E3 2008: Sega and BioWare's Sonic Chronicles
07.18.08 - 7:01 PM

Canada is the source of many of the world's best things: ice hockey, maple syrup, and... Japanese-style handheld RPGs? BioWare's home studio in Edmonton is behind one of the strangest fusions seen in the world of RPGs - a Canadian-developed, Japanese-style RPG on a handheld featuring a character known for his blazing speed. It doesn't seem like it should work, but BioWare showed us one of the best RPGs at the show.

One of the first things that didn't work with the build of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is my tried-and-true method of "press a bunch of buttons and see what happens" with new titles. BioWare has implemented a completely stylus-driven game in Sonic Chronicles, and the control scheme works well. Sonic's speed across the overworld is much faster than characters in the average RPG, and the use of stylus control makes it a bit easier to navigate the environments at that speed. Enemies in Sonic Chronicle are visible from the overworld, and can be ambushed in combat.

Combat in Sonic Chronicles is turn-based, but BioWare felt it would be more in the vein of Sonic to provide a Japanese-style battle system. Had they included a battle system like those featured in Baldur's Gate, players would be constantly pausing. Now, players input commands at the beginning of their turn, but that's not the entirety of the combat. To keep things visceral, players will have touchscreen commands that need to be executed for attacks to do their full damage. Most of the attack patterns we saw were similar to the type of gameplay DS gamers have seen in the music game Elite Beat Agents. That's not to say that the combat has been watered down for kids by any means - this is BioWare we're talking about. Enemies will have strengths and weaknesses, player characters something akin to MP to deal with, and there will be customization for each of the characters.

We didn't get to delve deeply into the customization or story with Sonic Chronicles, as there's only so much you can do with ten minutes of a game, but BioWare and Sega look to be providing DS owners with a top-quality RPG that's good for all ages. Keep watch to RPGFan for more on this title!


John McCarroll

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