Sonic Rush AdventuredislikePEGI3 Developer SEGA Publisher SEGA Genre Action Platform Nintendo DS Release September 14th 2007 Over-Reaction Command - The eagle-eyed amongst my audience may have realised that the game I'm about to review isn't actually the first time I've reviewed it. To cut a long story short, I'm re-reviewing because my original review was frankly brief and didn't actually encompass my rage for this game. There's many things wrong with this game and there's some things which were right about this game. Infact, it took me quite a while to decide if I actually kinda-sorta liked the game or if I just down-right hated every moment of the game I played. But do note that it was "kinda-sorta" and not "eh, it was good". These are scientific measurements of enjoyment, people.

Fire everything!
Sonic Rush Adventure, as the name may give away, is a sequel to the well-received Sonic Rush on the Nintendo DS. The game uses the same, although modified Sonic Rush engine as well as being developed, in some capacity, by the original developers; Dimps. The game, rather than following the usual Sonic canon of being a game mostly about being on land, jumping between clich├ęd stages chasing after Dr.Eggman, Sonic Rush Adventure makes the bold decision to ditch the status quo and attempts to create a more Seaside/Island theme, I'd say "Pirate" but that is just a minor part of the game. One thing I generally dislike about the game is the lack of a more Sonic Rush-esque soundtrack, sadly the Jet Set Radio maestro; Hideki Naganuma didn't have his input for the sequel, his shoes were too big to fill for whatever poor soul replaced him... But we'll get into that in due course. (Liking these pirate/sea jokes? There's more to come, I'm shore.)

The game starts off opening to Sonic and Tails in their plane-of-plot-convenience; the Tornado, investigating a strange radio signal coming from far out into the ocean. They find themselves in a storm and staring down an usual hurricane when their plane gets struck by lightning and they are dragged inside. They awake, the storm now cleared, plane-wrecked on a small island. Here they meet the greatest evil to ever have plagued a video game story: Marine the Raccoon. I'll just say now, that this is by far the worst Sonic character to ever be cranked out of the "Generic Character Generator" which SEGA had working overtime after Sonic Adventure. My major complaint about this character is the fact they decided, for reasons beyond my comprehension, to make every line she says have some form of stereotypical Australian banter, often using words like "struth" or "shelia" (to refer to women in general). We got it game, she's supposed to be Australian. We can manage a text box without you reminding us.

"I'll harm you!"
Anyway, after following Marine around and finding out that 1) She's annoying, 2) She thinks she's a captain, 3) the atypical "she's acts tough but isn't really" character, that old chestnut, Sonic and Tails come across the main villain in the game; the most feared robotic pirate the world has ever seen... Captain Whisker. Not joking, that's what they called him. So what, they had a round-table discussion on what they should call a vicious sea-pirate who was also, for some reason, a robotic cat and the best they could come up with was "Whisker"? Not, you know, more dangerous or sinister names like "Captain Claw"? Or even mix in a "Black" into the name at all like "Blackbeard" Black Claw? Black Whisker? Nope, just Whisker, huh? Well, okay. Here, have a humorous picture of what I believed he would look like on first hearing this guy's name.

After being introduced to Captain Snugglebuns, out of what seems to be no-where, returning character; Blaze the Cat (from the first Sonic Rush game) turns up and tells Captain Purrsalot to return a magic sceptre which he just stole from a cave they're all standing in. Obviously, the jewel encrusted sceptre is too much of a bounty for the pirate and he takes off. Blaze then explains to Sonic and Tails that they're actually in Blaze's universe now and that somehow, they've slipped through dimensions. With this in mind, they continue their adventure to retrieve the sceptre which Captain FelixWithJelly has stolen. Ultimately, it turns out that Captain KeyboardCat was actually an invention by the two Eggmans as seen in the original Sonic Rush; Dr. Eggman and Dr. Eggman Nega. And they needed the staff to harness an amazing power which is hidden in the core of Blaze's planet. Upon claiming the mysterious power, which the Eggmans claim is more powerful than the Chaos and Sol Emeralds which you've collected through-out the game; Sonic and Blaze both transform into their Super forms using the said gems and promptly take down the super robot which was harnessing the power. Well, so much for their "more powerful than" theory... In the end, all is well in the world, Sonic and Tails find a way back into their dimension again and Marine stops bugging us. The end.

