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July 4, 2017

An Episode In Gaming: Sonic Boom (Part 4)

Part 1 – Part 2Part 3Part 4


In Season 2, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles go on a road trip.
Really. And they reference the "Gotta go fast" meme.
I’m going to end this review today! I’ve discussed everything else I felt like discussing: the origins of the show, the updated characters, the first few episodes, the continuity, the fourth wall breaks… All in all, I’ve been pretty positive. And yes, this is a very good show. I do think that I should point out a few more gripes I’ve got with the show in general before giving my final thoughts – and perhaps a bit of insight on Season 2.

Let’s see… I already discussed the terrible villagers, I discussed Sticks as a conspiracy theorist (which, admittedly, can be pretty annoying to some, though I find her bearable – not to mention that I’ve seen worse examples of the trope being used). The TV show being so self-aware and making piques at itself and the Sonic fandom in general can be both a good and a bad thing – while some fourth wall-breaking humor is a good thing, too much of it can feel really forced or redundant after a while. Like anything, it’s great as long as it isn’t overdone. On to the new points to be made before my verdict.

Purdy.

First, you’ll notice that the CGI in this show is very, very good! It looks polished and pretty, it looks colorful. It’s a very nice show to look at, especially in large shots of the village or its surroundings. You can tell that the artists who made the CGI modeling of the worlds, objects and characters really did some excellent work. The animators… that’s a slightly different story. The animation of all these elements is still pretty good for the most part, although CGI animation experts may notice the characters’ movements to be a bit stiff. That really is a minor problem for people who don’t mind that so much. After all, it changes nothing to the stories told. But for those who specifically appreciate to watch and study the animation of these characters, it’s noticeable and a bit difficult to ignore. Maybe that’s the case because of the rush in completing episodes, I can’t tell. Still a minor issue, and it has apparently gotten better in Season 2, but it’s going to be a problem to some while watching Season 1’s episodes.

That,s from the Season 2 episode, "I Can Sea Sonic's Fear
From Here", the first underwater episode. Maybe the only
one, but we'll see with time... 
Season 1 ends with a final fourth wall break, when Orbot and Cubot mention the second season and Orbot quips, “Just think of all the hundreds more stories to be told using the same eight characters and four locations!” Yes, four locations. Most stories in Sonic Boom up to that point took place in the village, around the team’s homes, in the surrounding wilderness or in Eggman’s lair. Sure, there are subsections to these locations, but it still significantly reduces the scope of the world, and thus the number of stories that can be told. Thankfully, it appears that newer episodes are also improving that aspect, featuring stories that take place outside of those commonly-seen places in the show’s setting. Among others, there’s an underwater episode (about Sonic overcoming his fear of water) and one in space. I look forward to seeing more environments visited in that season!

From the Amy-centric Season 2 episode "Give Bees A
Chance", where she befriends one of Eggman's Beebots.
That episode was actually written by Amy's voice
actress, Cindy Robinson!
On to the characters now. A rather noticeable issue is how many plots focus on Sonic. Sure, every other main character gets their episode here or there, but when the focus isn’t on a character in particular (or when the whole team is important), Sonic will still usually take center stage. The show IS named after him, so it may be understandable, but it’s nonetheless annoying when the other characters who are part of the main 5 don’t get as much screen time. Knuckles’ lines are often reduced to being simply more references to him being dumb, except when the current story is about him; and it’s similar for Amy and Sticks, with the former often having just a few lines to show her nice yet bossy self, and the latter making another reference to her nutjob conspiracy theories. Tails often has more screentime as well, though he’s still inferior to Sonic in importance on the show.

"Would there be a reason to involve Eggman in this
episode?"
"Yes! Put him in!"
You know who else has major focus almost all the time? Eggman. As hilarious as he may be, sometimes it feels as though the writers feel forced to stick him into just about every plot they’ve thought up. On 52 episodes in the first season, he’s absent of only three of them. It’s like he always has to have a role in the plot, even when he isn’t the focus villain! If he isn’t a part of the plot, he’ll force his way in or other characters will pull him in. Is it part of Mike Pollock's contract or something? One example being the episode “Late Night Wars”, about Knuckles getting sudden popularity and stealing Comedy Chimp’s talk show, and out of the blue Comedy Chimp enlists Eggman’s help to boot Knuckles out.

Come on Perci, you're almost never around. And yet you
were kinda important in the games, no?
Please show up more often.
Of note, I think I mentioned that the TV show features new characters, but also some that appeared in the Sonic Boom games – among others, Mayor Fink and Fastidious Beaver (the former as a more reasonable authority figure, the latter as an annoying grammar corrector who’s rightfully ignored most of the time). One of the few other game characters popping up in the show is Perci the Bandicoot; in Rise of Lyric, she’s implied to be an action girl, descendant of a family protecting the island from the lingering potential threat of the Ancients. And Lyric is an Ancient. Unfortunately, Perci is seldom-seen on the show, having very few episodes to herself (one or two, at most) and being featured in crowd shots or for quick gags (often with clones, as a sign that the show’s animators don’t have enough characters to fill large crowd shots). And it’s a shame, too; with her backstory and cool look, why isn’t she featured more?

Aren't they adorable?
Thankfully, some other characters created for the show get a bit more screen time, like Zooey (a fox who becomes Tails’ crush and, later, girlfriend), Comedy Chimp, Soar the Eagle, or any of the other minor villains like Dave the intern or T.W. Barker. It would be pretty great to see more characters from the video games, though – at least as an acknowledgement that the games existed, and as a chance to give these characters a new purpose and a moment to shine outside of the impression they may have given because of the games’ poor critical reception.


