Review by sonic479

Reviewed: 05/30/06 | Updated: 01/10/07

Speed and air combine to form an intense racing game!

Sonic has been in a whole lot of game genres already for the past 15 years. One of many he has appeared on was the racing genre and in the past, the Sonic racing games had major flaws at hand. The Game Gear ones, Sonic Drift and Sonic Drift 2 were horrific due to its simplicity. Then we have Sonic R which is a foot racing game and was a major improvement over the Game Gear titles. But it was still missing something, the lack of courses and modes to play in. Now those are in the past and we head to this generation with a new one called Sonic Riders.

Story - 8/10
While a racing game doesn't require a story of any sort, this game does which is one reason why this part gets a higher score. To start with, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles were in Metal City searching for a Chaos Emerald when suddenly some windows are crashed from a building by three mysterious figures with boards. They were known as the Babylon Rouges. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles tries to stop them but they managed to escape. The next day, Eggman announces the EX World Grand Prix, a tournament who is the best with 'Extreme Gear'. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles didn't want to join at first until the contestants appeared which, coincidentally, were the Babylon Rouges. So they decided to enter.

Gameplay - 9/10
From looking at the interface of the game, many people find it comparable to Kirby Air Ride. In reality though, this game is immensely different from Kirby Air Ride.

Unlike past Sonic racing games, in this game, the uniqueness of racing is by racing with air boards also called Extreme Gear in this game. Extreme Gear are not just limited to air boards though, there are also air motorcycles and air skates which are also called the same thing but air boards are the most common ones used. Air boards float above the ground, similar to the various star vehicles in Kirby Air Ride but what differs from it is that air boards are what they are called: boards with air which brings us to the next important part of the game...

Practically the majority of the game revolves around the air and it is the most important part of the entire game. Air for a board is basically the same as gas for a car. When you race around with air, you lose amounts of it as you race. Essentially, no air means you are in a disadvantage position for the race because you would be forced to move on foot which is much slower than boarding. Luckily, the game provides a lot of ways to replenish air and the styles to doing it are very unique, even though it may seem weird at first.

The air part of the game may annoy beginners of racing but once you get use to it, the factor becomes an excellent part to have. You are essentially started out with a certain amount of air and you will constantly use them when you are racing on the course. Matter of fact, every second you are using air and every action you perform uses air, be it boosting or drifting (also called "air sliding" in this game), you will use air. That's not to say that you can't replenish it, as there are various ways that you can.

One of the ways to replenish air and is the most common way is by performing tricks. Tricks in this game are just as important as the air part of the game. Basically, when you come across designated areas, you can move around to perform tricks. At the end of a trick, you are given a rank from C to X, where C is the worst. The higher the rank, the more air you gain and the speed increases at a slight as well. Given this, tricks can easily determine a winner of the course, as one does good tricks will have a better chance of winning than that of those who do terrible ones. Heck, if you are last place and you perform good tricks throughout the race, you could easily get yourself back to first place. The tricks themselves are actually fantastic, they are very unique and each character has a set of their own tricks they can do and there are tricks that are common to each character. I can't say how much you would be able to see various tricks with various unique names for each. It is really brilliant.

Characters of the Sonic series with some new characters and old characters from other SEGA games make an appearance in this game and luckily, there are a lot of them so you don't have to play with just a certain one over and over again. However, there are many differences between characters and may change your style of playing immensely depending on preferences.

For each character, they are assigned a formation. There are 3 kinds of formations: Speed, Fly, and Power. Depending on your formation, the character is able to do actions that the other formations can't which is also referred to as "special actions". For example, Speed characters can grind on rails scattered throughout the course whereas Fly characters are able to pass through accelerator rings suspended in the air. The special actions they do can help replenish air AND help discover shortcuts found throughout the course and there are a lot of them for each course, and only a few of them are accessible by a certain formation. Formations can also influence which character you rather choose to play as and feel comfortable with. For example, generally, Speed characters have a better top speed, Fly characters have a better acceleration, and Power characters are better at maintaining speed. They also have their downsides, which also affects how you play. Try trying out all of the characters and see which one you prefer.

The courses themselves prove to be astounding. They are large and the layout of them are spectacular, the positions of various shortcuts, trick ramps, and formation places are actually placed around the course really strategically and well. Of course, courses are not complete without obstacles and this game shares a bunch of them, not to mention that the obstacles can lead to your own doom. But that is how racing games are! Finally, the phrase to describe them all: Fast and Intense. In every place, there is action going on, there are very few times to no times to rest and the speed is fast. You can go from first place to last place in just a blink of an eye. It's that fast, and not to mention that the speed of the characters can head up to 200 to 300.

Sonic Riders has a lot of modes to play in, and the multiplayer modes does really well in this game, with a lot of modes to play in. Multiplayer modes include: Normal racing where it is split screen on selected courses, Tag Mode where a player shares a gauge of air with another player/CPU and race another group of two and Battle mode, where you fight against other racers rather than race in two types of modes. For single player, you can play those modes with CPUs, with other modes which includes Time Attack and Grand Prix mode, as well as story and mission mode. In mission mode, you complete missions specified in a fast time as possible.

Graphics - 10/10
Amazing! All the graphics are vividly detailed and you can really see a lot of work has been put in it. The courses are beautifully designed and not to mention very unique and you can easily tell them apart. Everything looks specific, and you can easily tell what the course theme is. For example, for the course, Metal City, it is a futuristic city from the looks of it and Splash Canyon is a valley. You can also see the scattering of water as you skim pass it, as well as the cars passing as obstacles. The cutscenes for story mode are just as astounding as well, brightly designed and excellent character models and background. No doubt, the graphics are awesome.

Music/Sound - 10/10
The music are upbeat and pretty great to listen to, it is actually quite enjoying to listen to and is very catchy as well. Once you play a course long enough, the music starts getting to your head and you actually want to hum along with it. They all also fit the theme, specifically for the courses. Metal City has a techno beat to it, and it sounds awesome. The theme "Sonic Speed Riders", while short, is excellent as well, as it fits the opening scene and the game itself. There are also a lot of sound in this game, especially when you start racing and the countdown to racing or the air sliding starts, the sound is right there and is pretty much good as they match up the timing of the action. The voices are decent as well, they are above average and aren't so annoying to listen to.

Replay Value - 9/10
There is a lot of replay value in this compared to past Sonic racing games. This is mission mode to complete with over 100 missions, a significant amount of it and most of them are not easy to do. There are also unlockables as well as time attack mode to race for the best time for yourself and get the best records. While story mode is not that long lasting, it isn't too much of a problem as a lot of other modes will fulfill it. The game has many things to do that you won't get too bored of it too quickly.

Overall - 9/10
Sonic Riders is the best Sonic racing game to date and it has a whole lot of improved features over the past ones. The various modes to play in single player can last a player pretty long, the multiplayer modes aren't too shabby either and very fun to play with friends. The courses are fun to race around in and are great to play over and over again. Overall, Sonic Riders is a definite game to play.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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