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Overview

Sonic runs through the Arabian-inspired Sand Oasis.
Sonic runs through the Arabian-inspired Sand Oasis.

Sonic and the Secret Rings (known in Japan as SONIC: Sonikku to Himitsu no Ringu) is a 3D platformer developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Wii in early 2007 (February 20 in North America, March 2 in Europe, and March 15 in Japan).

The first game in the long-running series to be made for the Wii, Secret Rings changes up the formula by having titular hedgehog Sonic running automatically in a set path while players use the Wiimote (both with buttons and with motion controls) to maneuver him around obstacles and perform special abilities.

The story is heavily inspired by the Arabian Nights collection of ancient stories. After falling asleep after reading the book of the same name, Sonic is awakened by Shahra, Genie of the Ring, who explains that Erazor Djinn, Genie of the Lamp, is using his evil magic to erase the pages of the book. Accompanied by Shahra, Sonic enters the book and encounters Erazor, who curses him with a fire arrow and forces him to embark on a quest to traverse the worlds of the story and gather the seven World Rings.

Along with a "Skill Ring" system, where players can gain experience points and use them to customize Sonic's stats and abilities, the game includes a bonus separate minigame collection (known as "Party" mode). With support for up to four players, this mode includes numerous ways to play them (including a turn-based tournament mode and "board game" modes similar to Mario Party and Sonic Shuffle). Progressing through the main story allows players to unlock new minigames and other special features.

The game was known in-development as Sonic Wild Fire and Sonic and the Secret of the Rings and is the first game in the series to focus on non-standard controls. It later received a sequel in 2009, titled Sonic and the Black Knight, which is instead based on another tale (the legend of King Arthur). The sequel abandons using motion controls to maneuver Sonic (which is instead used for sword combat). Both of these titles make up the short-lived "Sonic Storybook" spin-off series.

Development

Sonic is always moving forward, requiring intervention from the player to make him stop.
Sonic is always moving forward, requiring intervention from the player to make him stop.

"Originally, we were going to produce Sonic the Hedgehog, the game we did for the Xbox 360, on all platforms, including the Wii, but after we looked at the Wii remote and the features of the controller, we decided to produce a new, completely different Sonic title for the system. I already had this basic idea [of Sonic constantly moving forward] in my mind, and when Sega asked me to produce the Wii game, I thought it would be a perfect fit." - Yojiro Ogawa on the creation of the game.

Although he worked a little bit on the original Sonic Adventure , this was Yojiro Ogawa's (of Phantasy Star, Feel the Magic, and Panzer Dragoon fame) first Sonic game with him as the leader. When he started production on this game, development was already underway for the Sonic game for HD consoles. He wanted his game to be "completely different" from the 360 game. The development team for this game was much larger than the average Sonic team, due to the short development schedule given to the game.

Since at the time, the Wii was going by the code name of Nintendo Revolution, he felt it was the proper time to "revolutionize" Sonic, and make him do things he has never done before. It was at this time when he decided to have the game take place inside The Arabian Nights. Sonic's friends do appear on the game, but dressed up and acting as characters from the book, much to Sonic's confusion.

Sonic uses Time Break to slow down time enough to prevent being eaten by this dinosaur.
Sonic uses Time Break to slow down time enough to prevent being eaten by this dinosaur.

"I realized that many of the other characters [in the series] were becoming too strong. Usually when we create a Sonic title, we create the Sonic parts first, then add some powers to each of the other characters to differentiate them. But as a result, those other characters become stronger than Sonic. With this game, I wanted to focus on Sonic and allow the players to customize him according to their own tastes." - Yojiro Ogawa on creating Sonic and the Secret Rings's RPG system.

This game is the first Sonic game to employ an RPG-like system for upgrading Sonic's abilities throughout the course of the game. During the level, Sonic gains experience points, which allow him to be able to use more abilities, such as being able to charge his jump, which allows him to get to branching parts of a level and complete more missions. Simplified versions of this system were added to Sonic Unleashed and Sonic and the Black Knight.

This game was originally going to be called Sonic Wildfire, but was then changed to Hyper Sonic, Sonic and the Secret of the Rings, and then to finally Sonic and the Secret Rings when copyright problems prevented them from using the original name. Originally thought to be a mainline installment of the Sonic series, this game was retroactively separated into a new "Storybook Series" with the release of it's sequel, Sonic and the Black Knight, also from the same team.

Reception

E3 attendees gather to play Sonic Wildfire at E3 2006.
E3 attendees gather to play Sonic Wildfire at E3 2006.

Although the game was hailed for effectively eliminating the problems that plagued 3D Sonic games for ages, such as bad camera work, by making the game linear, a new set of problems with gameplay were created.

Although the game was designed for Sonic to go running through levels at very high speeds, avoiding obstacles, most of the missions in the game involve heavy backtracking, which Sonic can not do very well in this game. The simplicity of it's control scheme and use of motion controls were very well received, lack of polish with the game engine gave players a lot of frustrating moments trying to do things that were not allowed by the game.

Although many critics blasted the game for it's rushed development, it was generally viewed as a step in the right direction in the franchise, and was much better received than it's HD competitor, both critically and financially, with a 70% score in Gamerankings, and 1.2 million units sold worldwide.

Soundtrack

Disc 1tDisc 2t
Seven Rings in Hand5:10The Last Palace2:00
The Lost Prologue1:51Sandstorm2:19
Let the Speed Mend It3:42Power of the Ring0:49
Poison Spear3:34Misgiving2:40
The Wicked Wild3:37Judgment1:32
The Palace That Was Found3:27Ali Baba & Sinbad Rescued!3:37
How It Started4:22Shimmer of Hot Air1:47
High and Broken4:28The Legendary Blue Hedgehog2:35
No Way Through4:07His Fate1:43
Blue on the Run3:59Shimmer of Hot Air "Heartbeat"2:14
The White of Sky3:07King of King2:23
Unawakening Thought4:42The Promise0:49
It Has Come to This2:50Shimmer of Hot Air "Rage"1:07
Worth a Chance5:29Miss You1:31
Revive2:16
Character Secret0:35
Advertise1:12
Party Dress1:41
Yellow Sneakers0:54
Blue Shirt1:18
Violin Beginner's Class0:17
Violin Middle Class0:15
Violin Higher's Class0:13
White Gloves1:23
Pull On It!0:43
Purple Pants1:25
Worth a Chance (Original Vers.)5:28
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