The latest Fire and Ice seems to fix some problems, but now has a few others.
The Sonic Boom series hasn’t been the most critically acclaimed series of all time, to put it lightly. That didn’t matter to me when starting the demo of the latest title, Fire and Ice, this week at E3. I didn’t think the game was outright terrible, as there were some bright spots with some fun boss battles and mini games. But there are so many mechanics to use during platforming stages it can become a very frustrating chore to play.
The first thing I played when booting up the demo was a boss battle against an enemy that looked kinda like an evil totem pole. The tag team mechanic here was pretty clever, as it has Sonic and Amy (who is making her debut in this game after not being in Rise of Lyric) teaming together and using their special moves to clear obstacles and reach the totem pole’s head to inflict damage. It’s a pretty fun mechanic and worked perfectly once I got the hang of things.
There are multiple mini games in Fire and Ice, such as Bot Racing. This has you use a character themed robot to race against friends via local co-op. StreetPass is also implemented in the game; whenever you pass by someone with StreetPass you’ll obtain Ragnium, which will aid you in racing your friends in this mini game. I played another racing mini game similar to the bonus levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which was pretty fun. You jump across various parts of the stage in order to avoid walls and traps. It's nothing fancy, but a nice callback to a memorable part of a great game.
My main problem with the demo was the level design in the platforming sections of the game. The SEGA PR rep I spoke to said that there was less of the puzzle solving and exploration and more action oriented things to do in stages. This is true; the stage I played was full of action. But there’s so much action and so many buttons to press all at once, it can be confusing especially if you’re just learning how to play. In one stage, I had to use different buttons to slide through ice using the new ice mechanics, swing through some ropes and hover attack enemies all at the same time using different buttons, all while also making sure to switch between the right characters to use. It all felt like too much at the same time, and can really be confusing.
It’s unfair to immediately dismiss Fire and Ice, as it does seem to fix problems that the previous title had. Sega has listened to feedback, and a lot of the game does feel more akin to an action oriented title like Sonic Adventure, which is a great thing because action is fun! There may be too many different kinds of mechanics in the platforming stages for my liking, but when Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice comes out on September 27 in North America, it may appeal to the crowd who like precision perfect platforming.