Sonic and the Black Knight
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|Sonic and the Black Knight|
North American box art
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Genre(s)||Platformer, hack and slash|
Sonic and the Black Knight (ソニックと暗黒の騎士 Sonikku to Ankoku no Kishi?) is a video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega as part of the Sonic The Hedgehog series, released exclusively on Wii as the second entry in the Sonic Storybook series, following on from Sonic and the Secret Rings. The game is directed by Tetsu Katano, who was the lead programmer of the Sonic Adventure titles and Sonic Heroes.
Set in the world of King Arthur, the game combines Sonic's trademark speed with a new sword fighting system, utilizing of the Wii Remote's motion-sensing functionality. The series villain Doctor Eggman is absent, making this the first Sonic game that he does not appear in.
Gameplay differs from traditional games in the Sonic series by mixing in the new element of swordplay with the traditional Sonic platforming and speed. Swordplay is implemented through the Wii Remote. Gameplay is more similar to Sonic Unleashed than Sonic and the Secret Rings; Sonic's movement is controlled with the analog stick as he is on a set course, and gameplay is mainly 3D.
The stages feature townspeople that the player can harm and some that Sonic can interact with; these actions and the player's deeds will be judged at the end of each stage, updating his "knight ranking" accordingly. By interacting with these characters the player may do a quick-time button input. Doing so correctly will take away twenty of Sonic's rings and give them to the townsperson, and in return, he receives a gift at the end of the stage. In some stages, it is required to give a specific amount of rings to townspeople before reaching the goal. In stages where this is not required the townsperson will reward Sonic with an item. There are 242 items in the game, some of which can be gained by opening treasure chests in the stages. Any items collected during a stage must be identified at the end of the stage by using Sonic's "ID points". Rarer items cost more ID points than others. An online mode allows treasures to be traded between registered friends.
The game changes the traditional level items, such as springs and speed pads, into "fairies." These fairies come in varying colors; Yellow elements will be used as a group of one to twenty rings, Blue fairies will be used as speed boosts and springs, and Red will be used to fill the "Soul gauge." This gauge is filled by defeating enemies and collecting Red Fairies, and is used to unleash a powerful lock-on attack, Soul Surge. On only the first few stages, the "pearls" from the previous game, Sonic and the Secret Rings, appear as apples.
The skill system from Sonic and the Secret Rings also returns, but has been revised to adjust any problems that were present in that game: the skill system is also designed so as not to interfere with the game's tempo. Each playable character has three styles to choose from. At first, only the balanced "Knight" style is available, but later, "Cavalier" and "Paladin" styles are unlocked. They deal with the aspects of speed and power, respectively. As levels are completed, the player gains a number of "Followers" that is used as Experience and as the number of followers goes up, the number of skills the player has in a certain style are increased. The "styles" of characters beside Sonic are not increased; Rather, their swords' abilities and skills are enhanced.
Once the "Knight's Quest" part of the story is reached, Sir Gawain (Knuckles the Echidna), Sir Lancelot (Shadow the Hedgehog), and Sir Percival (Blaze the Cat) will be playable from that point on. Each has their own characteristics; for instance, Knuckles wields dual swords that double as boomerangs and has the ability to glide, Blaze can surround herself with fire and use more lunge attacks than Sonic, and Shadow can use Chaos Powers. In story mode, they can use different swords than their own swords, unlike Sonic, who can only wield Caliburn.
Up to four players can play in the game's multiplayer, choosing between one of 12 characters to partake in a number of different kinds of battles. Characters include Sonic, Lancelot (Shadow), Gawain (Knuckles), Percival (Blaze), Blacksmith (Tails), Lady of the Lake (Amy Rose), Galahad (Silver the Hedgehog), Lamorak (Jet the Hawk), regular Shadow, regular Knuckles, regular Blaze and King Arthur.
