Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonic and the Black Knight

Sonic And The Black Knight was one of the first Sonic The Hedgehog games I did more than just mess around with for a few minutes and then forget about.
It was also one of the first videogames I remember being advertised on TV. Mostly because I was watching a lot of 4Kids.TV around 2009.
Let me take you back to 2009, when I was twelve years old, and my life consisted entirely of hanging with my friends at the library, reading Sonic The Hedgehog comicbooks, playing a made-up card-game, and watching 4Kids.TV and ABC Kids.
Back then, I didn't have unlimited broadband. So I wasn't very active on the internet, outside of afternoons spent at the library on their high-speed cable internet. And my newest gaming system was a Nintendo 64, so I was mostly playing Perfect Dark, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Rogue Squadron back then. I didn't have a GameCube or a Wii at that point, much less any non-Nintendo systems. So my first experience with the game was on a malfunctioning CRT television at the local library.
Whoever had hooked up the Wii had apparently either broken the television, or they'd accidentally hooked it up wrong. The reason I know this, even nowadays is because there was no color, and no sound.
So either there was something wrong with the television, or twelve-year-old me knew more about audio-visual equipment than whoever was in charge of the game-day.
Considering some of the people who have worked at my local library I wouldn't really be surprised.
Anyways, that was my first experience with the game. Not ideal, but it was still something. And that something stuck in my mind for a while. Long enough for them to get someone who knew audio-visual equipment to hook up the television.
So, I grabbed the Wii remote and nunchuk, and played the game for a while.
And I had myself some fun. I wasn't given much opportunity to finish it, but I certainly remembered Sonic And The Black Knight in 2011 when I finally got myself a Wii. It was one of the first games I checked out from the library to play at home.
If I remember correctly, I've beaten this game about three times. One of which was the playthrough that I recorded for YouTube. You know, back when I was still pointing a camera at the television.
If you follow my videos and articles, you should have figured out that I'm a pretty big Sonic The Hedgehog fan. And you can thank this game, at least in part, for my love of the whole franchise.
You see, even though this is one of the games people say is terrible, I like it.
To me, Sonic And The Black Knight is one of the top-tier Sonic games. Thanks in part to the story.
But, I'll get to that in a bit.
Sonic And The Black Knight is the second and final game in the Sonic Storybook series. The first game was Sonic And The Secret Rings, which I haven't played a whole lot of. But, I have played enough of it to say that it's probably on of the worst Sonic games ever made. And that's based entirely on the terrible controls. I'll probably get around to a full review eventually, but suffice it to say that Sonic The Hedgehog should not control with an accelerometer. A joystick or a d-pad? That's fine. But the Wii remote was not made to control anything that precisely.
Sonic Team apparently realized this by the time it came to develop Sonic And The Black Knight, and they decided to use the nunchuk's joystick for movement, like any sensible developer would have done for Secret Rings.
So, while Black Knight is still somewhat on-rails like Secret Rings was, it controls a lot better, and it's a lot less linear, and the levels seem to be designed a lot better.
Not to mention that it also looks a lot better, both graphically and visually. Secret Rings has a bit of a dull and lifeless look to it, with some weird, flat shading on Sonic, and a boring sepia tone to the games world. Black Knight, however is vibrant and lush, with great-looking environments, and good detailing on both the main characters and the enemies. It's a very good-looking game.
Now, let's talk controls.
Like I said before, this game eschews most of the motion-control ills that plagued its predecessor, Secret Rings, opting for a more traditional control-scheme consisting mostly of button-presses.
That's not to say that they've entirely given up on the motion-sensor yet. While jumping, guarding, and special attacks are assigned to the buttons, attacks with your sword are made by swinging your Wii remote.
Unfortunately, this is literally the only control-scheme available. Since this was both made and released before the Wii MotionPlus, you could easily recreate the function of the motion-controls with the press of a button.
