Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS)

SONIC_BOXStrange fissures have appeared in the Sonic Boom world, and while trying to seal them up, Sonic and Amy discover that the radiation from the fissures has affected their armband communicators, and now allows the team to have fire and ice attacks.  Using their new abilities, Sonic and Co. must track down the source of the fissures (most likely Dr. Eggman), and save their world from strange weather anomalies in this 2-D platforming adventure based on the computer animated TV show.

The 2-D stages are similar to other Sonic games, except here you can switch between Sonic and his friends on the fly by tapping on them from the bottom touch screen.  Each character has his or her own special abilities.  Sonic can spin dash and do a dash jump that can break certain blocks.  Tails can hover and fly if there are air pockets around, and he can also use a laser blaster and can even aim and reflect it on mirrors.  Knuckles can punch and burrow into the ground to dig for goodies.  Amy uses her hammer to flatten enemies and pound down certain pillars.  And Sticks can use her boomerang to hit long distance switches and enemies.  All characters have an ‘enerbeam’ that they can use to swing on certain floating hooks, too.

By pressing the L or R shoulder buttons, you can switch between fire and ice elements.  When you see blocks of water, change to ice to freeze them so you can walk on them.  And if you see ice blocks, change to fire to melt them so you can go past.  This simple little gimmick keeps the game from becoming nothing but a ‘hold right and run’ fest.  Every so often you’ll battle a boss.  You’ll automatically switch to the character needed for these fights, but you must change between fire and ice to attack properly.  These bosses take up both screens on the 3DS, and are quite a lot of fun.

Aside from the main areas, there are mini-games and challenge rooms for you to find.  You’ll race as Sonic in a third person view as you nab rings in a half-pipe corridor.  Pilot a submarine built by Tails, or play as Tails as he rides a hovercraft in a vertically scrolling shooting stage.  You can also find hidden goodies in the main stages, too.  You can even view a map on the bottom screen if you feel you must complete the stages 100 percent.

By collecting these extra doo-dads, you’ll unlock new racers and tracks to use in a racing mini-game that you can play with friends.  But the mini-games are super tough and even more annoying, and the rewards aren’t much of a payoff, especially considering I can’t imagine too many people really playing the racing mini-game with others.  Luckily most of the mini-game challenges are optional.  The only time it isn’t is every so often, Eggman will force Sonic to race his robots, and you can’t progress until you beat them.  These stages are passable, but still annoying.

The only other main problem I had with the game was with the controls.  You can only move around with the analog stick, and I wish you could use the D-pad as well.  And if Sonic isn’t spin dashing or being sent off from a booster pad, he runs awfully slow here.  Plus the ending area is a bit anti-climatic.  While I don’t think this is the Sonic game fans wanted (don’t worry folks, Sonic Mania comes out next year and I think it’ll be awesome), it’s certainly a heck of a lot better than previous Sonic Boom titles.


Kid Factor:

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence.  All you do is jump on robotic enemies, and if you get hit, you just fall down.  You get unlimited lives, too, so it’s not too frustrating.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, and younger gamers might need help with some of the tougher areas.  But kids love Sonic so they’ll probably like this game anyway.

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