In Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, Amy discovers a secret ancient language and manuscript detailing the history and whereabouts of a Lost Crystal of Power. The evil and vile villain, Lyric, kidnaps Amy in his eagerness to get his claws on this long-forgotten power that has been hidden throughout the jungles and canyons of a mysterious new island. Sonic must team up with Tails, Knuckles and new friend Sticks to trace Amy’s footsteps and save her from the clutches of Lyric and his robot army. By working as a team, they will prove they are stronger together than they are apart.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal was developed for the Nintendo 3DS by the team over at Sanzaru Games and later published by Nintendo. Shattered Crystal is a 2D entry into the Sonic Boom Universe that shares many key characters, events, and stories from the universe. The most notable addition to this title is the new character Sticks, who joins the fan favorite Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. We have always been a huge fan of the Sonic series almost primarily due to it competing with Mario in the early days when 'Sega or Nintendo' was some sort of code phrase or an invitation to a debate. We picked up the Shattered Crystal for our 3DS in order to see if we could find any nuggets of nostalgia worth mentioning.
The life and times of Sonic the Hedgehog have seen better days. Ever since jumping to the new generation of HD consoles the team behind Sonic has been struggling to find ways to bring him in a palatable way to the new generation of gamers. We’ve gotten the occasional solid Sonic title in the past decade or so and most of the ones that were subpar have still been playable, but we haven’t been impressed in a long time. Sonic deserves to be put into games that impress people in a big way.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal lands on the 3DS as an attempt to bandage over some of the sorrier attempts that we have seen released on the Wii U and Wii in the past couple of years. Many of us are probably still a little perturbed by the dull lump of coal that Sonic ’06 was and it will take some time before we can wash that away. Shattered Crystal helps, though, as it was immediately a playable game to us.
The first thing we noticed upon booting up Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal was that the game looked gorgeous. The Nintendo 3DS has always been considered a powerful little handheld unit but it has never had something gorgeous to brag about on its screen. Sonic Boom could be that title. Sonic is a game about speed and the game needs to look good when you are blazing through it. Fortunately we never ran into any framerate issues and we never saw stuttering problems as we got into particularly active areas.
The character models in the game resemble those of the television show and the Wii U version of the games. They are well designed, vibrant, and all unique as per their personality. The backgrounds in Sonic have always been little more than a cardboard cutout of animation for you to have something to look at while you blur by and Shattered Crystals doesn’t do anything to change the formula. The backgrounds are completely forgettable but also completely harmless. Not good, not bad. A piece of white toast.
Despite being one of the prettier entries that we have seen in recent years, there were some notable issues right from the very beginning and they fell squarely on the gameplay. We have come to expect a certain level of speed and hustle in our Sonic play throughs and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal changed that paradigm in a way that was slightly off putting.
So we know that the typical Sonic experience is like a platformer on steroids. You literally push forward until you find your way to that flag, fight the boss and then move on to the next zone. That isn’t the case here. In Sonic Boom exploration has changed the core of the gameplay that is expected of you. You have to explore in order to find items and Easter eggs, which is fine, but you also have to take time exploring in order to merely progress to the next zone.
In order to do so you will have to get used to switching between your four different characters: Sonic, Knuckles, Tails and the newby Sticks. Sticks is a badger with a boomerang that you can use to unlock far away areas. Stick also has some nice combat boosting strategy. Tails glides like normal and Knuckles can burrow underground. Of course Sonic, the King, has the blazing speed you need. He also has his arrow dash that you can activate in mid air up to three times in a single go. This will definitely change the speed runs that many Sonic fans grow so fond of.
If you read over those gameplay changes and didn’t find a reason to be upset, then you will likely really enjoy the time you spend with Shattered Crystals. For Sonic purists, and there are many out there, the change in gameplay is a stark departure away from everything that we’ve always known and loved.
Our second complaint about the game, perhaps the biggest one, has to deal with stage size. In an oldschool Sonic game you could literally blaze through a map in under a couple of minutes. In Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal you will find that the maps are bigger and more difficult than ever. You have to comb over every inch of each level in order to collect all of the needed shards and blueprints. Some levels you will spend around 15 to 20 minutes of time on. Pretty different stuff.
The upgrade system in Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is functionally useless. The new add ons don’t do enough to warrant your time investment in finding them, so don’t stress needing to get your most juiced up characters. Instead sit back and enjoy one of the strong suits of the title: level design.
The stages in Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal are actually really fun to run through. The designs, schemes, and obstacles are all reminders of the oldest titles in the game. Ancient Ruins and Cloud Kingdom feel like they were ripped straight off of the Sega Genesis. You’ll have a ton of fun as you swap characters and push your way through these giant maze like levels.
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on the 3DS is a title that should be purchased by huge Sonic fans and those of us looking for a casual, accessible, 2D platformer.