Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: February 21, 2006
Welcome to the second part of WorthPlaying’s Sonic Riders preview! Because I care so much, this one’s double-sized!
Demos of the game (of varying quality, or so I’ve heard) are trickling out all over the States, and people are getting the chance to experience this kick-butt racer for themselves. The full game will contain a lot more than what those demos offer, however. We’ve already touched on many of the single player aspects, like the story mode, grand prix and mission modes. This week we’ll touch on the multiplayer portion, and then I’ll let loose with tips that you’ll be able to use, based on my experiences with the game for the last two weeks-plus.
Sonic Riders, for starters, contains a tag team mode. In a set of races, two sets of two racers pair off, race as teams, and share the same Air tank for both of their Extreme Gears. This discourages selfishness and rashness with tank usage, and encourages extra performance between both teammates to keep it full. Double the racers means double the danger, but also double the chance to win it all.
Chaos Emerald Race really shows what the Sonic Riders engine can do, speedwise. It’s a demented cross between tag and Halo’s Oddball game. One person takes possession of a Chaos Emerald, and as they hold onto it, they must pass through goal rings set along a track. The other racers pursue the holder of the Emerald, attempting to knock it into their possession. These people have almost unlimited Air, however, the person with the Emerald has very limited Air, and must refill it with tricks. They will, however, still eventually run out. The Emerald changes hands, and the mad chase begins anew. The first person to pass through five goal rings wins. Due to the game’s frenetic and fun pace, most multiplayer games will probably take place in this mode.
Finally, Riders sports a Battle Mode, where, in an enclosed arena, racers do their best to crash (by boost-attacking) into one another. Air management plays a part in this game as well, and there are powerups such as shields scattered in various places.
Now that we’ve covered the game’s features, it’s time to get you good folks ready to take advantage of them. Sonic Riders will be here in less than two weeks, and the game’s got one mother of a learning curve if you jump into it cold turkey. I’ve been living and breathing this game for a good while now, yet I’m still learning new techniques and finding new shortcuts that I didn’t find before. This is where I share my knowledge so that you’ll be prepared when it hits. Read on!
Know Your Racer: Each character has one of three attributes, carted over from Sonic Heroes: Speed, Power, and Flight. Speed characters have higher top speed, and can utilize rail shortcuts. Pressing the jump button to jump, then pressing it again in the air while over the desired rail will cause the character to grind on that rail. Air for your board is recovered while grinding. Keep it in mind.
Power characters can smash through traffic and various obstacles that would cause other characters to crash and lose speed. Not only is seeing Knuckles punch through a freight truck the coolest thing ever, but hitting things also lets you recover Air.
Finally, Flight characters can take flight off of various inclines and ramps. When they do, they should look out for Boost Rings above the track. Flying through these will accelerate their flight, and of course, refill their board’s Air supply.
Tricks: Utilizing character powers is a good way to refill Air, but the main way is by performing tricks with the characters. When jumping off of a ramp, an incline, or a turbulence half-pipe, flick the analog stick in any direction to do a trick. The more tricks you do in the air, the higher your ranking, and the more Air you’ll gain. Make sure to land back on your board after the tricks, though, or you’ll bail and automatically get the lowest rank, C.
A good strategy is to power up your jumps before taking them. You can do this by holding the jump button prior to actually leaping off of a ramp, and then letting go at the desired jump time. This will give you more air, and more trick time. In some cases, you may even find hidden shortcuts if you fly high enough!
Tune-Up!: Remember back in the original Super Mario Kart where collecting coins scattered along the track improved your racer’s top speed? No? True, one of Nintendo’s worse mistakes was benching that novel idea, but it’s back in full force in Sonic Riders. Collecting Rings, whether they be along the track or in item boxes, is essential to survival. Rings allow you to level up your characters mid-race. It takes 30 rings to get to level 2, and 60 to become level 3. At higher levels, you’ll have higher attributes ranging from top speed to power to acceleration, and it’ll be that much easier to blow past your enemies on the track, or keep your lead. Your board’s Air tank capacity will increase as well. No matter how good a racer you are, if you’re not collecting rings to power yourself up as soon as possible, the entire race will be an uphill battle. Try not to stay at level 1 for long, because at level 3, you’ll have to do a whole lot less work to win.
Boosting: Boosting is self-explanatory, but know that it requires air to use. The higher your level, the longer you will stay in accelerated Boost mode. While in Boost mode, you will automatically attack any character you can come in close proximity to. Use this knowledge to become unpredictable, by boosting while off your prey’s radar, and then taking them out near the end of your Boost mode time. Any character that’s successfully attacked will suffer a number of effects, from losing their air, to losing their speed, to being knocked all the way back down to level 1 (ouch!).
Catching Up: The main gimmick/feature of the game, as mentioned in my last article, is “turbulence.” When a character maintains top speed, they generate a half-pipe behind them made entirely of wind. Anyone can surf this wind if they so choose, and it will make them move at incredible speeds, even faster than the racer generating the turbulence in the first place. Finding “tracks within tracks” is a good way to keep up with the pack, and make a comeback when you truly need it.
Defense: “But,” you say, “what if I don’t want characters riding my turbulence and taking me out?” Glad you asked! This is where the Tornado Defense comes in. Provided you have enough air in your tank, pressing both triggers/shoulder buttons at the same time will let you leave a stationary tornado of air for enemies to become trapped in, giving you time to escape their stalking. “Stationary” may not sound like much, but look at it this way—most times, when a character is catching up to you (you can see this by looking at the radar at the bottom of the screen, by the way), it’s because they’re riding the turbulence that you’re leaving behind. All turbulence leads directly to your backside—it’s centered on you, because it comes from you. Therefore, leaving a Tornado at your position almost ensures that your pursuer will run smack into it, unless they’re far enough behind you to avoid it. Use it well—it uses about as much air as a boost, but since it can trap multiple enemies, it can be even more valuable than a boost in maintaining your position.
Cornering: Pressing a trigger/shoulder button while leaning in a direction with the analog stick will allow you to make a sharp turn. These turns consume Air, but the upshot is if you do it correctly and position yourself straight when you come out of the turn, you will instantly boost at no further cost. Managing your position during a sharp turn takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, you’ll laugh at any corners that come your way, and actually look at them as an opportunity for a free speed boost.
Well, that’s it, folks. From here on, I leave things in your hands. Have a great time when the game comes out at the end of this month, and enjoy what it has to offer! I know I have been.
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