Mission: “Defeat the boss again”. Are you kidding me? That is not what I wanted to hear. This is Sonic Rush Adventure - that should mean rushing, not backtracking! Unfortunately, this is how your favorite (only?) blue hedgehog gets bogged down - not by the stuff in between the levels, but because you have to repeat the levels themselves several times. Way to artificially lengthen the game.
[image1]Sonic and Tails have been sucked into Blaze's universe for a change - and you even get the choice of Sonic or Blaze to play, once you catch up with her. The universe is in... alternate Australia, apparently - nothing else could quite explain the outrageously stereotyped accent stuck on Marine, your eager self-appointed captain. In order to explore the world and hopefully find a way back to your own, you need Tails to build vehicles capable of going progressively further out to sea. But beware the pirates!
The evil Captain Whisker looks uncannily like Dr. Robotnik, but ignore that since you're too busy trying to get back an ancient relic he stole. A pretty extensive variety of islands need to be traversed in order to to track him down. The first couple may not seem like much, but speeding through a ghost ship and snowboarding around icy loop de loops and even half-pipes feels pretty fresh. That said, the moment of, “Did I accidentally go backwards somehow?” happens fairly frequently when sequences in levels happen more than once. Each island has two acts plus a boss, though, which means they are generally over before you can get too sick of them.
[image2]Except... you have to keep repeating them. Remember those vehicles I mentioned you have to build? Yeah, you need materials to do that, and where do you find them? On the islands. Each spot has its own specific resource: blue, green, gold, etc. so when your next upgrade calls for a smattering of everything you've discovered so far, it's time to go mining. Replay value plummets when you realize you'll be doing a lot of it already on your first play-through. Finishing with a higher rank in the running stages will earn you extra chunks of metal and gems, though. Whether you can make it all the way through without repetition if you're a Sonic God is beyond my skills to test, but I imagine that the general public will find themselves in that boat as well.
Speaking of boats! Honestly, the travel bits that happen after you draw your route on the map were probably my favorite part of the game. It takes the ring-gathering areas from the original Sonic Rush, where you controlled him with the stylus as he ran towards the horizon, and expands them into combat, racing, and trick mini-games featuring four water-going vehicles. One of the side goals of the game is to beat racer, “Johnny,” (Title pending? He sorta needs something there on the end to make him sound a little more menacing...) to score a pile of Chaos Emeralds. He is found in various water locations on the map, some of which take some exploring to locate.
[image3]My favorite vehicle is the starter wavebike, “Wave Cyclone.” The sailboat, hovercraft, and submarine are all focused on attacking, with a bullet hail, cannonball, flamethrower trio, a charge shot, and the radar assisted weaponry, respectively. Wave Cyclone, on the other hand, is all about speedy maneuvering and pulling tricks off little ramps by following arrows with the stylus tip. Sounds corny, but it's more involved than just whacking a button a few times like you do for combos while Sonic is flying off a spring or something in a land level.
After you help out the Vikings in the snowy zone, a nice surprise is unlocked: The Viking Cup. Apparently the developers thought the water levels were fun, too, because they added this whole segment of the game as a collection of difficult tracks and a place to rematch Johnny. Expect far more hazards, with rings placed a lot closer to them.
As if you haven't run through the first few worlds enough times by the end of the game, there is also a time trial mode. You can also battle a friend in single or multicart play or send yourself hurtling through a hundred special missions of which the opening quote features in a good handful.
There are other objectives like collecting a certain amount of rings, making a speed run, or finding a hidden item, but the story mode has already made you run through these levels so many times that unless you are a real completionist you've probably already moved on. Next time could just be Sonic Wave Race and I would be fine with that.