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Previews

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Preview: Back in Mobius with the hedgehog

Think Sonic and animation and you'd be forgiven for dredging up those suppressed memories of the horrendous Sonic cartoon that once made weekend mornings a misery.

Watch Chronicles' animated intro and faith in anime Sonic is restored. Out mountain sprinting (natch), Sonic flies from a peak with the ferocity of a NASA launch, sending a hovering Robotnik into the stratosphere, before landing in his own logo.

Two dimension, or not two dimension?

Artistically, Chronicles sees a complete reinvention of Mobius. Sonic has always appealed more in 2D, and charming hand-drawn stills that accompany the dialogue only add to the case against 3D. Dare we say it, even Vector is palatable under BioWare's deft artistic touch.

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Further hands-on play reveals more treats. Each area - explored with stylus movement - now hides a number of Chaos eggs. Crack them open and the blue cherubs can be equipped as stat modifiers or placed in the Tamagotchi-like Chao garden.

Wi-Fi link with a mate and they can be swapped, seeing more hopeless explorers plead with thorough chums for swapsies.

Thoroughness is key to success. While hitting action icons propels Sonic on his way, pressing up on the d-pad swaps to other characters and lets you find icons Sonic can't activate.

For example, skimming the coast reveals several winged icons that allow Tails and Rouge to get to normally-out-of-reach islets, adding a real sense of exploration.

Shadow can use teleporters (talk of context-sensitive buttons to let him 'pop caps
in fools' is unfounded) and Knuckles can climb ladders. Just like an echidna does. Okay, so the skills may not make sense, but when so much does, who cares?

Chronicles is story-heavy, but what does it entail? Enlisted by GUN to find Knuckles (he's disappeared while on Chaos Emerald-protecting duties), your simple task gets more complicated as beings from an alternative dimension, the Zoah, come into play. The name of the robot race was decided in a recent fan poll, but little is known about them.

As for new characters? Fiddling with the item menus revealed that new character Shade will be playable, as will E-123 Omega, the clanking bot star of Sonic Heroes and Shadow The Hedgehog. You read it here first.

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