Retrospectively speaking, 2005's Sonic Rush wasn't the best thing since Jaffa Cakes, as was commonly touted upon its release. But it was still the best Sonic game in ages, and that's because it skimmed out all the extracurricular nonsense that we've grown to associate with Ol' Blue. No interminable minigames. No heat-packing 'Dark Sonic'. Clingy, sycophantic hangers-on kept to a minimum. It was a Sonic game based around going very fast in a number of 2D environments. Genius!
But heavens, was it ever annoying. Sonic Rush screamed - nay, demanded - that you zip through its levels as fast as possible, only to metaphorically pie you in the face with an everlasting supply of bottomless pits, hog-flattening pillars and enemies with spikes for noses. Which is why we were looking forward to Sonic Rush 2. Having had a white-gloved gauntlet slapped in their faces by external developers Dimps (who were behind the first Rush), we'd have thought Sega would relish the chance to iron out Sonic Rush's flaws. To be frank, they haven't, though.
Just plane stupid
Your first clue should be in the name; not Sonic Rush 2, but Sonic Rush Adventure. You already know what this means - so let's give a warm welcome to the return of all that extracurricular nonsense. As the (flimsy) story goes, Sonic and Tails smash-land their plane into a strange airborne structure and find themselves marooned on a tropical archipelago. There, they bump into a new pal, Marine the Racoon, and, inevitably, Blaze the Charisma-Free Cat. Our heroes club together to solve the mystery of how anyone gets paid to write this gumf, a process that involves moving from one island to another, navigating themed worlds.
You don't automatically move from one island to another upon a level's completion: instead, you've got to plot your course from one island to another using the stylus and then manually sail your way to your destination. Occasionally, and boringly, you'll find yourself needing to replay old levels to collect vague materials so that Tails, hopelessly miscast as chief designer of watercraft, can devise a new boat capable of propelling you to ever-further lands. The problem is that while none of the minigames are that bad, equally none are likely to pop into your head while you're writing your memoirs. Worst still, these peddlers of pococurantism often dwarf the game; you can spend upward of five minutes plotting a course to a tiny island, all for about 48 seconds of action.
Ah, yes, that brings us to the main game. Clearly when listening to the criticisms of the previous games, the developers paid attention for a short while but soon got distracted and started doodling yet more rubbish sidekicks to add on to their notepads. In some ways it's improved - the too-long level length of the original has been halved, as an example - but by the time you reach the third level, you realise that it's largely business as usual, and business is killing you in one hit.
Sonic Rush Adventure uses its dual-screen display as an excuse to repeatedly punch you in the back of your head. Unseen death rains down on you from above, and it's impossible to see it coming on your first play. It's a similar story down yonder; bottomless pits are plentiful, and in a game that's structured as vertically as Adventure is, there's simply no excuse for them to be there.
These criticisms are also true of the first game. But in analysis, Adventure is a step backwards because it seems ashamed to be a Sonic game. You'll find yourself on stupid bouncy platforms, your momentum broken by dodgy 3D mini-games and participating in extreme sports that ceased to be 'rad' when Timmy Mallett was top of the pop. It's saved only by an excellent multiplayer and bits that, despite Sega's efforts, are unmistakably Sonic.
To quote those LOLcats, Sega made you a game, but they broked it. This isn't as mind-spinningly enjoyable as we hoped.