And this game does not have GameCube or Classic Controller support. I would like to remind you that Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 came out in 2006, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in 2009, and both of those supported Classic and GameCube controllers. Yes, I realize that I'm comparing two fighting-games with a 3D platformer, but you get what I'm saying, there's no excuse.
So, the controls aren't terrible in all honesty. They're very responsive, and aside from the lack of traditional controller-support, there's not much I would change. Side-stepping is a little awkward at first, but that's quickly overcome with an in-game powerup.
Now, while the on-rails style of this game might seem a little undesirable to the general public, I actually kinda like it. I'm not the worlds biggest fan of on-rails shooters like House of the Dead (And I'll get to those and the Resident Evil rails shooters some October) because a lot of them would be better off as freeform old-school shooters like Doom or Quake, or Rise of the Triad. Fortunately this makes a decent use of the linear nature of the game to toss a ton of enemies at you and offer some pretty cool platforming. That's not to say that it wouldn't have been better-off as a Dynasty Warriors style hack-and-slash, it certainly would have been.
But as it is, it functions well, and I like it. The combat is pretty awesome, and the game is pretty well-paced in terms of both action, and story.
With that part of the review out of the way, it's time to talk about Sega's terrible method of approaching online multiplayer.
Just like in Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors, rather than online multiplayer, Sega gave us online leaderboards, which nobody in their right mind should care about. Plus, they also gave us online challenge modes.
And they implemented it horribly. Rather than having a specific section of the game where it connects to Nintendo's servers, they wound up making you connect to the server every time you select a new challenge, and with the combination of my below-average internet speed, plus how slow the Nintendo Network seems to be on even the best of connections, that's way too much waiting to connect to the server, then to play the challenge, and then to submit your score, and then to disconnect from the server.
Plus, you're not actually playing against anyone. You're essentially playing a single-player mission where your score gets submitted to the leaderboards after you get done, and Sega could do that without making their players sit through a ton of loading-screens.
Not that leaderboards even matter. The fact that Unleashed and Colors had leaderboards too was just a massive middle-finger to anyone who wanted to transfer their save-files to another system. They were purely token online components added for the sake of letting Sega slap the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo on the box.
The funny thing is that this game actually has real multiplayer. It's just local. And not to rag on local multiplayer, it's just weird that Sega wouldn't use the actual multiplayer elements of the game in the online-mode. Sonic Colors had this issue too, where you had "real" multiplayer that didn't carry over to the token online leaderboards.
Here's the thing, Sonic The Hedgehog doesn't need leaderboards.
Unfortunately, when I was still playing games at the library, I didn't know Sonic And The Black Knight had any multiplayer. I just wanted to play as much of the single-player game as I could before I had to go home. And even then, the multiplayer game of choice was Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And considering how much vandalism went on regarding save-data at the library, plus the fact that I couldn't back up my save-files, I'd pretty much given up on playing the campaign through until I got my own Wii.
And even then, when I did get my Wii I didn't have any extra controllers, and all of my friends had either moved away or had fallings out over stupid stuff, so I didn't have any opportunity to play the local multiplayer either.
But, looking up videos on YouTube, I've been able to find out that it's a 3D arena brawler with about ten different modes, and seven different venues for battle (Which are all cosmetic since it's essentially just a square ring with all of them). And there are twelve playable characters, although in reality, there are only eight. In the order they're listed in on the roster you've got Sonic, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Lady Percival, The Blacksmith, Amy Rose (No, not Nimue), Silver The Hedgehog as Sir Galahad (Which helped contribute to the fan-theory that Silver is Shadow's son, in addition to his and Shadow's parallels to Future Trunks and Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z respectively) and finally, the only non-reskin character is King Arthur himself.
The other four characters are Shadow, Blaze and Knuckles. Apparently they don't play any different from Lancelot, Percival, and Gawain. I wouldn't know, because I've never played the multiplayer. The final reskin is Sir Lamorak, who's main-series counterpart is Jet The Hawk, making his only playable appearance outside of the Riders games and the Sonic And Mario series. Lamorak plays like Gawain for some reason.
