Although the 3DS version of Sonic Boom is looking promising, the Wii U version seems like it is in the middle of an identity crisis. The game is not bad, but it is not very good, either. Like its 3DS counterpart, the Wii U version features different level types and huge bosses, which are decent enough to fight. The game fails to bring anything new to the table and most importantly, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is not really a Sonic game.
The most popular level type, the adventure levels, are unfortunately in 3D, have very little platforming, and concentrate mostly on puzzle-solving and brawling against enemies. The game seems like an adventure game made for eight-year-olds, combining repetitive fighting segments with rather simplistic puzzle designs. The worst part of the experience was that none of the characters would shut up! Bob Rafei, CEO of Big Red Button, pointed out that Sonic Boom would feature much of the banter from the TV show that viewers would be familiar with. Although this premise may seem cool for younger players, it failed to let up; not only were the voices annoying, but I could not turn them off and it created an experience that was not only uninteresting, but almost painful, to play. It certainly did not help that I was in a near-constant struggle with the camera.
Rafei then said something interesting after the adventure level: Sonic fans love speed levels and they are a reward for players after playing adventure levels. This is where confusion began to set in. Sonic fans don\’t love speed levels after playing through adventure levels — they love fast levels because they\’re an integral part of what Sonic is. Sonic fans don\’t love speed levels; Sonic fans love Sonic!
The one speed level I was able to play was fortunately immensely fun, although the frame rate did have trouble keeping up at times. After playing through two adventure levels before returning to a speed level, I cannot help but wonder why they would or could not stick with tradition. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is not necessarily a bad game, but it surely lacked intuition and was annoying at times. Those truly craving a Sonic experience this year may want to check out the 3DS version instead.
Also, make sure to check out our interview with Bob Rafei, the CEO and founder of Big Red Button, where Rafei talks about the development and intended audience for Sonic Boom.