My Nintendo (NA) celebrates Sonic Forces with many 50% off offers on Sonic games

My Nintendo have announced today a tie-in promotion to celebrate the Sonic Forces’ release on Switch. The promotion comes with 50% off offers (that cost gold or platinum coins) on most Sonic titles on Wii U and 3DS, plus a couple of bonuses.

Continue reading My Nintendo (NA) celebrates Sonic Forces with many 50% off offers on Sonic games

German Eggman Voice Actor, Hartmut Neugebauer, Passes Away

The actor, singer and songwriter Hartmut Neugebauer reportedly passed away on June 22, 2017, aged 74. He was known to the Sonic community in Germany as the voice artist for Dr. Eggman in Sonic X and a number of Sonic the Hedgehog video games. Continue reading German Eggman Voice Actor, Hartmut Neugebauer, Passes Away

Second Sonic Synergy Trailer Discovered

A few days ago, a few websites reported the discovery of a trailer for Sonic Synergy, the game which would become Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, the trailer showed a number of differences to the final product, such as some very different Eggman designs, better looking graphics and a completely different title.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n59nR71Gx4

Well, a few hours ago, a member on our forums revealed that they had an extended version of this trailer which shows even more differences, and that they had it for 2 years but were under the impression it was already known! Well… we know about it now!

Some of the more noticeable differences include Sonic who has finger-less gloves and his arms are not completely blue, the chao were also going to be in the game at some point.

Check out the trailer and see the differences yourself.

Source: SSMB (special thanks to BxB-Meister for posting the goods).

Many Sonic games on sale on the NA 3DS and Wii U eShop until Nov 29th

Sega back on Thursday put on sale most Sonic games available on Wii U and 3DS in NA, which runs until November 29th. The major exclusions include Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice and the Olympic games.

The list of games and their prices are below (regular price is in the brackets):

Continue reading Many Sonic games on sale on the NA 3DS and Wii U eShop until Nov 29th

The Completionist Explores the Troubled Gameplay of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

Over two years have passed since the hundredth episode of The Completionist, where Jirard Khalil did the inadvisable and went on to complete Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 at a great personal cost. Since then, the game has been dethroned by another, one which has drawn more ire and infamy than its predecessor ever did: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Naturally, Jirard went and did the unfathomable… or he almost did.

The troubled development process behind Big Red Button’s project—stemming from both SEGA’s exclusivity deal with Nintendo, and incompatibility between CryEngine 3 and the Wii U—led to an incomplete and bug-ridden November 2014 launch that even a one-plus gigabyte patch couldn’t fix. Jirard dIves into depths never explored of just how broken Rise of Lyric is, as a game that likely cannot ever be 100% completed. Check out the latest episode of The Completionist below, presented in a brand new format!

Continue reading The Completionist Explores the Troubled Gameplay of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

Freak-Out Friday: Knuckles Glitches Again in Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice

There is an inkling of truth to the age-old saying, said by a wise and dangerously attractive young man:

You can take the glitch out of the echidna, but you can’t take the echidna out of the glitch.” –VizardJeffhog

or

You can’t teach an old echidna new tricks.–VizardJeffhog

or

Old echidna habits die hard.–VizardJeffhog

Continue reading Freak-Out Friday: Knuckles Glitches Again in Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice

Sonic Boom: RoL (Wii U) and SC (3DS) on sale for $20 in NA until March 21st

Sonic Boom RoL and SC

Following up from the earlier sale of Sonic Lost World on Wii U and Triple Trouble on 3DS, Nintendo just announced via this week’s Nintendo Downloads PR that both Sonic Boom games will be on sale for $20 in NA until March 21st.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal from SEGA are on sale until 8:59 a.m. PT on March 21.

Click on a game’s title to look at the game’s page on Nintendo’s site.

The prices for both are:

  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U) – $19.99 USD / $25.59 CDN (down from $49.99 USD and $29.99 CDN. Yes, I checked the CDN price)
  • Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS) – $19.99 USD / $25.59 CDN (down from $39.99 in both USD and CDN)

Does either game interest you at that price? Let us know in the comments.

More Sonic Boom: RoL Concept Art Discovered

Jason Norton Sonic Boom 18

The Sonic Stadium has discovered even more concept art from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and a few pieces from Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. The images were among the portfolios of artists Oscar Ponce and Jason Norton who used to work at Big Red Button Entertainment. The latter’s artwork is especially intriguing as it reveals scrapped ideas for Eggman’s mech, a ‘battle mode tank’ and what we can assume is a golem boss battle. Check out all fifty seven of the images in our gallery below and give us your thoughts in the comments.

