Tag Archives: Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U & 3DS)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team & Dimps

Publisher(s) – Sega & Nintendo

Director(s) – Morio Kishimoto & Takao Hirabayashi

Producer – Takashi Lizuka

Sonic: Lost World takes the franchise back to basics with 2D side scrolling elements as well as including certain elements from later 3D platforming titles in the series. After playing, I thought it was an OK game, but I found myself having the same old complaints as I have whilst playing older games in the rest of the series.

Graphics – 7.5/10

To begin with, the visuals of the game aren’t too bad. I think along with being in lieu of Sonic the Hedgehog tradition, Nintendo’s involvement in the series has at least had some positive influence in this respect, with the game including some pretty diverse settings and creature designs. It’s also interesting to see what look like the triforce from the Legend of Zelda on the roads in the dessert levels. What I can’t say the same for, however, is how the Deadly Six characters were designed. The way I see it, they all look pretty generic, and below par of what either Nintendo or Sega are usually capable of.

Gameplay – 5/10

Over the years, I’ve always had issues with how Sonic the Hedgehog games play out. I’ve always felt that though Sonic’s speed was put in place to add more intensity to the game compared to others, that there’s hardly anything to do with it and very little space to use it. This game is no exception, unfortunately. To me, high speed has always taken away any fluency to any of the Sonic games, and a lot of the time, make them pretty annoying to play through. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 2D side scrolling sequences, where there is only one direction to go in anyway, making high speed pretty redundant in my own personal opinion. Though interestingly there is influence taken from the cancelled Sega Saturn game Sonic Xtreme, The 3D sequences don’t greatly encourage exploration either; as I hope will be present in Sonic Boom when it comes out.

Controls – 9.5/10

Though the controls are straightforward enough, I did find it annoying to turn from left to right in the 2D side scrolling sequences; like the analogue stick took far too much time to respond to what I wanted the character to do. But otherwise, there were no other issues I found whilst playing.

Lifespan – 3/10

Considering that Nintendo have already put out quite a few games a lot like Sonic: Lost World out on not just the Wii U, but for every other console before it, it seems much shorter than either New Super Mario Bros U or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The game can be done in less than 3 hours, most probably due to the lack of side quests compared to the other two aforementioned games. But nowadays especially, that short a time makes for a very fleeting experience even for a 2D side scroller; let alone any other kind of video game.

Storyline – 6/10

Sonic’s latest adventure has him and Tails pursuing Dr. Eggman, who has captured their animal friends to be used to power his robot army, whilst they must also fend off Eggman’s primary henchmen; the Deadly Six. I was pleased to find the story much less predictable than I’d initially anticipated. There are a few twists and turns towards the end to keep thing interesting for the most part. That’s the kind of thing that the Wii U needs to have in order to make their games as interesting as possible in my opinion, and not to include the kind of predictable stories than many of the Mario games have nowadays.

Originality – 5/10

There’s not much new in this game. Although it has a new and unique story, repetitive gameplay to me, has been a problem come every time Sega have tried to revive the franchise since mid-way into the sixth generation.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Sonic: Lost World isn’t a bad game, but there was definitely room for improvement for me. There’s nothing to suggest to me that this game could have renewed interest in the series, and predictably, it hasn’t to any substantial degree.

Score

36/60

6/10 (Average)

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)

Developer(s) – Big Red Button Games

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director(s) – Bob Rafei & Jeff Lander

Producer(s) – Lisa Kapitsas & Stephen Frost

As I said in my last article, I had high hopes for this latest attempt at reviving the Sonic the Hedgehog series, since it looked like no other Sonic game that had ever been released before under it’s original creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima, and I’d never been a huge fan of the series prior. I believed that it could even be the best Sonic game ever, granted that it was done right. Unfortunately, whilst the gameplay formula isn’t terrible, the title does have flaws; a lot of them.

Graphics – 6/10

To a small extent, Rise of Lyric is more conceptually compelling and different to many other games in the series. Bob Rafei, formally of Naughty Dog, having worked on some of their greatest games, such as both the Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot series’, and the influence that he had on the project is made extremely apparent from the word go. But despite that, this is most probably the most unpolished game I’ve seen on the Wii U since the console’s launch. There is even a glitch in the game, which can be exploited to skip the majority of levels in it, and complete in just over an hour. The game clearly hasn’t been properly tested, and gamers and fans of the series alike have theorized that it could do with the developers wanting to simply rush it out to retail to coincide with the release of the Sonic Boom TV show. In all honesty, it wouldn’t surprise me if this were indeed the case; video games have been rushed out to retail for one reason or another before.

Gameplay – 5/10

Ever since I first saw footage of this game, and then went on to see even more at the Tokyo Game Show, I’d always thought that it had potential; sadly, the developers have failed miserably to live up to it. The combat system in the game is largely dull and unrefined, and the puzzles found throughout the game can be seen by many as being far too easy. People could argue that this is because the game is marketed primarily for kids, but there have been greater challenges found in kid’s video games than in this title. What also really annoys me about this game is that it’s set in an open world, and there is no map system from the get-go, presenting the same very unnecessary complication, which can be attributed to early unperfected 3D platformers, such as Blasto.

Controls – 8/10

Another aspect in which players can encounter unnecessary complications is in the game’s control scheme. The jumping mechanics are pretty inaccurate and the camera angles can be particularly awkward in many instances. Although there aren’t many other problems with the controls scheme besides these, they still make the game gratuitously hard to enjoy. 3D platformers have been around for way over a decade now, and to think that developers are still having problems making them, after the formula has been perfected time and again, is beyond me.

