I’m old enough to remember the famous “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” slogan and like most owners of that console I have fond memories of that spiky blue Hedgehog running around at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. I also distinctly remember flying through most of the levels and only stopping now and again to jump on a tree and uncover those precious hidden rings.
Since his first outing the little guy has gone through more makeovers than Madonna, and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag, for every Sonic and Knuckles and Sonic Adventure, both excellent titles, there was a Sonic 3D Blast, which was pretty awful, and let’s just say that Sonic has no place at the Olympics!
So, you’re no doubt wondering, which category does this game fall into? Well, before I answer that important question, I’d like to take a moment to mention IGN’s review of this game. The reviewer gave this 6.5/10 and I am telling you right now, ignore that score, such a mediocre rating is absolute nonsense.
One aspect which everyone seems to agree on is how beautiful this game looks. This is easily one of the best looking DS titles I’ve seen, seamlessly combining impressive 3D graphics with striking comic-book style 2D images, which really helps bring the characters to life.
This is a fantastic little game which is packed with charm and attention to detail. The story might not seem as deep as other games in the RPG genre, but honestly, when were the stories ever that intricate? RPG titles tend to stick close to a certain tried and tested formula. Someone has went missing, there’s a mystery to solve, beat up the bad guys, win the day. An RPG will succeed or fail based on what it has to offer as “padding” around the story and this game provides nice little distractions such as Big the Cat’s search for his lost companion and Knuckles amusingly taking every opportunity to prove how much of a hard-man he is.
One aspect of the game which I was really impressed with, as it works so well, is that sections of the environment are out of bounds until you unlock a character who has an ability to deal with it. Tails can fly over gaps, Big the Cat has a shield which allows him to walk through poisonous gases, and Knuckles can climb up certain obstacles. You have four characters in your team at any one time and you can switch to the appropriate one when their particular ability is required.
I am supposed to be a fully grown adult and yet the deal clincher for me is the inclusion of those loveable little creatures who made me fall in love with the Sonic Adventure games. This game sees the return of the Chao and, although you can’t interact with them in quite the same way, each of the cute little creatures you find on your travels provide you with a certain power to aid you in battle.
Bioware are easily one of my favourite developers and, having had such an impressive track record to date, I have to admit that I had my concerns over whether they’d be able to continue such form with a title based around the famous speed-demon and his friends. I really ought to be ashamed of myself since Bioware have not only proven themselves yet again they have also managed to breathe new life into the franchise and, given that Sonic is as vital to SEGA as a certain Italian Plumber is to Nintendo, this game may well have more importance than we imagine.