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Alternative Names

Sonic Toon: Ancient Treasure

ソニックトゥーン 太古の秘宝


Big Red Button



Release Dates

11/11/14 Sega
12/18/14 Sega
11/21/14 Sega

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU)

By Ben Burnham 05th Dec 2014 | 6,772 views 

Though it's not without its share of redeeming qualities, Sonic Boom ultimately falls victim to shallow gameplay and a very buggy release.

There are times - and it’s happened often with the Sonic series - where the unlikely pairing of the two words “skeptical optimism” serves to perfectly sum up my reaction to the announcement of a video game. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric  was to be an entirely new, Western take on the blue blur, one that incorporated many of the exploration and “action/adventure” elements of the series’ 3D past that just haven’t been as prominent in the more recent installments. Though this prospect has often spelled doom and gloom for the Sonic fanbase, I was hopeful that a new take on the series from a different studio would help inspire Sonic Team out of its creative slump.

Developer Big Red Button, which has former Naughty Dog employees on its staff, seemed to be passionate about the project and enthusiastic to be a part of the Sonic series, and I was genuinely interested in what they’d come up with. That interest lasted until the game was finally shown for the first time. My experience with the trade show demo of Sonic Boom before its release did nothing to improve these newly-lowered expectations.

After playing the final copy, I’m at least somewhat happy to report that Sonic’s latest adventure isn’t the complete disaster that some may have been expecting given the game’s scathing previews and Sega’s decision not to send review builds out before release day. Sonic Boom comes to stores in an unpolished state and with much wasted potential, but it’s truly not horrible. It’s simply okay; the gameplay offers its share of fun, the characters are likable, and there are some instances of clever platforming. It’s a title that will likely be forgotten about before we know it, but at the same time I can’t say that I regret playing it.

Graphically, though, Rise of Lyric is at the definite low end of what it should be. Despite being created using the Cry Engine, a fact that’s proudly proclaimed upon boot up, Sonic Boom has the look of an early Xbox 360 game. As with many other games developed for Nintendo’s HD console, there are moments where nice lighting effects are on display, along with an impressive-looking environment or boss, but for the most part the visuals are anything but next gen.

In fact, anything that’s remotely impressive about Sonic Boom’s presentation is negated by several major graphical issues. Textures can be outright muddy in places, giving several of the environments an unfinished feel. The art direction’s uninspired, with much of the game taking place in dark interiors that rarely look particularly interesting. Long load times and instances of pop-in certainly don’t help matters, while the framerate chugs to alarmingly low rates whenever anything even resembling speed happens on screen. I may not have exactly fallen in love with Sonic: Lost World’s graphics style, but that game at least ran consistently at 60 frames per second, a height that Sonic Boom doesn’t even come close to reaching.

Though these issues are unfortunate, by far the biggest blemish on Sonic Boom’s presentation is the unfinished feel the game has. From the start it feels like a title that’s desperately missing its Day 1 Patch, and various glitches permeate the experience, including characters getting stuck behind treasure chests, the game failing to register that a level has been completed, cutscenes not loading properly after buggy transitions, the occasional grammatical error in the text, and other minor graphical quirks that always serve as a reminder that you're playing a game that needed at least a few more months in development.

All of this is a shame, because at its heart Sonic Boom has redeeming qualities. It’s very much a “platformer” first and a Sonic game second, something which will not be to all Sonic fans’ liking. I genuinely enjoyed the team dynamic, though (some repetitive and unnecessary dialogue aside), with the frequent communication between the characters and the high rate of cutscenes at least keeping my interest throughout. Sonic Boom also presents a fairly lengthy adventure, complete with an assortment of sidequests to take on both during and after the game, along with drop in/drop out co-op for two players and a separate challenge mode for up to four, though the Wii U version does not include online play. At the very least it's not a bad value for your $50, should you find yourself able to enjoy the gameplay.

As with Sonic Heroes, you have at least one (typically two) characters alongside you, with the game allowing you to use whoever you want, depending on the level. Certain paths are only accessible to certain characters, and thankfully Sonic Boom is good about letting you know which character can take which path, eliminating a lot of the frustrations of trial-and-error character switching that usually accompany games like this. Amy has a triple-jump and the ability to walk across specifically marked balance beams, while Sonic can use various ramps and Tails can fly over the bigger gaps. Each character also has a different play style in combat, allowing for some fun as you experiment with the different characters and their mechanics.

