequel, this is replaced with a sea chart that is fully explorable using ships and submarines. Exploring the ocean uncovers new areas, but various cutscenes will give you a helping hand as to where to plot your next course, if you just want to blast through the Zones.

You simply draw your course on the sea chart using the touch screen and, depending on which kind of ship you use (there are four different kinds, all owing to different types of sea terrain) you enter a short minigame where you actually venture to that location, avoiding enemies and bombs along the way. It's not something we see being appropriate for every Sonic game, but as a fresh new gimmick it makes Rush Adventure feel pretty unique without becoming tedious.


There are also some new characters to meet here, too. Sonic and Tails end up stranded on a strange desert island, and they come across an Aussie-accented raccoon called Marine. The storyline in Rush Adventure is pretty good, although the cutscenes - while mildly amusing in places - can be pretty intrusive. Cutscenes are really something that goes against the grain of the fast-paced arcade style action that we expect of Sonic, and indeed is chock-a-block in Rush Adventure.

All in all however, we have no qualms. Blaze is still cool and inoffensive, and seeing Sonic and Tails rocking it alone is great stuff - the story doesn't take itself too seriously. The Eggman Nega thing is still pretty lame though, and we wouldn't want to see Marine again lest we have another 'Cream' incident where she's just randomly inserted into everything without reason.


The level design has improved over Sonic Rush, with more of an emphasis on alternate paths and the removal of the cack 'door' system - having to defeat enemies in a room before you can progress was a total drag, and we're glad Dimps thought the same. Rush Adventure is just non-stop action with plenty more stage gimmicks involved, such as grabbing balloons, bouncing off huge mushrooms and navigating carts through mines.

Unfortunately there are still times where bottomless pits are involved, resulting in leaps of faith and cheap deaths while going at mach speed. But these instances are far and few enough between, in a huge level roster that includes countless times more enjoyable gameplay than its predecessor. We would have also liked to have seen a greater emphasis on multi-tiered levels, akin to something like Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive, but maybe that can be a note for Dimps to apply to a third Sonic Rush game.


One of the things that did take getting used to in Rush Adventure however, was the music. After hearing Hideki Naganuma's awesome soundtrack in the first Sonic DS game, the sequel's game music was instead crafted by Sonic Team sound designers, and at first the compositions make you feel like Rush Adventure wishes it was Naganuma's handiwork.

Listening to Plant Kingdom for the first time will instantly remind you of 'Right Here, Right On' from Sonic Rush, but bear with it. After playing through the game a few times and learning not to compare the two soundtracks, it's clear that Tomoya Ohtani and crew have made the game its own with irresistible hooks in Machine Labyrinth and a blasting tune in Blizzard Peaks. There's even a tropical remix of the Sonic 3 Data Select screen in there.


Collecting Chaos Emeralds (and Sol Emeralds) is a slightly different practice than usual. The main villain, Captain Whisker, has a sidekick robot called Johnny who you race in a Jetski to earn the Chaos Emeralds on the sea chart map. Blaze can collect Sol Emeralds in specially designed mission modes which usually consist of defeating bosses encountered in the main Zones. The Sols are quite simple to obtain, but the last few Chaos Emeralds will test your very fibres - it can frustrate, but you always have that 'one more go' attitude until you finally do it.

Speaking of which, the bosses are very original takes on the successful Sonic Rush idea. The very first boss is a huge dinosaur that you fight through two floors of jungle to take out. It's great to see the kind of animation, design and attention to detail in the whole game, but the bosses really embody the extra mile Dimps and SEGA have gone with this.


The only thing we have to moan about is how the game requires repeat plays of stages to progress - we should want to replay a level, rather than be forced to. So how does this happen? Well, during your travels you can collect 'materials' that are used to build new ships and travel further around the map. When you don't have enough of a certain material, you need to return to a particular level until you earn the right amount. Because the Zones are great fun to play, this doesn't become too much of a problem - but we don't like the kind of precedent that this might set for future Sonic games.

Not content with all the extra clout that's been shoved in the main gameplay areas, Sonic Rush Adventure also comes with a horde of additional mission modes that range from simple to challenging, a well-constructed online multiplayer full of different modes, a leaderboard and even little cute extras such as the ability to add decorations to the island that Sonic and Tails reside on during the journey.


In Closing

Sonic Rush Adventure took what worked in the first Nintendo DS game, cut out all the crappy bits and added new elements that, although might be gimmicky to an extent, really suit the Sonic universe (or Blaze's universe, if you want to be picky).

The levels are tight, with stage design and bosses that haven't felt this original since Sonic CD. A great wealth of longevity has been built in to a game that has clearly had real effort and dedication spent on it. This has been the best example of a Sonic game in years, even surpassing Sonic Rush, and long may we see this handheld series evolve even further.


NOTE: This was given a score of 10/10 at time of original publication. We have converted its score to the below 5-star rating based on this original score and adjusted purely to best represent the overall sentiment and original intent of the article. This game has not been re-scored.

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