As with Sonic Lost World before it, Sonic Boom is getting entirely different versions on the Wii U and 3DS. Unlike Lost World, this 3DS version--called Shattered Crystal--could actually be awesome. Sanzaru's handheld take on the rebooted Sonic cast combines Sonic themes old and new, with gorgeous 2D levels and the ability to swap between characters on the fly. And with a single hands-on demo, it reminded me of the true magic of the Sonic series: levels that induce a wonderful sense of exploration, with their myriad twists and turns all leading to the same end goal.
Shattered Crystal uses many of the Wii U Sonic Boom's basic concepts, like energy whips used to swing over obstacles and constant character switching between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and boomerang-chucking newcomer Sticks. While these mechanics can feel a little stilted in a 3D environment, they're a joy when confined to a 2D plane. The standard levels are enormous, conveying a sense of exploration that’s on par with most Metroidvanias, with tons of different paths gated by specific party members' abilities. If you've played Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, you're probably familiar with Sanzaru's unrivaled talent for packing an absurd number of secrets and demanding challenges into an accessible, kid-friendly platformer. When you're not searching through every nook and cranny of the wide-open levels, you'll be zooming through Tempest-esque "tube" stages or pitting Sonic against his cohorts in amicable races.
Unlike Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal had me captivated at first play. If the final product can deliver the same magical sense of exploration and variety across multiple worlds, this could be a Sonic game that easily rivals Mario's 2D adventures in terms of sheer fun factor.
Check out the following screenshots for additional info!