Continue reading More Sonic Boom: RoL Concept Art Discovered

More Sonic Boom RoL Concepts Found

Sonic Boom Amped UX 14

The Sonic Stadium has discovered even more concept work for 2014’s Wii U exclusive Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. The work was found on Amped UX’s website revealing they too had a hand in the game’s development.

The studio provided the following services:
* UI/UX Design, Wireframes, and Project Management
* Heads Up Display (HUD) UI Actionscripting
* Progression/Systems Design
* Localization Production & Integration
* High Level Concept & Documentation
* Secondary Quest & NPC Design
* Level Geometry Whiteboxing & Visual Scripting
* Final Script ​Debugging and Level Layout Revisions

You can learn about these development procedures in huge detail over at Amped UX at the below links. They’re a good read if you’re interested in game development or getting into the industry.

Source: Amped UX [Link 1, Link 2]

The Spin: Can a Sonic Boom game be done right? I think so

spin

In today’s edition of The Spin, I want to talk about something I think that, despite being a question no one will ask; if a Sonic Boom game can be good let alone should be made, is that if such a game period can be good or even GREAT. Short answer? Of course it can!

The long answer? I have some ideas.

Continue reading The Spin: Can a Sonic Boom game be done right? I think so

Unseen64 details what happened during Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric’s development

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mo7esa1Tfk[/youtube]

Look Ma! We’re in the thumbnail!

Yes, it’s the story you’ve waited for, finally we get some answers as to why the game went, well, boom. Some quick key details include confirmation that the game was intended for “unspecified next-gen consoles”, the game was mostly done in this form, and Sega gave Big Red Button so little time to do the Wii U port when the exclusivity deal happened. Another highlight is that the footage in the debut trailer (that went bangarang on your ears), actually was NOT Wii U footage after all.

More can be seen in this 5 and a half minute video.

Thanks so much to Liam aka Tamaki from Unseen64 for this wonderful look into the game’s development. 🙂

Sonic Boom RoL Once Had a Beautiful Hub

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmM28X7m_WA[/youtube]

Big Red Button developers have been busy again by recently uploading more test footage and concept art from Sonic’s last console outing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. In the above footage taken from Tuan Nguyen’s demo reel (with Skylanders footage cut, thanks to SSMB’s Blue Blood), we can see the scrapped beautiful hub world first seen in the GDC 2013 CryEngine 3 demo footage in a playable state.

Devon Roderick has also released two test footage clips in the above video, one of a cutscene and one of an NPC.

Creepy Shadow

Onur Cayli has released a large amount of images showing character renders he worked on, including the rather creepy looking Shadow render you see above.

What do you think of these latest releases? Do you wish the beta hub made it to the final product? Speak out in the comments.

Sources: Tuan Nguyen’s demo reel, Devon Broderick’s demo reel and Onur Cayli’s portfolio

TSS Review: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)

SBROL

Developer: Big Red Button Release Date: NA/EU/AUS: Out now, JP as Sonic Toon: Dec 18th, 2014

So here we are, the game that was supposed to mark a new chapter in Sonic’s long and treasured history as a new side-series running in parallel to the current Modern Sonic series. Sega entrusted this new series to a not-so-new developer named Big Red Button, I say not-so-new as they’ve been around since 2008! Big Red Button is a team formed by veterans from Naughty Dog, however, that’s where seemingly that relation ends. For a further look into Big Red Button and the folks who worked on the game during the last few years (note that some have departed from the company in the past few months), check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my articles about Big Red Button.

Now before I get to the main review, I want to make clear that sadly I have NOT completed the story for the game as I originally intended, so I want to make sure you know that fact to judge my thoughts on the game more fairly, my deepest apologies.

Also note that this is my very first professional review, so this is a new experience and I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to say.

So I will make the following into a few categories, rather than just put the whole thing in one, as in, I will speak about the game’s Gameplay, Story, Graphics, Audio, and the overall conclusion. I will also do something a lot don’t; I will provide an additional opinion based on the current price, and a bargain price in the conclusion, as a lot of people judge games based on price and can be more willing to pick a game up if they find it for like $10 or $20, also a lot of reviews pan a game for being too short for $50, that sort of thing.

Let’s begin!

WiiU_screenshot_TV_0175B

Gameplay:

So the gist of the gameplay is; it’s a beat-em-up with a decent amount of platforming, why can’t I call it vice-versa? Because I kind of find it’s more focused on the combat than the platforming though there’s quite a bit of it as well. You have your punches and your ground pound moves. All characters function basically the same but have some special touches to them, such as Sonic having his homing attack, Tails can glide and use long-ranged weapons like what appears to be a fire cracker shooter, Knuckles is obviously the strongest but I also find Amy with her hammer to be not far behind Knuckles. Amy is able to kill the snake enemies with a single swing which is pretty handy.

