The Rush games, often portrayed as the epitome of "hold right, boost to win" gameplay by many an upset Genesis Sonic fan, might surprise anyone who's looked past trailer footage, especially with the first game. Though I won't deny that the platforming and exploration was toned down, the boost, in some respects, makes the games harder. Sure, you'll plow through any enemy you come across, but you'll also be moving so fast that you'll careen into lower paths and bottomless pits without superhuman reflexes, so these games aren't devoid of challenge. Not to say that platforming and exploration is completely gone either. There are plenty of difficult jumps to be made and alternate routes to take in every level. Parts of it can even be more difficult than the Genesis games, such as the end of either act of Altitude Limit, where the player must jump through a series of constantly lowering platforms over an instant kill laser. Neither Sonic nor Blaze has a particularly high or quick jump and if you're too slow, you will die, so that will most likely catch newcomers off guard. There's definitely fun to be had, though. The special stages from the first game in particular are the most fun I've ever had with a special stage in any Sonic game, despite being typical half pipe fare. Many levels contain gimmicks that, while not particularly original, still provide a nice change of pace (with the exception of the first game's "kill X enemies" rooms, which didn't belong at all), as did some of the missions in Rush Adventure. And finding the best path to speedrun a level is still as satisfying as ever; you just don't have to work as hard for your speed now. The graphics of the games are acceptable, though the second game suffers from the same problems Super Mario Sunshine did in overuse of the "tropical island" theme. There's some interesting variations, but for the most part, you may as well be on Isle Delfino. I adore the soundtrack of the first game. Techno-funk suits Sonic perfectly. The second game is a bit blander, but there are a few noteworthy tracks, such as Big Swell. And in keeping with 2D Sonic tradition, the stories are cute, inoffensive, and an excuse to make you go fast. I'd recommend the second game to casuals, and the first for those looking for a challenge. They're some of the best handheld Sonic games to date.
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