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Sonic Rivals 1 & 2 - Race to Win

RK128

Member


Sonic Rivals and its sequel continue my Sonic 25th Anniversary Retrospective!

This game is interesting, as not only is a new Sonic handheld series (alongside Sonic Rush at the time this came out) but also was developed by a western studio (Blackbone Entertainment) headed by Izuka (creative head and producer at Sonic Team). This is also the first and currently only Sony-exclusive Sonic series for their handhelds.

You can play this on your PS Vita/PlayStation TV if you have a NA PSN account, as both are compatible with the digital versions of the games. They are 5.99 per game, so not a bad deal for the games :).

With all of that in mind, lets race some rivals and race to win!

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Not much development history on this but Blackbone's Vancouver studio wanted to work with Sonic and after showing a pitch to Izuka, he gave them the go to develop this spin-off. I would assume that also figured that they wanted to support Sony's PlayStation Portable, so they started making Rivals for that reason too.



The original did decent on PSP and that pushed SEGA to fund a sequel that came out a year latter. That also did well enough but nothing on the level of critical success and sales levels that the Sonic Rush games got.

Blackbone has a nice connection with SEGA, as they made a lot of the Genesis ports to iOS and consoles, alongside also heading production of various SEGA Compilations on PS2, PSP and PS3/360.



A fun fact, they also made a series called Death Jr., one of the earliest 3D platformers on the PlayStation Portable and was present day-one when the PSP launched in EU/NA.



They knew how to play with the hardware, so that must of been a factor in SEGA allowing them to make a full-on Sonic game.....sorta like how SEGA was impressed with Travelers Tales in the 16-Bit Era and that pushed them into making three Sonic titles (3D Blast, Sonic R, 3D Blast Saturn).

So, this played a role in no future Rivals games being produced and it lead to the Vita not getting future handheld Sonic's (outside of Nintendo's exclusivity deal anyway). The Vita did get Racing Transformed, which I will touch on latter. Needless to say, love that game and its great having a strong portable version of it.

Edit: This is a major thing I glossed over, so I'm sorry everyone; the games never came out in Japan. I have no idea why but yes, they never released over in Japan (something that even the Boom games were able to get done). A twitter user named 'LotsaNintendo' pointed this out and I'm so sorry I never put that on the OP.

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The core gameplay for Rivals is that its a 2D Sonic game, but with a focus on racing with a rival of Sonic's or one of the playable characters. This idea was a core point for the original Rivals, as every playable character in the original was a rival across all the Era's (Classic: Knuckles/Metal Sonic, Dreamcast: Shadow, Modern: Silver). Other characters joined the line up in the sequel like Miles 'Tails' Prower, Rouge the Bat and Espio.



Every character has a special ability that activates depending on the game. In the original Rivals, you had to touch a star icon to activate it but in Rivals 2, its mapped to how many rings you collect.

Sonic has a boost, Silver can mess with player controls, Knuckles has a ground pound that stuns, Tails can fly for a short while, and Metal Sonic can copy people's abilities for example.

You also have an item system which can be used defensively or offensively. It makes some items have strategic means, like you can use the fireball as a fire shield or as a weapon. Makes them fun to use :).

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The level design for this game is.....well, okay. Not amazing, not great, just okay. It has the series trademark high/middle/low paths and netting those allow for faster runs and thus allows for really fun racing!

But......could of been more refined as spike placement, foe placement and some level hazards being in some really odd spots in the levels.



I will say I liked the final zones in both Rivals games; Meteor Base Zone and Chaotic Inferno Zone. They ignore the racing element and they are normal Sonic zones; run to the goal ring in a set amount of time. This makes them the funnest levels in the game and the level design feels far less cheap in comparison to other zones.

Rivals 2 does need to be pointed out in this section, as due to the new characters and learning from the original, the level design is more 'Sonic' like, leading to them being more open and enjoyable to run through compared to the original rivals.