I guess Sonic's... Steaming on ahead.
The story isn't very good, it's poorly written and could easily be ditched and nothing of value would be lost. It drags it's heels to the point where you've completed the third stage of the game before anything of any significance happens. There's only 9 stages in the game. So a good third of the game is spent doing... Well, nothing important. Great. The story also likes to cut in just about everywhere you go and even interjects when you're about to face off against a boss, not that it helps the story in most cases as the first 3-or-so bosses are enemies which you just beat up because you felt like it. In the second stage; Machine Labyrinth, you just go beat up a machine which isn't even fighting back until you hit it a bunch of times, it posed no threat what-so-ever. They could have just walked by the thing, tipping their hat and it wouldn't have done anything to them. Seems like they just had cool ideas for bosses but no real way to work them into the story. So what was the point of having a story then? And I mean, perhaps the good and interesting plot-twist of Blaze turning up and everyone being rather surprised about the fact they're now in Blaze's dimension may have been a bit more suspenseful if the very opening scene in the game, before the title screen shows Sonic, Blaze, Tails and Marine all riding around, not to mention Blaze appearing on the game's box art and in screenshots.

Gameplay wise, the game's very similar to Sonic Rush, as one may expect. There's some subtle changes to the way the game's now played, for starters grinding on rails and pressing the B button doesn't cause Sonic/Blaze to jump, instead it makes them perform tricks. In the original Sonic Rush, you had to repeatedly hit the R shoulder button to perform tricks. This was quite an illogical choice in the first Sonic Rush, since you hardly ever had to jump when on rails and often when you did, you couldn't jump back onto the rail you just leaped from. Meanwhile, mid-air tricks were performed by mashing the B button so you can see where the confusion stems from... So yeah, they actually improved the game in some regards. Another fix was the fact that while in Sonic Rush there was a heavy emphasis on the "trick" mechanic, some stage gimmicks didn't allow you to score points of them although it seemed like you should. In Sonic Rush Adventure, this was fixed by basically allowing anything which scored you air-time without jumping could be used to gain points/boost power from. If you want an over-view of the game's mechanics, check out the Sonic Rush review, pretty much everything is carried over apart from those two stipulations. Don't worry I'll wait for you when you come back.

Make it end! Make it end! Oh why wont it end?
Unfortunately, that's where all the positive "improvements" cease. The game's full of lots of changes, some small, some large. For instance the game now has a tutorial. Yes, the game has a tutorial, despite it being the second game in the series and also a game so easy to pick up that it's almost intuitive. Thanks, guys. Things start going down hill from there on in, you're quickly introduced to the new, more open, free-roaming aspect of Sonic Rush Adventure which I feel was lifted from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, in which you command a small craft and you take it to different islands to progress in the story. Each main island has it's own "mineral" which you get in varying amounts depending on how well you preformed in the three acts each main island has, giving you between 1 and 4 of each mineral from acquiring grades C through S respectively. These minerals are perhaps one of the biggest misgivings I have about the game. They're so poorly implemented. These minerals are required to build new contraptions such as the Jet Ski or one of the other three vehicles which you'll control during the course of the game.

Of course, as time goes on, you will inevitably run short of these minerals, especially if you did poorly in stages which give you the minerals you require. Lots of builds will use various amounts of different minerals, which may or may not be the mineral from an island you've just visited. The game basically comes to a dead stop if you don't have the required minerals in order to make something as dull and story-driven as a Radio Tower. So what do you do when you don't have enough minerals? Well, you have to go and replay the stages which have the right minerals and stockpile them. And no cheating and using the Time Trial, either. The real kicker is that to replay these stages and get the minerals, you have to go into the sea chart, draw a circle back to the island you just came from and replay all the stages again. Why can't you just select the stages you want to replay, is that too easy for the game?

Not sure how a few minerals turned into a whole quay but... Whatever.
Anyway, these vehicles you'll get to control, there's four different types of them, a Jet Ski/Waterbike, a Ship, a Hoverboat and a Submarine. The Jet Ski and the Hoverboat are similar in control mechanics as are the Boat and Submarine similar in control mechanics. You're either pressing and holding on the touch screen to advance and moving the stylus left or right to steer or you have no real control over your horizontal trajectory and your job is to just shoot stuff coming towards you. Each craft has a certain distance in which they can travel on the world map, which you must draw lines to your destination on. You then follow this path as you press onwards. If you come to the edge of the map, an island or an impassable object like a reef (submarine or boat) you have to stop. If you come to the edge of the world map or hit an impassable object, you can adjust your course without having to start over again, so it's not all bad. But these segments take forever and don't add anything to the game other than gametime. It's completely not in the spirit of a Sonic game any way you look at it, feels tacked on and can be highly frustrating at times.

