E3 – Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Hands-On Preview

Sonic the Hedgehog has been on the rise with Sonic Colors and Generations meeting some pretty good praise. It’s too bad though that the latest entry in the franchise, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, doesn’t seem to innovate or impress like its predecessors have. When the Sonic the Hedgehog series seemed to have taken a few steps back before and then a few steps forward, Sonic Boom feels like it’s ignoring everything that made entries like Generations so great.

Playing three different levels with three different play styles, it’s currently unknown how all these will connect. One section featured Sonic and friends running along through some obstacles, but it seemed to have abandoned the excellent mechanics from Generations, instead limiting the control of the characters. For instance, previous games allowed players to maneuver up, around, and over obstacles at high speeds with ease, but, for some reason, Sonic Boom feels slow all around. With less of a focus on speed, the game feels like it loses some of its focus all around as well.

Sonic Boom feels like a game that doesn’t really know what it wants to be as the game adopts some third-person action adventure elements, with sections akin to your standard brawler. This would be fine if combat were fun, but it’s not unlike those of the PlayStation 2 era, which have not aged very well. While Sonic and friends’ ability to grab objects and enemies from afar with some sort of lasso beam opens things up a bit, the opportunity just isn’t there to break much ground in the 3D brawler genre. It was just all right, and that’s a shame.

Best buds.

Best buds.

My biggest problem, however, was again with the speed sections. Aside from slowing down considerably, nearly half of the section was completely beyond my control. At some point, I wasn’t even pressing buttons, only watching Sonic bounce and run along a ton of boosts, springs, and loops. This would have been awesome if it were actually me doing anything at any point, but the game just sort of took over to handle all the coolest stuff for me. That’s no good.

Boss battles were still pretty hectic yet simple, which is one very nice and practical approach to the new gameplay. Still, I find it hard to believe that Sonic Boom is really just more than a simple tie-in to the hedgehog’s upcoming line of toys, cartoons, and the like. That’d be fine if it didn’t seem like such a downgrade from the previous game in the series. Kids will likely find a lot to like from its more simplistic mechanics this time around, but there are much more impressively crafted games for everyone of all ages to enjoy. A Wii U port of Sonic Generations would likely have been a much better fit here.

You can play Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric yourself when it releases on November 25th for the Nintendo Wii U.

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