What was once a great and respectable franchise has now become a dumping ground for half-baked games. Sonic Riders straps the world-famous, sonic-booming hedgehog onto a hoverboard in the hopes of creating a blow-your-hair-back, thrill-a-minute mix of Mario Kart and snowboarding trickster SSX. It's fast all right. And loud, too. But everything else that matters (control, course layout, decent multiplayer ... you name it) comes up dead last.
The various hoverboards, or "Extreme Gear," constantly move forward, thanks to a steady supply of air flowing through the board's holding tanks. As you race, the air gauge slowly drains, while busting out mid-air, Tony Hawk-lite tricks keeps the tank full and the board zooming ahead. If you run out of air during a race, you gotta hoof it to a pit stop while the seven other riders fly past.
There are three types of contestants in Riders: grinding, flying and smashing. Though you're all zipping through the same course (now available in jungle, desert and floating garden models), there are places where each type can break through a shortcut. Knuckles, for example, can basically plow straight ahead and demolish rocky obstacles, while Tails can opt to launch off a ramp and soar over the whole mess.
Well, that's the idea. The side paths maybe shave a few seconds off your race time, but maintaining any sense of speed or momentum is almost impossible. The loose, floaty nature of the hoverboards has them sliding all over the track, usually off the edge of whatever loop-filled, corkscrewing course you're racing on. Clipping a corner or bumping into a wall can bring your 200mph screamfest to a complete halt - yet another way to rob any feeling of acceleration.