Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Review

  • First Released Nov 11, 2014
  • WIIU

Sonic boo.

Speed, agility, and precision were the keys to making the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise one of gaming's earliest touchstones, but somewhere along the line Sega lost sight of what makes the series work. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has a laundry list of problems, and not just problems inherent to the modern Sonic franchise, but failings of basic design.

Rise of Lyric is crafted as a prequel to the brand new Sonic Boom cartoon, and it attempts to serve as an introduction to the Sonic universe for a brand new generation of fans. Sarcastic spiky blue hedgehog Sonic is joined by his pals--bullheaded Knuckles, geeky Tails, and spunky Amy--on a mission to stop the technocratic lizard Lyric from wiping out all organic life on their planet as the villainous but inept Dr. Eggman complicates everyone's plans. Unfortunately, though, the story never manages to get off the ground.

Players control Sonic and his three friends through a mix of combat, exploration, platforming, and speed-running. Each playable character has a suite of unique abilities. Sonic is the fastest and can use his speed dash to fly over ramps or bounce off levitating speed balls. Tails can hover in the air and use an array of gadgets to reach inaccessible areas. Knuckles is the strongest and can also cling to red crystalline surfaces to traverse the environment. And Amy can triple jump and engage in light acrobatics on pink balance beams.

Unfortunately, while Rise of Lyric tries to be several types of games at once, it fails to be competent at any one of them. Combat is a repetitive affair of hitting the Y button over and over again until everyone is dead. You can occasionally take the time to dodge attacks, but with the exception of boss fights, that's rarely necessary. Collectible rings are your health, and if you lose all of them, you'll pass out, but that's meaningless because you respawn exactly where you were in whatever battle you were waging, with the enemies' health exactly where you left it. The only punishment for death is losing gear, a currency used to upgrade your characters, but you'll have so much gear that it's less than a slap on the wrist.

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While the battles are far from interesting, they do occasionally become difficult for all the wrong reasons. Rise of Lyric has not so much of a difficulty curve as a difficulty seismograph that bounces wildly around. You fight the same handful of enemy types for the entire game, but they occasionally come in such numbers or in particularly unbalanced groupings that it's a tiresome slog to wear them all down. I got to the point where rather than fighting enemies, I would simply toss them over cliffs if there was one nearby because it made things go much faster. Many enemies are punch sponges and live long past the point where beating them down is fun.

And while combat may be uninspired, it's the closest the game ever comes to reaching competence. Through a combination of unwieldy controls, a broken camera system, and a total lack of responsiveness, the platforming and exploration elements of Rise of Lyric are totally unworkable. Sonic and his buddies control like they've just gotten back from a serious Friday night binge at the local watering hole, swerving back and forth like tipsy sailors. The simple act of consistently walking in a straight line becomes an impossibility. The precision platforming segments are relatively basic matters of timing, but I fell to my death more times than I can count simply due to sloppy and unresponsive controls.

The sluggish mechanics even manage to break the one area that is Sonic's bread and butter: the high velocity speed runs. On several occasions, you're dropped on a pre-determined track and sent running at top speed. You dodge and jump over obstacles and collect rings and crowns, and at no point do you feel like you're in total control of your character. The frame rate chugs to unacceptable levels and you simply can't move with the precision you need to consistently land on the tiny spaces the game leaves for you to survive unscathed.

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The environments of the game have a promising start, with a trip to a dilapidated magitek factory. But before long, they devolve into the typical platforming-adventure clichés. Even the areas with a hint of unique spirit feel tired by the end because of re-used environmental assets and the use of the same three types of puzzles throughout the game. I hope you're a fan of stepping on conveniently lit blocks over and over again, because you'll be seeing seeing that puzzle a lot.

Sonic's world is more bug-ridden than the tunnel from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Sound effects fail to load at the proper cue about a third of the time. Characters occasionally enter cutscenes floating in the air. I clipped through a number of environments. One time, I died and respawned in an area where the game failed to unlock a door I had already opened and I had to reload my game (and redo an entire lengthy level). The game also completely crashed my Wii U, forcing a hard restart of my system and, once again, the repetition of a good 30 minutes of the game.

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The only area where the game ever shines is in its sense of scale. Players are dropped into massive levels, and the game conveys scale through camera perspectives that capture faraway, unexplored environments. I often realized that I hadn't fully explored some environments after spotting new trails from afar. The only time this scale becomes a problem is in the mandatory beach level, because it is quite large and lacks adequate visual cues to guide you on your way. The only other notable success is the use of Fullmetal Alchemist's Travis Willingham, who makes a great and strangely self-aware Knuckles.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a failure at some basic levels of gaming. While it's understandable that a franchise may want to move beyond the simple elegance of its origins, a muddled web of poorly connected and even more poorly executed systems is not the answer. The Sonic name deserves better than this, and so do consumers.

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The Good
Impressive sense of scale
Travis Willingham is a great Knuckles
The Bad
Repetitive level design
Uninspired combat
Sluggish controls
Throwaway story
Constant audio/visual bugs
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Sonic the Hedgehog was, alongside the Sega Genesis version of Aladdin, one of the first video games Don ever owned. Beating Rise of Lyric took him roughly 11 hours.
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Avatar image for Amnesiac23

At this point I don't think a good 3d Sonic game is even possible. :S

Avatar image for super-khalid89

Do you recommend me to buy it guys in 3ds? there is a discount on the game to 50%!!

