Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
About 8 hours to complete the main campaign.
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I must confess from the beginning that I have never been big into Sonic. I have only played a little bit of the Genesis games, Sonic Rush, and I got about halfway through Sonic Lost World on Wii U. Sonic Lost World was an inconsistent game that had you ready for more after one level and then wanting to chuck the Gamepad through your TV on the next. I don’t keep up with pre game release news because I hate being part of the Watch Dogs, Destiny, etc etc crowd that hypes up games just to be disappointed. I walked into Sonic Boom on Wii U just hoping it would be more consistently good than Lost World. What I ended up playing was not a typical Sonic game. Not at all.
Content Warning: Mild action violence. Otherwise the game is clean and I can recommend it to all ages.
I am going to tell this story to the best of my ability without searching it online. From what I understand, this is a spin off game from the regular Sonic games that is based/a part of a TV show. Eggman and Sonic are having a typical fight in the beginning when all of a sudden… OH MY WHAT IS THAT?! Shows up. His name is Lyric and he is a massive snake thing that has been trapped for a thousand years by, you guessed it, Sonic. Sonic has no idea he did this but oh well. Adventure time! Basically Sonic and friends (Tails, Amy, and a beefed up/dumb Knuckles) set out to stop Lyric. Eggman realizes that Lyric is stronger than him so he teams up with Lyric. My personal favorite part is seeing the almighty Eggman sweat over Lyric. All of the characters are one note and lack depth which is a tad disappointing for older folks however, I am not sure how many of us truly care about the Sonic story anyways.
“OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS! WHY ISN’T SONIC RUNNING 24/7? Do the developers not know he can run… fast?!” Sega handed off Sonic Boom to Big Red Button to develop (while I am guessing they work on the sequel or the next main Sonic game) and BRB decided to go a different route than usual. Rather than an old school Sonic, modern 3D Sonic, or a boost to win Sonic (my favorite), instead they chose a platformer. While an interesting choice for Sonic and the gang, it isn’t all doom and gloom like many make this out to be. Once you accept that Sonic is not running 24/7 and is doing a game style that I would actually expect on the GameCube, it is a solid game.
The game breaks down into a few different types of gameplay. First, you have the hub world which is kind of like Sonic Adventure 1’s but more barren. Second, is the “corridor, free running” sections, as I call it, where Sonic is running on a specified path and you have him avoid obstacles, collect rings, and even go alternate paths depending on how quick you can react. Next is the combat system. To me this is fairly new albeit a tad simplistic. You use Y for basic attacks and X for special attacks. I typically stuck with Tails as he can attack from afar. There are also boss battles which are fairly standard platforming boss battles. Nothing really special about them. Last, and the best part, is the 2D sections. The 2D sections mic platforming with typical Sonic speed running. Nothing stands out as especially great however, nothing is broken either. Where as Lost World would dazzle me one level then make me want to lay a hammer into my Wii U the next, Sonic Boom stayed consistently above average. I had wished that the hub worlds had more people/more to do but they looked good and were a good size as well. My biggest gripe, as is in most 3D Sonics, is the camera. I don’t know why but the camera in Sonic games range from “why even bother” to “this will do”. This time it is more along the lines of “this will do” due to the right stick letting you control the camera. The only time it caused me any trouble was when doing the corridor free runs and the camera keeps shifting to make things seem fast. I kinda wished it would just stay behind Sonic the whole time and boom (pun intended), problem solved. On that note, the camera stays behind Sonic whenever he runs on water (he gets this ability about a quarter of the way in) and this is by far my favorite parts of the game. Sonic running on water looks, feels, and controls just how Sonic should. You get a good sense of speed and I personally had a blast.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics, sound, and voice acting were the worst parts to me. The graphics and textures reminded me of 2007/2008 era of Xbox 360 and PS3 games. I was quite disappointed as this is a Wii U exclusive and the Wii U is more powerful than both the 360 and PS3, plus we are in 2014. The music is forgettable besides maybe the title track. However, even that is forgettable too. There wasn’t really any intense music to go along with the epic moments of the story and it made the presentation lackluster. I also noticed that the frame rate hung around 30 FPS except when things picked up speed and got hectic. I don’t know what it would dip to, but it dipped. I also notice pop in with shadows and even some objects that were not so far off. Quite perplexing that the engine was not optimized better. The game needed some more time to be polished for the Wii U. Voice acting was passable. That is all.
Overall, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is an above average platformer with some Sonic mixed in. Had this been released on the GameCube back in the day then it would have been a sleeper hit. Now what we have instead is a game that people are split on. You either hate it because it isn’t typical Sonic (like Star Fox Adventures wasn’t typical Star Fox) or you accept it as the game it is. It is by no means Sonic Adventure 3. I hope to see Sega and Big Red Button take the ideas they toyed around with in Lost World and Sonic Boom and make good sequels. Lost World when it was good, it was really good. Sonic Boom: Return of Lyric/Lyric Strikes Back/Just Lyric 2015 needs more time in the cooker than this game did. Sega, we know you guys have deadlines however, we are ok with games coming out later if it means they are polished products you and the fans can be proud of. I would actually like to see Nintendo give Sega a helping hand on the next Sonic exclusive (if there is one).
Side note – I encountered zero glitches throughout my entire playthrough.
Reviewed on Wii U.
Varying types of gameplay keep it fresh,
Eggman having to be Lyric's goon.
... Means that Sonic isn't constantly running like many are used to.
The engine was not optimized for Wii U.
Camera... as always.
Music was underwhelming.