Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U) Review

By Albert Lichi 25.11.2014

Review for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U

The multimedia institution known as Sonic the Hedgehog has gone through various changes over the years, despite Sonic never really leaving the "in your face attitude" era of the 90s. Sonic has had varying success with comic books and even animated television series, whether it is the fan-favourite "Sat-AM" Sonic cartoon or the obnoxious antics of the "The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog," the permutations and variations of Sonic's formula continued in the likes of Sonic X and Sonic Underground. Kids just still can't get enough of the character, even today when SEGA has partnered with a French CG animation team to develop the fifth Sonic TV series. Sonic has been around TV so much, sometimes people may forget he had his beginnings on the Mega Drive/Genesis. The style of Sonic Boom is very different from what many fans of Sonic would be used to. Some characters have been completely re-imagined into entirely new personalities, as well as some questionable redesigns. Sonic has now come full circle with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, a game based off a TV series, which is inspired by the video game franchise. Does the rise of Lyric make a boom or is it doom? Cubed3 reviews Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.

What makes a quality Sonic game? Many might argue speed and platforming; others may say 2D gameplay and tight controls. While there may not be a set formula for what makes a definitive Sonic game, there have always been principles of what makes a quality game nonetheless. Sometimes these principles are very basic things, like an easy to aim camera, responsive controls or even simple technical things, like rigging and collision detection. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric follows none of these principles. Just by the intro cut-scene it is very obvious that this game is going to be a very rocky road.

It begins with a very poorly animated and sloppily edited sequence that is rife with all kinds of irregular animation errors. There are missing frames of individual character animation and the odd single black frame here and there. The animation has noticeable clipping, as well as animation effects appearing before they are supposed to. What is most egregious about this animation is that it is obviously pre-rendered, as indicated by the apparent pixelated noise and artefacts that pepper the screen like snow. Did the animation director think this was all suitable and good enough to be left in? Or was this slapped together haphazardly in a desperate rush? Even the detestable Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 had some effort and care put into its pre-rendered cut-scenes that would look like they fit in a 60 dollar game. Regardless, it gets uglier when the gameplay begins proper.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U

When the beginning animation sequence is over, the gameplay jarringly beings with no segue whatsoever. The sequence is one of the many running segments that many Sonic fans may be familiar with, but Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric makes the distinction of having its interpretation run with the smoothness of a flip-book with its pages being turned by a man with no fingers. This frame rate is deplorable and is headache inducing. With such an erratic and poor frame rate compounded by the neck breaking high speeds these segments are supposed to take place in, it doesn't feel like the player has very much control at all. The whole thing feels very unresponsive, and while the option to move characters with the analogue stick is there, the option to quickly shuffle between left, middle and right seems like it should be the only option given how poorly conceived these sequences are. It also should be noted how absurdly easy and effortless these parts are.

It feels like it is almost auto pilot - players will be thankful that these moments are mostly inconsequential and will let their eyes glaze over into a hypnotic trance by what they are witnessing. If players psychologically survive the on-rails running sequence, the second style of gameplay gets introduced: 2D platforming. Even during these mellow and uninspired sections, the frame rate sputters like a jalopy from a Looney Tunes cartoon. This review could end right here… but it's only getting started.

One of the other gameplay styles in Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the 3D platforming action adventure-beat 'em up gameplay sequences that take up much of the game. SEGA has put out many Sonic games that play like this, most recently Sonic Lost World, which played very smoothly and is possibly the sharpest looking Sonic game yet. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric stumbles right on its face at the starting line, with what can be the most laughable attempt since Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 with its low resolution textures, and glitchy geometry where characters can fall through the floor within 10 minutes of play.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the absolute worst advertisement of the CryEngine's prowess as a developer's tool. Never mind this is by far the slowest moving Sonic game (not counting the abominable frame rate) with some pointlessly huge dead empty spaces; traversing feels like a herculean chore. Everything about Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a tedious slog - in particular, the melee combat. Since SEGA recently unleashed Bayonetta 2, the patron saint of character-action and beat 'em ups, it would be natural to expect that some of that technical know-how would have found its way into their latest and most important mascot game, which is selling people on their expensive new animated series. The melee combat is by far one of the most brainless, coma-inducing experiences to be found in a Sonic game. The hit detection is wildly inconsistent; no invincibility frames whatsoever (paramount to any character-action game) and there is no penalty for death. Each encounter makes the player go into a fugue like state, lazily wailing on the enemy until the calamity is over, while Sonic and friends chatter the most inane banter ever written. Characters have sluggish and delayed attacks, making Tails (the fastest) the only character users will want to use since his attacks are also long range. The idea of Sonic being a beat 'em up isn't a bad idea - it's actually kind of cool - but the execution couldn't be sloppier.

