Sonic Chronicles: A Game Rightfully Forgotten By Time

Christopher Martires, News Editor

Sonic The Hedgehog is one of those big-name franchises that only gains mixed opinions as the years go on. With the mighty highs it has with modern games like Sonic Generations, Sonic Colors, and Sonic Mania, it also comes with the worst of the worst with Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic Boom, and Sonic Forces. However, within the dodgy quality of the Sonic games, there is one particular game that was left forgotten by the time that I had the displeasure of replaying during quarantine. From game developers BioWare, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood for the Nintendo DS is quite possibly the best example of how to NOT transition a franchise into a Role-Playing Game (RPG) format. With possibly one or two exceptions, Sonic Chronicles somehow gets everything wrong, making what could have been a fun hidden gem about saving the world into a frustrating slog to play.

The Only Things It Gets Right

Before I list off all the major flaws with the game I have to give credit where credit is due, even if whatever credit is tiny in the grand scheme of things. The gameplay, despite how simple it is, can be quite fun. It utilizes the DS touch screen to make the turn-based combat in the game interactive by making you rhythmically tap the screen or slide the stylus around to attack enemies or dodge attacks. Normally in a RPG, you only pick an action and wait for it to happen so it’s quite refreshing to see this level of interactivity. Sometimes it becomes annoying that you need to consistently tap the screen when you just want to progress, but you could always just flee from battles to fix that issue. As well, trying to tap or slide whatever is shown on screen can be quite hard which gives the game a new layer of challenge. Some character-specific moves called POW moves can immediately fail if you don’t do the correct actions on time, making victory-winning moves even more crucial to pulling off. 

For DS standards, the cutscenes in the game were pretty fun to see. The cutscenes are done in a comic book style, so it helps make characters pop out to the player. Although the comic book style of the cutscenes is quite childish, it gives the game some charm to it while also giving the player much-needed visuals to help imagine what the characters are doing in-game. 

Unfortunately, these are the only two things the game gets right. Whatever redeeming qualities the game had are now gone and are left with mediocrity. 

The Dialogue and Exploration

The dialogue in this game is a joke. It’s presented with choices from the player to let you decide what the main character Sonic will say to others, but nothing of importance happens with it. Despite being given options in how Sonic interacts with others, it doesn’t impact anything that happens in the story outside of one very, very small detail that the player would actively have to search for to even get it. If a game gives you dialogue options, it should hold some weight to it. Games like Fallout: New Vegas, The Wolf Among Us, or Skyrim are examples of how your choice of wording can affect how the people around you will act. Sonic Chronicles on the other hand thinks that no matter how much of a rude and arrogant person you make Sonic out to be, everyone around him will still love him because he is the main character and we are supposed to like him. It’s only made worse on how forgettable the interactions between the characters are. Important story details end up feeling like a waste of time to listen to because it’s not like it adds up to anything in the end. Characters like Tails or Knuckles should have had more presence in the story, which is disheartening when the two have such major roles in past games. Overall, the dialogue is just a waste of time and only makes the player button mash away from the tediousness of it. 

Exploring the stages in this game is so frustrating. When exploring an entire area, you have to use specific characters that have special movement abilities like flight or a dash. Sounds fine on paper but problems arise when certain parts of the game force you to use certain characters to be able to explore anything. This makes characters like Amy and Big the Cat so annoying to add to your party because while they are useless in combat, they have essential movement abilities that are needed to get to certain areas. Having to go all the way back to your hideout just to switch out a party member is tedious and not an optimal way to give characters purpose. Furthermore, the spawn rates for enemies are ludicrously high, even for RPG standards. You can leave a part of an area and as soon as you walk back an enemy you defeated has appeared ready to waste more of your time. So many enemies just constantly appear that they only hinder your progression in the stages. All that the developers needed to do was just decrease the frequency of spawns to make exploring tolerable. Unfortunately, exploring is just made aggravating to even attempt in the game. 

