It is not that surprising to see the countless platformers are making transitions from being just plain platformers into other ventures. Mario really started this trend with his move to Kart Racing with Mario Kart, which has translated into one of Nintendo’s most compelling franchise. Others have gone into this trend and none have been more deserving of a racing game then Sonic the Hedgehog, whose entire gameplay is based on speed, which seems like it would translate perfectly into a racing game. So how does SEGA rise to the challenge with their first try at a Sonic Racing game on the PSP? Read our full review of Sonic Rivals to find out!
I have thought many concepts have made sense, but one has never made as much sense as making a Sonic game turned into a racing title. SEGA has finally taken up the challenge and hopes to be able to turn this around and continue the success of the Sonic franchise on handhelds. So how does Sonic Rivals do in becoming a great racing game?
Instead of using karts, cars, or any other vehicles, the speed in this game is solely done by your character, just as it would in a Sonic video game. Your choices of characters are a bit on the limited side, but each of the characters (all from the Sonic franchise) have some unique styles that really work well in giving a variety, depending on which character you choose. The game is broken down into six different zones, each with two chapters apiece. It is an interesting breakdown for the gameplay, which is followed by the worst Sonic story I have ever witnessed. You can understand the desire to put a story into this game, however the implementation is struggling to even make ends meet.
So let’s talk about the gameplay, which to me was a lot different then what I was expecting from this game. To me Sonic Rivals does a great job of capturing the speed of all of the great Sonic titles, what it doesn’t create is an overly pleasing racing experience. The levels are constructed beautifully, but most of your time will be just holding down the forward button and hitting a few jump sequences. Most of the time your just sitting back watching the interesting parts of the environments fly by, and your interaction with the levels just don’t seem all that important.
To the game’s credit, the Boss stages of the game are some of the more interesting races, as they seem to give the game its most challenging segments. For the most part, if you have any skill in racing games then you’re not going to have any problem getting through this game. Which brings up my second and most crucial gripe against Sonic Rivals, is that it is much, much to short. First off when you have the different races in the same Zone they do feel nearly identical, and thus the six different zones just don’t cut it in terms of replay value.
For all of Sonic Rivals shortcomings there is a part of me that still did enjoy this game, and I think that mostly comes from the fact that this is a Sonic game. Like I mentioned earlier the developers did do a very nice job of capturing the Sonic style that did make the entire experience a bit more enjoyable. The Sonic atmosphere that comes alive in this game does help the entire racing experience, and even though the game isn’t overly deep it still has some things to enjoy.
By far the most impressive portion of Sonic Rivals is the presentation on the PSP, which is absolutely gorgeous. Sonic Rivals does an amazing job with the character models, as the whole Sonic crew is brought to the PSP in their full glory. The game impresses with its great use of color and detail that just brings the whole experience to life. The developers who have done a few PSP games in the past continue to really show their talent developing for the platform with just a great looking Sonic game.
With the visuals being as strong as they are, it are a bit of a disappointment to see the gameplay not live up to our expectations. Sonic Rivals really lacks that extra piece of depth that could have taken this game to the next level. The racing just doesn’t seem to have all of the depth that you would expect from a Sonic racing game, and the lack of interaction in the races makes it a bit tougher to continue to enjoy this game. The game does have a good base for a racing game but the races don’t have the competitive feel that you would expect.
In the end, Sonic Rivals is a game that has a lot of potential but it unfortunately doesn’t manage to capitalize on this. Sonic Rivals is a game that you will find some enjoyment in playing, but it just doesn’t have that depth to make you want to continue playing it for long periods of time. The game looks great, but the gameplay just doesn’t have enough to bring it to a level that keeps it enjoyable for extended periods of time.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.