A sorceress named Merlina, granddaughter of the original Merlin, summons Sonic to help free the mystical realm of King Arthur, who has been possessed by an unknown evil that comes from the Excalibur's scabbard and is now ruling the realm as the tyrannical Black Knight. Sonic's speed alone does not end the Black Knight's reign, so he must take up the talking sword, Caliburn, in order to break Arthur's curse and save the kingdom. Sonic must also collect the blades of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table and Excalibur itself if he is to restore King Arthur's sanity and return him to a benevolent ruler.
Sonic is assisted in his travels by a kind Blacksmith (Tails) and the legendary Lady of the Lake, Nimue (Amy Rose). Facing dragons, King Arthur's warriors from the Underworld and the Knights of the Round Table (who bear similarities to Shadow, Knuckles and Blaze), Sonic collects all blades and enters a showdown against the Black Knight. However, when the dust settles, it is revealed that King Arthur was merely an illusion and that Merlina was using Sonic as part of her plan to become the all-powerful Dark Queen and prevent the kingdom's ruinous future by casting magic to make the kingdom last forever at the cost of innocent lives. Sonic realizes that such a world would never work out and fights her, but Caliburn is destroyed and Sonic takes a severe beating the first time.
Sonic's resolve to stop the witch, however, is great and with this resolve (as well as the Knights' blades), Caliburn is restored and revealed to be the true Excalibur and Sonic is turned into Excalibur-Sonic (an armored variation of Super Sonic). With their new power, they fight Merlina and defeat her. After the battle, Sonic convinces her that while every world has to come to an end, what matters is that everyone should live their lives to the fullest until that day comes.
With the fight over, the Knights of the Round Table are about to disband (due to King Arthur being nothing but an illusion), but Caliburn reminds them that he is the one who chooses the king, who is Sonic, playing the role of the real King Arthur all along. After the credits, Sonic tries to tell Amy of his adventure, but she perceives it as an excuse for forgetting about their proposed date. The game ends in a fashion similar to Sonic and the Secret Rings, with the book "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" changing to "Sonic and the Black Knight".
Development and release
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Sonic and the Black Knight was first revealed at Nintendo's pre-Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 2008 press conference. Developer Sonic Team, a subsidiary of publisher Sega, decided to focus on combat and cinematic presentation for the game rather than the level design-oriented Sonic Unleashed.
Face to Faith: Sonic and the Black Knight Vocal Trax is the game's official vocal songs soundtrack that was released on April 8, 2009 in Japan. It features five vocal tracks that were featured in the game, with "Seven Rings in Hand ~Fairytales in Trance~" by Bentley Jones and "With Me ~Massive Power Mix~" by Crush 40 as brand new bonus tracks created especially for the album.
Tales of Knighthood: Sonic and the Black Knight Original Soundtrax is the game's original soundtrack. It was released by Wave Music Entertainment in Japan on April 8, 2009.
Molten Mine's background music is a rearranged version of the "Action Theme" from Black Dawn, a completely unrelated PlayStation and Sega Saturn video game released in 1996. The music itself was originally made by Tommy Tallarico.
Sonic and the Black Knight was met with mixed reviews from critics. It received a score of 55.19% on GameRankings and 54/100 on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The game entered the Japanese sales chart at 30th place, and the North American Wii charts at tenth. It was de-listed in 2010, following on from Sega's decision to remove all Sonic titles with mixed Metacritic scores from retail stores in order to increase the value of the brand after positive reviews for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and Sonic Colors.
IGN's Matt Casamassina praised the game's visuals and the overall presentation, but went on to state that the gameplay was "broken" and cited the controls as "unresponsive". GameDaily criticized the "repetitive combat, easy missions and limited controls keep it from greatness," but acknowledged its "attractive presentation, decent combat and bonus content." Chris Scullion from the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine praised the game's visuals and soundtrack, but criticized the swordplay mechanics and multiplayer element. GameSpot's Carolyn Petit noted that, while the sword is useful slashing through enemies, there is a noticeable delay from the time swinging the Wii Remote and the time Sonic actually swings.
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