Sonic Rush Adventure Hands-On

We try out Sega's adventurous new Sonic game for the DS.

Just when it seemed like Sonic the Hedgehog was going to wind up as the video game equivalent of performers who hobble over to Vegas to coast on former glories, 2005's Sonic Rush for the DS reminded the masses just why Sega's onetime mascot held his own against Mario back in the day. The title focused on 2D platforming with some 3D peppered in to liven up the action. Given the game's return to Sonic's roots, the DS title was met with open arms by critics and consumers alike, who had suffered through a gamut of titles starring the hedgehog that were less than exciting. Not surprisingly, Sega and Sonic Team have now queued up a sequel to the game, Sonic Rush Adventure. This new game takes the speed and platforming that made the original game pop and adds a new adventure element that includes some Phantom Hourglass-style touch-screen-powered sailing. We had the chance to try out the game to see if Sonic's winning streak on the DS will continue, or if the hedgehog is about to stumble into yet another mediocre adventure.

Sonic and his pals return to the Nintendo DS in Sonic Rush Adventure.

The first Sonic Rush introduced Blaze the cat to the menagerie of critters in the Sonic universe. The last time we saw the mysterious, firepowered feline, she was heading back to her own dimension after defeating the evildoer she'd chased over to Sonic's world. This time out, Sonic and Tails pay Blaze's dimension a visit following an accident while observing an energy field from Tails' plane. The pair is helped out by Marine, a deluded but cheerful Good Samaritan who rescues the duo and lets them chill on her island. The pair winds up helping Marine explore the ocean around her island home by helping build watercraft. As the story progresses you'll encounter a surly pirate and his crew, who are causing all sorts of problems.

The action in the game revolves around helping Blaze and humoring Marine, and takes the same "side-scrolling platformer tricked out with some 3D" approach that worked so well in the original Sonic Rush. The same approach is taken with doling out playable characters, as you'll start out with Sonic and get access to Blaze as you go through the story. The gradual progression also comes into play with several other features in the game, adding to the action. Marine's island is a sparsely populated and decorated place that evolves throughout the game thanks to Sonic's adventuring. You'll meet new faces who'll come over and hang out. The newcomers will let you access the game's multiplayer feature, which lets you play with friends wirelessly, shop for items, play through time trials, and take on new challenges that become available as you clear more levels.

In keeping with the "adventure" portion of its title, the game tosses in some extra, RPG-lite features. Marine's island serves as your home base. While you're initially stuck there, after playing through a few stages you'll earn enough raw material for Tails to make a Sea-Doo that you can use to start some exploring. Once you have a craft you can use the touch screen to map out a course and do some sailing on the open water via a minigame that has you controlling Sonic and his vehicle. The travel sequences offer a minigame-style race mechanic that finds you collecting rings, turboing into enemies to take them out, and performing stunts by following onscreen prompts. The new islands you'll discover comprise the new playable levels you'll have to run through.

As with the original Sonic Rush, Sonic Rush Adventure follows the same "two levels and a boss fight" structure. As you clear levels you'll earn different types of material that Tails will need to make new items, such as ships, or other helpful objects, like a radio tower. As you progress, Tails will come discover how to make more craft to use on the ocean. The different craft have ever-expanding ranges, which let you explore a wider arc and also feature unique mechanics. For example, while the Sea-Doo has a more active mechanic that requires you to pilot it for Sonic, the next ship you make, the sailboat, has a totally different mechanic for its travel sequence. The sailboat is essentially a shooting gallery and requires you to fire on enemies, toggling between three different types of weapons, as you travel on rails. Once you discover different locations you'll have the option to call up a quick menu and travel to them automatically or go through the various travel minigames.

The visuals in the game are a colorful mix of 2D and 3D elements that blend together seamlessly. The island settings and the ocean you'll be navigating to get to them lend themselves to the brighter color palette. As before, Sonic and Blaze will be rendered as polygons and tear through mostly 2D environments, though you'll encounter a number of 3D elements on your runs through the various levels. New to the experience are 3D sequences that find Sonic and Blaze navigating areas with the camera placed behind their shoulders. The 3D bits that pop up during levels seamlessly blend into your run via a Super Paper Mario-esque screen flip that rotates around Sonic and Blaze. The ocean runs in your various vehicles run smoothly and maintain a consistent sense of speed. The 3D boss fights play out smoothly and make more use of both DS screens, with bosses stretching from the lower screen to the top or the action shifting between the upper and lower screens. So far we've seen plenty of variety, both in the levels and the various enemies you'll encounter, and it all keeps the game interesting.

The game will have some lite RPG features that should help keep things interesting.

The game's audio stays true to the approach taken in the original Sonic Rush. You'll hear the familiar ring sounds and the high whine of Sonic peeling out as he tears through levels. You'll also hear unique effects for Blaze's fire-infused attacks. Those core effects are livened up by some speech and assorted sound effects for enemies and bosses (the T-Rex roar is notably menacing). One of the highlights of the audio is the soundtrack, a bouncy collection of tunes reminiscent of the music heard in Sonic's classic Genesis games.

Based on what we've played so far, Sonic Rush Adventure is looking to be an assured follow-up to Sonic Rush. The game retains the polished feel and blistering speed of its predecessor, which serves as a potent reminder of the franchise's charm. The new adventure elements work pretty well, though they seem to affect the game's pacing a bit more than we'd like. However, our overall impression of the game is that it's another cool return to form for Sonic. If you dug the first Sonic Rush or are looking for a tight little platformer for your DS, you'll want to keep an eye out for Sonic Rush Adventure when it ships later this month.