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

Boy I'm really missing out on this game. They'll never ruin the Sonic series ever!

...Back in 1999

Avatar image for MazNator

@BradBurns @realguitarhero5 You seen Yuji Naka's current project? Rodea the Sky Soldier? Dang that game looks fast.

Avatar image for gamerINchief

Wasn't this the reboot of Sonic? The only IP Sega has worth anything now is Virtua Fighter and they have let that IP fall into obscurity due to their near non existent marketing and support for it. Good grief Sega, not sure whats it gonna take for you to wake up and become more dedicated to your games.You are losing your old fans and certainly not bringing in new ones.

Avatar image for rickphoenixxx

Well....this one rips apart that whole theory the Wii U has better exclusives this gen now doesn't it? Take your shameful spot alongside Ryse & Knack there Boom.

Avatar image for mister_f15

This is only one example. It doesn't prove anything. Each console has some bad games, and there's still games like SM3DW and DKC:TF.

Avatar image for HAZCHEM88

This game is farts in a jar

Avatar image for bladexdsl

worst sonic YET
even worse than 06 :P

Avatar image for nparks

Dear Sega, either give the Sonic IP an honorable burial, or sell it to Nintendo. What you are doing to its corpse constitutes a crime against humanity (also hedgehogity).

Avatar image for sega31098

@rhenom @tyaussi

Except that Eggman WAS his original name in Japanese.

Avatar image for tyaussi

@sega31098 @rhenom @tyaussi Eggman sounds dumb...who would be scare of the evil villan egg-man? -_-

Avatar image for nparks

How does a franchise so consistently strike out and just keep coming back over and over again? At some point, doesn't Sega just admit that they have no idea how to make a remotely decent 3D Sonic game and throw in the towel?

The new Sonic cartoon stinks too. Just like all the others.

I once loved you, Sonic. Now I can't even feel sorry for you as the very thought of your spiky, blue head just makes me want to vomit. (Oddly enough, I also have the exact same relationship history with grape soda, but that's beside the point...)

Sega needs to either give the Sonic IP an honorable burial or sell it to Nintendo. Just please stop trying to shovel this crud down our throats.

Avatar image for wolfpup7

Geez, what a disapointment. Sonic Unleashed was, IMO, almost pretty great. Looked fantastic. A lot of the running was fun. The combat I thought was pretty fun (even if it doesn't make much sense in context). It just got way, WAY too hard. Since then though it's been like they're not even trying :-/ (Sonic Colors was terrible IMO, despite not-too-bad review)

I STILL like the characters. I still want more bright, colorful games. I'd be open to a good Sonic game.... *sigh*

Avatar image for tyaussi

Dear Sega,

First, stop calling him Eggman. It's Dr. Robotnik to loyal longtime fans. Anyways, you have two choices:

Remake Sonic 3 + Sonic and Knuckles in beautiful HD hand-drawn artwork...


Reboot "Sonic the Hedgehog" according to the Archie Comics... High budget, one last hurrah

Avatar image for sega31098


It's originally Eggman.

They just called him Robotnik in the original English version.

Avatar image for tyaussi

@sega31098 @tyaussi True, doesn't change the fact that Robotnik sound more villainous than "egg-man". My point is, they need a new look. And the whole Nathan Drake as Sonic is not going to cut it...

Avatar image for donkey0007

@tyaussi Or perhaps throw all their efforts into making a rebooted sonic adventure or sonic adventure 3? The most successful games and fun for that matter

Avatar image for rhenom

@tyaussi I absolutely agree with you about calling him Dr. Robotnik. Eggman could be the worst name in the history of ever.

Avatar image for naymleswon

@tyaussi Yeah I'd like a hand-drawn sonic game similar to Rayman Legends, but you know sega will never read this post, and quite frankly I don't think they give a rats butthole. Sad though, sonic used to be fun.

Avatar image for tyaussi

@naymleswon @tyaussi So true...I used to love Sega, sometimes I wish I could go back in a time machine and help them correct all their mistakes. I'd buy a ticket to Japan and tell them I already know what they're making. 32X? NO! Sega CD? Get that sh*t outa here...

Avatar image for deactivated-5c0fa8dd2f93f

no more remakes of old sonic games pls....

just make a new game design like Sonic Generations with

new levels,new boss fights, new soundtracks and

Tails,Amy and Knucklesas playable characters.

thats all we asking for,

could u stop ruined sonic name with all this stupid games.

how hard can it possibally dont u see none of your new ideas works.

Avatar image for tyaussi

You're replying like I made the game or something? Maybe you just want a generic, play-it-safe Sonic Generations deal...but I expect more from the lil blue guy.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c0fa8dd2f93f

@tyaussi lol, i replay to your comment just bcuz u asked for

a remakes of this old games nothing more.

Sonic Generations were me sharing my own opnion.

