Sonic Rivals is a sad reminder that Sonic has seen better times.
Sonic Rivals took some of the most iconic elements from the Sonic formula and applied those to a racing game and the result of such unique concoction was a familiar yet fresh experience. It wasn’t without some problems though, but Rivals felt different enough in franchise that’s grown more boring and predictable over the years. Unfortunately, its sequel is remarkably the same to Sonic Rivals and takes no risks whatsoever.
Fans of the Sega Dreamcast will be familiar with Sonic Rivals 2 since the game’s a throwback to Sonic titles of that era. In the game, you race and battle enemies in colorful two-dimensional levels that have twist, turns and loops. As you would expect, there are different modes to take into account. In the single-player mode, you have access to the story, single-event, cup circuit and free play modes. In multiplayer (which only supports local) there are single events, cup circuit, challenges and card-trading modes.
Additionally, single-player has special stages called Battle Modes where you compete against your rival. In Knockout, you try to knock out your opponent using power-ups until they have no more rings left. There’s a mode called Capture the Chao, which is basically a traditional capture the flag mode, but the flag is replaced by the iconic character from the Sonic series. But that’s not all, there are also regular races, Ring Battles where you try to collect more rings that your opponent and King of the Hill where attacking your opponent will attach a bomb and the character who carries the bomb when time runs out loses the match.
Although the staggering number of modes sounds overwhelming at first, you’ll spend most of your time racing against bots or friends. In these races, the main goal is to reach the finish line before your opponent and while this means holding the right button and jumping from time to time, you can also collect power-ups, attack your opponent, destroy part of the environments, collect rings, fight bosses and so on.
Apart from racing, some card-collecting mechanics come into play and they are as useless as always. Basically, you collect cards by winning races, completing challenges and trading with friends in the multiplayer mode. Cards are just an aesthetic option, since they add absolutely nothing new to the experience and while there are a lot of cards to collect (150 to be more precise,) they are there just so that you can look at them. In fact, there’s not a lot of surprises in this sequel. Apart from some new characters and the fact that there’s voice acting this time around, there’s nothing that can be considered new which seems like a wasted opportunity.
Like its predecessor, Sonic Rivals 2 is full of problems. Battles against rivals are remarkably easy, since these races are just a matter of pushing the right arrow on the PSP and them jumping from time to time to avoid some obstacles. Also the game’s extremely repetitive and while some of the bonus stages try to add novelty to the experience, you’ll spend most of your time racing.
The game’s way too short, but it hides this by encouraging you to finish the single-player campaign (which should take you around 4-5 hours to complete the first time through) a couple of times. Once you finish it with at least one character, you can move on to another one (there are eight characters to choose from, including Sonic, Tails, Knuckes, Rouge, Shadow, Metal Sonic, Silver and Epsiol.) and even though the campaign is pretty much the same, dialogues change and you unlock different cup events. Apart from that, you can always try to unlock as many cards as you can. Nevertheless, Sonic Rivals 2 is a game that won’t hold your attention for long, since once you complete the story mode at least once, you’ve pretty much seen everything the game has to offer. To be fair, different characters have different special powers, but while these can help decide the outcome of some races, they aren’t enough to make you want to play the same mode eight times.
Sonic Rivas is more of the same. The game takes the formula of its predecessor and does a by-the-numbers sequel that fails to impress. There’s a short single-player campaign the game encourages you to play ad nauseam, a predictable multiplayer and a bunch of boring extras. This is a sad reminder that Sonic has seen better times.