"How can a review for this game be under 1000 words? Such a word count does give this game enough credit."

Sonic Riders: This game came out in 2006. I bet you can now guess the word count of this review.

Story: ****(1/4)/*****

Personally, I loved the story concept of Sonic Riders. At the beginning, Sonic and his friends are tracking a Chaos Emerald when they see the Babylon Rogues fly by on their Extreme Gear. The trio took the gem and started to go away, but Storm was knocked off his airboard. Sonic then picked up this airboard and went off to pursue the trio, but could not catch them due to him being new to riding airboards. Later, Sonic and his friends gathered in Metal City Plaza where they were interrupted by Dr. Eggman (Robotnik). On his giant building monitor, Eggman said that he put together the EX World Grand Prix. Sonic and his friends then decided to enter this prix in order to both find out what Eggman was planning and find out information about the trio. This storyline, to me, seems a lot better than the Sonic Heroes storyline, so it gets a high rating.

Game Play: *****/*****

The game play of this game is simply superb. It implements some techniques that have not ever been used in a Sonic game before. One of such is turbulence given off by other players ahead of you (and sometimes in other places). All you have to do to enter turbulence is to merely touch it. When you are in it, you can move your control stick left and right quickly to increase your speed. Sometimes you go so fast that you pass up the person whose turbulence you rode! You can even escape turbulence by pressing L + R. If you can utilize the maximum potential for the awesomeness of turbulence, it should never become a disadvantage to you.

Another new thing to me (at least, in the "Sonic universe") is that different characters are able to access different shortcuts. Speed characters (such as Sonic, Jet, and Amy) can grind the rails that are on the course. All you need to do is jump (press A) when you are near a rail and press A again to "connect" to the rail. Sometimes, you can do a trick off a trick area and get on a rail that way (you still have to press A to connect), and you can get a trick rating for this. Also, while on a rail, your air is replenished (slowly, but it is better than nothing). For flight characters (such as Tails and Wave), you can travel through an accelerator. Accelerators look like the floating three-dimensional circle things. A lot of the time, you must perform a trick to reach them. When you do, you can use the control stick to control your direction. Sometimes you must go a little higher or lower (and I've even had to go left and right) to stay in the path of the next accelerator. If you do not connect, oft you will fall and lose valuable time. Also, while going through accelerators, you will gain air. For power characters (such as Knuckles and Storm), you can go through many obstacles that would normally hurt speed and flight characters. When you hit an obstacle, you will gain back air for hitting it. Also, you can power your way through hidden roads by going through an obstacle blocking the path. There are normally more obstacles in that path, so you can gain air and time for choosing the power path. Each character type can be used to full advantage if you know what you are doing. There are also secret ways to get characters to have different abilities (or more than one ability), which makes the game play all the more exciting.

There are many things about the game play that are similar, though. For example, you steer. You can boost. You can air slide. You can brake. You can create a tornado behind you to hit all the other characters. You can perform tricks off of trick zones. All of these things seem boring when I talk about it like that, but the game really does a good job at putting them to use. Steering can be quite easy, and it can be quite hard. It all depends on what board (or other extreme gear) you are using, and how fast you are going. You boost, but it takes different amounts of air depending on what extreme gear you are using. You can air slide, which allows you to turn sharp corners. You can brake...okay, yeah, I seldom ever brake in the game, so many that may be a little useless (but nevertheless handy in some situations). The tornado I also rarely use, but perhaps there are other super skilled players out there who use it frequently to win races against the CPU and their friends. The trick zones remind you of the tricks you can use when you are in a snowboarding game. I have managed to pull off a "six-different-direction" trick and got an "X" rating (I think it was left, up, right, left, right, down, or something like that). The manual only says that you can go up and down, but you can go left and right as well. The basics in this game do not feel stale or overused at all when I am executing them, and that makes the overall game play feel so crisp and fresh.

