Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Joseph Walsh 10.12.2014 3

Review for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS

Much has been said and a lot of noise has been made about the recent evolution of past Sonic titles - some of it positive, although most of it negative. Over the last 10 years changes have been made in an attempt to either improve or reposition Sonic in an ever-changing market to make SEGA's hedgehog feel more relevant. These have included new art styles, the switch from 2D side-scrolling to 3D gameplay, and an addition of new characters. In the case of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS, a transition from all-out platforming to a slightly more child-focused adventure sees arguably Sonic's biggest switch in mechanics yet. After looking at the Wii U version, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, it's time to see how the 3DS edition fares.

Interestingly, not only has SEGA taken the bold move of 'reimagining' Sonic, it has handed development responsibility to a relatively little-known developer, Sanzaru Games, whose biggest claim to fame may be its involvement in the God of War Collection for the PlayStation Vita. Shattered Crystal feels like a genuine attempt to take Sonic in a new direction and although it may disturb fans of the original Sonic games with its complete change of pace and focus on exploration, as well as its utilisation of different characters' abilities, there are enough positives to warrant a look, if only to take and implement into future releases.

The main plot behind Shattered Crystal is a standard and expected platform fare, yet it's worth noting that it ties in with the latest Sonic Boom animated franchise and is a prequel to the TV show. Amy, Sonic's lifelong friend, has been kidnapped by Lyric, the latest villain to enter the Sonic universe. As if to set the tone and create a new identity, Dr. Robotnik is nowhere to be seen this time around. Lyric's obsession with power leads him towards Amy who, unfortunately, is in the wrong place at the wrong time as she enters ancient ruins to discover more about the Shattered Crystal, rumoured to give its user absolute power. Upon discovering the news of Amy's kidnapping, Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, and Sticks take it upon themselves to save her whilst venturing through a variety of levels.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS

What sets Shattered Crystal apart from previous Sonic entries is the focus on exploration over blazing through levels at super speeds. Each character has their own skill set, which will be vital when trying to uncover the hidden items that stages have to offer. Knuckles has decided to beef up and is very much brawn over brains, Tails can float, Sticks uses her boomerang to reach places and switches that are normally unreachable, and Sonic uses his lightening speed to slam through blocks that would normally prevent Team Sonic from moving forwards. Ironically, everyone runs at the same pace, meaning the blue spiky one no longer has an advantage in the speed department. A daring omission or a glaring oversight?

Sanzaru Games clearly understands SEGA's mascot and has done a fine job of designing this adventure in a way that requires maximum use of each ability available and, for the first time, playing a Sonic game and being forced to play with a character other than him no longer feels like a chore.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS

Other necessary improvements have been made to the gameplay, too. Gone are the bottomless pits, and in their place are water traps. Past annoyances in the series always lay with the nature of the beast: run fast, fall down impossible to predict bottomless pits, die, and start again. Punishment this time around is less severe and falling into a pit will simply return the player to their original position, albeit paying a penalty in the form of gold coins being lost - a small and seemingly fair price to pay. Another nice touch worth mentioning is the way Sonic and company will panic and balance on the edge of a pit when approached at walking pace, rather than taking an immediate dive and saving them from instant death. Sure, these are both subtle touches and neither are game-changing, but at least it shows a desire to fix existing issues and helps to make the experience a far more pleasing one.

Shattered Crystal's biggest downfall is in its length and repetitive game design. The six areas on show are possibly more generic than both previous Sonic games and other platform titles, and even the change of scenery won't have any real effect on a level's outcome. For example, playing through the Volcanic Crater doesn't add any unique environmental elements to distinguish it from the Seaside Coast. In fact, other than an alteration in background visuals, it's almost impossible to tell them apart, and they feel copy and pasted throughout. To top it all off, the difficulty never seems to increase, so ultimately the differences are merely cosmetic...

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS

Reaching the end of a stage doesn't guarantee an automatic pass to the next level, however, as certain requirements must be met in order to advance, which can really stall the flow when trying to advance. This is obviously a clear attempt to encourage further exploration, but when levels already take a good 15 minutes on average to complete (the average and expected length in a platform game is around three minutes), it's hard not to feel that certain measures were taken to artificially extend the overall length.

Some of the brightest highlights include the racing sections that will pop up as either side missions or will be integral to the main story. These are executed to perfection with an emphasis on quick reflexes and are a joy to play. Other additions are a section to watch previous cut-scenes, listen to in-game music, a Sonic Boom comic book, and a shop that sells 3D models of all the enemies and characters from the Boom universe.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Approach Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal with an open mind and there's a good portion of fun to be had here. As easy as it is to dwell on flaws, it's also worth calling out the good points and Boom has them aplenty. It's short, uninspired and plays it a bit too safe, yet Sanzaru Games has recognised what makes Sonic tick and played to his strengths, with a new twist on a classic formula. It is fun whilst it lasts and is definitely deserving of a play through. This is Sonic, just not quite as he was previously known.

Developer

Sanzaru

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Granted when I played the E3 demo, this was significantly better than the Wii U one...

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer


6/10? Wow, thats probably the highest i've seen anyone give this game.

Granted i only played the demo but it was just overly repetitive and not 'Sonic'.

I was so excited earlier in the year with the Boom concept and the reimagination of Sonic but this has been a terrible double outing for Sonic.

It is bold to attempt something so new with Sonic but next time i'd prefer if Sonic stayed by himself or just duo-ed with Tails. Switching characters in this game feels like a chore and not really necessary. I  mainly use Tails or Stick to do what ever i need to do and switch back to Sonic.

On the plus side the Sonic Boom theme is free in the Nintendo 3DS eShop at the moment...

Hey Flynnie, I don't necessarily disagree with the points you've made. The most important thing for me when playing a game is if I find it fun and Sonic Boom did put a smile on my face. Is far from perfect but I didn't find anything game breaking. Flawed but fun.

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