One of the latest rumors centers on Sega and their attempted resurrection of the Sonic franchise. It needs a resurrection, too, as the last “next-gen” installment on the PS3 and Xbox 360 was absolutely atrocious. However, the series appears to be going strong on the PSP, as the original Sonic Rivals was a pretty big hit, and as you’ll see in this preview, the sequel is shaping up nicely as well. Therefore, Sega’s secret “real” Sonic project – as put forth by a Quartermann EGM rumor – is good news (dare we wish for a return to 2D?), and if you want to quench your thirst for stimulating Sonic fun, Sonic Rivals 2 should have you covered. Best of all, this bad boy hits store shelves tomorrow, which means you have yet another game you might want to buy! It’s a little nuts that so many huge holiday titles are all coming out on the same day, but hey, it’s that time of year. All platforms are getting the great software treatment.
This sequel gives you access to eight characters right off the bat – fans of the series will instantly recognize the likes of Knuckles and Shadow – and pits character against character in madcap dashes through platform levels littered with items, enemies, and high-flying leaps. Of course, your primary foe will be the enduring Eggman, who is destined to be a royal pain in the ass. You can always play against a friend, too, but Eggman is one dude that needs to be vanquished, and this time around, you have more route options. In the original title, your crazy dash would come to an unfortunate end if you missed a crucial jump. But this time around, the developers have decided to be a bit more lenient, as you can continue your blue streak even if you can’t follow the default path. So you fell, so what? There’s a place to run around down here! And besides, this type of gameplay mode isn’t the only attraction; Sonic Rivals 2 includes no less than six new battle modes, all carefully worked into the main Story Mode. We’re willing to bet a lot of these sound somewhat similar, too…
Originally a first-person shooter invention, Capture the Flag has become a multiplayer option that pops up in just about every possible game nowadays. Here, we get Capture the Chao (ha-ha), which is exactly what it sounds like- race into your opponent’s stronghold, nab the Chao, and return it to your home base without getting smacked. Then you’ve got an age-old elementary school classic, King of the Hill, which has you attempting to stay within a certain zone for a certain amount of time, constantly attempting to dodge a barrage of fire. King of the Hill always rocks! If you want something a bit more Sonic-oriented, you can participate in the Ring Battle, which is also self-explanatory (whoever ends up with the most rings wins), and a Laps Race, which is the Sonic/platforming version of Need for Speed. Personally, we like the idea of the Tag mode, which has you and your opponent tossing a bomb back and forth until it explodes…it goes without saying you don’t want to be holding it when it goes off. This sounds a bit more like Hot Potato to us, but either way, it sounds uber-entertaining. All of these modes appear to be great fun for two players, but there’s another feature designed to be the perfect party option.
It’s known as Knockout, which is like combining Sonic with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, only these matches are a best-of-five. You both start off with a fixed number of rings, and you’re seeking to knock off as many rings as possible; once your opponent doesn’t have any left, you can deliver the “knockout” blow. But just like in the regular story mode, any lost rings can be regained provided you move fast enough, and remember, that’s your “armor.” This is the kind of multiplayer frenzy that will likely deliver maximum entertainment for an extended period of time, provided the combat mechanic – how we attack our opponent – is as refined as the platforming aspects. While it seems clear that Sonic Rivals 2 has a wealth of options and features, for both single-player and multiplayer, we just hope Sega isn’t stretching themselves too thin. Capture the Chao and Knockout? They sound sweet, but let’s just hope those controls stay solid and responsive, regardless of which gameplay mode you choose. Perhaps Sega truly is working on a “real” Sonic for home consoles, but any 2D Sonic – like this one – is plenty “real” enough for us.
All of these cool modes are simply add-ons to the single-player story mode, too, and there’s even more to do! We’ve got Cup Circuits, Free Play, Card Trade Mode, and all kinds of extra battles and bosses to discover and tackle, which puts the “replayability” of this game through the freakin’ roof. For handheld users, especially those who have a lot of downtime while on the go, Sonic Rivals 2 could be just the ticket. Granted, there are plenty of high-profile holiday titles out there – and that includes Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops+ for the PSP – but for good old-fashioned platforming hectic fun, you can always turn to Sonic and Co.
11/12/2007 Ben Dutka