How do you make a twenty three year old franchise huge again? It’s not that Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t popular anymore (the last game in the series, Sonic Lost World, has sold nearly 3/4 of a million copies) but his popularity seems to have waned. Here is where SEGA’s latest plan comes in, Sonic Boom. Consisting of two brand new video games which will both lead into a brand-new cartoon series on Cartoon Network, SEGA is looking to push Sonic the Hedgehog back into your living room in a big, big way.
The first of these games is Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the Nintendo 3DS and it’s the more traditional Sonic game of the two. The majority of its levels are side scrolling, though less speed-oriented than past Sonic games. They are much longer than older Sonic levels with the course we played taking about 15 minutes to fully complete.
One new addition to the gameplay is the EnerBeam, a whiplike weapon that allows characters to string up enemies or grapple onto objects to further your progression in the level. Another add on to the game is the ability to swap characters at anytime during gameplay. In addition to Sonic, player options are Tales, Knuckles and the new character Sticks, a jungle badger with a penchant for conspiracy theories.
On the other side is Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, the Wii U title. While “Shattered Crystal” continues trends seen throughout the Sonic franchise, “Rise of Lyric” trades the traditional running-focused levels for a more adventure and puzzle-oriented game. Like the 3DS title, players can swap between characters at anytime, though Amy is playable instead of Sticks, and use their EnerBeams to not only attack enemies but to help them complete puzzles. In addition, players will be able to play cooperatively with a friend in the game using the power of the Wii U GamePad. Compared to its handheld counterpart, controls are more difficult to master in “Rise of Lyric,” but once you can get comfortable with them, it’s an easy and fun playthrough.
The name “Sonic Boom” is quite appropriate as the series is aiming to explode in a big way. Both games under the banner have their strengths and offer their own stories, not requiring players to pick up both for the whole picture. “Shattered Crystal” is a more relaxed version of Sonic, which might be a negative for longtime fans, but it is easy to pick up and play with 3D that doesn’t detract from the play experience. “Rise of Lyric,” on the other hand, takes the franchise into a new direction with less of a focus on hyper speed gameplay and more puzzle-oriented action.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will be available exclusively on the Wii U with Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal running on the Nintendo 3DS. Both titles will be available November 25.