Teamwork makes the dream work.
There have been a number of 3D adventure titles featuring Sonic the Hedgehog, and by and large they mostly all suck. So when I heard I would be previewing Sonic Boom on Wii U, I assumed I was being punished for something. But oddly enough, after my hands-on demo with the development team, I walked away thinking that maybe, just maybe, we finally might have a winner on our hands.
Sega has rebooted the entire Sonic universe for Sonic Boom, and it's more than just one game. Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Knuckles have been completely retooled and re-imagined not only for the Wii U title, but a 3DS 2.5-dimension platformer, a new cartoon launching on Cartoon Network in the fall 2014 season, and of course, toys as far as the eyes can see.
All elements of Sonic Boom will share the same mythos, with the Wii U and 3DS games serving as prequels to the upcoming cartoon. Two new characters will also be introduced in the games: Sticks, a friend of Amy's who has lived in the jungle most of her life, and the evil Lyric, a mechanically-enhanced snake with a thing against humanity.
The Wii U title, a three-dimensional adventure that blends platforming with puzzle-solving, reintroduces us to the new Sonic and Co., as they learn more about the new threat posed by Lyric. Each character has been designed to be more identifiable to the uninitiated, including a new generation of Sonic players, and to make their talents more immediately noticeable: Sonic's wraps around his ankles signifies speed, as we all know; Tails, with his wrench and aviator goggles, belies his intelligence and flying/gliding capabilities; Amy has style and grace with her motions, while wielding a sizable mallet; and Knuckles lifts, brah, with his larger frame pointing to his strength and power.
The crew has a shocking new ability to utilize as well. Sonic and crew utilize a new electric beam power, which they can use to stun and lasso enemies, pull switches, grab items, and more. Sonic can collect the familiar rings to maintain health or robot parts to be used as currency. Certain “shiny” items can be collected and brought to Sticks, who will commission fetch quests and properly reward them upon completion.
I can't lie; I had low expectations. I mean, Sonic and the Secret Rings? Sonic Colors? Sonic Unleashed? I was not looking forward to Sonic Boom. When I left, I was pleasantly surprised. The demo wasn't that long, but the action and puzzle-solving was easy to pick up, the new mechanic were simple to learn and handle, and it was legitimately kinda fun as well. Traditionalists may not like it (actually, traditionalists should check out the 3DS Sonic Boom title), but those who like the characters and don't mind experimenting in new arenas and formats should honestly look into Sonic Boom when it releases November 2014. God knows your kids will be.