You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

With "Sonic Chronicles," Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice of abandoning high-speed action and putting Sonic in the hands of role-playing games developer Bioware, best known for detail-intensive, character-driven epics like "Mass Effect."

Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice of abandoning high-speed action and putting Sonic in the hands of role-playing games developer Bioware, best known for detail-intensive, character-driven epics like “Mass Effect.” The result is surprisingly fun and competent, though far from the shot of adrenaline the franchise needs to return to its former glory.

“Sonic Chronicles” is essentially a traditional RPG, hallmarked by exploration, fetch-quests and turn-based battle. It’s all driven by Sonic’s convoluted and weakly motivated attempt to regain the powerful Chaos Emeralds and solve the mystery behind a dark force infiltrating the land.

Despite past widespread fan complaints about Sonic’s cast of pals, Sonic is once again rejoined by Tails the machine-savvy fox, Knuckles the surly echidna and Amy Rose the pink hedgehog. In “Chronicles,” each one at least has a useful role to play. Amy’s giant Piko-Piko hammer can smash through obstacles, for example, and characters like Tails and the unsettlingly sultry Rouge the Bat can fly, steadily opening new areas of the world as their skills evolve and new characters join Sonic’s party.

Aside from the exploration, the core gameplay is very much RPG-lite: Arrange members of party for optimum advantage, level them up through battles, and teach them signature techniques that exploit enemy weaknesses. Result is a nicely balanced game that’s engaging but not too demanding, accessible while still challenging, and colorful without being ridiculous.

Turn-based battles can be a repetitive snoozefest for some, but “Sonic Chronicles” changes it up by using the DS’s touchscreen for “Elite Beat Agents”-style timed, rhythm-based minigames that determine the success or failure of special attacks, keeping players on their toes. Many will find it odd, however, to control speedster Sonic via exact timing, instead of lightning-fast reactions.

The game world wisely encourages visual touchstones to the series’ earliest installments, with familiar aesthetics and nostalgic sound effects.

Click here to check out the ‘Sonic Chronicles’ photo gallery

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Rated E. $35

Production: A Sega presentation of a game developed by BioWare for the Nintendo DS.

More Digital

  • YouTube terminates Toy Freaks

    YouTube Terminates Toy Freaks Channel Amid Broader Crackdown on Disturbing Kids' Content

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • Liza Koshy

    Liza Koshy to Star in YouTube Red Comedy Series 'Liza on Demand' Premiering in 2018

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • Dwyane Wade

    NBA Star Dwyane Wade Has His Own Facebook Reality Show

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • Still from Google Spotlight Stories' short

    Google Spotlight Stories Releases VR Short 'Sonaria' With Steam, Viveport, Mobile App

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • Dana Walden American Idol

    Fox's Dana Walden Joins Hulu Board of Directors

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • homepod-white-shelf

    Apple Delays HomePod Speaker Until Early 2018

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

  • Jason Mojica Vice

    Vice Suspends Film Producer Jason Mojica Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

    Few videogame mascots have endured as tenaciously — or as dubiously — as the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Nintendo’s Super Mario, to whom Sega’s speedy blue anthropomorphic hedgehog was a worthy rival in the early ’90s, Sonic has largely failed to adapt with the times. With “Sonic Chronicles,” Sega makes the somewhat bizarre choice […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content