Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Sonic Riders (GameCube) Review

Oh dear, it seems Sonic Riders has fallen into the same category as the 3-4-3 formation, communism and the American version of Red Dwarf. Good on paper, bad in practise. A Sonic based racing game on hover boards sounds like it should've been a ripping good laugh and helped re-ignite the flagging franchise. In reality though it does none of those things and caps off a disappointing generation for Sega's famed mascot. Let's see the faults of this game first before we analyse the repercussions of it though...

To begin with though we should have a look at the plot. Dr Robotnik is hosting an "extreme" tournament using hover boards and the price of entry is one Chaos Emerald each, winner takes the lot. Several people enter, including Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and a trio of new characters. These characters are known as the Babylon Rogues and are mythical thieves who have stolen a Chaos Emerald and are searching for the ancient Babylonian treasure. So everyone enters and that's where you take over.

You'll probably head into story mode first, a wise choice indeed. But anyone hoping for an F-Zero type story mode will be deeply...deeply disappointed. You see, whereas in F-Zero the missions led to unique situations and race structures (i.e. not always standard 3 lap races, occasionally having to fulfil certain requirements) in Sonic Riders that isn't the case. The vast majority of missions are very formulaic and invariably require you to finish first. Why have it in? Why not just have the normal race modes and leave this out? The plot hardly warrants a whole mode to uncovering it and this just wastes disk space and the developers' time.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

There is a multiplayer mode in there, but it isn't that spectacular. Feels quite tacked on and not as integral to the game as it should be. At worst the multiplayer should've been an amusing diversion, however this won't get near your GC when mates are around. "Shall we play Sonic Riders?" "Instead Super Monkey Ball's Monkey Race? No chance".

Graphically the game is very nice. Virtually no slowdown and good detail is present all through the game. The cut scenes vary from being in game to being in quite a cool anime style fmv movie reminiscent of the old fmv on Sonic CD. It would be interesting to see Sega carry the style of the cut scenes into the full game, it might give Sonic back that unique style he's been missing since he moved to 3d. Alas we are stuck with the generic graphics again. Not a bad thing, just not a particularly good thing either.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When you actually get down to racing you'll realise that this isn't your normal racing game. There is no accelerate button, there is a grind button and there are buttons for front flips and back flips. Confused? Understandable. You see, Sonic Riders is based on tricks. The more tricks you pull off when in mid air then the more your "air meter" will fill. Your air meter determines how much you can use your speed boost, which is crucial when you can't actually accelerate. To refill this air meter you can either do tricks (as has been mentioned), collect the necessary rings for an air upgrade or go into a pit lane. Now the pits aren't like in F-Zero, you don't glide through them recovering your depleted air and not interfering with the speed of the game. Instead you stop rather abruptly and are forced to wait whilst you recharge. Agonisingly having to watch everyone drift past you with all the ease of the wind itself.

That's just one of the annoyances of actually racing, and in fact it's a suitably minor one when compared to the one we're going to mention. Firstly let's think, in a fast racing game on hover boards what do you expect to be sublime? Yes, the controls. You are riding on the air, this should control like a dream. You should be darting in and out of opponents, sliding around corners and pulling off tricks like there is no tomorrow. However the controls are what kill this game and consign it to the bargain bin section of your local gaming emporium. If you somehow manage to catch up with an opponent then one hit of the A button results in you attacking the opponent nearest to you. You have no control over attacks and some are pretty odd (Knuckles seems to bite people, Tails swings a plug around his head) and all they do is remove coins and a bit of speed from the equation. Not the game deciding factor it really should be.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When on the straight moving left to right is far too sensitive, you'll crash into the walls and lose vital speed. Bizarrely, when you then go to turn a corner it is impossible. You're character leans and leans and leans but your hover board just slams into the barrier. Now this isn't just on walls where you should be using the "air slide" to turn, this is on all corners. So you are left having to air slide around all corners, again taking the speed out of the game. This might be okay if the computer faced the same problems, but guess what... they can take corners perfectly.
It just adds to the frustration factor of racing and means that you can race a well as you possibly can and still lose simply down to the controls. The fun factor is zapped out as is the skill factor and those are two to of the main reasons of playing games in general, so why waste your time struggling with this? Well you shouldn't, gamers everywhere deserve better than this. The simple lack of care taken in making the game really shows through and it shows a complete lack of respect for gamers.

Those factors make Sonic Riders a Sonic game you can definitely miss out. Granted there are enough extras to unlock (new boards, characters) and the levels are well crafted (although not up to Mario Kart or F-Zero standards) but actually racing is a frustrating and soul sucking experience that was clearly not tested well enough before being sent out. The worrying thing is that a sequel is strongly rumoured, could this mark the slide into EA style Sonic games? It's possible. The standard of Sonic games is certainly slipping and the general lack of care when using the brand is a big worry for fans. Here's hoping things improve, because this game is a crushing disappointment. We hoped for F-Zero meets Sonic, we got a monster of a game. Sad.

Screenshot for Sonic Riders on GameCube- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Flawed air system takes the pace out of the game and the trick system is very restricting. Controls are dire and corners are impossible to take. Good luck playing this with any modicum of skill.

Graphics

Very nice and it all moves along at a fair pace. True, some unique style would be nice but these graphics certainly do the job well.