Avatar image for wolfpup7

@NisimX Geez, I forgot about Generations! I ALMOST like Sonic Unleashed, and I'm still hopeful about Generations, but it's in my (literal) pile of unplayed games.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c0fa8dd2f93f

@wolfpup7 @NisimX Must play game bro,

and u know why bcuz it have anything u looking for in a sonic game.

Avatar image for BradBurns

The giant levels remind me of Prince of Persia (the good looking PS3 one).

The levels felt large, but inviting. It was very inspire, which probably why Ubisoft killed it. They only like cookie-cutter franchises they can run into the ground.

Avatar image for eilegz

what can we expect from sega, that keep on throwing crap, but good things like yakuza, phantasy star and valkyria chronicles its buried below the crap of sonic

Avatar image for wolfpup7

@eilegz I'm super disapointed the latest Yakuza isn't hitting the U.S. I guess. Why the heck don't they let someone else localize it? I've played 3 and 4 and both were really fantastic. Also really unique, and really Sega-y. (And clear evidence Sega can be as awesome as ever when they want to...Nintendo goes years IMO without a game as good as Yakuza)

Avatar image for BradBurns

@eilegz They don't seem to value Sonic at all anymore. They don't invest enough time into the game's mechanics. Like at all.

Only Sonic Generations have extremely tight, almost Nintendo-esque mechanics. After that, they decided to keep disrespecting him buy not caring enough.

Avatar image for Ahiru-San

so Halo being a 6…

LBP3, Unity and FC4 being a 7…

it's A-OK!!! holidays are back in guys!!!

Avatar image for rickphoenixxx

Wii U system seller folks lol.
Remeber when Sonic games were good? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k





It's not difficult.

Avatar image for BradBurns

@Thanatos2k I preferred Generations to every recent 3D Mario I've played. It was right up there with Galaxy to me.

Avatar image for Ahiru-San

@Thanatos2k Sonic Adventure had tons of glitches. but it was rock solid fun.

Avatar image for wolfpup7

@Ahiru-San @Thanatos2k Yeah, I liked the Dreamcast original, although in retrospect I'm not 100% sure how well I'd like it now. The Gamecube port while allegedly slightly enhanced seemed somewhat broken to me...stuff that flowed smoothly on the Dreamcast I'd get like stuck on in the Gamecube one.

Avatar image for Latiran

Won't be buying the Wii U version but i will give the 3DS version a try as that one is perfectly ok from what i've heard and seen of it.

This version is just far FAR too broken to justify handing over €60 so no i definitely will not be buying this.

Avatar image for SloganYams

@Latiran Where did you hear the 3DS version was okay???

Avatar image for Latiran

@SloganYams GameXPlain on Youtube. Idk it seemed alright to me, definitely a lot better than this version anyway.

Avatar image for Galford4000

@Latiran @SloganYams

Play the demo first. The 3DS version from what I played of the demo was very slow and boring. And you had to slow down during numerous parts of the stages to switch characters so you could hit one button to destroy a barrier to move on. It was tedious in the extreme.

Avatar image for Galford4000

@Latiran @SloganYams

A couple more small gripes. You have to hold a button to run in this one. Other platformers fine but not Sonic man... Also each character now has an an attack you press one button for which is fine but none of them are very functional and they all look pretty stale... Espescially Knuckles attack, which sucks... Cuz he's knuckles...

BUt definitely play the demo for yourself if you like it by all means, buy the full game. But to me it's basic ,mechanics were pretty bad about how they described them for this game too. A lot of good concepts just none of them done right.
Avatar image for Bgrngod

Holy balls! 2?? Did not see that coming. I was actually looking to maybe get a Sonic game for the first time in forever since my WiiU has been somewhat starving as of late.

But that is definitely not going to fill that slot. Nope.

Avatar image for BradBurns

@Bgrngod Buy Generations and ignore this. Even Lost Worlds is alright. It's not nearly as good as Generations, but it's about as good as the Wonderful 101.

Avatar image for wolfpup7

@BradBurns @Bgrngod Geez, forgot about Lost Worlds too...I actually bought that last year but it too is in my backpile. I actually have like a dozen unplayed Wii U games I'm looking forward to despite my annoyance that the system even exists.

Avatar image for catsimboy

"Sonic" and "combat" should not be in the same sentence. Enemies are supposed to be obstacles that you either bypass or use as a springboard to get higher. Anytime they make an encounter with an enemy last more than two seconds their game fails. They need to stop treating the Sonic series like an adventure beat-em-up.

Avatar image for wolfpup7

@catsimboy I sort of agree, although if it's FUN then I wouldn't have a problem with it. They could sort of work in his speed powers too...maybe make him able to dodge around someone crazy fast, or pummel them at super speed...I mean I could see combat that took advantage of him having allegedly Flash-like powers that would be cool...although in reality Sonic's never that fast when fighting LOL

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric More Info

  • First Released Nov 11, 2014
    • Wii U
    n Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy must work together as they face the deadly snake-like ancient villain, Lyric and his army of war mongering robots as they rise from deep within their home island.
    Average Rating39 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
    Developed by:
    Big Red Button Entertainment
    Published by:
    3D, Platformer, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Cartoon Violence