A great game that should please old and new fans alike.
Let me start off this review by saying that there will be plenty of comparisons to the first Sonic Rush game. If you haven't played that, you may not get as much from this review, but I hope it's still somewhat informative. There will also be some comparisons to the classic Sonic games. If you haven't played them, then go do so now. That is an order.
The gameplay in the main levels is basically identical to the predecessor, Sonic Rush, which played a lot like the classic Sonic games, except with some extra abilities, and a new playable character, named Blaze the Cat. Run through the levels with great speed, take out enemies, build up your boost bar (and gain points) by doing tricks. You also get ranked on how well you completed the level, and the better rank you get, the more materials you get to build and upgrade sea vessels, which I will get to soon. Now, while the main level gameplay is mostly unchanged from Sonic Rush, the level design themselves have been vastly improved on. There are less irritating bottomless pits, less enemies that are placed in areas that are made to assume are for running, making them very hard to avoid. Basically, while not an easy game, it seems the people who made Sonic Rush Adventure spent more time thinking of ways to make the game fun, rather than thinking of difficult obstacles as they seemed to with the first game, since the levels are a lot more fun, and even when I was dying, I never reached the level of frustration with the game that I did with Sonic Rush.
As with the first game, each boss has their own level, with one boss for each zone, unlike the earlier Sonic games, which usually had a boss at the end of each act. In this game the boss battles are slightly different. In Sonic Rush, you had to wait for an opening, at which point you had the chance to get in one hit, taking down one of their 8 health points. In this game, the boss has a health bar, which you slowly take down by hitting the boss, often with the chance to hit them multiple times in each opening. I feel this makes the boss battles a whole lot more enjoyable, especially the second boss. I find that one the most fun! Like the main levels, I did not find the boss battles very easy, but I didn't really get frustrated with dying, since they were fun enough that you didn't mind having another go. And also, praise the gaming gods, they got rid of the Tails/Cream on the lower screen cheering for you as you fight. Now the boss battles generally make use of both screens, as the main levels do.
Now we come to the ocean parts of the game. To move to the next level, or various other destinations, you have to navigate sea vessels that you build from materials. With different sea vessels, you will have to navigate through dangerous waters in different ways, fighting off enemies and such, using the Nintendo DS stylus. Sometimes you will even need to race through these waters. Now, the thing about these parts is that they are like a completely different game. There is very little that is "Sonic" about them, but I have to say I found most of these parts a lot of fun! Sometimes I got annoyed with the racing, and I didn't like using some of the sea vessels, but overall, it didn't bring down the quality of the game, as you would expect a gimmicky sort of thing like Sonic riding a jet ski to.
The game also has 100 missions to do, but there are only a few that are necessary to beat to complete the game. The missions can be fun, but are a little repetitive, seeing as they all involve completing tasks in areas that you have already played several times, which brings me to another downfall of the game. It gets kind of annoying when you have to replay levels several times to get the materials you need to build the sea vessels. The graphics of the game were decent. Nothing special, but good enough for the game it was. Now, a bit of an issue was the music. I was hoping they would have a different style than the first game, but no, they kept the silly "super funky" music. It's not terrible, and isn't that big a deal once you get into the game, but it just doesn't have any of the charm that the background music in the older games had. Another notable improvement over the last game was that you can choose between Sonic and Blaze in the same game, rather than having a separate game for each character.
The storyline was honestly kind of irritating, without much going for it. There's a lot of dialogue that just made the game drag on a little. Luckily, if you are not like me, and don't have to watch every cut scene and read every little bit of dialogue, they do give you the option of skipping them, so it's up to you whether you deal with it. And the rest of the game makes it easy to ignore the bad story. The game has a new character, Marine the Racoon, an energetic young girl. She played a large part in the game, so she was always in the cut scenes and such. She could get a little annoying, but I didn't mind her as much, as far as unnecessary Sonic characters go.
All in all, I'd say the game is a vast improvement over the already pretty good Sonic Rush. I really hope we can get a third game in the series, because it is a fun game, and the similarities to the classic Sonic games should really please the older fans.
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