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.
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.
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.