Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal was definitely the better of the two Sonic Boom games that released in the Fall of 2014, but it was far from perfect. While its console big brother, Rise of Lyric, was an unpolished, unoptimized game that was riddled with bugs, Shattered Crystal was a finished game, but a flawed one. Shattered Crystal, developed by Sanzaru Games, attempted to make a Sonic Boom version of classic 2d Sonic gameplay, and combine it with the exploration aspect of Metroidvania games. Character dynamics, adventure and exploration are the 3 pillars that the Sonic Boom brand is built on, (also tons of merchandise), so it makes sense to double down on these ideas. But Shattered Crystal’s major problem was that it focused too heavily on exploration. Most levels in 2d Sonic games are finished in less that 5 minutes, with some exceptions of course. Levels in Shattered Crystal can drag on for sometimes 15-20 minutes. This is not the way to do exploration in a 2d Sonic game. Let’s use what many consider to be the magnum opus of 2d Sonic games, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, as an example. Exploration is completely optional in Sonic 3. But if you go out of your way to explore, you are rewarded with ring monitors, extra lives, shield power-ups and giant rings that grant access to special stages. In Shattered Crystal, exploration is mandatory for progression, and the rewards you find are not all that special.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is attempting to rectify the mistakes of Shattered Crystal. Fire & Ice’s focus is on high-speed and platforming. The exploration elements are still present, but have been severely cut back. I haven’t personally been able to play Fire & Ice, but I will say based off of gameplay videos, that it looks like a welcomed improvement over its predecessor. There’s a much better sense of flow in the game, with players able to tackle levels in a manner similar to the Genesis games. It honestly looks really fun seeing players blaze through levels while chaining homing attacks and enerbeam swings, as well as switching between the new fire and ice power-ups.  As I said before, the exploration aspect is still intact, but optional. Players once again can take control of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Sticks, and newly playable Amy Rose. Each character has unique abilities that can be used to access previously inaccessible level routes, (and hopefully these routes will be worth the effort it takes to find them. I’m also really interested to see how the fire and ice mechanics work out. The fire power-up can be used to melt ice barriers that impede progression, and the ice power-up can be used to freeze water to make new paths and platforms. The mechanics are very simple on the surface, but I hope that Sanzaru Games finds a way to do something really cool with them.

All in all, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice looks like it is shaping up to be a fun game. At worst, it’ll be at least on par with Shattered Crystal, which wasn’t a bad game. The game focuses on speed and platforming, and looks much more fun for doing so. I’m really glad Sanzaru Games is getting another swing at Sonic Boom. They’re a good studio, and they’ve had plenty of time to make a good game this time around. I’ll be picking up Fire & Ice when it releases, (even though it comes out 3 days before Final Fantasy XV), and providing a review right here, so make sure you stay tuned!

What do you think of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice? Does it look better than Shattered Crystal, or just more of the same? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you follow me on Twitter to stay updated on the latest posts. Thanks for reading, and be sure to have an awesome day!

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