Official Nintendo Magazine

Log in to access exclusive Nintendo content, win prizes and post on our forums. Not a member yet? Join for free

Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity Review

The hedgehog feels the need for speed

And there we were, thinking that riding a hoverboard would be the most straightforward thing in the world. Turns out we were wrong though.

It's not just the whole balancing thing you've got to keep track of - there are all those stunt ramps to jump over, ensuring you leap as close to the edge as possible while remembering to turn in a direction at the same time to earn gravity points. And finding those straights of track where you can use up said gravity points in one high-speed dash. And turning tight corners using your board's built-in gravity powers. And collecting exactly the right amount of rings to power up your board. And remembering to watch for power-ups, shortcuts and vertical walls that can be ridden. All while trying not to fall off or get squished by anything that gets in your way.

Click to view larger image
If you think that sounds complicated, that's probably because it is. Or, at least, it is until you finally get to grips with it all and decide that maybe, just maybe, this hoverboard malarkey isn't so bad after all. Unfortunately, we're not sure how many people are going to be bothered to push through that barrier. Chances are, many will give up at the fiddly 'what the heck am I doing?' stage that plagues the opening part of the game. And that's a shame because while it's certainly not the best Sonic game around, it still has enough charm to make it worth a look.

That Sega has tried to turn a straightforward racing game into something with much more depth and complexity is admirable, although even we're not entirely convinced with the premise. Sonic's homeworld of Mobius is in dire peril! Meteorites are raining from the sky! Once docile robots are now running riot! Dr Eggman's still evil, even though the problems aren't technically his fault! Oh no!

Throw in the return of the still-annoying Babylon Rogues (three thieving birds from the original Sonic Rivals) and you've got all the makings of a 'proper' story that sees you trying to outrun killer robots, uncover secret ruins and save the world from ultimate destruction. The only problem is, it's all just a ruse. Regardless of the task put in front of you in Story mode, it always says in brackets "Finish first!". It's hardly unsurprising - it is a racing game, after all - but even so, it made us laugh.

Tilt And Tumble

Unintentional humour aside though, we can't say that Zero Gravity isn't fun because it is. You just need to get used to the clunky controls and multitude of elements that stand between you and the ability to play the game with any kind of skill. Rather than feeling like you're in total command of your hoverboard gear, you'll usually find yourself holding the Remote at full tilt, getting increasingly frustrated at your character's inability to copy your actions.

Click to view larger image
Characters lean lazily into corners instead of turning tightly, often seeing you slam into the wall at the most inopportune moment. With a complete lack of Nunchuk support, the only saving grace is that the D-pad can be used with far more success. After a brief period of mastering that, things become much easier.

Well, as easy as it can be when the last thing you need to concentrate on is actually racing.

You see, winning isn't possible by just holding down the accelerator and taking the racing line as you'd expect - if you don't collect rings to upgrade your gear and then use said upgrades to take the shortcuts specific to your gear's powers, you're guaranteed to lose. It's this element that adds depth to the proceedings because you're constantly looking for new routes through the game's tracks, but it can also prove confusing to begin with. Complex City

While the game isn't exactly newcomer-friendly though, it makes up for it in depth because believe us, there's plenty to do. From the main story mode that opens up the 16 tracks, to the multitude of skill-based missions for each one, there's plenty for lone players to do. And if you've got friends? The split-screen multiplayer mode is decent enough too, although the lack of online play is rather disappointing.

Unfortunately, this depth can't mask the more prominent flaws in what should have been an enjoyable little racer and while there's certainly fun to be had, it's buried under a lot of niggling issues. If you can persevere through them, you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you find. But don't say we didn't warn you.

