It wouldn’t be unkind to say that Secret Rings didn’t exactly get the biggest buzz in the Sonic fanbase. After getting stung with Sonic 06, which was claimed to be a glorious return to the franchise, it’s only understandable that everyone was taking an extra step back with this one. But as time went on, curiosity rose and now many people are betting their lives on Sonic and the Secret Rings being the ultimate Sonic game that everyone should own. So, is it?
The story isn’t your typical Sonic-goes-after-Robotnik gig. After falling asleep reading the ‘Arabian Nights’ tale, Sonic is beckoned by a genie spirit called Shahra. She explains to Sonic that some purple git called Erazor Djinn is wrecking the pages of the Arabian Nights book and re-writing the story to his own design. So ol’ bluey gets warped into the classic book, equipped with a ring to call on Shahra’s power whenever he has a wish he needs granting. Insert obligatory “She can grant me a wish, hurr hurr” quip here.
The graphics certainly show off Sonic’s character and style, even in a different world.
From then on you’re hurtled into the game. There are seven worlds to complete, each containing 12 missions that unlock themselves as you progress from one stage to another. You will need to clear certain missions to continue the story, and Secret Rings holds a refreshingly non-linear method of play – even though you work through the seven worlds in order, you may jump back from one to another and back again as part of the storyline.
The graphics certainly look the part for a Wii game. Sonic’s looking the best he’s probably been for years – the long stilty legs are no more, he’s been shortened a little bit, and his model is altogether much better, despite lacking the polygons of the “ultra 1-million poly look at me” stoat that featured on the XBOX 360. The colours aren’t quite your primary colour fare usually associated with Sonic games; to coincide with the theme/element of fire, everything seems to be coloured with a warmer tone. Perfect for Summer. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly suits the mood the game is trying to create.
The cut scenes we’ve mentioned before are 2D still-frame animations, which are better characterised and command more atmosphere than non-CG cutscenes in Sonic Heroes and Sonic 06. On top of this, the music is also of a very Arabian style, along with cheesy rock being the order of the day. It’ll annoy those who don’t like nonsensical lyrics in their Sonic games, but if you forego that then stages like Evil Foundry will certainly keep you pumping and on your toes. Just don’t feel tempted to talk about ‘Rocking the Place’. You know ‘no-one can touch this’.