Things we don’t like about Sonic since he went 3D: annoying cameras; humans and hedgehogs mingling like friends; misplaced attempts at ‘tude; floaty controls that feel like you’re ice-skating around levels. Things we like about Secret Rings? None of these hideous, game-ruining things have sneaked in. And this Wii-exclusive Sonic is unusually good.
The basics are simple to explain. Levels involve a mad dash race from one end to the other. You control Sonic by holding the Wii remote horizontally, tilting it forward to go forward, back to run backwards (not that you need to much!) and then tip it left and right to steer. The levels are, for the most part, pretty narrow and you’re effectively forced forward through turns from start to finish, so the steering is more for slight adjustments and obstacle avoidance more than anything. To top off his basic repertoire of moves, Sonic can jump (obviously) and flicking the remote forward while in the air activates his homing attack.
So you’ve got nowhere near the level of freedom you get in the more recent 3D games and, you know what, it’s all the better for it. It feels much more old-school, more like a 2D Sonic game. By taking away all this fancy free-roaming nonsense, you can concentrate on the important things. Running really, really fast, dodging enemies, falling pillars and spikes in the blink of an eye, while collecting those all-important rings. It’s a definite step in the right direction.