Sonic and the Secret Rings Reader Review
Now I have read a whole bunch of reviews of the game. They lifted my spirits, as most were positive. And when I get the game about a week after it launched (in the UK, I still wish I were in CanadaÖ), I find it was well worth the buy. When I first got the game at its launch, it was a damn good sonic experience I have played in recent years. Reflecting on it seriously, I see that it is indeed a diamond in the very rough with some issues that needed to be sorted out. Here, I'm expressing my honest opinions for the game and I hope youíll see why I gave it its score.
The story goes that Sonic is relaxing for a while, so he decides to read the 1001 Arabian nights book. He doesnít get far, and falls asleep after. He wakes up really late, surprised he fell asleep, and reaches for something on his table, but finds a large ring instead. He gets startled when a genie pops out of it. He pulls himself together when the genie, Sharra, tells him that her world, the world of the Arabian nights, is disappearing. She says that an evil genie, an Erazor Djinn, according to her, is absorbing the energy from the book and using it to raise his power. When he has absorbed the entire book, he will have enough power to break free and mess up the real world. Sharra tells Sonic to put on the ring so he will be her master, and asks him to wish for them to go into the book to stop Erazor, as he is the ďLegendary HedgehogĒ. When he gets into the book, he meets Erazor. In an attempt to get rid of Sharra, he fires a magical fire bolt, but Sonic jumps and endures the attack, putting a flame in his chest, and that when the flame goes out, he will forfeit his life, so Sonic must stop Erazor or it will be the end of the line for himÖ
And thatís it. I think itís quite a good story, shifting away from the normal ďEggmanís at it again, letís stop him!Ē gameplay. It does take a bit of tolerance, as you may not be ready to shift away from it, but it is quite attention-grabbing, is quite unique (being based on the Arabian Nights) and is worth the understanding.
The gameplay you experience in Adventure mode is damn near flawless. Youíre not in a free-roaming environment running your way through a semi-linear path anymore. The game has programmed a set path for Sonic to run upon. The only thing you gotta do is to move left and right via the tilting of the Wii remote. To brake, hold 1. To jump, press 2, and to Jump higher, hold 2 to charge and release to jump. When your Soul gauge is orange (charge it by collecting small light orbs, Pearls, around the level), Sonic will have access to two special abilities. Press up on the remote (when itís held sideways, right if itís vertical) and Sonic will blast through the level and eye-melting speeds, called Speed Break, the sort of thing that Sonic is made for. Pressing (sideways) down will make him use Time Break, slowing everything around him to a crawl, including him, which is almost like Chaos Control. This will let him take to obstacles with excellent precision, another ingenious idea. Thatís all you have to do with the remote during gameplay.
Before this begins, you will have four versions of your genie ring. You can equip any one of those rings to Sonic after customising it with different abilities you can unlock after levelling up with experience, like in RPG games, and each ability costs a set amount of skill points out of a the total amount of skill points you have. This brand-new type of gameplay is fantastic in my opinion, and makes it much better when it is fused with Sonic the Hedgehog.
During these stages, most of them will have three of a special item, a red ring with fire in it. This is called a Fire Soul. Collecting these will allow you, the player, to unlock many special features. They range from unlocking pages in the Special Book (more below) to Party Mode games to new characters to use there. Most of these are in hard-to-get places and require your patience and skill to retrieve. Some will need you to die on purpose (well, at least you still get to keep it), and some will need you to blast through obstacles with Speed Break and to be revealed with Time Break. I gotta say that it is tremendous fun to find all the Fire Souls and unlock every last one of the secrets.
Even though I think this style is ultimate, it has one bad point: some parts of the game are waaaay too hard. I mean really hard. Donít get me wrong; hard is good in my opinion. But there are games which are hard but make you go ďDuh!Ē once you solve a particular puzzle, and there are games which are hard to the point of inducing frustration. SatSR is one of those games. Springing to mind are the No Pearls!/Stealth Attack missions and the Perfect Challenge missions. There are traps and enemies all over the place which require more than just a Time Break to get past. It even adds to the urge in Stealth Attack because there are so many Djinns, they are just asking to be killed. But though it is as hard as hell, this is a real test for Advanced-Expert players, and even adds longetivety because of your quest for all the Gold Medals.
Another piece of genius. This book is one which holds all of your viewable unlockables, excluding Party Mode unlockables i.e. characters and games. Once you get enough, say, medals, namely silver medals, you can unlock all sorts of junk. The first page has all the Sonic game boxarts from 1991 (StH 1) to the 2006 recents (Sonic Riders, Shadow the Hedgehog). If you get gold medals on missions, you can even unlock the background music from those levels, and concept arts as well, so you can see, say, how they made Sand Oasis as well. You can even earn ranks in there as well. You can earn the most obvious ones like Hero, for beating the final boss, or the more subtle ones like Extreme Speeder, using Speed Break 50 times, to name a couple of many. Lastly, and the most entertaining of the Special Book, is Bigís Diary. Apparently, Big was mistaken for Sonic, and was transported into the book as well. He has written 15 diary entries of his adventures in the different levels of the Arabian Nights, and you have to notice him in very subtle parts of the level. How you must discover him though is up to you to find out... ^-^
Well, Party mode is good, but not utterly fantastic. As a matter of fact, it only borderlines ďgoodĒ. It could do with a bit of work.
