Sonic Rush Adventure
Screw those 3-D adventures. Sonic sticks to his 2-D roots and it pays off big time.
The last time a good Sonic game was made available, it was in the form of the Nintendo DS platforming game Sonic Rush. Now, keep in mind that was two years ago, people. Since that time, we've had to endure the forgettable Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Nintendo Wii (yes, it sucked -- when's the last time you played it?) and the even worse Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3 and Xbox 360, a game so ridiculously underdesigned that it made you literally scratch your head out of sheer confusion. (What other game forces you to play a guessing game with a princess' commanding team while she's being kidnapped?!) Fortunately, the good Sonic action has returned in Sonic Rush Adventure, a worthwhile sequel to his 2005 thrill ride.
In Adventure, Sonic and Tails end up on a tropical island, battling the evil forces of a pirate out to find a mysterious artifact that will give him unlimited power. Also seeking out the artifact is Blaze the Cat, a character who made her debut in the original Rush. Sonic and Blaze have to work together, running through a series of levels in order to stop the pirate's mechanical forces while avoiding traps and working with the occasional side object -- in this case, hovercrafts and other sea vehicles.
See, with the help of Tails, Sonic acquires these vehicles, which then lead to 3-D racing stages. Sonic doesn't control the direction of the boat, but rather directs it left and right on screen, while occasionally performing a boost to knock out an enemy or a touch-screen draw motion to perform a particular trick. These sequences work really well. Later stages involve shooting action, although they work just as efficiently. However, the real highlight are the 2-D platforming stages. These will remind people why they loved Sonic in the first place -- fast, "blast processing"-fueled stages with multiple paths and loads of power-ups and rings to collect. There are also some 3-D objects thrown in for good measure, to remind people that this is new fangled hardware they're dealing with and not the Sega Genesis.
While the graphics look very well done here, I do wish more was done with the in-game soundtrack. It sounds like a bunch of fun techno and hip-hop, but it doesn't have the same Sonic charm as previous soundtracks. In fact, the theme in general works off the beaten path, with the new pirate character and Marine the assisting pain-in-the-ass seal not coming off nearly as appealing as past Sonic characters. Fortunately, they don't get in the way of the adventure much, as it's still very maintainable.
Along with the single-player mode (which will last you a little while), you can also challenge others in multiplayer action. Sonic Rush Adventure supports both multi-card play and Game Sharing, so players can race against each other while collecting as many rings as possible. Although there's not a fully interactive co-op mode (like there was in Sonic the Hedgehog 2), this is still a big plus for the game, adding a little diversity -- and competition -- to the proceedings.
Had Sonic Rush Adventure gotten some more charm in the character design department and a soundtrack on par with the Sonic CD Japanese song collection, we'd really be getting somewhere as far as this sequel is concerned. Overall, though, it's still a step in the right direction for the 'hog, especially considering where he's been lulling over the past couple of years. Getting back on the right path, even at a dwindled speed, is better than going the opposite way any day of the week. Take a trip on this Adventure, Sonic fans.
What's Hot: Fun, classic 2-D gameplay intertwined with entertaining seacraft sequences; great graphics.
What's Not: The new characters are pretty bland; music isn't as memorable as it should be.