You also use vehicles to sail into the sea, sometimes coming across "Johnny" a character which is only there to be some sort of adversary during the game's Special Stages... Well, they don't actually call them Special Stages, but you get Chaos Emeralds if you win, so that's what I'm calling them, like it or not. Of course, the game doesn't point out to where you can find Johnny to race him for the Emerald, much like it doesn't explain how the Chaos Emeralds have appeared in Blaze's universe, when Blaze's universe has the Sol Emeralds, not the Chaos Emeralds... At least in Sonic Rush, the two worlds were bleeding into one-another and all of Space-Time was on the verge of collapsing, so Blaze and the Sol Emeralds could have phased into Sonic's world... Where as in this game, there's a single entry point to Blaze's world... Aw, to hell with it. I'm trying to find a cohesive plot in a Sonic game... Anyway, point I want to make is this: We've once again slipped back into the "make the Special Stages hard to find" routine again. Sonic Rush's Special Stages were easy to find and enjoyable... Both are not true for the sequel. There's nothing really special for the Special Stages, it's just the normal Jet Ski segments only you're racing someone. That's it.

Special Stage! I mean, Battle Race!
As you start out the game you're on a very linear and straight-and-narrow path between stages, as you progress in the story, you're still on a very linear path but you can start exploring the world more, finding Hidden Islands, which are little mini-stages within the game. They're another possibility in which you can collect some minerals without having to replay the main stages from which these minerals are usually found but just finding the islands without some sort of guide can be a real pain. Especially when the difficulty of the game starts to ramp up on these sea-faring quests. It was around this point I noticed that once again in a Sonic game, I've spent more time not playing the action stages I would expect from a Sonic game and was instead playing a completely different adventure game, but even worse is the fact that most of this game is spent sailing about and it's completely boring, a problem I also found with The Wind Waker... At least there you had more control over where you were heading and it actually felt like you were sailing... Rather than just shooting at stuff on-rails or avoiding stuff.

When you do get to play normal Sonic stages, you have a choice between Sonic or Blaze as you go into the stage, doesn't affect anything if you play as one or the other. After this, you're greeted to a game which relies far too heavily on stage gimmicks to carry it. After the first four stages are out of the way, it seems that the developers didn't feel the need to make a stage which could be easily navigated. The game often throws you in one direction using a spring only for you to make a quick double-back after you hit a gimmick, believe that you're supposed to press ahead in this direction only to find that you were actually supposed to only go backwards a bit, but then forwards with no wall or arrow to inform you of this. The Ghost Ship level was completely guilty of this, not to mention having this springy-rope mechanic which was frustrating as all hell to use, think of it like a trampoline. The lack of playtesting also seemed to show in these stages as I would often either fall through the springy-rope stuff or when homing-attacking these ghost enemies (which exploded like robots for some reason) as they disappear, I would get stuck mid-air where they were just before disappearing for several seconds. Nice.

These stages also liked to bring back the uncommonly used "move behind Sonic" mechanic from Sonic Rush, you know, the one in Altitude Limit where Sonic's hang-gliding? Well, this is used in a few scenarios more in this game, some grinding on and jumping between vines in the first stage, another where you're mine-carting and in the Ghost Ship stage; you even have little trick rings which serve no purpose other than to show buttons and fill up your boost gauge. To trigger that event in the Ghost Ship, by the way, you have to jump into a cannon, which often you'll either jump over not realising what it is or be on a high path, running full pelt and fly over the area with the cannon and wonder why you died. There's other gimmicks like this as well, in the first stage you have these trees which grab you and throw you upwards, however if you're boosting towards them they'll often miss you, you'll go flying past and fall into a bottomless pit, which, yes, this game has plenty of.

