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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Review

by Daan Koopman - November 29, 2014, 8:52 am PST
Total comments: 14

2

You know what is fun? Playing just about anything else that came out this year.

As someone who liked the recent Sonic games (in particular, Colors and Generations), Sonic Boom worried me from the very first moment I heard of it. The redesigned characters did not bother me so much, but the complete shift in gameplay style from Sonic standard was a weird one. Sonic Team were steadily building a better line of products and there was hope for the future of the franchise. That is, until Western developer BigRedButton was tasked with bringing a new action adventure to life on Wii U. They brought with them a new world for us to explore, but sadly my skepticism was well-warranted. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric only serves to prove that quality is what the blue blur actually needs.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric tells the incredibly silly story of a redesigned Sonic and his pals. As a team, the group sets out to fight the robot snake, Lyric, who has been awakened after 1000 years of sleep. Lyric's goal is to destroy nature itself and build a new empire where machines rule the world. Lyric apparently knows Sonic, and this is how the struggle between the two begins. The plot is filled with elements like friendship, time travel and pointless cameos. Shadow and Metal Sonic make appearances, but are just there to serve the nostalgia-hungry Sonic fans. Over the course of the game's story, which lasts around six hours, very little is explained and that makes the plot wear thin fast. Nothing is told about this new world the cast is in and we are supposed to already know most of the characters we meet.

The story is the least of the game's problems, though. While the game's controls are fine, every other aspect of the gameplay is boring. The characters move and attack slightly differently from one another, and this generally prevents things from growing stale. Sonic can spin dash, Tails flies, Knuckles climbs and Amy can triple jump. Practical use has, however, different things in mind. The characters get slow 3D platforming sections dedicated to them, but they drag on for way too long. You have to deal with each character separately, even if you are playing with a friend. Real teamwork, like the game's overall theme suggests, can barely be found here.

The puzzles are overly easy and even kids will have no issues with the obstacles in each level. Most of puzzles boil down to hitting and following buttons, so that new roads will open for you. These ideas are constantly repeated with no attempt to provide interesting twists or changes in any regard. The same can be said about the combat, which is generic and enemies take way too long to strike down. Sometimes it takes forever to take down a single enemy, let alone a good number of them. With one dedicated button for attacks and another for the occasional special move, the battles also quickly become mundane. I was sick of the fighting after only the first few enemy encounters, and I had still five hours ahead of me. The enemies were not very engaging either. While Lyric himself seems an interesting foe at first, he does nothing more than shoot the same dull robots your way.

To add insult to injury, BigRedButton thought that it was a good idea to include an overworld between levels. While the stages are straightforward, this place certainly is far from that at all. The locale is barren and dull, and Rise of Lyric does a really bad job letting you know where you need to go. The game gives hints at characters or locations, but if you don't know them, how will you be able to find them? It causes unneeded frustration at the game and this is something that the developer clearly should have sorted out.

It is a big shame, because there are some neat concepts shown off in the overworld, and in a nicer game these ideas would have shined. You can build up a town by spending an in-game currency and take on side missions while meeting brand new characters. The currency, together with special crowns, can also be spent on upgrades for the cast. Your characters will barely change at all though and the reward really is not worth the effort you have to put in. The one stat that would be worth improving is your ring counter, as you can only carry 100 of those at first. The rings are meant to represent your health bar and are therefore crucial for any younger players going through the game. However, upgrading your ring counter is locked until you connect the Wii U game with the Nintendo 3DS version, which is quite a horrible and unfair thing to do.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric runs terribly. The game does not look polished, lighting is wildly inconsistent, the camera just does what it wants and the framerate stutters throughout the entire thing. Even the pre-rendered cutscenes do nothing to really stand out and come across as generic and cheap. During some speed-runs and co-op sessions the framerate found all new depths to sink to. Rise of Lyric is also extremely glitchy, and that is an understatement. I fell through the floor a number of times and the game stopped rendering its assets at one point. The music has nothing special about it and can't remember any tune, except for the title music. While the voices are decent, the characters don't know when to shut up. Your characters will constantly point out obvious obstacles or things that you need to do. It becomes obnoxiously annoying very quickly.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is simply a disaster. To my knowledge, it is the worst retail game I have played in a long time. The game is boring, chock full of problems and glitches, and doesn't know when to be quiet for even a moment. Even it was meant as a game for children, I consider it an insult for the age demographic. Sonic fans, children and people who love games all deserve better than what BigRedButton gave us with Rise of Lyric. I might even consider it the worst Sonic game I have ever played.

