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Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood review

Can the RPG wizards score a Sonic boom on handheld?

Alas, the further you delve into Sonic Chronicles, the more irritating this mechanic eventually becomes – chiefly because the fighting-to-exploring ratio is hopelessly unbalanced and there are only a limited number of patterns to follow. Similarly irritating is the ‘escape’ minigame, where either Sonic and pals or their opponents can choose to leg it if the battle isn’t going as planned. Tapping the touch screen to hurdle crates is really boring – another case of a great idea, poorly executed. Even the occasional mid-level, team-based puzzles are a letdown, being as they are clunkily incorporated and mainly lacklustre in their execution.

Happily, character development is another story entirely. It is small in scope but brilliantly handled, and it’s to BioWare’s enduring credit that even the most vilified of Sonic’s cast – serial plonkers like Cream, Amy Rose and Big – come across really well. Even nefarious Dr. Robotnik fights alongside the team at one point! But why, considering this is an RPG, is this area so underdeveloped? It’s arguably Chronicles’ most frustrating failing and yet another opportunity scorned.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line a potentially incredible game regressed to simply becoming a really good one. Chronicles is a super achievement, completing Sega’s impressive hat-trick of AAA Sonic titles on DS and paves the way for an incredible sequel – but in its quest to appeal to the kiddies BioWare have dumbed down their winning formula to the extent that it’ll likely alienate many over the age of 12.

If you’re a Sonic fanboy or pre-teen, bumpanother pointonto our score; the rest of you are better off sticking with The World Ends With You for the time being before buying the inevitable sequel to Chronicles – by which time BioWare will hopefully have learned from their mistakes, and this’ll turn out to be the Paper Mario-beating RPG we’re confident it can become.

Sep 30, 2008

More info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionBioWare's RPG take on Sega's hedgehog mascot is a close brush with greatness. Touch screen combat is satisfying and fun, and the Sonic universe is a joy to explore, but the whole affair is a little bit empty, with zero character development, annoying puzzle and level design, and an overall kiddy feel. There's plenty to love here, but Sonic's Paper Mario this ain't.
Franchise nameSonic the Hedgehog
UK franchise nameSonic the Hedgehog
US censor rating"Everyone"
UK censor rating"7+"
Alternative names"Sonic Chronicles","Sonic Chronicles The Dark Brotherhood"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)