The RPG Elements 

Somehow, an RPG game cannot even get the RPG aspect of it right. Firstly, the equipment and item system is completely pointless. In most RPGs except this one you need to constantly buy new equipment to either hit harder, decrease damage, or be able to attack faster. In Sonic Chronicles, equipment is the most useless addition with items being a close second. You do not need to spend money–rings, in this case–to buy any of the equipment because it does nothing to increase the strength of your characters. They increase your stats, but by a single, measly point. Why even add equipment in the game when it makes no difference in the power of the characters? It becomes apparent that the game is only tacking on RPG elements rather than integrating it into the game as a whole. This is where even items serve very little use in the game. Since the characters range from useless to game-breaking, you rarely need to ever use any items to heal up a character or replenish their POW points (what allows them to use their POW moves.) As well, you never need to buy items either when every battle you complete also gives you a random item to use. The game had the tools needed to make a decent game out of this, but BioWare thought that making almost every single essential staple of RPG games pointless would have made for better gameplay.

 As mentioned briefly the characters in this game can either be so pointless or so essential that it breaks the balance between your team and the enemies. Take Rouge, for example, one of the characters that fall under the Shifter class. Her move set and stats are so terrible that it’s incredibly hard to win a battle with her on your team. In addition, so many characters do their job as a support/attack character far better than herself that there’s no point in adding her to your team. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you get a character like Cream who is so essential to beating the game that you would be handicapping yourself if you didn’t have her on your team. As a pure support character, she handles healing health and replenishing POW points for the group. However, almost all her moves affect an entire team and herself, therefore making her so crucial in getting characters up to speed and ready to dish out damage to opposing foes. In a similar manner, having characters like Shadow the Hedgehog or Shade the Echidna–both being attack characters–make the combat fly by so quickly with how hard-hitting each of their POW moves is. They make almost every other character a complete joke to use when you can be constantly destroying enemies left and right. There’s such a massive imbalance in strengths that it’s pointless to let the player choose their team when it is always going to be a combination of Cream, Shadow, or Shade. 

Powerpoints–POW points, in this case– are staples in RPGs as it allows you to use a character’s powerful moves, so why is it in Sonic Chronicles that they punish a player for using them so often? Using a basic attack is a waste of time in this game, but characters have so few POW points that you tend to be forced to just attack. I understand that limiting the amount a character can use their moves makes you create optimal strategies to utilize them at the best moments, but it’s such a noticeable limitation that it only frustrates the player. It would make sense if the moves you had at your disposal could easily slay enemies in one turn, but that is hardly the case. The movepools of the characters are so small that they can’t even function that well in a team setting. The main character Sonic only has one viable move and even then it doesn’t do much damage once you are in the late game. It’s quite a shame too as staple characters in the Sonic Franchise don’t get to do much at all with the hand they’re delivered. 

The Story

I have very little to say about the story because it’s so forgettable. The basic plot is that you must save the world from this generic evil baddie called Emperor IX. In order to do that, you must collect the seven Chaos Emeralds and take back the Master Emerald that the bad guy has. The story does make the character venture into interesting places, especially in the back half of the game. However, it’s such a bare-bones storyline that nothing interesting happens. As much as I enjoy the inclusion of Shadow the Hedgehog, he definitely did not need to be here nor did Big the Cat, Rouge, Amy, Cream, and Omega. They serve zero purposes to the story and feel more like fan service than actual relevant characters to the storyline. When everything is all done and finished, the game ends in a cliffhanger to introduce a sequel that was never created. Truly, a testament to the value the game had on society. 


No one should bother playing this game. As the years go on, it’s clear why BioWare never decided to make a sequel to this game. If Sega ever decides to dip their toes in the realms of RPGs, I will gladly advise them to just stick with the terrible 3D games. This is a 1/10 game, so please don’t bother playing it unless you want to find an example of bad game design.