Friday, December 26, 2014

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2014 Awards - Top Five Best Original Soundtracks

Welcome to SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2014 Awards! Like I said in a previous post, I'm doing things differently this year. This year, each category is its own top five list. The #1 game on each list is the winner. Simple enough, no?

My first top five list is for the best original soundtrack of the year. This means no games which has the majority of tracks as licensed music, and no games where the majority of songs are remixes (sorry, Smash Bros. fans!). With that out of the way, let's get to my top five soundtracks of 2014!

5) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)

When Nobuo Uematsu relinquished his role as lead series composer for the Final Fantasy series, I was not expecting the quality of the soundtracks of the series to be maintained. However, Masashi Hamauzu stepped up to fill the role quite nicely with his Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack, and now his Lightning Returns score offers an astounding variety of tracks from numerous genres.

4) Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

The Dynasty Warriors games may generally take place in Feudal Japan, but their soundtracks are rocking, guitar-driven affairs. Hyrule Warriors takes the Dynasty Warriors gameplay from Japan to the lands of Hyrule with equally hardcore music. While the rock 'n roll remixes of Zelda franchise theme faves are there with stunning renditions, Hyrule Warriors also possesses several brand-new themes that are just as great for pumping the adrenaline.

3) Bravely Default (3DS)

I am a huge fan of progressive rock, and artist Revo is one whose career resides heavily in the genre. No wonder the soundtrack for Bravely Default offers a mixture of classical music and hard rock. From the riveting battle themes to the character-driven songs, Bravely Default's music is one of the few things that can keep players going during that particularly arduous middle chapters of the game.

2) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

David Wise continues to be one of my favorite Western video game music composers. He finally returned to the Donkey Kong series with this year's Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. With this soundtrack, it's easy to see that Mr. Wise hasn't missed a step. The new themes lend well to the ambiance and environments of the levels they play in, and the new takes on old classics like Stickerbush Symphony and Lockjaw's Saga make for a soundtrack that is hard to top this year.

1) Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

However, unlike David Wise's soundtrack, Mario Kart 8's music, from a cavalcade of Nintendo's finest composers, doesn't have a boring track to it at all. Each theme for tracks, menus, and more is peppy, energetic, uptempo, and/or entertaining to the ears. It's indeed a treat for the ears to listen to the themes of the sixteen new tracks and the remarkable remixes of the sixteen retro tracks. From new favorites like Dolphin Shoals and Mount Wario, to classics like GBA Mario Circuit and N64 Royal Raceway, the amount of great musicianship, jazz, and funk all add up to my favorite original soundtrack of 2014!

Stay tuned from now until New Year's for more SuperPhillip Central Best of 2014 Awards action!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (GBA) Retro Review

Merry Christmas, everyone! For this special day, I have a new retro review of a game series that screams "Christmas!" to me. Each Banjo-Kazooie release I have received was around Christmas time, so that's why when Christmas and gaming are mentioned, I think of Banjo-Kazooie. This retro review is for the under-appreciated Game Boy Advance entry in the series, Grunty's Revenge.

Get Jiggy With It on the Small Screen

It was a big blow for Nintendo gamers when the news that Rareware, makers of such fantastic titles as the Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong Racing, Jet Force Gemini, Killer Instinct, and Conker franchises were bought out by Microsoft of all companies. However, even after Microsoft's purchase of the company, Rare still was able to create games for Nintendo's handhelds, specifically the Game Boy Advance. This was due to Microsoft not having a dog in the portable fight. Regardless, THQ went on to publish all of Rare's GBA efforts. The first finished project that came out of the publishing deal was Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, a portable entry that played similarly to the series' entries on the Nintendo 64. What it amounts to is a fun diversion for a short while... a very short while.

After the events of the original Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda the witch is stuck under a gigantic boulder near Banjo and Kazooie's home. Her faithful henchman Klungo comes up with a mechanized body that ol' Grunty can transfer her ghost into. The newly mobile Mecha-Grunty drops by Banjo's house and nabs Kazooie, taking her approximately two decades in the past, as a plan to make it so Banjo and Kazooie will never meet. Thus, that means the dynamic duo will never have the opportunity to defeat Grunty in the events of the original Banjo-Kazooie. However, local shaman Mumbo Jumbo uses his mystical powers to send Banjo back in time in order to put a stop to the green witch's mischievous plot.

