Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

By: Tristan Clark    On: Nintendo DS
Published: Wednesday 1 Oct 2008 10:00 AM
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Okay, let’s get all the incredulity out of the way before we start: yes, it’s a Sonic the hedgehog RPG, and yes, it sounds like a firmly terrible idea. But it’s made by Bioware, who don’t really make crap games. Conundrum, no?

With this in mind, I stuck Sonic Chronicles into my DS and fired it up. And what awaited me was a game that…well, was actually pretty enjoyable. It’s not perfect, and there are parts of the gameplay that will turn off a lot of people, but if you a) like Sonic enough to appreciate the fan service; b) are in the need for a lightweight, easygoing RPG experience; and c) want to wash the horrible taste of recent 3D Sonic titles out of your mouth, then this is worth checking out.

The game starts in good old Green Hill Zone, and proceeds to move through a number of locations that old-school fans will really appreciate. I’m glad that Bioware mined the Sonic games that were actually good, rather than sticking to whatever awful settings from the last few years. Of course, the plot is pretty silly, but that’s never going to be avoided – this is a game quite deliberately targeted at a slightly younger age group. The key thing is that, as long as you aren’t expecting a portable Mass Effect starring blue rodents, you’ll enjoy yourself.

The presentation of the game is probably its strongest point – it simply looks really good. I had recently been playing Lunar Knights on my DS, but it looks pretty bad compared to Sonic Chronicles. I’d say this game is one of the better-looking games on the system, at least from an artistic standpoint, and sports a level of polish you don’t normally find on either of Nintendo’s two screens. The levels themselves are hand-painted backdrops populated with 3D characters, and the effect works quite well for the most part.

Battles move to full 3D, and these are pretty good, too. For the most part, the system is a traditional turn-based one, but special moves break things up. These require you to perform various actions with the stylus to successfully pull off, forcing you to always be on your toes. It’s a good idea for the most part, although it can be annoying when you start off, and keep forgetting that the move you’ve just initiated will fail unless you drag your stylus around.

The whole game is actually controlled with the stylus, ala Zelda DS. It’s an alright control scheme, but things can get a little fiddly on the main travelling sections. It also further removes the feeling of speed you look for in a good Sonic game. This is actually probably my biggest criticism of the title – while it’s enjoyable on its own terms, sometimes you just want to hold ‘right’ on the d-pad and zoom through some of the levels. Having random loop-de-loops placed on the level that you can automatically zoom through at the touch of a button is really not the same thing.

So while this game doesn’t quite capture the polished simplicity of Sonic’s best titles, it’s arguable how much an RPG could ever do that. What you are presented with is a solid portable title that will keep many gamers entertained. Hell, I’m just impressed they managed to make Amy and all the rest less annoying than they have been in the past – although maybe that’s just because there isn’t any spoken dialogue. Sega, please continue to hire Bioware for all your Sonic dialogue in the future.

The Score

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
"A solid attempt, and entertaining in its own right."
Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments (9)

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Ubercuber VIP VIP Silver
On Wednesday 1 Oct 2008 12:14 PM Posted by Ubercuber
For the most part.
Grunt of God
On Wednesday 1 Oct 2008 12:46 PM Posted by Grunt of God
Thats nice, a good Sonic game :D
On Wednesday 1 Oct 2008 1:50 PM Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Wednesday 1 Oct 2008 3:54 PM Posted by alienhominid
hopefully they continue on from this and break the shitty sonic streak.
On Friday 3 Oct 2008 4:05 PM Posted by BlackRetina
^Oh really? I never thought anyone would've thought that. What a unique opinion.
On Friday 3 Oct 2008 5:56 PM Posted by ChatterboxZombie
Sarcasism? From a gamer? What has the world come to?
On Sunday 19 Oct 2008 11:22 PM Posted by Ruptunex
They still call Dr Robotnik Dr Eggman. Even though this game has a lot going for it. That causes a fail.
On Sunday 19 Oct 2008 11:24 PM Posted by Ruptunex
They still call Dr Robotnik Dr Eggman. Even though this game has a lot going for it. That causes a fail.
On Monday 29 Jun 2009 2:01 AM Posted by Oliver
19 October 2008, 11:24 PM Reply to Ruptunex
They still call Dr Robotnik Dr Eggman. Even though this game has a lot going for it. That causes a fail.
Lol at causing a fail...