Got... To... Defeat... Laggy... Boss!
After two acts of a stage and a story-scene, you get to face off against bosses. Such inventive bosses such as "Ghost Rex", a giant robotic Dinosaur, a robotic octopus, a giant robotic thing which has balls spinning around it (Uh... What?) and a "Ghost Pirate", which are just as stupid as they sound. But either way you look at it, their design isn't the main problem with the bosses. Where as in Sonic Rush, you had the more traditional "hit him X number of times and win", Sonic Rush Adventure has you hitting bosses a vast number of times. Each hit takes a minuscule amount of health from the boss, which is perhaps done just to screw you over if you don't get the absolute maximum number of hits in for each time in which the enemy is open to attack, thus prolonging the fight as the boss makes up it's mind if it wants to do something completely atheistical like walk around the stage or actually attack you. Bosses usually have a "pissy boss mode" which you'll know when kicks in as the music changes, usually what happens is that they just become that bit harder to take down and by that I mean they get an extra attack. What I mainly want to complain about with the bosses in the fact that some of them you have to fight while the game slows to a crawl. The Ghost Pirate boss is a prime example of this, at no point in that boss was the framerate what I would call "smooth" and it severely hampers your ability to see attacks that are in-coming or be able to judge how far you'll be able to get from the boss. The Ghost Pirate boss was also an extremely cheap boss which just followed you all over the place and able to phase through floors to hit you.

The game doesn't look all that bad, even in the 3D segments of the game, although the frequent slow down the game gives is perhaps a testament as to why other DS games don't go so over-board with the visual trappings... Because the system can't take it. And it's not like they couldn't have noticed the slow down, it persists through scenes where there's no possibility of avoiding the slow down... Like the opening cinematic. Yes, the opening scene to the game just after the game's started up has major frame lag to the point where, not only does the main jingle being played at the time stop long before the scene ends, but also there's a segment where flat 2D images of Sonic and Blaze fly in... And are lagged behind the "wooshing" sound effect. This is perhaps the most inexcusable part of the game for me, puts a bit of a downer on the rest of the visuals. The atypical 2.5D stages the game should focus on are pretty standard and there's no frame-rate issues there, so there's a silver-lining still... The game also can't make up it's mind sometimes if it wants 3D story scenes, which are more eloquently presented in this game over it's predecessor or if it wants to stick to 2D flat images move around funnily.

I never noticed how creepy that damn tree was until I saw this screenshot.
The game's soundtrack, as mentioned earlier, falls a little flat. Sonic Rush's more crazy-out-there tunes are long gone in the game and there's a return to a more melody-driven score. Which is not a bad thing in itself, but... And it's a big "but", the game tries to emulate the sample-mash-up which Hideki Naganuma brought to the table. It doesn't always work. The more enjoyable tracks in the game come from the unusual melodies which don't use sampling, although the boss music does sound very similar to Naganuma's work. Unfortunately, a lot of this good will towards the soundtrack is somewhat undermined by the sound effects the game employs. The soundtrack is so busy with Sonic or Blaze's many "yeah!" or "huh!" voices, not to mention the constant high-pitched "ding" effects you get from performing tricks that it becomes a mess. They didn't help the fact by adding in this star-counter thing which adds to the noise pollution the game gives off. Sonic Rush was noisy enough without the addition of these extra sound effects.

Sonic Rush Adventure is a game which goes to show that while on paper, it seems like a technically superior game... In practice... Not so much. The new mechanics they've added to the game distract from the primary focus (or what should be in a Sonic game, I don't think SEGA quite understand this) of the game; the actual stages. While Sonic Rush was quite a short game, it was memorable, it had good stage design (although was plagued with bottomless pits) and was generally fun to play. And while what remains of Sonic Rush in this game is still quite enjoyable, poor stage design and large sections of the game being devoted to sailing around different islands that don't really add to the game at all kills some of the enjoyment to be had. It also perhaps doesn't help that the game has a stupid, useless plotline which throws itself at you every possible moment it gets, what with it's annoying characters and inability to make reasonable excuses to destroy robots which seem to pose them no harm what-so-ever. If you're willing to forgive it's sea-faring flaws and mini-games which seem to envelop the entire game, then perhaps the game is passable. But for me, personally, I got pretty tired of the game's flaws very quickly and it marred the whole experience. But on the Modern Sonic-Game-O-Metre, Sonic Rush Adventure is favourable. Much rather have more games like this rather than Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 or Sonic Unleashed I can tell you that much.
A predictable, sorry plot which adds nothing to the game and serves only to frustrate.
Given that most the game consists of sailing and forcing you to replay levels whether you like it or not... Then yes, the gameplay is bad.
Other than some slow down, the game is a visually impressive game for the system.
It's nothing in the shadow of Sonic Rush's amazing soundtrack, but is a solid soundtrack none the less.
8 Hours
A game padded by sailing and back-tracking like you wouldn't believe. A Sonic game shouldn't be padded. Full stop.