|By Charlie Goodrich||Tuesday, 28 Oct 2008|
Sonic and his rag tag pals have the adventure thing down. Whether it be side scrolling or 3D, Sonic games have a simple formula: speed = fun. However, that formula has gotten stale. Since the fall of the Dreamcast, Sega has been creating Sonic titles at a steady rate. The luster that Sonic once had has certainly dimmed due to a lack of imaginative ideas and over-production. The fine people at Sega perhaps realized this and decided to take Sonic in a new, and bold, direction. Sonic Chronicles is the series’ first RPG. Recreating a beloved video game character can be tricky, so Sega turned to BioWare (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect) to develop this game. Sega took a gamble by casting Sonic in an RPG, but it certainly paid off. First, the bad. The gameplay is completely stylus based. To move, fight, and interact with the world requires use of the stylus. It would have been nice, however, to see an option that allowed movement via the D-pad since I don’t care for moving around with the stylus. The environments are rather diverse, but it would have been cool if each land had its own unique situations or layout. However, each environment becomes bland and repetitive. Lands are sparsely populated and contain simple puzzles. The game also provides people with a very linear path to follow which only adds to the repetitive gameplay. Despite this, unveiling the entire map and collecting all rings and chao eggs feels rewarding. The battle system is similar to the Mario RPG games in that you can perform simple attacks or special moves that requires you to touch the bottom screen in a certain way to execute the maneuver. You can also block enemy moves by using the stylus as directed. It keeps you on your toes and paying close attention to each battle. I grew to love and hate this system. It was fun to constantly be doing something during a fight, but it was annoying if you didn’t correctly carry out the move when trying to heal and the move failed. The story is pretty solid. Sonic Chronicles begins with Sonic defeating Eggman. Sonic then goes on vacation until he learns that Knuckles has been kidnapped, and the Chaos Emeralds have been stolen. A new enemy has revealed itself, and Sonic must travel to distant lands in order to save the world from invasion. Throughout the game, Sonic recruits series regulars like Shadow, Tails, Amy, and Eggman (that’s right, you get to play as Robotnik). The writing for Sonic Chronicles is excellent. Not only does the dialog keep you enticed, but BioWare also did a great job at referencing past Sonic games. Additionally, there is a codex that lets gamers learn about Sonic’s history. I found myself reading a few of the entries and discovered some facts I didn’t know existed. Graphically this game is nice. The worlds stand out visually and offer a unique look. The character models and actions are also well done. Nothing spectacular but the game certainly looks nice. On the other hand, the music was certainly a let down. You had the standard Sonic sound effects and noises but I could have played this game with the volume off and had just as good a time. This was a fairly brief review of a fairly brief game. It took me a little over eighteen hours to beat Sonic Chronicles. There is little challenge to this game and you’ll find yourself using the same tactics to kill normal enemies and bosses alike. I crushed the final boss in a mere three turns and my life never dipped below the ¾ mark. I did have fun playing this game and I would
recommend it for Sonic and RPG fans. There is a lot BioWare can improve upon but they have a great foundation to build future games.