I can't remember the last time — if ever — a game made me groan out loud while playing it, not from frustration of losing or anything like that, but from how the design, presentation, and moreover, the script assaulted and demolished good taste and ingenuity right before my eyes. That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how many better games this one could have half-emulated and had soaring results by comparison.
Let's boot up and see where this travesty takes us, shall we? The main menu offers three choices that could just have easily been put into the next menu: Start Game, Extra, and Options. The next menu allows you to start a normal race (free run or time trial), story mode, tag mode, survival mode, and an area to shop for new "Extreme Gear." Still nothing too terrible.
Normal race is probably where you want to go first. Here you can try out the five (yes, five) available courses, ranging from a cliché metropolis setting to a cliché jungle setting to a cliché inferno setting. Getting the idea here? Nothing novel, and the track list is dismally short.
You can pick up rings in any race in any mode and they all count toward your total purse for shopping, which is nice. At least you're not tied to having to complete the story mode just to buy a few new gizmos. However, rather than buying upgrades for the stats of one board, you buy an assortment of individual boards that each have their own unique improvement, but can't be used jointly. Thus, you can get a boost in one category per race rather than improve a rider's overall stats like in SSX.
However, if you do make the mistake of entering story mode and have an education anywhere beyond the first grade — and any experience with prior Sonic games — prepare to scratch your head. A Chaos Emerald is required to enter each race, but you never earn one starting out. Guess it was just in your pocket the whole time. Next, the story takes dives into idiocy with writing like, "This isn't just any race, but a race to see who's the fastest." What other kinds of races are there? Isn't the very definition of racing to see who can get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time?