Summary

Pros
  • Controls are fine
Cons
  • Characters don't know when to shut up
  • Confusing directives in the overworld
  • Glitches throughout the entire game
  • Overly boring gameplay
  • Runs pretty terrible

Talkback

the asylumNovember 29, 2014

Worse than Sonic 06? Whoa now, let's make sure we're not exaggerating here.

Quote from: the

Worse than Sonic 06? Whoa now, let's make sure we're not exaggerating here.

Yes, I think it is worse than Sonic 2006.

StardustNovember 29, 2014

I watched gameplay from this game via game grumps, and I completely agree, this was an embarrassment to watch. Not even Sonic 0'6 was this bad. Sorry you had to play this game for five hours Daan, sounds like a nightmare D:

pokepal148November 29, 2014

Oh really? Based on what I've seen Sonic Boom has about the same number of glitches, but the improved camera and much reduced load times (seriously, it's really bad in 06) are enough to make Sonic Boom the superior game imo.

And honestly, I doubt Sonic Boom can top the Silver boss fight. "It's no use!"

http://youtu.be/3MWEHwvcnyM

"Sonic 06 is kind of a roguelike in that it's a different gameplay experience every time. It's amazing that that's completely incidental" -Slowbeef.

KhushrenadaNovember 29, 2014

Sonic Boom gets a 2 and Smash Wii U gets a 9.5? Talk about biased! This site is clearly nothing but Nintendo fanboys and possibly fangirl. As if there's even such a thing as a girl gamer. You might as well change the name of this site from Gaming World Report to Nintendo World Report because that's all you seem to care about.

rlse9November 29, 2014

My biggest disappointment from this review isn't that the game is a train wreck, it's that it wasn't reviewed by James Jones, I was hoping to hear a rant about how awful this game is on RFN...

marvel_moviefan_2012November 29, 2014

this was one of the few games I was still looking forward to.

famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)November 29, 2014

This is obviously the showpiece game for Cryengine on WiiU!

ClexYoshiNovember 30, 2014

Sonic 06 and Rise of Lyric are two completely different beasts. They have their own sins they commit that make comparison quite a tricky thing to do for myself.

Sonic 06 suffers from a level of unpolish and incompitence that goes far, FAR deeper than Sonic Boom, which still has cutscenes that have expressive animation and dialogue that doesn't take itself too seriously. There are animations in Sonic 06 where characters enter into T-pose because they couldn't finish the animation in time (See: Sonic's jumping from pillar to pillar animation, knuckles' interaction with certain stage elements like Dash pads), multiple takes of flubbed lines are kept in due to lazy editing. ("Shadow, head to the Wave Ocean~ wave ocean? okay... AHEM! Shadow, Head to Wave Ocean. Agent Rouge will meet you there.") The writing also takes itself far too seriously, with the overtones of Furry on Human relationships, post apocalyptic dystopias and going back in time to murder folks, TIME KOMPRESSION, and all sorts of other more mature and angsty themes that are all just played straight and without any attempt at humor. Music is actually... really surprisingly good. I fire up White Acropolis's music every now and then while I'm streaming, or the inner volcano theme to Flame Core. This game is also how I discovered a little band called Zebrahead, who wrote the main theme to the game, 'His World'.

