Sega and Nintendo have always butted heads over whose mascot is the platformer king. While Sonic’s frantic speed and chaotic platforming attracted many fans, Mario still reigned over the genre effortlessly for decades. In spite of Nintendo’s triumph, Sonic had some amazing years during the 16-bit era. Unfortunately, the transition to newer consoles lead the blue speedster into a downward spiral. Aside from a handful of decent entries, Sonic has become a shadow of his former self, while Mario still runs laps around the competition. After the horrid Sonic: Lost World, it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for the poor fella. Instead of taking the game’s failure as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and give Sonic the game he deserves, Sega decided to dig his grave further, while smashing him over the head with a shovel.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a catastrophe. It’s a broken, unplayable mess that should have never passed QA testing. It’s outright depressing that Sonic has sunk this low. From the grotesque visuals and unacceptably low frame rate to the badly designed levels and cringe worthy dialogue, Rise of Lyric fails in every imaginable area. Something must have gone terribly wrong during the game’s production, because the end result feels like a messy alpha build. Cutscenes are poorly compressed with artifacts flickering across the screen, the resolution appears below HD, and the jaggies...my god, the anti-aliasing (or rather the lack thereof) is horrid. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the death of Sonic. This is it. Unless a miracle happens, Sega has now made it impossible to have any faith left in its once-spectacular hedgehog. It’s a sad year for Sonic.
"Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a catastrophe. It’s a broken, unplayable mess that should have never passed QA testing."
It’s hard to imagine that Rise of Lyric’s developers, Big Red Button Entertainment, were children once. Because if they were, they wouldn’t treat their audience like complete idiots. Sonic and his dimwitted friends constantly point out the obvious, even while they’re performing the obvious. If there’s a platform meant for jumping, and there are no other interactive objects in the environment, no one needs guidance on how to jump. As if the levels aren’t linear enough, the constant handholding leaves no room for play.
Sonic games have always been about building speed and momentum, so it’s baffling that someone at Sega thought it’d be a good idea to rid Sonic of his signature moves. Rise of Lyric introduces a new twist (twist being used very sarcastically here): exploration and melee combat. Yes, turning Sonic into a generic 3D platformer with button-mashing mechanics is being considered revolutionary. The world is divided into explorable areas, 2D platformer levels and on-rails speed challenges. While each section is completely devoid of creativity, the explorable environments that introduce melee combat are the biggest offenders. The camera is broken and makes platforming in these semi-open areas hellish. The combat is repetitive and consists of brainless button-mashing. The levels are ugly and uninspiring, with a sluggish frame rate that can barely keep up with Sonic’s “walking” speed. Nothing works here and nothing has anything to do with Sonic.
"The most honorable thing Sega can do now is put an end to Sonic. Take off the bandages, put him in a deep slumber and try to honor the little stature left from his heyday."
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric lets players switch between four playable characters, each supposedly equipped with special skills needed to overcome specific obstacles. In reality, all characters play identically and any level could theoretically be played with any character. Sure, Sonic may be faster than Knuckles, and unlocked special glyphs reward each character with enhanced abilities, but the differences are minimal and only disguise the complete lack of gameplay diversity. To further destroy the little dignity Sonic has left, the developers have made changes to the characters’ appearances. Everyone is now wrapped in bandages. Maybe it’s to hide the abuse the characters have undergone during development, or maybe it’s a desperate attempt to look cool. Who knows. Nothing really makes any sense.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was developed Big Red Button Entertainment, a fairly new studio founded in 2009 by Naughty Dog’s Bob Rafei. This is the guy who worked on Jak & Daxter, Crash Bandicoot and even the original Uncharted. He’s undeniably talented and certainly knows a thing or two about making games, so it’s even more shocking that the end product is such a travesty. Even with the collaboration of Sonic Team’s legendary Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric somehow feels like it was made by amateurs. The most honorable thing Sega can do now is put an end to Sonic. Take off the bandages, put him in a deep slumber and try to honor the little stature left from his heyday.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Wii U