Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric Wii U review: Sonic seems needy and Eggman isn't even ovoid - it all feels rushed

£44.99; Wii U; Sega

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The Independent Tech

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.

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.

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