Combat is relatively simple, I never felt I needed to go beyond just mashing X or Y to attack, there’s no real strategy, I also find using the enerbeam in fights to be very clunky and they just don’t seem to work, even when I grab, swing, and throw them. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. It’s certainly not as elaborate as in Sonic Unleashed. You are able to unlock things such as upgrades and acquire items to help, but I didn’t really get to experience those fully yet. You also once in awhile find these tiny robots that run from you, and when you kill them, they drop a weapon. Only one I got to try out was a wind gun that shoots a tornado. It was cool, but it has a limited amount of uses. Fun gimmicks I guess.

As far as exploration is concerned, I don’t find any of them to be that fast, only Sonic is when you spam the Spin Dash move, and that’s a stretch since it’s only a bit faster and is absolutely nothing like in Sonic Adventure or Sonic Lost World. Outside of the auto-run sections, Sonic is not his Gotta Go Fast self, so get that out of your head if you came in for speed. And as far as the number of said sections, there aren’t that many and they’re over after a minute or two. You’re slowly running around and fighting a lot more. It’s a side dish. I did find the running on water sections to be pretty fun, at least I wasn’t bumping into obstacles every 2 seconds.

Boom-WiiU-H

Story:

Now we get to what is arguably my favorite part of the game. Yeah the cutscenes are very unpolished so you see jerking objects here and uber low-res textures there and you wonder why they had the camera up close in clean sight of then. But the character animation and writing is a true highlight, especially the former. The animation is very high quality and the animators should be given high praise. Buuuut I would not say the same thing for the in-game “cutscenes” where you see the characters just stand there like zombies flapping their gums, Amy is not a pretty sight in these. As for the story, the plot is interesting if not the most original (guy stumbles upon an ancient evil, lets it loose, he done goofs, he tries to undo it), but I really like the characterization. Knuckles is probably my fav of the group, but I also really like Lyric and how he animates, I wouldn’t call him intimidating, but he works, still it would’ve been cooler is he was an Owl (Owlyric?), but what can you do? The humor is part of the highlight. From the subtle facial expressions to the one liners, I certainly laughed and I love anything that can make me laugh.

I will say some of the story so far is really out of place, such as Shadow’s appearance is so far unexplained and feels very shoehorned and that is NOT a good thing. I like to know why things are the way they are unless they let the audience figure it out as a mystery. This is not one of those times. Will there be some big reveal that explains everything? From what I’ve read, that’s not likely.

Eggman

Graphics:

It’s a double-edged sword. At times it can look really nice, but the severe lack of polish hurts it so badly. It’s got a very lovely style, especially when you’re outdoors. But the graphical issues such as really bad shadow pop-in, the horrifically low-res textures, especially in cutscenes. Not to mention the game only runs in 720p and 30fps, so they don’t even make up for the short comings with trying to be more ambitious with the technical specs. The game was made using Cry Engine 3, and is the very first Wii U game to support it that’s been released, and honestly I feel that was a huge mistake. The engine very likely not only was not optimized properly for the console, but also they had to exclusively try to work in a function that the engine never used before; split-screen. I’ve not used the mode myself, but as I’ve seen in footage, when you use split-screen/co-op via the TV and GamePad, most shadow and lighting detail vanishes, and apparently the framerate can be even worse, which by the way can get a bit sluggish at points, even in cutscenes.

Lighting is another visual highlight, but again, it’s hard to overlook the flaws. However, I also want to bring to attention some of the geometry and effects of the outdoor sections. When you’re up-close to plants, they do have subtle animation and you see some particles floating in the air, I really, REALLY liked those details.

sonic-boom-rise-of-lyric-wii-u-wiiu-1401974567-014

Audio:

The voice acting is REALLY good in this game. No one really stood out as being bad, they all really delivered and were really fun to listen to. The music which was composed by Richard Jacques of Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast Saturn fame, which to me is nothing like the aforementioned games, it does set the mood and some of the outdoor areas had a really nice tune to listen to. Personally the soundtrack could’ve been less orchestral and more upbeat like previous games, but it’s not a big deal. I personally hoped they would’ve brought in someone familiar with classic western platformers like Crash, Spyro, Jak, Ratchet, and Sly (Rocket gets no love…), but I guess they wanted someone familiar with Sonic to do it, even if the music isn’t anything like the series ever had before. Also, Jun Senoue was in the US for a long time as part of the now closed Sonic Team USA, wouldn’t he have been a way more appropriate pick?