Overall, both have issues and they are far from perfect, but I enjoyed my time with both games gameplay and level design wise :).

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The game has a story mode in both games but Rivals 2 is the very first handheld Sonic to have the 2005-Early 2010 voice cast fully voice acting in a handheld game.

The story in Rivals 2 is Eggman Nega from Sonic Rush being re-told as a being from the FUTURE and Silver is involved and.......its a bit of a mess :l. Nothing on the level of 06 or anything, but could of been a bit better honestly.

I appreciate the effort that went into the voice acting and they do a good job voicing everyone :).

- - - - - - - - -

The last element I want to cover is the card element and the presentation.



The cards are earned as you complete cups, single races and story mode sections. They are celebrating the history of Sonic going back all the way to Sonic 1 too the present being.....Sonic 0....6 :l. I REALLY want to get that Elise card XD! No I do not X(.



Anyway, its a nice way to honor the series across the ages and it makes sense, considering the original Rivals released on Sonic's 15th Birthday, the year as the enjoyable Sonic Riders and......two messes old and new released :l. Rivals and Riders were the bright spots of 2006 for Sonic.

The visuals are quite nice on the PSP though :).



They are bright, colorful and the level backgrounds are quite detailed. It captures the feel of Sonic and it does a great job fitting within the world of the series.

Musically, its one of the weaker Sonic Soundtracks but I enjoyed tracks from both games.

Forest Falls Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEWAT9Kqyz8&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF&index=4
Forest Falls Act 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrVYwOHPWzI&index=5&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF
Colosseum Highway Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UG46BXso_4&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF&index=7
Sky Park Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2hWLrsQ4zg&index=10&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF
Crystal Mountain Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=697gmZFMAmI&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF&index=12
Meteor Base Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR0BPfNwrlY&list=PLnZc6WBQn4V_tlhZ457Pp0Vl5jw4yHiKF&index=18
Race to Win (Blue Coast Zone Act 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw0JeQj2Gd4&index=3&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D
Blue Coast Act 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjM4LNUA28o
Neon Palace Zone Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wgz-69pNnk&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=9
Neon Palace Zone Act 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9GXe63Zw1U&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=11
Frontier Canyon Zone Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp8p18d_Vuk&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=12
Mystic Haunt Zone Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDq_KSl0nNM&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=15
Chaotic Inferno Zone Act 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1ux5y-rDAY&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=18
Chaotic Inferno Zone Act 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHDtQMa6Ap8&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=20
Ifrit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J22AC0LgkoQ&list=PL6E169509E39FBB4D&index=26

They are rocking and push the racing tone but they kinda blend into each other. Overall decent soundtrack but could of been better.

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So, what's my overall thoughts on this series of Sonic? Its decent and a fun spin-off series that has Sonic appear in is rare Sony-only venture. They offer a lot of fun and are impressive for what it is; fun racing game that is also a 2D Sonic title.

But it isn't as strong compared to the Rush games and its a bit underwhelming. Going to be honest, played more or less every single handheld Sonic platforming title and this was the one that made me feel the most 'meh'. I still really enjoyed parts of both games, but not the best handheld Sonic I've played :).



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Next up for the retrospective is a sequel to Sonic Rush! Lets set sail for adventure with a rushing adventure ;).

 

MAtgS

Member
*Game about Sonic's rival archetypes*
*big bad is Eggman Nega*
*No Blaze*

*Sequel comes out*
*Nega is back*
*Fucking Rouge is in it*
*Still no Blaze*
 
Ah you reminded me of death jr, both games are super freaking fun (so is sonic rivals). I see konami is the publisher of jr... That explains why it disappeared from the face of the earth after the 2nd.
 

MrBadger

Member
I can't actually remember any music from Rivals 2 outside of Race to Win and the boss themes they carried over from Rivals 1.

