Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, also known as Sonic Toon: Ancient Treasure (ソニックトゥーン 太古の秘宝 Sonikku Tūn: Taiko no Hihō) in Japan, is an action-adventure game for the Wii U that acted as a prequel to the television show, Sonic Boom.
The game was intended to be the start of a spin-off franchise intended for Western audiences.
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.
Unlike 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.
After the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, 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 contracted Big Red Button to develop the first game of the reboot franchise, instructing them to develop the game with PS4, Xbox One, and PC in mind. Big Red Button opted to develop the game with the CryEngine 3 game engine (which is used in 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 Sucks
- Executive Meddling: As mentioned above, Big Red Button planned to develop the game for PC, PS4, and Xbox One using the Cry Engine 3 game engine, only for Sega to then mandate that the game had to be a Wii U exclusive which didn't support it, causing a massive amount of development issues listed below.
- Speed, the main aspect that makes Sonic stand out from 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 i.e. the very thing that Sonic mocked when he was created.
- 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.
- Awful and poorly implemented physics.
- The game can crash at times.
- 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.
- Inconsistent framerate which frequently drops. The framerate gets even worse during speed sections making them hard to navigate. This is mostly because CryEngine 3 was not designed to run on the Wii U.
- Terrible multiplayer modes.
- Co-op mode and multiplayer makes the graphics and framerate even worse than they already were.
- No four-player co-op.
- The hub is huge but empty and tedious to travel due to no means of fast traveling. 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.
- Sticks the Badger, the new main character added to the cast, barely appears in the game and does nothing but give you a pointless sidequest.
- Unlike other Sonic games (even bad ones like Sonic 06 and Sonic and the secret rings) this game has forgettable and generic soundtrack.
- Poor sound effects.
- The characters never ever 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!"
- 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.
- The Enerbeam is barely useful aside from tossing enemies into bottomless pits.
- Puzzles do not take any effort to solve. Worse, the game overly babysits the player, repeatedly 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.
- 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 skill to know what character to use.
- Characters have no invincibility frames, meaning they can be combo-ed to death.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 non-existent characters such as "Quincy" or "Percy".
- AT one point in the story when Sonic and Tails go back in time, its revealed that Q-N-C, Cliff's friend 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 be friends with the heroes.
- This also resulted in multiple levels having background details that suggest a lore for the world Sonic Boom takes place in but none of the characters mention or notice those details.
- The main characters get a drastic change in their personality, and are now boring one-dimensional stereotypes:
- 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 trying too hard to sound smart.
- Knuckles changed from a calm, serious and loner character into the big bulky idiot that might usually be seen in old Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
- Amy changed from a sassy, kind, friendly and crazy love interest hedgehog girl of Sonic into a "Generic NPC Woman".
- Shadow changed from a cold-hearted, serious, tragic and down-to-the-earth rival who still values friends into a typical "You're weak because of your friends" rival. Also, Shadow is in the game because of the fanservice.
- Eggman changed from an evil scientist that wants to take over the world into an incompetent, self-defeating moron, and sadly he is the only likable character
- The main antagonist, Lyric, is nothing but a generic "I'm gonna destroy the world because I'm evil" antagonist.
- The back of the box says that the game has Wii U Pro Controller support. The game does actually not support it, most likely due to the short dev 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.
- Bland and uninspiring bosses that often rely more on enemy hordes than being challenging.
- 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.
- There is 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.
- 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.
- Knuckles' character design is creepy.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- The voice acting in cutscenes when the characters aren't talking constantly is fairly good.
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".
After release, the game received strongly negative reviews from critics, with a Metacritic score of 32/100 and a Game Rankings score of 33%.
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 now on Wikipedia's worst games ever list.
Darklordjadow1 was particularly harsh to the game in his two-part review. He heavily criticized the game for being too easy, boring and non-simulating, 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!"
Sonic Boom 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 scarred and milked the franchise to death.
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.
Due to its flaws, it wasn't only just considered the worst Sonic game ever made, but also the worst Wii U game ever made.
While not officially confirmed, the Sonic Boom spinoff franchise seems to have been cancelled, as Sega has not announced any new Sonic Boom games in a long time and Big Red Button has since moved to different projects.
- This game was originally titled as Sonic Synergy and it was going to release Multi-platform rather than Wii U exclusive, as mentioned above.