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Joseph Rositano
12 Sep, 2008

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Preview

DS Preview | Is Sonic's future looking dark or bright?
Sonic spin-off games have varied in quality over the past few years. On one end fans had to endure the average-at-best Sonic Riders games, while on the other they were treated to the delightful Sonic Rush series. Unsurprisingly, many were sceptical when Sega announced they were partnering with BioWare to develop a Sonic RPG for the Nintendo DS. Just one month before release however, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is showing a lot of promise, and may prove to be Sega’s equivalent to Mario and Luigi.

The game’s story is split into two acts. The first act begins by revealing Sonic is on vacation after defeating Dr. Eggman. While resting, Sonic is interrupted by Tails, who alerts him that Knuckles has been kidnapped. Worse still, the Chaos Emeralds are also disappearing, so the blue blur cuts his vacation short and tries to solve what’s happening around him. Later, the second act will see Sonic and his friends travel to an alternate dimension to stop a new threat to their world. Understandably, not much else is known about the plot, though BioWare have stated it will become progressively darker.

One of the interesting elements in Sonic Chronicles is that the game is entirely controlled using the touch screen. During exploration, players simply tap where they want to go and Sonic will follow. When there’s an object of interest the same rule applies; if there’s a loop-the-loop you want to run through or a spring you want to jump on, just tap on the object and Sonic will perform the respected action. It’s very intuitive and easy to pick up.

  
Touch and go. Plain and simple.

Touch and go. Plain and simple.
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Things do become a little more challenging however, as you’ll need to overcome obstacles blocking your pathway. This requires you to switch between party member and utilise each character’s unique abilities. For instance, in one area there’s a set of boxes that can only be destroyed by using Amy Rose’s Piko-Piko hammer. In other circumstances, party members separate completely from each other, and you’ll need to move them individually to solve more complex puzzles. An example is repairing a broken pipe network. You’ll need to get Tails and Amy to channel power to a crane, and have Rouge replace the pipes so that Sonic can operate the machine.

Like most RPGs, if you encounter an enemy while exploring you’ll be taken to a battle screen. During these moments the game switches to a close-up 3D view of the action. It’s here where the unique attributes of each character really shine. Being a speed character, Sonic can actually attack enemies multiple times in one turn, while characters such as Big the Cat can only attack once but inflict greater damage. Attacks also reflect on character’s appearances in other games; being a tech-guy Tails can scan enemies and gather information, while Amy’s attacks will primarily consist of her swinging her hammer.

Aside from standard attacks, at the cost of Fatigue Points players can unleash special and team attacks. Some of these include Sonic’s Axe Kick and Whirlwind abilities, while one particular team attack sees Sonic roll into a ball and has Amy smack him into enemies. As an added twist, the attacks also require a certain level of interactivity from players. Essentially, as the attack plays out on-screen, players will be prompted to tap circular markers on the touch screen or drag the stylus in a particular way, akin to Elite Beat Agents. Depending on how well you perform, the attack will either devastate enemies or have little effect. Similarly, you can guard against enemy attacks by tapping the stylus just before contact.

  
She may not look like much, but when Amy swings that hammer you better watch out.

She may not look like much, but when Amy swings that hammer you better watch out.
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As you would expect, characters gain experience after defeating enemies, which is used to upgrade speed, attack, defence and luck attributes. In addition, enemies will drop items ranging from rings (the game’s currency) to character equipment. You can equip up to three items on each character, and their uses will vary from increasing attack and defence power, to lowering the amount of Fatigue Points needed to perform an attack. Another Sonic staple is the inclusion of Chaos. Like previous games they can be raised in a special garden, eventually serving to enhance the abilities of individual characters. It’s expected there will be a total of 40 Chaos in the final build, and players will be able to swap them with other people via wireless connectivity.

During a recent hands-on session with Sonic Chronicles, we found that the visuals were artistic and suited the style of the game. Backgrounds are drawn by hand and simply look brilliant in motion. However, the very nature of the game is a little contradicting, Sonic has never been a slow character and there just isn’t a real sensation of speed. Sonic fans will have some trouble adjusting. As for the game’s soundtrack, fans will easily recognise many familiar tunes, particularly a remix of the classic Green Hill Zone theme.
Overall:
While some fans may have trouble adjusting to the slower-paced nature of the game, Sonic Chronicles is shaping up to be a great experience. With the inclusion of classic elements such as loop-the-loops and Chaos, as well as an interesting combat system and simple controls, fans have little reason not to get excited for Sonic’s next adventure.

Related Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Content

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Review
19 Oct, 2008 Perhaps Sonic should take off his +10 speed shoes.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Interview
06 Sep, 2008 We chat with Dorian Kieken, Sonic Chronicles' Associate Producer, and discuss Sonic's first RPG adventure.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood screenshots
23 Aug, 2008 Faster than a speeding bullet.
2 Comments
5 years ago
I havnt brought a sonic game since sonic 2, but with bioware making this its a first day buy for me.
5 years ago
It's kinda odd. I was just looking at the EB website (US) and it claims that they get it on the 30th of Sept.
While PALGN (as shown above) states that we're getting it on the 25th of Sept.
Another release before the US? I say woot!!
(we did get Spore a couple days earlier also)
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/09/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2008

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