Yes, the time has come, and Sonic appears on the PS2 with all his buddies, and I didn’t know there were so many of them. Gaming geeks everywhere will be musing about the days when Sega would rather die than launch games on rival platforms - but those days are gone, and rightly so. Sonic was one of Sega’s best inventions, and it is great to have the little critter back on the screen. Sonic Heroes is also on the Gamecube and Xbox, so there is something for everyone.
So what does Sonic do in this latest game? You guessed it - he runs and jumps around various levels beating the bad robot guys and collecting rings. A classic formula. But if you wanted that you could pick up a £5 Megadrive and only play Sonic right? Wrong. Sonic has evolved to keep up with the host of competitors for the crown of crazy platform guy. In Sonic Heroes, as the name suggests, you get to play with all his friends as well. I was familiar with Tails from previous carnations, but there are 12 playable characters in four teams - Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose or Team Chaotix. Team Sonic, which I suspect will be most people’s first choice, also has Knuckles, the strong guy.
So, you have team-based Sonic action. Yes, you control a team of three characters, each with their own strength or weakness. Sonic is fast but no good in a fight; Tails can fly; Knuckles is hard as nails, but really slow. Depending on who is leading changes the team dynamics. Basically, if you pick Sonic, you are in speed formation and run fast, if you pick Tails, your team can fly, and so on. As you progress through the level, you’ll encounter different obstacles that require a different skill, so you can change formation and off you go. You can push through on mostly speed mode, but you will encounter cliffs that need the extra height from Tails’ flight powers. It’s simple really.
You can also play against friends in a split-screen competition and there are various extras on the disc including the chance to play back the videos and so on. Like many games, more level options open up as you complete stages of the game. The gameplay is great and completely what you expect from Sonic - fast, furious, colourful. It is a great all-round game that will appeal to kids big and little. There is very little to criticise about it. When you fall off the edge of the scenery you might be pinged a long way back in the level, but that is a minor gripe. I also managed to fall through the scenery in 2-player mode, into an eternal blackness until I eventually died - perhaps a small programming error, but I have not been able to repeat the mistake.
Overall, it’s a great little game, and endlessly entertaining - exactly what you’d expect.