Considering they don't have any offline challenge modes, and no race-modes, I'd say that the multiplayer they've offered isn't all that great just to look at. It doesn't look like too much fun, especially compared to better multiplayer party-fighters like Super Smash Bros. And that's especially true considering this game doesn't have computer-controlled fighters in the multiplayer mode. It would have been better to see the characters that appeared in the multiplayer of this game in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
All in all, I don't think Sonic needs a multiplayer mode. Especially not in this games engine. In Brawl? Sure. Not this. There's not enough characters, and everything I've seen about the multiplayer says that it gets old fast.
Now, it's time to start talking about the plot that I like so much. As you could probably tell by the marketing, and the box, not to mention the opening of the game, it's set in the Arthurian mythos. With characters who appear to be members of the Sonic The Hedgehog cast taking the roles of several Knights of the Round Table.
Like I said when I was discussing the bizarre addition of multiplayer, we've got Knuckles The Echidna as Gawain, Blaze The Cat as Percival, and Shadow The Hedgehog as Lancelot. Silver and Jet's characters don't appear in the main-game. Apparently there were intentions to include them in the story-mode, but they got cut from the lineup during development. I haven't been able to find any explanation as to why, but I'd say that was a pretty good idea, since there doesn't seem to be much room in the plot for Galahad and Lamorak.
Speaking of which, I should probably start talking about the story, considering I said it was what I really liked about the game. Spoiler warnings inbound, so if you want to take my word for it that this game has a great story, go buy a copy of the game and play it, then come back in about three hours once you're finished.
I said it had a great story, I didn't say it was very long.
Now, you could probably be able to tell from the fact that King Arthur is in this game, and the fact that a lot of the characters share their names with Knights of The Round Table that this story is set in the Arthurian mythos, which is one of my favorite literary settings. Except that it's not set at the beginning like most stories are, it's actually set long after Arthur should have died.
How is this possible? Well, apparently some evil spirit possessed the scabbard of Excalibur, giving him more physical power, and allowing him to bend the world to his will. Arthur has survived what would have been his final-battle, and saved the lives of several of his friends who serve with him as the Knights of the Round Table.
But that all happens before the game starts, and you find all of this out later. The actual game starts about forty, to fifty years after these events. Long after the death/disappearance Merlin Emrys, and the birth of his granddaughter, rather (un)creatively named Merlina
For all we know, the entire cast could be second or third generation, and this is supported at least partially by the fact that Percival is female, rather than male. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense if this is the original generation, since they have plenty of male characters Sega could use in her place, plus the fact that they could have called her something else if they just wanted a female knight. There are enough minor characters in the Arthurian mythos that they could have probably either found a female Knight of the Round Table for her to be, or just called her Jéane in reference to Joan of Arc and been done with it. Not to say that the whole story would be ruined by a female Percival, I think that if they'd decided to flesh out the story a little more with a prequel game or something, it would have been very interesting. As it is though, Blaze is really fun to fight, and to play as.
And personally, I prefer to think of these characters as the originals, since it lends some credibility to their motivation behind the actions they take in the name of their old friend, Arthur. In this world, Arthur has led them through thick and thin, saved their lives and the whole world time and again over the decades. Their loyalty makes perfect sense in that context since they probably figure Arthur has a good reason for his actions, and they should do what he says.
Anyways, in the beginning of the game, Sonic is summoned by Merlina to Camelot to do battle with the corrupted King Arthur.
This game marks the first appearance of chilidogs in a Sonic game. They've been featured in the comics and the TV series, but never in the main-series until now. Not really important, just something I figured I should mention.
Anyways, Sonic shocks and awes enough for him and Merlina to get away from Arthur and his minions, but not before Arthur manages to summon three of his elite Knights of the Round Table; Gawain, Lancelot and Percival. Despite questioning his intentions, they agree to find Sonic and Merlina and kill them.