There are lots of serious programming derps, such as Knuckles and Rouge not having an animation for jumping off the wall so they get stuck if you don't fiddle with the really, REALLY bad camera. The lack of any sort of physics model applying to the characters is why walls and ramps have to be scripted to defy gravity, and why Sonic can stand upside down on a loop. Load times are abundant and obnoxious because of the fact that it loads in the whole map every time it loads (See: BrainscratchComms' LP of Sonic 06, where they manage to get Silver to toss them through the invisible wall and clip out of the boss arena, only to discover the whole of Solianna got loaded in.), and there's a bug where Sonic's special meter that's supposed to limit his ability to use certain game breaking things just doesn't work so he can use the mini-gem to Space Jump through levels.

Sonic 06 kinda wanted to tap the Sonic Adventure well and bring things back from the tedium of Sonic Heroes and the offensively boring objective based gameplay of Shadow the Hedgehog, and... it really falls on it's face. even with the game's lack of speed or cohesion, it's still very distinctly a Sonic game with all the sort of automated speedy thrills secions and homing attack chains and the sorts of stuff you'd expect in Sonic Adventure or Sonic Heroes... only broken on multiple teirs.



Sonic Boom at least functions. characters control how they are supposed to for the most part (sans the knuckles space jump glitch), combat works rather than being repeatedly homing attacking an unflinching robot that is machine gunning you to death, and for what the game is trying to do, level design is at least... compitent? Cutscene animation and writing actually fairs pretty well and is tonally in sync with the show that spawned it and the past couple of sonic games, Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World. When Dialogue isn't being repeated ad nauseum, Rodger Craig Smith and company are pretty charming. I like that they really let Mike Pollock especially just take his Dr. Eggman persona and turn it up to 11 on the silly scale. The in-engine stuff is... really super soulless looking, as well as some of the things going on with the textures and what-not. it reeks of generic PS2 platformer. The writing is about... uh... that is to say... uhm... Snake Robot Person bad and Friendship is Magic? Ironically, both this game on Sonic 06 have time travel, but this game... I dunno. uses it in a nonsense manner. a lot of this game's narrative is nonsense that just happens. There might as well not even be a soundtrack because of how the voice work drowns it out, but what is there is... so painfully bland, which almost NEVER happens in a Sonic the Hedgehog game. Hate on the butt rock from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 all you want, but that stuff has stayed with me over the years. There's a personality and fun variety in the music that's been in Sonic games.

There's some weird clipping mojo going on and incompitence with the way a couple of things ar eprogrammed like hydrodashing, Knuckles' special attack when used in mid air, and some odd pop-in. the 2 player Co-op is so poorly optimized that the game starts to REALLY fall apart when you got somebody working on the Gamepad while you're on the TV. because of the lack of penalty for death, i don't really find the game dropping you through a floor on occasion to be all that bad.

But here's Sonic Boom's TRUE sin... In 1991, Sonic The Hedgehog came out as a game to mock the plodding and methodical pace of it's contemporaries. Armed with the 90's 'tude and the trademark speed to draw folks in, Sonic 1 was a game about speed rewarded to players for level memorization and smart use of momentum. Sonic adventure 1 even has a speed building model that reflects this with curled up ball sonic rolling down hills faster and enough momentum being carried up a slope allowing him to dart around on walls and ceilings.

Sonic Boom has none of this. It is Jak and Daxter. It is Tak and the Power of Juju. Heck, it's actually pretty comparable to the really awful Wreck-it Ralph Wii game! From the music to the level design, character abilities, and MacGuffins, this game is pretty much what would happen if you licensed Aldi to make Sonic the Hedgehog brand breakfast cereal. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi) This game is brand X. you could have put Bubsy in it and folks would be none the wiser. I feel this is what Big Red Button failed the most, was at the conceptual level, because I don't really think they went in either not understanding what it is that keeps folks coming back to these games, good or bad, or they didn't care, as they were treating this like a cartoon license game. This game is technically a cartoon license game.



