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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
SB Rise of Lyric .jpg
Big Red Button proudly presents: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, the only Sonic game where Sonic runs at Zack Snyder meters per second!
Protagonist(s): Sonic the Hedgehog
Miles "Tails" Prower
Amy Rose
Knuckles the Echidna
Genre(s): Action-adventure
Platform
Platform(s): Wii U
Release: NA: November 11, 2014
EU: November 21, 2014
AU: November 29, 2014
JP: December 18, 2014
Engine: CryEngine 3
Developer(s): Big Red Button Entertainment[1]
Publisher(s): Sega
Country: United States
Series: Sonic the Hedgehog
Predecessor: Sonic Lost World (by release date)
Successor: Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal
"This game was no Boom, it was a straight-up Bust."

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is an action-adventure video game released for the Wii U in the same day as the Nintendo 3DS game titled Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. It was developed by Big Red Button Entertainment and published by Sega. It is considered to be one of the worst video games of all time.

Alongside with Shattered Crystal, Rise of Lyric was intended to be the start of a spin-off series intended for Western audiences, which also consists of an animated series called Sonic Boom, as a sequel of both Sonic Boom games, a comic by Archie Comics, and a toy-line by Tomy.

Plot

After escaping Dr. Eggman, Sonic accidentally awakens an ancient evil known as Lyric, who plans to acquire the Chaos Crystals (not Emeralds) to power up a robot army and wipe out organic life. Sonic and his team consisting of Knuckles, Tails, and Amy Rose must stop him.

Gameplay

Unlike the other Sonic games, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is closer to a traditional slower-paced platformer focused on platforming and exploration. You can switch between four different characters, each with a unique ability used to explore levels. Occasionally you go through high-speed tracks in which you dodge obstacles.

Development

After the failure of Sonic '06, the reputation of the Sonic franchise was in severe decline, likewise sales of Sonic games were also dropping due to the damage done to the franchise. Sega as a result had plans to start a spin-off reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise more catered to North American audiences. The reboot franchise would redesign the characters, explore the lore of the Sonic world with more detail, and drastically change its gameplay.

Sega contacted Big Red Button Entertainment to develop the first game of the reboot franchise, instructing them to develop the game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in mind. Big Red Button opted to develop the game with Crytek's CryEngine 3 game engine (which is used in Crysis 2 and Crysis 3, one of the most demanding PC games in history) and released an initial trailer showcasing some of the gameplay aspects that would be included. The trailer raised some skepticism from long time fans due to the radical changes being implemented, however the trailer still showed promise.

However, during mid-development Sega signed an exclusivity contract with Nintendo, which would produce three Sonic games for the Wii U. Sega mandated Big Red Button to redesign the entire game with the Wii U in mind, however, the Wii U did not support CryEngine 3 and the team had an extremely short timeframe to rework the game into the Wii U's hardware. The game's graphics and assets were downgraded and there was no time to fix the large number of glitches that were found in the final product, as getting the engine to run at all seems to have taken up most of their time. A large amount of content and gameplay features had to be cut as well, including the 4-player online co-op system which most of the game had initially been planned around.