Merlina gives Sonic a metal gauntlet, and sends him to find one of the legendary swords of the land, Caliburn, which has been stuck in a stone hill for a few decades. Caliburn is a talking-sword voiced by Casey Robertson, and he adds a lot of personality to this game. His interactions with Sonic are some of the best moments in this game, and their arc is great. Caliburn and Sonic go from being contemptuous companions at best to just plain not getting along at worst in the beginning, to brothers-in-arms at the end.
Caliburn is a cool character, and I like him. He also serves as the primary weapon in this game and Sonic is never separated from him throughout the entire game, so it would have been very bad for the game if I didn't like Caliburn.
But, Caliburn's blade has dulled from decades stuck in stone, so Sonic takes the sword into town, where he meets with the blacksmith, who looks like Tails. Sonic is somewhat puzzled by this, naturally. This is another universe. More specifically, one he actually knows, and seeing his best friend in a universe that's almost exclusively populated by humans and weird tree-people is pretty weird. The blacksmith is also the character who you go to when you want to upgrade your weapons and skills.
After confronting Arthur, and failing to fell the corrupted king, Sonic finds out that a mysterious power has emerged from the immortality-granting scabbard of Excalibur and possessed the commander of the Round Table.
So, to figure out how to beat Arthur, Sonic goes to the lake from which Excalibur was forged and meets with Nimue, the Lady of the Lake. She looks like Amy Rose, and Sonic is rather visibly taken aback by this fact. Fortunately, Nimue doesn't share her personality with Amy Rose.
On the way to the lake, Sonic runs into his longtime friend and sometimes rival, Shadow. Actually it's Lancelot, Knight of the Lake, who just happens to look like Shadow. Lancelot is a great boss to fight against, and his attitude is different from Shadow's cool, dark personality. Lancelot's grim determination seems to come more from his world-weary attitude than his lack of personal memory, or the tragic death of his sister and subsequent abuse by every single evil thing on the face of planet earth. And given what Lancelot has been through in the Arthurian mythos, what with all the bloody battles, the deaths of his friends, and his heartbreaking relationship with his friend's wife, Guinevere which led to an almost disastrous falling-out with Arthur. Shadow is a pretty good fit for Lancelot I feel. Especially since he's voiced by Jason Griffith, who also does the voice of Sonic in this game.
Anyways, Sonic defeats Shadow, and takes his sword, Galatine, and proceeds to the lake to talk to Nimue.
So, Nimue tells Sonic that he needs to complete three tests before he proves himself worthy. As you do in fantasy settings.
So, Sonic completes those tests with ease, since he's the fastest thing alive, and is on his way to report to Nimue when a small child tells him that her entire village has been abducted by a dragon (Which appears to be somewhat similar to the Biolizard from Sonic Adventure 2) and Sonic decides that hey, he's the fastest thing alive, and he can make it back to the lake in time. He's also a hero, so it's kind of in his job description to take on challenges like this. So he runs off to the lair of the dragon, and on the way encounters Gawain, Knight of the Sun, this universe's counterpart to Knuckles The Echidna.
Gawain wields a pair of swords named Galatine, and fights Sonic. I'll give him this Gawain is smarter than Knuckles by quite a wide margin. He's following Arthur's orders out of loyalty, not idiocy. Although one could make a decent argument that in the wrong circumstances, those two are the same thing.
Gawain is the nephew of Arthur, and one of the most courageous knights of the round-table. Honestly, I don't think Knuckles quite fits as his counterpart. Knux is just too gullible and hardheaded to make a decent counterpart to Gawain. But, I don't think his portrayal is entirely inconsistent with what I've read of Arthurian mythos. Granted, he's a little bit overdramatic, and I can't exactly see Knuckles as a great healer and ladies-man, but I like it. It could be better, and it doesn't inspire the imagination the way Lancelot's or Percival's history does. Then again, Knuckles has always been the character the plot abuses whenever it needs token conflict, and he's never been as well-developed as Shadow, or Sonic, or Tails, or really almost anyone. Maybe if he'd been treated slightly better I'd have more to say about his relationship to the character of Gawain. Or maybe if I knew more about Gawain. But as it is, I don't think there's anything wrong with Knuckles as Gawain.
