Reasonable Assessment: Hope For Fire & Ice

Reasonable Assessment: Hope For Fire & Ice

by May 31, 2016

“Oh dear, Noah. Please don’t tell me you’re actually about to say something positive about a Sonic Boom game!”

Actually, I am.

“Noah! This is the Internet! They’ll eat you alive! Turn back now. It’s not too late!”

Actually, maybe it won’t be so bad? Well, here goes nothing. Gulp.

Just as the sharp, sour taste of Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric was beginning to leave our tongues, Sega did the unthinkable. Last June, they announced another Sonic Boom game, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, for late 2015.

The gaming community collectively groaned in disgust. When it comes to sequels, many people would gladly see something like Half Life 3 or another Sonic Adventure (we’ll talk about SA3 another time, don’t write that comment). There are so many video game follows-up that people would love to see. Another Boom game is a sequel no one wanted. Matt and Donnie, TSSZ’s own, had already speculated that a Boom sequel was highly unlikely earlier that year. But Sega had other plans and the release date was not too far away.

A few months later, amidst all of pessimistic, yet probably realistic, expectations for “just another rushed game,” a glimmer of hope twinkled ever so slightly. Aaron Webber told us via blog post that Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, developed by Sanzaru Games, was going to be delayed until 2016. The reason for the delay was to “make sure the game has the time and polish needed.” Webber ended his post by saying that this mindset was to be applied to all future Sonic titles as well, foreshadowing the apologetic promises of Haruki Satomi later that year. Just as they had done by announcing a Boom sequel, Sega had done the unthinkable yet again. They were delaying a Sonic game, something virtually unheard of from the company that once chose splitting a game into two parts over pushing back a release date. Perhaps a post-Rise of Lyric Sega was learning their lesson?

Shortly thereafter, Mat Kraemer, creative director of Fire & Ice, stated in an interview that Sanzaru had taken fan criticisms of the previous games into account. Kraemer directly addressed complaints about excessive backtracking and sluggish exploration. The team had cut back on those elements. Even better, he said the team had studied the maps and level design of the Genesis classics as their blueprint. He promised a multiple path system that focused on a main speed path with branching exploration paths along the way, which is conceptually similar to such games as the glorious Sonic 3.

mat

“So fans told us, ‘Hey, this sucks.” And we were like, ‘Oh snap.’ So now we’re fixing it.” -Not Actual Mat Kraemer Quote

I can’t even begin to explain how refreshing it is to hear that the developers of a Boom game are actually paying respect to the original series and the Sonic name. The first two Boom games, Rise of Lyric in particular, took the concept of a “spin-off reboot” to its logical end by stripping away Sonic of almost all its identity; now Sanzaru was making sure the game actually felt like Sonic. That glimmer of hope was now shining brighter than before.

“Ok, Noah. Maybe it might be better than the last one. But why even bother making another Boom game? The first games were a huge failure. What’s the point? Just let Boom die,” you may be thinking.

First of all, don’t worry; you will still get a non-Boom, main-canon Sonic game. Boom will not affect whether or not you get a mainline title. You will get one.

Secondly, from a certain perspective, it actually does make sense that Sega would continue making Boom games. The cartoon is still going strong, the toys are selling, so why not support the Boom brand with games? When any other Cartoon Network show gets another obligatory tie-in game, no one is shocked. If one is to think of Boom as a cartoon series first and foremost, then another game announcement is nothing too out of the ordinary. Sure, Boom may have started as a multimedia initiative beyond “just a cartoon”, but it’s the show that’s kept the Boom brand alive. Furthermore, Fire & Ice is a sequel to Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, which was quite possibly the stronger of the first two Boom games. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but too many people were busy soap-boxing about Rise of Lyric’s mess to notice the humble 3DS game. At the very least, it was a lot less broken. I never saw any infinite-Knuckles-jump videos of Shattered Crystal.

Yes, I’m actually saying that a Sonic Boom game might not be horrendous. Yes, I’m saying there is hope and promise for this game. No, you shouldn’t throw things at the computer.

I know plenty of fans have been burned by Sega way too many times to even think of having hope for this game. I don’t blame them. When you have hope, you open yourself to disappointment. When you get disappointed too many times, you close off hope. It’s your brain’s way of protecting you.

“But Noah, here’s the problem: Sega is just all talk. I’m tired of their promises! Actions speak louder than words.”

“We, at Sega, are going to do better.” Those are words.

“We, at Sega, are delaying a Sonic game for more polish.” Those are actions.

Will the game be good? Who knows. But if you don’t at least respect and appreciate the fact that a Sonic game actually has been delayed for quality reasons, you are out of your mind. When has a Sonic game ever received a delay? Rarely, it not never. This is a clear step in the correct direction, and that needs to be recognized. Need I remind you that Rise of Lyric’s release date was actually pushed forward to an earlier date?

I’m going to give credit where credit is due. There is a rational argument to be made in favor of having hope for this next Boom title. Sure, there’s no guarantee. There’s always a chance a game could turn out bad. But this time, I’m not afraid of being wrong and having to answer for it. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. As far as video games are concerned, the Boom brand has nothing to lose. In 2016, the main canon 25th anniversary game (whenever it gets announced) will be everyone’s focus and Fire & Ice’s release will be overshadowed by it. Here’s to hoping this game will be the first decent Sonic Boom gaming experience as it humbly sits at the sidelines of the Sonic’s birthday.

*Whew.* That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Noah Copeland is a somewhat-interesting human. He makes music, makes films, and stands at exactly average height. You can find him on his TSSZ author page, or on Twitter @NoahCopeland, where he posts his creative works and slightly less-thought-out essays of 140 characters.