I didn't hate Rivals. The acceleration feels so off (the way you'll hit a speed boost, then slow right down as it wears off) and some parts are way too automated but it's fun enough and the bright, colourful level tropes were a refreshing sight considering Sonic 06 also came out around them. It's such a little thing but I really like how Metal Sonic doesn't curl into a ball when he jumps. And it has some really cool looking bosses. They're not as fun to fight as Rush's, but they look great.

All I can say about Rivals 2 is I hate the boss fights. You actually have to work to expose the boss's weak point, then your rival will come along and steal the hit. It's nice how that game has a free play mode where you can play the stages without racing. Wish Rivals 1 had that.

When this game was new, Silver's inclusion was so eye rolling to me. He felt like such a forced character. Like they took what was cool about Shadow and tried to force another popular hedgehog with magic powers, sticking him on the box with "NEW!" next to him. It was funny how, not content with muddling up Blaze's origins, this game gives Silver and Eggman Nega alternate origins as well. I never got why he was the villain instead of standard old Eggman.
 

RK128

Member
Rivals 1 does not feel like a Sonic game in any way.

Never played 2.

It sorta does to me and it is 2D, so that is why I put that in the OP. I agree its nothing like the Classic games, but it still is a 2D Sonic title, even if the focus is completely different from past Sonic games.
 

gwiz210

Member
Never played the first, but I'm a fan of Rivals 2. One time during high school my friends and I were camping and this was the only game on my psp for the whole week. We made it work and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
 

Village

Member
*Game about Sonic's rival archetypes*
*big bad is Eggman Nega*
*No Blaze*

*Sequel comes out*
*Nega is back*
*Fucking Rouge is in it*
*Still no Blaze*

Its blaze, it seems as though no one on and off staff cares about her much. which sucks because I do.
 

G0523

Member
I remember wanting this game when I got a PSP. Never actually picked it up though.

Same here. And when I did play them, they weren't that great. To be fair, I wasn't really expecting a racing game. I was hoping they were platformers. Shame that the PSP and Vita never got Sonic platformers.

The games really pushed the "Hold right to win" scenario that Sonic was facing. It was definitely felt after Sonic Advance 2, 3, Rush, Rush Adventure, and these two games.
 

Man God

Non-Canon Member
It sorta does to me and it is 2D, so that is why I put that in the OP. I agree its nothing like the Classic games, but it still is a 2D Sonic title, even if the focus is completely different from past Sonic games.

It's a weird feeling, like another game wearing a sonic flesh mask.

It's not a problem with any of the Dimps games nor stuff like Chaotix.
 

Camjo-Z

Member
I never played Rivals 1, but the second game was pretty weak. It was a good concept but the execution was really stiff and generally boring. I liked the large amount of playable characters though.

Also, I noticed you didn't link the one legitimately good song in Rivals 2, Blue Coast Zone Act 3. It's so tonally different from the other generic rock songs in the game, it almost feels like an unused track from Sonic Adventure 2.
 

Village

Member
Blaze is just about the most well received post-MD era character (or at least the one that gets the least fanhate) & Sega never really ran with that.

eh, not really? No kind of cares about her.

She's no where near Shadow or tails in terms of demand, not even amy. And I guess she would get the least hate because... well no one cares. She isn't silver... but yeah.

Like I like her to, i'm not going to pretend her not beng in shit is crazy. Its the old school crew, shadow and the popularity just drops off after that. While people say its rage mode shadow, heck I think they gave sonic boom shadow her powers, strait up. In rise od lyric, he can set you on fire during his boss fight if he runs past you iirc
 

RK128

Member
I never played Rivals 1, but the second game was pretty weak. It was a good concept but the execution was really stiff and generally boring. I liked the large amount of playable characters though.

Also, I noticed you didn't link the one legitimately good song in Rivals 2, Blue Coast Zone Act 3. It's so tonally different from the other generic rock songs in the game, it almost feels like an unused track from Sonic Adventure 2.

Forgot about this one! Will add that to the OP now :). Thank you for the heads up!
 

MrBadger

Member
Blaze is just about the most well received post-MD era character (or at least the one that gets the least fanhate) & Sega never really ran with that.

