After building up a steady stream of goodwill thanks to recent back-to-form releases like Generations and All-Stars Racing Transformed, Sonic takes his battered old trainers speeding into new territory with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. No, not a karaoke game along the lines of 'What's My Line?' but a fighting game interspersed with occasional platforming and auto-running sections.
After a hard day chasing Eggman (nee Robotnik) around, Sonic and his crew find themselves backed into a corner by the moustachioed ne’er-do-well. Retreating into an ancient tomb, they accidentally awake Lyric, an evil snake-like creature who shakes off his slumber and declares his intention to destroy the world. Only Sonic can stop him, using his newfound brawling skills and the odd spin dash.
The fact the game is a Wii U exclusive invites comparison with recent Nintendo output, which proves immediately unfortunate for the Sega title. As Super Mario 3D Land had Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach, Sonic Boom brings along Sonic, Tails, Amy and Knuckles for the journey. Each has their own speciality - Knuckles climbs walls, Amy wields her hammer, Tails hovers and Sonic speeds - but often it's a case of rotating through the group in sequence, leaving little to player initiative.
Nintendo games over the years
Nintendo games over the years
1/27 Super Mario Bros (NES)
Though not the first time Mario ever appeared (he was originally called Jumpman in a Donkey Kong game) but this 1985 platformer on the NES was praised for "resurrecting a crashed American video game market" - it was the best ever selling video game up until Wii Sports took the title in 2006.
2/27 Metroid (NES)
As the first outing for Samus Aran in 1986, the female protagonist bounty hunter was said to be hugely inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 horror film Alien.
3/27 The Legend of Zelda (NES)
There's no doubt this game was influential in gaming. With a free roaming world to explore and a new save system, the little guy in green who first graced our screens in 1987 has built a franchise that's sold over 70 million copies.
4/27 Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)
The 1988 fourth version of Mario saw the plumber being able to fly for the first time. Plus, it introduced the world map, which is now integral to platform gaming.
5/27 Mega Man 2 (NES)
Known in Japan as Rockman 2: Dr. Wily no Nazo, this was the sequel Capcom made - despite disappointing sales of the original. Needless to say, the 1988 version was a much bigger success.
6/27 Tetris (Game Boy)
Portable gaming is so ubiquitous in modern day in the form of mobile phones that it's easy to forget how popular the Game Boy was when it was released in 1989 - along with Tetris, which sold over 35 million copies. The simple and addictive gameplay has gone on to inspire countless copycat formats - and it's the best selling game of all time.
7/27 Super Mario World (SNES)
As the launch title for the Super Nintendo, the 1990 platformer was the fifth in the series - but the first time we met Yoshi. He of course stole the show, and got his own spin-off.
8/27 Street Fighter II (SNES)
This 1991 sequel was the first one-on-one fighting game where the players had a choice of characters with different moves. Whether it was Chun Li's Lightning Kick, Blanka's Electric Thunder or Ryu/Ken's Hadouken, each fighter offered something original.
9/27 The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)
It was the first time the Zelda series had seen two parallel worlds in 1991, and fans were unanimous in praise for the dark world. Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo mastermind behind this, also created The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
10/27 Super Mario Kart (SNES)
As the third best-selling SNES game of all time, in 1992 players were elated to take down others in races with powers specific to your chosen Nintendo character. The Donut Plains course originally appeared in Super Mario World - and re-appeared in Mario Kart 8 this year.
11/27 Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Suck-happy Kirby made his second appearance in 1993, following a debut on the Game Boy a year before. He's since starred in over 20 games - and has his own anime and manga series.
12/27 Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
The second best-selling SNES game from 1994 saw Diddy Kong introduced, as well as Rambi the Rhino, Enguarde the swordfish and Squawks the parrot. Plus some exciting rides on a mine cart.
13/27 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
The adorable world from Nintendo in 1995 saw a selection of Yoshi's teaming up to save baby Mario, as he carried around eggs to target enemies.
