My favorite game of all time, no doubt, is Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Every part of the game is amazing and perfectly done, it's so great! This game defined Sonic the Hedgehog, defined what a Sonic game really is. It is a masterpiece.
Sonic did have some rough transitions, most notably from 2D to 3D. Many of his games released in the last decade or so have been debatable. Some of them were great, others were questionable. Maybe one or two were downright broken. It's also the fact that the more recent Sonic games have had stranger plots. Like going to Arabia... turning into a werewolf... talking swords... yeah. But these changes aren't a bad thing, it's just new to a lot of gamers, and typically people don't like change. But it's not like Sonic was drastically changed, there was still that similarity shared between his games. He still was the spiky blue hedgehog everybody (probably) loves. He still was, Sonic the Hedgehog.
Then they released Sonic Boom.
(Stands on beach cliff to rethink what it means to be "Sonic")
Why?! Why was this game made?! How could SEGA have done this?! Had there been any quality control?! How could they do this to Sonic?! This can't BE! (faints)
When I first saw Sonic Boom, I thought it could have been a good game, but I was so wrong. EVERYTHING about this game is terrible. How could SEGA do this to Sonic? I just can't understand how it got so wrong. So, I want to compare two different Sonic games from two different eras, in order to see their contrasts, as well SEGA's mistakes. My favorite Sonic game, verses the worst Sonic game. Let's get started:
So, what made Sonic different from most platformers is it's pace. The Sonic series is known for it's high speed gameplay and action. I prefer the gameplay of the classic Sonic games, because even though Sonic can go fast, he didn't have to. I like to stop and explore for secrets and treasures. Especially in S3&K, in which they introduced branching paths each level, allowing for a lot of exploration and variety. Most of the newer Sonic games, whether 2D or 3D, their levels feel linear and restrained. Sonic runs in a straight line, and as long as you press the buttons at the right time, YOU WIN. Sonic also won't stop running, making it difficult to find secrets. The levels can still be fun, but they lack the exploration. There are exceptions, i.e. the combat sections in Sonic Unleased.
Sonic Boom, on the other hand, was very weird. Besides being a platformer, the game had a lot of different genres mixed into it, including puzzles and combat. It was also nonlinear, having a few different hub worlds with a bunch of different levels in each of them. It all feels it was mashed together into one thing. And none of it was good. Platforming was too fast and confusing, and would slow the game down. Combat is boring and repetitive. The puzzles are too easy, no challenge was put into them. Exploring the hub worlds were confusing, there wasn't a sense of direction. There was a map, but that didn't really help much. Maybe a compass would help?
S3&K's controls were fairly simple: left, right, up, down, jump, spin dash. That's really it. And it felt pretty smooth and spot on. There were three different characters the player can choose from, and they all control basically identical:
- Sonic can do a special double jump if he has a shield on. He can also do an "insta shield" if he doesn't have any other shield equipped.
- Tails can fly/ swim in water for a short time. He can also grab Sonic and give him a short flight.
- Knuckles can't jump as high as the other two, but can glide and climb onto walls. He can also break certain walls.
Sonic Boom's controls were pretty similar: left, right, jump, forward, backward, jump, spin dash. This time though, the player has four different characters, controlling one at a time, while the others follow. Each one has a special attribute:
- Sonic can spin dash, as well as walk on water.
- Tails can fly, or better to say, he glides. He also can shoot laser beams and send out a "bubby bot".
- Knuckles can climb walls, and dig underground (I think). He can also do some third thing.
- Amy can do a triple jump, as well as walk on balance beams.
All the characters can also punch and kick during the combat sections, as well use an enderbeam for attacking and grappling. And the gamepad can be used to find secrets. But otherwise that's the basics. Nothing more to really say.
Besides the characters listed above, the default setting for S3&K is Sonic & Tails together. Tails will follow Sonic, and help collect rings and smash badniks. He also was invincible and even if he died, he would fly back quickly. Even better, if a second controller is plugged it, another player can control Tails. I really love playing this game with a friend; even if it's just myself playing, I still like choosing Sonic & Tails. The only negative I could say is that Tails, whether a second player or the CPU, has a hard time keeping up with Sonic.
Sonic Boom's multiplayer SUCKS. If a second player joins via the gamepad, the FPS slows down so much and the quality of the graphics worsens. Nothing more to add, but it was a failure.
Probably the biggest staple of the Sonic series, rings can be compared to an snack food: they're addictive by nature, and the consumer always wants more. They haven't change a lot over the Sonic timeline, their main purpose has stayed the same, though sometimes they're used to buy things. For S3&K in particular (and most other classic Sonic games), rings have a few different perks:
- Collecting twenty rings allows access to bonus games via a checkpoint
- Collecting fifty rings (under the right conditions) allows the player to transform their character into super/ hyper form
- Collecting a hundred rings rewards an extra life
In Sonic Boom, rings were heavily downgraded. They can no longer be used to access bonus levels, get extra lives, and even buy things. Besides that, the player can only hold a hundred rings. What worsens this is that there are so many rings/ opportunities to get rings in the game, making them useless when collected.
But although the rings were heavily downgraded, they are still very addictive to collect. While I was watching Game Grumps play Sonic Boom, Arin Hanson/ Egoraptor said that he would still collect the rings, even if there wasn't a counter.