Sonic Boom Fire and Ice Review-Boom or Bust?
Sonic Boom Fire and Ice
ESRB Rating: E
Thank you SEGA for providing a review copy of this game.
“Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice” is the latest entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog sub series Sonic Boom. It is also the follow up sequel to last year’s standalone game Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. In this game, Sonic and Friends must get to the bottom of why the area’s weather is going through strange cycles, and it seems like Eggman is behind it all once again.
“Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice” is broken up into several different islands around the world that you need to venture to, to solve the issue with the weather being unstable. Each island has about five or so main missions with a various amount of sub missions that vary between them. In these missions you must get to the end of each level and stop an unstable fission that is causing the swings in weather. One thing that I really liked about how these levels were set up is that they are very open ended with many collectibles to find in each one. You may have to play a level at least twice to get all the collectibles the levels have to offer.
The gameplay of the game is that of your typical 2D platformer. The main gimmick of this game is that you are powered with two elements; fire and ice. You use these elements to solve puzzles as you run through the course. Examples of which are freezing blocks of water, or melting ice platforms to unveil hidden areas. However, that is the extent of the puzzles behind the two elements. They aren’t really fleshed out, and the extent of the games challenge with them is knowing when to switch back and forth when running to avoid certain hazards. Let’s say you were running down a path and there were some water blocks with spikes in them; you would need to freeze them to run over them unharmed. While this mechanic helped keep me on my toes, I was able to figure out in plenty of time when to switch elements. Outside of that there was really no challenge with the game’s own new mechanics. The levels eventually just became mundane and it eventually became a race to finish each level as fast as I could, and not so I could get the time bonus, but to be done with it and advance onto the next one with some hopes there would be something different.
Outside of the elemental puzzles there are puzzles that involve other characters that you can unlock. You can play as Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles or Stix; each one having their own gimmick to solving certain puzzles. For instance, Tails can shoot stuff with a ray gun, while Knuckles can dig underground in specific areas.
However, outside of these areas where their talents are required, you will never be using them more than about thirty seconds before switching back to Sonic, who, let’s face it, has 95% of the game built around. I just feel like all of the inclusions of Sonic’s friends are forced and that something else could have been done with a single item to replace them and they would have not been missed.
The game also includes two other game modes. One involves Tails, in which you will have to play a mini game where you have to control a ship to the end of the stage that is powered on rings to collect the trading card at the end. It’s a nice distraction, but outside of getting the trading cards I never really bothered much with them. The other one is a bit interesting. At certain points Eggman will abduct you to race against his fast robots. Sadly these missions are mandatory so you cannot progress through the game until you complete it. While some of the races were pretty easy, the later ones had some interesting mix ups in them that made them a bit challenging. So it gave me a nice feeling when I finally managed to complete those races.
Graphically, Fire and Ice is a bit of an eye sore. This game has some of the ugliest character models I have seen in a 3DS game to date. Now I guess I could have gotten used to it, but the game will randomly go between in game rendered cut scenes with the 3D models to fully animated cut scenes similar to that of the cartoon. It may be a bit of a nitpick, but the inconsistency was a bit odd to me. The levels in this game are also extremely bland. On each island I had to wonder if each level I was playing was just part of the previous level I was in. None of the levels are memorable.
Another issue this game has is also a technical one. While the gameplay itself is straight forward, and honestly flows very well, it has quite a few problems that never made much sense to me. My biggest gripe with the technical aspects of the game is the rubber-band-like effect this game has when you are damaged. If you fall into a pit of spikes you are sent flying back to the nearest “safe” spot. This can either be on the ledge you were just standing on, to the entire previous part of the map. Sometimes the rubber banding will send me flying back right into a hazard causing me to die. I guess the only plus side is that you have an infinite amount of lives and the game is extremely liberal with checkpoints.
Like I stated earlier, another good thing Sonic Boom has going for it is that it is extremely rich in content to unlock. And since you can easily clear this game’s main story in about five hours it needs all the content it can get.
Enemies drop ragnite, this can be used to purchase artwork, music and other goodies from Tails’ shop. You can also create new robots to race against as well. The trading cards, meanwhile, unlock you some cool new stuff for the character portrayed on the card.
Unfortunately, despite the game being rich in unlockables, they still fell a bit short. You can collect hammers scattered around the area to give to Amy, but all this does is offer a reskin of the hammer she uses if you decide to play as her more than the few times she is required for a puzzle. There may be a lot of content to unlock, but the drive to unlock the content was never there; the game failed to incentivize me to replay older levels to unlock never content.
Overall “Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice” is not a bad game. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a good game, either. The game really excels as a quick pick up and play game for you to play in your downtime, but the 3DS has so many of those (and much better ones, I may add,) that I find it extremely hard to recommend this game to people who aren’t already fans of the Sonic Boom TV show. While it is surely a step in the right direction from Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, the series still has a long way to go to be held in the same rank as other platformers on the 3DS.
+Open ended levels
+Vast amount of replayability
-Said replayability does not amount to much
-Wonky rubber banding and hit boxes.
-An overall forgettable experience