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Matt Keller
07 Dec, 2007

Sonic Rivals 2 Review

PSP Review | The rivalry continues.
Being a Sonic the Hedgehog fan is not a particularly easy thing in this day and age. With releases like Sonic the Hedgehog for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, one starts to think that Sega has nothing but contempt for the character that was once the jewel of their line-up. Consensus opinion suggests that Sonic does his best work alone and in only two dimensions, thus explaining the success of the Sonic Rush series and Sonic’s previous PSP outing, Sonic Rivals. Backbone Entertainment has unfortunately fallen into the trap of adding lots of unnecessary features for the sequel, proving that sometimes more is indeed less.

A lot of Sonic Rivals success was owing to the fact that it was a 2D Sonic game that focused on racing – no forced playing with new characters called “[Noun/Adjective] the [Animal]” or silly fetch quests. Sonic Rivals 2 on the other hand will force one to deal with many of Sonic’s ill-conceived friends in order to fully complete its sleep-inducing narrative section. Robotnik’s snatched a bunch of Chao, and everybody wants to stop him, but because there are so many blasted characters in the game, they all tend to get into each others’ way. To put it simply, the good guys in the game must fight each other in order to be the one that gets to fight Robotnik.

Rogue loves to ride the rocket

Rogue loves to ride the rocket
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Racing forms the basis of the Sonic Rivals experience, and has seen a number of improvements in the second game. Players will go head to head with one other character in a race to the finish. Players can attack each other to gain the advantage or use one of many power-ups. While it’s still really just a case of “left to right”, Sonic Rivals 2 mixes it up by providing players with multiple routes through each level – knowing the best path will really help when one is falling behind. The number of power-ups has been expanded, but players will find the offensive weapons are rarely of any use when they’re trailing; in fact, they’re only really of use to the player in the lead. That’s one of the big issues with the game’s racing too; it’s very difficult to lose the lead when one has it, and very difficult to gain it when one is not right next to the other character. The game also fails to play to the strengths of the characters previously established in the series, rather opting to give them the same speed and power.

The other major issue with Sonic Rivals 2's racing portion is the sense of speed. Compared to all other Sonic games, new and old, Sonic Rivals 2 just cannot compete. Putting it side by side with this year's other Sonic game, Sonic Rush Adventure is like trying to get a geriatric man to do a triathlon against a top athlete - a really sad contest. The lack of speed really dampens the game's fun factor too.

We’d be able to make do with having to endure Sonic’s array of fluffy and rather dull friends if Sonic Rivals 2 was just about racing, but the game forces players into these poorly designed battle sequences. These sequences pit two of the animals head to head in a small arena, with three rings a piece – the aim is to hit the other player once to knock the rings out, and again when their ring counter is zero. There’s no real skill involved in the contest – once the two competitors are on the same platform, it’s a frustrating button mashing competition with a frequently random result.

Barrels of fun

Barrels of fun
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Sonic Rivals 2 follows the fairly typical zone structure seen in most Sonic the Hedgehog games to date, with a number of acts followed by a boss. The boss fights seek to combine the battle sequences with a standard boss fight. Like the rest of the game, there seems to be a fight between the good characters for the right to beat the bad character, so not only does one have to figure out the boss’ pattern and defeat it, but they also have to attack and defend themselves from the other character. It seems pretty cool at first, but gets progressively more annoying as one moves through each zone.

The story mode is not the only mode available in Sonic Rivals 2, but the player has to endure it in order to see the better parts the game has to offer, such as the special cup mode and free play mode. Most of the game’s longevity comes from collecting cards which are awarded for accomplishing various objectives throughout the game. These cards bear classic Sonic art, and some reward players with new outfits and such, but it really is just an artificial method of expanding the game’s play time. Ad-hoc multiplayer is also available, but limited solely to the Single Event and Circuit modes.

Someone wants a refund for Sonic 360/PS3

Someone wants a refund for Sonic 360/PS3
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Colourful backdrops provide most of the visual splendour in Sonic Rivals 2, but players will not see them from the outset – the initial levels of the game are actually quite bland in their appearance. Track designs are pleasing for the most part, offering all matter of twists, turns and loops – but we’d really hoped that the game would run at a more blistering pace. The game has a number of frame rate issues that really needed to be ironed out; speed is crucial to the Sonic experience, and since the sense of speed is sluggish enough, one doesn't need the action to be dropping frames too. Character models in the game could also stand to be a little cleaner. Visuals are probably the only highlight of Sonic Rivals 2, as the soundtrack and voice acting are enough to make one wish they were deaf. Guitar strangling riffs with cheesy lyrics and a woeful script will have players reaching for the mute button on their PSP within minutes.

Sonic Rivals 2’s racing component could convince some players that the game is deserving of an above average assessment, but the one on one fights and boss battles cheapen the experience. Frankly, the whole concept of racing in the Sonic the Hedgehog series could be better served by a mini-game as has been previously done. Sega needs to listen to what the fans want; a 2D game, focused completely on Sonic, with no silly new friends, plots that only appeal to weird teenagers that like to dress up as animals, and no superfluous mini-games. Sonic Rivals 2 is such an unapologetically average experience that it makes us think that perhaps this is a franchise not worth saving.
The Score
Sonic games used to be about speed and fun, but Sonic Rivals 2 offers neither.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Sonic Rivals 2 Content

New Sonic Rivals 2 images
07 Nov, 2007 Screens of the blue blur's second PSP outing.
Sonic Rivals 2 announced
21 Jun, 2007 More mammal-on-mammal racing action.
Sonic and the Secret Rings Review
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3 Comments
6 years ago
Makes me glad I picked up the first one on the cheap instead of waiting for this one.
6 years ago
Quote
Consensus opinion suggests that Sonic works best alone in 2D
I guess SA2 sucked then, and SR1 had more than just Sonic FYI. Matt what proof do you have to back up, because that has false written all over it.
Quote
Sega needs to listen to what the fans want...
Those aren't what the fans want and you know it. Have you even bothered seeing what they say on this? Even the fans don't know what they want as of now from Sega, as thier ideas are terrible. That stuff is just hypocritical.
6 years ago
denimx, Its pretty much globally accepted that the 3D Sonic games suck. If you want proof then just take a look around. Also Sega fans (and any gamer alike) know what they want from Sega; to stop releasing lame 3D Sonic games.

I found two articles that I think you ought to read about Sonic, I guess this is some 'proof' for you.

How Sega All But Ruined Sonic the Hedgehog

How Sega Can Bring Sonic the Hedgehog Back To Its Glory
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  6/12/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2006

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