I preface this article with this: I am a Sonic fanboy. I have grown up with a Sega Genesis, and I have loved almost every Sonic game with few exceptions. I feel like this new WiiU and 3DS entry into the series, Sonic Boom, to be the point where I realize Sonic is now being catered to an age group that is not older fans. Sonic games started out with a basic run to the right side of the screen, save animals, defeat bosses-styled simplicity, and it was done well. As games transitioned into 3D and more story driven plots, Sonic games like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 seemed to increase in maturity mirroring their initial audience. The series’ maturity seemed to reach a peak in Sonic the Hedgehog in 2006. The game’s plot and enemy design couple could be compared almost to a Final Fantasy-style. This was done so poorly and universally panned that Sonic seemed to need a redesign. Sonic’s games since then have seemed to cater to a younger audience with additions of characters like Chip in Sonic Unleashed, or games having a very cartoony feel to them (Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World). The other ways the series was attempted to be kept fresh was by redesigning gameplay like with the storybook games on the Wii or introducing gimmicks.
There have been games done very well recently though. Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors both involved minimal story and great gameplay. These also appealed to older fans by in the former case having redesigned levels from our childhood, and the latter through a traditional Sonic gameplay with new elements (color powers) successfully implemented.
Here we have Sonic Boom. The character design is already being mocked for it’s ridiculous style, and I am not surprised. Sonic’s characters have varied very little over the years, but any changes have given Sonic a more mature look to him. Now we have a Sonic that has a scarf (that somehow won’t fly off or fly in his face while running at 300mph), and taped up shoes because…reasons? He also has a much more cartoony face than seems to have been moving in that direction after Sonic ’06. Tails actually doesn’t look all that different and I don’t mind him having a belt and goggles befitting his status as an inventor in the series. Knuckles. Poor, poor Knuckles. I think we can see that he is hurt the most here. As most people have said before me, he looks like he’s on steroids. I understand wanting your ‘strong’ character to be bigger, but why? Was there something wrong with how he looked before that you had to change all the old fans perceptions on how he looked? Regardless, then there’s Amy. Amy has her Piko Piko hammer and a new dress which just makes her look off to me. I cannot say I am happy about this redesign, and I assume it’s to have our heroes fit tropes that would normally befit them in a cartoon series. After all, these newly designed versions of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy will be present in a new CGI TV show and have a toy line modeled after them.
The most important part (and the saving grace for me here) would be gameplay. If this game plays great, I would be ecstatic. Sonic Boom will feature a two player co-op campaign as well as a four player modes of some sort. It seems the game will be less linear but more of an exploration styled experience. This may actually work in the game’s favor if done correctly. The issues here are something that has been described as an energy bungee cord which reminds me an awful lot of the Knuckles Chaotix bungee system that keeps both co-op players on the screen. I don’t see anything in the trailer to suggest this, but the bungee cord does seem to have multiple functions with Amy using it to swing on poles, Tails shooting with it, and Sonic using it to swing through like air like Indiana Jones. The nice things to see are old attacks of the characters. Knuckles can dig and climb across ceilings, Tails can fly around, Amy can swing her hammer, and Sonic can use homing attack and run on water. The show and, assumedly, the game will feature Dr. Eggman as the antagonist with what appears to be newly designed egg-robos.
That’s all I could glean from the trailer and the buzz about the game/cartoon. Sonic Boom seems to be an interestingly redesigned cast of Sonic, Tails, Amy and Knuckles finding a new world full of adventure that hopefully will not disappoint. Unless the gameplay really surprises me, I don’t think this will be a game for me or older fans. Maybe this is where the series is headed, Sega foregoing trying to appease the older, fickle fan base that is prone to complaining regardless and instead appealing to a younger crowd who has not seen the rise, fall, and stumbling that Sonic has undergone and wouldn’t have expectations for what a Sonic game should be. Maybe that’s for the best to revive the series. This Sonic is not one I know. The characters seem like the uncanny valley versions of themselves. The bungee cord and co-op in general seems like a gimmick that will detract from the fast, exciting platforming expected of traditional Sonic gameplay. I just hope that in time, the gameplay will make me change my mind because I like how playing those old Sonic games made me feel. Every time there is a new entry, I hope that the new game will be able to continue that feeling. This seems to be the consensus for people who have still not written off and still love the series. I know some games have captured that spirit like Sonic Generations, and although I don’t think so, I certainly hope Sonic Boom can do that too!
Watch the trailer for the game and cartoon below and decide for yourself!