Sonic Rush (Nintendo DS) - Review by Caleb
Sonic the Hedgehog is nothing short of a videogaming legend. Our spunky blue speed-demon was originally intended as Sega's answer to Nintendo's Mario, but Sonic ended up as an entirely different character with just as large of a fanbase. Unfortunately, unlike Mario, Sonic was unable to gracefully make the jump to 3D. His first venture into this realm, on the Sega Dreamcast, was met with both love and hatred. Some fans still loved Sonic in his new 3D Sonic Adventure, but most were entirely turned off by the broken gameplay and the absence of the original Sonic formula. Since then, the 3D Sonic games have deterioated rapidly (the newest one, Shadow the Hedgehog, is nothing short of a disaster). However, thanks to Gameboy Advance, Sonic has lived on in all of his 2D greatness, and with Sonic Rush he now makes his debut onto the Nintendo DS.
This is where Sonic Rush really shines. The gameplay is near-perfect, delivering you with an exhilirating sense of speed and some of the most addictive gameplay of any platformer ever. Sonic is as fast as ever, possibly even faster, and continues to zip his way through loop-the-loops, pinball zones, giant slot machines, jungle treeways, and every other imaginable "racecourse" you can think of.
In previous Sonic games, one central flaw of the gameplay was the fact that the game seemed to "cheat". One minute Sonic would be spinning along at 200 mph, the next minute an enemy you couldn't possibly have seen just LEAPS out of nowhere directly in front of you and causes you to lose all your hard-earned rings. Suffice it to say that this was annoying at best. Thanks to the new "Trick" system in Sonic Rush, this is much less of an issue than before. By gaining enough speed and performing enough mid-air tricks, you boost up your "Rush" meter. When your Rush meter is high enough, you can utilize the Dash attack to become an invisible hedgehog projectile and eliminate such enemies right before you bump into them.
Be assured, Sonic Rush has some of the best, most addictive gameplay of any platformer ever made. I should note that this game introduces a new character, Blaze the Cat, but she really isn't any different from Sonic so she doesn't warrant much comment. The game also features a multiplayer race mode (very similar to the one some will remember from Sonic 2 on the Genesis), but this multiplayer seems more like an added extra than a planned game feature, and probably won't entertain you for very long.
Sonic controls entirely with the D-pad, which is definitely a good thing since control with the touch screen would have made this game impossible to play. If you have ever played a 2D Sonic game before, you know exactly how this game controls. You really only use one button, which performs your jumping, spinning, and virtually every action except the Dash attack, which is done via the R button. The control in this game is highly responsive and never feels the least bit clunky (which was a problem in one of the Sonic Advance games).
The 2D graphics don't impress as much as Castlevania DoS, but they still look excellent nonetheless. The 3D portions of the game (primarily boss fights) look great and offer a nice diversion from the gameplay. Don't be alarmed: they're still sidescrolling, and never "free-roaming" 3D.
Some fans might be upset that most of the classic Sonic tunes are missing, but the new music is just as good. It's fast-paced and gets your blood pumping, much like the gameplay, and it always suits the environment. The sound is just about as good as it can get, but there really aren't that many sounds at all, not that it matters.
The game plays across both screens equally and displays yet another great use for the DS screen: vertical superiority. Sonic Rush proves that the DS can provide a unique experience that would be impossible on any other system, due to screen-size limitations. The game seemlessly into the top and bottom into one game, and Sonic will constantly move between the two screens. This is never annoying and never breaks your concentration. In fact, it gives you a much better view than any other Sonic game thanks to the fact that you can actually see what's below you now!
If you like platformers, this game is a must-buy, as it is quite possibly the best Sonic game ever made. Aside from Castlevania DoS, this is certainly the best 2D sidescroller released all year. This game can also last quite a while if you take time to collect Chaos gems and get all the unlockables.
Pro: Excellent, addictive gameplay. Great musical and graphical presentation.
Con: Second character doesn't really add any replay value. Lackluster multiplayer.
Final score: 9.1