It’s nice when a game takes one fundamental concept and focuses on it. Mario, for instance, is at its core a game about jumping. Pokemon’s a game about collecting. Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog, meanwhile, when he’s not starring in hit movies, is ostensibly a game about running fast but it’s actually about spikes and bottomless pits. You’re meant to go so fast you’ll accidentally run into these things, learn to avoid them, and repeat. It’s kind of how these games work.
That might be a little tougher when the Blue Blur enters an open-world like we see in Sonic Frontiers, though. You’d think speed plus space = just the right balance of sweet and tasty, right?
Dr. Robotnik…err, Eggman is at it again! This time he’s out to conquer the Starfall Islands, a floating archipelago packed with adventure and danger. It’s also packed with nodes linking the Islands to Cyber Space, a digital dimension all its own that has its own mysteries to discover. Sonic and pals end up separated as they try to stop the Eggster, so it’s up to our hero to save the day, the islands, Cyber Space and Sega’s financial future once again.
Did you like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Well, good news – so did the entire video game industry! That’s why we’ve got another take on it every other month or so these days, and this time it’s Breath of the Hedgehog. Sonic Frontiers takes the blue blur and yanks him into the openest of worlds for your exploring, zooming, and collecting pleasure. Go wherever your heart desires, grabbing all the goodies and beating up all the baddies along the way. Plus, you’re Sonic, so you’re going to go and grab and beat pretty quickly. Something to be said for the guy’s efficiency.
The Starfall Islands are packed with things to do, most of which involves doing the stuff you’ve come to expect from the modern Sonic titles. Rail-grinding? Check. Racing around against the clock? Yup. Mashing boost to win? Got it. Engaging in melee-based combat against a variety of spooky monsters? Well, that’s kind of new, but it’s here as well. You’re not going to run out of content anytime soon, what with friends to rescue, bosses to bash and treasure to collect, so dig in.
Your main goal is to look for and stock up on Chaos Emeralds, which is pretty par for the course for a Sonic game, but there’s a lot to do in the meantime. In particular, the Cyber Space stages stand out as a callback to classic 3D Sonic games like Sonic Colors. Mastering these courses and maxing out your ranking is as satisfying as ever, so you might find yourself dumping more hours into these otherwise-simple areas than expected.
The Sonic stuff works basically as well as you’d expect, but how about the combat? It’s surprisingly decent, actually – Sonic’s got punchy fists and the classic Homing Attack to start but rapidly gains new skills as you collect Skill Points. You’ll almost immediately have access to the Cyloop, which is similar to the Paraloop attack of Nights into Dreams (another Yuji Naka creation) fame. Run in a circle with the enemy at the center and you’ll emit an energy pulse that’ll dish out some hurt, though you can also Cyloop other things to find Rings, treasure and more.
It’s a pretty satisfying move that’ll likely be a staple of your gameplay. Later skills include advanced melee combos, projectile attacks and more, so you’ll consistently add to Sonic’s arsenal as you go.
Speaking of combat, the highlight of Sonic Frontiers’ gameplay is definitely its boss battles. You’ll find yourself facing off against some big, mean baddies in some impressive set piece fights with glorious music to match. You’ll put the Chaos Emeralds you’ve been collecting to work here, so as you might imagine things are pretty over-the-top – Dragon Ball fans won’t be disappointed.
Anyone looking for some solid presentation also won’t be disappointed, since Sonic Frontiers looks and sounds great on capable PCs and consoles. The music is very good stuff indeed, as mentioned, and Frontiers’ graphics aren’t anything to complain about as well. Even the Switch version, while lacking much of the detail and silky-smoothness of other versions, pulls some decent frames given the age of the platform, so any option’s a good one.
Fans of the fastest rodent alive and newcomers alike ought to check out Sonic Frontiers. It’s a high-speed open-world adventure that demonstrates Sonic can really jam when he’s given a little more freedom and space to roam. Combine that with some great monster designs, amazing boss battles, solid combat and a top-notch soundtrack and you’ve got a winner. Just don’t forget to bring some chili dogs.