Nintendo Wii's exclusive Sonic and the Secret Rings was playable behind closed doors at DigitalLife, and I came out thoroughly impressed. Sega's Ben Harrison was able to speak about the game on camera (see past the break), and as you'll be able tell from the huge smiles on both our faces, this game is pure fun. It made me regret that only the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Sonic games were available on the showfloor, because this game is without a doubt much better. As Blake mentioned at E3, this game is one of the best looking titles on the Wii. Although the textures aren't great, the special effects, lighting and steady framerate made the game a real treat to the eyes. Unlike the sandy level that's been showcased over and over again, the new level overloads the player with visual information. It feels like every few seconds, an explosion happens somewhere around Sonic. The game moves insanely fast, and when unleashing Sonic's special attack, the world blurs in a dizzying amount of color. It's very impressive, and gives the player a real feeling of empowerment.
Yes, the game is on rails, but I feel like this is the way Sonic should be. The original 2D games were never truly about exploration: it was about going fast, and having the reflexes to overcome your obstacles. In many ways, by forcing Sonic down a track, the game is emulating the feel of the original games. And, it prevents the wonky camera problems the 3D games have been plagued with since Adventure. Another plus: this game is all about Sonic, and none of his sometimes-useless friends. Finally, it looks like concerns that the game might be too simplistic, or too repetitive are being addressed: there are moments in the gameplay where you must do something different with the Wiimote. For example, you may have to catapult yourself, use a flying pot, and more. I only had a small taste of the game, but this is easily the most excited I've been for a Sonic game in a really long time.
Joystiq at Sonic's 15th birthday party