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Discussion

43 comments
rey_11
rey_11

this game seems badass, but does it have a tiny chao garden like sonic advance did??? i really am serious would like to know

warlock_gamer
warlock_gamer

why is it taking so long for gamespot to review this game?

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

sho565
sho565

2 more days wooh!!!!!!!!!

littlestreakier
littlestreakier

sonic rush is the best sonic game i've evern played imo so i'm very pumped to hear about the sequal to it :D

SonicNarutoFan
SonicNarutoFan

Awesome!! i can't wait for this game p.s. SONIC ROCKS!!!!

callingdarkness
callingdarkness

im not sure about this game as the soinc games have been a bit crap for the last few out and i love sonic games but they have been getting bad if you ask me i might try borrow it off someone before i say if i like or not.

cameron06
cameron06

nice I wish I had an DS, sonic has been really bad on the next GEN systems

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

sonic_rusher
sonic_rusher

Sega has been really unsucessful until it put sonic to the ds. It is phoneminal i expect great things from the sequal

Zonic505
Zonic505

Seems like nowadays, only the handheld Sonic games are good. Hope this continues that trend....

malavos
malavos

Looks great!!!!!!! @_@ Sonic ROCKS. OWNS!

soccerguy93
soccerguy93

woohoo first one was good this one will be too!!!

zero-G1080
zero-G1080

great! loved the first so i hope this is just as good if not better

Erinaceus1991
Erinaceus1991

You gotta be kidding me. The only thing the Sonic Rush series shares with the Genesis games is that it is largely 2D. It does not carry the spirit of those old games. The old games had way better level design, and it was more fun to actually explore those levels. This series is some ugly splicing of Jet Grind Radio, racing games, and roller coaster rides over bottomless pits that discourage any real exploration. It was only mistakenly met with open arms by gamers and critics.

wolfboy20
wolfboy20

looks awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

krystians
krystians

The only Sonic games I own as of now is Sonic 1,2,3 for the Genesis. I remember paying one on the DC which was like a huge WOW to me! But since the Genesis days I haven't purchased a Sonic game. Hope this DS game will break that.

SneakyB986
SneakyB986

Sonic adventure one and two In my opinion were great games on the DC. Then I got a GC and loved my copy of sonic adventure 2 that I bought it on GC when it released. Then I bought sonic heroes hoping to find more of the same adventure in the two last . but I ended up hating the game with a passion and have been hesitating to buy any sonic game since....and havn't haha

AzureWind213
AzureWind213

they COULD always make a SONIC. ADVENTURE. as in NOT tails, shadow, silver, knuckles, e-102, big, amy, eggman, maria, cream, chaos, princesses......... get the HINT, sega?!?!...................................gimme some 20-25 maps. 3D sonic. Maybe work on the camera a little. Bring back Super Sonic for more than just a boss fight. Bring back doctor robotnik and metal sonic. Ok, tails can stay too but ONLY in co-op. Why has the Sonic the Hedgehog series needed anything more than that? BTW sonic rush isn't THAT bad but sonic has the potential to make it big in 3D if they would just let him do his thing... right?!?!

Video_Tycoon
Video_Tycoon

They say the "graphics blend together seamlessly" yet they look like crap...

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

Well, hopefully these new adventure elements don't affect the game's pacing too much.

ElvenArcher
ElvenArcher

Still not liking this, as the preview said it is far better than the crap on the consoles lately, but this still doesn't compare to regular good 2D Sonic games. I'd even say Sonic Advance on GBA is better.

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

This sound like Sega's style: make one good game with solid elements then make a string of sequels adding more and more unneccesary junk to each one.

roryk666
roryk666

why cant they just make a kick ass 2d hi red sonic game seriously? sonic 3 on VC is just too awesome compared to any of these ds or gba games

Zero254
Zero254

The graphics are streched out of resolution, why do psx and game gear games look terrible when running stretched? This game is already sold to me....

DrCLos
DrCLos

It sounds like the adventure elements bog down the speed of the game a bit. Which is usually not a good thing in Sonic games. Hopefully it turns out as well as the first one did.

Denjin_hadouken
Denjin_hadouken

Sweet. Dammit....there are so many titles i want for the ds....but not enough money...*sigh* I may have to pass on this for there are more important titles such as zelda PH.

captainfork
captainfork

Sweet, I've been waiting for another reason to pick the DS back up after I got my Wii.

Mik9
Mik9

This sound like it going to be great. Can't wait to get it.

TAEnemy
TAEnemy

I agree with DoctorFu, to some extent. I liked the surreal quality of the original Sonic games more than the cartoonish look we have been getting since Sonic Advance. You can't beat the strange coolness of an Emerald Hill Zone or Palmtree Panic.

Vexx88
Vexx88

I have the first and this one looks awesome to :P

AmazoLK
AmazoLK

This is a purchase for me.

DoctorFu
DoctorFu

Why do the graphics look terrible. I wish they looked more like Sonic 2.

MysticDynamite
MysticDynamite

The first Sonic Rush was sweet, and I have high hopes for Sonic Rush Adventure. It got a 9/10 from IGN.