If Sega did run with it, she may not be as well liked. Shadow's popularity led to him being the central character in many Sonic games after SA2 (this one included) and that got a bit annoying. The less said about his own game the better.

Besides, I want to see the original Sonic rival Knuckles come back into the spotlight before Blaze.
 

Village

Member
Besides, I want to see the original Sonic rival Knuckles come back into the spotlight before Blaze.

Oh that dream is dead. He's sonic dumb strong friend now. That's it. Comic book knuckles is about the closest approximation to knuckles being cool you are going to get.
 
Blaze is just about the most well received post-MD era character (or at least the one that gets the least fanhate) & Sega never really ran with that.

I always found that kinda funny. Even when you consider Rush came out at the height of the "shitty friends" era that everyone hated, I recall Blaze getting a mostly decent reception, even in reviews.
 

MrBadger

Member
Oh that dream is dead. He's sonic dumb strong friend now. That's it. Comic book knuckles is about the closest approximation to knuckles being cool you are going to get.

I'm sure if Sega kept making Sonic 4, they'd have reused cool Knuckles eventually. But I suppose that's a bit of a monkey's paw situation.

I always found that kinda funny. Even when you consider Rush came out at the height of the "shitty friends" era that everyone hated, I recall Blaze getting a mostly decent reception, even in reviews.

I don't know if anyone besides me viewed handheld Dimps Sonic as a totally different entity to console "shitty friends" Sonic. But that could be a reason.
 

MrBadger

Member
Back on the topic of Sonic Rivals, the storyline to 2 was a bit messed up. Eggman Nega (important distinction from regular Eggman, here) was kidnapping chao so he could go to NotCrisis City and feed them to NotIblis. I suppose that's where all the chao went. They all got eaten.

It was also that era of Sonic where Sonic's role in the storyline was totally irrelevant and other characters like Shadow knew what they were doing. I don't even remember Sonic knowing Eggman was actually Eggman Nega (again, super important) in either Rivals game. Like how he never knew the Eggman in Heroes was a fake and never met the big bad of Sonic 06 before he stabbed him in the back.

Character selection was odd too. I can understand they were still trying to make Silver a thing, but why Rooj and Espio?
 

RK128

Member
Back on the topic of Sonic Rivals, the storyline to 2 was a bit messed up. Eggman Nega (important distinction from regular Eggman, here) was kidnapping chao so he could go to NotCrisis City and feed them to NotIblis. I suppose that's where all the chao went. They all got eaten.

It was also that era of Sonic where Sonic's role in the storyline was totally irrelevant and other characters like Shadow knew what they were doing. I don't even remember Sonic knowing Eggman was actually Eggman Nega (again, super important).

Character selection was odd too. I can understand they were still trying to make Silver a thing, but why Rooj and Espio?

Rouge was likely included to have a nice contrast to Knuckles (as she is his rival) and Espio because......he's fast?

The story in Rivals 2 is messed up and feels like they tried to re-do the 06 Storyline but done a bit better. Sonic being the dullest out of everyone is a bit distracting but at least in Heroes and Rivals 2, he was still largely in-character. 06 he had NO character, so it was far more distracting that he did nothing :l.
 

Village

Member
It helps when you introduce a character in a game that's actually great.
I don't think that would have helped silver

Silver and Blaze to a lessor extent had Zoroark Written all over em.

" here 's a another cool guy "

" we have that, why do we need two more of those "

It helped blaze be less offensive to some folks. But blaze didn't exactly hit off.
 

RK128

Member
These games never came out in Japan, something that a Twitter user pointed out. I had no idea about this.....so I edited the OP to fix that.

Sorry for the mistake everyone :(.
 

Village

Member
Knuckles was always kind of a meat head
Eh? he's nothing but strong and stupid. i by no means to claim he's a genious. But he had more going on, and now he's JUST strong and stupid. And its uninteresting. Especially in boom.

