Sonic Rush (DS) review
"I don't play Sonic anymore. "
I don't play Sonic anymore.
Let me rewind back to when I was just a little kid in New Jersey. I had an NES, like every single kid did. I enjoyed the holy hell out of Mario and Double Dragon like nobody's business. Times were good, until I saw it.
Television ads. Magazine ads. Comic book ads. All of them featured this strange looking creature staring back at me from the page. His smirk and his finger pointing upwards gave way to the screenshots from the game he was featured in. It was certainly much different from the slow, blocky NES games that I was used to. This little blue thing running through loops at speeds previously unheard of. This was the first time I had ever seen Sonic the Hedgehog, and synapses in my five or six year old brain fired off like they hadn't done in a long time; I wanted a Sega Genesis, and I wanted it bad.
Of course, my family was, to put it simply, poor as fucking dirt, and I didn't get one until Sonic 2 became a pack-in with the system. But I loved it to death. I loved Sonic 2. I loved Sonic 1, when I finally got my chance to play it. I loved Sonic 3, even though the Sega logo screen scared the hell out of me (the one in which Sonic jumps at the screen in a fashion most blurry). I loved Sonic so much that I was able to overlook Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast. After all, those weren't real Sonic games, therefore they didn't count. I loved that blue hedgehog, even throughout the turbulent Saturn and Dreamcast years. I still loved him when Sega went third-party. I managed to ignore all the ridiculous extraneous characters like Shadow and Big and the Chaotix. They didn't matter. Just so long as Sonic was there, I knew it was going to be an awesome ride.
I don't play Sonic anymore for the same reason I don't play Silent Hill anymore: the series is ruined beyond repair. I loved Silent Hill almost as much as I did Sonic. I own all four games, and have unlocked every hidden item and ending within. I know the bizarre storyline inside and out. I can almost recite the dialogue word for word. Then I heard that a movie was in the works. The internet had managed to lead me to believe that it wouldn't be like all those other times: this was going to be the videogame movie adaptation. I saw the commercials and the trailers and couldn't shake the feeling that something was horribly wrong. I would eventually go see the film, and I left the theater completely disgusted. How the fuck can they do this to us!? What did we ever do to them? I don't play Silent Hill anymore.
I'll admit that I hadn't played a recent Sonic title until this year, the last one being Sonic Battle for the Game Boy Advance. I decided to give Sonic Riders a try. I couldn't win a single race to save my life. The game made no sense to me; it wasn't a racing game, and it wasn't a snowboarding game. But whatever, this wasn't a real Sonic game, it was just an experiment, like Sonic R. I ignored Shadow the Hedgehog, mostly because I don't particularly care for Shadow (read: I think he's a bad joke gone too far), and also because the game looked like shit, not just because of the heavy use of guns and vehicles, but mostly the whole dark and moody atmosphere that couldn't be more forced if they tried (and as an aside: Powerman 5000 hasn't been relevant since I was in middle school, why are they in the game?). So I have never played Shadow the Hedgehog, and I never will.
Then I was given false hope by the internet again. The Nintendo DS had just recieved a new entry in the series: Sonic Rush. It was a return to what made Sonic so great. It was just as good, if not better, than the Genesis games. Hell, it may just be the game of the year! Of course, I didn't own a DS at that time, so I never got around to playing it. But a scant one day after I finally purchased one, I went looking for the game, but something didn't feel right. It was the Silent Hill movie all over again; something felt wrong. But look, I told myself, it's a Sonic game. In 2-D no less. So, with twenty dollars in hand, I was handed a copy of Sonic Rush.
I thought back to my experience with Silent Hill. There could be no possible way Sonic Rush could be that bad; Silent Hill was so bad it felt like it was done on purpose. You could literally feel the contempt the filmmakers had for the fans jump out at you from the screen. My love for the series was ripped from me, just like that completely nonsensical and uneccessary scene where Pyramid Head rips the skin off of the mentally challenged girl. There was no way Sega would do that to us, the same people who looked like complete fools for still trying to convince an uncaring world how freakin' awesome the Saturn and Dreamcast were, deluded by love. If we were fools deluded by love, then Sega is that girl our friends and family hate for being with us. Eventually, I would feel the searing pain of having my love ripped from my body the same way I had lost my love for Silent Hill.
