Who was the first video game character to truly give Mario a run for his money? Who was the first video game character to be featured as a float in the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade? If you answered Sonic, you got it right. Yes, Sega's blue beast has done his running thing in video games for a long time, and he returns in his latest entry for the DS, Sonic Rush.
Rush takes after its 2D predecessors, so fans of those Sonic games should immediately find something to like here. Rush uses the same formula that has made Sonic the classic figure that he is. You whip through the levels as either Sonic or newcomer Blaze. You fly off ramps, bounce off springs, and collect rings all the way. Of course, Eggman's robot minions are on your case again, but I found myself getting killed more by falling to my death than anything else (a little too much, if you ask me), excluding the boss fights.
The premise may be the same as the old-school Sonic games, but Rush has some new things going for it that makes the gameplay fresh, even after all these years. One nice new innovation is the turbo button. Sonic now has the ability to charge up a turbo meter, and at the push of a button, watch out. If you think you've seen Sonic go fast in previous games, wait til you see this. This is also handy whenever an enemy all of a sudden appears out of nowhere. All you have to do is activate the turbo, and you fly right through him. Another new highlight that Rush has is the use of the dual screens. Now, many games have utilized this unique DS feature, but Rush's use of it is very well done. For example, let's say Sonic starts out on the top screen, and starts running down a big hill. Once he gets to the bottom of the top screen, he will appear on the bottom screen. At first, this really messed me up, but after I got used to it, I learned to love it. It really gave me a sense of speed that one screen may not have been able to pull off.
Those are both pretty cool new innovations to the Sonic world, but the best one by far is the boss battles. These all take place in a pseudo 3D world, and they're all really challenging. Not only do you have to figure out how to wound the boss, but you also have to avoid a lot of one-hit kills that some bosses have. Even the easiest boss can take you out at the blink of an eye.
Rush has two playable characters. Of course, you get to play as the blue blazer, Sonic. You also get to play as Blaze the cat. And no, don't confuse Blaze with Big the Cat from Sonic Adventure. There's no ridiculous fishing levels in Rush. Really, most of the differences between the two are in the game's story, but there are some slight alterations that could slightly change your experience. For one, Sonic is faster, but Blaze can hold her breath underwater longer. I actually liked playing through this game as someone other than Sonic, which is more than I can say about previous games in the series.
Graphically, I love the look of Sonic Rush. The backgrounds look similar to other Sonic games, but the characters have a sort of cel-shaded look to them. All of the levels look fantastic, and the 3D boss battles are also impressively done. The fact that you never lose sight of Sonic is a credit to the developers. As for the sound, the music is about what you would expect from a your typical Sonic title, but I was a little disappointed that they didn't use the old invincible music that I was used to hearing in games like Sonic 2 and Sonic Advance. Sonic’s spoken dialog is decent, but the other in-game voices of the other characters can grow to be little annoying.
Every Sonic title of this kind is always easy to just pick up and play, and Rush is no different. The main game, with the two different characters, all of the secrets to unlock (get all of Sonic's Chaos Emeralds for a special ending), and the multiplayer mode all produce some worthy replay value. The multiplayer mode is fun, whether you have two cards, or only one. You basically race your friend across one of the stages. However, there was so noticeable slowdown from time to time. Overall. the multiplayer is a nice way to get some extra playtime out of Rush.
Rush excels against all competition, even Mario's return to the 2D realm. Anyone who has even remotely liked one of his previous 2D efforts should not think twice about purchasing this game.
Gameplay– 9 Mixing old-school Sonic gameplay with some excellent new innovations, Rush has found the right mix.
Graphics– 9 From cool backgrounds to nice use of the dual screens, the visuals in this are topnotch.
Audio– 8 Some voices annoy, but the music and the main character's dialouge are on the money.
Value– 8 The multiplayer may be laggy, but the two playable characters and secrets make this a worthwhile purchase.
Curve– 10 Not even New Super Mario Bros. has topped this game. An instant Sonic classic.