Although obviously known primarily as the hero of some of history’s finest platforming games, Sonic the Hedgehog has also quietly carved himself a very solid niche as the star of a series of successful racing games, that date way back to the surprisingly sharp Mario Kart riff Sonic Drift, which appeared on the Sega Game Gear way back in the early 1990s. Sonic Riders (from the previous console generation) was also something of a cult classic, and the newly announced second sequel, Sonic Free Riders, looks like it could be the finest Sonic racing game yet released.
Fully utilising the Xbox 360’s new Kinect device (previously known as Project Natal) the game promises to take full advantage of Kinect’s unique motion sensor, and tasks you with using full-motion body control to twist, turn and jump your way to victory. Avatars are fully implemented, and you are free to customise your very own hover board. Competitive weapons are activated by wildly (and not so wildly) shaking or swinging your arms, so the game’s credentials as a hilarious (and family-friendly) party game seem completely assured.
“SEGA is immensely excited to be a part of Microsoft’s line up for Kinect for Xbox 360, the full body motion control is an innovative avenue allowing for complete immersion in the game” commented Gary Knight, Senior Vice President of Marketing at SEGA Europe and SEGA America. “This is a whole new way to play as Sonic! By providing a complete level of freedom, movement and ease of play, Kinect for Xbox 360 and Sonic Free Riders ensures all the family can enjoy the thrill of racing as if they were actually on their hover boards.”
Kinect looks like it could entirely revolutionise the way that we all interact with our videogames, but the early line-up of titles are likely to feature more than a few fiddly casualties, as is always the case when something this game-changing emerges onto the market. With its strong pedigree and status as something that looks to be as fun to watch as it is to play, Sonic Free Riders is the one Kinect title that most deserves to have one eye planted firmly upon it until it launches at the end of this year.
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