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Sonic Riders

Joining Sonic and his buds are the devious Babylon Rogues, including Jet the Hawk and other not-so-cleverly-named racers. They're on hand to beat down the good guys and fill the races with a little Mario Kart-style violence. Like his onetime rival's racing extravaganza, Sonic's moves along smoothly even with intricate track details blurring by, and many courses have branching paths providing eagle-eyed gamers with plenty of chances to cut ahead of the other racers.

There is no acceleration with these simplified controls. Instead, you constantly move forward and can boost by using an air tank. Run out of air and you slow down to a turtle's pace. Grabbing the ever present golden rings will keep the air gauge full, but banging out some tricks for a quick boost sounds like a better use of your time. The tricks are extremely easy to perform and lack the depth of a technical tricker like Tony Hawk.

To further gain the drop on competitors you can ride in their airy wake, or "turbulence," to get another speed boost. Passing through a rider's turbulence doesn't drain the air gauge and may give you just enough speed to zip past whatever humanoid animal is in the way. It's a system designed to equalize the competition and keep one rider from parking out in front of the pack.

Competitive games like this usually live or die based on what kind of multiplayer modes are available. Riders happily hands you a standard race mode along with time attack, story, mission and survival flavors. The most intriguing seems to be Tag, where you and a racing partner share one air tank and have to stay close to each other or be smoked by faster, more cooperative riders. The meat of the game, slick and aggressive racing, may be simple enough for everyone yet offer a few bonuses to those who want to dig a little deeper.

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