Lifespan – 4/10

With adamant players only being able to make the game last for roughly 10 hours, Rise of Lyric falls extremely short of what an exceptional lifespan should be for a game of its genre. Some platformers like Super Mario Galaxy can be made to last up to 25-30 hours, since there is a lot to do in that particular game, and a lot of incentive for making progress. But in Sonic Boom, though there is small RPG element to it, it’s nowhere near expanded on enough to warrant the game lasting any longer than it does.

Storyline – 5/10

The story involves the four familiar heroes Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy chasing their arch-nemesis Dr Eggman only to arrive in an uncharted world, and accidentally awaken a potentially greater threat called Lyric, who had laid dormant for centuries. After awakening Lyric, he and Eggman team up, and it is up to Sonic and company to stop them. The main problems I had with the game’s story were that it seemed to be mainly fan service. There’s no back story given to any of either the main or supporting characters and there isn’t really any true insight provided into any of them either. Though it does include a lot of classic Sonic characters, such as Shadow and Metal Sonic, as well as a few new ones thrown in for good measure, it clearly works best for fans of the series, and the developers have seemingly made no attempt at trying to weed in potentially new fans of the series by possibly explaining fully who these characters really are, or why they should even care.

Originality – 6/10

I believe the thing that developers got most right in the entire process of making this game was their willingness to take the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise into a daring and initially potentially exciting new direction. But aside from that, there isn’t much else that people will be able to point out about this title to effectively distinguish it from the many other great 3D platformers that have come before it, such as Okami and Sly Cooper. Bob Rafei’s influences are also made far too obvious throughout, and for a developers who over the years has made a habit of reinventing himself in terms of artistic presentation, I think the effort he has made in the development of this game is very unworthy of him.

Angrii

Angrii

In summation, while Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric isn’t the worst game I’ve played throughout 2014 (by some distance, that honour would go to Proteus), and not quite as bad as most other critics seem to be labelling it as, it has certainly been one of the most disappointing. For a game that initially showed a lot of potential all year round, it fell way short of the high expectations that gamers had for it, and for many Sonic fans, it could now potentially be the last straw. It’s a shame, as I still think that having looked at this game, an open world Sonic the Hedgehog 3D platformer could make for a pretty good game if it were to be done properly, and handled by developers with more experience in the field. This game was simply a question of trial and error, and I think if all the imperfections of the game are worked on, we could have a particularly great game on our hands. But alas, having seen the ill reception that this game had received, it would seem unlikely that not many developers would want to touch Sonic this gameplay formula, or now even the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, with a 60-foot pole.

Score

34/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)

Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Takashi Lizuki

Producer – Yuji Naka

Though I don’t believe it to be a great game by any means, I think Sonic Adventure is certainly the best direction that Sega has taken its long-running franchise. It’s the most enjoyable to play in my opinion, and also has the franchise’s best story attached to it.

Graphics – 8.5/10

From a technical standpoint, the Dreamcast was a gaming generation ahead of its time, with the most powerful graphics engine ever included in a home console. By that token alone, the visuals in Sonic Adventure were cutting edge. Though there were a few glitches left unpolished, nothing like had ever been seen. Conceptually, the game is a little bit weak, but for the most part, it’s as compelling as any other Sonic the Hedgehog game was before it. There were also some particularly enjoyable boss fights and enemy designs thrown in for good measure.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

What I like best about Sonic Adventure is the RPG element that was added to it in the form of multiple playable characters. Besides playing Sonic, players can go through the story as Tails, Knuckles and Amy as well as two new characters to the series: Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma. However, compared to other 3D platformers, I wish much more could have been added for how big the in-game world is and how much of there is to explore; especially as there was a lot more than this in many other games featuring primary video game mascots at the time, such as Mario or even Crash Bandicoot.

Controls – 8/10

Again, I found myself having the same issues with the controls as I had done in most other Sonic games I’ve played throughout the years. It was pretty annoying in this game, as players can move around the open world environment particularly quickly, and are consequently prone to banging into things very easily. It’s especially a problem whilst playing as Sonic, but it’s nowhere near as bad whilst playing with other characters, such as Big or Gamma.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

The entire game can be complete within around 7 to 8 hours, which is particularly underwhelming given that it’s a semi-open world game. Again, I’d put it down to players not having much to do outside the game’s main objectives, and there was definitely room for more to make this game as entertaining and as immersing as possible. It wasn’t as if side quests were unheard of even at the time, and I would point it out as the game’s most standout flaw.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Sonic Adventures follows Sonic and company as they resolve to collect the seven chaos emeralds before Dr. Eggman, who plans to use the emeralds to restore the monster Chaos to it’s full power and destroy the city of Station Square and build his own city. Though the story is simple in basic premise, there are certain sequences and individual character narratives that really stand out, such as E-102 Gamma’s own part in the game, for example. But what lets it down mightily is that the voice acting is particularly weak to say the least. There are moments in the game whereby the dialogue was embarrassingly scripted, and it makes the game at times pretty difficult to take seriously.

Originality – 6/10

Though it stand out from other 3D platformers in the way that there are so many playable characters and gives the game a considerable amount of variety in gameplay, it is overall fairly generic compared to other 3D platformers around even at the time. I can’t help but feel that if the lack of side quests had been addressed during development, Sonic Adventures could have been much more than what it turned out to be.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Sonic Adventures is without a doubt the best game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but it was easily improvable. I think the best and most effective way to revive the series would simply be to make another game like this, but to taior it in the manner of a typical sequel; have everything bigger and better than the former game.

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)