Review by pyro922

Reviewed: 10/06/08

The hedgehog might not be dead after all!

Now let's take a look in the past to the beginning of the 3D era for Sonic the Hedgehog. His 3D journey began with Sonic Adventure, a game for the Dream cast released in 1999. This game was a good start for Sonic in 3d. It wasn't the best game of all time, it had its flaws, such as poor camera, but every game has a flaw or two. Following the commercial and critical success of Sonic Adventure, Sega released a sequel Sonic Adventure 2 released in 2001, on the Dream cast. This game was just as good, if not better than the first one. Although there were still some issues with the camera.

Then came Sonic Heroes released in 2004 for the GCN, X Box, and PS2. Some say this is where the downwards slope for the series began. In my opinion, it wasn't as bad as people let on for it to be. After that, Shadow The Hedgehog was released in 2005 for the GCN, X Box, and PS2. This is, where in my opinion, the series took a steep slope in the wrong direction. This can all be answered in the opening scene for the game. Since this is a review of Sonic Chronicles, and not that, I won't go in to detail, other than say that game was just bad.

Shadow The Hedgehog got poor reviews, but it still sold decently. Probably to little kids amazed with guns and vehicles. However, we were entering a new gaming generation. Microsoft had their X Box 360 already out, and the PS3 and Wii were on their way. So Sega began to work on their new project for the 360 titles Sonic The Hedgehog, commonly referred to as Sonic 06. This was promised to make up for the disappointment that was Shadow The Hedgehog. The game even wowed some critics at it's first demonstration. Then the game came out. To say it simple, the game blew. More than Shadow the hedgehog. And to make it even worse, the game sold horribly. Many people began to think Sonic was dead, and it wouldn't be a while until he was put to rest.

However that might not be true. Development for Sonic Chronicles began in 2006, after famous video game developer Bio Ware started looking for a handheld project to start on. Then it was announced that Sega would be starting a Sonic RPG, with Bio Ware developing. What could go wrong? Bio Ware is an experienced developer, responsible for making many great games, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Mass Effect. Will Bio Ware end up as the savior for the Sonic franchise?

STORY

The game begins with Tails telling Sonic that Knuckles had been kidnapped and that the Chaos Emeralds are missing again. It is revealed that the group that kidnapped Knuckles are known as the Marauders. The team goes to investigate and ends up meeting with Rouge The Bat, Eggman, Big The Cat, Shadow The Hedgehog, and other characters. The dialogue is also some of the funniest I've ever seen in a game before. The story gets deeper as you get in to it, and you can also make the story deeper by selecting the correct response to your allies when they talk to you. I'll get more into that in the next section.

GAME PLAY

Oh boy, this will be a long one.

Sonic Chronicles is a turn based RPG. Meaning that every battle is fought by selecting what moves to make. There are three character classes, Power, Shifter, and Support. The power class will be your weapon in your group, with characters such as Sonic and Knuckles in that class. The support class is what it sounds like, they aid the party by healing, and putting effects on enemies. The shifter class increases your party's stats.

Your party gains experience from each battle you fight, and will eventually level up. When a character levels up, you can add a point to one attribute. The attributes are Attack, Defense, Luck, and Speed. After that you gain 5 POW points. These points are used to buy special attacks called the POW. These are basically your character's "special" attacks, and using these moves drain your PP. You can increase that strength of these POW attacks, by buying a higher version of them. But there's a catch. To buy the better version, you need 10 points, and for the best version, 15. You get 5 points per level, so you'll have to save up points in order to buy the better version. There's another catch to the POW. When you use them in combat, special commands appear on the screen and you use the touch screen to perform it. It's similar to Elite Beat Agents in a way, except much easier. If you perform these commands perfectly, you will do maximum damage, if you make a mistake, you will do minimal, if any, damage. Some POW attacks also use other characters, and doing so will drain the PP of both characters and take one turn from both characters.

To add to the battle system, there are collectible Chaos in the game. You find these chaos scattered in the over world, where you collect them, and they hatch. You can bond these chao with characters and they will have a bonus, such as increased damage. There are also gloves and shoes to enhance a character's strength and defense. One more thing to mention is the escaping system. In most battles, you have the option to flee. Doing so will bring to a scene with Sonic and Co running away from the enemy. You have to make sure they don't hit obstacles on the way by tapping the character on the touch screen to make them jump. Avoiding obstacles and getting speed boosts will guarantee your escape.

The game also features over worlds. You can explore an over world, and collect all of the hidden Chao and rings there. Each over world has it's enemies too. The characters have their abilities you can use too. For example, to get through a loop, you'll need Sonic's dash ability. If you need to fly across a gap, you'll need Tails' flying ability. To climb up a wall, you'll need Knuckles' climb ability. I think you get the point. There are also side missions which as they sound, are optional, but give an decent amount of experience. There are also main hubs for each part of the game, so if your characters are injured, you can return there and also switch out your party.

Another feature in Sonic Chronicles is the conversations. You can control what Sonic says and can change what other characters think of him. There is even an optional romance sub plot with Amy if you treat her nice. However, these choices have little to no effect on the story, so it isn't that big of a deal, but it is still a nice touch.

One last thing to mention about the game play are the shops in the over world. Most areas have a shop where you can buy items. The currency in the game are rings, which are found scattered in the over world. You can also sell your items yo gain more rings.

SOUND

Music: Probably the worst part of the game. The quality is horrible, and I wouldn't be surprised if it could be done on the Genesis. Don't get me wrong though, some of the tunes are catchy, and the battle theme is strangely miles better in quality than most of the other songs featured in the game. More effort could be put here.

Effects: They're there. But this is the easy stuff, so it doesn't matter that much.

GRAPHICS

Another positive point are the graphics. The game is 3D, and quite beautiful on the DS, despite it's limited hardware. The environments are comic-like, very colorful and are changing from each place you go to. Cut scenes are again told through a comic-like fashion. Despite some roughness in areas, the graphics are great.

REPLAY VALUE

Like all single player games, the game eventually ends. The game is a good 15 hours and maybe up to 25 hours depending on your gaming skill and whether or not you use a guide. After beating the game the first time, you can start another game with your leveled-up characters, items, and chao. However this time you're supposed to get every ring and collect all of the chao. The replay value isn't stunning, that's for sure, but it's there.

OVERALL

Sonic Chronicles is a good start for Sonic into his RPG genre. Despite some of it's flaws, it's still a great game. Sonic may not be dead after all. After the so-called "death" of Sonic after Sonic 06, there were Sonic and the secret rings, and the great handheld titles. These games gave it potential for Sonic to rise up again as an respectable video game character. This game took that potential, and made it true. Welcome back Sonic. We missed you.

Story: 10/10 points
Gameplay: 18/20 points
Sound: 6/10 points
-Music: 4/8 points
-Effects: 2/2 points
Graphics:10/10 points
Replay Value:8/10 points
Final score: 52/60 points

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Overall: 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (US, 09/30/08)

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