America - Front
America - Back
14th Mar 2010 | 1,626 views
Sonic and the Secret Rings was an overall successful game. It fared better with the crtics than other mainstream 3D Sonic games that were released since the SAMMY merger and was seen as step in the right direction for the franchise by many. It was a financial success, so a sequel in the “Sonic Storybook Series” was a good idea.
Unfortunately, many things would intervene with Sonic and the Black Knight receiving the attention it could have garnered. Due to being revealed during the whole Sonic Unleashed hype train, the game was simply overshadowed by it. And while Sonic and the Black Knight would soon receive more attention the closer its release came, the game was always unfairly criticized prior release about the concept of Sonic wielding the sword. It was subject to a bunch of unfair criticism.
Swords are awesome. Sonic is awesome. They make a great combination. Mario had F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine. Why can’t Sonic have a sword? The concept of Sonic getting swords is cool. It could have been a splendid result. Ah, but would it be?
Even before this game’s release, I was already skeptical. I found Sonic having a sword to be cool, but when more gameplay footage was shown, the game just looked it already lacked some luster. I was still excited, though. I was going to play the game to make an opinion on it. And so, I did.
And while the game was fun, I just have to say this is Sonic’s worst 3D game.
The presentation, as inferred by already disappointing footage before the game’s release, isn’t exactly the best. With what will come with buying the game alone before playing it, though, is pretty cool. There’s cool boxarts, manuals, discs, awesome opening footage, and slick menu screens that do well at matching with the game’s Arthurian theme. That’s right. Like in Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic is sent to another world, and this time the world of King Arthur. Merlina has summoned Sonic to this world to save the castle Camelot from the now corrupt King Arthur. With a talking sword straight out of a stone known as Caliburn to assist him, Sonic will battle King Arthur’s Knights Of The Round Table, complete tasks from The Lady Of The Lake Nimue, and prove himself worthy of wielding a blade before facing The Black Knight himself.
There are plenty of appearances from other characters in the Sonic Universe that will portray several characters in Arthurian times. I find this to be a nice plot.
The graphics bring mixed reactions. Sure, the character models look solid and there are plenty of pretty effects in the environments, but problems with the level design bring it down. The game really looked better in screenshots, rather than it being played, which is strange. The cutscenes look great, with awesome full motion video and improved storybook cutscenes. I like Sonic’s running animation here. It looks a lot like how it was in Sonic Adventure 1, which is a plus.
The game looked good enough to be played, anyway, so onto the gameplay. This game makes use of the Nunchuk peripheral whereas in Sonic and the Secret Rings, a game completely made for being on-rails for the most part, simply used the Wii ReMote. While you may think that you can move freely now, you can’t. Sonic can go forward and he can walk backwards. That’s it. There’s still relatively little freedom in this game. Sure, it controls more like Sonic and the Secret Rings, but in that game, it went way better. If you’re gonna make use of a Joystick, then put more freedom in the controls. These controls could have been better. A lot better.
As mentioned before, you get a sword to use. By swinging the WiiReMote, Sonic can swing his sword to do many things in this game. Obviously, you use it to slash through enemies. You can also use for climbing, destroying objects, hitting targets, and more. That sounds cool, but it’s not done as well as it could have been.
Trying to swing the sword mainly on ground is insanely frustrating. There’s a delay in when you swing the WiiReMote with when Sonic actually swings his sword which can cause the player to crash into enemies where he won’t recover from it quick enough here. The player will be pushed by enemies into battle and since Sonic won’t recover quick enough, the enemies will get to attack before the player can. It’s frustrating.
But very fortunately there’s a way to make things easier and for the game to play more like a Sonic game. Now, you can tackle enemies with a Spin Jump Homing Dash and while the fact that it alone won’t destroy most enemies may surprise somebody who’s played Sonic games for years, you can combine it with the aerial slash attack. Now, you can execute a quick air attack that will home in onto enemies and slash them down at high speeds. With that, the game will play a lot better and mastering other aspects of the swordplay will also be rewarding.
There are some new elements here. Many of the traditional Sonic elements have been redesigned with various “fairies” that can do you good. Rings are in Yellow Fairies, most Dash Panels are in Blue Fairies (with most of the ones that will accelerate you into high air are redesigned slightly), and there are Purple Fairies that can do many things if you swing your sword at them. The Red Fairies help the returned Soul Gauge that will execute bits of both the Speed Break and Time Break from Sonic and the Secret Rings with the game’s Soul Surge. Time will slow down when this technique is charged and when released Sonic will zip off in a burst of speed that can strike down enemies in cinematic action. If you swing the WiiRemote when the sword shines, you can execute a stronger hit. You can also do a kick when the Nunchuk is flicked during this as well. It looks great and works solid.
