Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
Now… I’m not saying that I’m responsible for Sega suddenly announcing that Sonic Boom Fire & Ice is delayed… despite it coming almost exactly a week after I asked ‘What is going on with Sonic Boom Fire & Ice’. I’m not saying I’m responsible, but… … … aliens!
Now then, I should be talking about based on this poll the language we use to talk about Sonic games, specifically, in that how we talk about them right now probably isn’t doing ourselves and favours. But more on that later.
Today what we’re going to talk about is Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice. Or specifically, one particular part of today’s news/reaction to it which is both puzzling to me, and in some cases making me a little annoyed. I touched on this in the last instalment of ‘The Spin’ that being this…
“It’s going to be way better than the first one”
So I asked ‘well… if it is that better, why have we not heard anything about it?’ today, we learn that the game has been delayed.
So what’s the problem? Well… quite a lot, but first, let’s get as much information out there.
What is Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice?
It’s a 3DS game which is a ‘sequel’ to Shattered Crystal, made by the same guys who made Shattered Crystal, which was also on the same platform, it’s pretty much a direct sequel to Shattered Crystal.
When was it Announced?
June 9th 2015.
When Did Development Start?
This is very difficult to say, given what was shown in the trailer, it must have been in development for a good few months, however given the ambitions for Boom, odds are it was in production either close to the end or immediately after Shattered Crystal/Rise of Lyric was released.
Talk Development to me…
Ok lets talk some development for a bit.
From a technical standpoint, Boom: Fire & Ice isn’t a ‘new’ game, not really, it’s going to be using a lot of the same assets from Shattered Crystal, those ring sound effects, they’ll be from SC, character models, might be some slight changes, but the majority will be from SC, various game code will also be used from SC, quite a lot for this game already exists, it just needs tweaking and some ‘tinkering’ done to it.
However there will obviously need to be some new development, but most of the main assets are already there.
Was an Oct/Nov 2015 release Date Unreasonable?
Hard to say but… probably not… Mmmmm it’s hard because we don’t know exactly when development started, nor do we know the full scale of the game, but… it’s probably not that unreasonable. Sanzaru Games are clearly talented enough to do it, they’ve clearly got the equipment and resources to do it. Soooo… what’s going on?
How long has The Game Been Delayed for?
We don’t know… currently, the game was due out if the fast food promotion (which is still live on their website) at some point around October-November which also ties in with some information we got during the initial announcement.
So lets call it November 25th which is the last Wednesday in November. That means this game has at least 1 month of extra development time.
But odds are it won’t come out in January, if it did, it’s 1 extra month.
But odds are it’ll be ‘early 2016’ so… probably 3 months?
Is That Enough Time To Do Anything?
If it comes out in January, No… it’s not. It’s not. You might be one of those people who think it is, but it’s not, if you think it is, you’re wrong. Yes you are. You can only do very very little things, like some aesthetic changes and maybe some small deeper level technical stuff, certainly not core gameplay changes.
If it gets an extra 3 months… not very much. In game development, this isn’t much time, you can’t do or change too much in that time since the smallest change can impact a ton of stuff, at the most you might try to play around with some memory, optimisation, graphical improvements/changes… not very much, certainly nothing like ‘yeah add another stage’ we’re talking some aesthetic changes and maybe if they have some very good programmers, some kind of performance optimization.
…But we don’t know this because we’ve not been given a release date.
Why Was the Delay Announced Today?
Now… a conspiracy theorist might claim that… today is the first day of TGS, and the announcement game around Sony’s conference at TGS, that would be a fine day to release news which you don’t want difficult questions on.
But we can’t know this for sure, but it sure is an interesting thing to point out.
So What’s The Problem?
What does that even mean?
I’m serious, polish is normally used when you describe the visual appearance of a game, have you ever seen the slur ‘a polished turd is still a turd?’ That’s because the core gameplay is bad, it might look nice and pretty, but if the core gameplay is boring or dull, it’ll still be a dull game but it just looks nice.
Heavy Rain is a great example of this, now I like Heavy Rain, but does it have great gameplay… Mmmmm not really… but as an overall product, I like it, however I know and fully understand why a lot of people don’t.
So lets go back to Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice for a moment. What exactly is being polished? I ask this, because you’ve not shown anything for months! The only thing we have had is this trailer.
The trailer is 1:54 long, the first 33 seconds does not show any footage. Then it shows some very uninspired footage which looks very similar to the original game which clearly isn’t running off native hardware but development tools. Some of the footage is CG sequences and title cards, and I’m pretty sure the trailer actually recycles some footage in the rapid montage right at the end. So in total, about 60 seconds.
It’s not a good trailer, it shows us very little about the game.
Since then… nothing.
So what exactly is being polished? An alpha build running on development tools? Yeah I would expect that to get some polish.
What’s been polished? The boxes the game will come in? Well I guess they will be getting dusty since they won’t be shipping now it’s been delayed. What’s being polished?
Then there’s this bit too which many supporters of the title are quoting like crazy to say that this is a good thing.
