Sonic on the Sly Cooper engine doesn’t work.
Sega had three stages on display in their E3 demo of Sonic Boom for 3DS. None of them were very fun.
The first Sonic Boom stage was a “tube” stage in which Sonic ran into the screen. Similar stages were featured in prior Sonic 3D games such as Sonic Lost World, and the level structure has been a good showcase for Sonic’s speed in the past. The player “switches lanes” using the analog stick to avoid obstacles and collect rings. Occasionally Sonic must jump over electrified obstacles or use his grapple beam to attach to overhead rails. Unfortunately, this level did not have any sense of speed at all: Sonic trotted forward, casually picking up rings that were visible well in advance, giving this level a very detached feel.
The second stage was an adventure stage similar in philosophy to those found in the Wii U game: slower-paced exploration and platforming. The player can switch among the available heroes at will to make use of their special abilities. For example, Knuckles can burrow through designated sections of rock, Tails can throw sticky-bombs and hover in air currents, and Sonic can blast forward in midair. The intent is for these levels to have secrets and collectibles only accessible by using the correct character and the correct moves, in somewhat less linear room layout, and potentially coming back later after unlocking a new character or move. Unfortunately, I found the level on display to be long and aimless: I fumbled repeatedly on the same segments that required particular use of character-specific moves or careful platforming, resulting in my going in circles. The level architectures were nondescript, and portions blurred with each other, further disorienting me. There is an auto-map that shows where you have already been, but I didn’t find it useful in determining how to proceed.
The final stage playable at E3 was a race against the new hero, Sticks. This level plays more like a traditional Sonic game, with Sonic blasting forward through loops and grind rails on a parallel path to Sticks in a race to the finish. Grapple beam hooks were placed in select locations in the stage which, if missed, would generally result in your hitting a wall and slowing down. While certainly the best of the three levels on display, with at least some sense of speed, it wasn’t particularly memorable and I thought I saw a few frame rate hiccups.
Overall, the E3 demo of Sonic Boom for 3DS was a big disappointment. Bland and confusing levels, and a general lack of speed, left me thoroughly underwhelmed.