Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Review – Hot Bandage Action

The only way to write a fitting review for this one is to get… kind of dark.

01

Developer: Big Red Button Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Format: Wii U
Released: November 18, 2014
Copy supplied by publisher

“Look ramps,” yelled Sonic, immediately after using the gigantic ramps he saw.

“We can use these as ramps,” was Tails’ reply. He too said this after having already used the ramps. The ramps that he declared could be used as ramps.

This exchange of dialog, truly a meeting of the minds, came after an hour or so of Sonic and his three malingering chums acting as if every single bounce pad was the first one they’d seen. There are many bounce pads in the game, and you’ll know that they can be bounced on, because Sonic’s friends will remind you all the time. They regard each new bounce pad as the most surprising innovation ever, declaring every time that the bounce pad is indeed a bounce pad. See, Sonic Boom thinks its audience is stupid. It reminds its players of the simplest and most obvious things, repetitively, constantly reinforcing rudimentary information in the most patronizing and insulting way possible. It does this because Sonic Boom thinks you’re all stupid, and who can blame it? People will actually purchase this thing! Sonic Boom is an idiotic baby’s game for children, the kind that believes its status as a kids’ game gives it free license to be lazy, broken, and poorly designed. Some might argue that developing a game for children is no excuse to cut corners, especially for a heavily marketed project with its own tie-in cartoon series and plenty of merchandising deals. Sega and the cohorts at Big Red Button Entertainment think differently, however. They’re making an idiotic baby’s game for children, and don’t really give a crap if thousands of kids are getting a middle finger made of hot garbage for Christmas.

I could talk about how the game’s cutscenes are poorly compressed and littered with visual artifacts, as if they were archaic PC game FMVs from the nineties. I could talk about the myriad glitches and the broken A.I. of companion characters. I could talk about the banal and braindead button-mashing combat, or the headache-inducing on-rails running sections. I could even talk about how Sonic games are usually incredibly beautiful, but this one is full of jagged edges, fuzzy character models, and a framerate that struggles to maintain a consistent 30 per second. All of these things, I could talk about. That’s not going to happen however, because there’s a far more pressing subject concerning Sonic Boom that deserves our utmost attention.

Let’s talk about bandages.

02

Sonic the Hedgehog has bandages on his shoes. I don’t know why that’s a thing. What, exactly, is Sonic getting out of that? It’s as if the designers of Sonic Boom (and all its related merchandising) were desperate to give Sonic some edgy new look, but realized  there’s not a lot you can do with a blue cartoon hedgehog, so settled for a ratty scarf and random bandages. I need to make sure you clearly understand what’s going on with Sonic’s visual design here – he has bandages on his shoes. Who even does that? What kind of dribbling idiot wraps his footwear in bandages? I can only assume that Sonic’s feet, blistered and raw from years of running at speeds no hedgehog should be capable of reaching, are constantly weeping from open sores and pulsating wounds.

The only logical conclusion one can draw from Sonic’s design is that, by the end of each day, copious amounts of black blood and stinking pus have soaked through his footwear – a pair of shoes that have become inseparably fused to the maggot-filled lumps of decayed flesh that hang mournfully from our beloved hedgehog’s ankles. Sonic realizes that eventually he’s going to need a doctor to saw off his bloated, festering feet, as if the gangrene hasn’t already spread throughout his body. In denial, however, he simply wraps his feet in fresh bandages each morning, does his best to ignore the smell of corrupted meat, and spends his hours addled on milk of the poppy, his agony reduced to a dull, drug-suppressed throb. He tells himself he’ll see a doctor tomorrow. He never does. One day he’ll just… stop… moving.

Knuckles is an altogether more fascinating case. He has a greater number of bandages than any other cast member, and the reason is quite clear. At some point between every other Sonic game and this one, Knuckles stopped being physically comparable to Sonic and mutated into something resembling a half-transformed Incredible Hulk. I’m no medical expert, but my theory is that Knuckles underwent intense cosmetic surgery, perhaps pressured by our modern society and its impossible standards for beauty. I’m guessing he consulted Dr. Eggman – who himself appears to have undergone some twisted form of liposuction that left him with PopEye arms – and had the mad scientist perform the procedures.