For what’s in the gameplay, it’s fun. It can go to a 2.5D style, but trust me, this game plays better in full 3D. Why? Has a lot to do with how Sonic is controlled better there. But there are problems with it and how it could have been better. I was hoping for a more polished sword play. The use of the sword is overly simplistic. It lacks plenty of polish. The level design just a plays like a straight path of enemies to slash. Again and again. Sure, it’s fun and there are some cool variaties to what’s in the levels, but it will play more like otherwise. This game lacks chunks of polish.
The Mission System from Sonic and the Secret Rings returns, but it isn’t as prominent. In Secret Rings, you had to complete multiple missions in order to advance. That lengthened the game and it made it added polish. In this game, you advance more easily. That would have went great, but the thing is, this game is so short. Sure, there’s another ending here, but in Sonic and the Secret Rings, you would collect World Rings in order to unlock it where in this game, things can easily be continued from the previous ending in a snap. That would have went better if this game was longer. This entire game could have been better if it was longer.
The Experience Points system plays a lesser role as well. Still, the way it works here is good enough and cooler. But the game’s so short that you won’t level up far enough. Overall, the gameplay is fun, but lacks A LOT of polish.
This game also should have had hubworlds. It would have went REALLY well with this game’s settings. Some of the gameplay footage misled me into thinking there would be a hub, but there wasn’t. Townsfolk are scattered in the Missions where you execute button combinations to get followers which is fun, but it would have went better if there were hubs. Man, so much polish lost.
The boss fights also lack that as well. Most of them are up against the Knights Of The Round Table which is cool but it should have played better. It’s all sloppy. The game’s controls add to that as well, and most of them are so easy. Other than last two bosses, it’s not the most satisfying. Furthermore, there's a mechanic in them that isn't even properly explained. When your sword and your enemy's sword collide, you will engage in this battle where you seemingly must struggle with your swords and slash into different kinds of them. But it's not even explained properly. The player will probably not know what to do... and even in the trailer showing this, succeeding on those isn't even showed! So much polish lost.
The multiplayer here is awesome. Sure, it's difficult to have both a multiple WiiReMotes AND Nunchuks, but it's still cool. You're in a map with your opponents where you slash enemies. There are plenty of modes as well. I like this a lot.
The sound and audio is pretty good in this. Crush 40 returns with tracks “Knight Of The Wind” and it just sounds so awesome. One of their best songs. Most other tracks in this game, though, are not very memorable compared to other Sonic games. I was just hoping for a bunch of vocal tracks like in Sonic and the Secret Rings to appear in this. The music is great, but I guess that since the game is so short, the music can be easily be forgotten. The sound effects are nice.
The voicework here is excellent. Very great for artists from something like 4Kids Entertainment. Jason Griffith sounds more youthful and energetic and since you’ll hear his voice a lot, it’s a lot better than before. This is his best work in a Sonic game. The rest of voice artists also sound pretty good. The word text is awesome as well.
And speaking of something like portrayals of characters, it’s still disappointing in this game. In most of the game, Sonic has plenty of his signature cocky, hyperactive partyboy attitude. But when progressed near the exact end of the game, things aren’t as awesome and that’s what really makes this the Sonic game I like the least. A world that goes on forever CAN be ideal. If it remains fun, this it’s fun. There are many great qualities of a neverending world and plenty of scary qualities as well. Really, this game goes against Sonic’s core personality, which is an ANGER. I can forget that this ever happen. Because this should have never happened.
Ultimately, Sonic and the Black Knight is a game that lacks plenty of polish. There are fewer missions than in Sonic and the Secret Rings, which means less replay value. This game would have been better if it was a lot more like an RPG. If it was, this game could have potentially been better than Sonic and the Secret Rings. But it wasn’t. This is very disappointing for a sequel to that game. It’s fun, but it lacks so much polish. Even the Special Book does. Sure, I didn’t have the highest of expectations for this, and I was not surprised to see this game score underwhelming with the critics, but even for that, it was disappointing. Sonic and the Black Knight is a game that’s both fun and lacking. And very lacking.