Focus on the quality and add polish… to what? We don’t know, because we’ve been shown nothing on the game, nobody outside of Sega/Sanzaru have played it, there’s not been any press events under ‘controlled’ conditions to play it, there has been nothing.
We don’t know if this is framerate problem, memory, optimisation, aesthetics one of the voice actors has a throat infection, we don’t know anything… because Sega have chosen to keep the game behind the curtain.
So Why are So Many People Saying This is a Good Thing?
The game was due out in just over a month, by now there should have been far more information on it, regardless of the delay, by now there should have been a lot more. Unless there was something that Sega didn’t want people to see or some reason why the game couldn’t be put out in the public even as a demo build.
Now… the decision to delay was obviously not a quick one, odds are it’s been planned for weeks if not a month or so, the problem here is that Sega have not shown a thing about the game so we can’t explain why.
Which leads me to suspect the game has either got a major problem which cannot be fixed via patching or put off as a ‘known shippable’… or there has been some major problem internally at Sanzaru with the development.
And people before say ‘what about SOA’s move?’ to that I say, Nintendo are handling publishing everywhere outside of America and even though you’re moving, you don’t stop doing a thing, especially when the project is handled externally.
I think that there’s either a major problem with the game, or internally there is a huge problem on the development team. Otherwise, would someone at Sega please explain why we have been shown nothing since announcement, especially since up until 24 hours ago, this game was targeted for November 2015?
You cannot improve gameplay in a month, in 3 months you can’t get away with radically redesigning a game, you can only make some improvements or minor alterations on a purely technical level.
So why are so many people praising this move to delay the game based off barely 60 seconds of gameplay footage and a handful of screenshots? What are you polishing from that entire 60 seconds or development hardware footage?
For people saying ‘this is a good thing’ what exactly is being ‘polished’ or changed? What are you expecting? Very little can be done in the time remaining.
Hasn’t This Happened Before?
Oh yeah… that one.
Anyone remember how this game got leaked via Partnernet beta leaked and people were horrified about the gameplay and levels, especially that minecart stage?
The game was delayed and we were told that the game would play more like a MegaDrive/Classic/Genesis title and some changes would be made to stages.
The Minecart stage was replaced on the consoles/PC builds and I think one other level got a major change… otherwise… nothing. Other than one or two visual changes, the gameplay was exactly the same nothing like what we were promised or led to believe. The physics of the game were unchanged. Whilst the removal of the minecart level was a huge positive, the core problem with Sonic 4 was the physics and overall gameplay, not a single gimmicky level.
There is however one difference between Fire & Ice and Sonic 4… with Sonic 4 we knew what the problems were and what should be fixed, Fire & Ice however… we don’t know, it could be something like graphical improvements, framerate, memory or… anything.
So how can you be confident in Sega fixing a problem/improving a game which you have no set level of quality on?
Why Are People Worried About Their Pre-Orders?
I have seen this posted a lot by different people and… I don’t get it. Now first of all, I’m not against pre-orders, in fact I fully support it if it’s for a limited boxed run of a game (something like what Retro City Rampage recently did) or a collectors edition of a game which has something you really like the look off, though mainly if it’s for an established franchise you know you like.
But this has no limited run, it has no collectors edition, it’s just a standard game… of which we’ve had no information on.
Today we’ve learned that it’s been delayed for some unknown reason. So for nearly 4 months there has been no information about what the game is like, how well it performs or what you can expect from it. Yet you’ve still pre-ordered it? WHY!?
You have just said to Sega ‘it’s ok for you to not provide me with any information on a game, I don’t need to know how well a game performs or what it’s like, I’m still giving you my money.’ People like this are encouraging this business practice, it’s amazingly anti-consumer and just encourages companies to do this…
Take a stance for once, start asking them why there has been no new trailers? No demos? No screenshots? No press releases, No press events or anything which says ‘this is our game, we have confidence in it!’ And if you get something which satisfies you, go ahead pre-order, don’t just pre-order it on 60 seconds of a development hardware build and a promise it’ll be good.
Anyone remember when Sonic Generations was coming out? We had a new press assets every month, there was new material every month. That whole pre-release campaign was full of confidence.
Boom: Fire & Ice however has been… this.
You want my pre-order? You want my purchase, stop keeping the game behind that curtain, show it! If it really is as good as you’re hinting at, if you’re really improving it, show us it.
I can’t trust the words of PR anymore when it comes to games, I don’t care how great a job they’re doing on social media, when it comes to actual tangible products I need to see it to judge, especially when it comes to Sonic, I could list names, I could so easily list the names of PR people in the past who have either deliberately mislead or in some cases out rightly lied about Sonic games to try and boost sales or impressions. I’m done playing that.
Show us the game.
Next Time on The Spin
So long as nothing else happens, maybe we’ll talk about the language we use when talking about Sonic games, and maybe we’ll also come around to this true Sonic spirit thing, because boy howdie I sure have a lot to say on this ‘edge’ thing which has been doing the rounds this week.