7 Star Games, Games

Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric Review

SB_Rise_of_Lyric_NA_Box_Art
Sonic Boom brought a lot of controversy with it when they first showed the character designs for this reboot. Why did America need to have its own version of Sonic and why was Knuckles so well built? These were questions that plagued the minds of many Americans as we eagerly awaited the game. Evidently, many people are not pleased with this title. It’s pretty sad since the game is a unique take on Sonic that we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. So, this is me telling Sega not to hit the panic button as the Big Red Button may be on to something. I would actually take a sequel to this title…let’s find out why!

Sonic and friends are just having fun when they are cornered by Metal Sonic and forced to retreat into a mysterious area. It’s like a big dungeon and it seems old. Unfortunately, Sonic ends up freeing the mighty Lyric from his eternal tomb. Lyric is able to fend Sonic off as he escapes to conquer the planet. To stop him, Sonic will need to gather the 7 8 Chaos Emeralds Crystals to stop his dastardly plans. Will the Hedgehog be fast enough or will his constant banter with his friends slow him down? His toughest challenge is now upon him!

So, this isn’t your average Sonic game. It’s a complete reboot for American Audiences to be introduced to the Sonic franchise since the last few installments haven’t exactly rocked our world in terms of sales. You’ll certainly be able to tell that it’s American since there is a lot more dialogue during the gameplay. Think Spiderman Edge of Time. The heroes are constantly insulting and putting each other down as they ultimately strengthen their bonds of friendship. It’s something that we see a lot in Pac Man or in your average, current American animation. It’s not a bad thing per say. See, it does make all of the characters act out of character, but it’s still cool in its own way. I like Sonic as the overconfident Hedgehog of the 90’s, The Epic Sonic from the 2000’s, and I don’t mind the Sarcastic Sonic from this game. They’re pretty different versions of the same character, but they all tend to work out.

A lot of people have criticized Sonic lately for being too slow. Sonic Lost World was made to be more of a platformer like Mario and this game is Ratchet and Clank style so it’s the slowest Sonic game in years. Their complaints are valid if you really miss the Sonic speed, but we can always dig out Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for that. The game desperately does try to convince you that it is a speed game though through various “Speed Segments” that pop up from time to time. It’s like in Sonic 06 where various levels would just have you power your way to the goal line between levels. However, the segments are pretty small and you can only move from side to side like in a retro speed game. The segments are pretty fun, but you can hardly say that it makes the game move any faster. The characters continue to comment on how fast that they’re going, but in your head you can just picture Sega’s PR division trying to force feed you that message.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t mind a slower game, but my main problem was with the Hub World. You are forced to walk very slowly through it, which makes navigating very tedious. It takes a long time to get from place to place and if you wander into the wrong place you will have to teleport back to another location and begin the trek anew. Trust me…it gets old pretty fast. The Hub World certainly adds replay value, but Sonic should be allowed to run. It’s sort of his thing…Which, you cannot run in regular levels either. Walking is simply here to stay.

Each of the characters have their own gimmick. Knuckles can grab onto walls, Amy can do a triple jump, Tails can glide while over a fan and Sonic can use his homing attack to get over large gaps. It’s a classic teamwork exercise and it works decently well. It does help to slow down the pacing as you switch characters, but that’s just its style.

Lyric is the new villain here and he’s probably going to be remembered as a one and done character unless he makes another appearance on the home console front soon. He’s portrayed as a serious threat and he’s never used for comic relief, but he is just not that powerful. His design ensures that he cannot fight in hand to hand combat and he’s too slow to be considered as a real threat. Ironically, the minions may pose a bigger threat, but I’ll get into that in a moment. I’d say that Lyric beats most of the villains in Lost World, but I do prefer the final boss from that game. Maybe Lyric will grow on me if he appears in the next Sega racing title.

The soundtrack is not so good when you compare it to most Sonic games. The narration probably helped me forget the tunes since it overshadows the music, but I can’t really recall almost any of the level themes. The Hub World music is pretty generic so you won’t find the next City Escape theme there. You can tell that it has an American twist in it and it certainly didn’t help in this case.

The graphics are pretty good. They probably won’t strike you as “Next Gen” but it’s still Sonic and the colorful landscapes look great. It’s good to see that Sonic’s character model survived the Sonic Boom that hit the franchise and he still looks great. Shadow will also strike out at you when he appears and the animations in gameplay are solid. It may not be revolutionary, but I would say that it’s better than average. Sonic just needs to keep up this level!

The tributes to the golden age of the Sonic adventure definitely help to make the story more exciting in the forms of Metal Sonic and Shadow. I think the game would have been even better if they had appeared more. Shadow’s voice actor is terrible, but that’s an unfortunate side effect of the big roster change. The other voices are all pretty decent, but none of them can match the classics. Play through Adventure 2 Battle if you want true voice acting! Metal Sonic means business as per usual and he’s so much faster than Sonic that it’s pretty scary. Shadow’s chaos abilities are also as formidable as ever and he won’t be going down without a fight.

