Following E3, tons of new information regarding Sonic Boom was released in all areas of this franchise launch, with that in mind, we here at TSS decided to share our thoughts on what got shown.
Hogfather – Boom Wii U: (Primarilly based on the E3 B-Roll video). Now… it hasn’t gone unnoticed by a lot of people that if anyone has a negative criticism of the game, regardless as to how well justified it is, they’re then subject to a barrage of “Well you shouldn’t” or “Well it’s just early” or in some laughable cases “You call yourself a fan!?” So let me deal with a few of these as I go on.
“You shouldn’t judge a game at this early stage.” Why not? This is a product, Sega want people to buy. They want people to pre-order the product, if the product put out does not look very good, give me one reason why anyone should stay silent on problems with it? You put out something which people don’t consider to be up to scratch… you can bet people will respond to it.
So with that out of the way let’s talk about the problems it has right now.
“This isn’t like other Sonic games! It’s different! You should expect a different type of game” NO!? Really!? You mean when they announced that this would focus on combat and co-op, it was actually going to focus on combat and co-op!? This excuse is really wearing thin, and it’s not an excuse, it’s desperation, take out the characters, slap in random new IP’s in place of Sonic, you still have lifeless speed sections with no enemies, traps or anything inspiring other than boosters and jump pads followed by automated sections everywhere. Gone are the homing attack chains, now we have ener-beam swing, so once again we’ll get homing attack esq segments of gameplay. You still have button mashing fight sequences confined to arenas which open up once all enemies are defeating, combat so far has shown nothing interesting other than hammer the button an point the stick in said direction.
This was becoming a tiresome trend in the middle of the last gen, now, we should expect more and be demanding more from games which have a form of combat within them.
Here is how every boss fight shown currently works. Use the beam to grab something, throw it at the boss. Then use a finish move. I’m playing as Sonic why am I not using a spin attack to weaken the boss? Oh wait not normal Sonic game. All right switch to Knuckles punch that boss to weaken, oh wait, not a normal… Amy! She has a hammer go on smack that… oh wait… Tails! Use your… beam to throw a robot/missile/object at Eggman/Giant drill thing/other boss… you see the problem? Why should I get excited when the boss fights we’ve seen are all dealt with in the same manner?
Dialogue is great, but it needs toning down, every 5 seconds someone feels the need to say something. Go play Puppeteer on the PS3 and see how long you can cope before you are rolling your eyes at the sun fairy who constantly comments on your actions and you’ll see how quickly it becomes annoying.
With regards to the ‘new footage’ which shows textures and lighting effects in place, and I agree, this makes the game ‘look’ a lot better. You certainly can’t dismiss it as ‘looking’ like a PS2 game when it ‘looks’ fine.
However, there is a problem with this footage, it’s from the same build, or at least it’s from a very similar build, you can tell by several elements within it. This means that all what Big Red Button did was the following… ‘they change the value of the effects within the code from 0 to 1.’ Do not be under some illusions that this game will somehow undergo a transformation in the next 3 months, this is what we’re getting, and based on what’s been shown so far, it feels like it was designed as every stereotype movie license game.
Finally… there is this….
“Call yourself a fan!?” Grow up. Fans are not nor should they be mindless drones who must support every product or decision made by the owners of the IP. This mindset is degrading to your non argument and a pathetic attempt to try and hide or re-direct criticism. You should not instantly rush out and buy or support anything just because you are a fan of something, you are free to criticise something so long as there is grounds to support what you are saying, just as you would if you wish to praise something. Otherwise, we can apply that criticism to the movie. Since the majority don’t like the sound of a live action Sonic movie made by the people who brought you The Smurfs 2!? But who knows it’s early and it’s not like any other Sonic game so… oh… Yeah exactly, doesn’t exactly work when it’s something you’re not looking forward to does it?
TlDr: I like the character designs, I like the idea behind what Boom is (to a point), and I like the world that they’re trying to create… however, it all comes down to gameplay. Boom looks like it’s a painfully average game. If stuff comes out between now and release date which really shows it off, or if Sega wants to send me a preview copy and it’s amazing, I will gladly change my stance on it. But right now, based on that disastrous E3 B-Roll footage and the fact the gameplay looks so generic and dull, just looks painfully average, and this angers me, because I really wanted to like it.
Boom 3DS: Looks great, full of action, lots of variety in the gameplay modes, looks far more engaging than the Wii U version. Would like to see a lot more from it, we’ve seen how the different characters can be used in each stage, really want to see more of the game.
Cartoon: Main attraction for me. Looks absolutely fantastic, verbal and visual humour, the animation actually looks really good for a TV Show. Roll on Winter season so we can see more of it.
Brad – I wanna start off this with saying that unlike the majority (and completely shockingly for me personally), I think Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is still looking like it’s going to a be an enjoyable, completely new take on the franchise. I went into Boom expecting a completely different gameplay experience, and that expectation is true. A mix of puzzle solving, platforming and combat are all key elements to RoL, and especially the latter has surprised me with how fast paced and enjoyable it looks. What I fear most is that RoL is trying so hard to depart from the conventions of Sonic they’re afraid to dip into his identity – springs lack their signature star design and are instead replaced with boring, glowing blue circles without even a hint of the classic noise there. Jumping has no classic sound to it, and the spin dash lacks its famous rev. These little touches would just add a little injection of Sonic identity into RoL which I think it could really use, since the character dynamic and dialogue is all on point. Even if it’s sounding a tad repetitive at times.