Comments

8 comments so far...
Add a comment

  1. sonicboom 60 Friday 22nd Feb 2008 at 22:26

    Im quite a hardcore sonic fan though i did find the original sonic riders quite hard to control myself at first i got used to it because i like fast games.{Like excite truck, heatseeker, sonic and the secret rings,etc.} I dont see why this wont be too different.I know the controls can be hard at first but if thereis anything i have learned in videogames its that to never give up.{Thats how i get through guitar hero III and some of the really hard controlling of the being spring mario or the rolling ball levels in super mario galaxy}However i agree that this may be a hard one for the casual fans.In all though im glad you gave this one a decent score than all of the other 3D sonic games. :D

  2. uster dog Saturday 23rd Feb 2008 at 22:12

    this game is as much fun as coming home and finding that some ones nicked your WII consol and finding out that there doing you a FAVOUR :lol: :lol: :lol: .

  3. lightspeed Monday 25th Feb 2008 at 14:04

    Im a big sonic fan, have been ever since i can remember, and I think this is the best game out for quite a long time.

    Sure, it's pretty hard to control at first, but once you've done a few tracks, you get used to it. Plus theres 3 different types of controller, so if you cant use the wii controllers, try the gamecube ones or try the wii ones pointing at the screen rather than holding them sideways
    Anyway, I think it deserves a 10/10, the only problem I have is that the in-game music isnt as good as the first game, but the theme 'ungravitify' is AWESOME =D

  4. Raylax Monday 3rd Mar 2008 at 17:32

    I massively enjoyed the first Sonic Riders, and I have high hopes of this when I get to play it (I'll need a Wii first though - you guys got a spare? :P ). The controls were fiddly as <cough> in the first one until you got used to them, but after that it really was a great racing game.

  5. Akriloth2160 Tuesday 9th Sep 2008 at 07:26

    SHAME ON YOU, ONM!!!

    FYI, the controls are only bad if you're using the wii remote. If I were reviewing the game, I'd mention using the gamecube controller is the way to go, and focus my ranting on the lack of compatibility with the classic controller, as well as the cryptic tutorial mode. Other than that, it's not bad at all!

  6. Lukeo10 Saturday 6th Jun 2009 at 17:15

    alfiuhae dixutgseugdxjnfgjfngjdbfhdffrlo;r'[r#rdrddfwebndemkfmkrmgjtnhfdbgufduvjidcjixjcizjijiuaeuheyrygyfhgfjibhjgfibjigfjkb ogkithrdughughdfnvfdghbfhdvbhsdnjndjansiqhwsuygxshfdyegfrtdespwa=w0-se890s

  7. thundercat96 Monday 13th Dec 2010 at 19:43

    72%?! I don't think so! The character turning into the corners is totally amateur and the music is about as much fun as beng rammed in the side with a hammer. At least the stunts and gameplay are excellent! Therefore, it's a nice idea in theory, but the gamecube controller would be the way to go for more casual Sonic fans. Long story short, it's one of those games that's not awful, but not awesome either so I'm gonna give it 64%.

  8. thundercat96 Monday 13th Dec 2010 at 19:50

    SHAME ON YOU, ONM!!!

    FYI, the controls are only bad if you're using the wii remote. If I were reviewing the game, I'd mention using the gamecube controller is the way to go, and focus my ranting on the lack of compatibility with the classic controller, as well as the cryptic tutorial mode. Other than that, it's not bad at all!

    Well said son!
    I agree that the gamecube controller is the way to go. I also agree that's it's not bad, but not brilliant either.

Register or log in to commment
Add a comment
Nintendo Co., Ltd. is the owner of certain copyright which subsists and trade marks and other intellectual property rights in certain content, characters, artwork, logos, scripts and representations used in this publication. All rights are expressly recognised and they are used by Future Publishing Limited under licence © 2006 Nintendo Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. "Nintendo", "International Nintendo Licensed Product" "Nintendo DS", "Nintendo DS Lite", "Nintendo DSi", "Nintendo 3DS", "Nintendo DSi XL", "Nintendo 3DS XL", "Wii" and "Wii U" and the associated logos are the trademarks of Nintendo Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.