We’re at a very, very strange place in the lifespan of poor Sonic the Hedgehog. After being king of the video game universe, or at least crown prince after Mario, Sonic has now seen his series become a rollercoaster of quality, racing between “pretty good” and “hilariously awful.” Guess where we are right now?
Well, we’re at the point where Sonic is now having a video game made out of a TV show which was of course, made out of his former video games. That would be “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric,” and it’s far and away one of the worst reviewed games of the year, if not the past few years. The best part? It’s only on Wii U, SEGA’s former eternal rival.
Here’s the “plot” if you’re curious:
“Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric follows Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends Miles “Tails” Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, Amy Rose, and Sticks the Jungle Badger as they battle against the evil Dr. Eggman. The group arrives on an island and encounter an ancient tomb sealed deep within. There, they come across a powerful snake-like villain from a race called the Ancients, named Lyric. The group finds that Lyric plans to power his army of war mongering robots with the Chaos Crystals in order to destroy everything organic and create a world of twisted metal and robots. To stop Lyric’s evil plan, the group must put aside their differences and find the Chaos Crystals before Lyric.”
I mean, sounds like typical Sonic insanity, and we’re not expecting Shakespeare here, but once you see the game in action you can understand just how far the series has fallen. I will say to its credit that it’s only being published by SEGA, and was developed by Big Red Button instead. And yet, someone at SEGA should have gone “no, stop” if they played more than five minutes of this game. But I think SEGA is such a shell of what it once was that it’s almost expected for 50% of all Sonic games to be ridiculously bad.
Here’s arguably the most famous cutscene from the game which has racked up a few hundred thousand views on YouTube:
It’s so bizarre and awkward it’s almost like a work of modern art, but it sums up just about how much care was put into the game.
I really hate games that think that because they’re for kids, they’re allowed to be completely brain-dead and so long as they’re full of color and sound and vaguely familiar characters, that any product of any level of quality is ready for release.
In case that wasn’t enough for you, here’s another taste of the game which has another painful cutscene and then gameplay which shows Sonic fighting enemies in an arena like he’s channeling Bayonetta. Yes, they turned a speed-focused game into a gated-brawler. Sigh.
I don’t even…
I feel like Sonic is an abused child that Nintendo desperately needs to adopt. I imagine Sonic walking the cold winter streets, gazing into the window of a house where Mario, Kirby, Link, Samus and Donkey Kong are all eating Thanksgiving dinner together, laughing and joking and celebrating the 90+ Metacritic scores of their games.
Sonic presses his face to the glass. “I want that,” he says, voice shaking. He reaches into his pocket to remind himself that this will never happen. He unfolds a crumpled ball of paper that’s IGN’s review of Sonic Boom.
“”Sonic is slow and you play as his friends” might be one of the most unappealing sentences I’ve ever written, but it neatly sums up my experience with Rise of Lyric. Its exploration is so-so, its brawling is tedious, its characters are annoying, and the only stages where it feels like a Sonic game are the ones most likely to suffer technical problems. Rise of Lyric isn’t fundamentally broken or unplayable; it’s just thoroughly disappointing and unpolished, and while it does have some fun to offer, it’s fun that’s been done better in countless similar games. 4.3/10″
Sonic sighs, and slowly freezes to death in the snow. “At least I had fun in Smash Bros.” are his final thoughts.
[Photo via SEGA]