A Competent High-speed Sonic Game with Only a Few Flaws
Time hasn’t exactly been kind to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but you’ve probably heard it all before. Countless gamers have often criticized the Blue Blur’s 3D outings, and with good reason too. Sonic and the Secret Rings on the Nintendo Wii isn’t a perfect 3D Sonic game, but it does do some things right, and ultimately, the highs outshine the lows exponentially.
Story (4 out of 5)
Sonic and the Secret Rings takes place in the world of Arabian Nights. After encountering a genie named Shahra, Sonic finds out that
the evil Erazor Djinn is bent on erasing the pages of Arabian Nights and destroying the storybook world. Sonic decides to help Shahra and thus begins his quest. The story, while somewhat original, doesn’t really fit the typical Sonic mold. Surprisingly enough, the story is pretty interesting, and you’ll see a lot of cut-scenes that can be a bit cheesy at times but still manage to draw you in. All in all, the storytelling in Sonic and the Secret Rings is strong, even with its over-the-top moments.
Gameplay (4 out of 5)
Sonic and the Secret Rings features speedy on-rails gameplay. Sonic will run forward on a predetermined path by himself, and it’s up to
you to shift him left and right, slow down, and in certain cases back up by using the Wii Remote’s motion sensing technology. Unfortunately, the game’s speed doesn’t pick up right away, and you’ll find that Sonic isn’t all that impressive at the beginning of the game. Once he does get going, however, you’ll definitely see that element of speed that made Sonic the top contender for Mario’s title back in the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
After you complete a stage, you’ll be awarded experience points. These experience points can be used to upgrade Sonic’s special skills, which he’ll also earn at the end of each stage. It is up to you to decide what skills to equip and level up, and you’ll find yourself spending a good amount of time upgrading and changing your skills later on in the game. Luckily, changing skills and leveling them up is never a tedious affair, and if you want Sonic to go fast, then you’ll want to spend some time on the skills screen. And after you see just how fast Sonic can go when you tune up his speed, you’ll be glad you did.
Controls (3 out of 5)
The controls in Sonic and the Secret Rings are functional, but they do have their hitches. You’ll hold the Wii Remote sideways and use
the face buttons to jump and perform other actions. Tilting left and right will shift Sonic in that direction as he moves forward, while a forward thrust will make him attack the nearest enemy. The game’s homing system makes hitting enemies a breeze, but you’ll find yourself mistiming and miscalculating attacks and jumps across large gaps, which can get frustrating. Additionally, there will be times where you’ll be forced to back track a bit by tilting the Wii Remote back. These instances really slow down what is otherwise a game with a good sense of speed.
Graphics and Sound (4 out of 5)
Visually, Sonic and the Secret Rings is an impressive-looking Wii game. It’s not perfect by any means, but the game’s sense of speed is
portrayed excellently thanks to the game’s graphics. There is a lot of rich color use and character and enemy designs are varied. You’ll see nice textures, cool lighting effects, and an ever-prominent blur that really makes you feel like you’re going fast.
The game features a lot of voice acting for each of the characters. If you’ve watched Sonic X, then you’ll know what to expect in terms of character voices. There are more than a few cheesy moments to be found in the game, and you’ll feel compelled to either lower the volume a bit or switch to the Japanese language tracks. The music in the game isn’t all great either. There are a few enjoyable themes here and there, but you’ll also be force-fed a lot of songs with bad vocals.
Lasting Value (4 out of 5)
Sonic and the Secret Rings will either last you a very short time or a very long time. This is because the game’s single-player mode isn’t
very long, but it does feature a lot of missions and bonus tasks. You can go for the gold medal in each stage, and doing so will require you to perform the level almost flawlessly, and you’ll definitely be compelled to do just that at times.
There’s also a multiplayer option for up to four players that adds some legs to the game. The game’s multiplayer consists of different options for playing a handful of minigames. It’s definitely a cool addition, and it fits right in with other party games on the Wii. The minigames rely on the Wii’s motion sensing functionality, and most of them are solid enough to keep you coming back a few times.
Sonic and the Secret Rings Overall Rating (4 out of 5)
Sonic and the Secret Rings is a strong game in the Sonic franchise. It isn’t the best game in the series, and fans will likely still choose the
classic 2D games over this one, but Sonic and the Secret Rings manages to make Sonic go fast again, and this is exactly what fans have always loved about the blue hedgehog. It’s enough to give even the most skeptical of Sonic fans a fun, entertaining time.