Sept. 30, 2008
In 1996, Nintendo released Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for SNES and decided to have an outside company known for their success in the genre to develop it. Sega must have taken a cue from that, because they went to another popular RPG developer, BioWare, makers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, for Sega’s first mascot-friendly RPG. While Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is a valiant effort on BioWare’s part, it has several flaws.
The game has a few nods back to Sonic’s past, and not only his video game past. Growing up, I’m sure we all would wake up every Saturday morning to catch the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. One of Sonic’s notable traits in his cartoon was how much of a complete and utter asshole he was. Sure, he had a friendly side when he needed it, but for the most part, he was snarky, full of himself, and “way past cool.” Bioware titles are notorious for their dialogue sections — where you pick what the protagonist says in conversations, in a return back to the old Sonic cartoon, you can once again have Sonic be an ass.
This is a nice nod back to the old cartoon. In Dreamcast titles, from Sonic Adventure onward, Sonic has become rather flat and undeveloped as a character, and it”Ëœs nice to see what BioWare does with him. Another nice nod to the old cartoon is the return of Dr. Robotnik’s SWATbots. I always thought they were much cooler than those goofy Eggman robots which littered Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog.
The music and graphics are good — nothing really special, but by no means bad.
There is a bittersweet mechanic involving special attacks where one must tap circles on the screen or follow a circle as it glides over a line in a very Elite Beat Agents sort of way. However, the biggest flaw with this mechanic is that unlike EBA, the tapping isn’t in sync with any kind of musical cue – Something that some players might find annoying, and it might take a few tries before one can successfully get the hang of initiating or dodging an attack. I guess this mechanic was added in to make the game more upbeat and “tricky” like some Sonic games are, but in many cases it becomes tedious and repetitive. This could be a turn off to more traditional RPG gamers.