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Secret Rings vs Black Knight?


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Both of the Storybook games were some of my first Sonic games, and think both are pretty good games. Sure, nowadays, they get a lot of flak for not being your typical Sonic adventures, but I think there's a lot of fun gameplay mechanics and charming stories to go along with it. But if I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Black Knight. The controls are a lot easier to handle than Secret Rings and I like the sword gameplay a lot... I just wish it was more fine-tuned (especially when fighting bosses) and that the enemies were a little more varied, but I still like the story, looks great for a Wii game and has one of the best soundtracks in the series.

I still like Secret Rings, it also has a good story and setting, good looking game and an awesome soundtrack, but the controls were WAY too slippery and very on rails for my liking. I mean i got used to them after a while and once you master the controls, the game's a blast. 

I still play both these games time to time and both are still enjoyable experiences for me!

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Not a big fan of Secret Rings. I've mentioned it before but I do get motion sick from it. Yes I tend to get motion sick easily depending on the game (it tends to be a trend with me) but Secret Rings is the most consistent to the point thinking of it makes me feel kind of sick. My personal health aside I think its pretty lackluster compared to other Sonic games. Its too straight forward and I'd say it doesn't have good level design since its flat and don't have Sonic's trademark platforming. Also I really don't like the controls since there's a lot of waggle involved with the Homing Attack, which is usually Sonic's go to move for attacks. Granted this what I remember like a decade ago and I don't plan on revisiting it just for a post.

I do remember liking Black Knight though. Yeah its more further away than a traditional Sonic game than even Secret Rings but somehow it worked. Maybe because I always love swordfights but it just really clicked with me. I guess it has the last bits of Dreamcast era Sonic with being more experimental, having a relatively more mature storyline, and Sonic can't just win by speed alone. The swords did work fine in the game but like Secret Rings there's a bit of waggle (but not to its level where its annoying) and the stages are more flat but it might be me but it seems like BK's levels are more dynamic at least. Also being allowed to play as Shadow in any level was a plus for me. Yes this was me in the yesteryears but I digress. I just remember liking a lot.

But ehhh... I'm probably not the one who should be really posting here since I'm talking about my experiences for the series I had a looooooong time ago. My opinion would be pretty different if I played them now. Its nice to share things once in a while however so yeah.

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Secret Rings has quite possibly the worst controls of any Sonic game, beating Sonic 06 by a wide margin. It's got strong presentation on every level, but the gameplay is genuinely awful.

Black Knight had the oppotunity to transform that into a better game, and while it is much better, it's only by virtue of not being completely broken. It's a pretty bland game, and incredibly short to boot. Both of these games restrict your movement to the point that you can't even turn Sonic around. That is a new level of railroading. I don't hate Black Knight in general, but it's not really a great game.

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Secret Rings is personally my least favorite Sonic platformer of all time. (Only Free Riders beats it)

While I like the story, presentation, and the soundtrack I love to death... and even the party mode I have fun with, but the controls are downright terrible and breaks the experience. If you like it, good on ya. You must be a master of adaptability and I envy you.

It's not the on-rails controls themselves that are the issue, as the levels that are just making it to the goal are fun. Unfortunately, though those stages are just a minor chunk. The majority of the game is repetitive missions that require precise aiming and controls which just don't lend itself to the playstyle this game forces upon you.

It becomes tiresome, infuriating and not at all fun, and since this is a majority of your game, I can't say it's good.

Black Knight is an improvement on every level because of this.

That's basically my opinion on it.

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I never cared for them, firstly they were on a console i didnt want (I had no interest in the Wii and its motion controls) and secondly they were rather lazy in story setting.

Oh wow Aladdin and Sonic! Oh King Author! such originality

I deeply consider both non canon (even with the mention of the genie in Sonic generations) side games nothing more.

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They're mostly below average games, but I will say I enjoyed Secret Rings the first time I played it, back when motion controls were a novelty and putting Sonic on-rails was an innovative idea that was worth exploring regarding how to handle Sonic gameplay in 3D.

Black Knight meanwhile was a massive disappointment because it came after Unleashed rather than after 2006.  I was expecting it to run on Unleashed's engine and be somewhat free-roaming - I dunno how but the pre-release material did not make it obvious that it ran on the same game engine as Secret Rings and I was genuinely surprised by the fact when I played it for the first time.

The big difference for me that lends me more to the Secret Rings camp is that once you get the bad controls down, it is at least a platformer.  There is platforming in it.  Black Knight has barely anything, and plays more like a scrolling beat-em-up with little platforming moments sprinkled ungenerously throughout the experience.  The fact that some optional levels in Black Knight includes 2D sections after their positive response in Unleashed, yet keeps the "you can only run forward and walk backwards" movement mechanics intact is utterly insane design.  Final note: The Legacy missions were such a cocktease, I was so excited to play "normal Sonic" versions of all the levels, but all it is is running along the usual path but there's occasional spikes to jump over and a shitton of Egg Pawns that amount to nothing more "platforming" than just doing a bunch of homing attacks in a row.  I guess Black Knight was just ahead-of-it's-time coz that would be fairly accurate "normal Sonic gameplay" by Forces' standards...

I also felt very cheated by Black Knight because the pre-release material felt very misleading about it.  They mentioned lots of little things that SOUNDED like they were gameplay elements, but amounted to nothing.  It was implied that you could explore the levels, but it seems they meant this purely thematically, not in gameplay.  Sure SONIC is exploring, but you the player are on this set path, natch.  They mentioned how you could interact with NPCs to complete quests and the like, which turned out to be nothing more than those stupid ring-giving QTEs. They mentioned how instead of grinding on rails, you could use a crossbow to shoot out ropes to grind along.  This turned out to be nothing more than set-dressing and entirely automated with preset crossbows in Camelot Castle.