The problem however comes from the boss-battle. Gawain isn't quite as fun to fight as Lancelot was, mainly because of his brutal brawling style as opposed to Lancelot's quicker, more interesting style.
Naturally, since Knuckles doesn't have the best track record in his fights against Sonic, Gawain loses the fight and, in a rather dark turn, attempts to commit suicide. Sonic stops him by taking his sword (Really it should be sword[s] plural, since he's never seen without two except in storybook cutscenes), tells him to man-up and fight for what he thinks is right and dashes off to the lair of the dragon. Sonic promptly beats up the dragon and frees the townsfolk, like he does. Because he's Sonic The Hedgehog, and that's what he does.
With that done, Sonic finds out that Nimue was disguising herself as a villager as a final test to prove that he wasn't just trying to kill Arthur for the kingdom. He passed with flying colors, and Nimue tells him how to negate the immortality-bestowing power of the scabbard of Excalibur. You must collect four of the lands sacred swords, plant three of them in the ground around the wielder, and then deal the killing blow with the fourth.
Since Sonic has been doing what a smart character in a fantasy-setting does, and has been stealing equipment from every single enemy he defeats, including bosses.
So, all he needs to do is get one more sword and he can take the fight right to Arthur in Faraway Avalon.
And since The Knights of the Round Table are on his tail, he doesn't have to wait long, since he runs into Lady Percival of Galles, Knight of the Grail, and counterpart of Blaze The Cat (Who's not even from the same universe as any of the other characters in the game. Then again, neither is Silver The Hedgehog, but whatever) pretty quickly afterwards.
And the Percival fight is great. The sheer power she seems to bring to the table is almost tangible. You can practically taste her sheer sparking anger when you fight her.
And the thought of Percival, who was a teenaged noble boy in the original stories raised in the woods by his mother until he met a group of heroic, selfless defenders, and then set out on a quest to meet King Arthur, in an attempt to join the elite Knights of the Round Table. And when you make that a girl setting out to become one of the worlds greatest heroes, going on a quest to find a magic dish (Not a cup. A grail is a serving dish) which can heal a crippled, kind old man that she met on her quest to rise above and beyond all expectations, I think there's a really good story in all of that.
So Sonic and Percival do battle, wind against fire, speed versus power. And it just rocks.
Percival puts up a great showing, but Sonic is faster, and he beats her. Percival is easily the most uneasy of the three Knights of the Round Table Arthur sent after Sonic, and there's a reason why I said she seems like the most powerful of all three Knights. She's the one who seems the most likely to utterly demolish her opponents. Not just kill them, completely destroy. She seems like the type to not leave a single survivor in her wake if she was set on a journey against evil. And as such, this defeat shakes her up a bit. She's ready to keep fighting, even beyond her limits, but since they're fighting in what appears to be an active volcano, the ledges are a little fragile, and she falls off the edge.
But Sonic, being a world-class hero of the ages, saves Percival. And that act proves his purity of spirit to Caliburn and Percival alike.
So, with four sacred swords in his possession, and the faith of the kingdom behind him, the newly dubbed "Knight of the Wind" runs off to Faraway Avalon to confront Arthur.
It might just be the fact that I've pretty much memorized how to beat Arthur, but I don't really think the Black Knight fight was that great a boss-battle. It's kind of hard to explain, but I think that it's a little lacking, especially compared to... What follows.
See, after you figure out the method to beat Arthur, it's pretty easy to take him down. But! That's not to say that a first-time player wouldn't enjoy it. And the first time I played this game, it was a pretty cool fight. And it's challenging if you're a newbie.
After you beat Arthur, the credits roll.
But this isn't the end of the game! Not close. We're only about halfway through the story!
