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Sonic Boom preview

The blue blur is back in an eye-popping 3D TV spin-off

Just for a moment, try not to look at Sonic's legs and Knuckles' shoulders. Aw, heck, okay, have a good, long look (and probably a bemused laugh) and then we'll start again when you're ready. Back again? Good. There is a very good reason why Sonic and his three closest friends look so different.

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What you're seeing is what Sega is describing as "a new branch" of the Sonic universe. Not strictly canon, this Wii U and 3DS exclusive instead acts as a playable prequel to the new Sonic Boom CG animation series from OuiDo Entertainment, which is coming soon to Cartoon Network. So it's not so much a spin-off from the TV series, as a companion to it, which means you'll be able to explore the same world you see in the 11-minute-long TV episodes on whatever Nintendo machine you own.

The two versions will be different games in terms of levels and enemies, much like Sonic Lost World, but - perhaps surprisingly - Sonic Team is not in the developer's chair for either. Instead, Sega has outsourced the game to two American developers (Big Red Button for Wii U and Sanzaru Games for 3DS) with the aim of creating a more western-feeling experience. So much so, in fact, that the game is not even pencilled in for a release in Japan. This one's all ours.

We're looking, then, at a genuinely different take on the long-established Sonic universe. Presumably one in which Knuckles has hit the protein shakes a bit too hard. Look at those shoulders, they are the envy of the NFL. There are also natty scarves. Along with Link's Hyrule Warriors' neckwarmer, are we seeing the emergence of a strange new fashion? Stranger still is the decision to wrap the cast in sports tape, as though they've been over-training for the Olympics. Come to think of it, that could well be what's happened: all those Mario & Sonic games have taken their toll.

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The positives far outweigh the fans' fear of change. If this really is a new Sonic universe, anything can happen. Just look at the various bizarro Spider-Man universes for proof of that. Hopefully, we won't see anyone kissing human princesses, or turning into werewolves, but rather a game that focuses on Sonic and his friends' strengths and the ways in which they can work as a team as they take on the world.

It's a strong team, too. Forget Rouge the Bat, Knack the Weasel and Cream the Rabbit (depressingly, every one of those is a real Sonic character), the roll call here is pure old-school Sonic. For those unfamiliar with the crew, that yellow fellow is Miles Prower, aka Tails the Fox, who has been following Sonic around with his cheery disposition and helicopter-like flying move since 1992 (crikey, we're getting old).

Next there's Amy, the pink hedgehog with the Piko Piko hammer, who fell in love with Sonic at first sight in Sonic CD a year later in 1993. Then there's Knuckles the Echidna, who made his debut as an antagonist in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in 1994, meaning even this relative newbie has now been gruffly punching rocks for two entire decades. Finally, there's the Fastest Thing Alive, Sonic himself, heading up the team.

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Well, perhaps not quite finally. Sonic wouldn't be Sonic without his old nemesis, Dr Robotnik, who appears in the trailer for the toon, though not the one for the game. That his robo minion is seen in both suggests he'll put in an appearance. Strangely, these days even he is referring to himself as "Dr Eggman", which destroys the last sliver of hope of him ever regaining his old name. Sigh. "Robotnik" sounded way cooler.

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  1. wizardgamer94 Tuesday 15th Apr 2014 at 14:30

    The first sonic game that I'm genuinely looking forward to in years :D

  2. uPadWatcher Tuesday 15th Apr 2014 at 22:53

    Even for a title powered by CryEngine 3, Sonic Boom hits a homer on the Wii U!

  3. Pyron12 Wednesday 16th Apr 2014 at 08:02

    I really hope this doesn't end up like Sonic Lost World.
    Knowing IGN though... yeah. On a more positive note I really want this game.

  4. Miguel Sanchez Wednesday 16th Apr 2014 at 21:29

    What have you done to your body, Knuckles. What have you done.

  5. Quantum Raven Thursday 24th Apr 2014 at 10:52

    Strangely, these days even he is referring to himself as "Dr Eggman", which destroys the last sliver of hope of him ever regaining his old name. Sigh. "Robotnik" sounded way cooler.


