If you were a gamer during the 1990’s you can’t have escaped the Mario vs Sonic war that Sega and Nintendo were locked into. Of course Mario and Sonic are best buddies now and their warring ways a well behind them; face it they’re both too old and too busy with new games to star in. Without going into the complete history of Sonic’s demise (that will have to wait for another day) let’s just say that Sega didn’t quite give him the full support he needed when it came to his games on the Saturn and Dreamcast. So now Sonic has become what we in the biz call all a multi platform whore, Sega will release a new Sonic game on as many platforms as they see fit, be they Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony. Be all that what it may it’s really hard to believe that there has only been one true game in the Sonic series to emerge from Sega since Sonic 3 (& Knuckles) which was released in 1994.
Sonic Rush for DS was a return to Sonic’s 2D side scrolling roots and was a hit with critics and fans. Ever since; plagues of gamers have begged Sega to release a Sonic 4 instead of the latest incarnation of his 3D adventures which so far have been very poor. It baffles everyone because Sonic 4 would be a guaranteed hit and likely sell millions of copies, why Sega refuse to make it is a mystery. In the mean time Sonic’s latest 3D outing is here on Wii so let’s take a look now in my Sonic and The Black Knight Review. Wii owners may have already played either Sonic and the Secret Rings or Sonic Unleashed recently and this game continues the trend of putting Sonic in a 3D world in which you view him from behind in an almost on rails type of experience. With Sonic and the Black Knight for Wii our blue hero has somehow travelled back to the mystical days of Camelot, King Arthur and Excalibur. The stunning FMV intro sequence tells a lengthy back story which I’ll gloss over here as it’s pretty irrelevant; suffice to say that Sonic has to overcome King Arthur who has gone stark raving mad and employed recognisable characters such as Knuckles and Blaze as his minions to help his world domination cravings. After Sonic meets Merlina (an attractive sorceress) and an annoying talking sword it’s time to embark on the adventure which mainly consists of running through towns, villages, forests and other locations swishing your sword at enemies with your Wii Remote.
Each level generally consists of you running forwards veering left and right slightly to collect fairies and attacking enemies with your sword. The fairies you’ll collect come in different colours; Blue which make Sonic run fast, Red which fill up a rage meter and Yellow that turn into rings. The rings as ever represent Sonic’s health and also a sort of currency, as long as Sonic has at least one ring he can’t die when hit by an enemy. Because they’re so plentiful Sonic also becomes quite generous and donates many of his rings to seemingly random villagers who ask him for money just like a beggar outside of a London tube station. The Rage meter filled by the red meter gives Sonic extra strength and a near bullet time type ability with his sword to make fighting the waves of identikit enemies much easier. Along the way you’ll bump into other well known friends such as Tails who takes a back role in this story to become the local Blacksmith who will sharpen Sonic’s sword upon request. So is Sonic and the Black Knight a good game? Sadly it’s not. Despite the fact that the story is well written it actually doesn’t fit into the Sonic Universe very well and it plays the least like a Sonic game than any other I can remember, yes Sonic Spinball is more faithful to the original Sega Genesis game than Sonic and The Black Knight is.
At their best Sonic games have always been about running fast and using memorization and quick reflexes to finish a level, if you were good you could finish most levels in the original Sonic games hardly stopping running to the right, in this game you can barely get up to a jogging pace before you either have to stop and give more rings to beggars or go into sword battle with a group of baddies. It’s as if each level has been deliberately filled with constant obstacles to make it take ten times as long to get to the end. If you can withstand the arm ache of playing for more than ten minutes of frantic swishing the Wii Remote around like a toy sword you might end up getting to one of the poorly designed bosses which require you to make Sonic jump around like a looney left and right across the screen whilst trying to use your sword to slay the beast. Just as with Sonic Unleashed why on Earth have Sega bothered to create fast flowing and well designed levels and then make you constantly stop stationary to bash enemies when you should be running through levels really fast jumping and spin dashing enemies like nobody’s business. The only explanation can be that Sega actually have no one left from the classic days to actually work on the game and seemingly no one who has even played the original Sonic games, this in sharp contrast to Nintendo who continue to rely on Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto to carry on refreshing the little Italian plumbers exploits year on year. Sonic and The Black Knight for Wii is yet another poor game which diminishes the Sonic Franchise yet again, it’s very pretty graphics, fast frame rate and great music all go to waste when fundamentally there is a lack of direction and good gameplay to be found underneath.
You can’t fault Sega on their presentation or coding skills but when it comes to designing a fun Sonic game they need to head back to Sonic school for a few years and relearn the basics. If it wasn’t for the fact that my arm and shoulder ached after just a few minutes of playing I would actually recommend this for kids as a first introduction to Sonic, it’s brightly coloured with lots of over the top acted dialogue which I’m sure they’d love, however as it is I can only think a teenage boy will be able to cope with the pounding the right arm will take trying to complete this game. The inclusion of a multiplayer mode and even an online way to trade in game collectables with your Wii friends doesn’t save Sonic and the Black Knight from a rather disappointing 4 out of 10.
Get Sonic and the Black Knight now
New: Buy Sonic and the Black Knight from Amazon.com