Boom-WiiU-B

Conclusion:

So in conclusion, it was not at all what I was really hyped for, I mean I was hoping it’d be a gorgeous adventure though big expansive open worlds, like that infamous Cry Engine 3 demo showed. What’s that, they took that out? *sigh*

The game in a word is… okay. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s really hard to recommend it, especially at $50. What really needs to happen is after like 6 months, is that they release a patch that fixes so much in the game, that could give it a much needed and deserved second wind. If you find it for $20, I would say check it out. Compared to Sonic Lost World, if you want exploration, go with Sonic Boom, it’s got that, even if some environments like the desert level are really boring and some of the indoor ones also don’t feel all that exciting to look at or explore. I really hope we see a patch, I truly do. It needed many more months, like at least 6 more months in the oven to polish what they had. Why do so many not follow the wise words of Shigeru Miyamoto?; “A delayed game is eventually a good game, a bad game is bad forever” or something along those lines.

Also, click here to check out Jason Berry’s review of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for 3DS!

So that’s it! What did you think?

New Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Cutscene “Soak it all in”

PLEASE READ THE HEADER BEFORE WATCHING (Otherwise, it looks like Sonic wants to hit on Amy and is too shy to go for it.)

The GameStop Expo had a new build of the Toxic Waste level from “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric”. This time, you can go through the whole thing and head outside. I thought I had made a second recording of this, but something happened and the first half of this cutscene got lost. The beginning of this scenario goes as follows (this is not word for word, but close)…

Sonic and Amy escape with the crystal in hand. Amy looks around at the new area they’ve discovered. “It’s beautiful!” She says. Sonic is growing impatient. “Let’s keep moving!” Amy asks him to wait. “We’re finally done being chased by giant robots. Let’s just rest for a second and soak it all in!” Sonic decides to wait, but it’s obviously killing him inside. The video follows from there.

Look closely and you can see the beginning of the next level.

There was a few new bits of dialogue during the level as well. At one point while collecting rings, Sonic retorts “I got more rings to rule them all!”

New Sonic Boom Speed Level Video and More New Demo Details from SDCC

While at the San Diego Comic Con, I managed to capture some footage of the new speed level from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. The demo starts off with Sonic and crew in a cave you can explore a little bit (not shown in the video) from here, you can take off and go through the new speed course which does feature a few obstacles, but only at the beginning and ending. Leaving the cave into the lush jungle is a beautiful scene. What I find odd is that they decided to go with this new, shorter speed level rather than the old one. Especially since this new one has had some glitch issues in every other playthrough. My feet fell through the floor in one, Ben over at Segabits had a similar problem and the guy demoing the game for me fell through into nothingness at one point too. Why rush out a new, not tested enough demo when the old one worked fine and was longer? Oh Well. BTW, if you see some frame skips, that’s from my iPad recording and not the game itself. A small update on the Sonic and Amy Chemical Factory level. I got confirmation from Kellie Parker that my eyes were not deceiving me and that the games graphics have improved a touch over the E3 build. Also, during the cutscene with Quincy, Amy and Quincy’s mouth now move during their conversation. It might have just been me, but while playing the level again, I found more areas with secret items and it made me want to explore the level more. Combat’s still weak though. One other new thing is that while the opening cutscene with Tails and Knuckles is gone, you get more gameplay near the end with another Guardian chase. This time you have to dodge and jump over pipes while running away from the giant robot. The game is starting to grow on me, but don’t get too excited. Right now, it’s gone from a C- to a C+ in my book. That puts it at average licensed video game fare like the mediocre Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures.

Rise of Lyric Comic Con Demo Adds New Level, Drops One

Eggman

While at the San Diego Comic Con today, I decided to head to the Nintendo Lounge to see if the Sonic Boom demo had been updated at all from the E3 build. I found out that there was some differences made since the E3 build. I can honestly say that I did see some improvements made, a brand new level and one omission most likely due to the feedback from E3. Here is a list of the few differences I noticed.

1.) First off, the original speed level has been replaced with a brand new one that starts out in a cave. You can smash some boulders and there’s some small secrets around the cave. Before I hit the boost pad, I was switching around characters and ended up with a glitch where Knuckles and the others were halfway through the floor. I ran up to the front and hit the speed boost and it fixed the glitch. The speed section itself is a bit more difficult. There are more obstacles in the way and at least one or two alternate routes. The level did seem shorter though. I will say the best part was riding the enerbeam out of the cave and into the lush jungle. It was really a breathtaking scene.

2.) There were only three choices for levels compared to the four from E3. This is because they took out the Knuckles mine cart level from the E3 demo. I think it was a wise choice not to show the level that got the most negative reaction from E3 when showing off the game to the public. It’s a very slow and plodding level and they only need to really show one adventure level so it might as well be the more action packed one.

3.) It might just be the TV, but the visuals seem to be a bit improved. The colors really popped out more and the lighting seemed better. The E3 demo’s colors seemed bland but as I said, that could have been the screen too.

4.) Again, it might be me, but lassoing the robots seemed to be a faster experience from before. At least in the Sonic/Amy level. The fight with Eggman seemed exactly the same as before.

