Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (ソニックトゥーン 太古の秘宝 Sonikku Tūn: Taiko no Hihō?, lit. "Sonic Toon: Ancient Treasure") is a platformer video game for the Wii U that was developed by Big Red Button Entertainment and published by Sega. It is one of the two video game prequels for the Sonic Boom television series, the other being Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, and as well the third and final video game in the Nintendo-Sega partnership, the previous two being Sonic Lost World and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric follows Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Prower, Amy Rose, and Knuckles the Echidna as they battle against Dr. Eggman. On what seemed as a regular day of foiling Dr. Eggman's plans, the group find themselves arriving on an island where they encounter an ancient tomb with carvings of Sonic and Tails on the entrance. Sonic is stopped twice by Amy from opening the door, but when Metal Sonic ambushes the group, Sonic opens the door and the group escape. Inside, they encounter an imprisoned, but powerful snake villain named "Lyric the Last Ancient." Lyric recognises Sonic from events transpiring one thousand years ago and captures the group, but Tails deactivates the shackles and turns them into beams named Enerbeams for the group to use.
After meeting an archeologist named Cliff, the group discovers that Lyric planned to power an army of war robots with the "Chaos Crystals" to create a world of twisted metal and robots, but was imprisoned by his peers among the Ancients when they discovered the plan. The group then set out to retrieve the Chaos Crystals before Lyric could. At an abandoned research facility, they meet MAIA, a robot who rebelled against Lyric, who assists them by creating a time portal, allowing Sonic and Tails to go one thousand years back in time to retrieve a map showing the location of the Chaos Crystals. Sonic and Tails are then attacked by Shadow the Hedgehog, but defeat him, enter the portal, successfully retrieve the map from inside Lyric's weapon facility and trap him inside for future imprisonment by the Ancients.
Lyric reluctantly forms an alliance with Eggman, but after no success, Lyric turns on Eggman by programming Metal Sonic against him. The group defeat Metal Sonic and Eggman and retrieve the final Chaos Crystal, but Sonic is then surrounded by Lyric and his robots. Lyric demands the Crystals; Sonic refuses to give them up, but Tails, Knuckles and Amy agree to do so. Sonic is then attacked by Lyric's robots and buried under rubble, but recovers and the group set out to Lyric's Lair to stop him. During the battle, Lyric reprograms the Enerbeams to ensnare the group, but before he can take advantage of the situation, Eggman ambushes Lyric from behind, freeing the group. Sonic then ties up Lyric with assistance from his friends and removes Lyric's technopathy device to incapacitate him; Knuckles discards it. The group celebrate, but in a post-credits scene, Eggman recovers the device and uses it to revive Metal Sonic.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is an action-adventure game with a stronger emphasis on exploration and combat compared to previous Sonic the Hedgehog installments. The game features four playable characters, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy. There is support for local co-operative multiplayer and is typically housed around two player co-op mode, with additional modes for up to four players locally. However, if a player is playing alone, they are allowed to switch to any character at any time, with the computer taking control of the others.
Each character has their own unique abilities and gameplay mechanics to explore the areas and environment. Sonic can use his speed, reach secret areas with the Spin Dash and use the Homing Attack, Knuckles can burrow underground for a while and climb along marked wall sections, Tails can fly and use various gadgets and Amy can use her hammer to swing on poles. The gameplay also features new mechanics such as the "Enerbeam," a tethering device used by all four characters. This device can be used to perform various actions such as hanging from speeding rails, removing enemy shields, moving switches and platforms, lasso enemies and throw them in any direction and they also play a big role in boss fights as well. The gameplay often focuses cooperation between characters, such working together using Enerbeams to use Switches, move platforms or push minecarts, with the player's switching control between multiple characters and using their abilities to progress.
The game features four different levels to play on with three main gameplay styles: a boss fight, a speed level and two adventure-style levels. The adventure style levels features slower and more methodical game pace than other Sonic the Hedgehog titles. The different characters' abilities also allow the players to take multiple paths through the adventure levels; Sonic can cross gaps using the Homing Attack while Amy can climb and swing between pink platforms in a classic side-scrolling section. The levels also feature different collectibles, some of which can only be collected by certain characters with their different abilities. The speed levels serve as gateways from the hub world to the adventure levels themselves where the player has to race at high speed through platform-filled sections. During these levels, the player can use the Enerbeam to zipline from side to side and as well use the different characters and their special abilities.
During gameplay, the characters can offer different tips to the player through conversation between the characters. Also, if the player has trouble getting through the levels, the computer will help the player out more with the other characters. Also getting attacked by an enemy will only cause the player to lose a portion of their Rings.
Gimmicks and obstacles
In addition to the traditional "beat-em-up" style of combat in the game, the player can utilize several different weapons to their advantage, similar to Shadow the Hedgehog. These weapons include:
- Battle Trumpet: A trumpet that acts like a handgun. It fires colorful musical notes at enemies to damage them.