The third gameplay style found in Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the traditional 2D platforming gameplay. This is a style most players associate Sonic with, and it is the gameplay that has been botched the hardest. Hitting buttons and opening doors is most of the game design in these sequences. It all feels so flat and uninspired, like it was assembled in a very cheap level editor. The idea in theory was to make these segments more puzzle oriented. This isn't a bad idea per se, however, when the sequences require no thought and the player's eyes just glaze over due to how uninvolving and buggy the gameplay is, one prays for it to just end as fast as possible.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U

The story of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is meant to be a prelude to the newly minted animated series. This game is an anti-advertisement, and will do more damage to the Sonic branding in the long term. The reimagining of some characters has ruined what was originally a likeable and respectable personality, namely Knuckles. Knuckles is now the token moronic bumbling big oaf - a dumb jock-type character whose lack of intelligence is exploited at every opportunity. The idea of a lumbering stupid idiot character can be a lot of fun, but at the expense of re-imagining an existing character that was originally kind of a rougher, tougher dude who was from a lineage of noble guardians, it just feels like betrayal to the heart of the character.

Some other characters like Tails have become more insufferable and kind of snooty about how smart he is, using as much pointless techno babble as possible and comes off as an obnoxious irritant. While Sonic himself hasn't had much change (bar for the pointless bandages on his feet), it is Amy who actually feels like there was improvement made. Amy is less obnoxious (a role now for Tails) and has a more snarky and condescending attitude, yet she still has some intensely eye-rolling dialogue and one-liners about girl power. The writing itself never feels natural. There are many contrived situations and dialogue that evokes the feeling of sitting at a cynical board room meeting of out-of-touch SEGA executives that are trying to sound hip and cool to kids for their next Sonic project. Eggman miraculously came out with an admittedly amusing line of dialogue here or there, but for the most part was underused. As for the titular Lyric himself (what kind of name is Lyric anyway?), he is as stock and clichéd of a villain as possible. Eggman was at least always angry and was very comical at times with how preposterous his plans could be, but Lyric is just such a boring and uninteresting villain who has no clear motivation aside from the fact that he is a snake in a life support suit, which made him stronger and more efficient. Go figure.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the result of rushing a product out by a deadline, cynically pushed out to coincide with both the premiere of the animated series and to be available in stores by Black Friday, just in time for the holiday rush. There will be many ignorant parents who will unknowingly expose their poor children to this product, making that child's world greyer and colder. This was a game meant for kids, which does not mean kids deserve a game that was made with no effort whatsoever. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric had key members from the team that was behind the PS2 classic, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, and it shows that promise is there if Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric had been given time to be finished. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is one of the most damaging games to the Sonic franchise and is not recommended at all.

Screenshot for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

1/10
Rated 1 out of 10

Awful

There have been many effortless cash grabs, but none as blatant as this, which is a $60 commercial. Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 is no longer the worst Sonic game, and it is tragic to see the fandom of Sonic be danced upon by such a cynical cash grab that was quickly slapped together by focus testing and lacks any soul at all. 'Buggy' and 'glitchy' are truly the best words to describe this debacle. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is the mark of the vulgar and should not be touched.

Developer

Annapurna

Publisher

Annapurna

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  1/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10 (4 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

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