And there you have it. New speed level, no Knuckles mine cart level and some slight graphical improvements…..I think. If I hadn’t played the original E3 demo, this would have left me with a slightly more positive view of the game. As of now, my view of the game is just a bit more positive.

Sonic Boomcast Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of Sonic Boomcast! A monthy podcast dedicated to the Sonic Boom franchise where we’ll be talking all things Sonic Boom related along with a few other Sonic things should the need arise. Hosted by me, Jason Berry of that other Sonic podcast (Sonic Talk). I’ll have a slightly different roundtable of guest hosts each month with some staying for the long run. This months hosts include Shayne Edwards, Lidice Garcia, Tanner Bates (Oglvie in the SSMB) and Christian Gausin. You may know them as the folks who helped bring the first big Sonic convention “Sonic Revolution” to life in Southern California. This months episode focuses on the history of the franchise from before the major announcement back in February all the way to the recent comic book announcement. So listen in, and I hope you enjoy!

In Defense of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

SONIC-BOOM-VIDEO-GAME-01

During E3, I came away with an opinion of Sonic Boom that was a little sunnier than most. It didn’t blow me away like Lost World’s crazy cylindrical stage had the year before, but I came away from it smiling and entertained, but not blown away. As I was writing up my preview, Ben Burnham (who wrote the Anatomy of a Bad Sonic Game article, which you should check out) contacted me on Skype and we began talking about the game’s quality. His opinion, based on the various previews he had read, was very bleak. “It sounds like it’s going to be an awful game, man”. I disagreed, but not strongly. Though I didn’t find the demo to be particularly great, I certainly didn’t find it to be awful either. Towards the end of our discussion he asked “How can you defend mediocrity?” It was late, I was busy and tired, and I wasn’t quite sure how to address that.

Last night, after we finished recording our latest, biggest episode of Sonic Talk yet (seriously, we had four guests on) to celebrate #Sonic23on23, it came to me as two of the guests stayed up afterwards debating the game’s quality in the chat. Ben brought up the question again, “How can you defend mediocrity”. As GX and he really got into it, it finally came to me.

Boom-WiiU-L

Gamers these days, I think, get a little too caught up in the idea that every game needs to be a “triple A, top quality game”. Certainly, it’s not a bad standard to have. When you’ve got a limited time and budget, why settle for anything less than the best? But then, I would need to ask that person: why are you even playing a Sonic game to begin with? Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors are fun games to be sure, but why play those games when you could be playing Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D World, Ratchet and Clank Future and other superb platformers currently available either physically or digitally? Even the best Sonic games of the last several years have been considered only “good” at best in the face of other triple A platformers, not to mention the numerous other triple A games being released in other genres every year.

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have high standards and that you should excuse games for being less then what they could be, but not being as good as some of the best rated games in the genre doesn’t really make a game “bad”. I have played and enjoyed numerous games over the years that have had serious flaws. Among them have been Rhythm Thief, Shinobi 3DS, Batman Arkham Origins, Resident Evil Mercenaries, and most recently Entwined. Criticisms have ranged from these games being too hard, too shallow, or too much of the same. You know what though? I had fun with these games. I don’t regret the time or money I expended on them. In the end, whether or not I had fun, regardless of the quality, is what matters to me. For the record, Shinobi 3DS stands as one of my favorite games on the system and I’m glad I gave the full game a chance despite the somewhat tepid response it got from the gaming media.

Boom-WiiU-F
Really, the same was true for the Sonic Boom Wii U demo. I did not regret the time spent with it (well, aside from the fact that it ate up most of the time I was supposed to spend writing my preview) and I came away a bit happier with it then I thought I would. Sure, the graphics were average, the combat was typical and the stage layout was ho-hum. The demo had its flaws, but it also had one very important element that separated it from numerous other Sonic games I’ve played: it was at least entertaining.

I loved beating the crap out of enemies as Sonic. He has an awesome spin move that jets him quickly around the battlefield and lets him slam into enemies, which can be followed up with a series of quick jabs. Enemies could be dispatched quickly, which allowed for a certain flow from battle to battle that seemed to at least move faster than Unleashed’s werehog stages, which had a tendency to really drag with the amount of enemies that would spawn in a given area.

I loved exploring the demo as the various characters, since each stage on display had completely different methods of traversal for each character, which gave me more to see then I was used to for an E3 demo. I liked digging around as Knuckles and popping up under enemies, I liked hitting them with Amy’s hammer and I liked tossing the smaller enemies around with the enerbeam, which worked well. I enjoyed the funny banter between the characters, which probably stands as some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a Sonic game outside of Robotnik’s Sonic Colors quotes. It’s all simple, story driven beat-em up fair, but it’s functional and it’s fun.