If you'll remember Sonic Adventure, that game had a total of six false endings, where they rolled the same credits every time. Fortunately, this game only has one false ending.
See why I told you guys to play the game first? That was a huge surprise to me when I first played the game. And what follows? That's even better.
After Sonic killed Arthur, the king's body, armor and all dissolved into the same black mist that his soldiers became after their deaths. Sonic takes the scabbard of Excalibur and leaves to present it to Merlina. The Knights of the Round Table corner Merlina, but Sonic hops between them and Merlina. When Gawain asks where the kind is, Sonic mentions Arthur vanished in a cloud of black smoke, before Merlina takes the scabbard and, making a rather cryptic statement about eternity, plants the scabbard in the earth, destroying Faraway Avalon.
You see, Arthur was a real person, yes. But he was one created by Merlin, to serve as the guardian of Camelot. And even though Arthur was able to stave off his own mortality and the fall of his kingdom for a few decades longer than he should have, there was still a prophecy that he and Camelot alike would fall. And Merlina wished to use the scabbard of Excalibur to create a kingdom which would not end. But along that path, she stood a good chance of destroying the very world.
Sonic leads the Knights of the Round Table out of the crumbling island to safety, where they stand in shock at what Merlina is doing to the kingdom. All but beaten and broken, the Knights of the Round Table know not what they should do.
But that's where Sonic steps in, and reminds them that there's more to who they are than serving the king.
Nimue appears, and tells them that if they act fast, they can use their swords to form a barrier around the castle Merlina built from the ruins of Faraway Avalon. So Sonic gives Lancelot, Gawain and Percival back their swords, and they swear to protect the kingdom, and its people.
Percival questions Sonic's plan after they seal off the castle, and he tells her that he's gonna hop in and take down Merlina.
So Sonic, and the three knights travel to the far reaches of the land, finding the barrier-stones that will stem the flow of dark power, and planting their swords in them. But, the power of Merlina and that of the scabbard overwhelms the mighty barrier.
But without a loss of heart or pace, Sonic jumps into the fray, sword in hand. Beating his way into the dark castle, Sonic fights until he reaches Merlina's chamber, where she reveals that even the temporary respite that the kingdom has been given must come to an end. The knights, the Round Table, Camelot. All of it will eventually fall in the same way it did before, even with the best efforts of those noble hearts supporting it. And Merlina wishes to keep the kingdom from falling, to preserve the ideal world her grandfather helped create for all eternity. A world that can never end. It might be a noble effort, but a world that can never end is a world without new beginnings, and Sonic knows that. And that's why he fights. For the sake of those new beginnings. For with sadness, eventually comes happiness. For with death, there is life. For with the forgetting of the old, there is always the new. And without that new beauty, there's nothing worth living for.
He fights, and he fights, but to no avail against Merlina's power.
Finally, she launches an attack while his guard is down, which Caliburn blocks. But, the mighty sword is cleaved in two by the power of the dark queen.
By now, Sonic and Caliburn have become good friends, and this pushes Sonic even to go even further. Again, and again. And though he keeps being pushed back. Beaten by a power greater than himself, he does not give up.
Sound of heart and form, despite being beaten almost to death by Merlina, and being told to flee the battle by the Knights of the Round, he stands up. Clasps his sword in his hands. And with that, his theme-song starts up. If you haven't listened to it, look up "It Doesn't Matter" on YouTube. It's worth a listen.
The glowing light of the sacred swords blazes, and the knights toss them into Nimue's portal.
From the light of the swords springs golden armor, and Caliburn's blade ignites in a blaze of yellow light, becoming the greatest of all swords, Excalibur.
For those of you who aren't as huge nerds as I am, Caliburn is an alternate name for Excalibur in some stories. I'm sure this twist was incredibly obvious to some of you, but it's still awesome to me.
So Sonic becomes Excalibur Sonic, and he does battle with Merlina. And boy, oh boy is this one hell of a final boss. It's difficult, it's intense, and above all, it's epic. Throughout the last four years, that battle has stuck with me, like the Demise fight at the end of Skyward Sword, or the Sniper Wolf battle in Metal Gear Solid, or Perfect Chaos from Sonic Adventure.
