Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Sonic and the Black Knight
It's not a good sign when the best parts of the game are the ones where you actually lose control of your character.
- Pretty graphics, some sense of speed, mini-games (if that's your thing)
- Waggle combat, speed constantly interrupted
Oh, Sonic — what happened to you? While the Blue Blur's definitely seen better days, there still may be some fun to be had with the speedster's latest medieval opus for die-hard fans.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
It's not a good sign when the best parts of the game are the ones where you actually lose control of your character. The best part of any Sonic game should be the speed, so it's nice to have instances of loop-de-loop railroad tracks, corkscrewing steep hills, and buzzing in and out the doors of a mining village. Unfortunately the times you do actually spend playing Sonic and the Black Knight are more frustrating — and in most cases probably too much so to warrant bothering.
Are we in the right story?
The most hardcore Sonic fans have long since given up holding out for a story that means anything to them, and in this case it is pretty easy to gloss over the fact that Sonic has somehow been transported into the land of King Arthur and forced to do battle with the now corrupt king. Why'd the Lady of the Lake have to go give him Excalibur, anyhow? Luckily, Caliburn, a talking (and sort of adorable) sword, is on your side as you assist townspeople, prove yourself as a true Knight, and battle the Knights of the Round Table (who look suspiciously like Knuckles et. al. Tails is your blacksmith.)
Your journey takes place in a forest, Castle Camelot, and other fantasy environments over the course of levels with varying goals. Sometimes you simply have to race to the end, but other times you'll fail the mission unless you pull off a specific move, kill a certain number of enemies, or spread enough ring wealth to the villagers (by interacting via a quick-time event, which might be "fun," but makes no sense — why not just take the rings when I offer them?)
Shake the Knight Away
Of course a knight wields a sword, which sadly in this case means you'll be wielding the Wii Remote. Yes, one of those; block with Z, but shake to attack. I like the relative precision eventually afforded by the Soul Surge move, where you target enemies with B and then slice them one by one until the gauge needs recharging, but general combat feels pretty haphazard -- doubly frustrating because it's always just as you start picking up some nice speed (perhaps even deftly dodging bear traps or fire streams) that a troop of enemies stomps into your path, throwing off your whole game.
That's my main problem, really, all the stop and go. The boss encounter levels are a little more satisfying, because it's simply a one-on-one encounter where recognising attack patterns becomes more important than just flailing with your remote hand.
To The Max
The more skill with which you clear levels, the more "followers" you gain, the higher your knight rank rises. There are different fighting styles to unlock and you can also eventually play as other characters whose weapons level up. Building on a less than awesome combat foundation, though, is probably not going to sway most gamers. Are the four player mini-games enough to interest those with zealous hedgehog love? Maybe, but it's really too bad that the combat is so annoying, because the game actually looks great, especially the storybook painting cut scenes. Ah well, better luck next time, Sonic.
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