For Banjo especially, home is where the honeycomb is.
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge's progression is just like the Nintendo 64 titles. That is to say that through collecting Jiggies, golden puzzle pieces scattered throughout the game's various worlds, you unlock new areas to explore. The game contains five major worlds and one hub world, which connects everything together. This hub world is an old version of Spiral Mountain, one that was around during the construction of Gruntilda's evil lair.

The main difference between Grunty's Revenge and the N64 releases that preceded it is that this Game Boy Advance entry is played in an overhead perspective. Obviously it's due to the technical limitations of the GBA hardware, but at the same time the general feel of the N64 Banjo-Kazooie games is retained.

Foes new and familiar call
Grunty's Revenge home.
It's massively fun and engaging to explore the relatively large worlds, such as Cliff Farm and Breegull Beach, for Jiggies and musical notes. The latter allows the bear and bird to meet up with Bozzeye, a relative of Bottles the Mole, who teaches the pair new moves as long as they have acquired enough notes. Pretty much all of these moves come from the console games. These include Banjo's roll attack, the Flap Flip that allows Banjo and Kazooie to reach high platforms, and the Talon Trot that enables the duo not only to move faster but to walk on otherwise steep and slippery slopes. That's just to name a few of the many moves able to be learned.

Use the Talon Trot to go faster than normal...
...Or use it to climb steep slopes.
Like Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie before it, Grunty's Revenge offers different platforming and puzzle-related challenges to acquire the ten Jiggies that rest in each of the game's worlds. Some have you participating in mini-games, such as sliding down a spiral slide, collecting eggs, or fishing for special salmon. Others require your platforming abilities to be strong, although it can be a little problematic telling what platforms you can and can't reach due to the overhead angle of the game. None of these missed jumps due to not being able to totally discern jump height and distance cost me any lives, but they can be troublesome all the same.

It wouldn't be a Rare game without a
"fetch me this many thingamajigs" mission.
To assist Banjo and Kazooie in this time traveling adventure, Mumbo Jumbo, as long as he is paid with a silver Mumbo token, will change Banjo into a variety of transformations. From a mouse to a candle, these transformations allow Banjo into otherwise inaccessible areas. However, these also are usually only good for a Jiggy or two. It would have been nice to see each transformation's usefulness extend further from only one or two roles.

Banjo's usually not this forward with robots...
Perhaps the biggest issue with Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is how quickly the whole adventure is over. I managed to play through the game to 100% completion in less than five hours my first go-around, and that amount of time understandably shrunk the second time through. Still, if the words "short and sweet" could be applied to anything, they would apply really well to Grunty's Revenge.

What is also sweet in Banjo and Kazooie's handheld outing is how great the visuals look. Don't be fooled by the enlarged screens of this review, which stretch out the resolution beyond what you'd see on the Game Boy Advance. Grunty's Revenge is a great looker, and its prerendered visual style is a major part of that. The music and sound effects feel like they were plucked directly from the N64 games, albeit with lower sound quality, and that is a tremendous accomplishment all in all.

My, what big hands you have!
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge may not be the longest platformer out there, and it certainly has its fair share of flaws. However, if you can't get enough of the brave bear and sassy bird, then definitely look into their pocket-sized adventure.

[SPC Says: 7.25/10]

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Super Mega Baseball (PS4, PS3) Review

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through SuperPhillip Central, a new review was posted for a charming little baseball game. The boys of summer might be in hibernation with it being winter and all, but that hasn't stopped Metalhead Software from creating an arcade-style baseball game for the off-season regardless! Here's my review of Super Mega Baseball.

Because Mega Baseball just wasn't super enough

Lately, if you wanted your baseball fix on a PlayStation home console, you needed to play Sony's own MLB The Show franchise, a series that isn't known to be very beginner-friendly, being a simulation of America's national pastime and all. It's taken a small, dedicated team of individuals at Metalhead Software to create a much more accessible baseball game for their first foray as a team in creating a game. While nowadays "more accessible" might make you think "dumbed down", Super Mega Baseball couldn't be anything further from the truth. It's a game that swings for the fences, and while it doesn't get a grand slam, it does knock one out of the park with spectacular style.