Why It Sonic Busted

  1. Executive meddling: As mentioned above, Big Red Button Entertainment planned to develop the game for PC, PS4, and Xbox One using the CryEngine 3 game engine, only for Sega to then mandate that the game had to be a Wii U exclusive which didn't support it or optimized for it, causing a massive amount of development issues listed below.
  2. Speed, the main aspect that makes Sonic stand out from the other platformers, is close to non-existent aside from small sections; all characters, Sonic included, move very slowly most of the game. This effectively turned the game into a generic platformer, a.k.a. the very thing that Sonic mocked when he was created.
  3. The first cutscene of the game is Sonic getting shot and crushed by rocks that seemingly kill him. The cutscene is supposed to cause suspense because it foreshadows events that happen later in the game, but when you actually reach that scene, Sonic isn't even mildly injured from it, making the whole thing completely pointless.
    • It also continues the trend of "Sonic surviving hazards that would easily kill him" because Sega doesn't have the guts to kill off their money-making hedgehog.
  4. Shockingly bad graphics, making the game look like PlayStation 2 shovelware. The game features low polygon character models, terrible textures, cheesy particle effects and special effects that leave a lot to be desired, and all of this is made even worse when playing in co-op (see WISB #8). This was due to the game's engine being ported and downgraded to fit onto the Wii U.
  5. Awful and poorly implemented physics.
  6. Due to the game's heavily rushed development, it had numerous bugs and glitches at launch like clipping through walls and bridges and models popping out of a dime. The only "useful" bug was the Knuckles infinite jump glitch which allowed the player to bypass all obstacles and finish the game in less than an hour. This bug has since been patched out, though other, much bigger glitches have been found. All those other glitches are related to the same issue as the Knuckles infinite jump, that being that the game engine incorrectly handles certain actions (bouncing, Sonic's spin dash move and Knuckles' dive) if it is paused at specific points in their animations.
    • Because of these kinds of glitches, the game can even crash at times.
  7. Inconsistent framerate which frequently drops and gets even worse during speed sections making them hard to navigate. This is mostly because, again, the CryEngine 3 engine was not designed to run on the Wii U.
  8. Terrible multiplayer modes. Co-op mode and multiplayer makes the graphics and framerate even worse than they already were, and there isn’t even a four-player co-op mode.
  9. The hub is huge but empty and tedious to travel due to the lack of fast traveling options. There are barely any NPCs and its only purpose is to get from one level to the other as well as to complete side quests in exchange for "power glyphs" that once obtained and equipped don't make any difference at all, making the side quests absolutely pointless.
  10. Sticks the Badger, the new main character added to the cast, barely appears in the game and does nothing except give you a pointless sidequest.
  11. Unlike other Sonic games, including even mediocre and terrible ones like Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic '06, this game has a forgettable and generic soundtrack.
  12. Poor sound effects.
  13. The characters almost never shut up. They comment almost every time they grab rings, punch something, press a button, use a bounce pad, etc. Most of the time the dialogue is just the characters pointing out the obvious.
    • An example: in one level, Sonic says "Look, ramps!" and Tails, in response, actually says "We can use these as ramps!"
  14. Overly simplistic combat without any combo options. All you can do is spam the attack button until every enemy dies, and for that matter, enemies have too much health.
  15. The Enerbeam is barely useful aside from tossing enemies into bottomless pits.
  16. Puzzles do not take any effort to solve. Worse, the game overly babysits the player, always giving them the answer to the puzzles despite how blatantly obvious and easy they are or how many times you've done the exact same task before.
  17. Each of the four characters' unique abilities are only used to cross special paths, which are colored-coded accordingly, thus it takes close to no strategy or thought to know what character to use.
  18. The characters have no invincibility frames, meaning they can be combo-ed to death a la Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.
  19. Overly easy difficulty. When you run out of health, you merely respawn a few seconds later, though enemies don't. This makes it possible to win combat sections by leaving your controller unattended and letting your AI teammates kill all of the enemies while you do absolutely nothing.
    • The game says you die if all characters are knocked out at once, but that's outright impossible because your teammates don't take any damage.
  20. You can only hold up to 100 rings. To unlock the ability to increase your maximum ring count, you need to own Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on the 3DS, which retailed at a $40 price tag. This ability is completely pointless because you have infinite lives and there's no punishment for dying in the first place.
