Hands On with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U
Time to juice and cut loose!
The second of the two Sonic Boom demos I would try at Nintendo of Canada’s holiday preview media event was Rise of Lyric for the Wii U. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS game, which dropped you right onto a map screen, there were three separate scenarios available to try, each representing a different aspect of the game.
The first segment I took on was an action scenario set in some sort of underwater waste disposal facility filled with robots, and later, large pools of liquid that probably don’t play nicely with fur and flesh. Unlike Shattered Crystal, the action here was less of a classic Sonic (or even Modern Sonic) style, and felt closer to a brawler of sorts– at least, where combat was concerned. Like the Nintendo 3DS game, using the Dpad allowed for changing characters between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and instead of newcomer Sticks the Badger, Sonic mainstay Amy Rose, each with their own style of combat.
Or, at least, it would have if the stage had allowed for it. Instead, only Sonic and Amy were available, likely per the story.
Much like the Nintendo 3DS version, the EnerBeam got a fair amount of play here. Unlike that game, though, there was no swinging high jinks going on here; aside from using it to grab and disarm enemies, it mainly served to be used to trigger switches and things to allow for progression.
After obtaining a crystal, things took on a more traditional 3D Sonic feel as the duo booked it down a corridor with a monstrous robot hot on their trail. Movement was simply using the L and R shoulder buttons to move left and right, respectively. No cornering required; the characters handled everything else. It took me two tries to get through, as a jumping attack it didn’t use the second time squashed me flat.
Following some more puzzle-platforming with springboards, switches, and homing attack from one enemy to the next, I reached an area where I had to face the same robot who had given chase before in a boss battle of sorts. Defeating it would require grabbing other robots that appeared by using the EnerBeam and then, as with Bowser in Super Mario 64, swinging them around before launching them at the creature. Upon its defeat was where my time with this part of the demo ended.
The two other portions of the demo took on different aspects from the initial part: A different boss battle and a different running segment.
I took on the running segment first, and all told, it was fun but brief. This time, all four characters were involved as they would spring through an outdoor valley area. It didn’t overstay its welcome, and if the first area was any indication, there are plenty more of these spread throughout the game, similar to how such segments were incorporated into previous titles.
The last one I took on was a fun boss battle against Dr. Eggman, and much like before, defeating him involved using the EnerBeam to grab, swing, and throw things into his giant mech. Instead of robotic foes, however (who were also present), Eggman launched volleys of defective missiles which failed to explode on impact. Grabbing these with the EnerBeam were what was required to win the day here.
On the one hand, it feels like there may be a bit of a slightly-repetitive theme involved in swinging and throwing things at bosses with the EnerBeam, if the two I faced were any indication. On the other, it was still a bit different; after several missiles made contact, all four members of the team would use their EnerBeams to pull the giant mech down onto its face, at which point the lead character (in this case, Knuckles, who seemed to pack a nice punch) would have the opportunity to wail away on it before Eggman got his bearings and regrouped. Three times of doing this, and the boss was down for keeps.
Between the two versions of Sonic Boom, I think the Sonic fan in me has to give just a slight nod to the Nintendo 3DS version, as it just overall feels closer to a Sonic game, even despite having to relearn how to approach it, as mentioned before.
But even with that said, I still had fun playing the Wii U version. It’s received a bit of scorn since E3, but I honestly had fun with it. It’s an interesting new approach for Sonic, and while it may arguably not be as distinct among its 3D platforming peers as games such as Sonic Generation, it still felt solid and manages to work in its own way. Even if one has a harder time appreciating it as a Sonic game than as a Sonic Boom game with its own merits, I think this semi-reboot of the franchise is worth a further look and I’m glad I got a chance to play it.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Wii U will be released on November 11th, 2014.