Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric arrives on the Wii U as an exclusive this November, and it's a game that's had a remarkable and brief history to date. Its announcement earlier this year caused an internet meltdown, with plenty objecting to the character designs, in particular.
It's part of a new Sonic universe that Sega is pushing this year through this release, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on 3DS — developed by Sanzaru Games — along with a TV show, toy range and comic book series. The Wii U entry will have a major focus on co-operative play, with sections of the game having a slower, more deliberate 3D adventure style of play than past Sonic games.
Big Red Button is the developer behind Rise of Lyric, and has emphasized its past points that it's worked to find a balance between taking Sonic in a new direction while respecting its history. On one score, creative director Bob Rafei has told GamesTM magazine that there will be some more fan-favourite references as surprises in the new title.
We looked at the rich universe and history of Sonic and began to gravitate towards characters that best fit into our objective to make an epic adventure game. Dr Eggman was a very fun character to explore and created a really fun dynamic to Lyric's straight man super villain vibe. Also there are two fan favourite characters that we're excited to add.
Rafei also tackled the issue of 'steroid Knuckles', as has been referenced by fans. Here was his response when asked if the development team took jokes about the design in good humour.
Absolutely! We thought we might raise some eyebrows with that one! We floated this idea to SEGA and Sonic Team early in development because we felt strongly that new prospective fans needed to recognise Knuckles as the power-based character when looking at the ensemble team for the first time. As a character designer it's really important for me to create characters with varied silhouettes and characterisations especially if the characters will be working as a unit. SEGA and Sonic Team felt the same way and allowed us to run with the significant variation. Given the mostly positive response I'm confident we're on the right track. I think if we didn't garner such a strong reaction we would not have done justice to SEGA to fully take advantage of this unique opportunity to try something different with their characters.
The upcoming releases are shaping up to bring us an interesting mix of old and new. You can read our first impressions of both Sonic Boom games here; let us know whether more favourite characters and the developer's approach fills you with optimism or dread.