Just leave it to Sonic games to have some of the best final-bosses in gaming, eh?
And to top it all off, Sonic and Merlina have some great dialogue in their fight. Not to mention that the backing track to the battle is just awesome. It's called With Me, and it's composed and written by Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioelli from Crush 40, as well as partially performed by them (Senoue provides rhythm guitar and Gioelli provides backing vocals) and features alt-metal Swedish band, All Ends performers Emma Gelotte and Tinna Karlsdotter on vocals, with former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman on the lead guitar.
So I suppose you could call this a Crush 40, All Ends and Megadeth collaboration if you really wanted to. I'm not sure what else to call it, other then a damn fine song. But, we'll get to the awesome soundtrack after we're done with the plot.
After Sonic defeats Merlina, he tells her that he knows how sad it is that everything has its end, but not to despair in that thought, but to live life to its fullest.
After that, Caliburn reveals that Sonic is the once, and future king.
The game ends with one of my all-time favorite songs, Live Life by Crush 40. It's an absolutely beautiful song, and it's the perfect way to end a game like this.
So, I promised to talk about the music, so here we go.
This is one of my favorite gaming soundtracks. It's got so many good songs on it, from the main theme-song of Knight of the Wind, to backing songs like Fight the Knight, Through the Fire, to even the smallest pieces of music, there's not a single part of this soundtrack that isn't perfect. If you can pick up the soundtrack CDs, Face to Faith and Tales of Knighthood, I highly recommend them. Longtime series composer, and one of the greatest guitarists of all-time, Jun Senoue, returned to work on this games soundtrack, mixing his brand of up-beat progressive rock with Celtic styles, and that's essentially the perfect way to make me like a soundtrack. Jun also performs a few songs on the soundtrack with his band, Crush 40.
I'd just like to mention that Crush 40 is one of my favorite groups, and I wish they'd have some kind of mainstream success, but for now I'm happy listening to their music on my MP3 player, I don't need to hear it on the radio. Unfortunately, Sega has been stepping away from the progressive rock and roll that made me love Sonic soundtracks in favor of a more techno-driven soundtrack, which, while it's not terrible, isn't the direction they need to be stepping. One of the main reasons I like Sonic games is because of the great music, and there's not a whole lot of techno and EDM that I really like.
Now that I've finished gushing over the awesome soundtrack, I'm going to take a step back and admit that yes, I've got a somewhat romanticized view of the game in my head. I know this. I knew this when I was writing the review, and I know this game isn't entirely perfect. There are a few times where they should have sent the actors back into the recording booth for another take on the lines, and when I was first playing Black Knight there were plenty of times when the controls got in my way. This really is the kind of game that would have benefited from GameCube controller support.
And while the multiplayer is terrible, and the online rankings suck, those don't take away from the quality of the game as a whole, as a tale of epic proportions, of heroes that refuse to back down from a challenge.
So that's why my final rating for this game is a 10.1*
Yes, I know a lot of people who don't like Black Knight. I don't know what's wrong with them, but I tolerate it because they're my friends, and friends are willing to accept each others flaws.
And I know the general reception was average, but I really liked this game when I first played it, and looking back on it now, I still do. Hell, that's why I spent all of Sunday evening and almost four hours into Monday morning writing about it.
So, if you haven't played Sonic And The Black Knight, go check it out. Copies of the game are fairly cheap, and pretty much everyone in the world owns at least two Wii's, so it shouldn't be too hard to pick up a copy and play it. Unfortunately, I've never actually owned a copy. I just borrowed it from the library a whole bunch. It's one of those games I really feel like I should own, but haven't gotten around to picking up. Like Goldeneye, or Arkham Asylum.
Eh. I'll hopefully see you guys with an article that's actually released on-time!

Sonic and The Black Knight cover from