I'm also a big fan of Secret Rings' soundtrack due to it's heavy usage of in-gameplay vocals, I love that shit.  There's a nice spectrum of songs that feel like proper songs, songs that simply use more repetitive vocals as another instrument, and of course, just plain instrumentals.  Having said that, great soundtrack to listen to out-of-context, not so great in-context.  Vocal songs don't really work so well for the myriad of 30-second long missions on offer, and the game is without a doubt the worst usage of a main vocal theme in Sonic history.  The final boss, the stage select screen that comes before it, and the victory screen that come after all use the main theme and it causes said final boss theme to completely lose it's effectiveness.  Bizarre direction there.

Having said all of that, Black Knight is also one of my favourite Sonic soundtracks and really is only a small step down from Secret Rings as far as my personal taste goes.  It feels more "videogamey" because vocal songs are uniformly used as boss themes and credits themes only with no usage during other gameplay or scenes, but the music is all of a very high quality anyway.

Plot-wise, I'd definitely say Black Knight has the upper-hand - better characterisation, better humour, better animation, better voice acting, it's all there.  The only thing Secret Rings has up on it is that Erazor and Shahra's relationship was more interesting than Merlina's selfishness.  Both games were incredibly stupid in their arbitrary usage of fake end credits just out of sheer habit from the structure of the previous 3D games.  Secret Rings was stupid for literally having them RIGHT before the true final boss with only a few missions needed to access it (if you haven't done some of them in advance, I think the minimum is just 1 to get the Night Palace World Ring, but even that might be possible before fighting Erazor, I forget).  Black Knight was incredibly stupid for doing it after the main villian is defeated with no hint that there is anything more to come other than the fact that Sonic is still in King Arthur's world.  But considering the quality of Sonic writing, I was fully embracing the possibility that they really did end the game with such a shitty non-resolution as the credits rolled.

In terms of game structure, I think Black Knight was better for being more plot-driven - most of the weird little missions were optional, everything was plot-related.  In Secret Rings you sometimes would just be given a bunch of weird missions that have nothing to do with anything and you just have to play them all until you find out which one unlocks the next chunk of story.

One final thing is that I've always felt Secret Rings was a great looking game that still looks good today, but Black Knight was a little drab and undetailed in comparison.  I just feel like Black Knight didn't look as smooth or lovingly polished as Secret Rings' visuals, it's hard to put my finger on.

I think that covers all my major thoughts.  Baseline is that overall, if I could only take one to a desert island, it'd be Secret Rings because of the platforming... being in it.

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Gonna try to keep from repeating a lot of what JezMM said in regards to Black Knight but he summed it up pretty well. It'd be easy to assume Black Knight was the better game by default due to it's control scheme, but the few meaningful bits of level design in Secret Rings were stripped away for more corridors with enemies, so it's a bit of a give and take.

Black Knight also probably has the worst button layout for a Sonic game even if it's technically more reliable due to the lack of motion controls. I might be misremembering, but they somehow ended up putting the jump, the homing attack, and the stomp all on the same button. This explains why there's so few meaningful platform challenges. This is kind of ironic because with the charge jump mechanic gone they got partway to making platforming feel a little better. Waggling with the sword to slice through enemies never really feels satisfying even if its not quite the annoying pace-breaker that was jerking the wii remote to do Sonic's homing attack in the last game. The "buzzsaw" attack overpowers everything else in utility so there isn't a ton of depth to be found either way.

Both of the games have abilities but Black Knight plays it far looser. The most basic of quality of life mechanics are locked behind grinding in Secret Rings but Black Knight keeps the menu management light and gives you more abilities by default. It technically had less options but the options on offer in secret rings aren't really all that interesting to begin with. It's kind of cool to have a fully leveled up Sonic in Secret Rings since it breaks the game wide open, but it's not worth the time it takes to get there.

 Secret Rings has a meter mechanic in the form of Speed and Time break. Time Break is really clunky and doesn't have a ton of utility and Speed Break is just kind of a fast forward button. Neither are particularly fun to use. Black Knight comes forward with the "Soul Surge". Basically speed break but when you use it near enemies time will slow down and you'll get a little QTE to perform a 1 hit kill attack. It's a glorified rhythm minigame but kind of satisfying to use in comparison. 

I guess the only thing that's left with games like this to ask how the "ride" is. The story and aesthetics in these games are really interesting compared to most of the other games in the series and the OSTs for both games are really unique. It's a shame they aren't enough to carry the games but I can say I'm glad they exist for this side of them alone. I lean toward Black Knight for the story since I liked Sonic and Caliburn's banter, the extended cast is implemented better, and Merlina is a more interesting villain to me than Erazor. Secret Rings has what's probably the best character in either game Shahra and a really good idea in putting Sonic's life on the clock though. Secret Rings takes it for the soundtrack despite it's obnoxious main theme. There's some really incredible tracks on here and I like how they spice up the usual 2000s rock with Arabian instruments. 

I'm not crazy about either game and if I considered them part of the main series they'd probably be among the worst the series has to offer. Even the likes of Shadow The Hedgehog simply control better and have more interesting ideas in terms of level design and progression. If you had to twist my arm I I'd choose Black Knight but Secret Rings could have taken it with a few tweaks. 


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Oh-ho-ho, you poor thing.

But yeah, I've seen&heard horror stories about Secret Rings. Black Knight is clearly better in nearly every way. 

6 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Black Knight. I love Monty Python.

What, no love for Martin Lawrence?

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