Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii) Review

Our next game for review this month came out in March of 2009. That won't stop me from getting my fangs into it! I recently picked up this game on the cheap, and I have to admit, I found myself enjoying many parts of this game. It's Sonic and the Black Knight, and it's time to bring the review on out!

Knight of the Wind

Like Mario, Sonic has had an illustrious career to him. He's been a kart driver, an Olympic athlete, a hero of legend, a werehog, a participant of bestiality, and so much more. Now Sonic is returning to the world of fantasy with a new take on the legend of King Arthur. How does it hold up, and does this fairy tale have a happy ending?

The last time Wii owners had Sonic the Hedgehog in a fantasy world, he was spinning it up in Ali Baba's realm. This time around Sonic has been called to the land of King Arthur and Camelot where the realm is in trouble. King Arthur has been possessed by Excalibur's scabbard and is causing evil creatures to pop up all around the land. With speaking sword in hand and swift feet in tow, Sonic the Hedgehog is here to once again save the day. The story never takes itself too seriously which is a treat since we've seen how bad Sonic Team can get with their stories involving real drama. Quick! Get those memories of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 out of your mind! The more important cutscenes are played in cinematics, but most of the time you'll see the tale play out in storybook-like sequences.

Sonic will travel many lands in search of King Arthur.

Casting aside the linearity of previous Sonic games, Sonic and the Black Knight offers a more open-ended structure. You have a world map that is full of missions. Each time you complete one mission, another handful or so open up. These missions range from your typical get to the goal escapades to more involved missions such as defeating fifty enemies, giving enough rings to townspeople, and battling bosses. There's around seven different zones to play through, and while the game seems on the short side, after the final boss is slain, even more missions open up. These will test the very essence of mettle. They are quite difficult. After each mission, Sonic earns items that can be equipped to him to give the speedy speedster new abilities like taking less damage, starting with more rings, and so forth. Items can be traded to friends via Wi-Fi, and best scores on missions can be posted on the game's online leaderboards.

Many familiar faces appear in this fantasy.

Sonic and the Black Knight plays similarly to Sonic and the Secret Rings. You're constantly wanting to move forward thanks to the fixed camera angle always looking in that direction (which makes backtracking a huge hassle), but instead of tilting the Wii remote to move, you use a traditional analog stick. This way you have much more control over Sonic while you waggle the Wii remote to attack enemies with Sonic's sword. Yes, that's right. A sword. Perhaps Sonic Team should work on fixing broken elements first and foremost instead of adding even more broken elements into their games. Maybe that is not fair to say, the swordsmanship is pretty unresponsive, but at least it works somewhat.

Speed and careful platforming is what most old-school Sonic fans want from their games. Well, speed is pretty much what they'll get albeit in shorter bursts. The game constantly throws enemies in your path for Sonic to slay. This can get tiresome when all you want to do is speed through the levels. The old standby, the homing attack, returns and works well (for once). Sonic can also block enemy attacks with his sword, a move that hardened hedgehogs must learn if they want to survive King Arthur's soldiers. Later in the game, the fencing furry can use a move that takes out each enemy one at a time as long as his energy gauge has juice inside it. There's all of these tools at Sonic's disposal this time around.

There's no time for sightseeing in this wintry wonderland.

The seven worlds of Sonic and the Black Knight take the blue blur from a misty lake where he'll meet the Lady of the Lake, Camelot Castle, the deep woods, a fiery volcano, a cavern full of crystals, and a titanic-sized plain. There's plenty of variety in each of the worlds from battering rams to grind ropes, tricks and traps, safe landings and bottomless pits. One world has Sonic inching his way on a small ledge where he must time his movements so he doesn't get damaged by rocks, spikes, or a burst of lava. Each level has a treasure chest hidden inside it giving Sonic a brand-new item to utilize. It'd be easier if the camera could change directions instead of having to awkwardly backflip through previously cleared areas either to find more treasure or take out an enemy straggler.

Sword in hand, pain in butt.

Crush40 once again returns after a long absence to perform most of the game's music with Jun Senoue taking lead role of head composer. The music is suitable for the game, rock undertones in the feudal era notwithstanding, but for a Sonic game, what else do you expect? The visuals stay consistent with the quality of the music (ignore this if you find yourself hating the music) as in they're quite impressive, too. Seeing Sonic run through a field of grass with individual blades popping up is very entertaining to the eye. The game runs at a good clip, and the action seldom calls for any slowdown of any kind.

Sonic and the Black Knight is not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination-- no matter what fantasy world you're visiting. The swordplay is borderline broken (waggle is just as bad as button mashing to me), the main campaign lasts but a few hours, and the battle mode is competent yet tacked on. What Sonic and the Black Knight does well is keep things fresh with the wonderful level variety, it keeps things enjoyable to watch unlike previous hedgehog games, and it keeps things fair by not being too easy and not being too difficult. Even with the sometimes unresponsive controls, the game is still fun to play and can be beaten without many headaches. While not a great ending, this fairy tale, Sonic and the Black Knight enjoys a happy ending.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.75/10]

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