Despite the pain that sub-par Sonic the Hedgehog games have inflicted upon me lo these many years I keep coming back to the franchise in the hope that someday Sega will get it right and rediscover the magic of the blue blur. Sometimes the company comes close. Last year's Sonic Rivals approaches the old glory days, and while the new sequel Sonic Rivals 2 for the Sony PlayStation Portable mixes up the formula somewhat, it's still more fun than one would expect. AMN has just published my review of the game.
Sonic Rivals 2 preserves plenty of material from its predecessor. The familiar head-to-head racing aspect is firmly intact, providing the same levels of challenge and speed seen previously. There's nothing wrong with a little repetition when the result plays so well, however. The game does mix up the formula at times. Zones are broken up into four parts this time versus three parts as seen in the original Rivals. Acts 1 and 3 are the familiar races, and Act 4 is a boss act where players try to be the first to destroy Eggman's latest weapons, but Act 2 is a one-on-one battle that uses the same gameplay as found in the racing acts, and confines the action to a single closed room instead of a Point A to Point B path. Characters can use items and direct homing attacks on each other with ultimate victory going to whomever can pummel ringless opponents again and again. Other main gameplay tweaks include time attacks, hidden Chao collecting, acquiring a certain amount of rings, and other such things that attempt to keep the racing aspect fresh.
The only real issue I have with the game is its new battle mode that takes the gameplay focus off of speed and instead requires precision platforming, something that is ill-advised when dealing with characters who basically have no brakes. Beyond that I'm looking forward to the inevitable Sonic Rivals 3 provided the development team can maintain the momentum continued here.