Review by Mightyboy7
"Finally, a good Sonic game after so long. It's not an amazing racing game, but it isn't a bad one either."
I had liked the 3-D Sonic games for a short while, but I quickly grew to hate them. What was odd to me was that when I got a Sonic game, I knew it would hold my attention. I just wouldn't be able to tell how long. Sonic Heroes was fun until I beat it and I had discovered, looking back on it that it's one of the worst Sonic games I had ever played. Shadow the Hedgehog, I liked for a week or two. Then I realized that I was playing a game that it seemed like near no thought was put into. Sonic Rush was pretty good, but like most Sonic games, had no replay value at all. Soon I was wondering why I was even buying these games if I don't even like them. I decided that I would give Sonic Team one last chance and buy whatever crazy idea they'd come up with next. It turns out that although this game is really flawed, it's actually the exact same sense of 3-dimensional speed that I've been waiting for this whole time. It seems like Sonic Team really doesn't understand that games are supposed to be evolving, so they think that they can release some lazy Dreamcast-quality game and expect people to like it. Sonic Riders finally pushes beyond what Sonic used to be and made it into what the series is now.
Very flawed gameplay. The course designs aren't all that creative, even though they're still very fast-paced. What saves the gameplay is that there's a lot of different modes. There's grand prix, a story mode, mission mode, tag mode, and some other stuff too. The story mode does help with adding a plot to the game, but the objectives, although worded differently, still require you to do the same basic thing: come in either 1st place or in the top 3. One thing that doesn't help is that there's not very many tracks. There's around 15 or so, but almost half of them are the exact same tracks as the other half except with a different color palette and a few altering routes. The game would have been much better if the tracks were designed a little better and if there weren't so few courses. When racing, your character has an air gauge. As you ride along the tracks, this air gauge gradually depletes. It depletes faster by boosting, dropping tornadoes, and performing sharp turns. You can refill it by doing tricks, grinding, flying through rings, knocking down obstacles, and several other things. I suppose this adds some difficulty, but it would have been nice if the gauge weren't constantly depleting. Then again, that would make it more like F-Zero GX than it already is. One interesting thing to point out is that Sonic Riders is pretty hard. All the Sonic games since Sonic Adventure have been way too easy, so it's nice to finally have some challenge. Most of the unlockables are tough to get and even the story mode requires some time and effort. There's a good amount of characters to choose from, as well as several different types of vehicles such as boards, bikes, and even shoes. Most of these vehicles are pointless as the game tries to explain how great it is and then once you actually use it, you find that there's some terrible side-effect that ruins any purpose of doing so.
It's a racing game. It's a Sonic game. What do these two have in common other than being really fast? They both have bad stories. Put them together and you get a terrible story. Dr. Eggman (as he's called now) holds a racing contest to get the Chaos Emeralds. The dumb part is why would he make a stupid competition to get a source of power when he could just as easily steal them? Robotnik is getting dumber with every game. Shouldn't he be trying to build "Robotnikland" around now? The dialogue with the cutscenes themselves is actually an okay-written script. Sonic Riders has much more personality than any other Sonic game since the cutscenes (most of the time) try to do much more than get the story across. It actually attempts to be funny. Surprisingly, I did chuckle a few times. (mostly in the Babylon story) Through the story from a deeper stand-point, it tries to be more like a cartoon than a video game.
In the regular game, the graphics are average, but in the CG cutscenes, the game looks flawless other than the awful mouth movement. That could be said about Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog and it applies here as well. Although the graphics and framerate are good, the animations look really stupid.
The music and voice acting is the same as with any Sonic game: bad. Nearly every song sounds like it was thought up in 5 minutes. The theme song is also the worst one yet. It's not 'turn the volume down' bad. It's just that it doesn't even sound like music. At least it doesn't make pathetic attempts to sound good like Sonic Adventure 2 did. The voice acting is also really bad. This ruins most of the humor that it tries to pull off. The voices of the 3 Babylon Rogues, though, I got used to after a few levels. They add to the game's corniness in a way in which it makes the game even more funny.
Since the game is filled with different modes and stuff to unlock all while having a really good challenge there's a great amount of replayability. However the game isn't that much fun when you're not trying to accomplish anything so once you have everything in the game, there's no need to come back to it at all. (Most Sonic games are like that.)
There's a perfect sense of speed that requires you to be constantly thinking instead of constantly holding forward on the control stick while taking a nap. The layout exceeds the sidescrollers in a way, even though they're clearly not as good. Sonic Riders is, without a doubt, the best 3D Sonic yet, even though it has too many flaws keeping it from being outstanding. It'd be nice to own, I suppose, if you're a hardcore Sonic fan or are in dire need of a game similar to F-Zero GX.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/14/06
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