There's a lot riding on this game. In recent years our good friend Sonic the Hedgehog has slowly been losing his street-cred, transforming from the hip and smug hero of the Mega Drive games to an out-of-date character whose attempts to act 'cool' come across more like an embarrassing dad joining his kids at a My Chemical Romance gig because he's 'with it'. It's safe to say that since Sonic gained a voice, he's lost some of the attitude that gave him his success.
Indeed, the best Sonic games in recent years have been the ones in which he barely spoke, which have also been the titles made for his former 16-bit rival, Nintendo. The Sonic Advance games for the GBA and Sonic Rush on the DS have easily been the only decent Sonic games this millennium, so can the blue blur's debut on Nintendo's latest console finally be the first truly excellent 3D Sonic game?
Sonic And The Secret Rings is based on the Arabian Nights tales, and the story goes that one day while Sonic is reading the book, a genie pops out and tells our hero that some of the pages have gone missing. The genie gives Sonic a special ring that allows him to enter the book's worlds, and so it's up to the hedgehog to retrieve the missing pages.
A Bit Prickly
If you've been following this game's progress over the past few months you'll know that Sonic is controlled by holding the Wii Remote on its side and turning it left and right similar to the control method found in racing games. For the most part this works really well, though there are the odd occasions where the game will switch to a dramatic camera angle and throw your
sense of direction off a bit. This can be annoying at first, but once you get used to the way the game works you'll quickly become accustomed to it.
A Slow Start
In fact, the thing that'll have you worrying
at first isn't the way Sonic And The Secret
Rings controls but rather its speed. You see, despite all the talk about the game being insanely fast, it does start off at a pretty laidback, leisurely pace. As the first level begins its '3, 2, 1' countdown you'll be expecting Sonic to blast off in a burst of speed, but may be slightly disappointed to see him simply start running at what can only be described as jogging pace. Rest assured, though, that this is just to get newcomers used to the unique control system, and the pace soon picks up, reaching ridiculously fast speeds in later stages.
Obviously, with the game speeding along and the camera angle changing frequently, you'd expect that it would be tricky to attack the enemies that roam each level. Thankfully, a handy lock-on function has been provided. When you hold the 2 button Sonic crouches down and charges up a jump. As he does this, green targets appear around nearby enemies. Letting go of 2 makes Sonic jump, and the nearest enemy's green target will turn red. When this happens, you simply flick the Remote forward and Sonic performs a boost attack that homes straight in on the enemy, destroying them.
If there's another enemy, the red target then appears around them and a quick flick will see to them too. This means that if Sonic comes face-to-face with eight enemies or so, they can all be dispatched with a single jump and a combination of homing attacks, taking them out one by one.
On the subject of controls, one thing that worried us about early versions of the game was how tricky it was to get Sonic to walk backwards in case you missed a jump or got stuck behind a wall. Luckily, this has been fixed and it's now a simple case of tilting the Remote backwards to make him start slowly walking back. So despite initial concerns the controls have actually turned out pretty well.