The accessibility of Super Mega Baseball is in how easy it is to learn the controls. Even after the controls have been learned, there's the challenge of beating opponents that presents itself. If for some reason you forget how to do something while in a game, you can hold the Start button to have a tutorial menu brought up.

Swing for the fences-- just don't pull
a muscle in the process!
Pitching is relatively simple, requiring the player to select a type of pitch by pushing the right analog stick in one of eight directions. Then it's a matter of selecting a place to throw the ball and line up the cursor with the target mid-flight to create the best pitch possible. Missing the target by a lot makes for a pitch that is easy for the batter to get a piece of, while getting the cursor as close to the target as possible results in a very strong pitch.

This pitcher puts the hot sauce on this pitch!
The greatness of Super Mega Baseball is how you can set the controls to be as simple as pressing X to throw as well as hit pitches or more complex as drawing an analog stick back and then pushing it forward to swing.

Fielding is in part handled by the AI, moving automatically under fielded balls, though it's not entire streamlined. You do have to make the occasionally jump or dive for the ball, and there is the requirement of throwing the ball to the right base to get the desired out. As each base is designated with a face button (e.g. pressing the circle button will throw the ball to first base), it's a quick concept to learn and makes playing defense fun, engaging, and simple all at the same time.

The Ego system allows players of all skill levels to enjoy Super Mega Baseball. The higher the Ego level, the more difficult the CPU becomes. This ability to fine tune the difficulty of the game makes the game able to appeal to a wide audience.

Use the Ego system to make Super
Mega Baseball as hard or as easy as you want.
Super Mega Baseball's main modes consist of one-off exhibition games and the Season Mode. The latter pits all twelve fictional teams, such as the Beewolves, the Sirloins, the Crocodons, and more, against one another in a short, medium, or long length baseball season. It's this mode that offers plenty of stats for you to track, whether it's for your team or the entire league.

On top of Season Mode is the ability to fully customize the look of each player on each team. Whether it's their hair colors, hair styles, facial hair, body type, headgear, or names (but seriously, why would you want to change the adorable name of Johnson Swanson?), there's plenty of means to alter your teammates your way.

No worries. While these bats aren't
MLB-certified, they're allowed in this game.
The cast of players in Super Mega Baseball are indeed larger than life, cartoon-inspired caricatures that have a fair amount of personality. Little things like tears that pour out of a hitter's eyes when he or she strikes out and celebrations when a home run is hit add to the charm of the game. Super Mega Baseball's four stadiums are brimming with the same personality and wackiness that exudes everywhere else in the game. Although, it would have been nice to see a couple more stadiums, or at least the ability to choose the time of day each game takes place in. Additionally, some long loading times and spelling issues detract from the overall package as well.

Outside of my desire for more stadiums and some small technical flaws, Super Mega Baseball sadly only offers local play. There is no online multiplayer to speak of, though there are leaderboards to be found. However, this is a pretty poor substitute for being able to play with folks around the country and the world. That said, Super Mega Baseball does offer local play for up to four players, two to each team, splitting up the duties between batting, pitching, and fielding each inning.

He's opening up a can of corn with this swing!
Super Mega Baseball is best played in small chunks. However, at the same token, it's the type of game that you will come back to time and time again. It frees you from caring about how faithful the graphics are to the real thing, instead delivering a satisfying to the eye visual style. The game makes for a baseball title that all skill levels can pick up, play, and enjoy. All in all, Super Mega Baseball is worth several trips around the bases. It's got heart, it's got fun, and it's got just enough to keep you coming back for more.

[SPC Says: 8.25/10]

Review copy provided by Metalhead Software

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sequels, Please! - New Installments I'd Love to See - Christmas Week Edition

The holiday season has kids and kids at heart coming up with wishlists for the season. I have a Christmas wishlist, but it's less about getting a shiny new PS4 and more about game sequels that I would love to see made. I've gotten some of my pleas for sequels answered with titles like Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby Canvas Curse, and Resident Evil Revelations. Let's see if I get lucky with any of these seven picks for potential sequels.

