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If you’ve kept up with Sonic lately, you’ve likely heard that the blue blur himself has ran his way into a fifth TV Series- Sonic Boom. But the TV series isn’t the only thing he’s new to- the series features 2 tie-in Video Games exclusive to Nintendo Systems: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U), and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS). I have been given the privilege of reviewing the 3DS version.
Thousands of years ago, Lyric, a large snake with a robotic body, was incapacitated by the power of a large crystal. The power was so intense, the ones who used it on him scattered its shards to keep it’s power out of his hands when he awakens. Later on, he does awaken, encountering and enslaving Shadow the Hedgehog as a member of his army using a mind control device.
Amy, while searching in an ancient city for the crystal shards, encounters Lyric. She tries to fight him, but he places the same mind control device on her head and takes her hostage, attempting to use his device to locate the crystal shards using Amy’s memory of them . Sonic, who was video chatting with her when the kidnapping happens, gathers Tails, Knuckles, and Sticks together to stop Lyric and Rescue Amy. Along the way they encounter Shadow the Hedgehog. Sonic fights him, damaging the device and freeing Shadow, who pursues Lyric. The device displays a hologram of Lyric taunting of the power he will have once he finds the crystal shards.
Later on the team gets attacked by Metal Sonic, Tails claiming his presence is only due to Dr. Eggman (though Dr. Eggman never makes an appearance besides his silhouette on a computer screen). Sonic fights and defeats Metal, who runs away.
Eventually the team makes it to Lyric’s Airship and frees Amy. Just after, Lyric captures Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and places them in a capsule, sending them rolling through his airship. Sonic chases the capsule, and when it stops, Lyric attacks Sonic. Sonic eventually defeats Lyric and frees his friends. Lyric then reveals a large robot he is going to use to destroy the team, but Shadow rips the wires out of the back of it and sends Lyric flying towards the ground. Sonic quickly pulls a lever that opens a giant door that Lyric falls through, presumably to his death. Shadow leaves the team behind, stating his desire to work alone.
While the first Sonic Game in the three Game deal between Nintendo and SEGA (of which this is the third and final) took the Sonic series in a totally different direction than any other Game before it, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal leans more toward traditional Genesis-like Gameplay with new gimmicks and abilities. For the first time since the Sonic Rush series, we get a Sonic Platformer with other playable characters besides Sonic. Miles “Tails” Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, and Sticks the Badger are all playable along side the famous blue hedgehog.
Players will navigate one of the four previously listed characters at a time through huge levels with many floors and a vast number or alternate paths that you can take-all in search of crystal shards and missing blueprints. These levels are anything you want them to be- a speed run level or an exploration level. You can take the shortest path start-to-finish and beat the level in five minutes, or explore around, collect items, and beat the level in up to twenty minutes. Now, you’re probably thinking “TWENTY minutes!! These levels must be crazy hard like in Sonic Lost World!!” and you’d be wrong in that assumption. These levels have an interior and an exterior, and you travel through both using an Enerbeam Slingshot. No matter where you are, you’ll encounter Lyric’s mechs, hazards, obstacles and alternate paths that require different characters’ abilities, and even the classic loop-de-loop every now and then. All characters have a set of common abilities and exclusive abilities that make playing as just Sonic impossible- something the fans have been begging for ever since Tails and co. got confined to the cutscene bin.
Instead of the PRESS HERE TO WIN boost ability, we have a slower version called “Sprint”. This increases the character’s speed and helps with jumping distance. Collecting blueprints will eventually give your sprint a power-up, allowing you to sprint through un-shielded enemies to destroy them. The basic homing attack, double-jump and stomp are here also, and common among each character. Also common among each character is the new Enerbeam ability. This beam can be used in many ways that are helpful and necessary to zone. Use it as a zipline by latching on to an overhead rail, clear gaps by using it to swing off of a mech in between two platforms, strip mechs of their shields, and travel to and from different parts of levels and zones.
Each character has a special ability only they can use. These abilities are required to complete the level, making each character uniquely useful. Sonic can air-dash up, down, left or right to gain distance and/or smash through giant blocks. Tails can use his twin tails as a helicopter to slow his decent . There are also large fans in the levels that aren’t powerful enough to lift the other characters, so Tails can use his helicopter ability for the extra lift needed to move to other parts of the level. He can also throw bombs that stick to enemies. Knuckles can punch and burrow, the latter of which is extremely useful throughout the Game. Sticks can throw a boomerang and even guide it to a specific location- very useful for knocking out the electric fuses in obstacles or collecting items.
