Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)

Let’s just get this out of the way. 90% of you out there will hate this game. Even if you don’t play it, you’ll hate it and tell everyone how much you hate it. The exact same way you hated Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Heroes. Just like all those games however, this game is not nearly as bad as its public perception.

I’ll begin with the story. Sonic has been transported into a medieval world where a corrupted King Arthur is wrecking havoc. Sonic is given a sword and sets out to stop him. A handful of Sonic’s supporting cast appear as characters in the Arthurian legend. Shadow, Knuckles, and Blaze make up Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table as Lancelot, Gawain, and Percival. Amy plays the Lady of the Lake and Tails is the annonymous blacksmith. Honestly, the story is there for little more than context as it is not terribly involved. If anything, I guess you can compare it to the stories of the old Genesis Sonic games where the story is set up for you but for the majority of the game, you’re just going wherever the levels take you.

The presentation is where the game is the strongest. All the menus can be accessed with either the pointer or the Wii remote. There are a few beautifully done CG cut scenes used sparingly throughout the game. Most of the story scenes are carried with stylized storyboard-like cut scenes that, while note as impressive as the FMVs, are well done and have their own unique charm.

The graphics in this game are probably some of the best I’ve seen on the system from a third party. The textures are all clean and the models for Sonic and the other playable characters all look great. The game is especially impressive in the volcano levels where you have the blinding hot lava juxtaposed against black volcanic rock. Its obvious that the development team put a lot of effort in making sure the game looks good and they succeeded where too many Wii games fail miserably.

Then we get to the gameplay that, while being mediocre, is not bad. You use the A button to jump and swing the remote to attack while moving sonic with the analog stick. The B button is used to trigger a special combo attack when you fill a certain guage. The game throws a lot of enemies at you and if you try to go through and defeat them all you’ll hate the game and end up nursing a sore arm the next day. I don’t think you’re really meant to defeat every enemy in the same way you’re not meant to do so in Mirror’s Edge. Yes its possible, but your enjoyment of the game will be severely comprimised.

Instead, focus on jumping attacks and keeping your speed up and you’ll actually find some enjoyment in the game. That said, the level design isn’t particularly inspired. Unlike other Sonic games where you’re running down walls and flying through loops, Sonic and the Black Knight’s levels feel unusually flat. There’s plenty of turns, some stairs, and some hazards like swinging maces, jumps, and you can keep a decent sense of speed but the levels just don’t feel as outrageous as they have been in Sonic games past.

The story itself is very short and if you stick to just the story missions, you can easily finish the game in a sitting. Bonus stages are unlocked as you progress that challenge you to complete a portion of a level without being hit, killing a certain number of enemies, not taking damage, or giving NPCs a certain number of rings. The game also includes challenge stages for online leaderboards.

After beating the first portion of the game and getting the first ending, as Sonic games are now known for having a normal ending and then a true ending unlocked after further play, you unlock the ability to play as Lancelot, Gawain, and Percival (Shadow, Knuckles, Blaze) who each play slightly different from Sonic and whom you can outfit with new weapons that Tails can create from the items you collect at the end of a level. In a way, it feels like the game is finally opened up after you get the first ending because you have more options with the Knights of the Round Table than you had with Sonic.

There is also a multiplayer game that I actually haven’t given a shot yet, but I’m sure you can find or already have a better party game on the Wii, regardless. You can exchange items online with friends for weapon forging after exchanging Friend Codes, and as I mentioned, there are leaderboards for online specific challenges available.

I know that I am far more lenient with games than most people. While I may give this game a 7 in that I found it playable, if uninspired, with a few good moments, most people will probably hate this game and I can understand why. I don’t think I’d recommend this game at full prince unless you absolutely have to own the latest Sonic as soon as possible. If you want to buy this, I’d recommend you wait for the inevitable price drop.

That said, the game is not coaster material as it will undoubtedly be immediately written off as. The game is flawed and I wouldn’t call it a great game, I can barely call it a decent game, but it is not terrible.