Sonic and the Secret Rings revisited

sonic wii
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Although it’s been almost four months since Sonic made his debut on the Wii (barring VC releases!), I’m still a little surprised at the reaction of fans on both sides. Those that enjoyed the game described how they loved the sense of speed the game brought, the challenge it possessed (that a good majority of modern games don’t), and what felt like a return to form for everyone’s favorite hedgehog. From what I could tell, strangely, dissenters had complaints about the same exact aspects: the game lacked speed, was too difficult at points, and lacked the elements that brought us to love Sonic in the first place. I attempted to address that last issue on the various message boards I frequent, but anyone that’s a forum-goer knows that forums are the last place you should try to discuss anything intelligently.

Make Believe Reborn
It all started when Casamassina (of IGN fame) started a tidal wave with an in-game example he brought up of what he saw as poor game mechanics. He mentioned how in different levels he would zipping around a corner, only to be stopped, dead in his tracks by a log laying in the path. Just ahead was a pit that the log prevented the player from falling into. He explained that he felt an improved camera would’ve fixed the issue. Matt’s lapdog’s ate up the example and proclaimed it across the internet, most of the time without ever playing the game. If Casamassina thought it was a poor decision on the developer’s part, that’s fine, I’m okay with that. This isn’t an article asserting that if you didn’t like the game, you are bad at life. What bothered me is that a vast majority cried that this wasn’t true to Sonic. I can only respond with: “That’s the most ridiculous comment I’ve ever heard.�

Myths and Minds Reformed
Anyone who’s spent anytime with Sonic knows that half of the game is having no clue where you’re going. Almost every 2d iteration of the game had countless moments of barreling forward without any foreknowledge of what’s coming, hoping that death isn’t imminent, only to breath a sigh of relief when slamming into that red springing platform thingy, and slowing moving onto the next stretch of could-be-death.

Furthermore, if Sega was trying to recreate the original 2d Sonic in faithful 3d form, Sonic and the Secret Rings is spot-on. Putting the game on rails, while limiting free roam, ironically brought more freedom to developers as it allowed them to create an insane sense of speed on levels like Dino Jungle. This game convinced me that Sonic was never meant to go in every direction, like Mario was. The basic 2d platforming elements of Mario translated perfectly into a 3d world, but Sonic relied on limited paths that allowed for speed and acrobatics. Exploration and speed work against each other, they’re counter-intuitive. Sonic was never meant to take his time!

Question All That’s Known
Another complaint was that it was near impossible to complete a mission successfully (besides the straight-forward ones) on the first run through. I feel my age on comments like these, and I’m only 23. Most people who started playing video games on the NES or SNES know that part of gaming is/was learning the level/failing/learning the level some more/failing again…until finally completing your objective. Too many younger gamers expect to be able to play through a game, and not die/fail once. I’m not putting the blame on the youth, but on developers. Games are easier these days. It’s not an entirely bad thing, if you’ve played Bayou Billy, you know what I’m talking about. BUT gamers almost get offended when they find a game more challenging than they think it should be, resulting in backlash sometimes. I loved this aspect of SatSR as well. Playing a level over and over to memorize/find the best way to get through it carried a sense of nostalgia with it. Sonic had this aspect in 2d as well. Finding the best/right/only path through a level was an exercise in trial-and-error if there ever was one.

Legends Blurred and Torn
Despite decent reviews, I really think SatSR got slightly snubbed. Was the game flawless? Hardly. The music was absurd, though I have to admit I have a fondness for Cheese Rock (Dynasty Warriors, anyone?). Sometimes the controls were extremely frustrating, and I agree with others that some of the skills you obtained, should’ve been included from the start. However, with an average of 69 on Metacritic, I personally think that we saw a bad case of reviewer-itis with IGN getting a review out quickly, and others letting Cassamasina influence their review process. It might not be worth putting so much thought into, but, whether we like or not, reviews/review scores greatly influence how a product does in this industry, and I think more than few people miss more than a few great games because of them. Revisit the game, enjoy the speed, and know that this is one of the best experiences you can have with Sonic, period.

wusscore84@yahoo.com'
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About the author:

Floating World – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.


