Sonic Free Riders
Sonic Free Riders is a racing game developed as a launch title for the Kinect and the last game of the Sonic Riders racing game series.
Eggman, disguised as a king, announces the World Grand Prix. Though he offers prizes to the winners, his real plan is to collect the data from the racers in order to program them into robots. After defeating Eggman, the real enemy is revealed to be Metal Sonic. It challenges Sonic to one final race, and Sonic wins. Even though are no prizes, everyone is happy because they had fun.
Why It Sucks
- The use of Kinect is completely mandatory for everything, and there is no option to use a regular controller.
- The nearly broken unresponsive controls make the game borderline unplayable at times, thanks to the poorly designed and heavily rushed control scheme.
- Besides the unresponsive controls, the movements the player has to do are tiring and even painful. In particular, having to lean back and forward can hurt your back.
- Menu navigation is frustrating due to the requirement of spinning the menu to cycle through options, and voice commands barely working at times and require to say the exact name of the option you want. The problem is the game don't even show what option it is unless if you select the option.
- Lack of content. The previous games had more content present.
- Repetitive music during the cutscenes.
- Some characters are very annoying and unlikeable as they won't shut up while riding their hover boards like Amy Rose saying "HERE I GO!!!" every time she accelerates her hover board.
- Some things like grabbing rings, flying in the air, drifting, bumping into stuff can cause frame rate drops.
- The multiplayer mode can be very awkward for certain players because you need to hold hands with the other player.
- On the topic of multiplayer, the Kinect has a harder time tracking two players which makes the controls even worse somehow.
- Split screen multiplayer can be kinda dangerous because you might bump your head into someone while leaning back and forth.
- This game was the beginning of the flanderization of the cast.
- Speaking of flanderization, Jet is extremely unlikeable in this game. He stays as the same crabby jerk as he was in the first Sonic Riders game. To make matters worse, Michael Yurchak's portrayal as him is very atrocious. Instead of sounding like a teenager, he made Jet sound like a little kid. So much for Jet's character development.
- The game uses cutscenes with characters talking without any motion and with a background of a racing map behind them, similar to Team Sonic Racing later on in the decade.
- In one cutscene, Knuckles states that there was foul play. Omochao then says: "Alright, let's roll back the tape!" yet we hear a camera snapping pictures. Plus, Knuckles racing by himself in the race before that cutscene.
- Terrible plot filled with plotholes like how everyone is easily fooled by Eggman's pathetic "disguise".
- There is no option to switch the voice-over to Japanese in the game. Instead, you have to switch the system's language to Japanese in order to change voice acting. Why didn't they just program a simple UI option?
- Sega never bothered to release a patch which adds normal controller support.
- It ended up killing the Sonic Riders subseries.
- In a meta sense, this game exemplifies why motion controls should always be a secondary option, and should never be forced upon the player, especially when they are this unresponsive.
- It marks the debut of a new voice cast (starring Roger Craig Smith, Cindy Robinson, Kate Higgins, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Kirk Thornton, etc.), who are good as their characters.
- The graphics look really good.
- Bike gears are more functional and enjoyable than Board gears.
- Online play is supported and is fun, but, sadly, the servers are dead nowadays.
- Much like every other modern Sonic game, the music is good to listen to.
- Some characters get their own controls and moves like Tails' ability to take shortcuts from Sonic Adventure, Sonic's ability to grind on rails, and Knuckles' ability to punch upcoming obstacles.
The game received mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics, but a very negative reception from user scores due to the unresponsive controls that make the game near unplayable. It is a very common example as to why motion controls faded from popularity, and are more of a novelty nowadays.
Angry Joe gave the game his very first 1/10 rating stating it to be "outright broken," panning the controls as unresponsive, and the menu navigation to be clunky and similarly unresponsive.
Somecallmejohnny couldn't even get past the tutorial segment because of how unresponsive the motion controls were when he reviewed a series of Sonic racing games.
Although he never reviewed the game itself, The Retro Replay believed Sonic Free Riders to be an example of how motion controls need extensive testing before being released.
Scott The Woz briefly reviewed this game in his Kinect video. He stated that the menus were hard to navigate and said that you could get back cramps from playing this. He was clearly not having a fun time with this game.
Nathaniel Bandy ranked this game #1 on his "Top 10 worst Sonic games" video.
The game is currently holding a score of 1.9/10 on IMDb.