|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Big Red Button|
|Release: Q4 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
What the heck Sega? You did it again! Last E3 when I tried out Sonic: Lost World, I threw a fit over the fact that Sonic was made slower and that you needed to hold down a button to make him run. A Sonic game without a fast Sonic? WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING?! I practically exploded with rage saying how I couldn’t imagine that it could get worse than this… HOW COULD YOU LET IT GET WORSE THAN THIS?!?!
I’m talking about Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, which I unfortunately got a chance to play on the E3 2014 show floor. I hesitate to even call this a Sonic game, because it isn’t. This is a generic action game with a Sonic coat of paint. It’s like someone put blue spikes all over Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter. Sonic’s main method of attack? Punching things! Sonic’s way of getting close to enemies? A grapple beam! Sonic moves slowly, double jumps instead of using his homing attack, and doesn’t even lose all of his rings when he gets hit!
The demo I played plodded along at a snail’s pace. My goal was to get across a river of toxic sludge. There was a platform with a bumper near me which I could move but that was about it. I had to use a variety of tools to make my way across, including Sonic’s double jump, grapple beam, flipping switches in the right order, and even using the Wii U gamepad to locate hidden tracks and footsteps on the level. I even had to call in teammates like knuckles to give me a hand at some points. The puzzle solving was interesting and felt rewarding when I was done and I HATED ALL OF IT!
Why? Well, this is a game featuring Sonic: The Hedgehog, the Blue Blur, the fastest thing alive! IT’S IN HIS THEME SONG! And I spent nearly a half hour of game demo time in the same small area! That’s not what Sonic would do! Sonic would spin-dash away at supersonic speeds!
Speaking of the spin dash, Sonic still has that, and a ground pound, and for a while I thought some of the old traditional Sonic gameplay was retained but NOPE! First of all, if you jump on an enemy you get damaged! WHAT!? That is a core tenant of Sonic gameplay and you are just going to ditch it? You can ground pound or spin dash into an enemy but doing so only knocks the enemy over. You have to hit them multiple times to finally kill them, which means punching and kicking is more effective than bouncing off your foes. Not only that, but Sonic can’t even spin-dash through enemies. Hitting an enemy with a spin dash stops him in his tracks! WHY DO YOU KEEP INSISTING ON STOPPING SONIC’S MOMENTUM SEGA?!?!
I get that this game is based off an upcoming children’s TV show. I get that this is an attempt to retool Sonic’s image. I get that you are trying to insert some story into a Sonic the Hedgehog game. I get all of that. But the trailers show Sonic running. The show shows Sonic running. The FMVs in the game show Sonic running. How could you make everything show Sonic running except for the actual gameplay?!
A SEGA rep said that the game will be equal parts “speed” and “brawling” levels. I just want to make one thing clear SEGA: you tried that already. You tried that with Sonic Unleashed… you know… the game where you had Sonic turn into a werewolf... were-hog… whatever. Remember what a big success that was? No? That’s because it was a dumb idea! It was a dumb idea and you are doing it again, just with athletic tape instead of lycanthropy.
And honestly, if there were more “speed” portions in the final game, why the heck did you bring mostly brawling demos to E3? That’s not what Sonic fans want. We want to see Sonic running at super speed! I want to make one thing clear. Knuckles punching things? That’s fine. Tails shooting things with a gun and flying a plane? That’s fine. Amy whacking things with a hammer and stumbling over Sonic with love? That’s fine. That… annoying character Sticks which you decided to introduce into the game for no real reason? That’s fine! The one thing that is not fine is making Sonic go slow… and for some reason you just keep doing that! Shadow the Hedgehog with all of its guns and demon fighting was closer to the spirit of a Sonic the Hedgehog game than this demo was.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was the most disappointing game that I saw at E3 this year. It took one of my favorite childhood icons and warped him into something unrecognizable. This isn’t just a bad Sonic game. This is videogame sacrilege. This is a soulless, heartless design by a committee in an attempt to make Sonic appeal to the younger generation. This is a huge slap in the face to Sonic fans that stuck with the blue hedgehog through the blunders like Sonic and the Dark Knight or Sonic and the Secret Rings. This is not what Sonic the Hedgehog is supposed to be, and the fact that you keep letting games like this be made shows that SEGA either really doesn’t care about its strongest IP, or has just completely forgotten what Sonic the Hedgehog stands for.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 16, 2014