I do have to comment on the power levels since they’re a little wonky in this title. Sonic’s famous speed is all but gone as he just doesn’t move at very impressive speeds. His friends are all decently quick and Sonic’s a few steps ahead of them, but you don’t see anything to support him being massively hyper sonic to light speed levels. Eggman casually outruns him and Sonic can’t even dodge a simple energy blast. Metal Sonic’s speed isn’t even comparable to Sonic’s anymore so Sonic really got the short end of the stick.

The heroes are also pretty under powered as a few ordinary robots are enough to scare them out of their minds. Just a glimpse of Metal Sonic is enough to force the heroes to utilize their tactical retreat options. That’s always pretty sad to see since these are heroes. I don’t think that you would see Link or Samus backing off from these odds. That being said, this will make Mario fans pretty happy as they can make a better argument that Mario can win. This version of Sonic is definitely beatable.

Unfortunately, Eggman doesn’t look very good since he’s around to make Lyric look tough. Metal Sonic is forcibly taken away from Eggman, which I didn’t buy for a second. Lyric basically has control over all electronics, which is a cool ability, but Metal Sonic isn’t your average robot. Eggman does get a few good moments though and I’d say that he’s still a better villain than Lyric. It’s too bad that this game is really just trying to make fun of him rather than making him a serious threat. Technically, he should easily be able to take out Lyric with his mecha. The comic relief is just too much for him at times.

Going back to the gameplay, it’s very similar to Ratchet and Clank, but with less shooting. You’ll do a lot of punching, but you can alternate with homing attacks and ground pounds. Punching is just the most effective way to fight if you want to take out the enemies quickly. Everyone comes equipped with an energy whip to get across various sections of the game. I’ll admit that this part is rather unnecessary and just drags out the game, but at least you can use it to throw the enemies away. It’s a pretty fun game style where I just have one serious complaint.

Beating up on the villains can actually get annoying. They have a lot of invincibility moments where you have to wait until they attack to start pounding into them again. It doesn’t make them any tougher, but it certainly prolongs the battle. You’ll be fighting well over a hundred mechs by the time that the game’s over and they are especially numerous in the climax. You’ll definitely get tired of fighting them by then and you’ll want a break. The bosses are unaffected by this though as they’re all fun to challenge. Unfortunately, they are extremely easy (Either punch or throw things at the bosses…that’s literally it) but that’s to be expected. The Final Boss doesn’t have anything grand added to it, which can be anti climatic, but it’s still a good fight.

The game got a lot of attention for its glitches and bugs, but there aren’t a whole lot of them. Several cutscenes played without audio and I jumped through a wall once, but at least I was able to jump back to the screen. Also, it came in handy during one part where I tried jumping into oblivion, but ended up teleporting onto an enemy ship. Glitches can actually help out like that! The one glitch that does occur frequently is when the frame rate drops. Lagging when playing online is one thing, but you don’t typically expect that in story mode. It happens a whole lot when you’re in the hub world, but it’s also present for the field. It can be comical or annoying depending on how you look at it.

Sonic and Tails are portrayed fairly accurately compared to their real selves. They’re just a little more extreme as Tails criticizes Sonic’s jokes and Sonic likes to insult Eggman more. Amy is pretty good as she’s solidifying herself as more of a rival/ally to Sonic as she can keep up with him and she also has the hammer. Knuckles is really the only character who looks really bad here as he’s portrayed to be very unintelligent. He can’t comprehend simple sentences and he can barely think without hurting himself. I think that the writers went wayyyyyy to far there since he’s usually a pretty likable character. I think that they need to back up a little and rethink the whole situation. Shadow’s portrayal is just odd and it makes you think that they just threw him in at the last second. He attacks Sonic and his friends for literally no reason and then he backs off at the end because the heroes saved the day. Wasn’t he about to stop them from doing just that? Of course, his voice makes me naturally dislike his role, but it still did not make a whole lot of sense.

Overall, Sonic Boom is a pretty fun game and a nice start to a new section of the franchise. It certainly has its share of flaws, but the first title in a series usually needs some work. Just look at Sonic Spinball and Sonic DX or Mario Golf and Mario Galaxy. Those may not be relevant examples, but they’ll still cause you to think. The bugs aren’t quite as numerous as you may think and the gameplay is ultimately fun, which is the important part. Hopefully they can just portray Eggman a little tougher in the sequel and make Sonic a whole lot faster. This is definitely a solid title to buy and you can expand your Wii U collection at the same time! Also, if you want some hype for debating sites, “Nobody has ever dodged my Spin Dash before!” will be a good line to remember when people try to say that someone’s reaction times are enough to stop Sonic. It just won’t work against good ole Lyric.

Overall 7/10