Sega. You know that you’re getting old when people look at you with an awkward look on their face when you talk about this publisher. Sega? Is it something like Nintendo? Yes guys; it is something like Nintendo, and where Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic. This hyperkinetic blue hedgehog was blazing through 2D worlds in search for more and more golden coins. It needed no mushrooms or turtles to slide through the levels.
The era of the Megadrive is long gone and today Sonic and his friends use a board to slide through different sorts of 3D tracks. To – just like in the old days -collect golden coins. Sonic Riders is basically a mixture of Wipeout and the classic platform game Sonic. Key elements in this game are ‘air’ and ‘turbulence’. Air makes your board go faster but also gives you the opportunity to boost, use hurricanes and all sorts of other stuff. This much needed air can be collected by performing tricks, slipstream your corners or just finding the right track. You can also fill up your air gauge at several airpits but this makes you lose a lot of time.
Which you don’t have. How many air you can use and store depends on your board. If you have collected enough coins in the races you can go out shopping and buy new and better boards.
These can not just store more or less air but they all have their own specifications; some boards are very agile but not that fast or the other way around. There is quite some variation in the boards and it is fun to experience that they do act different. But buying boards isn’t the main goal of the game; racing is. And apart from a storyline campaign that evolves around a tournament that Eggman has organized, there are quite a lot of other modes.
The racing itself requires only a little exercise and depending your board you’ll be rigging the tricks together in no time. You will soon find out too that your adversaries are not the only thing you should be worried about while racing because the tracks are filled with obstacles themselves. Prepare to dodge busy traffic, sandstorms and lots of other things the developers have prepared to keep you from coming in first too easy. Despite all these dangers the game is filled with a cheerful atmosphere with bright colours and lots of eye candy.
This doesn’t mean however that the game falls a bit behind in the graphic department but the look and feel and the gameplay are clearly aiming at a young audience that just wants to have some fun. Besides this game knows a constant and relatively high framerate and all sorts of graphic bugs are prominently absent. Fun; that is the main goal of this game; something which is made abundantly clear when you play Sonic Riders with a couple of friends. The accompanied soundtrack was a lot less appealing to me but then again, I’m no fan of poppy pseudo-techno tunes.
With Sonic Riders Sega managed to combine a decent racegame and the Sonic-universe. The simple gameplay, the easy controls and the colourful – but short – tracks are all aiming at some quick fun. The rather high kiddy level of the game can be a nuisance for some but as a party game it sure can hold its ground.