I don't need him solving gigantic equations, but Sega Yamcha'd the shit out of that dude.
 
Sonic Rivals fuckin' sucks.

Everything being a competition is awful (especially boss fights), the level design is the worst most generic garbage, the music sounds like it fell off a royalty free music collection

Backbone seemed to revel in finding ways to put in the barest minimum of effort to cash their checks and Sonic Rivals is no different.
 

RK128

Member
Sonic Rivals fuckin' sucks.

Everything being a competition is awful (especially boss fights), the level design is the worst most generic garbage, the music sounds like it fell off a royalty free music collection

Backbone seemed to revel in finding ways to put in the barest minimum of effort to cash their checks and Sonic Rivals is no different.

The games never really clicked with me :l. I find them okay but they are some of the weakest of the handheld Sonic's I played so far.

They have enjoyable moments (final zones in both games, some of the music) but nothing really that amazing or anything.
 
These games are incredibly medicore. They're like Sonic Blast (GG) level of blandness, except with more advance and complex gameplay elements.

It was unfortunate, they could have been fun. The racing element is fun for boss battles and special levels, but a whole game? No thanks.
 

VLiberty

Member
I remember liking Sonic Rivals 1 a lot and, for some reason, being disappointed by the sequel, but I don't remember it too clearly as it was a lot of time ago.


Backbone did the opposite with the Death Jr series, the first game was mediocre but the second one definitely nailed it. I wish they were still making new games rather than ports (which apparently they aren't even that good at)

ps: am I the only one who doesn't care at all for Blaze?
 

RK128

Member
The graphics in Rivals never looked good, not even back then when the game was released :/

Considering games like Daxter released before the original Rivals, I can understand that comment well. Daxter looks like a PS2 game, while Rivals looks something in-between a DS and PSP game. Still looks nice enough but I can see the issues with the visuals.
 
I was always really jealous that DS owners got the Rush series' while I was stuck with the more ho-hum Rivals games. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed them, but the gameplay wasn't as fast, fluid or simply as fun as Rush. Sure, I guess it had some cool mechanics and the Battle mode was fine, I enjoyed collecting as many cards as I could as well, but when I got a DS and Sonic Rush + Adventure, I was blown away! The music, gameplay, awesome, timeless graphics, all came together into awesome handheld Sonic games! No idea why they haven't made more (Haven't tried DS' Colors or Generations versions before).
 

Mr-Joker

Banned
I never owned the game as I didn't have a PSP at the time and when I brought a PSP, I didn't pick it up as Sonic Team didn't work on this, it was a racing game and Rush series on the DS seemed to be the better game so why bother with a subpar game.

Also it didn't help that the story seemed to be a mess, someone at Sega really should have taken charge and mandated that Blaze and Eggman Nega were from another universe rather from the future and just leave Silver from the future.

They later fixed it that Blaze is from another universe in the DS version of Sonic Colours.

It helps when you introduce a character in a game that's actually great.

A bit more than that, Blaze was actually well written character who develops from being closed off character doing everything herself to opening up and learning that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Plus having her paired up with Cream was perfect as Cream was super friendly towards her and they became best of friends towards the end.

It's just a shame that Cream didn't tag along in Rush Adventure.
 
So, I just finished playing this game on my Vita (it's £3.69 in the UK store) and finished a review here:

https://kresnik258gaming.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/psp-sonic-rivals-review/

It was... alright. Frustrating at times, with things like the rival constantly circling you waiting to attack or having to stop running to push a block forward. I've never been a massive fan of the sonic games and this did nothing to change my mind.

It was kind of fun, especially considering the price I bought it for, but it's nothing special sadly.
 

13ruce

Banned
I liked these games i rebought em on psvita years ago still need to replay em.

I beggued my mom to get the game lol and when i finally got it i realised you need a memory card in a psp.

I got the psp for free because it was free with a sony tv back then and well after some time my parents got me a memory card and i finally could save lol.
 
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