What about collecting those lost crystal shards and blueprints? When I first saw the shattered crystal on the load screen, I thought “Oh no, not another Sonic Unleashed item collector.” (Sonic Unleashed forbade the player to access some levels without a certain amount of special coins that had to be miserably attained through thorough search). But, I was very impressed with how user-friendly this Game is. The first few blueprints are easy to find, and once you get enough, you unlock abilities that show you the location of the crystal shards and other lost blueprints. And once you know where they are, it’s never too difficult to find them. Do you have to persistent? Yes. Do you have to be utterly obsessive? No. Sonic Advance 3 made the player collect a large number of Chao before they could collect a key (which they had to make it out of the level alive with) to the Special Stage. Fail the Special Stage and you have to go get the key again. Games like that make item collecting a chore, especially if you know you will unlock an extra boss or zone once you do it, so you play obsessively. With this Game, item collecting is enjoyable. You get to explore the vast zone and use your abilities to reach those precious shards. Playing obsessively, I was able to beat the Game with all crystal shards and blueprints within close 10 hours over a 4 day span, but I’ve been playing Sonic for over 10 years.
In every zone there is a worm tunnel. Here, Sonic runs toward the end of the zone, avoiding electric obstacles and blasting through blocks in a 3D viewpoint while a giant worm-mech tries to eat him. At the end of this Sonic sprints straight down the worms throat, destroying him from the inside. Each of these levels is similar, becoming harder as the Game progresses. These could possibly be considered a Boss Battle, though the only hit you make is the fatal one at the end. As far as traditional Boss Battles, there is sorrowfully only one. Lyric has Knuckles, Tails, Sticks, and Amy trapped in a capsule. This rolls quickly on rails in Lyric’s airship. Sonic must run along with the capsule until he reaches a static platform area. Here, Lyric will put a shield around himself and attack Sonic by firing missiles, launching his claws out toward Sonic, and firing a large laser from his tail. When he launches his claws at Sonic, the blue blur can perform a homing attack on both claws then on Lyric himself. When Lyric fires the laser from his tail, his shield disappears, allowing Sonic to perform a homing attack on Lyric or air-dash into him. This repeats a few times until Lyric is greatly damaged and smacks the capsule into the air. Once it lands, Sonic can bust it open to free his friends. I expected some sort of Eggman boss battle at the end of the Game, but that isn’t here.
This Game controls very different from every other Sonic Game I’ve ever played. You use the D-Pad to switch between characters, not to move throughout the level, so I had to get used to that. Also the A-B-X-Y buttons each perform an individual function, and since I’m used to some button for jump and one for homing attack, it took some time to adapt. Also Sonic’s air-dash requires you to hold X and move the circle pad in hte direction you want to dash. None of these controls are bad or unresponsive, they’re just drastically different from all the other Sonic Games, so at first you may flounder around until you get the new control scheme.
This Game features 3 HD Cutscenes. These aren’t viewed in low-resolution like in Sonic Lost World, but, rather, in full high-definition (as best as the 3DS can handle). For other scenes, the characters communicate through speech bubbles, though the characters do perform actions during the speech-bubble scenes, similar to how they would in a real cutscene.
Character development mostly picks up where it dropped off for Sonic and Tails. Contrary to popular belief, Sonic’s blue arms and scarf do not affect Gameplay. Amy is much more calm and collected that usual, while still feisty when attacked. Sticks uses some very annoying dialogue at some points. Knuckles is only obsessed with smashing things and is very arrogant. Also his shoulders are HUGE which makes him ugly .Lyric has the typical bad-guy attitude. All characters make cheesy jokes throughout the Game, but Sticks and Knuckles are the only ones that make too big a move in this direction, which can be annoying during a serious scene.
Nothing to speak of here. “I’m gunna kick your butt.”
Combat with Lyric’s mechs, fighting Lyric himself, Lyric gets knocked out of his airship, possibly to his doom. None of these are represented in a way that is gory or too violent for any 6 year old.
Lyric once claims that once he has the crystal he will have the power of a god. That is all.
Some may complain that Amy’s skirt is too short or that Sticks dresses skimpily, but I don’t feel this way and nothing here is done in a sexual way at all.
Is this the END??
When Tails notices Metal Sonic, he obviously hints that his presence is only due to Dr. Eggman, whose silhouette appears on a computer monitor shortly after when he instructs Metal to defend Lyric’s robot factory. But, Dr. Eggman never makes another appearance. Why would he send Metal to defend the base if he is not involved with it? Is this where the story intertwines with the Wii U version? Or is it a hint at a sequel? Maybe one day we will find out. Until then, enjoy this epic piece of platforming goodness brought to us by the company known for establishing an empire on single Game series: SEGA. While it may have a few plot elements that I’m nitpicky towards and a control scheme that takes some time understand, this Game could just be the reboot SEGA’s been looking for.
Screen shots (excluding the last one) and trailer were taken from http://www.sonicthehedgehog.com/boom/en/media-main-trailers/
The Bottom Line
Sonic Boom may just be the reboot SEGA has been wanting. This game features innovative gameplay that makes item collecting little more than a breeze and comes together to make an amazing title.