Sound

Bang on average. We had to turn the game back on when writing this as it was so forgettable. Nothing to annoy yet nothing to inspire. Voices are usual Sonic fare... although Tails' voice is steadily improving.

Value

Decent enough, there are plenty of extras and if you get into it then beating your lap times will extend the lifespan. However the story mode is pretty short-lived and you should blast through each branch of it an hour at a time... infact (given the quality of the story mode) maybe that should be a plus point...

Cubed3 Rating

Oh dear... oh dear dear dear. What happened Sonic? Was it Shadow getting his own game? Are you now extracting your revenge by destroying the franchise? Well if so then you've started well and infact kudos to you, a racing game you can barely control is one hell of a way to destroy a franchise. A pathetic story mode is not bad work aswell.
Just lay off for the next game... please? We love Sonic games and this level of quality isn't that pleasing.

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25.03.2006

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Developer

Sonic Team

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Driving

Players

4

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   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Terrible game. Really awful. Never play it, impossible to control.

Dang, very dissapointing - especially after if got some fairly decent reviews elsewhere including NGC.

:(


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >

I was stunned at the reviews, the controls make it impossible to enjoy the game.

wait till superlink reads this one..

~Getting on C3's massive tits since 2K5.~

^ was thinkin the same thing :lol:

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

I look forward to hearing his defence of the game...as long as he doesn't use the phrases: rules!?!... "but its sonic" and "sonic rules!" Smilie

Hmm methinks you only played it for 5 minutes and judged the whole game. Yes at first the controls are annoying as hell but once you get used to them the game really opens up for you.

Air sliding, when you do it properly, gives you a speed boost coming out of it. Try pressing right and R at the same time (Left and L).

Attacking resets their RING count to 1, thus levelling them down, thus decreasing their total air and making their boosts less effective. This can completely destroy an opponent especially on the final lap.

You shouldn't need to use the air pits ever. They are penalties. Stop boosting so much or do better tricks.

My only real beef is with the shoulder buttons not relating to direction. A few times I've fell off an edge because I've come out of a right turn and pressed L too early, thus creating a right slide instead of a left one.

Yes it's not groundbreakingly brilliant but it's not as bad as you're making it out to be.

It's not as bad as you say, i admit the controls are hard but for once at least a sonic game isn't as simple everyone complains how the controls are never complex enough and are simple little commands and for once sega listen to your demands and now your not even satified with it!

I loved the game, i took about 1 hour straight to get the controls still having some trouble and i think it is good, admitaly the story is a little feeble and not thought through well.

Most likely as it is more of a racing game than a propper platformer.

Hmm methinks you only played it for 5 minutes and judged the whole game. Yes at first the controls are annoying as hell but once you get used to them the game really opens up for you.

On the contrary, I've had it for over a week now and been playing it non stop. The speed boost coming out of air sliding is incredibly minimal and still leaves you trailing behind the god like computer. I realise that attacking does these things but it hardly wrecks the opponents chances. Especially in story mode, the "character" opponent will always recover no matter what you do. You say the air pits are penalties, surely the penalty is you going onto foot once you run out of air. The pits should replenish easily and without detracting speed.

Dashing depends on who you use and what level you are. Level 3 Sonic dash is pretty damn effective. Level 3 Shadow dash is pretty pathetic.

Running isn't really that bad. You can't do proper jumps or use accelerators but if a ramp isn't that far away a quick few skills and you're laughing. I rarely use the pits, I prefer to just run it.

I'm having no problems winning races. Sometimes a disaster happens and I don't quite make a super jump leading to me coming second. Generally though the right character/board combination will leave the opposition eating your dust.

Boo! ... Sonic Team... hang your heads in shame.

Still no comment from superlink..hmmm..

~Getting on C3's massive tits since 2K5.~
Staff Member

Oh man! I was looking forward to this, particularly after City Escape in SA2 with the air boards, despite the over sensitive controls!

Such a mixed bag of reviews, guess it's another of those "try before you buy"!

Piiiiii...ka.....SUEEEEEEE!
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I don't care. I'm still going to get it & love it, just like I did with Tails Adventures & Shadow The Hedgehog.

Also everyone on SonicStadium.org seems to love it :S

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

OK listen dude, I'll TELL you why they have airboards. 'Cos Sonic & Shadow are obviously faster running than anyone else. Not exactly fair is it? Remember Sonic R? That's why that was kinda unfair, while on this, the boards make all characters equal, just with different stats, like "trick" or "Speed" or something, sorta like the Lightweight & Heavyweight thing in MK.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Great review for a terrible sounding game, John.

Didn't you pay for this one? Owned! Smilie

Yeah, I did pay for this one.

Damn you Sega *shakes fist*

Tails Adventure is brilliant, though!

Finally another fan! :P


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Oh, I thought Tails' Adventure was one of those Sonic games that only I liked :eek: NOM certainly hate it more than Satin (We don't even know if they hate Satin...Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

You should return it, John, and send SEGA an angry letter.

'Look, you're awesome for going on the Virtual Console, but even that can't gloss over this shite.'

Aww I thinking getting this but I wont be now.

First of all I have to disagree a lot with this. The controls can be tricky at first but they got easy for me to get used to. This game is fast and is not really hard has many say. It has a normal level of difficulty like other games. And is not bad at all when compared with other Sonic games.

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