  21. The game's plot was planned to explore the origin of Sonic and Eggman, however, due to a mandate from Sega, the origin story was scrapped and instead the game was left with a bland uninspired plot of "Stop the generic villain".
    • Many cutscenes and characters were cut because of this mandate, yet the dialogue referring to them wasn't edited, which leads to audio bugs and characters referring to nonexistent characters such as "Quincy" or "Percy".
    • At one point in the story when Sonic and Tails go back in time, it is revealed that Q-N-C, Cliff's helper, was actually the partner of Lyric, but not at any point do they question Q-N-C about being with Lyric, or even ask why he decided to join him and later leave him and it's never explained why Q-N-C decided to team up with Sonic in the first place.
    • This also resulted in multiple levels having background details that suggest lore for the world Sonic Boom takes place in but none of the characters mention or notice those details.
  22. The main characters get a drastic change in their personality, and are now boring one-dimensional stereotypes and cliches:
    • Sonic changed from a calm, cool, and heroic action-loving hedgehog with a serious attitude into the over-confident moronic protagonist who causes the story's main problem in the first place;
    • Tails changed from a smart, kind, friendly, and helpful character to the geeky captain obvious/know-it-all who is always trying too hard to sound smart, yet more likable than in Sonic Lost World somehow;
    • Knuckles changed from a hotheaded yet calm, serious, and powerful loner into the typical big bulky idiot who can't even tell his left from his right. He is basically an unfunny and unremarkable version of Patrick Star from the early seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants and his redesign is hideous and somewhat creepy;
    • Amy changed from a sassy, kind, and friendly girl with a somewhat unhealthy and obsessive crush on Sonic into a "Generic NPC Woman" as ProJared put it, however more relevant to the plot compared other 2010s Sonic games;
    • Shadow changed from a serious, tragic, and down-to-the-earth rival who still values his friends into a typical all bark no bite and "You're weak because of your friends" type of rival. Also, Shadow is barely present in the game and serves no purpose to the overall story, he’s here only because of fanservice;
    • Eggman changed from a seemingly goofy & egotistical yet evil, menacing, and actually INTELLIGENT scientist that wants to take over the world and continues to pose a threat despite his continual failures and setbacks into an overly flamboyant, incompetent, oddly self-defeating moron who also acts like a dork that sucks up to Lyric before Eggman betrayed him on purpose. Sadly enough, he is probably the most likable character in the game.
    • And Metal Sonic changed from a cold, menacing, and heartless Sonic-looking copy robot who would go above and beyond to become "the real Sonic" into a mindlessly obedient robotic henchman.
  23. The main antagonist, Lyric, is also nothing but a generic "I'm gonna destroy the world because I'm evil!" type of antagonist. Black Doom and Mephiles the Dark (from Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)) were at least decent and menacing villains, but Lyric is boring and underdeveloped.
  24. False Advertising: The back of the box says that the game has Wii U Pro Controller support. The game does not actually support it, most likely due to the short development cycle causing this feature to be dropped at the last minute. Seemingly, as with the manual for Sonic 2006 describing features that do not exist, the packaging design team (who work for the publisher, not the developer) were not informed of this feature being abandoned.
  25. Bland and uninspired bosses that often rely more on enemy hordes than being creative.
  26. Once the game is beaten, an "Extreme Mode" is unlocked, which is just the game's hard mode. Even with the added difficulty, the game is still remarkably easy tough.
    • There is also a bug that makes it impossible to complete the game 100% because one of the levels can't be registered as cleared in Extreme Mode.
  27. The patch that was released for the game a few months after release adds virtually no improvements and is over 1 GB in size due to the game being so poorly programmed and put together.
  28. The game has the absolute nerve to end on a cliffhanger, with Eggman finding a device used by Lyric and reviving Metal Sonic.
  29. The facial expressions on characters look very cringeworthy.
  30. All of these reasons really prove how Sega clearly didn't learn their lesson from Sonic '06 and made the exact same mistake eight years later thus ruining the franchise even more, and it shows.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The voice acting in cutscenes when the characters aren't constantly talking is fairly good.
  2. Depending on your view, some of the characters' idle animations and the jump-and-pause glitch with Knuckles are pretty funny.
  3. The cutscenes are surprisingly some of the best to date in Sonic media (animation-wise) with their cartoony feel and the character animations are really good and suprisingly solid.
  4. As lackluster of a villain that he is, Lyric has an interesting motivation to be evil, as he got sick from trying to use the crystals' power and couldn't be cured by organic medicines, therefore having to build his armor to survive.
  5. Despite not being memorable whatsoever, the soundtrack isn't bad.

