MAKE BELIEVES REBORN!!! UH, that song is horrible.
Yep, during the 3D Sonic Marathon, I’ll be taking a look at the failed (sort of) Storybook series, two Nintendo Wii games that haven’t been fondly remembered. So who asked for Sonic going into the Arabian Night setting. Sounds cool but Sega ain’t going to take much advantage of that concept, this is the Wii, motion controls a-go!
Sonic and the Secret Rings (ソニックと秘密のリング Sonikku to Himitsu no Ringu), developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega and was released in 2007 worldwide.
So when Sonic Team were developing Sonic 06, there was supposed to be a Wii port of it. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some), it would have taken too long to port it (and probably because the Wii was weak in hardware), so Sonic Team was split up into two groups. One group would continue to make Sonic 06, and the other would produce a Sonic game that would take advantage of the Wii motion controls.
Sonic is asleep but is awoken by a genie named Shahra, who explains to Sonic that our villain of this game, Erazor Djinn, is erasing pages of the Arabian Nights book Sonic has. So Shahra asks Sonic to help her defeat Erazor and Sonic gets sucked into the book. This plot is absolutely stupid but I enjoyed it apart from the ending because it takes itself too seriously and ends up being cringy. Also, Erazor Djinn is erasing pages of the Arabian Nights book, is it there only one copy of Arabian Nights in the Sonic universe, I mean if there’s a lot of copies, then nobody is losing anything, only one book is gone but there are still more copies…can you see why something like this should have been brought up? Also, WHAT KIND OF NAME IS ERAZOR DJINN???
So the game is pretty much a Sonic game with Wii gimmicks and it shows the moment you play the game. You see, you don’t move in your own accord, Sonic goes forward automatically in a rail-like mechanic, you tilt the Wii remote left and right, tilt the remote back to walk back, and the 2 button to jump either by tapping it to quick jump or holding and letting it go to charge jump to jump even higher. There will be enemies so you jump and shake the Wii remote to do a homing attack when the retical turns red on an enemy.
During the game you’ll gain skills by levelling up. These skills can be used on your skill ring, but you’ll have a limited amount of space that you can use so choose which skills will help you in some of the levels. Some skills are pretty good, but most are just there to be there, but then some actually make the gameplay a bit better…sort of.
During the game, you’ll gain the ability to use these time abilities. Speed Break will let Sonic run super fast for a short period of time, and Time Break will slow down time so Sonic can run pass things that are considered too fast even for Sonic to pass through. In order to use them, you must collect pearls to fill up your soul gague, and the game never tells you what these do until you unlock the time abilities because you’re just running around collecting stuff you didn’t need at the time. How are they? Speed Break is cool until you realise you’re not invincible from obstacles and you can’t control yourself if you use it at the wrong possible time. And Time Break is barely used at all.
The controls overall, are OK, they’re responsive and work well…the problem however, are the levels themselves and their design. When they ask you to use the controls where the camera is placed in a way that makes the controls awkward, it’s never a fun time, when you want to control your speed to go fast or slow down, it’s absolutely clunky, oh I remember that bloody cactus that made me die over and over again, and it was near the goal, f*** that level. How about grinding, that’s awful too as you can’t jump off and only speed up and if you want to jump off to attack enemies and there’s a bottomless pit well f*** you player, this is trial and error mechanics here.
Also, when Sonic goes back, why can’t he turn around? You’ll never know what will be behind you, this rail mechanic was a mistake but hey, it’s the Wii, time to show off the motion controls in the most frustratingly way possible.
The missions…what the hell is this? So, the first level of a world is to reach the goal, and it plays like a normal level. Everything else in said world are mini-game levels, and they’re about 100 of them and they are boring, padded chores that aren’t fun and artificially extend the length of the game in the worst way possible. These missions can include collecting a certain amount of rings, defeating a certain amount of enemies, race someone, finish a level without breaking jars, or finish a level without defeating enemies and so much more and these types of levels get repeated within most of the worlds.
Every time you finish the level, you go back to the mission select menu every time, so no hopping to the next level, this game loves breaking the pace of the game. Also, the game is about Sonic and Shahra collecting seven world rings, but the collection is so inconsistent, since the next world will be unlocked before you even collect the world ring from the previous world, and you only collect world rings in cutscenes, so they don’t feel very important.
Also, each time you complete a mission, you’ll unlock more missions, and there will be missions that will progress the story further. Which one does that is a mystery to you as the game doesn’t tell you, so you’ll have to find out which one is mandatory and which one is a waste of your time. Good Luck! But then again, you’ll probably need to complete most missions to level up if you want to collect the skills that might be of good use, you never know what you’re going to get but again, most of them are pointless or make the controls…slightly better?
There are fire souls to collect during the game, at least there’s a good incentive to collect them as you unlock concept art, cutscenes, behind the scenes stuff, interviews and much more. So let me ask a question, why all this cool stuff…for this game, but never for any of the good games? Also, some fire souls to collect are absolute BS to grab either through poor level design or the means of dying trying to get them.
The graphics look great for an early Wii game and the design of the world is decent and fit the Arabian Night theme…OK. The level design is just terrible for Wii controls, play the same and that sense of freedom is not there, the restrictiveness of this game is not right for a Sonic game and say what you will about other Sonic games, at least you could fully control Sonic. The music is awful, that Seven Rings in Hand theme is annoying, even when I heard it for the first time and it gets repeated over and over again in some aspects. Other tracks are just there, forgettable and doesn’t fit the Sonic universe.
And for those who say that the game gets better once you unlock skills, that is NOT how a game is supposed to work, the game should have good controls from the start and then some added skills can be gained to make it more fun, the skills should be an enhancement, not something that should have been added into the mechanics from the beginning.
Overall, Sonic and the Secret Rings…it’s OK, it has tons of problems but I wouldn’t call it the worst Sonic game I’ve ever played so far. I think there was a lack of focus when it came to making this game and the one aspect that was important was to take advantage of the Wii and hopefully people will enjoy it. Despite finding it OK, it’s still so unappealing for me to come back to it. If you’re not a fan of motion controls, I can’t recommend this game. In fact, I don’t think I can ever recommend this game.
You can get it on the Nintendo Wii.