Careful What You Wish For...
Name: Sonic and the Secret Rings
Other Names (Nicknames): Secret Rings, SatSR, Sonic Wild Fire
February 20, 2007 – North America
March 2, 2007 – Europe
March 8, 2007 - Australia
March 15, 2007 - Japan
Quality: 128-Bit Action Platformer
Game System(s): Nintendo Wii
Developer(s): Sonic Team
Publisher(s): Sega Corporation
Credits: See Sonic News Network.
Character Introductions: Shahra the Genie of the Ring and Erazor Djinn.
Region Game Takes Place On: The world of the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Concept Introductions: Sonic’s debut on the Wii is an odd one. Instead of the standard control scheme you’d expect, you control Sonic by holding the Wii Remote horizontally. Sonic’s always moving forward, so you move him by tilting the Remote left, right, and backward.
One of the more vital introductions seen here is Shahra’s ring. As Sonic progresses through his adventure, he can equip one of 4 “Skill Rings”. Each ring can be used to assign various different effects to Sonic’s skills. As you complete missions, you gain experience, which levels up your rings and allows for more skills to be equipped. This is necessary, as Sonic is quite pitiful without them this time around.
Once your level gets to a certain point, the Soul Gauge is earned, which you fill up by collecting those yellow pearls littered amongst each stage. When filled, Sonic can use Shahra’s power to perform either Speed Break (making Sonic blast off, wrecking all enemies in his way) or Time Break (the closest Sonic’s going to get to Chaos Control here) until the Soul Gauge is empty.
Another addition of note is the Party Mode. Hosted by Omochao, players can play as Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Shadow, Cream, Blaze or Silver and compete in various mini-games, some of which have to be unlocked in Adventure Mode. Moreover, the latter half of characters must be unlocked by collection the numerous Fire Souls within the missions. The ranking system uses medals this time around, from bronze to gold.
Concept Deductions: Everything the game attempts would be well executed…if it weren’t for the controls.
Main Framework: One of the series’ most linear games and one of the first to be devoid of vertical loops.
One evening, Sonic, having fallen asleep during reading “Arabian Nights”, is awakened by a strange voice. Half-asleep, he reaches for a ring he’s never seen before (which is saying a lot for him). All of a sudden, a dainty girl appears from the ring! She introduces herself to Sonic (now very much awake) as Shahra, the Genie of the Ring. The cute genie then shows him the book he was reading previously. There’s a problem, though: All the pages - from the beginning to, coincidentally, Sonic’s stopping point - are blank.
Apparently, this is the work of the Erazor Djinn, an evil spirit who wants to break free from the storybook world and, eventually, wreak havoc on Sonic’s world. Not being one to accept evil in any form, Sonic’s willing to help out, if he could only get there. Luckily, Shahra, as the Genie of the Ring inadvertently summoned by Sonic, can use her magic to get him there. With just a slip of a small ring on the Blue Blur’s middle finger, their contract is sealed, and they’re on their way.
Can Sonic handle this new assignment? Or will the Erazor Djinn carve up this new entry in the story, like the others he’s cleared?
Personal Criticism/Opinion (by Ryan the Game Master):
Sonic and the Secret Rings. This game, along with Spinball and Riders 1, has tried my patience in the most irritating ways. It was tolerable with Spinball and, honestly, humbling with Riders. But here? It’s absolutely ridiculous, especially after playing Black Knight. I understand that a sequel is supposed to be better than the game that came before it, but this is embarrassing.
All this game needed was a stable control scheme to be brilliant. But, it seems that Sonic Team went with having Sonic control like a go kart. Why they went with this is beyond me, but it’s the worst way to go, especially for a game like this. The control scheme Black Knight used would have been great for this game and helped make it much more accessible.
It’s a shame, because Secret Rings has so much going for it. The presentation and way the story is told is really good and the levels are really snazzy. If only it wasn’t such a pain to get through them…
It sucks that it has to be something as simple a control scheme to hold a game back. In the case of Sonic and the Secret Rings, that’s exactly what has happened. On the bright side, it just makes Black Knight a better game by comparison.
Replay value? If you’re able to get used to the control scheme, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. The number of various missions, Fire Souls, medals and stuff to unlock is plentiful. And there’s the Party mode to consider.
Graphics? This is a very nice looking game. All of the environments suit the Arabian theme very well and helped show off some of the Wii’s power.
Music & Sound Effects? The music is top notch, as usual. For some reason, though, there aren’t as many Middle Eastern tunes as you’d expect. One thing, though. I can’t guarantee you won’t get sick of “Seven Rings in Hand” by the time you’re done with this one.
Storyline? For the first entry in Sonic’s Storybook series, it’s quite a tale. Not all of the 1,001 Nights were focused on, of course, but it would’ve been nice to see them try to reference more than the popular ones. I like how they showed Sonic’s heart here. He was very caring in this game, which was nice.
OVERALL RANK? I give Sonic and the Secret Rings a