Oh, Sonic. Our dear, dear Sonic. How you like to give with one hand and take away with the other. For every moment you have us grinning with joy, you give us another that makes us swear in frustration. For every slick slice of platforming pie you serve us, you dollop a sizeable portion of sloppy control on top of it. For every classy move you make, you make another which makes us cringe in despair. One of these days we're not going to take any more of your cruel games, Sonic. We're human beings; you can't play with our dreams this way.
Your latest game is a prime example of this. When Sega announced Sonic And The Black Knight some people were a bit wary. After all, you've tried to win us over with different gimmicks and tricks in the past. Remember when you tried to show us you had a rugged, manly side by turning into a werehog? That backfired a bit though, didn't it? All you did was annoy us and make us long for simpler times. So when it emerged that Sonic And The Black Knight would see you wielding a talking sword, we were more than a little concerned.
To be fair, we don't have a problem with your sword as a character. His voice acting is decent and he's not as annoying as other sidekicks you've had in the past, like Chip in Sonic Unleashed or the wretched Shahra the Genie in Sonic And The Secret Rings. It's what you do with the sword that frustrates us so, Sonic. Simply put, you're rubbish with it.
We liked it better when you used to simply jump and perform homing attacks on enemies. You're all about speed and that let you continue at a lightning pace. It looked great and kept things moving. But now you make us randomly swing the Remote every time we get near an enemy and more often than not this goes wrong. Either the timing's off because of the speed you're running at and you miss the enemy - which usually results in you taking a hit and stopping us dead in our tracks - or you kill them and then end up facing another enemy or three directly behind them. And when you're running fast Sonic (which, let's face it, you do a lot), you just can't swing your sword quick enough to hit the next enemy as well.
It's frustrating, Sonic. Almost everything else about your game is a huge improvement over its spiritual predecessor, Sonic And The Secret Rings. You let us control you with the analogue stick now, which is so much better than tilting you with the Remote. You've done away with the annoying Skill Ring system, instead simply giving us a couple of inventory slots that we can use to equip items we find throughout the game. You've made your game look even better than Sonic And The Secret Rings did, with lush landscapes and great lighting effects all running at an incredibly fast, smooth speed.
And the soundtrack's typical to other Sonic games, so anyone who enjoyed the music in your recent games will love what's on offer here too.
The problem is, Sonic, we don't know who you're trying to appeal to with this game. You've got some nice little nods to previous Sonic games (when you meet Tails and Knuckles you hear 'ye olde' versions of their theme songs from Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast), yet at the same time the story is clearly aimed at younger gamers. And despite the fact that those younger gamers will love the cut-scenes (while older Sonic fans will cringe at them), they'll then get frustrated by the clunky sword controls and the likelihood that they'll die many times over before they can level you up to a point where you can actually fight in a half-decent manner. That's not to say your game isn't enjoyable. There are times when it's great fun to zip through the landscapes while rock music pumps in the background and scenery flashes by at hundreds of miles an hour. It's just that sword. It's almost as if it's been put in there to make things interesting. All you needed to do was give us something like Sonic And The Secret Rings with a control system that used the Nunchuk instead of tilting the Remote and we'd have been delighted. As it is we just get annoyed now every time we see an enemy because we know the action's about to break down again.
You don't need a fancy sword to make us love you, Sonic. You try too hard to impress us when it's the simple things that win our hearts. All we want to do is run fast and jump high, like we did in the good old days. But you keep making things complicated, and it tests our relationship. We still love you, but sometimes you can be really annoying.