My own final verdict is that I'd rather PLAY Sonic 06, but Sonic 06 is the worse game because it failed to even remotely come close to accomplishing what it set out to do. Sonic boom at least succeeds in being something tehcnically playable that won't frustrate a kid and maybe make them take a nap afterwards so they won't bother their parents any more. I dunno.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, December 15, 2014

2006 is way worse, unless Rise of Lyric gets awful somehow after getting the second crystal. 2006 made me legitimately angry at the cheap deaths, numerous glitches, horrible level design, garbage fan-fiction story, and loads of other issues.


On the other hand, Rise of Lyric reminds me of a PS2 era 3D platformer. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I struggle to say it's not somewhat enjoyable to me. That said, I'm only up to the second crystal. However, I like going for the collectibles, the platforming isn't that poor, and the characters don't really annoy me. I will agree that combat is indeed mundane.

ClexYoshiDecember 16, 2014

Quote from: Phil

2006 is way worse, unless Rise of Lyric gets awful somehow after getting the second crystal. 2006 made me legitimately angry at the cheap deaths, numerous glitches, horrible level design, garbage fan-fiction story, and loads of other issues.


On the other hand, Rise of Lyric reminds me of a PS2 era 3D platformer. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I struggle to say it's not somewhat enjoyable to me. That said, I'm only up to the second crystal. However, I like going for the collectibles, the platforming isn't that poor, and the characters don't really annoy me. I will agree that combat is indeed mundane.

Well, Phil...  The thing is the game is really just kinda... dull. what you're going to discover soon is that all the levels you've done up to a point are going to have something called Shinies in them. these are unlocked once you meet Sticks the Badger for the first time, and you'll have to back-track to all previous levels to collect those.

Like they really matter, they just get traded in for Princess Crowns, and you get WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more crowns than you will EVER need to get all the fairly pointless character upgrades.

The Character upgrades being entirely pointless is a BIG piece of Rise of Lyric's problem. the lack of meaningful reward from side quests and collectibles is the true death knell to a lot of the game's mechanics. if you're not finding any serious charm in the NPCs, there's no reason to do side quests, right along side there not being a reason to get any of the upgrades besides Ring Attraction or Max Ring Up (Unlocked by linking the game with Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal). Rings are futile to pick up because of the 100 ring cap, and more importantly, the lack of a lives system, shop involving rings, or how this game handles death.

9 times out of 10, dying in Sonic Boom has no consequence. enemies do not respawn if you die. bosses keep any damage you've managed to accumulate upon them. check points are usually plentiful, and the one instance where you don't want to die is if the game ever puts a barrier around the team to keep you from escaping a battle arena, because the game will sometimes respawn you outside the shield, making you unable to continue and thus cause a level reset.

Sonic boom is purgitory. if not for the expertly animated cutscenes and the expertly delivered cutscene based dialogue, this game lacks any identity, and any challenge, and your'e forced to ask yourself what the hell you are doing with your time.

Some people choose frustration over boredom.

KhushrenadaDecember 16, 2014

Quote from: Khushrenada

Sonic Boom gets a 2 and Smash Wii U gets a 9.5? Talk about biased! This site is clearly nothing but Nintendo fanboys and possibly fangirl. As if there's even such a thing as a girl gamer. You might as well change the name of this site from Gaming World Report to Nintendo World Report because that's all you seem to care about.

I'm glad to see this site took my advice and finely just admitted what it was.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, December 16, 2014

I'll have to see if my opinion changes. Like I said, I'm not TOO far into Rise of Lyric. I know by the first level's end of Sonic 2006 I knew I made a huge-- LOADING, LOADING, LOADING, LOADING, LOADING-- mistake.

pokepal148December 16, 2014

http://youtu.be/fED2EeaTVCM

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WiiU

Game Profile

Sonic Toon: Taiko no Hihō Box Art

Genre Action / Adventure
Developer Big Red Button
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Release Nov 11, 2014
PublisherSega
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Sonic Toon: Taiko no Hihō
Release Dec 18, 2014
PublisherSega
eu: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Release Nov 21, 2014
PublisherSega
Rating7+
aus: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
Release Nov 29, 2014
PublisherSega
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