Dragon's Dogma

The first game on this edition of Sequels, Please! is Dragon's Dogma, a game that to me is a very Eastern take on a series like The Elder Scrolls. It has you playing as your avatar, venturing through a massive world, battling everything from packs of wolves to overpowering ogres and dragons. An expansion came out for the game in the form of Dark Arisen, but that wasn't enough to whet my appetite for a completely new Dragon's Dogma experience. The pair of titles did well enough for Capcom to express interest in doing a sequel, and this is one of those series that would get me very interested in a current gen console other than the Wii U.

Jak and Daxter

While Naughty Dog is apparently set in their ways as developing realistic titles only now, that leaves their old creations, Jak and Daxter, hung out to dry. We all saw a glimpse of the dynamic duo in the PSP entry The Lost Frontier, but what I'd personally love to see is a reboot of the series by a different studio. Whether it retains the "edgier" look and feel of Jak 2 and on or goes back to the series' roots with Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie style progression and tone doesn't really matter as long as a new entry gets released. (But seriously, more like the original Jak and Daxter, please.) All I know is that the 3D platformer genre has been mighty empty recently, and Mario and Ratchet & Clank alone isn't enough for me.

Rayman Legends

Between Rayman Origins and its sequel Rayman Legends, Rayman and Ubisoft hit players with a one-two punch of 2D platforming awesomeness. If you followed the game at all, you should recall that Rayman Legends was originally planned as a Wii U exclusive, but poor sales of Ubisoft's Wii U launch title ZombiU put the kibosh on that. That version was delayed to release with the all-new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports. Anyhow, Rayman Legends felt content-starved, even with the extra nine months of development time. (It says a lot when a good portion of your game's levels are recycled from its predecessor.) I'd love to see a sequel that gets enough time in the oven, but seeing as how Ubisoft loves putting out unfinished games, perhaps it's better that Rayman takes a break for now.

ModNation Racers

The ModNation Racers series has seen three entries released on three different platforms. The most recent of these was the PlayStation Vita launch title ModNation Racers: Road Trip, a game I greatly enjoyed. Not only is the series a great introduction to kart racers, throwing in a lot of personality, charm, and creativity, but it's also fantastic for veterans of the genre, especially those who have a creative bone in their body in order to concoct their own player avatars, vehicles, and tracks. Road Trip made it very easy to create something out of nothing, and a PlayStation 4 installment would get me to jump on Sony's mad-popular machine quite quickly.


This next game series may be hoping against hope, as the original developer, SCE Studio Liverpool has since been dismantled. Alongside F-Zero, it truly seems like the futuristic racer is but a fantasy for many gamers. However, it's a hole that cannot be replaced, even by the anti-gravity hijinks of Mario Kart 8. It's just not the same. Wipeout was a lot like F-Zero, obviously taking a fair amount of inspiration from the series, but it also threw in a combat aspect in the form of weaponry. Just thinking about an all-new Wipeout running on the PlayStation 4 has my eyes watering with anticipation. Is the anticipation for naught? Perhaps, but bigger miracles in gaming have happened in the past.

The Legendary Starfy

Nintendo gave folks outside of Japan a taste of The Legendary Starfy series with the fifth installment. The DS game of the same name was the only one released in the West, and it's also the latest entry in the series as of 2009. Starfy reminds me a bit of Kirby in its platforming simplicity and accessibility. Whether it be a new Nintendo 3DS sequel or heck, even a re-release of all five Starfy games in one nice package, it'd be great for us lowly non-Japanese gamers to get another dose of the princely star... fish. Star? Starfish? Eh, it doesn't matter!

Wario World

I mentioned Jak and Daxter as a 3D platformer before, but what about a return to the 3D platforming of Wario World? It's probably a fool's errand, but "fool" just so happens to be my middle name. Wario World was the garlic-chomping portly plumber's first starring role in a home console title, and while it was on the short side, it exuded with action and engaging platforming. It doesn't even need to be a joint effort between Nintendo and Treasure, who worked on the GameCube original. All it needs are gorgeous environments to jump, charge attack, ground pound, and run through and a funky soundtrack.

