Sonic Rivals PSP Review

Ah Sonic, you really need to decide who’s your friend and who isn’t. From Heroes and Adventure 2, where you teamed up with characters, to Rivals where you’re fighting the very same characters. What’s your problem?

There really can’t be much of a story line to a racing game, but it’s always fun to follow the ones that try. So it seems that this time around, everyone’s after Eggman. But the race is on to see who can get to him first. The characters lining up to take a pop at old Humpty Dumpty this time around include Sonic, Shadows, Silver (the new guy from the PS3/360 Sonic games) and Knuckles. Eggman should be supremely worried…

In typical Sonic style, you have to play through a pretty similar story with each character to complete the game. The story mode is pretty short, spanning only 6 stages, and only taking about an hour to complete with each character, although this does need to be done 5 times to complete the game, which can just become repetitive and boring. The boss levels work surprisingly well even with the competition from the rivals. When you get into it, Sonic Rivals does start to become pretty entertaining.

You’ll be shocked to learn that there is not even a tutorial level, so you’re thrown right into the game with no idea what the hell is going on or what you should be doing. This can make the first few levels very frustrating. In fact, a lot of the game can be frustrating. In such situations where you’re pressing buttons and there’s simply no response, causing you to plummet to your death, it can make you want to smash your PSP over the head of the nearest innocent person. But once you’re past the beginning, and you’ve got over the fact that this sometimes happens, it is a fairly fun and involving game to play. Like in every decent racing game, making a few mistakes can cost you the race, which justifies this being in the Racing genre. The button commands are quite hard to work out and master, which isn’t helped by the distinct lack of a tutorial level. In good old, classic, Sonic style, you’ll be running from left to right along the screen for the most part of the game, which is a nice return from the newer 3D games, and must have been inspired by the success of Sonic Rush for DS.

The stages are well designed and are a challenge to get through in most cases. They’re also, most importantly, perhaps, fun to race through. The idea of two competitors running through the same course might just seem like a gimmick, but it has been well incorporated into the game. There are times when you’ll be running separately through the course in intertwining paths, and others where you’ll be battling it out whilst pushing over a tower to progress along the sole path. Like in previous Sonic games, when racing you can get power ups to attack your foes. These are nicely done because, as well as some good ideas for weapons, each character has a special attack based upon their style. For example, Silver can rearrange your opponent’s controls for short periods of time, which is confusing to say the least, especially when it wears off! All of this can be exciting, especially in multiplayer when you’ll constantly be attacking your pals using the various weapons.

In terms of other game modes, there are some but they all involve racing. The racing tournament mode is just a set of four races, again against one other character. This is just a repeat of the story mode, without the cut-scenes or the bosses. The challenge mode has slightly more appeal as you have a list of tasks such as ‘win with 200 rings’ or ‘attack opponent 3 times’ which are more fun to do, but you’re still just repeating the same races and courses over and over again. Basically, if you’ve had enough of the racing and want to do something else with your game, well it’s just not going to happen. What could really drive you to keep playing is the reward card system. For winning races, you’ll be given different cards, all with either a character, a game, or an enemy from all across the Sonic series. Collect certain groups of these and you’ll earn a different costume part for one of the characters. You can get new shoes, jackets and gloves, all of which look pretty cool and are great boasting points to friends with the game.

After all of the poor 3D Sonic games Sega have given us, and the pitiful attempt made by Sonic Riders to make Sonic race, we can finally stand up and say, we’re yet again unimpressed. It seems, although he’s regaining some of his old style, Sonic is struggling to get the good games he deserves, however Sonic Rush is an exception as, hopefully Sonic and the Secret Rings will be. Rivals is only half decent, when we know Sonic should be so much better. Only buy it if it’s around half price.

7.2 out of 10