Reception

Upon release, the game received extremely negative reviews from critics, with a Metacritic score of 32/100 and a GameRankings score of 33%. It was criticized for its controls, camera system, combat, story, dialogue, and numerous bugs and technical issues.

Metro, discussing the demo negative in their preview stating, "the very worst game in the line-up was Sega's Sonic Boom, which was so unspeakably awful we couldn't even force ourselves to play through the whole demo".

Tim Turi from Game Informer was critical toward the game as he gave the game a 4/10 only. He criticized the poor visual quality and framerate, as well as poor dialogue, non-funny joke, as well as shoddy level-design, underwhelming combat system, and boring action and exploration.

Fans of Sonic called this the next Sonic 2006, due to the fact that this game was clearly rushed to coincide with Black Friday and the television series. Both Sonic '06 and Sonic Boom are on Wikipedia's list of video games notable for negative reception.

DLJadow was particularly harsh to the game in his two-part review. He heavily criticized the game for being too easy, boring and non-stimulating, and lacking in substance on the first part, and on the second part, he bashed the game for completely betraying the essence of a Sonic game and how poorly the characters are portrayed. At the end of the review, he described the game as "Like Sega was so terrified of making yet another bad Sonic game that they directed Big Red Button Studios to make the safest, take no risks whatsoever, watered-down game imaginable!"

Believe it or not, it was a commercial failure. Yes, whereas Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog were commercially successful despite the negative reviews, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the worst selling Sonic game ever and one of the worst selling TV-based games as well with only 0.4 million units sold worldwide. It is now currently the lowest rated Sonic game, was found on nearly every single top 10 worst games of 2014 lists and is considered to be one of the worst games of all time to the point that Sega had to publicly apologize for this game, while admitting they only cared about and milked the franchise to death. Due to its overwhelming flaws, it wasn't only just considered one of (if not as it dethroned Sonic 06 as the worst Sonic Game) the worst Sonic games ever made, but also one of the worst Wii U games ever made, alongside Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade.

The developers claimed that the game serves as a prequel to the show, however, it does a very bad job at explaining anything like how Sonic and his friends meet in this universe, and what's the deal with Shadow and Eggman. Due to the lack of explanation, most fans assume that every character has the exact same backstory as the modern era franchise, causing the fans to question the point of redesigning the characters and playing it off as a separate universe.

While not officially confirmed, the Sonic Boom spin-off franchise seems to have been cancelled, as Sega has not announced any new and only 4 Sonic Boom games in a long time and Big Red Button has since moved to different projects.

After the game flopped, Sega alongside other third-party studios discontinued the support on the Wii U (discounting Sega Sports R&D's Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games), probably due to poor sales and weak hardware of the console.

Trivia

  • The game was directed by Bob Rafei, CEO of Big Red Button Entertainment, who also directed Crash Bandicoot series, Jak and Daxter series and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. While programmer Jeff Lander worked on the True Crime duology of games at his time at Luxoflux
    • According to an interview with Bob Rafei, the idea for the Enerbeam Tether came from Knuckles' Chaotix.
  • Some of dialogues in the game or the show with same name became an internet meme.
  • Within the game's data are two unused voice clips of Amy saying "You go, girl!" and "Way to go, Perci". This may suggest that Perci was intended to be playable or have a bigger role at one point during development.
  • This game was originally titled as Sonic Synergy and it was going to release Multi-platform rather than Wii U exclusive, as mentioned above.
    • This was revealed on the website of UX/UI design consultant for the game, Edward Moore. On this site, early design ideas for both Sonic and Amy were also shown, showing Sonic to be more similar in appearance to his classic appearance.
  • Around the game's release, the infamous Chris-Chan got so mad over Sonic having blue arms that he tried vandalizing game copies with a message on it about the blue arms. One time he pepper-sprayed a Gamestop employee when the employee tried to stop him from vandalizing the copies.
  • This was the last Sonic game to be released for the home console (discounting games from Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games) for 3 years with only a couple of handheld and mobile games coming from the series until Sonic Mania came out.

Videos

Gameplay

Reviews and Top 10 list

References

  1. Additional work by Illfonic.

Comments

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