There are two things Sonic the Hedgehog is known for: speed and the steady downhill decline of the quality of his video games. With only a few exceptions (check out "Sonic Rush" on the DS), ever since Sonic jumped into the world of 3D his games have been getting worse with each installment. This decline is because of the simple fact that, despite thousands of gamers' collective groans, the Sonic Team has stopped focusing on Sonic’s speed and started focusing on his slow and boring friends.
And so it was that "Sonic and the Seven Rings" for the Nintendo Wii looked like a ray of golden super sonic light in the mist of darkness and in many ways it is; unfortunately, it’s far from the speed perfection we should be expecting from a Sonic game.
The good news is that this new Sonic is a return to speed. It doesn’t involve playing as any of Sonics friends and the game play simply has you charging forward faster and faster nonstop. Think of Sonic as a sort of platformer/racing game hybrid. You steer the blue hedgehog with your Wiimote turned sideways, like a car steering wheel: Tilt left, you go left, tilt right, you go right. To attack you simply thrust the wiimote forward, which not only works surprisingly well but is terribly satisfying. The controls get tight and responsive once you have collected enough upgrades by earning points through your performance. This aspect adds a new and welcome tilt to the game, where you can customize Sonic to be faster and have different moves depending on what you need to do to accomplish the goals of the level, but you shouldn’t have to upgrade to good controls.
There are seven levels in total, each one opens up with a run through the entire level which once beaten opens up other challenges like collect rings or don’t get hit. Pretty basic stuff but the challenges are fun for the most part and it allows for some decent replay value once you’ve beaten the game. The initial run-throughs outshine the challenges by far. Here is where you really see a lot of the speed and the cool moves you know Sonic should have.
Where the game's quality slows down is when Sonic slows down. There are far too many blind corners and hidden traps that are caused more by poor level design than anything else. Sure running head long into a bad guy accidentally because your going so fast is a Sonic trade mark but doing it 10 times over because you can’t see where your going is just ridiculous. Also the camera doesn’t swing around when you back track, making it impossible to see where you’re going when walking backwards. This might not be such a big deal if the Sonic Team hadn’t made it necessary to walk backwards on multiple occasions.
Once Sonic picks his speed back up, though, it does allow for some great game play. "Sonic and the Seven Rings" is a great launching point for what will hopefully be a triumphant return for everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog.
Let’s just hope they keep scoring the games with the cheesiest rock music ever.