His biceps are now intensely swollen with collagen, so it’s natural to assume that Knuckles’ skin is constantly tearing, ripping open thanks to unnatural pressure, and consequently leaking medical fluids – hence the need for bandages. Furthermore, his entire skeletal structure has likely been remodeled in order to cope with an impractical top-heavy build. I can’t begin to imagine the intense pain Knuckles must be going through after having his shins and spine snapped into pieces before getting bolted back together with steel rigging, but I am convinced the poor echidna has had parts of his brain removed to cope with it. It explains why he’s also presented in the game as a simpering dullard, incapable of higher thinking.

To be fair, all of the game’s playable characters must have undergone lobotomies, given their constant surprise at the existence of bounce pads, and the fact that Sonic regularly says “You can’t have enough rings,” despite the ring count maxing out at 100, meaning that you can have enough rings. Then again, it must take a lot of brain power to figure out that ramps can be used as ramps, so I don’t want to suggest anybody’s critical thinking skills are in any way subnormal.

03

You can switch between the four main characters – Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, and Amy – at any time, and when I say “any time,” I mean, “when the game isn’t breaking itself.” You see, when not being directly controlled, our colorful heroes love getting themselves stuck, or randomly jumping up and down for no good reason whatsoever. You can’t switch characters when they’re jumping, which means it’s entirely possible to get stuck as one character, unable to switch. That’s generally fine, as there’s no real mechanical reason for there being four characters. They all technically have different skills, with Knuckles able to climb, and Amy able to triple-jump, but environments are designed with paths for almost everybody. I think there are four playable characters because you sell more toys that way, and selling toys is why idiotic baby’s games for children exist.

The main bad guy is a robotic snake called Lyric, and Lyric is a stupid name for anything, let alone a robotic snake. Just felt like I had to mention it.

Sonic Boom is a boring game at its very best, with its simpleton’s idea of progress. You trudge along the kind of platforming environments that felt old fashioned by the time of the PlayStation 2, then punch robots for a bit, then do more trudging, then punch more robots. Along the way, Sonic and pals will clip through the floor and walls, get stuck in certain animations, and generally feel awkward to control. There’s no real sense of impact in the combat, and the camera is absolutely worthless. It’s a game that frequently doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. It’s ugly. It exists to sell toys and a cartoon series. It’s depressing to try and play.

04

There are so many bandages. I don’t know a single person who wears bandages as a matter of fashion, let alone feels the need to wear so many of them. I don’t know why the Hedgehog Engine has produced several gorgeous looking games, and now we have this hideous little mess, supposedly “achieved” with CryEngine. I don’t know why CryEngine would have its name attached to something so visually appalling. One thing I’m sure of is that Sega ought to be embarrassed for pouring so much hype, so much marketing money, into this project, only to have a sad, miserable little dog’s dinner of a product to show for it. I guess it doesn’t matter, though. It’s an idiotic baby’s game for children, and it exists to sell toys. It also thinks you’re all dumb, and it wears its contempt for you on its sleeve. A sleeve covered in bandages.

Sonic Boom reminds me that I am going to die one day, and that I’ll probably die alone. I doubt I’ll want to die, but the fact I’m dying won’t matter, and the fact I lived at all will be even less important. We’re all going to die, and everything we spent our dank lives building, everything we’ve worked for, will be as ash in the wind. The people we’ve come to love, whose existences we’ve enhanced and impacted in some profound way, are meaningless, because one day they’ll all be dead too. Eventually, the Sun will expand to the point of annihilating everything on this planet, swallowing our entire history, wiping all evidence of humanity from existence. It’s all for nothing. It’s all so very pointless. Sonic Boom exists because we’re all going to die one day, and we don’t matter.

Bounce pad!