And I share the unpopular opinion on Shattered Crystal. I think the game looks dreadfully boring. Absolutely nothing about the title stands out for me. It feels like it’s poorly imitating the classic games while trying to inject the floaty, boosty ideals of the Rush games. The visuals are nothing special and while the focus on exploration may be nice, there’s no sense of challenge in the platforming footage I’ve seen and the speed is nothing like Sonic Rush or the classic titles. Also, Amy being a damsel in distress? After Rise of Lyric so brilliantly defines her as a confident new woman who don’t need no Sonic? It’s a little frustrating to say the least. I have no interest in picking up this version in the slightest.
The TV show stands as a highlight amongst all three however. Though we haven’t seen much footage yet, I can already see the top notch production values there. Character models are spot on and the animation is stellar and smooth, almost like actual top quality CG cutscenes from the Sonic games themselves. The characters, like in RoL, seem to be written perfectly in line with their characters, and the humour genuinely made me chuckle at times. We can’t really get a real grasp of the plots themselves being interesting or not (though we know each episode is stand alone) but it’s looking like a fun, uplifting romp. This is the one I really have my eye on and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Doctor MK – It’s been a few months now since Sonic Boom’s initial reveal and, while the uproar over the new character designs has significantly quietened down, this new branch of the franchise still remains a controversial one – and E3 only really added to that notion.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U is a game that I simply cannot decide how I feel about. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that we’re going to be seeing a return to a more story-driven Sonic title after the wafer-thin plots of Colours, Generations and Lost World, and the characterization on show for the main cast is far beyond what we’ve seen from Sonic Team’s efforts in recent years. Plus, the talented voice cast working on the series at the moment finally get a real chance to shine with plenty of dialogue and some genuinely well-written lines – however, it’s something that will need to be handled with care. In just the couple of levels shown in the E3 demo alone, voice clips were heavily repeated and recycled – hearing the same old grunts and “nice kill, Sonic!” every few seconds over the span of the entire game could grow tiresome, no doubt about it. But it’s the gameplay that is arguably holding Rise of Lyric back the most. Speed has been thrown out of the window (aside from in specific, often automated sections of levels) in favour of exploration and combat, making this a mish-mash of the Sonic we know and love and something not unlike Sonic Unleashed’s Werehog stages, all at the same time. It has potential and I’m by no means writing it off yet, but I need to see more before I can truly get on board with it.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for 3DS, on the other hand, looks more initially promising on face value. The characters are still slower and the focus still remains on exploration, but the level design is much more familiar to what we’re used to from a traditional Sonic game, and that ultimately might be the deal-breaker for many fans. Again, it’s difficult to form a solid opinion on it just yet, but it’s one to watch for now at least.
And finally, the cartoon. Unless the games seriously impress upon release, I’m certain that Sonic Boom’s TV series will unanimously be the best part of this new approach to Sonic. The animation is smooth, the voice cast are in full force, and there’s some brilliantly memorable scripting (even if it is somewhat random at times!). So all in all then, Sonic Boom as a whole is shaping up to be interesting, that’s for sure – it just appears to be a question of how far you’re willing to accept “this is not a normal Sonic title” if you are to get the most out of the tie-in games.
Jason the Jackass – As one of the few on staff who has played both games, I can honestly say that the Wii U version is not looking the best right now. Not like, Shadow or “06 bad, but I’d put it up there with Sonic Chronicles. A game with a pretty good story and easy to get through, but very bland gameplay in the middle. There were some fun spots such as traversing as Amy with her gymnastic moves and her Hammer that can clear away a ton of robots, but playing as Knuckles and pushing a mine cart around for a puzzle was tedious. But as Stephen Frost has stated before, these are small chunks of the game that don’t quite represent the overall product. Hopefully, before November, we can get a better idea of what the full game is like.
That said, there’s something about the 3DS version I really liked. Yeah , the traditional gameplay is so-so. Feeling closer to Sonic 4 than Sonic Rush and the speed isn’t super fast. However, I did like the exploration aspects and the extra levels were pretty fun, especially the rivals race. You’re gonna think I’m nuts, but the game has a bit of a “Sonic Colors” vibe to it what with the overhead map and returning to older levels with new characters who have different abilities. It almost makes the other cast feel like Wisps in a way. I mean, Knuckles is definitely like the Drill Wisp what with his burrowing. This is the most excited I’ve been for a Sonic 3DS game yet.
Nuckles87 – I think the new Sonic Boom franchise is looking decidedly average, which considering how awful Sonic games and cartoons can be, is almost something of a relief for me. The new trailer for the cartoon that they were playing ad museum at E3 actually looks cool, and I was digging the character centric humor it was hitting at. I will also confess that I couldn’t help but chuckle a little every time I heard Eggman talk about building a new, superior robot that will bring him “evil ham”. Maybe my sense of humor is just lousy? Either way, rather than taking a neutral attitude towards it I’m actually starting to look forward to it now.
As for the games, well, I wrote two whole previews for them at E3. You can find my impressions of the Wii U version here and my impressions of the 3DS version here. Long story short, I found Boom Wii U to be a decent Sonic themed brawler, free of many of the graphical issues the pre-E3 demo apparently had. I will admit, after being blown away by Lost World’s creative level design last year, Boom is disappointing in comparison, but where Lost World’s final game had high highs and low lows, maybe Boom Wii U will at least provide a more even experience. The 3DS version, on the other hand, seems to be a good game hampered by a poor interface.
For the games, I continue to take a wait and see approach. Will they be awful games? I really don’t think so. They probably won’t be great games, though. I think that, at the very least, they will probably both be decent. By the way, as a quick last minute plug, go check out my interview with Sonic Boom producer Stephen Frost over at SEGAbits.