Just as Mario stepped into the RPG world recently with Super Paper Mario , Sonic and friends have now done it on the DS with Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. The game’s made by BioWare, the same people that brought us Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect. These were two massive RPGs but can they replicate the success on a much smaller platform with Sega’s cuddly characters?
The game’s a mix of exploring and combat as you try to retrieve the stolen Chaos Emeralds from a group of robots from another dimension. The game is very pretty indeed and you use the stylus to guide Sonic around the semi-3D environments, collecting rings and treasure that can be used to buy new abilities and make you stronger. There are also obstacles in your path that must be passed using specific characters. For example, Sonic can roll around ramps, Tails can fly between gaps and Amy can smash stuff with a big hammer.
Combat is similar to Final Fantasy in that it’s turn-based and you select from a menu for each character as to whether you wish to attack, use an item or do a special move. Special moves once again use the stylus to challenge you to get maximum power. You either have to trace lines on the screen or hit buttons in time – very similar to the gameplay of Elite Beat Agents.
Occasionally, the bad guys try to do a runner and then you’re momentarily plunged into a side-scrolling chase where you must tap characters to make sure they jump over boxes into their way.
This isn’t a bad RPG, the problem comes with the shallow story and the cartoony characters. Role-playing games should make you care, drawing you deep into the world and its characters. My problem with Sonic is I’ve never really cared for him or his friends and so find it hard to give two hoots about what’s going on. The game’s also incredibly easy and you’ll clock this quicker than any other RPG you’ve played.
The game’s good, it’s just not great. Maybe this would be a good introduction to role-playing games for the younger gamer.
Sonic Chronicles gets a good 6 out of 10.