Sonic Rivals takes the traditional high speed, 2D gameplay of the series and adds 3D styling and battling into the mix. Gorgeously rendered and designed, each level is made up of a single, yet branching track, whose boughs and shoots eventually tie back together at the finish line.
The storyline pits Sonic and his rivals against the evil machinations of Eggman once again, with the drama unfolding from the different perspectives of the rivals while converging on the disappearance of the mysterious Chao.
In story mode, each level is either a competitive race, competitive showdown with a boss or a straight battle between rivals. Competitive racing is exactly that, a race between two of the rivals and, of all the new game modes, the most akin to the classic idea of Sonic gameplay.
The competitive boss battle is a contest to see who can defeat said boss the quickest, balancing tackling the Eggman with hindering your opponent.
Finally the straight battle matches have two rivals duking it out while trying to collect and hold onto Rings, as without them you can be knocked out.
The battling element in all three types takes the form of an attack, which will spill any Rings collected and break momentum. The precious seconds lost getting back up to speed can be the difference between winning and losing.
Joining Sonic the Hedgehog in this second outing on PSP is Shadow the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna, Metal Sonic and Silver the Hedgehog, plus three new faces for Sonic Rivals, Miles "Tails" Prower, Espio the Chameleon and, last but by no means least, the demure Rouge the Bat. Each character has particular traits; Sonic for instance is the most well rounded, while Rouge balances both attack and defence with her signature Bat calling move, and Espio employs camouflage to confound foes and throws stars to impede them.
Each of these characters can be employed in the new Wireless Battle mode. Six different two player challenges can be hosted and shared using just one copy of the game, letting you put your high speed racing and battle skills to the test with a friend. Another new addition to Sonic Rivals 2 is a Free Play mode that allows you to tackle each level again at your own pace.
Sonic Rivals builds upon the great idea of its PSP predecessor, the reinvention of classic Sonic gameplay in 3D featuring a new competitive twist, with new characters, challenges and, most importantly, two player battling. New, yet instantly familiar, Sonic Rivals 2 proves that the little blue hedgehog still has legs.