Sonic Rush, then. As with Sonic Gems Collection, this game was already being banded about well before SEGA could talk about it. They should really guard their secrets more often. There was talk that this was going to be an all new racing game featuring Sonic and co. But this turns out to be false, instead a rather new way of playing your classic 2D platformer. The name threw many fansites off the mark concerning genre, as many rumours were dead certain that a racing game was in the works.
Contrary to popular belief though, this isn’t your racing game, but a whole new take on the Sonic platformer. A 2D Sonic game, using 3D models, that uses both of the NDS’ screens to give a larger perspective of the gaming field. It’s a very cool idea that appears to be being put to good use judging by these first snapshots we have of the game. The graphics don’t appear to be up to the proper standard, but assuming we know our Sonic Teams, Naka and co are simply trying to make the gameplay as solid as possible before touching up the graphics.
The level design, although it’s folly to judge base on five screenshots, do look nice however – the backdrops look like a very gorgeous blend between Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic Advance style scenery and styles, with levels you could call Hydrocity, with the fourth image above reminding us all about the level design of Carnival Night Zone. The fifth screen, while bearing resemblence to Desert Palace and Sandopolis, is a great sneak peek at the potential for many alternate routes in this game. The screens certainly show a promising game, with Sonic grinding up a vine and double-screened loops shown.
Which leaves just a few questions; mostly concerning that purple character that’s posing next to Sonic. Well, we can reveal that her name is Blaze. Blaze the Cat. Blaze is the queen of another world, and protector of the “Sol Emeralds”. Much like the Chaos Emeralds, these Sol Emeralds are quite the dangerous tool if in the wrong hands. She’s also a bit nippy on the old legs, assumedly.
So what gives on the storyline? Well, Sonic and Blaze meet through a dimensional paradox that somehow collides Blaze’s parallel universe with Sonic’s own. Hedgehog and Cat (kind of an odd combination… but then what the hell, we’ve had a hedgehog and a fox for 13 years!) join forces to retrieve the Sol Emeralds before anyone else gets to them… presumably someone who happens to don a peculiar orange moustache…
Sonic Rush takes a nice and simple route regarding character control. At present, only Sonic and Blaze have been confirmed as playable characters. This is a somewhat refreshing move by Sonic Team; we were getting worried that every single Sonic game would have to have Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, Espio, Cream and their mothers all join in on the action. Given how Sonic Team love characters so much (especially making new ones), we have to say we’re quite glad that the focus is solely on two characters (and undoubtedly, Eggman). Let Sonic be the star of the show for once. Having said that, Sonic Adventure 2’s early trailers merely played out Sonic, Knuckles and Eggman as potential playable characters, and then look what happened. Keep it simple, Yuji, we’ll love you for it.
All in all, we’re quite chuffed and, shall we say, excited about this one, despite the touch-ups required for the graphics. The touch screen will apparently be used for play, although how this will work out is yet to be seen. We do know that Naka-san specified that a part of the E3 2004 Technical Demo (remember, the one where you\’re rubbing the bottom screen to make Sonic run faster) will be incorporated into Sonic Rush, so perhaps we will be seeing this in a Special Stage of some kind. A brand new Sonic adventure, using touch screen, double-screened, lush backdrops and scenery, and only two characters? Slap us up some of that classic innovative design we’ve been missing for oh so long, Yuji and co, and you’ll have us biting.