    STOP WHINGING ABOUT THE NAME CHANGE OF DR. ROBOTNIK TO DR. EGGMAN ONM!!!

    This blatant whinging is really winding me up and it needs to STOP IMMEDIATLY AND FOREVER! Whinging about the name change of Dr. Robotnik to Dr. Eggman is as pointless as whinging about the name change of Princess Toadstool to Princess Peach, whinging about the name change of Opal Fruits to Starburst, whinging about the name change of Marathon Bars to Snickers and whinging about the name change of Strike It Lucky to Strike It Rich because THEY ARE ALL THE SAME THING!!!

    And to be honest ONM Dr. Robotnik is an awful/camp name that was unacceptable even in the 90s and for the record and like the "Princess Peach" situation he was never officially called Dr. Robotnik at all.

  6. brace90 Sunday 8th Jun 2014 at 19:40

    "Forget Rouge the Bat, Knack the Weasel and Cream the Rabbit (depressingly, every one of those is a real Sonic character), the roll call here is pure old-school Sonic."

    Uh...Nack IS an oldschool Sonic character. He primarily appeared in Sonic spinoff titles for the Game Gear in the 90s. I mean, does this guy look like a modern Sonic character to you? He hasn't had a non-cameo appearance in the games for years!

    http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090802065830/sonic/images/thumb/a/af/Knack_4.png/185px-Knack_4.png

    I mean, if you had went with Shadow the Hedgehog, the point you were trying to make would be obvious, but by dropping the misspelled name of a lesser known Sonic character thinking that he wasn't around in the 90s, you make yourself out to be a poseur. Is it even humanly possible for games writers who don't like the Sonic franchise to write a Sonic article without the same old "oldschool Sonic fan" cliches? I mean, it's like running down a checklist.

    [x] Mock new design changes made. Sonic has long legs? Holy crud, you'll be telling me his eyes are green next. Knuckles, a strong character, has a design that actually reflects that aspect of his character as opposed to still being, as some people call him, "Red Sonic"? It's as if someone actually put some thought into it! Therefore, steroid and work out jokes.
    [x] Mock any new character introduced from Sonic Adventure onward. On a related note, I'm sure that specifically singling out two female characters for simply existing, one of which is a sultry looking woman often criticized for the way she dresses and the other being a sweet little girl often criticized for being...a sweet little girl, isn't indicative of any personal bias whatsoever.
    [x] Bring up Werehog as if a blue hedgehog with super speed changing into some werewolf thing is somehow more nonsensical than a blue hedgehog with super speed having crazy adventures with his friend trying to stop an evil egg shaped scientist from taking over the world
    [x] Imply that some human princess having a one sided crush on Sonic and planting a revival kiss on him for a few seconds is the worst possible thing. Because that game being a broken, buggy mess that shouldn't have been sent to retailers ain't all that important compared to being a big baby over fictional cooties. Bonus points if you mix up who did the kissing.
    [x] Claim there's a chance that human-hedgehog romantic angle, werehog, or some other undesirable angle might show up again even in articles for games where pretty much everything else that's more plausible is up in the air at that point. The way you guys go on about WEREHOGS and HUMAN-ANTHROPOMORPHIC TALKING GOOFY ANIMAL ROMANCE years after the fact makes me think you all have some kinda complex you need to see somebody about.
    [x] Complain about the whole Robotnik/Eggman thing as if it's still somehow actually an issue to most people
    [x] Attempt to cultivate an air of an condescending "oldschool Sonic fan" awkwardly shoving their elbow into the reader's side going "Haw, these new Sonic games, amirite? So stupid! Why do they even bother?"

    I mean, if you're trying to clickbait, I guess mission accomplished, but this dance has been going on FOREVER. Make some inflammatory Sonic article, Sonic fans get angry and fire off some shots in response to the shots you fire, everyone ends up varying extents of annoyed over a game series that's mainly aimed at 6-12 year olds, nobody wins. There has to be another way to do this.

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