Sonic Chronicles falls flat in every way possible.
Man, I don't even know where to begin with this game. I wasn't a huge fan of Sonic games growing up. I had a lot of fun with Sonic, but that was the jest of it. I don't quite get the Sonic universe or any of the wacky characters that's attached to Sonic nowadays. I can go as far back as Knuckles, but everything is over my head.
I'm also not a huge fan of Bioware either. I like some of their games, but they have design flaws, and are buggy as hell. I can enjoy aspects of Bioware games, but I never played one that truly blew me away.
With said, I gave Sonic Chronicles a fair shake. I went in expecting the best. The game had great graphics, and it looked like an engaging battle system. It seems they pooled all the best influences from some of the best Japanese RPGs. You have bits of Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy X, Mario & Luigi, and there's even some classic Bioware bits aswell.
However, even with great influences, doesn't mean they can make a great game. Sonic Chronicles is proof of that. This game almost fails at everything. The battle system was clunky and slow. The story and dialog was just awful. The characters barely had a personality, which is sad consider it has one of the biggest video game personalities EVER as the starring lead. The pacing is just TERRIBLE. I haven't played a game with worse pacing since Grandia 2.
Sonic Chronicles actually starts off promising. You'll find NPCs that need help, and you'll have fun exploring the world (read more at the world map section) and you'll have fun collecting random stuff and compelting puzzles. However, once you do a couple stages, then you've done them all. You'll see a pattern and it gets old quick.
That's the sad thing about Sonic Chronicles, it has a bunch of good ideas, they just didn't know how to implement them right.
Sonic Chronicles is a turn-based RPG. The turns go about by rounds, so you input your characters moves, then watch your team battle it out with the enemy. The character or enemy with the best speed goes first.
Some characters can have multiple turns per-round as well. I haven't quite figured out how that works (maybe the better the speed stat the more moves) but typically Sonic could dish out 3 or so turns, while the slower characters, like the Robot could only do 1.
When all your moves are set and you go into battle mode, you have to do Quick Time Events. Every freaking turn. This gets so old after a while, especially once you figure them out. There's only 3 types of Quick Time Events. Mashing the screen 8 times, swipe by following the button, or hit the button like Simon Says. All three are easy to do once you figure out when to do them.
It gets OLD really quick. It also means it's sloow too. This also means Sonic Chronicles is a Stylus only game too. Which is annoying in its own right. I like to zone out while playing an RPG, I don't want to pay attention to EVERY battle.
Anyways, besides that, they barely give you money in this game. The money in this game are rings, and you can only get rings by finding them on the map. Finding them on the map is easy but they don't replenish. So once you spend them, they're gone. You can sell loot to stores, but it's usually best to keep the loot (healing items, etc) and not even map has a store. So, with limited cash, there's also a limited selection of equipables. Which stinks.
Another thing about the battle system are the eggs you find on the maps. These eggs eventually hatch into little creatures, and you can equip these creatures to your party members. These creatures give you special abilities, such as regenerating health or more loot after battles.
The level system is similar to other Bioware games. You gain experience and level up, once you gain a level you can distribute a skill point towards a stat (or have it automated for you). You also gain 5 points towards buying special abilities aswell. Each ability has 3 levels (5 points, 10 points, 15 points). These abilities are unique to each character, and can be used in battles only. Some abilities can be combo'd with other characters while in battle, but they seemed useless. This combo system seems thrown in just so someone can make a loose Chrono Trigger comparison. It's nothing like Chrono Trigger.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Sonic and his band of castaways trying to find Emeralds or something. Who cares. The story is as dumb as you would expect. One thing I really hated about the story was how each character that joined your team and how they did it. Every character that joins your team always starts off as your enemy. Nearly all of them. It was so dumb.
The dialog didn't take itself to serious, so that's good. However, it was still stupid dialog most of the time. Most of it was self referential humor too. Most of it felt like bad Sonic fan fiction from Deviant Art.
I like the graphics a lot. The cutscenes are all over the place though, but I like both styles. One style of cutscene is the classic CGI pre-rended cutscene. There's plenty of them, and they're mostly used during the more action heavy scenes. Then there's the comic book style cutscenes. It's basically cutouts of Sonic characters giving reaction shots. The comic book stuff is more stylized but I enjoy both.
I love the background for the towns and dungeons. Everything looks like it was carefully drawn. The battle system was a little boring to look at though. Otherwise, the graphics were really awesome.
The music was good. There was nothing wrong about the music. It felt like a Sonic game. It wasn't nearly in your face like the Genesis or Sega CD games but it felt right.
However, I HATED the sound effects. Especially during the battle systems. Annoying bonks and clanking sounds just made me want to mute the sound. It's very annoying.
The one thing I really liked about Sonic Chronicles was the world map. It's nothing to original but I just liked exploring the world. The world is a basic connect the dots map, and within each area is a big map to play around on. It almost feels like a playground. The monsters are visible and usually easy to ignore, and there's a ton of secrets to find, eggs to collect, treasures to look out for, areas to explore. There's even platform sections.
One cool thing about this map is it rips off the Mario & Luigi games in a way. Each character has their special abilities which are used to get over obstacles. For example, Sonic has the power of speed, and he can run through those giant Loops (from the sidescroller Sonics), while Tails has the ability of flight and can jump large gaps.
This was cool at the beginning because when you got a new character, it meant you can find new areas, re-explore previous maps to find previously un-reachable goods. I felt really good doing this, even though the benefits were not worth it. I just love having the ability to backtrack and re-explore, especially when it unlocks new stuff. Zelda games do this all the time. It's a great feeling.
Then the game comes crashing down. The first half of the game is open and fun, while the last half is linear and forced. This is when I started to HATE this game. Exploring wasn't fun anymore if the revoke your ability to explore.
----------Time to Complete Game---------
Not terribly long, but I actually wish it were shorter. After you beat the game, then you can restart it with a New Game+.