Lookie here! A sequel better than the original.
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The newest installment in the Sonic Riders sub-series; Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity!
Let's face it people. The first Sonic Riders was mediocre (I know you'll disagree Sonic Phantom ~.^) so I kept my expectations low for Zero Gravity. Boy, was I was blown away. Why? Well, it repaired the numerous flaws it's predecessor had. Graphics, gameplay, control, sound, tricks, and... well, it just about improved (or fixed) nearly everything.
The graphics in-game are pretty good, markedly improved. The demo graphics are spectacular; the flashy sparks and flickering of neon lights really stand out. The demo itself really wraps you up in the story, it seems dramatic but the creators didn't lay it on too thick. Something that bothers me is the placement of Tails' mouth. It's on the middle of his muzzle, not on the side like it usually is. It makes him look like a fish, which is a funny coincidence as his starter board is called "Yellow Tail", which is a species of fish. And a few tricks have fish references in them. Strange, isn't it?
The controls now use the Wiimote. What's really cool is that you can either use it vertically or horizontally. I prefer horizontal because you get a more 'realistic' experience and it seems easier, but both ways work just fine.
The steering on the extreme gear (the board/vehicle that you race on) varies. Since there are about 60 gears you can buy from the shop, you can surely find a board (you can choose yachts, bikes and many other racing platforms) that fits your racing style and abilities. Some boards have really neat effects such as the 'Gambler'. The description of the gear is "The perfect gear for riders looking to score rings fast. Win on this baby, and you'll see..." and other unique boards like 'Untouchable' which is an absolute speed demon.
To even further your racing experience, there are 18 playable characters to choose from. The entire roster consists of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Jet, Storm, Wave, Amy, Shadow, Cream, Amigo, Blaze, NiGHTS, Dr.Eggman, Billy Hatcher, Silver, Rouge, MeteorTech Robot (SCR-GP), and finally MeteorTech Robot (SCR-HD). That's a total of 18 characters! Note that the robots do not use boards, and each character has individual stats viewable from the character select screen.
The tricks are now really fun to pull off! There are a lot of tricks you can perform, and you are ranked from C to XX (C,B,A,AA,S,SS,X,XX). Simple to do also, just a flick of the wrist or a twirl of the Wiimote. Another feature ZG uses is air-ride and grinding, similar to Kirby Air-Ride. A brand new concept also exists called Gravity Dive, you go fly up into the air with major speed, and then can do something called Meteor Burst which allows you to bounce off obstacles in midair in order to get insane speed boosts. The 'gravity control' is used for sharp turns, you charge up and turn in the direction you want to go, and then blast off. It also can be used for a speed boost.
The music in this game is really impressive. Some tracks might even be considered memorable (such as Gadget Round and Dive into Gravity), at least I think so anyway. The two theme songs are for Sonic and Jet the Hawk, "Un-Gravity" for Sonic and "Catch Me If You Can" for Jet. Un-Gravity is definitely one of my favorite songs in Sonic the Hedgehog... it's truly superb. Jet's song is also very cool, but not as good as Sonic's.
The voice acting is all just recycled clips, with the exception of Silver, Blaze, and all the characters they didn't have previously. The entire cast's voice are still the 4kidsTV ones sadly. Jason Griffith voices three characters now, those being Sonic, Jet and Shadow. He seems to be getting better, I just don't like him VAing Sonic, he does Shadow and Jet fine. Tails' Amy Palant is good at voice acting alright, but her voice just doesn't really suit Tails himself. Dan Greene is voicing Knuckles and he's really great, but not the best Knuckles ever in my opinion. Amy is done by Lisa Ortiz, and does a good job of making her sound whiny. Amy is as much a pest to Sonic as ever in SRZG, same old Amy Rose. The rest of the crew are rather well done, but nothing special.
An unfortunate thing about SRZG is its lifespan; the story mode for both (the Sonic side and Jet side) can be beaten within 5 hours. You also can't race against people over Wi-Fi, but you can download one of the top racer's ghost pack and try to beat their best time from every level. So the replay value of this game is its weak spot. Plus the recycled voices and... Tails' mouth. Otherwise, it's all good.
This is one of the better Sonic games out there, I'd say you should give it a shot. It's an impressive title!
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