So, you'd think with a sequel in mind that Sega/Backbone would improve upon all the mistakes that they have done in the first Sonic Rivals game. Unfortunately, Sonic Rivals 2 doesn't do anything to help that, but instead just offers more of what we've already experienced before in Rivals 1. Except this time, there's little more to do than run and jump. There are several level-based gimmicks such as rolling in a barrel, climbing, pinball flippers, etc. However, those things really do not make the game, rather are they just incredibly minor tweaks to make the overall formula less monotone.
You're still racing in super-linear, poorly structured levels against very stubborn AI across a 2D plane (Frontier Canyon Act 3 is the biggest offender thanks to Silver..again). Once again, there are 6 zones with a few Acts in each. This time, however, after finishing the first Act, you fight the rival you were racing head-on. These battles are usually pathetic, and the bosses at the end of the zones are utterly boring, if not annoying, and it's not because of the rivals' AI, but rather the bosses themselves. It's a little interesting that you play as a different character in a zone's 3rd Act, but that's only because you get to use a different special power. Otherwise, you still just...race.
Admittedly, there are a few positive aspects I can think of. First off, it's nice to see they've tried changing the pace a bit. Second, the story is better than in Rivals 1, which revolves around disappearing Chao. And third, the final boss is actually a final boss this time.
Unfortunately, the execution of those things are still awful. The final boss is a mess, the story is laughably bad thanks to dialogue (Which, by the way, is now fully voiced this time. Wish your ears good luck), certain situations, and the lack of any Chao even appearing in-game, and the pace was changed by the level-based gimmicks, which not only doesn't say a lot, but the gimmicks themselves are not exactly that well-executed.
If you want some good handheld Sonic action, get ANY portable Sonic game BUT the Rivals series! This series was a train-wreck all the way through.