Sonic and the Black Knight Review
Sonic and the Black Knight box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Sonic Team 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 3, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

For years I've been fooling myself thinking one of these days a solid Sonic adventure is finally going to be made. I keep trying out all these games, one after another, always with the hope to play the next best Mario-like platforming adventure. This time around, due to the medieval theme implied by the title, I even expected something somewhat similar to The Legend of Zelda games. Of course, the gameplay didn't have much to do with Miyamoto's famous franchise, and perhaps I should stop getting my hopes up with these Sonic games and just take them for what they are - a modern Sonic title.

Sonic and the Black Knight screenshot

Sonic and the Black Knight marks the return of the Sonic Storybook Series to the Nintendo Wii. If you played the first title, Sonic and the Secret Rings, you probably remember the game was very aesthetically appealing, but the gameplay mechanics left a lot to be desired, leaving the game almost unplayable. This time around, the visual appeal is back with a new medieval theme and plenty of swords and knights wearing shiny armor. However, in contrast with the first title of the series, this one actually provides with a somewhat enjoyable experience, even if the mechanics are still a bit rough around the edges.

The story told in Sonic and the Black Knight submerges players into the book of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The powerful Black Knight, a warrior who wields the scabbard of the legendary, mighty Excalibur sword, is set to spread terror throughout Camelot. There really isn't a way to make him stop, unless a hero is able to defeat him with the help of the sacred (and talkative) sword named Caliburn. Merlina, the Wizard of Camelot, summons the long-awaited hero in hopes of defeating the villain and bringing peace back to their lands. The potential hero is none other than Sonic, but he first needs to polish his swashbuckling skills in order to stand a chance against the evil Black Knight.

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This quest will take players through level after level of ring-collecting and sword fighting, but not without the typical fast-paced gameplay found in all Sonic games. Brawling at high speeds can be quite fun, but it's also highly unsatisfying due to all the enemies left behind. Perhaps these speedy mechanics are what stops the franchise from succeeding in the modern era of gaming, but it's also tough to get away from it, especially considering the fans weren't too hot on the last attempt at playing Sonic at a normal pace, in the night levels of Sonic Unleashed.

Sonic and the Black Knight screenshot

Players are ranked in the story mode by completing the different goals in each mission while defeating as many enemies as possible and avoiding Camelot's townspeople so they don't get hurt. Doing this in the shortest amount of time possible also helps to obtain a better score and a bigger amount of unlockables. On some occasions, the missions will involve certain interactions with the villagers like giving them rings or saving them from a nearby danger. However, most of the time is spent just running and kicking some butt with your sword. Once in a while you'll be presented with a boss fight, but I found most of these encounters too bland and definitely not challenging. Instead of facing brutal and fearsome monsters, these enemies are just somewhat bigger than Sonic, and their design is not particularly imaginative or scary.

The story mode shows a bit of an RPG influence by allowing players to unlock numerous objects that can be equipped on the character to increase his skills / performance. The better you do at each given level, the more stuff you'll be able to identify and add to your Treasury log. In addition, you'll also obtain new music, video clips of already-seen cutscenes, pictures and renders, battle modes, etc. In a way, some of the unlockables feel like Xbox Achievements or PS3 Trophies. That's one thing the Wii doesn't have yet, so I guess it's nice to include proof of your accomplishments within the game itself.

Sonic and the Black Knight screenshot

There's also a Battle mode where up to four players can compete to see who reaches the goal faster, who defeats more enemies, etc. You can't play this online, but it will still make a fun party game for some players, especially if they're Sonic fans. Players can choose between four characters from the Sonic franchise. These characters will also appear in the Story mode, but only as you advance through the story. However, they'll play special roles within the Knights of the Round Table story, so only Sonic knows who they really are.

There is an "online" mode where you can complete missions and upload your scores in order to climb the ranks. Your scores will be compared against those of other players out there, but that's about it. Considering there's a lot more that can be done with the Wii's wi-fi connection, I found this to be slightly disappointing. They should have let players participate in the same competitions provided in the Battle mode, but it just didn't happen.

Screenshots / Images
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