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From an intrinsic dislike of that little blue hedgehog, I became pleasantly surprised by this role play game. It looks lovely and works flawlessly. If you're one of those people who tried The World Ends With You DS but found it over complex, then Sonic Chronicles hits the spot. I think I'm coming round to the way of the hedgehog.
I'm really sorry but I have a strange dislike for Sonic platform games. I've tried playing them, tried liking them, but every time I end up feeling like I'm not actually doing much to win or lose apart from button bashing. But put the little blue guy in the Olympics or in Super Smash Brawl and he's brilliant. So here I am picking up a Sonic title on the DS, not a platformer but an roel play game, so I'm going in open minded.
The title sequence is appetisingly simple; a brief comic book style back story that is nice to watch, introducing the main characters. Next you're put straight into this world with a series of - as you play - tutorials. Each one the game pauses to tell you some play tips as background fuzzes out, it works really well without making you feel interrupted as you explore. You move around the map with relative freedom to roam, tips and tricks are highlighted in nice blue buttons which mean you just learn as much as you feel like or just see the sights.
As I ambled about the isometric map I had a strange Monkey Island Amiga feeling.
There is a semi-linear feel to the game as you discover the island but it's all set out so nicely with soft grass and nicely lapping water that you're quite happy to just let the game carry you. The cartoon style of the graphics works well and are unique to this title - very refreshing. As I ambled about the isometric map I had a strange Monkey Island Amiga feeling, I wondered if inspiration came from those old classics, it's all pretty laid back only getting busy when there's a fight.
Combat functions very well, taking the good bits of the Pokemon battles and adding in some sweet 3D graphics that spice it all up. There are moves and combos to learn and you level up with experience points the better you do in each fight. Your opponents get tougher and more numerous, but that's fine as you soon get Sonic's friends along to help; each one with particular abilities and moves. The game seems to have learnt a trick or two from The World Ends With You DS and Pokemon Diamond/Pearl DS, although happily scaling back the complex combat of the former and jazzing up the graphics of the latter.
The fights themselves are constructed well. In my first few encounters it was all over pretty quickly, but as I continued onwards things got more tricky. Into the battle opens a nice looking fight scene close to the action. You fight in turns ,Pokemon style, choosing your special move carefully depending on the opponent. In one fight I discovered more tricks to get those vital hits on the wasps and armadillo I was facing. There's the normal attack which lets you sit back and see how well your luck holds. Then there are a selection of POW attacks for each character which to my delight involved rhythm action - Elite Beat Agent DS style. It's a great way to fight and feel wonderful when you pull off a combo sequence that wipes out your foe in one fair swoop.
This is an all time classic for you that sits along side other mighty DS role play games with aplomb.
If you don't feel you've got the health left to engage in combat you can always flee, sometimes your foe will flee instead; either way you end up with a chase or escape race. My first attempt to chase was a bit confusing as both my characters were chasing and I only worked out half way though that I was controlling both at the same time, jumping and running. There's minimal involvement in the chase really, but it's a good exercise in timing. I remember battling in Pokemon and having to flee on occasion, doing so would just mean you avoided a difficult fight; in Chronicles though if you fail fleeing and get caught your opponent get a free attack and you're still locked in the battle.
I can see this game has long legs; the combat is a joy and exploration and discovery just makes you want more. In terms of my perpetual gaming appetite, it was certainly whetted here. A multiplayer mode would have been the finishing touch, but alas no, not this time anyway. If you like sonic games, this is an all time classic for you that sits along side other mighty DS role play games with aplomb.
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