I reviewed the Wii U version of Sonic Boom not too long ago. Despite the bad press it was decently good. It wasn’t great, but it was a fun Sonic game. Now it is time to see how the other half of the Sonic Boom game franchise fared. I can safely say that it held its own against previous portable adventures.
The game starts off with a bang as we see Amy dueling with Lyric. The Reptile manages to get the upper hand when Amy stops fighting to talk to Sonic over the communicator. He wants the Shattered Crystals and nothing will get in his way this time! Sonic quickly gathers up his three trusty allies (Tails, Knuckles, and Sticks) and heads off for his toughest challenge yet!
Timeline wise, this game seems to act as an alternate version to the Wii U title. We fight Shadow again because he is brainwashed and Metal Sonic joins in on the fun too. Amy is kidnapped so there are a decent amount of differences to be found, but many parts will make you think of it as the Wii U game. I give Sega kudos though for giving us a different game instead of a normal port for the 3DS.
The graphics are decent, but they aren’t as impressive as they could be considering that this is a 3DS game. The environments are pretty fun and the gameplay is actually pretty quick, but the camera can keep up. This area may still be a little underwhelming, but it could certainly be a lot worse. Shadow always looks cool no matter how the animation turn out. That being said, there are only 2-3 animated cutscenes in the game. The animation looks pretty good for those, but the rest of the events are all text based, which shows just how limited the budget was. Little thing like the fact that you can’t speed up the slow moving text during a scene will become noticeable over time.
The gameplay is pretty good though and I definitely can’t fault the game there. There are no real glitches to be found and it plays out like most other Sonic portable titles. One difference is that the characters have electro whips so that you can jump over large areas and disarm enemies. I never use it for the latter effect, but it is mandatory for the jumps. I am okay with it, but it is not really necessary. The game could have done just as well for itself with or without the item. Knuckles can dig, Tails can glide, and Sticks can fire a boomerang. These abilities help you progress through the level, but you will still want to play as Sonic for the majority of the game. He is just the most fun to play as!
One mechanic that I felt was utterly pointless was the gate system. You definitely do not need that to be in the game and it is just an excuse to get your stylus out. You simply swipe down to go from area to area, but you could have just done that with the push of a button. It’s not a huge thing, but it just makes you wonder. There are several gates in each level and they can also be found in the stage select menu.
The soundtrack is pretty uninspired and I couldn’t really recall any of them right now. They are pretty decent while you are playing, but that’s about it. I miss the good ole days of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and Heroes. Now those games had some really good tunes to listen to during the stages. As it stands, Sonic Boom could certainly do worse though.
An interesting thing to note here is that there is only one boss fight in the game. it’s your big battle against Lyric of course and it’s a fun final boss. It doesn’t have the scope that the others typically have, but I was just glad to have a boss fight. It’s a hybrid of a racing level and a boss fight as you chase after Lyric until he turns around to fight. Then you chase him again and repeat the process. My only complaint with the fight would be in how everything is repeated. You do the same things three times in a row so the actual boss fight is around 7 minutes, but it could have been much shorter. He doesn’t even switch his attacks as he can only fire a laser, shoot a rocket, and try to hit you with his claws. Memorize the 3 attacks and you’re all set. If anything, the speed part of the level is the dicey section.
The other “bosses” don’t get to fight you in battle. Instead of confronting Shadow and Metal Sonic, you just race against them and the loser automatically self destructs or flees the scene. I’ll admit that this was more than a little disappointing, but I do like races as well. I just would have liked to have had a race and a boss fight. As mentioned earlier, the game seems to really have a set up that is very fixed. Meaning that each world has the same levels more or less…or the same kind of level. Naturally, we have the race level. There is one per world.
Next up, we have the worm races. 1 of these is featured in every world. These are only about 2 minutes and they feel more like a minigame than anything else. They’re actually pretty fun though and it’s a great way to train your reflexes. Finally, we have the platforming levels. Typically there are 2 of them per world. They’re the longest ones and they can easily take you over 10 minutes to complete the first time around if you’re not careful. They’re pretty good although I prefer the races and the worm rushes.
