And stretching it across the two DS screens was a stroke of genius. These are levels of real height and complexity, with multiple paths to uncover and plenty of secrets to reveal. Racing down a ramp that drops from one screen into another and then through a vast loop that takes you right back up to the top is a touch right out of your golden period. You seem to have recaptured your speed without compromising the feeling of control. If vast tracts of the 3D Sonics felt like they were on rails, Sonic Rush has put us back in command of the ride.
What’s more, you’ve finally learnt to use 3D without being dominated by it. I imagine it was tempting to use the DS’ horsepower to have another crack at 3D platforming, but thank goodness you resisted. Instead, we get nice little 3D elements that add a certain wow factor to the game: industrial cranes, spinning corkscrews and – most obviously – the bosses. While Robotnik’s fiendish death machines have never been effective, they have always been spectacular, and the rotund mad scientist has put those new-fangled polygons to good use. If only Robotnik’s worst moment was not his very first appearance – that horrible bit where you have to jump over the rolling capsule almost put me off playing the rest of the game.
Admittedly, I’m a little disappointed that you haven’t made much of the DS touchscreen. It’s good to see the old pipe-racing bonus stages back, but making us use the stylus to drag your little blue bum around the screen smacks of desperation. Still, the controls are (mostly) right on the money in the normal stages, and it’s good to see you’ve learnt a few new tricks, with a fantastic speed boost and some cool mid-air moves to take down airborne enemies or gain an extra bit of height.
Now, some newer gamers are going to find your latest adventure a bit of a shock. There are only three lives to get through the three zones of each area – though as usual, more can be gained by grabbing rings or finding power-ups – and running out sends us back to the good old-fashioned game over screen. As the levels are packed with deadly foes and sudden death traps, this can result in a game that not only demands skill, but patience. I’ve already found certain levels could only be conquered by a learning process – chipping away at them section by section, from restart point to restart point.