I think it may be time to put the Sonic Boom series out of its misery. Let's revive an older game like Sonic Rush or Sonic Colors, or else move on to something new altogether. We gave Sonic Boom a fair shake, but it's not working out. You can keep the show if you really want to, but the games have got to go.
Sega really tripped up when Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric came out in 2014. They had recently signed an exclusivity deal with Nintendo, and Rise of Lyric was the follow-up to Lost World. Lost World was a really decent game, but Rise of Lyric was a disaster. It played slowly, it was glitchy as hell, and it was plagued with camera problems. Why, Sega? Why would you make a bad, slow Sonic game?
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal released on the 3DS at the same time as Rise of Lyric, but no one ever talks about it. That's a shame, because Shattered Crystal was the much better game. It isn't a great game, mind, but it did do a few things right. It was handled by a different developer - Sanzaru Games - and they kept things a little simpler. This was a 2D side-scrolling Sonic game that actually played at high speeds at parts.
Shattered Crystal didn't do too well critically, but a handful of Sonic fans swear by it. They saw something special in that game to give them hope for the future. That hope was made stronger by Sega's own admittance that it needed to focus on making quality games once again. According to a recent MCV interview with Sega of Europe CEO Jurgen Post, Sega lost its way during the Wii era.
“We were a little bit opportunistic," he said, "signing a lot of titles and doing things that were not necessarily very good. There was a time when you could sell a lot of products, for example on Wii, but that market has gone. Today if you want to survive, you need to focus on quality. We want to create games that are very good and have a long tail.”
That doesn't exactly sound like a heartfelt conviction and dedication to making quality games, does it? It sounds more like he's saying, "We realize we can't get away with selling sh#t on a console boasting an install base of over 100 million any longer, so I guess we have to actually try to make good games now." Well, whatever - I don't care where his heart is as long as it means better Sonic games.
Fast forward to Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, and has Sega kept its promise? No, it has not. I beat this game in about five hours (yes, it's that short), and I have to say: This is pretty much Sonic Boom Shattered Crystal: Copy-and-Paste Edition. Sanzaru played things as safely as it could, and didn't innovate a damn thing. There's an extra character in Fire & Ice, and the fire and ice mechanic itself is new, but neither make the game worth paying full price for. The fire and ice gimmick was especially disappointing because it never reaches its full potential. The trials and tricks you learn in beginning stages are simply repeated in different ways throughout the rest of the game. Interesting boss battles could have saved the game, but they're actually some of the worst boss battles I've ever played in a game.
I hope we never see another Sonic Boom game ever again. I can't tell you how happy I am that the highlights of Sonic's 25th anniversary party were Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017. Neither of those games have the word "boom" in them, and Sonic Mania especially looks like a revival of everything older Sonic fans know and love. I tried giving Sonic Boom a chance, but I don't think I have much hope left. Let it die. If you need me, I'll be in my room playing Sonic Rush until 2017.