When SEGA announced they were to take the storyline of Sonic the Hedgehog and expand upon it by means of a Role Playing Game, fans the world over went quiet. Could even the pedigree of BioWare, famed for their work on Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, really take a series known for its rather light base storyline (controversially expanded upon and, yes, clusterfucked ever since Sonic Adventure 2) and make something interesting and engaging out of it? More to the point, could this be a game both younger Sonic fans and older fans enjoy?
At the Sonic Chronicles Community Day we had a chance to sit down with an advanced build of the game, play through many of the features and discover whether this is really shaping up to be something for the fans or just a glorified fan fiction.
From the moment you load up the game and watch the opening sequence you get an idea of exactly how this game is presented – using a comic book style animation, the cutscene briefly introduces the plights of Sonic against Eggman for those who haven’t paid attention the last 17 years. The story is set two years after Eggman is finally ‘beaten’ and disappears forever, however strange events happen after a time of peace that could lead to a greater threat rearing its head.
After seeing Sonic blast into Green Hill Zone (with a classic spinning circle for his running feet) he meets with Tails who tells you that Knuckles has gone missing. As you start to plod about looking for the dozy echidna, you learn that a group of alien-like creatures called ‘Marauders’ have kidnapped him for one reason or another.
As the story progresses you advance on to different ‘Chapters’ in the game, which are introduced with wonderful artwork that spans both screens of the Nintendo DS. It’s stuff you’d expect to see on a Star Wars DVD box, with a huge Knuckles head floating in the air in space while the main characters strike poses below. Oddly enough, it works really well.
When the game kicks off you get thrown into a conversation with Tails, and later Amy. These conversations serve to provide you with information about the story and sometimes contain handy hints which are useful, but a lot of the dialogue is entertaining fan service based on your responses.
The beauty of it is, although the chatting is useful, it’s not necessary to wade through pages of text if you don’t want to – a Sonic head icon allows you to finish a conversation in the quickest fashion and get back into the action. But if you want to learn more, Question marks and Exclamation icons allow to form a different take on whatever someone is saying.
Perhaps the best conversation piece is Sonic’s attitude button – this is in the form of a Sonic head winking. Whenever this appears, you can have the blue blur reply in a sarcastic way or generally be a bit of a bastard. During an explanation of how to use the conversation system by Tails (“Sometimes asking questions can be really useful so try it sometime Sonic!”) we got sarcy and asked him what his favourite colour was. For fans who really want to explore Sonic’s character, it’s an awesome addition that not only shows off how much of a dick you can be but can also show some allies’ true opinions of you.