By Louis Polite / December 11th, 2014
Now, let’s get one thing straight, Sonic Boom’s poor programming is nothing like Sonic The Hedgehog (2006). That was a frustrating experience where most of the glitches worked against you to create fake difficulty. The programming of this game is more thrown together in such a nonsensical way that it just barely passes. It only gets by due to the auto-snap scripted gameplay in a lot of the platforming and movement because they were too lazy to program authentic gameplay like last year’s Sonic Lost World.
For example, the Bounce Pads don’t even look like they’re meant to bounce you anywhere they’re pointing. It’s almost like some amateur programmer didn’t know how to make a diagonally-angled Bounce Pad, so they just put down a vertical upward Pad that bounces you diagonally. That’s the kind of rubbish programming you’d see in Flash games. How about doing random jumping on the auto-running sections will occasionally cause you to clip through the ground and fall to your doom? I’ve actually ended up locking myself out of doors because I decided to go back for other collectibles. Turns out the door I went into was programmed to only open once. Which meant I had to restart the game and go back to the last checkpoint.
Whenever this game tries to do anything other than the repetitive formula addressed earlier — more specifically, the water vehicle gameplay sections — it’s never fun, has fewer checkpoints than usual and, depending on your reaction time, can end up costing you finishing the game due to frustration levels (which can also be caused by collision detection issues). Don’t forget about the most famous glitch of the game; having Knuckles skip entire sections using the pause/unpause diving dig trick and possibly putting your completion time into the mere minutes. How about the fact that, if you trigger a cutscene in a certain part of a map, using Sonic Adventure logic to the umpteenth degree, they have models in cut scenes clip through solid objects? Let’s stir up the pot with the occasional inaccurate subtitles that don’t match to the voices verbatim.
Let’s throw a cherry on top of the crap sundae with audio and visual technical problems. Remember that beautiful 60 frames per second in Sonic Lost World? Sega decided that Nintendo gamers wouldn’t appreciate another 60 FPS game. It’s totally not the foundation of Nintendo. Nintendo fans love pretentious engines like CryEngine 3, especially when they are poorly used! Right in front of your eyes, folks, you will be enchanted by a barely consistent frame rate of 30 FPS that even Ubisoft’s cinematic lust would cringe at! It’s a totally delightful experience to have it jar all the way down to 15 FPS, it’s good for the eyes.
No, really, it’s good for your eyes because it makes it feel like you are blinking really fast while playing the game to put that awesome flicker effect on it, but you don’t have to do it yourself. It’s also complimented by the jarringly frustrating camera with a beautiful soul of its own. It’s as beautiful as a spawn from hell possessing the camera. It jerks around with absolute grace and freedom from controls of things like your inputs! The camera sucks if you didn’t get the message.
It’s just so delicious to see that, whenever you approach one side of a town, the game has to stop, freeze, screen tear and clip you several frames forward in an attempt to load the rest of the map. Saving you from constantly blinking is a good thing because you’ll already be crying at the dated visuals. The tears in your eyes may block you from having to look at visuals that make a GameCube look like a PlayStation 4. The random hiccups at significant locations of gameplay are really signs of the game trying to end itself faster because even it seems to know how much it fails! I think Sonic and the gang are just trying to cut corners (kind of like the developers of this game) and just randomly animate further ahead to get out of this game!
Sonic games are well known for good music of some kind, whether it be electronic rhythms or rock and roll tunes, but this game decides to do neither by composing bland music that’s as memorable as ramen noodles… and no, no packet mix to even flavor it one bit! No, instead it’s loaded with cyanide dust, having characters pop a one-liner every time they get a ring (i.e. “One RING to rule them all” or “That sound has a nice RING to it”), every time you bounce off a Bounce Pad (i.e. “Take me somewhere cool” or “Bounce Pad!”) and every time you stop for too long and seemingly don’t know where to go, one of the characters keeps obnoxiously repeating what to do. I know it’s a kids game, but I’m sure kids are not that dull-brained.
To clarify something and pardon my earlier sarcasm, I wouldn’t even say this isn’t the same kind of bad as the infamous “Sonic Cycle” (Sonic The Hedgehog (2006), Sonic & The Secret Rings, Sonic Unleashed and Sonic & The Black Knight) games. No, most of those had the bullet points of a AAA title such as a first act, an inclining second act and a climaxing third act. Despite how bad they were, they progressed as a AAA title and the stakes in their stories actually did get higher. They just had extremely frustrating gameplay.
This game is a different kind of bad. It’s a middleware title disguised as AAA hype. Something you need to note, this is not developed by Sonic Team, it’s completely outsourced. Also take into account that this game is based off the TV show, the TV show is NOT based on the game. This is actually a licensed title, folks, do not be fooled. It has the static gameplay problems of middleware games like Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures and The Amazing Spider-Man games, except even far more repetitive and not optimized. To clarify even further, none of my criticisms towards this game are in any relation to the character design. Sonic looking like Crash Bandicoot, Knuckles looking like he just injected himself with ten shots of steroids, he and his friends dressed up in so much sports tape that they could pass for mummies are far from a legit deterrent under this mess. As a prideful Sonic fan, I only look for good gameplay and as a consolation prize, a good story with well-written characters. Neither were found here; not even to the quirky standard of what I know for Sonic.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is not “Sonic Cycle” bad, it’s just an afterthought game meant to sell to kiddies who like that new show on Cartoon Network. It’s a new kind of bad. It’s a licensed game with the expectations of a AAA title. Even if you can somehow get past the technical problems (or luck out and never actually experience any of them), the overall product itself still turns out to be a huge bore comprised of static gameplay, non-progressive characters and poor presentation. As a Wii U owner, you need to stay in that current high you are in with a successful string of titles you are already experiencing. This game will be forgotten very quickly, there’s no reason to pay any mind to a game that is shoddy middleware at its core. It’s a real shame we had to get this phoned-in product in comparison last year’s fine-tuned Sonic Lost World. For the starved 3D platforming fanatic, I must apologize and tell you that Super Mario 3D World is virtually the only 3D platformer this generation worth playing so far. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and get some Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on.
Review Copy provided by publisher
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