The Air Shoe Diaries: Gentlemen, Start Your Riding!

The Air Shoe Diaries: Gentlemen, Start Your Riding!

Guten tag mien Sonic brethren.

Okay, so I lied when I said in the last column that this would be about the most important character in the series. It’ll come. Eventually. But for now I want to talk about the wonders yet to come.

If you recall a fair old while ago now, a rumoured Sonic R Extreme, or something along those lines, was disclosed. Leaked out onto a website and covered by SONIC NEWS, the rumour gathered a lot of conflicting opinions ranging from ‘oooh!’ to ‘bwah?’ and ‘cornflakes?’ to ‘your mum!’. Okay, so the last ones were lies as well, but that’s what you get with AAUK columns – one of them always tells the truth and the other one always lies. So beware! As does one of them lead to the answers at the centre of the game review, and the other one leads to ba-ba-ba-boom – CERTAIN DEATH! Ooooooooohhh!

I’m sure I’ve got that mixed up with… something… ah, no matter.

So Sonic Riders lurks on the horizon, like a Spanish armada of fun and multiplayer shenanigans. Despite having no local pals who are up for a good multiplayer hammering, Yours Truly is looking forward to it immensely. Mainly because it just seems to ooze fun from every pore, and appears saturated with great gameplay ideas. Maybe not original ideas, but seasoned ones that at least seem fresh and nicely applied.

What eventually came to light – after that rumour was quashed with SEGA’s giant rumour squashing mallet – was the immortal word that the non-cynical yelled with barely suppressed glee; hoverboards! And as much as SEGA probably don’t want this to happen, you cannot expect riding on futuristic air boards not to be unequivocally linked to the iconic creations of Back to the Future, Pt 2. It’s what the press and journos will say, it’s what we will say (and indeed are saying). So hoverboards arrive again on our consoles for the first time since Super BTTF 2, and they’re looking mighty fine.

Compared to Sonic R – which was essentially Mario Kart without the Kart or Mario – you could say this is what would have happened if WipeOut! had been made exclusively by Sonic Team. Lots of jumping, traffic, obstacles and automatic transition sections – the latter rapidly becoming a staple of Sonic games and I’m starting to fester a bit of agitation to them. They look great, but automatic loop sections, giant bow and arrows, bungee jumps, catapults, trebuchets, cannons, etc are kind of a cheap way of putting in something ‘different’ in a game but having no real way of interacting or improving with them except just setting them off. There’s a vast array of characters to play as (which in today’s multiplayer paradise is an essential feature) and various story paths and circuit routes. The graphics look good, the speed looks fast and the cut scenes are – as in Shadow the Hedgehog – full quality CGI. Music is once again provided by Jun Senoue, and we have a Crush 40 title track, thus providing the Sonic radio people with smiling faces and lots more quality music to play.

So yeah, first impressions are good. I was rather pleased when looking at the game videos. All the levels seem to follow the infamous SONIC LEVEL STANDARD SET(TM), which means when it comes out I won’t have to change S.W.A.G that much, which I’m rather happy about. Heh. A nice hand animated opening sequence, well; I SAY that as I’m pretty sure that despite being available to view on the F.M.P (which my comp doesn’t like) it isn’t on the FTP yet. *Prods Fastfeet with Vector’s razor sharp wit*.

So, all things being equal (except those that aren’t), it seems to at least suggest a fast, slick game with a rather nicely positioned learning curve. Things are looking as sweet as an Amy love letter written on sugar paper by a liquorish quill. Filled with maple syrup.

And now I’m going to look at the characters and nitpick. Again.

The Babylon Rogues and how to make Tails and Robotnik look weak

Following what seems to be the Sonic mantra of ‘Speed, Flight, Power’ which worked OH so well in Sonic Heroes , we have another trio of new characters, more rivals for each of our main trio and mistakes a plenty.

First off is the leader of our merry band of neo-thieves and that’s Jet the Hawk. A lean, mean, speed machine, decked out in British Racing Green and who bears no similarities to Shadow at all. Except the artwork looks like they’ve literally said ‘draw Shadow as a bird’. This doesn’t help by the fact they both seem to use the same red eye liner; some shop somewhere is making a mint out of those two. Mmm. Jet’s voice, if the first trailer is anything to go by, is in the ‘arrogant, yet stupidly weedy’ bracket and I fear this may detract from the character – this is assuming he comes back in the already announced Riders 2. Whether he’s taken seriously or not will depend a lot on the storyline. Shadow, I think, has always been taken as a true rival to Sonic, thanks to the two part storyline in SA2 which allowed you to beat the hell out of the blue blur. What do SEGA have up their enormous, ludicrously Georgian lace cuffed sleeve to make us believe this time? I tell you what, it better be good.

The power element is taken by Storm the Albatross.


Yes, an albatross. What is it with SEGA and albatrosses? Didn’t we have an Egg Albatross in Heroes? Storm is grey, because, y’know, storm clouds are grey and he looks like Big the Cat… again, drawn as a bird. He’s the muscle of the team, and he’s so good that in the trailer – when ordered to lay some smack down on Team Sonic – he gets the crap beaten out of him by Knuckles. Thank god they don’t bury Knuckles as the fight master, because what comes next feels like a violation.

Our final member, and flighty bird (because, y’know hawks and albatrosses can’t FLY can they? You trip over them every day in the street – and I’m sure I saw a couple on a bus the other day), is Wave the Swallow. Now, every schoolboy knows that a Swallow is a long distance flying bird that migrates south in the winter. It’s an insect eating bird of the Hirundinidae family, has a dark blue back, brown head and throat and pinkish breast. Which in the Sonicverse means she’s purple all over. -_-* Swallows also have narrow wings and its signature forked tail, and thankfully Miss Wave does have a forked tail. I checked. Though I got a slap for it, *rubs cheek*. No really, it’s on the artwork. :p

However haven’t SEGA missed a trick here? What, again as every schoolboy knows, is the name of the bird that you can never tell from a Swallow because it looks basically identical and they fly in the same places?

The Swift. Wave The Swift? Doesn’t that sound better?

Now comes the problem I have with her. SEGA have done wonders with building her up on the official site. In fact, to prove my point let me quote the character section directly:

“This mechanically-gifted member of the Babylon Rogues is a genius and Extreme Gear is her speciality. Her father, in fact, was the mechanic for the previous generation of Babylon Rogues. While Tails and Dr. Eggman are talented, Wave’s skills are far superior.”

Thus in a mere few sentences you take the second and third principle characters of the series, and dump all over them. I’m mean jeez, ever since at least Sonic Adventure they’ve been building up this mechanical rivalry between Tails and Robotnik. Tails (who, if his hair doesn’t improve soon is going to turn into Foghorn Leghorn), in the recent games has been positioned as a rival to Eggman. Almost equal to that of Sonic (it’s been a slow burner), but slowly and surely Tails has been creeping up on Eggman in terms of mechanical quality and scale. Even Eggman’s acknowledged this. But now – oh yes, all that build-up, all that anticipation, the prospect of a big all-out fight for when Tails actually equals or indeed surpasses Eggman – that slow burning storyline… Gone. Wiped out. Way to go… Tails’ purpose removed, Robotnik’s stock reduced even further. Well. Frelling. Done.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.