In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Sonic and the Secret Rings

aka: Hyper Sonic, Sonic Wild Fire, Sonic and the Secret of the Rings, Sonic e gli Anelli Segreti, Sonic to Himitsu no Ringu, Sonic und die Geheimen Ringe, Sonic y los Anillos Secretos
Moby ID: 26692
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Description official descriptions

Sonic the Hedgehog returns in this Wii-exclusive title that places him in the page of an Arabian Nights themed storybook.

The pages from this story are being erased by a villain known as Erazor Djinn, and Sonic must use his super-speed to travel through worlds filled with dinosaurs, pirate ships, deserts and ruins in an attempt to restore the story's pages.

Players control Sonic via the Wiimote, as he is continually running forward, allowing him to twist, jump and launch himself at his enemies using the system's controls. The game is more linear than the previous 3D adventures, hearkening back to the more straightforward "reach the goal" mechanics of the earlier side-scrolling titles. For gameplay, the wiimote is held sideways like a regular controller. By tilting left or right, Sonic follows the direction. Certain movements and buttons allow Sonic to slow down or perform moves. Similar to Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic can acquire more than 100 new skills, and even combine them, gained along with experience. Before each stage, players select the desired skills for the mission.

There are 3 game modes: Adventure (the main game with 8 stages), Party and Special Book. In Special Book, there are more than 200 extras to be unlocked when Sonic completes specific goals. The Party mode supports up to 4 players on a game board, similar to Sonic Shuffle. The gameplay itself consists of 40 mini-games, each with different controls for the wiimote.

Spellings

  • ソニックと秘密のリング - Japanese Spelling

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Credits (Wii version)

233 People (209 developers, 24 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 70% (based on 46 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 26 ratings with 2 reviews)

Fast, Colourful, Imaginative and Difficult.

The Good
The inspiration for this Sonic title is that of the Arabian Nights, and this is clear right from the title screen. We are presented with a distinct Middle Eastern flavour for this game, and it's marriage with Sonic and his history might seem dubious to begin with. This game is often referred to as the first in the 'Storybook' series, (the second being 'Sonic and the Black Knight'), and so after diving into the first mission (a tutorial stage), we see that this game is a departure from the hedgehogs typical locales. The faded manuscripts covered in hieroglyphs float about as if Sonic has been thrust into a new, mysterious land.

Actually, he has.

Brimming with colour and imagination, the levels in this game are beautifully constructed and presented. A desert area is the first of the themed levels, and it is a testament that Sonic as a series can be transplanted a reasonable distance from the source material. No fauna have been kidnapped and mechanised, no brightly checkered loops, and no Dr. Robotnik (Dr. Eggman). These icons has been put aside to make way for a more fantastical adventure – regardless of Sonic's existing context. There's a Jurassic-themed world is filled with prehistoric flora and fauna, a seaside world features crumbling docks and sinking pirate frigates covered in sea-spray. Particularly imaginative is the 'Levitating Ruins' world, an ancient, decrepit and floating array of platforms bizarrely held up by giant, bony wings.

The move from side-scrolling to a 3D perspective is no surprise for the series, so the question is not 'why?', but now 'how?'. Does the perspective add to the experience, does Sonic still feel like Sonic as we previously have know him? For this game, the answer is mixed. The camera and control work well most of the time, but you certainly will run into problems, (as well as walls, spikes, flames and holes)... Why? The camera sits fairly cosily behind the blue blur, and we are often asked by the demanding level-designers to react much faster than is reasonable. These moments are amplified by the imperfect camera-tracking, as even the engine has some trouble tracking itself. Thankfully, these moments are uncommon, and it's only the more cluttered and demanding areas that cause severe frustration.