  • kevbo

    Interesting read… nicely written…
    I agree with all your points even though I haven’t played the new Sonic.
    I think many Wii games are getting quickly categorized and looked over without getting a fair shot. Hell, I think ExciteTruck is one of the best racing games I ever played but I’ve read plenty of reviews that trash it. I can understand not loving it like me, but it doesn’t deserve to get trashed. Well I will be adding Sonic to my rental list now… thanks for the suggestion :-}

  • kevbo

    Interesting read… nicely written…
    I agree with all your points even though I haven’t played the new Sonic.
    I think many Wii games are getting quickly categorized and looked over without getting a fair shot. Hell, I think ExciteTruck is one of the best racing games I ever played but I’ve read plenty of reviews that trash it. I can understand not loving it like me, but it doesn’t deserve to get trashed. Well I will be adding Sonic to my rental list now… thanks for the suggestion :-}

  • lokijki

    I didn’t really like this game… Just most of the quest you had to do to get to the next level were annoying and repetitive. The on rails thing didn’t work that well for me either… And most of the time I was annoyed by gaining speed and then losing it all in one instant. I’d have to say I enjoy the older 3D Sonic games better.

  • lokijki

    I didn’t really like this game… Just most of the quest you had to do to get to the next level were annoying and repetitive. The on rails thing didn’t work that well for me either… And most of the time I was annoyed by gaining speed and then losing it all in one instant. I’d have to say I enjoy the older 3D Sonic games better.

  • Dan Johnson

    I respect that. I guess I was just trying to point out that this was the truest representation of Sonic in 3d, due to it being on rails. I would say I liked Sonic Adventure just as much, though.

    ~FloatingWorld

  • Dan Johnson

    I respect that. I guess I was just trying to point out that this was the truest representation of Sonic in 3d, due to it being on rails. I would say I liked Sonic Adventure just as much, though.

    ~FloatingWorld

  • http://reefinyateef.blogspot.com/ reefinyateef

    This is a nice, well written piece. However, I disliked the game. I disagree with your assessment of the original Sonics as simply blasting forward – the fun of the original games was having the OPTION to blast forward, but also slowing down and taking all of the side paths to find screts. I think that it’s difficult for a 3D Sonic to accomplish this.

    Also, its inexcusable that the game doesn’t begin with Sonic at his fastest speed. Games need to pull us in from the get go. I agree with the skills system, but it shouldn’t involve skills as basic as speed.

  • http://reefinyateef.blogspot.com reefinyateef

    This is a nice, well written piece. However, I disliked the game. I disagree with your assessment of the original Sonics as simply blasting forward – the fun of the original games was having the OPTION to blast forward, but also slowing down and taking all of the side paths to find screts. I think that it’s difficult for a 3D Sonic to accomplish this.

    Also, its inexcusable that the game doesn’t begin with Sonic at his fastest speed. Games need to pull us in from the get go. I agree with the skills system, but it shouldn’t involve skills as basic as speed.

  • http://www.loadedgamer.com/ WickeD

    I enjoyed the old 2d sonics alot more than sonic secret rings. This was my first 3d sonic though so it just didnt pull me in like I wanted it to I guess. Still it isnt a bad game just cause I didnt like it.

  • http://www.loadedgamer.com WickeD

    I enjoyed the old 2d sonics alot more than sonic secret rings. This was my first 3d sonic though so it just didnt pull me in like I wanted it to I guess. Still it isnt a bad game just cause I didnt like it.

  • VMR

    Well I actually liked the game it was for me at least the best in awhile. Now I admit there’s several flaws in the game (mainly with the backing up parts of the game) however once you get pass that small hurdle you’ll find an incredibility engaging experience that was missing from the past 3 sonic games. p.s I clocked in about 46:34.00 hours on the single player alone.

  • VMR

    Well I actually liked the game it was for me at least the best in awhile. Now I admit there’s several flaws in the game (mainly with the backing up parts of the game) however once you get pass that small hurdle you’ll find an incredibility engaging experience that was missing from the past 3 sonic games. p.s I clocked in about 46:34.00 hours on the single player alone.

  • Rob

    Honestly, it’s just not a very good game. You have to just step back and recognize this. If you left the gameplay exactly the same but took Sonic out of the equation, replacing him with a generic cartoon mascot, or a character from the latest licensed animated movie game, this game would have been completely ignored and utterly critically panned for the rushed piece of software that it is. The gameplay is just poor – people only want to defend it because they desperately wanted this to be a Sonic game that returns the franchise to form. Sadly, it isn’t.

  • Rob

    Honestly, it’s just not a very good game. You have to just step back and recognize this. If you left the gameplay exactly the same but took Sonic out of the equation, replacing him with a generic cartoon mascot, or a character from the latest licensed animated movie game, this game would have been completely ignored and utterly critically panned for the rushed piece of software that it is. The gameplay is just poor – people only want to defend it because they desperately wanted this to be a Sonic game that returns the franchise to form. Sadly, it isn’t.

  • Joe

    You know what the real problem is? People think their thoughts are the same as everyone else’s. No matter what anyone says people will likedislike something based on how THEY feel.

  • Joe

    You know what the real problem is? People think their thoughts are the same as everyone else’s. No matter what anyone says people will like\dislike something based on how THEY feel.

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