2 years ago Sonic Rush landed on the DS and showed us what fast platforming is all about. It was a brilliant platformer which combined classic Sonic formula with new twists, but some fans didn't like the way that the focus had been taken away from traditional exploration with speed to just all-out speed.
Now we have Sonic Rush Adventure, which retains the brilliantly fast main acts and 3D bosses of Sonic Rush, but expands on the formula in every way imaginable to create an action platform/adventure hybrid with the longevity and depth of an open-ended adventure game
Graphics-wise - if you've played the original Sonic Rush you'll know basically what to expect - 2D main stages with 3D elements. The 2D is as smooth yet fast as can be, but the 3D parts play a much bigger role now. And fear not, unlike most 3D DS visuals these are silky smooth, uncompromised and action-packed. Sonic Team have done something really special here. Character models, backdrops, animations and effects are all fantastic.
Presentation is second to none in most places - awesome 3D cutscenes, 3D villages to wander around and characters to talk to and accept missions from, large expansive maps to explore, and quick navigation ensures you have a constant stream of action. My only gripe here (and possibly with the whole game) is the talking heads interludes between Zones - I can't understand why Sonic Team chose to use these when they already have fully 3D models for all the characters but they explain the story well enough and the rest of the game more than makes up for it.
Sound is very much like the original Rush. Unique Jet Set Radio style tunes but now swapping some of the modern samples and sounds for more traditional Sonic catchiness. This mix works brilliantly, and the sound effects are as distinct and varied as usual
Then we have gameplay. This is easily the most varied playing game in the Sonic series, and possibly even on the DS. Main stages are traditional 2D platforming, some even having subsections - including 3D parts based on the Sonic 2 half-pipe bonus stages where you have to dodge bombs and collect rings, others feature elements such as hanggliders and minekarts (nice little nods towards the 8-bit versions of Sonic 2), snowboards (Sonic 3) and more. Bosses are set in awesome 3D arenas with 2D gameplay, these are varied and tough enough.
To get from zone to zone involves using one of four watercraft and setting a path with the stylus to explore new parts of the map. Each craft has different qualities, and each involves a different Mini-game of varying difficulty. These games range from guiding Sonic using the stylus to dodge enemy fire and collect rings to shoot-em-up games where you have to keep on your toes to blitz everything on screen. These games are brilliant even on their own and utilise the touch-screen perfectly, and while you will be having to play through these mini-games regularly there is enough variety in action to keep them satisfying, not exhausting.
And the content doesn't stop there. On top of the main acts, bosses, bonus stages and mini-games inbetween - you have 100 missions, 20+ secret acts, races, customisable areas, every kind of multiplayer imaginable, time attacks, records, replays... it's quite daunting how much is involved, and to clear the game will take hours and hours of play. But the game is so rewarding to play, you won't be able to put it down. The way the game is handled open-endedly (almost) is brilliant.
What we have here is a must-have for fans of Sonic, platforming in general, action, adventure - and really the first absolute must-have on the DS.
Sonic Rush is fast, polished and absolutely rammed with quality content - get it now