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Sonic has slowly become one of the biggest icons in gaming along with some of Nintendo’s key characters. But in recent years Sega’s leading franchise is beginning to look quite tired with several sub-standard Sonic games and spin-offs which haven’t lived up to the Sonic of classic games like Sonic the Hedgehog. Some blame 3D graphics for Sonic’s failures, others point to the numerous spin offs that he is appearing in, but ultimately it seems that Sega hasn’t been producing as good quality Sonic games as they used to, but now with a completely new control method can they change this, and produce something that harks back to Sonic’s glory days on the MegaDrive?

Sonic WildFire may have been a far better name for Sonic’s first outing on the new Nintendo home console, the Wii, but we are stuck with Sonic and the Secret Rings anyway. Then again is that really important, will the name of the game affect your enjoyment of it? The answer it seems is no. Sega could have named the game anything they wanted and when it really comes down to it, it would still be the same game underneath it all.

This game seems to involve none of the gimmicks that have been popping up in recent Sonic games, well at least in terms of gameplay. Even though the 3D environment normally proves too much for a Sonic game, it seems like for this one it may not need to be a problem. You aren’t given a set path to run through, but instead you are restricted so you need to follow a general path. This isn’t a rail game, but certainly is very close to it, while still offering enough freedom to satisfy gamers. This also will eliminate all of the camera angle issues that have caused problems in previous 3D Sonic installments.

While there have been quite a lot of complaints from gamers that the Wii’s graphics aren’t a great deal better than some current gen consoles, Sonic and the Secret Rings is not one of he games that they will be complaining about. Even at E3 earlier this year, when it was still subtitled WildFire, it was a very pretty game, and even despite the pace of the game it kept a good frame rate. The game manages to have a very clean presentation to the whole of it at very high speeds.

The control method looks very good as well. Essentially as you travel down the predetermined path you will steer left or right by tilting the WiiMote left or right, holding it almost in a steering wheel fashion. You will also need to use the buttons to jump, but to attack an enemy all you need to do is quickly shake the controller up and down. And to go back on yourself you just turn the WiiMote round. Although it sounds a bit strange when you are reading it, when you are playing it there is a lot of fun to be had with such a simple, intuitive control scheme.

Overall the concept behind the game is similar to every other Sonic game. You dash around levels at breakneck speeds at try and collect as many rings as possible. This game has a distinct Middle Eastern feel to, as it based around the Arabain Nights book written over 150 years ago. The plot is that Sonic was flipping through this ancient book when a genie popped out and asks Sonic to return the missing pages of the book for him. Sonic agrees to it and the genie allows him to travel through the Arabian world to collect these pages. So expect a wide variety of exotic locations to whizz around when the game is released.

Sonic and the Secret Rings looksas though it may be a great game, unlike some of the more recent Sonic appearances. If Sega can keep this game as simple as it is at the minute without complicating the controls or the gameplay it is bound to sell very well for the Nintendo Wii when it is released some time next year.

Anticipation Rating: ★★★★☆