This is one of those games where you will really want to keep an eye on the collectables. The game forces you to get at least 30 of the 34 Emblems in order to face the final boss. So, you’ve got to get just about all of the crystals and screws to beat the game so you may as well get the final few right? We ended up with just about 100% completion as there are just a few medals left to get. The big secret for doing this is that you get to go to Amy’s house and watch the heroes dance. It’s not exactly as good as the bonuses that you used to get in the Sonic games for all emblems. (Sonic DX all emblems = Metal Sonic; Sonic Adventure 2 Battle all emblems = Green Hill Zone…etc) It almost felt like the game was mocking us..maybe the developers just wanted to have a little fun with that.
So, naturally the collectibles represent some replay value for the game. Getting all of them should buy you a little more time and then you can spend your medals at the shop to get titles and other things. There’s also a few pages of a comic to read that provides us with some backstory for the game. It’s good that these things are here since this would otherwise be one of the shortest Sonic games ever. You can probably beat it in a day or two if you put your mind to it. There are only about 21 levels and since you can beat over half of them in about 2-4 minutes…that’s not a whole lot of play time. The bulk of it will enter once you have to replay all of the levels to find what you need. I recommend seeking them all out with the map right away…so upgrade the map to its fullest potential at your earliest convenience.
Sonic and his friends are in their Boom interpretations so you should know what to expect from the rumors. Sonic is still really fast and confident. I dare say that he is one of the only characters to really not have changed that much in this series. He mocks Shadow a lot, but you can argue that he would have back in the olden days as well. He’s still a very likable character and it’s hard not to root for Sonic. Tails is also true to form and he’s still the genius of the group. His teammates don’t always appreciate this, but Tails isn’t afraid to put them in his place.
The other characters are a little more changed like Knuckles. He has really lost a lot of intelligence so that he could become the punchline for just about every joke. He has trouble forming proper sentences and you probably haven’t seen a character this unintelligent in a very long time. It can be a little painful to watch for longtime Knuckles fans. Since this is practically a parody it’s okay, but I can only imagine that it’s similar to what Pac Man fans felt when they watched the new show. Amy is more independent in this version and they try to hammer that in (See what I did there?) by having her give Lyric a good battle in the intro. She’s actually winning, which is sad for the villain, but she let her guard down, which was a pretty huge mistake in the long run. She seems pretty cool here and her character trope is better than the other allies for me.
Sticks got so much attention before the game came out, but it seems as if the franchise has forgotten about her. The TV show is the only place where she really gets to get some character development as the games try to tell you that you should already be familiar with her character. She’s known as the nutty raccoon in the forest who is paranoid and that’s basically her personality. I like the fact that she’s basically crazy and admits to this, but she really doesn’t add much to the group. We may as well have just stuck with Marine.
Eggman is surprisingly absent from the game. He just doesn’t make it and that’s rather odd. Metal Sonic is here, but he has no character and he’s just obliterated on arrival. Shadow’s role is similar to the Wii U version in the fact that he just attacks the heroes for the lolz, but he actually isn’t doing it out of free will here. He was thoroughly defeated by Lyric earlier so now he is being mind controlled. The heroes save him and he storms off until the very ending where he has his big moment. It’s pretty satisfying for his fans so I’m glad that the game had a strong ending there.
Lyric is still not a likable villain. He’s not bad by any means, but he’s ultimately generic and you have to wonder how he is a threat to Sonic at all. He has a tail to attack people with, but he’s slow and not all that strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lyric never appears in any of the games outside of the Boom series. Maybe he’ll be in the next Sega racing game…maybe.
Overall, Sonic Boom Shattered Crystal was a pretty fun game. I’d say that the game was a little better than the Wii U version. It felt more like a traditional Sonic game and it stayed fast paced from start to finish. Shadow looked a lot better here as well, which is a plus and the moral at the end was pretty intense. Sticks finally put two and two together and she came up with the logical outcome. The gameplay is pretty tight and it definitely doesn’t shame the Sonic name. I highly recommend checking this title out and don’t trust the rumors that it is super buggy and glitchy. The Wii U version had a little trouble with that, but it was also exaggerated on that account. The only reason why you may want to be wary of getting this game is the short length, but the game has already had a price reduction in several places so it’s certainly worth the price. Even at 40, a short, but fun game is always worth it. Take the plunge and pick this game up while it’s still new. You won’t regret it!