- Cyclone Blaster: A handgun that creates a powerful tornado to scatter enemies, damaging them at the same time.
- Explosion Switch: A red button on the ground. When pressed, it creates a powerful explosion to destroy enemies. It is one of the strongest weapons in the game.
- Feather Blade: A sword that is shaped like a feather. In addition to damaging enemies by contact, it creates a small gust of wind, making it useful at a distance.
- Hand Gun: A gun that, when fired, produces a white glove to smack enemies in the nearby vicinity, strongly damaging them.
- Water Balloon: A balloon that, because of its aqueous content, can short-circuit the robot enemies in the game.
- Crab Excavator
- Driller Worm
- Eggman Mech
- Lyric the Last Ancient
- Metal Sonic
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Lyric's Tomb
- Abandoned Research Facility
- Lyric's Weapon Facility
- The Pit
- Slowpoke Isle
- Ocean Purification Plant
- Creeper Gorge
- Sky Citadel
- Lyric's Lair
Los Angeles based game studio Big Red Button developed the game under supervision by Sonic Team and long-time Sonic game designer Takashi Iizuka. The game was built on CryEngine and is centered on "combat and exploration". Sega outsourced the game to Western developers in order to increase the game's appeal in Western markets, culminating in a separate westernized Sonic franchise. The video game concept came after the television series plan. Big Red Button was chosen due to the studio's adventure game portfolio and leader, Bob Rafei of the Crash Bandicoot, Uncharted, and Jak and Daxter series.
The game started development as “Project Apollo”. Around October 2011, it focused on LAN party online multiplayer gameplay and racing. Storyline-wise, it revolved about Sonic's origins: Sonic and a young Eggman were close friends, but during a time travel project, Eggman broke their friendship by messing with the past. The Ancients were also important to Sonic's origins. Eggman was once planned to be a playable character but it was discarded. The tentative title for this game was “Sonic Origins”.
One of the developers' goals were to create an organic and natural-looking world using handmade textures for a cartoonish look. However, the result were poor due to the Wii U's low capabilities. The developers went for a Jak and Daxter-styled Sonic, with the game being 80% exploration and 20% speed. Due to requirements from Sega Japan, the staff worked for two years on a "Vertical slice" demo - a demo that showcased the gameplay gimmicks so the staff could work on them and show their ideas to Sega. The game was planned to be a four player co-op adventure, set to be released as a digital title on Steam, with a PlayStation Store and Xbox Live port planned if sales went as expected. The Vertical slice demo became known as "Sonic Synergy."
Sega showed the Vertical slice demo to Nintendo in late 2012, and include Sonic Synergy as part of their exclusivity deal. Sega initially asked Big Red Button for a Nintendo 3DS port, but Sanzaru Games took over that task.
The Wii U port came to be around mid-2013. However, a full change of the game became the prime focus due to the Wii U's hardware. Since a four player co-op was impossible, the game was turned into a two-player adventure. Many mechanics were also changed, making the developers rework the levels into more lineal ones, with interactive prompt buttons for almost everything. Another problem also soon arose for the game: the TV show. A designer pitched Sega the idea of a Sonic TV show. It was unrelated to the game, but eight months before the game's launch, Sega gave them total control of the series. This prompted big changes to the storyline (such as making Knuckles dimwitted among other things). This forced the developers to create a richer world that was absent from the series, along with filler cutscenes and levels to suit the storyline changes. No info on the previous storyline was revealed, except that the Ancients played a big role.
Sega and Sonic Team also asked for several changes during the developing process:
- Gameplay: Asides from asking for more speed sections and less exploration, they had Team Sonic's ability to swim removed so the characters could die upon contact with water, like in the main video game series.
- Design: Several designs for Team Sonic were discarded due to them being too far removed from their "legacy" designs, so they were made more similar to their counterparts. Several NPCs also had to be radically changed when they violated Sonic Team's guidelines. Cliff for example was originally an inventor, but Iizuka said that only Tails and Eggman could be inventors.
- Storyline: The original story was discarded entirely because Sega themselves wanted to tell Sonic's origins some day.
Most of the initial gameplay gimmicks and moves were removed due to Wii U's limitations. Crater Lake for example was hugely changed: because it focused on four-player water skiing, the developers had to use parts from other levels to fill out the lack of mechanics. Other elements that ended up being removed were Chao, a banking system for Rings, gamepad-controlled gimmicks, and a bi-plane segment between Sky Citadel and Lyric's Lair. The title "Sonic Synergy" was changed to "Sonic Boom" because Sega wanted to make a global brand, and "Synergy" did not work in this way.
