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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: SEGA
Developed by: Sonic Team
Genre: Racing
Players: 1-4
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: February 21, 2006
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Unless you were or are a hardcore Sonic the Hedgehog fan, you probably never played or heard of Sonic R. That was Segaís first attempt at the racing genre back in October of 1997. Though it wasnít received as a topnotch title within the franchise, it did garner a fan falling and worthy of another attempt later down the road. Little over 8 years later, Sega is at it once again, and are aiming to prove that Sonic is not only fast on his feet, but also on a board.

  • Sonicís first new racing game in nearly a decade
  • Normal Mode provides conventional racing action
  • Story Mode follows Sonicís adventures in search of Chaos Emeralds
  • Multiplayer fun with Tag and Survival modes (split screen)
  • Unlock additional characters, racetracks, and Extreme Gear units
  • Burn up wide-open courses on airboards, battling computer or human opponents and pulling amazing tricks for bonuses
  • Revolutionary slipstreaming gameplay - Opponents generate half-pipe-like turbulence on the course - use it to your advantage!
  • A cast of familiar characters are joined by a gang of new faces - All have their own unique skills

Nowadays itís hard to find a truly original racing title, which is the case with Sonic Riders. You will see similarities to titles like F-Zero GX, Mario Kart, and even snowboarding titles like SSX and 1080. But through all this, Sonic Team was able to throw several twists into the plot to keep things interesting and gamers attentive to what they are doing. One of the things you have to keep an eye on is your air tank. Unlike games like Mario Kart, you do have to worry about whether you will be walking the rest of the race or not. Sonic Team included several ways you can keep your air tank full. One is through pulling off various tricks during the race, and the other is by stopping at several pit stops throughout each race to get a refill.

Another one of the twists to the formula is the collection of rings. Once you collect a certain amount of rings, you have the ability to level up your character, which allows you to use one of three special abilities. Depending on which level you are on, these special abilities will let you gain access to special shortcuts that put in first place. The abilities are speed, flight, and power. By utilizing the speed ability, you are able to grind the rails much quicker. The flight ability allows you to fly through hoops, and the power ability allows you to break through certain barriers and stun your opponents momentarily.

Sonic Riders is broken down into 5 different modes:

Story Mode is divided into two different parts, the Heroes and the Babylons. The twist that lies within the story mode is that you will have to play through the Heroes quests to obtain the complete story surrounding these races. Once you complete the Hero part, you unlock the Babylon part. After playing through the Babylon part, you have to go back into the Heroes part to see what you mist and to get a complete understanding of whatís going on.

Mission Mode will be seen as your hardest mode of them all. There are 100 missions to beat, but the twist that lies within this mode is that to unlock all the characters, boards, etc., you must beat each mission with a gold rating, which is no east task and very time consuming.

Normal Mode has three options within itself. There is Free Race, Time Attack, and World Grand Prix. Free Race allows you to get familiar with various levels before you take part in Mission Mode or Story Mode. Time Attack allows you to race against the clock, improving your race time and skills, World Grand Prix plays out similar to the Mario Kart series. You race on a total of five tracks. Depending on the position you place, you earn points. And just like Mario Kart, thereís an added bonus for finishing first overall, or within each race.

Tag Mode requires a lot of thinking and planning. You either can team up with a friend or a computer partner and must race sharing one air tank.

Survival Battle is a living testament to the Mario Kart battle formula. For this mode, you must attack your opponents into you are the last man standing. And in Survival Race, you must hold onto the last Chaos Emerald and get through a checkpoint.

Once you unlock the various boards within the game, you can head over to the Shop and acquire them using the various rings that you picked up during your races. But in regards to gameplay, itís pretty much straight forward. It may take you a bit to get use to the controls and the style fo each character, but after a few hours with each one, you will be able to challenge any of your friends and even hit the track with your least favorite character and still kick the computerís butt.

Flying through the levels faster than you can say ďsamsoniteĒ, itís hard to admire the time that the Sonic Team put into the landscaping of the different levels. Seeing that the races move at a smooth 60fps (frames per second), the average gamer wonít notice the intricate detail and coloration put into the backgrounds.

In regards to the character models, they look offbeat. The bodies on characters like Sonic and Knuckles seem a little elongated, and when it comes to Dr. Eggman, it seems that he took one too many trips to the donut shop as his body seems more rounder and stout that in previous titles. You will also notice on a few characters, they sport subtle gear that reminds you of a snowboarder. You will also notice how rather plain the airboards look. Though one will not pay that much attention to what they are riding on, compared to the surroundings and the character detail, the lack appeal and flare.

The HUD utilized within Sonic Riders is rather simple, but what this title needed so you could keep your eyes on the race. Everything from your position within the race, to how fast you are going, to your lap time are placed along the sides of the screen, giving you a big window within the middle to keep attract of whatís going on.

When it comes to dialogue, donít expect a whole lot of talking going on. There are conversations during cutscenes, but for the most part, the talk is kept to a minimum. Seeing how this is a high-speed racer, the music is mostly of the rock genre, which fits this game quite well. Though there are a few levels where they could have chosen something else, you canít really knock them for their creativity. The biggest let down comes in the category of commentating. The female commentator only has a few phrases that she will repeat over and over, so it will get tiresome to hear them all the time.

In regards to the replay value, this game as quite a bit that will occupy your time. Ranging for purchasing all the different boards, to unlocking all the secret characters, you could spend a few days playing this title over and over. But if you arenít into racing titles or Sonic, then I would suggest waiting until the price comes down. Those two factors alone would drive you to want to play this game and even try to unlock everything it has incorporated within it.

From a gamerís standpoint, you have to admire Segaís desire to change Sonic from a platformer to a racer. There are tons of thrills, high-speed racers and a host of characters to choose form and unlock. You also have solid selection of characters and a whole new storyline, which is tailored to the title instead of pulling from the Sonic Adventure titles of before. But there are one too many things that plague this title from being what it truly can be. One is the fact that they tried pulling off elements found within titles like F-Zero GX (Since of speed) and they style and grace of snowboarding games like SSX and 1080. If you put Sonic Riders and F-Zero side by side, you will notice that F-Zero plays and seems quicker. In regards to the comparison between SSX and Sonic Riders, each character is able to pull of sweet tricks and catch air, which is a nice touch, but fails to keep a style of its own.

But what makes you wonder what Sonic was thinking is the fact that they put one of the fastest mainstream characters on a board, when we all know he can outrun everyone on foot. Hate them or love them, they have created an entertaining racer that will occupy your time for a few hours at least. If your not in Sonic that much, the title is still worth a play through, even if you have to rent it or play with a friend.


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