Sonic starts off with bugger all abilities, but can earn more as he levels up via a system not unlike an RPG experience points board. Higher levels will allow for more custom abilities to be equipped to a ring that Sonic wears while dashing through the stage. It’s not too much of a chore to play the game from the start, contrary to some opinion – but mere retrospect will make you wonder why Sonic needed to earn these abilities after you’ve obtained them. But that point’s nothing major.
Each stage has three Fire Souls to collect, along with a special medal to earn depending on how fast you’ve completed a mission. Gold medals (the equivalent of Ranks) will unlock pages in the Special Book, an option full of hidden extras. As mentioned, background music and movies as well as a timeline of Sonic history will be unlockable, along with concept artwork and a special section which includes– we’d better not spoil the surprise, actually. The number of secrets on board certainly add to the long-lasting nature of the game, even if you can blast through the story itself within a day or two.
There are many unlockables to be found, including abilities and franchise information.
But needless to say, the straightforward nature of earning medals instead of taking every single stat into account for a Rank is refreshing and the addictive gameplay will entice you to keep playing until you’ve earned that medal. This is the first Sonic game I’ve played since Sonic Adventure 2 where I’ve wanted – nay, desired – utter completion on my part.
And let’s not forget Party Mode, the four player multiplayer option that is filled with minigames and board modes to play. There are 40 games to play (some unlockable via single player) and using several scenarios you can play minigames to win rounds. You can enter a one-on-one tournament game for bragging rights, a pirate ship race or board game for treasure (both using minigame placement as a dice roll) or a treasure chest opening game where game winners get to open boxes to earn coins. The games are for the most part fun, but some are unfortunately hit by control bugs – some examples being a net game where you have to catch Kri Ma Djinn having erratic sensor control and a light-shining game where it is difficult to move your mirror about the screen.
So is Sonic and the Secret Rings the saviour of the franchise some were hoping it to be? Nope. It remains a very enjoyable, very playable game full of lasting possibility, and the Wii Remote is used to some interesting effect in some stages. But all the same it remains a spinoff game, highlighted by the fact that neither feels like a true Sonic game nor contains a flawless experience due to the sometimes aggravating controls.
Despite this though, the general design and attitude of the game is a step in the right direction. Sonic has a lot more character and the game is emphasised on gameplay rather than story. OK, so some people hated the story. I liked it. For once there wasn’t all this ‘serious apocalyptic’ rubbish spouting out of someone’s rectum for once. Buy it if you have a Wii – you will most likely enjoy it to the same degree as we did. Although a warning – one of the cutscenes includes use of the word “Iblis”. We almost had a relapse.