Not since Tails first airlifted Sonic up a cliff face in Sonic 3 have two buddies worked as well together as Nintendo and Sega in recent months. The Segtendo effect, as we've just named it in hope of creating some cool new street lingo, seems to stem from some deep understanding on Sega's behalf as to how best employ Nintendo hardware without compromising their original franchises. And it all started with 2005's Sonic Rush.
An adrenaline junkie in game cartridge form, it snapped the stylus over its knee, spat into the microphone hole and went about its speedy business, ignoring those DS potholes so many developers feel inclined to hop into. And despite the game changing developmental hands - from Dimps to SEGA Studios - this is moving in a largely similar direction. At a rate of knots, naturally.
We say knots as Sonic's latest Rush is to be watered down. Not in a bad way - he's taking to the blue seas for a spot of piracy-themed sprinting. Running on water like a Lucozade endorsed Jesus Christ? No, no, no. While the narrative concerns Sonic's attempts to bring down cruel pirate-y fella Captain Whiskers, we're promised land-based levels to match the originals - your usual selection of rent-a-level forests, mountains and ghost ships. Considering the lovely visual touches that Secret Rings milked out of similar settings, this may not be a bad thing.
Action again takes place over both screens - you'll need to apply vaseline to your eyeballs to get them swivelling quickly enough in your sockets if you hope to keep up with Sonic's cross-screen corkscrewing/leaping antics. As these screenshots demonstrate, you can always see what lies above and beneath Sonic, and the camera gives your peepers a run for their money as he moves between the two. Not a game for the easily fazed.
Gone is Robotnik, but this ain't no picnik. Levels populated by robots (cold), skeleton warriors (colder), pterodactyls (getting warmer) and robotic triceratops (jackpot) can be dashed through as fast as you can possibly manage, or else explored more thoughtfully for new routes. Master dashers are helped by the return of the tension bar, filled by button bashing out mad tricks during freefalling leaps and allowing for even more speed to be injected into Sonic's already time-continuum worrying speeds.
The aim of each level is to hunt down shipbuilding parts for Tails - yes, he's back - to turn into submarines/water bikes/hovercraft for special sailing sections. Replacing what little touch screen action there was in the original - half pipe in the style of Sonic 2's special stages - these sailing jollies sound like more substantial watery tasks.
The stylus directs the ships, performs tricks and takes on other ships in combat. We just hope that this doesn't spoil the pixel-perfect 2D larks that Dimps aced in the first Rush. Also of note are 3D boss battles stretching across two screens - the 3D bosses of the original were hardly a highlight but we're curious to see what double-screen-demons are in store for us this time.
And for all you fans of DS Download Wi-Fi Rush racing, the mode is back, with all new mission-based battles also making an appearance. As long as we can catch up with the blue bugger to coax/beat more details out of him, expect to hear more in the upcoming months...