Boom-WiiU-D
So for me anyway, the Sonic Boom demo did its job. Should it be aiming higher than “just okay”? Should it be aiming for Super Mario Galaxy? While that’s certainly a noble sentiment to have, it’s also an unrealistic one. There can only be so many games that have the talent, budget and time put into them to become Super Mario Galaxy. The very reason games like Galaxy are held so highly is because there can’t be many of them. I think that when it comes to Sonic Boom, it’s good to approach it for what it is: an okay beat-em up platformer (that will have a variety of speed segments, according to the game’s developers) that aims to make itself accessible to a new generation of Sonic fans. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m not “defending mediocrity” because I don’t need to. The level of fun in a game, for me anyway, is irrelevant. The game just needs to be fun.

When it comes down to it, fun is all a game really needs to be. If you have higher standards then me, I respect that. Just remember that there is a much bigger difference between a game that isn’t fun and one that is, then there is between a game that is amazingly entertaining and one that just provides an okay experience. That is the difference between an awful game like Sonic 2006 and an okay game I actually enjoyed like Sonic Unleashed. That is also, in my opinion, the difference between this game and Sonic 2006, or Shadow the Hedgehog, or (shudder) Game.Com’s Sonic Jam. I can’t speak to this game’s final quality, but if the demo is any indication it will at least be okay. When the game does finally come out, just be sure to look to reviews from critics you can trust, or friends whose tastes you know well, or even better try the game for yourself before you buy. Another man’s trash can and often is another’s treasure, after all.

Sonic Boom’s E3 Makeover

Our own Hogfather brought this up on our message boards. Look at this snapshot from Sonic Boom’s pre-E3 B-Roll footage.

Sonic Boom pre-E3

 

Looks like an old PS2 game right? Super bland textures. No lighting. Now look at the same area from footage taken during E3.

Sonic Boom E3Holy cow! What a difference!  It looks 100 times better.

This brings up an important question. Why in the world was that B-Roll footage ever allowed to be shown to the press and public in the first place? This does nothing but sour peoples feelings towards the game.  It even affected my thoughts on the game on Sonic Talk pre-E3 (plug, plug).

If anything positive can be said, it shows how much a game’s look can be improved in just a short time (or it could be the effects were turned off to help stabilize frame rate). In the meantime, check out both videos below to see some of the other differences.

Original B-Roll from the Sonic Show

[youtube width=”600″ height=”345″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdaGYQIh0DE[/youtube]

Now, this new footage from Nintendo World Report

[youtube width=”600″ height=”345″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srz_xVXat3I#t=14[/youtube]

 

TSS@E3 – Hands-on: Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric

Sonic "Hey look! No Shadow!" Knuckles "The Hedgehog?" Sonic "No. On the ground."
Sonic: “Hey look! No Shadow!” Knuckles: “The Hedgehog?” Sonic: “No. On the ground.”

After your done reading, get a second opinion from Nuckles87 over at SEGAbits!

Big Red Button’s Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is an odd duck. It’s a Sonic game that feels NOTHING like a Sonic game in almost every sense. At it’s core, it’s an adventure-based brawler with platforming and puzzle elements similar to other adventure games such as Tomb Raider, Ratchet and Clank or Uncharted and relies heavily on co-op. A Sonic game that’s not very Sonic-like in any way.

The E3 demo I played has four different levels. A mining level with Sonic and Knuckles, an underground toxic waste level with Sonic and Amy, a speed traverse level with all four and finally, a boss fight with Eggman. These levels are meant to show you samples of the gameplay you can expect from the game, but when put out of context like this, it kind of gives you a poor idea of what the full game is like.

The speed level is fairly simple with some boosting areas, simple jumps and places where you can grab with your enerbeam to swing around. I did go an alternate path from what was shown in previous videos and found an area with a fair amount of obstacles to dodge. It’s no Sonic Generations, but at least it’s something fun to do when going between worlds. Sadly the level was very short and stopped before we got to our destination.

"Well, we solved that! Now lets stagger around until we find some more switches to move this cart around and MAN! I'm already bored."
“Well, we solved that! Now let’s stagger around until we find some more switches to move this cart around and MAN! I’m already bored.”

Now, here’s where things get very different. I played as Sonic and Knuckles  as we traversed an old mining facility. There were robots and snakes around (at which point Knuckles does a bad Indiana Jones imitation) I couldn’t figure out how the gate opened, but fortunately, Sonic chimed in “maybe we need to use that mine cart up there!” So, I found a switch to drop the mine cart and had Knuckles push it to the gate by way of punching) and used the jump boost on top of the mine cart to get over the gate. During the level, I was constantly having to stop and figure out what to do next. Some of which was done by using each characters unique abilities. Sonic has a spindash that boosts him up into hard to reach places, while Knuckles can burrow or climb certain ledges. At one point, we used our enerbeams to lock on and pull the cart over to another path. That’s right, Sonic and Knuckles have “lock-on cart” technology.

