The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sonic Boom

Anthony discusses his mixed opinions about the Blue Blur’s newest game.

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 02/17/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Pandemonium struck the Sonic fan base last week when Sonic Boom was shown off for the first time. Being a drastic departure from everything that Sonic fans know and love, the gaming community was left with mixed feeling about the new style portrayed in the trailer. Long time fans formed an angry mob equipped with pitchforks in New York City to overturn cars, destroy property, and paint graffiti that said “Nintendoes what Sega don’t.”

Okay, I may have stretched the truth a little bit on that last sentence, but everything prior to that remains true! There really is a lot of debate going around about the latest Sonic game, and now that the dust has settled from its initial announcement, I’m here to offer my two cents as well! I’m going to give my analysis of Sonic Boom within three different categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good will discuss the parts of the game that I am excited about, the bad will be what I deem worthy of criticism, and the ugly will feature the aspects that I think are neither good nor bad. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on Sonic Boom!

The Good: Beautiful, Enormous Environments

One of the things that I noticed almost immediately upon viewing the trailer was the incredible size of the environments. I’m so used to Sonic games being very confined in design and having a strict point A to point B structure. However, these new environments are so vast and appear to encourage exploration more than anything else. It’s definitely a change of pace for the series, but its one that I welcome with open arms.

Not only that, but everything looks absolutely gorgeous! I can easily say that this ranks amongst the best looking Sonic games to date. Sonic Lost World looked fantastic, but I don’t think it ever reached this level of graphical fidelity on Wii U. Of course, some of the textures I saw in the trailer weren’t perfect, but they’re pretty damn good! With environments this huge, I really can’t complain.

Multiple Playable Characters

For a long time, fans have complained that Sonic has too many friends. So, sometime after the abomination that was Sonic ’06, Sega obliged these people and focused the series exclusively on Sonic’s gameplay.

Yet, it’s been a really long time since players have been able to take control of characters like Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. People have been clamoring for Sonic Adventure 3 for years, as they’ve missed playing as Sonic’s friends for a long time. For those people, Sonic Boom should be the answer to all of their pleas.

Truth be told, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Sonic’s friends as long as they’re implemented correctly. In fact, I adore Sonic 3 & Knuckles for having multiple playable characters because of the unique, individual abilities each one has that allow them to access character specific areas. Sonic Boom seems to do just that, since the trailer showcased Sonic using a homing attack, Tails flying and using a gun, Knuckles digging and climbing walls, and Amy beating enemies with a hammer.

Oh, and the best part is that you can play this game cooperatively! Super Mario 3D World showed how co-op play could enhance a 3D platformer perfectly, so I’m looking forward to getting more details about this feature in the future.

The Bad: New Character Designs

Everyone, I all want you to watch this video of Sonic Boom. No, I’m not talking about the trailer, I’m talking about the intro to Sonic CD! Watched it? Okay, good. Now, can someone explain to me why Sonic’s old design no longer appeals to kids and why redesigns were necessary?

Sonic has gone through a few different designs throughout the years, but none have been as drastic and controversial as the Sonic Boom character designs. Regardless if you like them or not, why are they needed? Did Sonic really need a scarf, oddly proportioned legs, and a fetish for athletic tape? What was wrong with the old designs? Sega must still like the other designs too, because it’s still using them in their other games as well.

Speaking of oddly proportioned, have you seen Knuckles? When did he use steroids to bulk up his body, but not his legs, in an attempt to pass as member of the Battletoads? When did Amy swap face animations with Rouge? Tails looks to be the best of the bunch, as he looks correctly proportioned and his new utility belt and goggles fit his persona perfectly. But, the other three designs confuse me to no end.

Again, I’m sure there are people that like the new designs, and that’s okay. But, changing the designs like this could potentially segment Sega’s target demographic. Given the huge outcry from fans, there will definitely be some people that will not buy it solely because of designs, and will just continue to purchase the main series Sonic games instead. To me, the designs even gives the impression that the Sonic Boom sub-series is just for kids, while the main series games are for everyone to play.

Thankfully, my mixed feelings on the designs are the only glaring flaw I can pick out from the trailer itself.

The Ugly: Another New Engine

I don’t think I’ll ever understand what’s going on at Sega’s Headquarters.

Remember when the company made Sonic Unleashed? It was a completely new engine, but it was clear that it had some kinks that needed to be worked out before it was perfected. After its second attempt with Sonic Colors, the developers finally perfected the engine with Sonic Generations, which is arguably the best Sonic has ever been in the third dimension. However, Sega decided to scrap this engine in its entirety when it set out to make Sonic Lost World. Much like Sonic Unleashed, it showcased great concepts that needed more time to be perfected.

Now, here we are with Sonic Boom. The game plays absolutely nothing like either Sonic Unleashed or Sonic Lost World, and features yet another new engine!

On one hand, the usage of new engines has never worked in Sonic’s favor, so Sonic Boom could have its share of problems as a result. On the other hand, the gameplay looks incredibly promising and ambitious. Only time will tell if the new engine will be unanimously praised or trashed critically!

New Developers

Wow, a Sonic game that isn’t developed by Sonic Team or Dimps? I wonder how this will end up?

Color me cautiously optimistic. Everyone is excited because they’ve heard that Big Red Button has former Naughty Dog developers, but people need to realize that both of them are not game designers. Both former Naughty Dog developers are handling the aesthetics of the game, which explains why the game looks so gorgeous. I am a little excited for the 3DS version though, which is handled by Sanzaru Games. It did a great job with the new Sly Cooper game, so the studio has potential in making a fantastic Sonic game as well.

If these teams do a good job, hopefully they’ll continue to make more Sonic games in the future!

There you have it! In a nutshell, these are my mixed feelings on the Blue Blur’s latest outing. What are your thoughts on Sonic Boom? Let us know in the comments below!

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