When BioWare announced that they had been charged with crafting a Sonic RPG by Sega, eyebrows across the gaming universe shot up. After all, it was just about the most bizarre love affair since the dirty Blue Bomber himself got it on with the human Princess Elise in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). It’s unfortunate that Chronicles just misses out on classic status then, because this clever little pseudo-RPG ticks the right boxes in so many ways.
For starters, BioWare have come up with an intriguing way of maintaining the personality of Sonic’s zany band of chums – as well as shooting the breeze with them during the course of your quest, you’ll also be able to take advantage of their unique abilities to help navigate through levels. For instance, Sonic might be able to sprint quicker than a freight train, but unless Tails or Amy are in the band there’s no way he’ll be able to leap over chasms or destroy those crates blocking his path.
Chronicles also steals a march over more established rivals like Final Fantasy 4 with its inspired use of the DS’s touch screen during the lavish-looking 3D combat. While the meat and potatoes of scraps revolve around regular attacks, 'POW' moves are a must if you’re looking to inflict major damage. To unchain their full potential, you’ll need to time your attacks in rhythm with on-screen prompts. (Picture an Elite Beat Agents RPG and you’re half way there.)
It works fabulously – it’s incredibly satisfying landing 100+ damage points after you’ve pulled off a combo that’s tested your reactions to their limits. It also adds an edge to combat rarely seen in this genre; mess up at the crucial time and it’s doubly heartbreaking, especially when a certain enemy uses a cheap ‘self destruct’ attack that wipes one of your party out unless countered perfectly!