At this week’s GameStop Expo, I got the chance to pick up and play the new 3D Sonic the Hedgehog adventure game, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. This is a bit of a different take on the blue blur. The game has a heavier focus on brawling, melee combat and 3D adventure exploration. The demo play was more comparable to the Jak & Daxter series than previous iterations of the Sonic franchise. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a prequel to the upcoming, new animated series Sonic Boom, which will air on Cartoon Network later this year.
The available demo allowed play through three different stages. One stage had Sonic and Amy Rose exploring an abandoned factory designed to clean up pollution and toxic waste. The gameplay allows for two-player or single-player co-op. In single-player, gamers can actually toggle between playing Sonic or Amy. The level is quite big and has alternate pathways with hidden rooms. Sonic and Amy even split up at various segments before reconvening. In old school Sonic games, he could usually jump on enemies or run over them with his blazing speed. Hc and his friends are armed with a bigger bevy of attacks. He has some basic hand-to-hand combat attacks and also a rolling hedgehog attack that homes in on its targets. All the characters have handy electric whips to attack. Using this technique, the characters can swing and throw enemies, and explore the environment by using the electric whip to pull open obstacles or throw objects at enemies.
The factory features a giant, arachnid-like robot that pursues Sonic and Amy throughout the level. This mixes in some more classic-style racing and Sonic game sequences. Eventually, the two heroes face the robotic monstrosity head on. At the end of the level, it appears that Sonic and Amy have a short time to fully activate the factory. The toxic waste is drained, revealing a lush, exotic paradise. Amy looks on, and Sonic appears to have a moment where he fails to reveal to Amy that he has feelings for her. Take heed, fans of Sonic/Sally Acorn ‘ship. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric does not ‘ship Sonic/Sally. It ships Sonic/Amy.
Another level has Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy facing off against Dr. Eggman in a giant robot mecha. This looks to be one of the game’s major boss fights. Despite the presence of Eggman, the main villain of the game is actually Lyric the Last Ancient. However, he was not seen in the demo. Fort the most part, all the revamped character designs look pretty neat. The changes to the characters are not incredibly extreme or dramatic. Their looks have been tweaked to fit the style of a more traditional adventure-based story. Sonic wears a scarf, basically the equivalent of Indiana Jones’ fedora.
The third playable level is a more traditional 3D level. Sonic and his crew go through the roads and tracks evocative of many other Sonic games. So, despite the game’s more adventure-based style, some traditional Sonic touches are thrown in.
Overall, I liked how the demo played. Character models and graphics were very smooth and fluid. For the most part, controls on the Wii U gamepad worked well. I like the different play style for the other characters. Each one has his or her own unique abilities. For example, Amy wields a hammer and can perform a triple jump.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric hits the Wii U on November 11. The companion 3DS version, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal hits the 3DS on the same date.