Takashi Iizuka Discusses Sonic Frontiers

Takashi Iizuka Discusses Sonic Frontiers

Every time, the stunts are incredible. It’s always enjoyable to run at 100 mph, rocket your way through hoops, and then gracefully arc around a loop. Sonic Frontiers, unfortunately, takes a bit to get there. Sonic and his friends are unintentionally drawn into cyberspace by a wormhole while on a bi-plane excursion to explore the Starfall Islands.

While Amy and Tails are unlucky and end up trapped as holograms, Sonic can flee quickly enough to return to reality. Sonic must travel the islands by opening portals, taking down enemies, and gathering trinkets to return his buddies to normal. Of course, it’s not that easy because Eggman and an AI named Sage work together to obstruct your efforts as you try to solve the deeper secrets surrounding the islands.

The universe is divided into two halves. There are two options: the Starfall Islands themselves, which are a collection of open-world areas for you to explore, and cyberspace, which functions similarly to original Sonic levels and has you zooming toward the target as quickly as you can.

When you first leave cyberspace and enter the real world, you are met by a desolate expanse of grey rock and flat grass. The area feels chilly and lonely at first, but as you move forward, enormous loops and bounce pads are added, transforming the environment into a theme park.

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In all honesty, I would have skipped the beginning and missed out if I hadn’t had to push through it for review. At the three-hour mark, things come together as new rails and paths are added to the map, making navigation much more enjoyable.

At first, Sonic himself seems sluggish. He has a turning circle that feels enormous, which is problematic when there are sharp turns to negotiate when ricocheting around platforms or when trying to find other routes in the more retro-styled acoustic levels. Once you begin locating the bell-shaped Koco animals scattered about the world and returning them to the Elder Koco in exchange for speed boosts, he does begin to move quicker.

Sonic begins to feel as he should once you get the level 7 upgrade. There’s nothing quite like skimming along a rail with sparks flying at your heels before flipping to another and boosting through a series of hoops to reach your objective. He feels so much more graceful to manoeuvre at speed.

slick runnings

Sonic is also quite helpful in battle. Over time, new skills can be added to simple attacks. Elemental foes can be defeated with a few strikes, but the new areas are also populated with giants like those in Shadow of the Colossus, who require more strategy to defeat. Some enemies you may attack by waiting for gaps in their move sets, while others, like the enormous Asura, need you to climb up their bodies to reach their weak spots.

Fighting is strangely appropriate for a game about running. Unfortunately, when you encounter the Titan battle at the end of each region, everything goes to waste. Despite the Titans’ frightening appearance, defeating them requires a confusing mix of setpiece action scenes and free-form flying. Although their size is thrilling, the game’s overall speed feels out of sync with them. An excessive light display leaves you perplexed.

The cyberspace parts, full of vivid colours and enormous loops for Sonic to run through, make up for the lack of spectacle in the overworld. Additionally, they punish. The camera frequently rotates to modify your perspective and running angle.

When you hit foes, you dash to them with an incredible burst of speed, but as soon as they are defeated, you halt completely and must restart your speed buildup. It is best to stay away from them. While running, Sonic’s new Cyloop ability allows you to create routes around objects or foes to do damage or solve puzzles, and it’s a lot of fun.

The currency progression system is a total disaster. It would help if you gathered the Chaos Emeralds to get to any of the Titans. It would help if you first gathered gears to gain the gate keys needed to unlock cyberspace portals. To advance and develop your skills, you’ll also need a tonne of other items, but with so many shiny things to keep track of, it might not be evident where to start.

It’s intended to inspire exploration, but it falls short since the environment isn’t worth investigating in the first place; instead, it makes you feel like you’re being tugged in ten different ways at once. Instead of genuinely looking around, traversal focuses more on testing your abilities and performing wild stunts. That’s not a criticism—moving around Starfall Islands and using the rails feels fantastic—but finding glittery objects isn’t a very compelling reason to do so.

Unfortunately, I did encounter some strange bugs. It was annoying because this is the kind of game you want to use a controller for because the game may become confusing when I had a controller hooked into my PC, making mobility impossible. Although the keyboard controls work well, trying to execute combos during a fight is not as simple. There is also a lot of pop-in, which can surprise you because you won’t know there is a path in front of you to follow until it materialises.

Sonic Frontiers gave me a lot of trouble. The world where this all takes place is flat, even though it feels fantastic to bounce about pinball-like arenas and boost over walls to reach inaccessible regions. Frontiers are difficult to recommend, given how much gets in the way of you being able to enjoy the simplicity of Sonic’s mobility. However, the plot’s drama gives a strong incentive to keep playing.