2/10
Bad

dennett316
Guest
dennett316
“But guyz…it’s a game for kidz, it totally doesn’t need to be well made or well designed or any fun at all. I don’t trust reviews anyway, he was probably paid off by Mario in order to discredit poor Sonic. Don’t listen to reviewers…just buy the game anyway and judge for yourself. Information? Who needs that? Just blindly submit to the publishers and buy everything that comes out like the good little drones you are!” Yup, that’s a blatant straw man…but unfortunately, I’ve seen plenty of idiots spout the exact same “don’t listen to reviews” shit when a game they… Read more »
MGN001
Guest
MGN001

Then…”Oh, you bought a broken piece of shit? Caveat Emptor, shoulda done your research, bitch.”

WarpZone
Guest
WarpZone

Yeah, don’t you read reviews a week before they’re printed?

Char Aznable
Guest
Char Aznable

I googled the Eggman redesign and honestly I kind of like it. He looks like an in-shape(ish) 1850s version of Wario. Normally he looks like a fat combination of Lanky Kong and the Honeycomb…thing.

tomato
Guest
tomato

The last paragraph should be added to the end of every review for all games, forever.

Stayin' Frosty
Guest
Stayin' Frosty

Question Jim, did the game come in bandages?

Collette
Guest
Collette

This reminds me of that Sims 2 expansion pack review that got Steve Hoggany blacklisted from EA
http://i.imgur.com/mkBrqcD.jpg

But yeah, Jim, I like its review. You knew the game was shit, everyone knows it is shit, so you just went and had some fun with it.

Collette
Guest
Collette

Hogarty, I mean

Griffin Vacheron
Guest

HA, that’s fantastic.

Mawk
Guest
Mawk

Wow, that was absolutely, just… Fuck man… Genious! What a guy this Steve is, actually getting that review in a magazine. The world isn’t so bad after all 🙂

Even though these two reviews are, kind of, proof of the contrary.

Thanks a zillion for sharing Collette.

Austin_sj
Guest
Austin_sj

I had never seen that before and know my world is a better place.

Colossuswassus3
Guest
Colossuswassus3

Is Amy wearing a bandage cummerbund? Maybe this is the vanguard of a new terrible trend. Mummies are the new zombies.

Dalek Sex
Guest
Dalek Sex

Bandage cummerbund… Hysterectomy?

Airtight_Hag
Guest
Airtight_Hag

You may have said this already, but just out of curiosity, is your scoring system here essentially the same as what you outlined on Destructoid and the Escapist?

Gendreavus
Guest
Gendreavus

It’s a good thing Sega didn’t waste any money by sending out review copies of this game, because it looks like every aspect of this big trans-media push for Sonic Boom is just awful. They’ll make some money from what remains of the ‘hardcore Sonic fanbase’ and Christmas shoppers who don’t know better, but I can’t see them turning this one around.

Which sucks if only because now they’ll NEVER have the money to localize Yakuza 5…

TechnoSquidgy
Guest
TechnoSquidgy

I just feel sad for Sonic fans now. I’m pretty sure they’d all be much happier if Sega just let Sonic die, and brought him back when someone remembered how to make a Sonic game.

Liam
Guest
Liam

And I thought your Yabia review was rough.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Guest
Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Sega’s probably just counting down the days until their exclusivity deal with Nintendo is over and they can go back to making Sonic games for systems that people actually own.

Char Aznable
Guest
Char Aznable

Don’t people still say the Wii-U is for dumb baby children people? Isn’t that who buys Sonic games these days?

Whimsy
Guest
Whimsy

Yes, because that’s what Sega needs. Because Sonic was good back when it was on the other systems >_>

Benny Disco
Guest
Benny Disco

“I don’t know a single person who wears bandages as a matter of fashion…”
What about the pop sensation Nelly?

Griffin Vacheron
Guest

I feel like there has to be an anime in existence where bandages are worn as fashion. Anybody know one?

Bebop88
Guest
Bebop88

Shishio Makoto from Rurouni Kenshin

Otaku World Order
Guest
Otaku World Order

That wasn’t a fashion statement. He was covered in bandages because he was horribly burned when he was covered in oil and set on fire.

