Review by genocidekarma
The next big thing in RPG/Mascot tie-ins? Play Super Mario RPG instead.
When I first heard about this game, I was decidedly skeptical. Would the Sonic universe fit well in an RPG narrative?
After playing through it...not really, I am sad to say.
First off, I realize that this game is not geared primarily towards the Mass Effect/KOTOR/Baldur's Gate audiences that BioWare created over the last 5 years or so. Its pacing, control scheme, and character customization scream "kid friendly".
I'm still trying to figure out where 'the Dark Brotherhood' fits into this game. There's nothing really 'dark' about this pastel adventure. Okay, maybe the armor of the Nocturne Clan...bleh.
While I am a big fan of the DS, I'm not a fan of stylus-only control schemes...especially in my RPGs. Having the option to use the D-pad OR the touch screen would've been nice. And the pattern-memorization during battles...? Yuck. Those should've been for ADDED effects...not the entire special move. I don't know how many times I wasted a turn because I had a tough time timing those stupid little Elite Beat Agents-esque combos. (By the way, I LOVED that game... ironic, isn't it?)
Ironically, after wading through this mess, I felt compelled to delve back into the waters of a classic RPG/Mascot tie-in game: Super Mario RPG... And I couldn't believe how much better it was compared to Sonic Chronicles. For some strange reason, Mario's first RPG adventure just seems natural, opposed to Sonic's...
I'm a die-hard RPGer, and I'm always willing to give an RPG a try, but I just can't help but dislike this game. Hopefully BioWare does some tweaking the next go 'round. And judging by the way this game ends, there will be more.
Did I like anything about this game?
Well, it has good graphics, by DS standards. Sonic and company are well-animated; the enemies too. The music is catchy...the first time you hear it. They did a good thing by having several different tunes for the battles. I liked the guitar-heavy intro, primarily.
Oh, and about the battles... NO RANDOM BATTLES?!?!?! I hate RPGs that let you see the enemies on the field (well, some of them... I do like the Tales games, and they avoid random battles...). And forget about grinding in this game. Eventually, the battles just become tedious, and the amount of XP you earn per battle dwindles down to nothing.
Levelling up nets you one point to assign to one of four attributes: Speed, Attack, Defense, and Luck. But don't let their names fool you. These stats differ in this game from more traditional RPGs... Allow me to explain...
Speed: Well, this is pretty much the same as in all other RPGs. It affects attack order and evasion, to a degree.
Attack: This one actually relates more to accuracy of attacks than just pure damage.
Defense: This one relates to, well, how much damage you can negate. I think it also dictates how much HP per level you gain...but I'm not sure.
Luck: I think this one basically lets you ambush enemies more often, the higher your luck is.
After deciding which stat to boost, you get five points to put towards buying one of several skills. Which one you buy is pretty much unimportant, however, as they all do relatively the same thing. The only difference is what negative effects they produce, or which tedious commands you must input to successfully pull off the attack.
While I realize this game was not meant to be "Mass Effect DS", I was expecting more customization options from a BioWare game. And the branching dialog options? Forget it. This story is paced as fast as the titular character.
Replayability? Not a bit, unless you feel the need to justify those two other save slots. Well, there might be, if you want to tweak the characters' stats in some other way...which would be interesting, if they weren't pretty much preset towards certain aspects. (i.e., Sonic and Shadow are quick attackers, Tails and Cream are support characters, and the rest...who cares...)
My advice? Go play Sonic CD, or any of the original Sonic games. But, if you insist on playing this one, make sure to leave all your expectations at the door.
Don't waste your money, unless you're a die-hard Sonic fan.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (US, 09/30/08)
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