14/27 Super Mario 64 (N64)
For younger gamers, it might be hard to imagine a time before 3D gaming. But when Super Mario 64 hit the brand new console the N64 in 1996, players could take Mario beyond linear - on an open world journey.
15/27 Star Fox 64
Also known as Lylat Wars, the 1997 scrolling shooter was a reboot of the original Star Fox, where Fox McCloud (red fox and leader of the Star Fox team) must save Lylat.
16/27 Golden Eye (N64)
The hugely popular split-screen multiplayer mode left players arguing over who would get to be unfairly-short-and-tough-target Oddjob. Released in 1997, it's the third best-selling N64 game.
17/27 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (N64)
The fifth game in the Zelda series in 1998, sees Link learn songs on the ocarina (which also meant sales increased of the instrument in real life). In 2008 and 2010, Guinness World Records listed Ocarina of Time as the highest rated game ever reviewed.
18/27 Banjo Kazooie (N64)
The 1998 puzzle platformer from Rare saw players collecting musical notes and jigsaw pieces, as a bear who carried a bird in his backpack - all to stop the mean witch named Gruntilda.
19/27 Pikmin 2 (GameCube)
The 2004 sequel again saw the player delegate tasks to a horde of called Pikmin – but this time they could control two at once.
20/27 Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
The best selling game on the DS sold over 11 million copies since 2005, and saw players take on the role of a a human who has moved into a village populated with anthropomorphic animals. It was the first in the series to feature online play.
21/27 Wii Sports (Wii)
The second best-selling video game of all time (released in 2006) changed the way we played. Gamers got off their seats, and into active mode – complete with warnings of banging arms and breaking lights.
22/27 Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
The sixth entry in the horror series follows U.S. government special agent Leon S. Kennedy. The 2005 game was the best-selling in the series.
23/27 Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS)
The fifth installment of the Pokémon series of RPGs added online battles - and over a 100 more Pokemon in 2006.
24/27 Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Mario's 2007 space adventure was a huge hit with critics and players - on the GameRankings site it's the highest rated game.
25/27 Mario Kart (Wii)
The best selling racing game of all time from 2008 saw players master the Wii Remotes (to varying degrees of success) with 24 characters and 36 vehicles to choose from.
26/27 Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
The third hugely entertaining instalment in the series in 2008 saw players take on either single mode – or the classic multiplayer beat em up. Fans are undoubtedly excited for the upcoming 2014 release.
27/27 Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
The most recent in the series in 2014 introduced anti-gravity and new attacks - including the boomerang flower and Piranha Plant.
Character models are bland, with little to indicate the hardware is any more powerful than a Dreamcast with slightly better output resolution. Eggman isn't even ovoid anymore, rendering his name rather redundant. Sonic himself sports his hipster snood like a forty-five year old desperately trying to blend in at a fresher’s party, full of attempts to be 'down with the kids'. The endless not-so-wisecracks ultimately come across as rather needy, trying to raise a smile to cut through the tedium of the gameplay. Compared with Nintendo's superior first-party produce, Sega's offering looks like a dodgy market stall copy, made from cut-price materials.
Sharp, jarring cuts in the audio between interminable cut-scenes are another signpost to the lack of polish on Sonic Boom's strapped-up sneakers. Framerate drops and awkward camera angles constantly irritate, making judging jumps difficult when exploring the world. Myriad glitches mar the experience at every opportunity, characters clipping through walls and obstacles with alarming regularity.
Redeeming features come in the form of an excellent soundtrack, perky and melodic as all Sonic scores should be, and the odd neat gameplay idea such as the Geometry Wars-inspired boat level introduced a few hours too late into the adventure. The fighting mechanics are shallow but intermittently enjoyable nonetheless.
Overall, the game doesn't play to Sonic's strengths at all, sullying his brand by effectively renting out his skin to a third-rate platform brawler. Everything about the game implies a product rushed out to meet deadlines, as the new Sonic television series of the same name hits screens around the world. Although it could be said that Sonic Boom is chiefly aimed at children, that doesn’t excuse the general lack of quality apparent in this poorly executed piece of software.Reuse content