Okay, let us now talk about the game play on the tracks. Your goal in Solo Mode is to complete three laps and get 1st place (in the beginning, it is 3rd place, but it is 1st place all the time near the end). You cannot fall off, and you cannot mess up and still get 1st place unless you get lucky. It is what you would expect to get first place, though. Anyhow, it really does feel like a racing game, yet keeps the Sonic feel to it. You can grind on rails, fly through three-dimensional circle things, and punch through obstacles (the last of the three with no effort whatsoever). There are also rings in the stage therein getting you to the next level. When you get to the next level, your stats increase and your air gauge increases. Unfortunately, if you fall off the stage, you will lose your level increase, but that is okay. After you have played the levels many times, you will know all the tricks of the level, and falling off will be like jumping into a pit on Sonic 1. I really liked the game play of the tracks in that they work so well. I thought Mario Kart: Double Dash!! had some great tracks, but wow! The tracks in this game work so well, and the unlockable tracks add more honey to the pot.

Graphics: ****/*****

This game shows some awesome graphics. They are not perfect, but you are so busy playing the game that you hardly notice them. The character models look somewhat decent, but the characters in the main movies look beautiful and stunning. It looks very realistic, yet at the same time, you do not forget that you are playing a game while watching them. The anime-like introduction also shows some greatness in the graphics department. In the movies, the mouths move okay now, but still seem to be off at times. The graphics of the extreme gear are smooth and some are really detailed. The levels of this game go really well with the environment of it all. I thought that they could have done some improvement on some parts of the level to make it feel more "next-gen", but it is acceptable. The game seems to run at a constant frame rate, which is good in comparison to Shadow the Hedgehog. It is almost as if while SEGA was making Shadow the Hedgehog, their mind was on making Sonic Riders. The graphics of the level show some copying, but a lot of it shows some creativity and originality. Whether you are pulling a 540 off of a ramp and landing on a rainbow or making your speed meter break as the scenery flies past you, the graphics, simply put, are really awesome.

Sound: ****(3/4)/*****

The sound REALLY fits well with this game. Granted, it is not the typical Sonic Heroes music, but I think we can all live with that. The music is a kind of techno, which fits well with the futuristic feeling of the game. The only thing I do not like is that there seems to be less music than in other Sonic games. Of course, then again, it is better to have less music that sounds great than much music that sounds like crap--this game definitely fits the former.

Voice Acting: ****/*****

This has had a major improvement in comparison to other Sonic games. In my opinion, Sonic does not sound too good at times, but then again, that could just be due to the lines given to him. The voice of Tails really fits in well, and for some reason, I have gotten used to the voice Knuckles uses. Amy sounds as good as ever, and Eggman (although with a new voice actor) sounds the same. Perhaps the voice acting does not bother me that much because I watch a moderate amount of Sonic X. All-in-all, if you survived through the voices in other Sonic games, the voices in this game should not have one iota of effect.

Unlockables: *****/*****

You really can't get any better unlockables in this game, in my opinion. Sure, there will always be people wanting more and more AND MORE, but you have to be realistic. Some basic unlockables include movies and sound. Movies are unlocked by playing story mode, as well as music. If you can complete Grand Prix mode and get the gold, you can unlock a new stage! There are many unlockable stages in this game, all of which are fun. There are also many unlockable characters. Some of these are predictable, whereas others you would have no idea they were going to be in it. The movies, sound, stages, and characters that are to be unlocked are enough to keep the gamer interested for a long while.

Challenge: *****/*****

If you think other Sonic games are hard, then you are really going to have to work in order to pass this game's many tests. You must get 1st place in many areas of Solo Mode in order to continue to the next track (in comparison with other racing games which only require you to finish in the top three). Also, in Grand Prix mode, you can finish in 1st place the first four tracks and get 4th place in the 5th, and that can be enough to keep you from getting the gold. I love the challenge of this game. It is so invigorating that I have to be both skillful and move eftsoons (instead of one or the other) in order to complete the game.

Replayability: *****/*****

The only way you could ever get bored with this game is if you have played it for 15 hours each day for 100 days in a row. Then, you might have all the courses memorized, all unlockables unlocked, all the gold obtained in the missions, all extreme gear obtained, Solo Mode completed, and Grand Prix mode completed with 50/50, but if you are not an obsessed player, then this game has much replayability.

Overall: 37/40 = 92.5% = 9/10

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are a hardcore Sonic fan, then you REALLY should buy this game. You would not die without it, but as a Sonic fan, you would miss out on a whole lot of fun. If you are not a Sonic fan, then I suggest you rent the game first. This is not your typical easy Sonic game. The general public agrees that the game is much harder than most other Sonic games, but such difficulty does not come without its reward.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/27/06


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