Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Wii U Review
Publisher: SEGA Developer: Big Red Button Entertainment Genre: Action Adventure
Players: 1-4 Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is quite a departure from most games starring the speedy blue hedgehog in a number of ways. The game actually takes place in a separate universe; a universe in which the CG show of the same name also shares. It’s not only the setting that is different though, as the game itself is also rather different from the norm.
Being that the game is set in its own separate universe, changes have been made in the story to some of the established characters. While Sonic himself is the same blue hedgehog with a huge ego, he is now wearing a scarf. Still, a scarf is nothing compared to some of the changes made elsewhere. Amy Rose isn’t going on and on about Sonic all the time like a teenage girl with a crush, and is less over the top for example, which will likely prove to be welcome to those who typically find her character to be irritating. The biggest change however is the major and controversial bulking up of Knuckles, who is now all about the brawn as opposed to brains. It took me awhile to get used to the new Knuckles, but I did eventually feel accepting of him. As for the story itself, it sees Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy accidentally releasing Lyric, a huge snake-like villain, who we soon find out wants to shape the world to his liking. With its witty dialogue, the story is fun and amusing, and does the job.
With the ability to switch characters to make use of their skills, the game itself seems to take some of its inspiration from Sonic Heroes. Sonic himself can spin dash up certain ramps, Tails can glide and make use of air currents to reach higher heights, Knuckles can scale certain walls and roofs, and Amy can climb and walk along beams as well as triple jump. You may need some characters to progress through the game in certain areas, although you’ll also find that you are able to use specific characters to find some of the many optional collectible crowns and treasure chests. Unlike Sonic Heroes, the characters that you aren’t currently playing as don’t stay glued to you at all times, and they seem to struggle keeping up, which means the developer had to design a teleport mechanic to assure that you don’t get too far ahead of the characters you have left behind. It’s still annoying though, as sometimes you’ll wonder how you have even got split up in the first place, and you may find yourself not too pleased with the team AI at times. There’s also a drop-in/out cooperative mode for two players in which one player has the use of the TV and the other player follows their character on the GamePad’s screen, although the frame rate seems to struggle even more than the single player, so playing in cooperative is not recommended.
This is a Sonic game that isn’t just about the speed, as Sonic and company regularly slow down to walking pace, which allows you to explore many of the areas at your own pace and to solve some very basic puzzles. It’s a shame that the camera can get really quite bad at times though, and you’d have to be a very forgiving person for it to not irritate you with its wayward nature.
There are also a number of large hubs which you’ll visit throughout the game, and, if you go out of your way to explore them, there’s side missions to be found. It’s just a shame that the map isn’t very helpful, and you may be wondering why it was included in the first place as you still find yourself struggling to get around.
When Sonic and friends do speed up, these sections are decent enough, although they lack the extra control that Sonic: Lost World gave to you, and they certainly aren’t the best example of Sonic at his best. Worst of all is the framerate, which can be rather jerky during these sections, and this just isn’t right for a Sonic game. With all the latter said, there’s certainly a feeling that the game is unpolished and that it could have done with some extra development time.
There’s even a fair bit of fighting, which is certainly unusual for a Sonic game, particularly as you can’t just jump on the heads of enemies and be done with it in the typical manner. It was odd to see the likes of Sonic taking down his foes with his limbs and a futuristic lasso at first, but I did eventually get used to it. The fighting is fittingly basic, and there isn’t too much challenge, with mashing the attack button and occasionally rolling out of harm’s way being the order of the day. If you die, there’s little punishment as well, as you’ll be put back into exactly the same battle, with the only penalty being the loss of some of your treasure.
I didn’t encounter any of the terrible bugs that the game is apparently plagued with, and with that said, in my own experience, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a playable enough game, but with some issues which spoil the fun. It’s definitely an interesting reboot for the franchise, although, due to its issues, this isn’t Sonic at his best. If SEGA is to give developer Big Red Button another go with a follow-up Sonic game, hopefully it will be a step up over this enjoyable but rather average offering.