On 17 May 2013, Sega announced a worldwide agreement with Nintendo for the next three games in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series to be developed exclusively for Nintendo consoles. This included Sonic Lost World and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. On 6 February 2014, Sega announced Sonic Boom as the official title for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The game was in development before the Nintendo-Sega partnership, but Sonic Boom was added to the Nintendo exclusive contract. The game ties in with Sega's Sonic Boom franchise, which includes a television series and other merchandise, and is the third release in Sega's exclusivity agreement with Nintendo. The franchise is designed for Western audiences and serves as a prequel to the television series. Sega announced the game to feature Sonic's traditional speed alongside a new exploratory game mechanic called "Enerbeam". Sega of America's marketing director Marchello Churchill explained that the new franchise was not designed to "replace modern Sonic". The Western developer's CEO explained that Sonic Boom's Sonic is "very different... ...both in tone and art direction". Producer Stephen Frost claims this game is the ultimate evolution of the franchise's main conflict: nature versus technology.
The game remains a separate continuity to the main series, and was originally not intended to be released in Japan. However, it was later revealed that the games would be released in Japan, under the name Sonic Toon (ソニックトゥーン Sonikku Tūn?).
Unlike previous games, Sega declined sending advance review copies of either Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric or Shattered Crystal to journalists. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has been critically panned by critics, being the lowest-rated game of the entire Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Gameplay wise, critics have generally criticized the repetitive level design, combat system, sluggish controls and the constant audio/visual bugs. Similarly, the framerate was criticized, with Destructoid stating that the game "feels like it caps out at 30 frames per second with occasional stuttering and choppiness." The multiplayer/co-op mode of the gameplay though has received some praise but was noted by GameInformer that "the already rough framerate [in multiplayer/co-op] has become laughably low."
Another notable aspect of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric that was criticized was the constant banter in the game by the characters and always used repetitive one-liners. IGN also noted that the script of the game also embraced "drab clichés rehashed from seemingly every show aimed at kids."
Combined with Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, Sega confirmed that the games sold a total of 490,000 copies as of February 2015, placing them as the lowest-selling major Sonic launches in the history of the franchise. By 31 March 2015, only 620000 copies had been sold overall between the two games.
Version 1.1.0 (January 2015)
- This update is over 1GB in size and contains a number of fixes and upgrades to the system in the game, including:
- Prevention of Knuckles' "infinite jump."
- Some level barriers added to prevent the player from escaping the map.
- Improved framerate during speed sections.
- Loops are "less choppy."
- Minor lighting improvements. This is most notable in the cutscene where Lyric takes control of Metal Sonic.
- Improved shadows.
- The codename for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was "Project Apollo."
- The working title for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was Sonic: Origins.
- Years later, a remastered compilation of classic Sonic games would be released under the title Sonic Origins.
- Chris Senn, lead level implementer for Big Red Button Entertainment, was co-lead designer and art director for the cancelled Sega Saturn game, Sonic X-treme.
- This is the first 3D Sonic platformer since Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) to feature Amy as a full-playable character.
- Coincidentally, it is also the first 3D Sonic game since Sonic Adventure not to feature Amy as a side character and with her own unique gameplay style.
- This was the only Wii U title to use CryEngine, Crytek's multiplatform gaming engine.
- The background music in the debut trailer is the song "Bangarang" by Skrillex.
- It was also used as the background music in the second prototype trailer.
- This is one of the few Sonic the Hedgehog video games to not feature the Chaos Emeralds.
- The game's director, Bob Rafei, stated in an interview that the idea for the Enerbeam tether came from Knuckles' Chaotix.
- By pausing and unpausing the game repedatly, a glitch could be exploited to give Knuckles infinite jumps in midair, allowing speedrunners to skip much of the game and finish it in less than an hour. However, the exploit was fixed in January 2015 patch.
- Voice clips of Amy interacting with Perci during gameplay could mean that Perci was going to be a playable character, but was scrapped as a playable character for unknown reasons.
- There is a glitch which makes it possible for Tails to get stuck in part of a airplane on one of the stages.
- Unused voice clips found within the game suggests that at one point, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was meant to have a more darker or mature tone due to the discovery of dialogue and use of profanity. These clips include Knuckles says "pissed" and Sonic almost exclaiming "shit" before quickly replacing it with "shoot."
- There was going to be another level named "Lyric's Armada," but it was scrapped from the game.
- Concept artwork shows that Sticks the Badger was going to have a more prominent role in the game and that Chao were to an appearance.
- For the game's retranslation to Japanese, Knuckles' lines were heavily overhauled. Due to this, he is portrayed as more intelligent in the Japanese version of the game. For example, when Team Sonic is chasing Eggman, Knuckles says: "Great. Metal Sonic has to show up right when Eggman is springing a surprise attack on us." whereas in the Japanese version he says "No way!? Its only primary target was Sonic, so is it just going to keep ignoring us?!"
- In the Japanese dub, Shadow's voice is robotic sounding for unknown reasons.
- This was the final game in which Chikao Ōtsuka voiced Eggman before his death in early 2015.
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- File:RoL concept art Lyric 2.jpg
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