Review by Jeanette_White

Reviewed: 01/09/07

It has its flaws, but it's a fantastic game, worth the 10.

I first played this game four days before Twilight Princess was to release. It was just five days before what I assumed would be the best game ever was going to release, and I needed something to take my mind off the excitement. I first rented Shadow the Hedgehog… My hopes weren’t exactly high as I returned the game in favor of another in the franchise, but I was not disappointed. Shadow may have sucked, but make no mistake: This is a fantastic game.

Immersion: 8/10
The game features the most realistic (>_> It’s a game about a blue hedgehog on a hoverboard, but...) graphic representation of speed I’ve ever seen, and it makes this game a real joy to play. But, some things weren’t as well-done… the characterization is what hurts the game. The latest Sonic games are known for having about a trillion characters, all with their own distinct personality. They seem entirely discarded for this game, as every character can be summarized by one word.

In one scene, Tails is explaining the mechanics behind how the Extreme Gear (the boards) float to Knuckles, and before he even gets to the confusing technobabble, a train whistle starts blowing and his eyes turn around inside his head. This is by far the most extreme instance, but it’s enough to grind my gears.

The other problem with characterization is the voice actors. Sega apparently decided that since Rouge, for example, was just an unlockable with no storyline significance anyway, they would spend about ten minutes voicing all her lines, and it shows. It sounds like she is a forty+ year old woman, who is talking down to her whippersnapper competition. “Better behave yourseeeelf...” my ass. There’s no option for Japanese voices.

The storyline itself is wonderfully cheesy, like they always should have been. There’s not much in it, just Dr. Eggman holds an EX World Grand Prix... not just any race, but a special race, to see who’s the fastest, and the winner gets all the chaos emeralds wagered.

There are three new characters in this game, Jet the Hawk, Wave the Swallow, and Storm the Albatross. They’re the Babylon Rogues, treasure hunters after the lost city of Babylon, and each Rogue acts as a counterpart to a hero.

The music in the game is catchy, but merely okay. It neither helps nor hurts the game.

Fun: 10/10

Whenever this game is brought up on message boards, the same question is inevitably brought up, “He can run at supersonic speeds! Why is he on a hoverboard!? Aside from the obvious answer, (He’s in a hoverboard competition!) the answer is turbulence. It’s basically wind that trails your opponent, and you can go onto it to go faster and pull off jumps to refill air and catch up to your opponents. Because of turbulence, your style will be drastically different depending on who you are racing, and it’s a total blast to play.

Air is used to power your gear, and when you use it all up, you get off your board and run considerably slower. It can be refilled at pit stops, by doing tricks, or by using your character type’s special ability. The characters in the game are separated into three types, Speed, Power, and Flying. Speed type characters can grind on rails, allowing for shortcuts or just to cut off your turbulence if someone is using it to catch up to you. Flying types can fly through some of the more difficult areas, and Power types can punch through obstacles like cars. The three are basically different shortcuts, but they play differently.

Another complaint some people might have is that this is the only difference between most characters. It is, a lot of them are exactly alike save for their attacks.

Attacks are used to slow your opponent and get rid of their rings to level them down (you can go up to level 3, and they’re basically slight statistical advantages.) They’re different for every character. For example, Sonic has a Spin Dash at levels 2 and 3, which boosts his speed and lets him plow through characters, and Amy Rose has her Piko Piko hammer, which flattens characters, slowing them and making them unable to jump.

Another point is the expertly designed courses, they each have tons of shortcuts and secrets in them, and they all have one 100-ring capsule hidden, which will instantly level you to level 3 if you can find them. Some might find this unfair, but items can be turned off in the options.

It is rather difficult to get used to, though. Part of this is due to how revolutionary it is, but the learning curve is still more of a learning cliff.

Longevity: 8/10

The stories are about five races long each, but they are really hard, one of which had me stuck for a few days. This game revives the classic NES style of kicking my ass and making me enjoy it, and I appreciate that, but if you are easily frustrated try a different genre.

After you clear the two stories, there are missions for each of the Babylon characters that you have to interfere with and they provide some added challenge. Also, there are two cups of the Ex World Grand Prix outside of the story mode, and trying for a gold medal in these can take dedicated weekends at a time. There are extra characters to unlock as well, including some cult Sega favorites from outside the franchise. With any luck a sequel could be the SSB of racing in the future. There are also different boards, including skate and cycle types, which all play differently and are fun to learn. The price to buy these from the shop can be rather steep; you can only keep 100 rings max from each race and most cost upwards of 1500 rings, but I find myself being more than provided for by buying them as I finish getting used to the previous one.

Overall this game does have some slight flaws, but even if the press didn’t care for it, I highly recommend it.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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