The Bad
“Severe” frustration is the word, for it is not unusual for Sonic to die before we can even register what it is we failed to do. The sense of speed is extreme, but the price of this is that the levels often demand a trial-and-error approach, rather than an on-the-fly play-through. This difference from earlier Sonics may be hinted at by the designers themselves: no longer called 'Acts', this title labels its levels as 'Missions'. This is a far more apt description: achieving the many different goals is in fact no joke, and aiming for bronze, silver or gold can be even less humorous.

Yes, the game is hard, and the terrain unfriendly. Enemies (multi-coloured genie-like apparitions) are usually stationary and waiting for Sonic to 'lock-on' to them, but it is also their habit to (annoyingly!) appear in front of you when at speed. This means that unless you're familiar with the level, you're bound to make a collision and probably cause irreparable damage to whatever mission criteria you happen have set for you. Take no damage, collect 0 rings, collect 0 pearls (like mana in any other game), beat the clock etc. all require virtually flawless performances. Can you make it happen, and happen quick?

Sonic can jump and attack. He flies through the air and smashes into your target until they disappear, leaving a handful of pearls as a reward. These pearls can be used for a super speed-up, or a slow-down. Each technique have their moments in certain areas – moments that may not be too clear for the novice. Can't slip under that rotating razor-sharp fan? Use the time-break; can't achieve that gold medal, or reach that fire soul (the equivalent of Mario's big coins)? Use the speed-break. While these techniques seem fine on paper, they really are for the advanced player, and it wasn't until half-way through the first play-through that I really started to comprehend their use.

Is this the first Sonic game to alter the jump mechanic? Sonic historians may be able to correct me, but I believe this is the first game where Sonic jumps once the button is released – not pressed. Pressing the '2-button' puts him into a crouched slide, releasing the button will launch him onward and upward. This is fine for the most part, but trying to charge a decent jump on a few square-feet of surface is difficult – especially while running at ridiculous speeds. But, Sonic has some assistance here. Equipping rings (a choice of four slots are available) to Sonic will give him user-defined powers. Each power has it's cost, and the ring will only hold as much as Sonic's 'level' will allow. Extra jump distance, speed, slide, braking, steering, homing-distance etc. are all there to choose from. This list of abilities starts out humbly enough, but by the time Sonic reaches level 50, the list is longer than a list of cancelled Dreamcast games. Options are great, but who wants to scour through a list like that before each mission? Who, I ask?!

Sonically (ahem), this title is fairly well done. A rock/metal accompaniment is the choice here, and each world has a single theme. The riffs are pretty heavy and some are really quite catchy. Unfortunately, the main-menu music is depressingly repetitive, and this may be why I refuse to sort through the list of abilities very often – this music is relentless and corny rock filled with apt lyrics concerning the game's plot. Seven secret rings are what we are trying to obtain, and each world holds one after each boss has been defeated.

The Bottom Line
I'm astounded that after the list of complaints above, I still think this game is enjoyable. The speed, the colourful graphics and the many different 'missions' keep me coming back. However, I have noticed that my own play sessions are quite brief with this game. It's as if the idea of the game is great, but it doesn't lend itself to long periods of play – especially if you're trying to achieve a medal or the hidden fire souls or a decent time. This Wii exclusive is worth playing, and I enjoy it far more than say, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the virtual console. The imagination involved in this title pays off for me, and the detailed, varied areas make Sonic seem a little more advanced than he used to be – even if the classical elements and icons may be absent. While the game isn't quite up to the fanbase's expectations, it surely is the Wii owners' little 'Secret'.

Wii · by So Hai (261) · 2010

Sonic Returns. Finally. Thankfully.

The Good
It's been a long time in saying this, but Sonic has finally returned to his roots. Gone are the exploration elements and multiple characters, Sonic returns to straightforward "I want to go fast" gameplay where everything focuses on speed and moving forward. The return to this simplicity is a thankful sigh of relief, and the first step in the right direction for the series in a very long time. The supporting cast is there, but they remain in the background, and are reintroduced in a fun way that relates to the "Arabian Nights" theme of the story.

