Sonic Riders (GameCube) Preview

By John Boyle 03.02.2006 19

Let's be frank here, the home console Sonic franchise is going downhill. Sonic Adventure heralded a new age for the blue hero, but SA 2 was a significant step down in quality and excitement for the series. Sonic Heroes was mediocre to say the least and Shadow The Hedgehog (whilst not being the outright failure many predicted) caused media uproar and for many signalled a change from quality games to casual gamer pleasing. This racing game was greeted with groans of displeasure and embarrassment from many Sonic fans and was seen to be the franchise truly selling out, but is this the case? Let's find out...

Sonic is the fastest thing on the planet... Shadow and Knuckles are fast but Sonic still is "Sonic Boom" fast. So why would he need to race on a hover board? Well two reasons, firstly hover boards are cool and no one can deny that. Secondly, it's much easier to create good controls and a nice feel to piloting a hover board than piloting a character directly. Anyone who played Sonic R will testify that racing games on foot feel... mushy to control.

Speaking of controls, Sonic Riders certainly impresses in this department for sheer bravery. It would be so easy for Sonic Team to simply do a traditional control scheme (R trigger as accelerator, L is break, the rest can do anything) but they dare to do different. There isn't an accelerate button, instead the game is geared towards moving left and right, using the "turbo" button when the racer sees fit and doing the fundamentals of racing well (drifting, shortcuts, attacking other racers). This will certainly make the game more accessible for gamers not well versed in the ways of racing games, and the simple controls means the gamer can focus on the new gear types.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube

"What are gear types" I hear you cry? Well, gear types are the extension of the different powers of each character introduced in previous 3d sonic games (e.g Tails = flying, Knuckles = power, Sonic = speed) and these gears will affect the shortcuts you can take. Speed characters can use rails to grind and gain extra speed, power characters can blast through walls to access hidden areas of the track, flying characters can...

Now, to use these "gears" you will need "air". Air is achieved by picking up boost packs littered around the course and by doing tricks in a style similar to the old Dreamcast game "Trickstyle". Early impressions on this gaming innovation shows that Sonic Team have gone a good job of balancing the types so none have a clear advantage and with 50 gear types present in the final game this looks like adding a great deal of replay value and general gaming value to the finished product.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube

Another gameplay addition is that of "waves". Waves are u shaped moving tunnels that trail behind players when the computer deems it so. If you can race within the length of these then you will find your speed hitting retinal explosion levels whilst those out with the wave will be slowed down a bit. If "when boosting" you catch up with the player producing the wave you will automatically do an attack which will slow them down. Should make for amusing last lap wave riding, the only concern is that the waves are too easy to ride but we won't know that until we play the final version.

Single player mode consists of standard races in dispersed with missions that tie in with the plot. Not much info is out on either, but the tracks are littered with enough shortcuts and places of interest that the missions have the potential to be quite innovative. Multiplayer is your standard 4 player racing fare, offline of course...
Graphically, this is stunning and a definite return to form for the series. Everything is crisp, bright and runs very smoothly. The waves look extremely cool and all the characters are well detailed and (crucially) extremely well animated.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube

All sounds good, but the game does have one or two potential faults. Whilst there are 16 track variations, there are only 5 standard tracks. It would be nice to have a few more and how big a drawback this will be will depend on how good the track variations are. If they can successfully simulate completely new tracks then it'll be fine. There is also the danger that this will be far too arcadey and not have any room for skill, instead relying on using the waves constantly and attacking your opponents frequently. We won't know if this is the case until release though, and it's a release that speed freaks should keep an eye on. This is shaping up to be a fun game to end Sonic's association with the GameCube and on first impressions he is going out an a high.

Sonic Riders is due for release on the 17th of March in Europe

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube

Final Thoughts

This has crept up on our wave and is ready to attack us with a fresh racing experience. Combining trademark Sonic speed with innovative track design, great "air" system and an integral trick system has made this a possible surprise hit for 2006. It has a few potential faults, but they aren't big enough to lower this anticipation rating. Bring on the release!


Sonic Team







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


NOM said it was crap :-x

Yay, I so can't wait for this game! :-D . (even if it is the LAST classic controled Sonic game Nintendo fans will ever get) sorry.

I think the character linup could have been way better though, even if the last 3 are still unconfirmed, it's a bit lame.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

This actually looks quite good, nice preview John!

I wouldn't put any stock in NOM's views these days. I just put a pre order in on this because I think it'll be a crackingly fun game to play.

Just out of curiosty, why did nom say it was crap.

Just the same reason they said Shadow was crap...

"Sonic's fast he doesn't need to ride a board, Sonic shouldn't be in spinoffs..." (they can talk *coughMARIOcough*)"This is a game you'll want to pick up & play but you can't cos the controls are complicated" They're n00bs they are

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Idiots. If I were to rate this game down it'll be on gameplay, not on concept.

Hmmm i don't really like the look of it :S.

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

well it isn't just nom who have been saying it is kack and i would tend to believe NOM more

It also looks pretty crap from the pics and videos i have seen but then again i have never liked Sonic

Actualy it IS just NOMK who have been saying that, everone else who got a chance to play the game say that it's an innovative new way to race & play & that it's looking to be the best Sonic-SpinOff of all time, & a brilliant racer.

How can you not like Sonic??!?!?! :eek:

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

He's a fanboy superlink. My anticipation is high but I won't lavish praise until I review the game.

He is a quiere blue hedgehog

Oh jesus, if you are going to insult him then at least spell it correctly. Two e's.

Stop being a pillock.

I'm not sure how much I'll like this. I've only read one other preview/review/whatever (can't remember when or where) and they didn't sound impressed by it.

Also, my taste in Sonic games are different than anyone else's here....SA2B is my favorite 3D sonic game, and I don't care much for Sonic Adventure and I hate the Shadow game.

I might pick this up when it's cheap, though.

TAG: That American Guy

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

Nah, he loves Amy & everyone knows it, 'cept for SonShadow shippers, SonRouge shippers, SonTails shippers & SonSal shippers :P

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

TAG, I think SA2B is everyone's fave 3D Sonic.

Or at least not just you, I know loadsa people.

But I did really really really like Shadow...

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

sorry to redirect off the site but wow take a look at this

Looks good to me

Still beats Mario in my oppion. The Sega team are really fucking him up tho...we can only hope and pray they restore him to his previous grandur.

Enoch Powell was right, and you know it.

It is a good game and i love racing games. The story is too short but the missions make up the time because to goet super sonic you have to get a gold medal in all of the missions. I never managed to do it.Smilie The controls are easy to get the hang of (if you do the tutorial).

( Edited 02.10.2008 11:14 by Super Sonic )

SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999

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