Soar the Eagle, another recurring minor character.
Yet he's almost the only bird on the entire show.

Yeah, I know it started from a false rumor about Shadow
showing up in Sonic Boom with a Hawaiian shirt, but
with all the memes and franchise in-jokes that the show has
had so far, it's a surprise they haven't done it yet.
Shadow in a silly shirt = instant comedy.
I’ll be honest, I would love if the TV show tried to have more ties with the plot surrounding the Ancients from the Sonic Boom games; I’m sure there would be a number of great adventure episodes to make out of that, all while keeping the show’s lighter tone. Maybe we’d have a chance to feature Lyric as well. The snake villain was derided by the fandom – how dangerous could a snake really be? And yet, his serious attitude would be a great addition to the show, by playing off of the sillier portions of that world, acting as a sort of straight man surrounded by silliness, much like Orbot around Cubot. Hell, bring in more Shadow! Even if he stays serious, I’m sure there are plots that could be made around him again! Why should his appearance be a one-time thing? Show him wearing the Hawaiian shirt already!

I guess that covers it all. I haven’t watched all of Season 2 yet, and I personally think I should report on it only once all of its episodes have aired, but I’ll keep watching. In the meantime, I’ve at least discussed various aspects that have been ameliorated – many of the flaws of Season 1 were addressed and there was an attempt at correcting them. On top of that, the series started using multi-part episodes, starting with Robots from the Sky (which is split in four parts, from episodes 78 to 81). On top of all that, two new writers joined the team: Ian Flynn, who originally wrote for the various Sonic Archie comic book series (whether it’s Sonic X, the main Sonic series, or the Sonic Boom comic that lasted 10 issues), and Evan Stanley, who also contributed to many of these comic series through penciling, coloring, inking and writing. I’ll be pretty happy to watch through that season when all of its episodes are out! Honestly, I’m eager to see what they’ve got in store for us. Seems like the entire team behind that show wants to deliver a quality product and will do their best to please the fans.

For the sake of mentioning them, what are some of the plots of Season 2 episodes, aside from “The Biggest Fan”?
That's a lot of tails... a lot of Tails.
-Sticks starts a radio channel to discuss her conspiracy theories with the townspeople;
-Sonic is brought into the sea to conquer his fear of water;
-Tails splits himself into multiple copies, with disastrous results;
-Eggman’s robots go on strike;
-Orbot becomes an evil genius, and a genuine threat;
-Knuckles gets a… desk job? I think?;
-We learn more about the village, the one which, despite lacking a name, is the setting for most episodes;
-Eggman’s brother comes by for a visit;
-And the 4-part "Robots From The Sky" series.

Gotta say, i quite like the "Multi-Tails" episode.
"Look at that, I can kick my own ass now!"

Honestly, I can’t wait to check them out. These already look rather promising, and I’ll be happy to watch them!

"Ah, I cannot get anything done, this blue screen and these
white formulas are blocking part of my sight!"
So yeah, Season 1 isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely good.  Best episode of Season 1? “Hedgehog Day”. Worst episode? “Just A Guy”. Yeah, I know, that last one is kinda obvious, you’ve probably read my rant about it in Part 3… Why do I just state these two? Because I really don’t think I could make a Top 12 list of the best episodes, because I would struggle to take away episodes from the list – there are too many good ones. I also doubt I could make a Top 12 list of the worst episodes, because I can’t say there’s 12 legitimately bad episodes in that season – maybe when Season 2 ends? I dunno. The quality has been pretty consistent so far, and while the show’s flaws do exist, and probably some of them still exist in Season 2, they rarely get in the way of the stories the writers tried to tell.

I’m not even sure what else to add, really; this is just a good TV series, go and check it out.

Wave 2 of the onslaught of bad Sonic OCs in 3... 2...
In other Sonic news, some time ago we had these new trailers for Sonic Forces. Looks quite promising; a bad present where Eggman has already succeeded in taking over the world, through some form of time travel, with Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic teaming up to stop the threat. In comes a third hero – an original character. Yep, a customizable character, made from various parts as the player sees fit, picking among the six or seven species available. Every species has an advantage of a sort over the others, usually in a form of physical feats (being able to double jump, having longer mercy invincibility after getting hurt) or in ring collection (keeping one ring when hurt, being able to collect back the lost rings).

That’s something else to look forward to in the Sonic series. The Sonic Boom games were disappointments, so we’re all hoping for a return to form for the franchise. Unlike some Sonic fans out there, I actually have hope for the franchise, despite the many missteps and failed attempts at reinventing the series. Secret Rings, Black Knight, Unleashed, many Sonic games tried something new and didn’t quite succeed. We had Sonic Colors, a genuinely great game, and we had hope again. The franchise isn’t dead, unlike what the worst fans would like you to think.

Maybe this time they'll do the time-travel plot right!
Seriously though, this negative attitude has to stop. The stupid screams of the franchise being dead with every new announcement of an upcoming game… it gets grating. It’s annoying as Hell. And I don’t get why it’s the Sonic FANS who act that way! Yeah, new games have missed the mark, very frequently, but the self-defeating attitude has to end. We’ve got a decent TV show as a tie-in to Sonic Boom, we’ve got Sonic Forces that sounds like a great idea; I’m hopeful. If you’re not, that’s your choice, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but don’t annoy everyone else about it. And enjoy Sonic Boom, the TV show. It's proof that there's still quality entertainment in this franchise.

Well, that was a tangent. Okay, well… See you in the next review. What is it that I have to review… Oh yes! A Nintendo DS game. Urgh… I’ve got only two left, and one of them really doesn’t interest me… better get that one done right away. Next week, Spectral Force Genesis.