Before starting, choose how many players are playing, then choose between 4 starter characters, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy, and four characters unlocked by getting enough fire souls (3 from a recent Sonic game, one from a slightly distant game). You then choose an attraction. The most straightforward attraction is the Tournament Palace, where you face a random person in 2 or 3 minigames in order to get to the top of the championship. To determine place, the two losers must battle, have a consolation match, before the championship match. Pretty good, but way short. Thereís the Pirates coast, which is a straightforward race (the amounts of steps you make is by your place in a minigame); the Genieís Lair, getting points as medals or gold bars while avoiding Pri-ma-Djinn (humanoid genie) traps; and the Treasure Hunt, which has you searching for treasure over a map. Not many of them are fun, as they seriously lack depth or are so short, or both. There is one unlockable event which I wonít disclose, but even that is not much fun. If you want to play an individual game of your choice, thereís the World Library, where you can play any one of up to 40 games to play. Some of the games are quite fun, like Spin! Steel Survival and even Aim! Big Crossbow, but some do indeed lack depth and are quite short and inaccurate, and Knockdown! Balance Battle and Spin! Safe Dial (yup, every game is set out like a Japanese anime episode title) immediately spring into mind. Still, if you donít like some 10-15 games, there are still 25-30 games that are well enjoyable.
This game, in terms of graphics, is one of the best I have ever seen. The Sonic series (especially the recent games) seem to have a trend of showing off good graphics, but this game kinda stands out. Every single level seems to look so spectacular. The way the temples and the oases in Sand Oasis are constructed are incredible...even just the sand itself is beautiful. But of the most stunning of levels is the Pirate Storm level. The rainstorm and water graphics are amazing. Sometimes you might want to just stand still for many seconds in a level to simply admire these visuals. The effects during Speed Break and Time Break arenít less than dazzling as well, as Speed Break literally blurs the entire level, and Time Break gives it a nice black and white theme too! The story mode cutscenes take the image of a storybook, to capture more of the Arabian Nights theme, which, though does not appeal to many fans of the series, is also very fun, I believe. However, the FMV is incredible. Not only are they graphically superior, but they also managed to sync the lips with the characters well! This definitely gets a perfect score.
After the 2nd perfect score or so, you may think Iím just being nice. Iím not. The sound in the game fits perfectly with this Arabian Nights theme, using Middle Eastern instruments during the menu theme and the Sand Oasis theme. The other themes also fit in very well with their respective levels, but I wonít go into detail.
I seem to be the only guy I know who thinks that the 4Kids voice actors are fine (well, for some of the characters at least. Sometimes I canít stand Tailsí or Amyís voice). They donít seem any different to the Sonic Adventure actors, who were also good. The dialogue itself was alright too. Not too much else I can say, but the music was great, including the cheery jaunty Party Mode. It all fits in with everything, and I think Sonic Team and Sega did a good job with it.
Game Life: 8/10
Oh yeah, definitely some value here. Party mode is fun whenever you have friends to pick up and play, but the lack of depth make it seem like nada when playing alone, but then thereís the story mode. The main story featuring Sonic, Sharra, and Erazor should take around 10-12 hours of nonstop gameplay to complete. If the story itself isnít enough to break the ice, think about completing the special book. Finding all the secrets in that book should take way more than 24 straight hours to complete. With 225 total secrets and 104 ring skills to unlock, it definitely gives you something to do after youíre done with the story. You might even want to get all the gold medals too. Once you do, you can truly be acknowledged as a master gamer. I personally took about 30 or so hours to complete it. Such a task is not for the faint-hearted.
Thereís your review. I personally think itís a pretty damn good Sonic game, definitely one of the better ones in the recent years, hand on heart. You should definitely buy this game. No questions asked. While there are a small amount of people who were fans of the 3D-roaming Adventure games, this oneíll take getting used to, and you might want to buy SONIC the Hedgehog for Playstation3 or Xbox 360 instead if thatís your cup of tea. But thatís not saying that this game doesnít rock, because it does, especially since the hedgehogís recent titles have been less than great lately. This is an essential to your Wii library, and your entire Sonic library at that.
- Provides an unbeatable Sonic adventure
- Second best graphics on Wii that Iíve seen
- Music is great, and voice acting is pretty good
- Camera and control issues of the Adventure games pretty much fixed
- Secret Book and Ring Customisation are great Ideas
- Almost the most challenging game Iíve played
- Story takes a good amount of time to get used to
- Some minigames and attractions could have done with some work
- ...And I mean A LOT of work in some areas.
- Difficulty CAN get a tad frustrating
(NOTE: This score is not an average.)