An undisputed gaming icon Sonic the Hedgehog might be, but his games have always been a patchwork quilt of brilliance and shoddiness. Sometimes he's great, and sometimes he stinks like a real hedgehog (that's been lying on the road in the sun for a week, with his guts all squashed out his bum).
But in the case of Sonic Rivals, Sonic's PSP debut, Sega looks to have got things right for a change. Simplicity and speed are the keywords here, and those looking for a return to the more dynamic Sonic games of yore will be pleased to know that gameplay consists of pegging it from one end of the level to the other, with little more to do than hammer the jump button.
The graphics may be three-dimensional, but the gameplay remains rooted in 2D, with the whole concept of Sonic Rivals being to control Sonic (and pals) in a series of frantic one-on-one races. This involves not just navigating the twisty, turny environments, but giving your opponent a good slapping while you're at it. You'll be able to trip your foes, leap-frog them and send them reeling with a selection of power-ups, as well as unleashing a number of special moves.
Because of the one-on-one race format, Wi-Fi multiplayer is going to be a big part of Sonic Rivals and we're looking forward to something approaching the memorable two-player modes of Sonic's seminal Mega Drive adventures.
Fast and simple, as Sonic games should be. Here's hoping the race concept works.