Thanks to starting university, unlike Sonic, I’ve been fairly slow with bringing out these reviews. For that I apologise, but here I am, sitting with a Chilli Dog, ready to finish the review for Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice!
Will Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice be a burning success, or will Sonic trip on his own feet? Find out in our review, after the break!
Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by Sanzaru Games
Published by Sega
Released: 27th September 2016 (NA) 30th September 2016 (Europe)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Screenshots/Art Courtesy of Nintendo
Back in 2014, Sega brought us a brand new franchise for the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Sonic Boom. Though Fire and Ice’s predecessor, Shattered Crystal, was panned by critics due to slow pacing, and generally poor gameplay, Fire and Ice seems to rectify several of these issues.
One of the new features is the titular Fire and Ice powers. At any time, Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, Tails, or Sticks can switch between being powered up with Fire or Ice. This brand new gameplay feature adds new potential for platforming action and solving puzzles. There will be times where you will have to switch between the two quickly. For example, you may be grinding water rails with your ice ability, then a block of ice will get in your way, forcing you to switch to fire, then there is another rail which can only be used if you switch back to ice.
Sonic games wouldn’t really be Sonic games without the speed, and luckily Fire and Ice has plenty to offer as you bounce off springs, boost through boosters, and speed round loops, corkscrews, and other inversions spread across the various environments. You’ll also have to be quick on your toes. Whether you have to home in on an enemy, swing across a chasm, or quickly switch between Fire and Ice, quick reactions save lives… and rings!
Though the levels aren’t aesthetically exciting, the layout design is actually pretty good. If you wanted, you can just quickly go from point A to B, but each level has plenty of hidden paths, which allow you to explore and to collect some collectibles. The various collectibles don’t really unlock anything to exciting other than new looking hammers for Amy, or new tracks and bots for racing, but it’s still nice to be able to receive a small reward for exploring the stage. Most of the areas can only be accessed by certain characters and their abilities. You may have to dig using Knuckles, or hit an out of reach switch with Sticks’ boomerang. Every action stage has at least one challenge hut, and these can really test your mettle.
The game doesn’t really take that long to complete, from start to finish, and the levels aren’t really all that difficult. If you are planning to 100% the game however, then things may be slightly more tricky. Each level has separate objectives, such as collecting a certain number of rings, completing a stage in a certain amount of time, or collecting all the collectibles. There are also side levels which can provide an extra challenge. There’s one level which places the camera behind Sonic as he rushes down a long tunnel, avoiding obstacles, to get to the other side. There are times in these sorts of levels where you will need very quick reactions with changing between fire and ice.
There are some levels which the game could really do without. They aren’t poorly designed, more the fact that they are incredibly difficult to fail. Every once in a while, Eggman kidnaps Sonic and pits him in a race against one of his robots, in an attempt to embarrass Sonic… which is actually the main plot line. The robots are incredibly easy to beat with very little effort involved. I was hoping for a challenge similar to that of Sonic CD’s race segments, unfortunately this definitely doesn’t hold up a light against those.
The boss fights are pretty fun, and utilise the two screens of the 3DS perfectly, the only problem is that after the first couple boss fights, they all seem fairly same-y. There are a few cut-scenes throughout Fire and Ice, luckily these are fairly short and are completely skippable. Why is that a good thing? Well, the writing is quite poor, I understand that Sonic Boom is generally aimed towards younger gamers, but young gamers deserve good writing too!
Though Fire and Ice won’t take you long to complete, and the theming is fairly generic, that never really hindered my enjoyment of play too badly, and it is a vast improvement from Shattered Crystal. It’s fun speeding through the stages and exploring every nook and cranny, and the new fire and ice abilities create some interesting gameplay. The game is perfect for almost any young gamer (let’s say around 5 to 10 years old) who wants to get introduced to the world of Sonic. On the other hand, die-hard Sonic fans may still want to avoid the title.
Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice was released exclusively for Nintendo 3DS Family Systems on the 27th September 2016 in North America, and 30th September 2016 in Europe.