…..Oh, come on! That was funny and you know it.

However, constantly having to stop and figure out another puzzle made the whole thing (up to getting to the mining robot) a real drag. At one point, Sonic sees Tails and Amy up above. They are talking about how what a blast they are having in this upper path. “Well, at least they’re having fun” Sonic quips. Too bad I’m not. I found this to be the most boring level in the entire demo.

"Run away much slower than the speed you normally can go!!"
“Run away much slower than the speed you normally can go!!”

The third demo was with Sonic and Amy in an underground toxic waste dump. At times they are being chased by a giant guardian robot while being assisted by a helper robot. There are a few chase scenes reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. It seems odd that Sonic can barely run fast enough to get out of it’s way. He basically runs the same speed as Amy. Maybe he’s just slowing down to make sure she’s safe? Speaking of Amy, her gameplay is actually pretty good here. She’s acrobatic and can traverse thin pipes and does some difficult platforming along with swinging from bar to bar. I found using her to be much more fun than Sonic or Knuckles. Also, she sounds a lot more like her old Sonic X self rather than Minnie Mouse.

The final level is a boss fight with Dr. Eggman. He’s using an ancient machine and it isn’t going too well (the Eggmobile doesn’t fit quite right and keeps falling over). He’s also using old, used missiles that don’t hit the gang, but just drop to the ground. You can then grab the missiles with the enerbeam to throw them back at Eggman until he falls over and you can attack him head on. There’s plenty of teamwork going on here and the quips are pretty funny. That’s one thing I really gotta hand this game. The dialog doesn’t constantly repeat itself (except in some casual fights) and is pretty funny while moving the story along. It’s a refreshing pace from the poor dialog we got in games like Sonic Heroes. That’s good for those of you who love some Sonic games for their story.

"GAAH! No fair! What'd I ever do to y-oh yeah. All that stuff."
“GAAH! No fair! What’d I ever do to y-oh yeah. All that stuff.”

Sadly, that’s the best compliment I can give the game so far. The game just demos bad. Having it cut into chunks like this really doesn’t give you a full understanding of how the full game really is and instead gives you these dull puzzle sections that make the Werehog levels in Sonic Unleashed seem like a thrill ride in comparison. Also, if this is a co-op game, why are there no two-player demos out on the E3 floor? As I said though, it’s really hard to judge in the format it’s in here. However if I only had a choice between the Wii U version and the 3DS version (Hands-on coming soon), I’d definitely pick the 3DS version as it has more of what makes a fun Sonic game. This one seems to be more focused on telling a story rather than making a really fun experience.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will be out this November and hopefully, we can get a better example of the full game’s experience before then.

 

 

 

Freak-Out Friday: Meet Lyric, from Sonic Boom…

Oh hey look, a Freak-Out Friday! Haven’t seen one of these in a while, right?

Anyway! With the Sonic Boom hype in full swing en route to E3, the subseries is expected to introduce a couple of new faces to the franchise this fall — boomerang-wielder Sticks the Badger, and the newest formidable foe, Lyric.

Unfortunately, there are already cries far and wide for the sinister snake to be pulled under the grounds that he just isn’t, well, Sonic-like. SEGA had to break it to Lyric somehow, because you know what they say: you can’t argue with the fans! How will he take the news?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_TRUHYmGn4

Voiced and edited by Kirbopher, comic by Zack Frost, and conception by Blizooka!

Sonic Boom Games Confirmed for E3, New Details Revealed

sonicboomSEGA has just confirmed what we were all expecting: Sonic Boom is coming to E3. With this news comes the confirmation that the upcoming games will be two standalone adventures. The Wii U version will be subtitled Rise of Lyric, while the 3DS version will be called Shattered Crystal. Both games will be focusing on a new villain, Lyric, pictured below.

lyricLyric is a member of an ancient, snake-like race with an eye for worldwide destruction. According the the press release, he is “an extremely tech-savvy mastermind who uses a sophisticated robotic body of armor to carry out his own nefarious deeds, he is a formidable enemy and a force to be reckoned with.” In Rise of Lyric, Sonic and his friends are tasked with stopping Lyric from awakening his robotic army and destroying the world. Shattered Crystal’s scope will be a little smaller, as Sonic and Sticks work together to rescue Amy Rose from Lyric’s clutches. The 3DS version has been confirmed to be a side scrolling adventure, which will focus on platforming and puzzle solving. Two screenshots are enclosed below:

