Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sonic and the Secret Rings was, to many, Sonic's last chance to redeem himself after the debacles that were "Shadow the Hedgehog" and "Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)". This game certainly succeeds in that respect, and is easily the best 3D Sonic game since the days of the Dreamcast.
We'll start with what feels immediately different from previous entries in the series. First of all, you no longer completely control your forward and backwards movement. You move forward automatically, and can adjust your speed through jumping, stopping, and manipulating your environment. This virtually eliminates camera and perspective problems that have so plagued recent 3D Sonic games. Overall, the controls are responsive and well-done, even though there are a few hiccups.
Another addition is the experience system, which essentially allows you to purchase new skills after completing certain tasks. Some of the power-ups feel like they should have been available from the start, but the game feels perfect when you've got Sonic tweaked just so. I don't think Sonic has ever controlled as beautifully as he did for me towards the end of the game.
The music is very inconsistent in this one. Some of the songs are very catchy, while others will have you scrambling for the mute button. Sound effects from the Wii remote are functional, if unimpressive. Sonic's American voice is terrible, but thankfully you have the option to switch to the Japanese and utilize subtitles.
At the time of its release, this game was probably the most beautiful to grace the Wii. Everything looks crisp and clear in 480p and 16:9, and it was probably the first game looked like an improvement over the previous console generation. The art styIe is great, with an authentic "Arabian Nights" feel.
The story is another area where this game falters, which is puzzling since it is nothing more than a retelling of the cIassic "Arabian Nights". Once again, however, we are provided with a way around this flaw by having the ability to completely skip story sequences.
The game play is varied and consistently good, even if the difficulty is erratic. There are many different types of levels, which serve to break up the monotony of previous games. Just when you start to tire of something, you are presented with an entirely new option. Not being forced to progress through the game in a purely linear fashion is also a major plus. The bosses are very well-done and stand above previous Sonic bosses.
One of the worst parts of the previous games was having Sonic's friends shoved down your throat. Fear not, because Sonic's friends are reduced to cheerleaders and multiplayer mini-games. Speaking of multiplayer mini-games, those are decent. They feel very tacked-on, but they can be fun with a small group. Certainly not a showcased feature of the game.
Overall, you're looking at a great package with some flaws that keep it from being a truly superb title. If you ever had an interest in the Sonic series, give this one a shot. If you had lost faith because of recent Sonic games, take heart. This one could re-inspire your love for our spiky blue hero.