Sadly, Sonic doesn’t seem to be any faster than the others, so while there are various “speed” gameplay sections (these feeling far too automated and requiring you mainly to dodge objects with the trigger buttons) Sonic Boom is, without a doubt, slower than your average Sonic game. It’s not entirely a loss, however; while the speed sections are too short and disappointingly linear, they do add a much-needed feeling of exhilaration to the proceedings, and some of them can be quite fun. The best addition to Sonic Boom may be the Enerbeam, which allows your characters to latch onto energy rails and soar through the environments, BioShock Infinite-style. Much of the rest of the gameplay is rather standard fare though, with hitting switches or defeating a bunch of enemies (and then hitting more switches) being the typical way to move forward in almost any given situation.

This hints at Sonic Boom’s biggest weakness - it simply never takes its original ideas far enough. The combat's okay, with some cool moves and the ability to throw enemies off of cliffs, but there's no real feeling of evolution or even a sense of Werehog-like satisfaction to be gleaned from the mayhem. There’s a leveling up system, but it comes across almost like an afterthought, and many of the bosses are fought in exactly the same way.

The feeling of wasted potential extends to the hub worlds, which are surprisingly large but shockingly empty, featuring only a couple NPCs littering their barren landscapes. Clicking the left analog stick triggers a Waypoint to steer you in the right direction (something the game inexplicably never sees fit to tell you), but the hub worlds are nonetheless mostly just places for aimless wandering. Though this is meant to serve as an introduction to the Sonic Boom world, I never got a feel for exactly what this world was, or what the Sonic characters were doing there; it just sort of… exists. The storyline is eventful but never really goes anywhere, and the main villain is completely bland and forgettable despite also being the title character.

Sonic Boom:Rise of Lyric is basic. It features simple gameplay and simple combat, and despite featuring a lot of character interaction (mostly successfully), the world and the main villain are wholly lacking in personality. Sonic Boom tries to take the series to new territory and to widen the scope of the adventure, which is commendable, but in the end Big Red Button never delve below the surface and are therefore unable to deliver anything truly memorable. Sonic Boom isn’t a terrible game, and had it not released in such a buggy state it could perhaps have been serviceable, but Sonic certainly deserves better than this. I’m hopeful that Sonic Team can take some of Big Red Button’s more salvageable ideas and incorporate them into future Sonic games and finally deliver something truly great, but at the end of the day Sonic Boom just isn’t it.

VGChartz Verdict


This review is based on a retail copy of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the WiiU

Read more about our Review Methodology here

Sales History

Total Sales
1 n/a 18,893 n/a 4,126 23,019
2 n/a 7,075 12,399 2,289 21,763
3 n/a 9,255 8,775 2,548 20,578
4 n/a 9,505 9,126 2,623 21,254
5 n/a 12,744 8,554 3,296 24,594
6 n/a 18,138 8,754 4,486 31,378
7 n/a 17,036 7,399 4,165 28,600
8 n/a 5,412 2,522 1,334 9,268
9 n/a 2,226 1,538 579 4,343
10 n/a 1,644 1,749 464 3,857

Opinion (13)

Darwinianevolution posted 25/04/2016, 09:48
I find funny/tragic that this game has managed to beat in sales: Batman AO, AC Black Flag, Game & Wario, Injustice, Darksiders II, Watch Dogs, Fatal Frame (maybe not this one if we count digital) and a couple of Lego games.
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qwertyDANIELqwerty posted 03/07/2015, 05:56
In my personal opinion, Sonic 06 was better.
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Mr Puggsly posted 13/02/2015, 04:11
@Paatar - More technical polish would have made the game a little better received critically, but its not hated because it deviates from traditional Sonic games. Its just mediocre game and the technical problems just pile on an already flawed game.
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Paatar posted 26/01/2015, 11:39
If it was a new IP, wasn't glitched at launch, had good framrate, better textures and etc it wouldn't be considered a bad game. But since it deviates from Sonic and had so many glitches (before update) framerate issues and etc it was considered a bad game. The gameplay itself is pretty fun. I actually like it. Sure it isn't great but it isn't godawful.
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Metallox posted 05/01/2015, 10:21
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FarleyMcFirefly posted 04/01/2015, 12:02
It's not a great game no, but it's not all that bad either. I've been enjoying it!
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