It’s okay be wary of Sonic Boom.
As the guy who wrote “Sonic and the Worst Fandom Ever“, you would think I’d be angry at the fans that seem to hate the upcoming Sonic Boom game on the WiiU without having played it.
However, personally, I’m more annoyed at the people liking it just because they don’t want to sound like whiny Sonic fans.
I understand that you need to play a game first before you can tell if it’s crap. Afterall, I was very surprised by how solid Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was. But sometimes you can see what’s wrong before putting your hands on the controller.
I feel the key is to figure out what it is you dislike and try your best to portray it in a non-whiny way. Same thing with if you like it. Opinions are going to vary.
As for me? Well my feelings are very mixed. On one hand I love Bob Rafei and his work on the Jak & Daxter series. I think he’s a genius designer. On the other hand, I played Big Red Button’s previous game: Daxter. It was…not good and honestly kind of an insult to the Jak & Daxter series. Sluggish unresponsive controls, annoying characters, and just plain annoying gameplay. I played it years ago so I barely remember it beyond dropping it quickly, grabbing a save file, and just watching all the cutscenes because I couldn’t stand it.
However, Sanzaru is another story. They recently put out the new Sly Cooper game which was darn good. I mean yeah it was basically just them recreating Sly 3, but being “about as good as the other games” is good enough for me considering it was from a completely different developer than the originals. It was a rock solid platformer that I did indeed have quite a bit of fun with.
This game though? It looks like the opposite of Sonic Color and Sonic Generations! While those two were “All Day Stage Sonic Unleashed”, this looks like “All Night Stage Sonic Unleashed”. All Werehog, all the time. Even the slow platforming bears such a striking resemblance to the night stages it’s surreal. Come to think of it, are the laser lassos basically just replacements for Sonic’s streachy arms?
You’ll have to excuse me while I laugh. The whole point of the Werehog was to freshen up Sonic’s gameplay and make it more varied and appealing. People didn’t like it. So Sonic Team gives the game to a Western developer and asks them to make the game more appealing to Western audiences and what do they do? Make the Werehog.
Of course, the night stages weren’t that bad so there’s a good chance this will be a thoroughly average platformer and that does raise the question: Would you rather have a solid but generic platformer, or a slightly wonky Sonic game? Speaking personally I’d pick Sonic Lost World over Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures in spite of it being a decent game.
So, to summarize, it looks slow and combat-centric.
Also, the fact that every boss is “throw enemies at it” does have me worried.
Other complaints I have is how Sonic doesn’t shut up, the overly dark nature of the stages which makes it hard to see (and really the visuals are pretty bad), but above all else: the music.
Can someone please explain to me why Western developers don’t get music? I don’t mean to bash them but I have played so many Western games where there is little to no music. I understand that a lack of music can have it’s place in setting tone and atmosphere. However, having a nearly silent environment in the middle of a fight is just weird. Especially in a Sonic game where even the worst game in the series has amazing music.
Then again, the Devil May Cry system of having one battle song that plays over and over again every time you get into a fight isn’t any better. Even when that song is freaking amazing, it will wear you down.
But, looking back on all my complaints, I realize I could still be pleasantly surprised. Crash: Mind Over Mutant was a seemingly darker combat-centric game yet it remains one of this generation’s highlights for it’s fun gameplay and great sense of humor. I still stand by my weird claim of it being a superior Golden Axe: Beast Rider because it really was.
The thing to keep in mind is that Sonic Boom is a separate thing from Sonic. It’s an alternate canon with no bearing on the main series (whose canon is already incredibly loose). Still, the concern that SEGA might want to continue in this direction is bothersome.
Really though, the reason I’m annoyed is because as bad as Sonic Fans can be, the inverse is no better. I’ve seen far too many reviewers give Sonic games a bad review just because they’re Sonic. Alternately though, I remember when IGN in their “How to Save Sonic” article claimed Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was an example of a good Sonic game.
Yeah, no. The only person I have ever met who liked that game hates Sonic, hates Japanese developers, and has a massive affinity for Western developers and especially Bioware. I know folks who would rather play Sonic 06 than Sonic Chronicles. I understand it had a very troubled development history so I bear the dev team no ill will, but the final product was not good. A slow awkward mess of mismatched visual styles and sounds (enemies make a stock “boing” effect when they explode). It was trying to be 3 different games at once: A Bioware RPG, My First RPG, and a Sonic RPG. The three did not mix well.
In short, I feel IGN was giving that game a pass because it was made by Bioware instead of SEGA rather than anything having to do with the gameplay. This is what I worry about with Sonic Boom: How many reviewers will give it high scores for being Not SEGA rather than anything having to do with the gameplay?
This also brings up the other issue: No matter how good this game is, it’s “Not Sonic”. The lack of speed and focus on combat is so not Sonic it really is distracting. Even if this is the best platformer ever, the fact that it isn’t Sonic is going to forever be an issue.
Then again, maybe I’m still angry because of Castlevania: Lord of Shadows, a game which recieved a free pass for being “The best 3D Castlevania” by not being Castlevania at all.
Actually fuck. I don’t care if this destroys my credibility. I need to stop this article now. The seething hatred I have for what is otherwise a very well made and okay enough game is overwhelming me. I’m actually getting dizzy. The fact that people could consider that game “a good Castlevania game” bothers me on a cellular level.
Perhaps I’ll spend some time soul searching and thinking about why I hate when people like a game I loathe. There is a logic behind it, I just need to form it into words. I’m just gonna say that, Sonic Fans who hate Sonic Boom? I totally understand. Try not to be too childish about it and keep an open mind but…yeah there are good reasons to be wary. Also, don’t bash a person just because they are wary of the game.
…and wait a second, did this just break The Sonic Cycle? I mean Sonic Fans are supposed to drool over how amazing a game is from the first screens and videos and then be disappointed after it comes out, right? I don’t care how unprofessional it is, I have only one response: XD