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that the Wii U version will feature a new move called the enerbeam, an energy charged cord some may remember from the Sonic Boom teaser a few months back. This new ability will assist in navigating around levels and battling enemies, allowing players to zip-line, pull objects, throw enemies and disarm them of shields.

sonicboomwiiuFinally, it’s been confirmed that the Wii U and 3DS games will be connected. By utilizing Wi-Fi connectivity, collectibles found in the Shattered Crystal can be used to unlock special content in Rise of Lyric. Sonic Stadium will be previewing providing coverage and hands-on previews of both of these games at E3 next week, so be sure to join us! I’ve included the full press release below:

We’re excited to unleash an all-new Sonic the Hedgehog at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles with the debut of playable versions of new titles exclusively for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The new games Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Wii U system, developed by Los Angeles-based Big Red Button, and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system, from San Francisco-based Sanzaru Games, will introduce new gameplay and the most vile and formidable villain in Sonic history — Lyric.

In both games, Sonic and friends – Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and the newest member of the team, Sticks, will work together as they face their most powerful enemy yet. Lyric is a giant and monstrous snake-like creature from an ancient race. An extremely tech-savvy mastermind who uses a sophisticated robotic body of armor to carry out his own nefarious deeds, he is a formidable enemy and a force to be reckoned with. With a strong emphasis on collaboration, the roles of Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks, will be elevated in gameplay that capitalizes on each character’s unique talents and abilities. The goal is to prevent Lyric from powering his army of robots and carrying out his plan to destroy the world. The stakes have never been higher, and the only chance to overcome Lyric is to band together and work as a team.

“This is a new Sonic, with gameplay built on action-adventure and collaborative play. They are unlike any previous games featuring the iconic blue blur,” said Hiroyuki Miyazaki, Chief Content Officer for the Sonic Bran, SEGA of America. “We are looking forward to our first hands-on showcase at E3 for fans old and new alike to experience the exploration, combat and new moves for the entire team.”

Both Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal are crafted to take full advantage of the unique gameplay mechanics of their respective consoles. Each version is a new chapter in the Sonic Boom universe and will each have their own unique immersive storylines. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will also feature CRYENGINE(r), the cutting-edge 3D game technology from Crytek, one of the leading innovators in the industry. As the very first Wii U game to incorporate this technology, the lush environments and landscapes within the game will be visually enhanced like never before.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will deliver a different experience than past titles. The detailed levels and emphasis on each character’s unique abilities will showcase the distinctive feel of an action- adventure game, giving players more choice in exploration as they work as a team to stop the deadly snake-like ancient villain, Lyric, before he can power up his army. The gameplay will challenge players with over-the-top speed runs, but the heart of the game will focus on intense combat and brand-new abilities including the Enerbeam. This new feature in the game gives players an energy-charged cord that can be used by characters to navigate the world like never before. Players will be able to swing or zip-line across gaps, explore alternate paths, grab and throw enemies and take away their shields in combat.

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is a standalone adventure that shares key characters, events and lore of the Sonic Boom universe with exclusive environments and characters. For the first time ever, gamers will be able to take on the role of Sticks, the newest member of the team who will play an integral role in the story after her best friend Amy gets kidnapped by the ancient villain Lyric. While the Wii U version is focused on action-adventure and exploration, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal will place a bigger emphasis on platforming and puzzles. Additionally, unique collectibles featured in the Nintendo 3DS version will unlock special content on Wii U via Wi-Fi connectivity.

About Sonic Boom
Announced earlier this year, Sonic Boom is a new branch of the Sonic Universe that, in addition to gaming, will include a first-ever CG-animated TV series on Cartoon Network in the U.S. and Canal J and Gulli in France as well as a robust merchandising program anchored by master toy partner TOMY. Unlike previous Sonic adventures, the Sonic Boom video games will operate in harmony with the TV series, with many feature storylines and characters appearing in both formats.

Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared as a videogame character in June 1991 and instantly became an icon for a generation of gamers. Defined by his super-fast speed and cool attitude, in the years since he first raced on to videogame consoles Sonic has become a true global phenomenon with over 140 million videogames sold or downloaded worldwide across consoles, PC’s, mobile phones and tablets. SEGA’s iconic blue blur has also gone on to enjoy incredible success in many licensed areas, such as toys, apparel, comics and animation.

The Sonic Boom TV series is a co-production between SEGA of America, Inc. and OuiDO! Productions. Executive producers on the Sonic Boom TV series are Evan Baily, Donna Friedman Meir and Jane McGregor on behalf of SEGA, and Sandrine Nguyen and Boris Hertzog from OuiDO!. Bill Freiberger is Co-Executive Producer. Other partners involved in the TV series include Lagardère Entertainment Rights for distribution and Lagardère Active TV Licensing & New Business for licensing and merchandise in France.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for Nintendo 3DS will release in November 2014 for North America.