Monday, December 22, 2014

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - 'Twas the Week of Christmas Edition

Christmas is this Thursday, but rather than break into verse for a cliche "'Twas the night before Christmas" poem, I have five new video game themes to share with you this week. It's a special, albeit unintentional, RPG themed week. I have music from Dragon Quest VI, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and Dragon's Dogma, to kick things off. This is but one of my gifts for you this holiday season, and unlike some gifts you may receive, you need not return to the store to get a refund for these VGMs.

v766. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (DS) - In the Town~Happy Humming~Inviting Village~Folk Dance~In the Town (Symphonic Suite Version)

Outside of original versions of known video game themes, I also like to share official arrangements and remixes of them, too. This is a shining example from a symphonic suite of Dragon Quest VI music. I'll spare typing the songs part of the suite out, but let it be known that this marvelous medley is sure to put a smile on even non-Dragon Quest fans.

v767. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4, PS3, PC) - Fallen Angel

The initial launch of Final Fantasy XIV was a huge disgrace and blow to the Final Fantasy name. However, thankfully Square Enix turned the colossal ship around, making for an MMORPG that fans were driven to play and spend hundreds of hours in its world. A series of boss battles were added, each with its own theme composed by Masayoshi Soken. Fallen Angel is a haunting and chilling piece, made exclusively for the difficult encounter against Garuda.

v768. Dragon's Dogma (PS3, 360) - Imminent Triumph

Imminent Triumph plays when a boss is reeling and on the proverbial ropes. Don't let your guard down, though, or the tides of battle may soon change. In a sense, this musical change as a boss nears its demise reminds me of Skies of Arcadia, and how when a boss was close to death the song would also change to a more heroic and triumphant theme.

v769. MapleStory (PC) - Welcome to Maplestory

How familiar are you with MapleStory? I admit that other than knowing its a South Korean MMO with side-scrolling that I don't know a lot about the long-running game. However, I do know that the music is quite intriguing and features some serene themes, just like the one I have selected. Have you ever played MapleStory?

v780. Legend of Mana (PS1) - Travelers' Road

We conclude this RPG-full SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs edition with music from Legend of Mana, a cult classic for the original PlayStation. While the gameplay left a little to be desired, what can't be called less than grand is the stunning presentation, starting with the visuals and moving on to the soundtrack. The music of Legend of Mana was composed by the musical goddess herself, Yoko Shimomura. Kingdom Hearts fans should know her quite well.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U) Review

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric kicks off SuperPhillip Central's second-to-last week of 2014. Christmas is this Thursday, so there's no better analogy than Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric being the game equivalent of coal in your stocking. Here's my review.

A Boom or a Bust?

When Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was announced, I fell victim to the dreaded "Sonic Cycle", showing great enthusiasm for the title's potential. It had a team made up of folks who previously worked at Naughty Dog during the studio's Jak and Daxter days, and the game itself looked like an interesting direction for a spin-off of the series. However, a multitude of technical issues and plodding combat make for a game that feels unpolished and unfinished-- a game rushed out to release in tandem with the Cartoon Network CG Sonic Boom series.

Rise of Lyric feels less like a traditional Sonic game and more like a descendant of PlayStation 2 era 3D platformers, a time where that genre received more than enough competitors. The biggest issue here is that Sonic and friends seem shoehorned into this game, as Rise of Lyric is less about speed and more about slow, methodical platforming, combat, and exploration.

The level design isn't the absolute best,
but it's hardly what I'd call dreadful.
This is no more as apparent as in the two hub areas of the game. One is a canyon area while the other is a tropical island with its own town in the center. These have collectibles to find as well as NPCs to assist with tasks like reuniting a hippo pirate with his brother and building defense towers to protect the island. You quickly notice that speed is not a major player in this game, particularly in these expansive areas. Even at top traveling speed Sonic and his cohorts move way too slowly to make traversing these large hubs interesting.

C'mon Team Sonic. It's four against one.
Just TAKE the darn boat from him!
In fact, the only major spot where speed comes into play is the various running sections. These occur between Rise of Lyric's hubs and the levels where all the "action" takes place. However, these sections are more automated than anything else, having you speed down linear pathways, bouncing off bounce pad to bounce pad, and requiring very little interaction in general. At least you get plenty of choppy animation and dizzying camera cuts and angles to be entertained by. Despite the game suggesting you sidestep obstacles in your path, you can just plow right through them with a minimal loss of rings. It doesn't help that each time you return to a level you need to replay these disengaging speed segments.

