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Sonic slows down

Oct 10, 2008

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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SonicJust when you think Sega couldn't do anything else with that lightning fast blue hedgehog, along comes 'Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood'.

Made for the Nintendo DS by BioWare, 'Chronicles' takes Sonic where he has never gone before: the RPG world. With the makers of 'Mass Effect' at the helm, 'Chronicles' is not about collecting gold rings or winding your way through each maze. Well, actually it is but not as you might think.

In typical RPG style, you will wander around each new setting, running into hostile creatures and locals who will supply you with uncomplicated quests like chopping wood or locating lost items. While the gold rings and speed ramps are part of each level, they are really just for show and the occasional diversion and not part of the actual gameplay except that you can trade in the rings for new powers.

That is what 'Chronicles' is really about though: boosting your powers and acquiring more teammates. As you explore and kick the holy crap out of a number of adversaries, Tails, Amy Rose, Knuckles, Shadow, Rouge and other familiar faces will join your ranks as you uncover the mystery of Knuckles' abduction and what link that has to a war between two warring Echidna clans.

SonicAlthough it contains many of the identical trappings you have come to expect from an RPG, to their credit BioWare has tried to spruce things up by throwing some new gameplay options into the mix. When it comes to populating your team, you can mix and match characters depending on the challenges you will face. BioWare has also included a Pokemon-Digimon like activity which has you raising creatures and then bonding with them so you can utilize their various powers.

RPG combat can be boring and repetitive. To circumvent that, BioWare has interspersed the battle rounds with chases in which Sonic and his partner race after fleeing foes. Using the DS stylus, you can make Sonic jump over obstacles and use speed bumps to your advantage. The races do break up the monotony and at least they are brief.

In 'Chronicles' there are a lot of areas to explore, lots of battles to be had, lots of coins to collect and lots of puzzles to solve. Therein lies the problem for some Sonic fans. The gameplay creeps along at your standard RPG pace, so those who are used to zooming around the screen as a blue blur may find themselves feeling as if they are coasting in reverse. 'Chronicles' does have a rich and intriguing storyline, however, you need to slow down and use some patience to appreciate the payoff.

SonicSonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Format: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: BioWare
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:

Rating: 7 / 10

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