Backbone Sonic Rivals

Sonic's 15 years old and he just keeps going, and going, and going...

Backbone Sonic Rivals
  • Backbone Sonic Rivals
  • Backbone Sonic Rivals
  • Backbone Sonic Rivals
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Good graphics

Cons

  • Multi-player is flawed

Bottom Line

Those who love to obsessively collect things and meet objectives will have a great time, but for many, Sonic Rivals is just a quick pick-up-and play that doesn't make you work too hard.

Would you buy this?

Where is Tails? Where is everyone for that matter? In Sega's Sonic Rivals, Dr. Eggman has trapped Sonic's friends in cards, and it's up to Sonic to free them from Eggman's clutches (seriously). That is, if he can beat out his competition to reach the doctor first.

In Sonic Rivals, the majority of the game is race to the finish between Sonic, Knuckles, Shadow, Silver or Metal Sonic. In single player mode, you have the option to play in story, challenge or cup circuit contests. Story mode changes depending on what character you're racing as, and involves two stages of plain racing followed by a boss battle. The story also changes slightly depending on which character you're racing as.

Challenge mode presents you with various objectives to complete on each track with three levels of difficulty. Cup Circuit involves pre-selected sets of courses in which you race your rival in a best-of competition.

In addition to the new game modes, the game has seen the expected upgrades in terms of graphics and sound. Graphically, the game has leapt ahead on the PSP with sharp, detailed and colourful graphics. The background music is energetic and the monosyllabic voice acting keeps the competitive atmosphere and characters fresh.

While the game has seen anticipated upgrades in terms of graphics and sound, the heart of the game is essentially the same as past Sonic games: go fast. The objective of the game is simple, but in order to actually win this flat-out race to the end, you need to take every opportunity you are given. Those opportunities present themselves as chances to rebound off your opponent or "jostle" them, which is a nice way of saying beating down your rival and shoving them into a face-plant in the middle of the track. There are also a myriad of special attacks and power-ups that can be grabbed as your tear through the race course. Each special involves an offensive or defence effect that depends on whether you are in first or second place.

The boosts are what help alleviate the game's plain forward-moving monotony. For all of the game's fast action and flashy graphics, more often than not, your finger is glued to the right D-pad button with little else for you to do. Sonic may be constantly moving, but there are times where you simply watch Sonic blast through an accelerator and into a series of loops and down a stretch. The game is less a test of racing skills and more a test of reaction time as you wait in anticipation of the next boost. Also, the fact that the game is purely racing leaves you little time to appreciate the detailed graphics of each stage as you are mostly focused on running headlong forward.

Sonic Rivals includes a multiplayer mode that allows you to connect to a friend through Wi-fi connection. However, the biggest flaw in Sony's gaming systems as compared to Nintendo's are its multiplayer capabilities; Nintendo systems are built for multiple players, Sony systems are not. This is never more apparent than in racing games such as Sonic as you are limited to no more than a two-person race. In Sonic Rivals, more often than not, you can't even see your opponent due to the many possible paths in a course, and thus the feeling of actually competing against your friend is lost.

The game is easy to pick up and great to look at, but there's little to it. It has high replay value in the form of challenge objectives, different stories, collectible cards and varying paths for each track. However, when you really look at it, the game has only a handful of areas and only two real tracks per area.

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