As choppy as the ocean waves during a thunderstorm,
these are the speed sections of Rise of Lyric.
Outside of these sections, Sonic and friends can display their different abilities, allowing you to switch between characters on the fly via presses of the directional pad to switch to the character you want. Sonic can curl up into a ball, speeding up ramps, and can also use his homing attack on certain objects. Tails can float in the air, slowly descending to the ground, as well as call out miniature robots to attack foes and enter small doorways. Meanwhile, Amy is the most nimble of the crew, allowing her to perform a triple jump to reach high platforms and can also walk on thin beams. Finally, Knuckles, the brawn of the group, has the ability to climb red, rocky ceilings and walls.

Knuckles is known to hang tough
in any situation.
There's a fair amount of switching involved as different hurdles present themselves, as characters can only reach certain sections of levels on their own. This adds to the, dare I say, enjoyable exploration of Rise of Lyric. Each hub world and level in the game has a multitude of collectibles to acquire, from special crowns to hidden treasure chests that award robot pieces that can get traded in for new helpful combat boosts. Many of these secret goodies are placed in clever locations around Rise of Lyric's many levels.

While the visuals don't impress,
the art design is top notch.
Apart from exploration and adventuring in the game's areas, Sonic and his team don't distinguish themselves enough when it comes to combat. Each hero has a simple light attack, a stronger charged attack, an aerial stomp attack, and the ability to grab enemies with a rope made out of energy to throw them around. The latter was my most used means to clear rooms, as enemies take way too long to defeat with physical attacks otherwise. Instead, I would lasso an enemy and toss them off a cliff, instantly destroying them.

When you resort to cheesing battles,
you know your combat is boring.
Combat is incredibly basic, and the worst of it is that it doesn't happen naturally during exploration, as say, how it works in Ratchet & Clank, to use a good example. With Rise of Lyric, combat is instead relegated to closed-off arena-like areas, places I dreaded coming to since the combat is so dull.

When you just mash on the attack button,
not caring if you get hit, you also know
your combat is boring.
It's made further dull by the lack of consequence from death. Like every other Sonic game I can think of, if your party loses all of the rings in the pool of rings that they share and then are hit by a foe's advance, you die. However, in Rise of Lyric, death is a majorly minor inconvenience. You simply reappear nearby where you died, and if you were in the middle of a battle, the enemies do not regain any health. Their health is as reduced as it was when you died, making the challenge all but actually challenging.

Rise of Lyric's ten hour playtime will allow most players to see the ending of the game, but the amount of collectibles to acquire can make this playtime increase by several more hours. The ability to play with two players-- one using the GamePad and its screen and the other using a TV and controller-- makes for some honest to goodness fun times, although the frame-rate does take a noticeable hit.

Most areas are as fun to play
as they are to look at.
Perhaps that's the most damning part of Rise of Lyric-- all of its technical problems. From fairly lengthy load times and a camera you occasionally have to battle with, to rough and uneven animations that run rampant, Sonic Boom on Wii U's problems don't end there. There are times when objects and shadows render right before your very eyes, an unintended jumping glitch with Knuckles where you can skip a decent amount of playtime by leaping over the boundaries of the initial hub world, and poor transitions between areas, where you can clearly see a glimpse of Sonic and the gang loaded at a destination before the cutscene that shows them actually getting there.

How Sonic yearns for the days when
he was chased by a big rig.
The audio doesn't fare much better, and this is due to the cacophony of quips, banter, and one-liners that Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Knuckles utter seemingly every five seconds. The quartet of heroes just won't shut up as you play through the game, and even for a patient person like myself when it comes to things like this, it became annoying quickly, even if there is a wide amount of different lines said. Additionally, the music is greatly forgettable, leaving no impression with me expect a negative one.

The second hub area of Rise of Lyric
will sure give you a tan in a jiffy.
However, even with all of these gameplay and technical flaws, I somehow enjoyed my time with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Perhaps part of it was expecting something less akin to Sonic Colors or Generations and something more akin to a PS2 era platformer with its focus on exploration and combat rather than the supersonic speed the series is known for. This is a spin-off after all. Still, Rise of Lyric is full of moments where you can't help but wonder what the game would have turned out like if it received an adequate development time and wasn't rushed out to release to coincide with the CG cartoon. As it stands, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is an unpolished title with plenty of good ideas that are overshadowed by plenty of bad issues, mostly tied to performance and tedious combat.

[SPC Says: 4.5/10]