Sonic Rush could very well be the worst video game I have ever played. And I have played many "Worst Games Ever" in my time. But for every Worst Game Ever, it was usually a "so bad it's funny" game, like say, Rings of Power, Breakdown, Resident Evil: Survivor, the mulititude of poorly translated hentai games I've come across, among others. Very rarely did they ever play with my emotions. Sonic Rush goes that extra step by putting you through a literal hell. Love Sonic? Love Jet Grind Radio? Would you like to see the two games mixed in with Pure, Grade-A dog shit? Would you like to hear terrible, out of place in any occasion, techno music? Holy shit, Michael Jackson better watch out, there's a new King of Sonic Music! It's name? DA-DA-DA! DA-DA-NEW DAY! DA-DA-DA! GONNA CHANGE MY WAY! DA-DA-DA! DA-DA-NEW DAY! GONNA CHANGE MY WAY!
Would you like to see enough bottomless pits to make Ninja Gaiden look like an example of minimalist restraint? How about bottomless ceilings? How about enemies you can't even see until you're damaged body flies several yards away from them? How about long, boring boss battles that make unmatched demands on your patience and completely redefine terrible boss battles? How about a return to the asinine, insulting, anime-cliche plotlines of Sonic Adventure? Thankfully, there's no scene where Tails says, "All's well that ends well!" amidst the ruins of Station Square, the same place Sonic and Co. failed to protect. Then again, I haven't played the secret final boss battle yet.
Unlike the Adventure series, only two characters are playable: Sonic and Blaze the Cat, a new addition. Thank God, because we all know the Sonic series just doesn't have enough useless weight hanging around. Much like Shadow, Blaze is the very definition of moody and angst-ridden. A purple cat who can control fire has a grim outlook on life. Considering where she is, I can't say I blame her. Joining Blaze is, ahem...Eggman Nega. Great, a clone of Dr. Eggman, only this one wears purple instead of red! Thank fuck Sonic Team is on the cusp of character development, especially considering that they keep insisting on misspelling Dr. Robotnik's name in all of the games now.
Rush's main gimmick (aside from torturing the player in every fashion imaginable) is the fact that gameplay takes place on both of the DS' screens. Just like the Genesis games, right? Of course, why bother making the game playable when you can block off an entire portion of the level itself due to the mid-section of the DS? And you thought the ghosts in Silent Hill 4 were annoying. Running as fast as you can into enemies and pits doesn't lend itself well to paying attention to more than one screen. I know, I know, Sonic wasn't all about running as fast as you can to the right. But this isn't Sonic. Rather, this is a game that more or less forces you to run as fast as you can while performing tricks (which is accomplished by recklessly pressing the R and B buttons while in the air), both of which can and will kill you.
Back to my Silent Hill experience for a moment. When I walked out of the theater, I had asked myself, How the fuck can they do this to us!? What did we ever do to them? I was physically ill. We, as gamers, take quite a lot of bullshit from game makers. People worldwide have deluded themselves into thinking that Silent Hill was an amazing film, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. In the same way, people worldwide have convinced themselves that Sonic Rush is the glimmer of hope in the murky waters that Sonic has been dragged into. Anyone who says otherwise is quickly flamed to oblivion. Desperation is a dangerous weapon; when you've been starved for so long, anything that comes your way is precious, and any attack on it is an attack on you. A desperate man is a dangerous one. A desperate man who knows he's wrong is even worse.
How could you do this to us, Sega? How, after all these years of supporting you and your failed consoles, your failed attempt at reinvigorating the arcade scene and your soulless third party titles (barring a few exceptions), can you, in good conscience, repay us this way? Every level in this disaster is one more mind-boggling car chase, one more "stupid fucking cop" line, one more fanservice appearance of a popular character at the expense of plot and pacing, one more group of clueless idiots tearing apart a beloved property.
I don't play Sonic anymore.
Community review by hmd (November 30, 2006)
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