Monday, September 19, 2005

TGS:- Sonic Rush

By nature, Sonic Rush is a 2D game, but the title is filled with 3D elements that, while staying in the 2D plane, moved Sonic around in ways that break the game out of the flat plane and help give it life. The game is gorgeous, taking all advantage of the 2D style to blow out the graphic quality at full speed on both DS screens. You see little details all over the game, while the big set-piece Sonic features (the twirling slides and wild level shifts) overwhelm you. The TGS build did have some bouts of early development slowdown when we hit one or two of these, but the game should be full-speed at all times in the finished game. (A giant propeller that sucked in Sonic in the center of the stage and had no gameplay to it dragged the game slow, but we are thinking that this was not a graphics engine clog and instead a stop-gap for de-compressing level data -- after seeing these kinds of glitches in early builds of other games, we have confidence that the developer will have these ironed out when the game is shipped.)

Sonic Rush doesn't do a lot with the DS's key touchscreen feature, but it does make use of the double-screen set up uniquely. The game constantly plays across the two screen, but in the demo level here at TGS, it seemed that the split plane has been carefully addressed so that you're not always lost in the gap trying to play on both screens at once. The game mostly crosses over at big moments, and the level design rarely has you jumping from one screen to the other except when needed. This way, you're typically playing on one screen at a time, but you still see all kinds of things up above or down below that you know you'll have to get to in another play-through. The boss battles should also make use of the two screens for bigger battles once the action slows down and you can concentrate.

The level present here at TGS, for example, was a half-underwater stage that often played out the fastest sequences with the screen split right on the surface of the water. You could see all of the open-air up above, and there were floating mines all over that Blaze could grab to float to the surface and jump out to explore out of the water. The stage was filled with catapults and bouncepads to send your character speeding and flying through the game, and there were sections that were upside down that, if you were fast enough, you could race along the surface of. There was even a section that had us racing along the surface of the water, blazing to try to stay in the upper section. The stage had a nice waving water effect drawn across it, and though it's a fast game, Sonic Team didn't skimp on the details when you slow down. Small floating fish sprites floated through the water, and when you spun to jump, they'd fall out of.

Sonic Rush only uses some of the distinct hardware features of the DS, but we don't imagine that this game would have come together on another game system the way that Sonic fans need. The game is due out in America this November, so look for more on it very soon.

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