There are two aspects that really stand out in the Wii Sonic: The graphics and the control scheme. From the first time the CG intro plays, to the blinding speed Sonic tears through levels with all the various stages, it's a real step forward to see a Wii game that is neither a tech demo or a game that was intended for/ported over from the Gamecube. It's a very pretty game with lots of animation, and looks more like a classic Sega game than any that have come to recent memory in a while. To note for graphics enthusiasts, the CG intro is beautiful.

The controls are another surprising factor. With the newness of the Wii, it's hard to tell which games are going to get a "novelty" control scheme without really doing anything that relates to or changes gameplay, or offer something that's truly different. Sonic actually makes good use of the Wiimote. The game feels a bit like a racing game, and though the control scheme sounds daunting in execution, it becomes quite intuitive after a few plays. The control scheme ends up making sense for how they chose to do something that could have been a total bust, but it works.

As mentioned above, it's just simply refreshing to see a Sonic game focus on its title character, and not push him to the background. Sonic runs. That what set him apart from Mario. This game finally allows players to run again. It's disturbing to think how long Sega actually pushed that feature to the back burner, and equally as disorienting to have it back again. But don't mistake my comments for not appreciating that it is. They also introduce a "level up" factor that gives you experience points based how well you perform, so it gives players incentive to go back and redo levels in order to have better control over Sonic.

The Bad
The controls, while unique and responsive, has a small problem of not doing what you think it should do at times. It works a lot more than it doesn't, but there are just moments where you don't feel in control of what should have happened.

That in itself has always been a point of contention in the Sonic series. Those moments where you don't feel in control. With this game, it's those moments where you feel trapped on "rails" and are along for the ride, but you can break free of the "rail" pretty easily, and equally put yourself back on, so it's bearable. There are also those moments of going so fast to where you're not feeling like you're doing anything but watching, praying that when it ends, you'll land in a safe spot. But all Sonics have these moments.

Musically, the game is a mixed bag. Some of the tunes are really appropriate, while others.... Sega needs to stop with the "rock" tunes for Sonic. I think of those great and memorable tunes from the earlier games, versus how they try to "rock out" Sonic, and these themes don't feel like part of the world, being just simply "there". Same for the voice acting. It's simplistic, but the main voice I haven't liked is the main villains.

The cut-scenes are a disappointment after the CG intro. I would have liked to have seen something more than storybook pictures with full animation, but in an artistic way the style chosen for the intermissions blend in with the story ideas.

The mission layouts are another things I'm not sure if I liked. They do offer a sizable amount of variety within each mission, but with such a large step in the right direction with returning to Sonic's roots, perhaps I would have enjoyed a more linear experience instead of having to revisit sections of the worlds.

The Bottom Line
To be perfectly honest, it's been a long time since a Sonic game has actually "done" anything for me. Sure, there was Sonic 1 and 2, CD, and the first Sonic Adventure, but the franchise came out with too many sequels to quickly in the beginning, and then in the 3D versions, deviated from what made Sonic games fun in the first place. By the time the gun-toting Shadow the Hedgehog came out, I was ready to walk away from the series altogether.

And then Sonic and the Secret Rings appeared.

It's a good step for the series. A good step back, but much like the gameplay itself, the Sonic franchise needed to return to its "rails". This is probably the most fun I've had with Sonic since the four above-listed titles. Sonic Team has scraped away all the garbage from the Sonic series and left this entry where it should be. Fast and fun with Sonic as the hero of the story.

For a Sonic game, it's one of the best titles in recent years. For a Wii game, it's beautiful, and finally looks like a game designed with the new system's capabilities in mind. This is the most fun I've had with a Wii game since Zelda and Wario Ware.

Recommended for Sonic fans, platformer fans or someone looking for the next really impressive Wii title.

Wii · by Guy Chapman (1748) · 2007

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Guy Chapman.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Wizo, Jacob Gens, samsam12, Flapco.

Game added February 21, 2007. Last modified December 17, 2023.