Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the 3DS is one of two new adventures to feature the way past cool blue hedgehog. It boasts large levels to explore and gameplay akin to 2D Sonic games. While Sonic Boom on the Wii U has its share of faults, it also had serviceable co-op (everything’s better with a friend), some enjoyable moments of platforming, and if it had been given some more development time it could have turned out an OK Sonic game. I feel similarly about Shattered Crystal. Is it a game? Absolutely, yes. Is it functional? Yep, sure is, but is it worth $40 and your ever more valuable time?

The 2D platforming of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is a more traditional Sonic experience when contrasted with the faux open world of Rise of Lyric on the Wii U. Exploration, item acquisition, and backtracking are key, but the execution misses the mark. The levels are quite sizable with plenty hidden throughout, but getting around is a slog. The map is functional, but having to find collectibles to upgrade it means it’s mostly useless when you need it the most. Initially it doesn’t offer up any info outside of blue squares denoting the level configuration and the occasional marker. This can lead to aimless wandering, waning of focus and dissolution of interest in short order.

Sonic still knows his way around a loop-de-loop.

Sonic still knows his way around a loop-de-loop.

The often aimless, lackadaisical pace of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is one of the biggest flaws of the game. I understand it might have been a deliberate decision to slow Sonic down and focus more heavily on puzzle solving and exploration, but the actual flow of gameplay shouldn’t suffer as a result. Often just when things are moving along the game brings you to a full stop and makes your switch characters. Sonic doesn’t need to go fast to provide enjoyable gameplay, and I would argue that the original Sonic the Hedgehog games (barring a few contrived speed-centric scenes) had never really been about speed to begin with, but rather precision platforming and a clever use of momentum. This problem is accentuated by the dialogue, as it scrolls incredibly slowly during the mini-cutscenes and can be absolutely mind numbing at times interspersed with the grunts and hoots of the cast.

To unlock new zones and progress in Shattered Crystal, stuff must be collected and the teams wealth of diverse abilities are necessary for that. Of course, Miles “Tails” Prower can fly for a limited time, Sticks,

Knuckles smash!

Knuckles smash!

an Australian jungle badger and pro boomeranger, can hit buttons with her boomerang and Knuckles, the brawn, can tunnel. These powers need to be used to make headway and the system used to switch on the fly is intuitive and makes swapping a breeze. It helps alleviate some of the frustration of having the momentum broken up entirely by having to switch to Sticks.

Shattered Crystal makes you revisit the levels again and again after being cleared. There’s a need to find all the hidden stuff to unlock the next level, upgrade gear, and advance. It means having to grind through the level repeatedly until you locate all the goodies if you didn’t the first or second time through. I have no problem with a good collect-a-thon, some hold places as favourite games from my childhood. Thanks to repetitive and lackluster level design, and points that effectively gate you and make it impossible to backtrack, it becomes a boring trudge through environments that overstay their welcome.

It wouldn’t be such an arduous task to revisit levels if their layout didn’t appear so phoned in. The levels seem to be made out of a handful of preset configurations and it can sometimes be difficult to tell one segment of a level apart from another. While the visuals might not technically be the greatest, the levels are all vibrant and full of character. Additionally, the three or four fully voiced cutscenes in Shattered Crystal are borderline console quality. I mentioned in my Rise of Lyric review that I don’t have an issue with the redesign and in particular I applaud the look of the new character, Sticks the Badger. Perhaps it’s because her design is uncannily similar to Aika, a female protagonist from one of my all time favourite Sega

Sonic still uses springs to get rings and other things.

Sonic still uses springs to get rings and other things.

games, Skies of Arcadia, but this pleases me more than it probably should please any reasonable adult.

It’s a shame so much of the game falls short, because some of the platforming can be fun in brief fleeting moments. In addition to his trademark spin dash and homing attack, Sonic has a mid air dash and can turn on the juice at the press of a button. The air dash was a move that I enjoyed and it had plenty of utility. When approaching new areas that required having to swap between characters it was a mostly painless experience, which is the way to do it if you’re going to have characters swapping. The 3D levels, races, and boss battles are also a nice little bit of spice to mix up the monotony, but there’s not very many of either.

It’s unfortunate to have to watch a character I enjoy so much face repeated missteps. There have been some wonderful 2D Sonic games on portable Nintendo devices, like the Game Boy Advance and Sonic Advance one, two, and three and the Nintendo DS in Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, but Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal falls short of being one of them. It’s not broken or egregiously terrible, but instead manages to be cumbersome in action and not particularly fun or exciting. It can get pretty repetitive and the run time isn’t all that long. If it were $15 or $20, I might be able to recommend it.

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal Review
Pros
  • Is a mostly functional video game
  • Switching between Sonic's team mates is intuitive and easy
Cons
  • Dull, drawn out exploration
  • Dumb mini cut scenes
  • Poor map design
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
8.6

About The Author

Evan T
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Evan is a super serious, real life production assistant, video editor, and current review and editorial writer for Gamer Assault Weekly. A failed knife salesman and former member of a prestigious World of Warcraft guild, renowned for his voice and childlike enthusiasm for video games. Has never broken a bone. Hates possums. Mumble-sings.