DQN
Guest

Rui-Rui’s Aoi.

Umbaglo
Guest
Umbaglo

To be fair to Knuckles, at least, bandages on the hands and wrists is a common boxing thing.

Everything else is pretty wtf, though. And it’s probably pretty hard to wrap bandages around those spikes.

carson
Guest
carson

…… Holy hell….

Preposterous Whitey
Guest
Preposterous Whitey

Love this review and love you, Jimmy Boy.

Eduardo Cadena
Guest
Eduardo Cadena

This review was so incredible that I had to leave a comment. Well done, Jim. I can’t believe you had to even share a rom with this game; let alone play the damned thing. My chungus off to you sir.

Jason Guarnieri
Guest
Jason Guarnieri

Great review Jim. I’m going to go cry myself to sleep now.

ShadyShopkeep
Guest
ShadyShopkeep

I think the key words here are “insulting” and “depressing”. Publishers like Ubisoft and Sega (to name a couple of recent examples) are putting out increasingly awful and broken games, content with the knowledge that people will buy them regardless, especially if critics are unable to review said games in a timely manner. It makes me want to whimper, it really does.

That being said, nice dark review. The tags are the icing on the cake. I look forward to your future writings.

AJ
Guest
AJ

Sonic Team has been at this for a long time. Sonic ’06 was released 8 years ago after all, so this is nothing new or surprising.

Jake
Guest
Jake

But we’ve had Colors and Generations since then. Setting aside Lost World as a failed experiment, Sonic Team has been slowly getting better.

But Sega just had to hand it to a different studio that just didn’t care.

Wellsy487
Guest
Wellsy487

They should just stop with Sonic now. Sonic and Sonic 2 were games that I and many others grew up on. They are making these games that are subpar with the hope that people will buy them because of the name.

smaas
Guest
smaas

So I’m confused. Can a ramp be used as ramp or can it not?

Thomas C Conners
Guest
Thomas C Conners

I suppose if you don’t over cook them you could use ramps ( http://imgur.com/dJz6L3Z ) as ramps, you would probably need something to lash them together with. Bandages perhaps?

ORE_SAMA
Guest

Tell us how you really feel Jimbo

Craig the Intern
Guest
Craig the Intern

In solidarity with the hot new game Sonic Boom, I have wrapped my desk in bandages. You can use it as ramps.
http://imgur.com/8P7mjHa

Thomas C Conners
Guest
Thomas C Conners
Hey Jim, great article, after watching some game play of this game, I can’t help but agree with most of your points. I can see a very “clear” cartoon reason why Sonic might have his shoes lashed to his feet, however I understand your reasoning. I’d like to apologize in advance if you get bombarded with this but in the bit about Knuckles you wrote, “I can’t begin to imagine the intense pain Knuckles must be going through after having his shins and spine snapped into pieces before getting bolted back together with steel rigging, but I am convinced the… Read more »
Devin
Guest

As someone who loves many things made to sell toys (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the 90s X-Men cartoon, every single DC cartoon), I feel like this game is an insult to things that are designed to sell toys.

Barley
Guest
Barley

So painfully true…

DirgeNovak
Guest
DirgeNovak

Soooooo… did you like it? 😛

Meh
Guest
Meh

It’s hard for me to take someone who claims this broken, barely-playable piece of shit is an “average game” seriously.

That’s like saying Sonic 06 is decent.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

You’re complaining about the use of the phrase “average game”.

I did an F-search for the word “average” on this page.

Got 1 of 1 match.

It was from you.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Aaand now I realize that you’ve explained yourself already, leaving me feeling stupid. I’m sorry.

Well, that’s an awkward way to start commenting on a site.

Jesse James O'Clock
Guest
Jesse James O'Clock

My name is also Jesse. I volunteer to absorb all embarrassment from the previous Jesse.

Aristatide
Guest
Aristatide

Why am I laughing so hard at this.

Charles Perniciaro III
Guest
Charles Perniciaro III

Did you miss the 2/10 bad part?

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