‘Sonic Frontiers’ Opens a World of New Expectations for Franchise

Video Game Review

Brett Wilson, Staff Writer

Do you need speed? A change of pace? Plenty of epic music? Then “Sonic Frontiers” is the game for you. The previous Sonic games weren’t well made, at least the ones made by Sega, the company behind franchises such as “Sonic The Hedgehog” and “Yakuza.” 

“Frontiers” is an open-world game, which allows you to be more immersed in Sonic’s world. Fans have been asking for a proper open-world Sonic game for years, because if your character’s whole thing is super speed, then a huge map is the perfect setting for it. It’s kind of hard to believe that it took 31 years. 

One of the game’s best changes is the new combat system. Originally Sonic would just curl into a ball and smash into enemies over and over by hitting one or two buttons, but now, Sonic has access to an entire skill tree full of attacks and combos to give you a more immersive experience. The skill tree is small and easy to progress through. Most enemies will drop Skill Points, and with enough points, you can get new skills. To aid in combat, you can parry attacks to make a window to counter.

Sonic can be upgraded in multiple ways. The first way is collecting small stone creatures around the maps called Koco. Bringing them to Elder Koco, you can choose either speed or ring count. I like upgrading speed more, since there’s no such thing as too fast, and there isn’t a huge need to increase ring count, as you start the game with a max of 400 rings, which is more than enough. 

The other stats you can upgrade are damage and defense. They’re upgraded by collecting fruits around the map. Both stats will be upgraded simultaneously and increase according to how many fruits you have. The final way of upgrading is with Hermit Koco. He can also upgrade speed or ring count, but to upgrade one category would be at the expense of the other. 

As for the story, Sonic, Tails, and Amy come to these islands because the chaos emeralds were drawn there for unknown reasons. Doctor Eggman came to this island because of the ancient technology known as cyberspace. I think the story works out pretty well, while having some issues here and there, it does make for a fun campaign. I think one of the things I like the most about the story is that as you progress through the levels, you learn more about the ancient civilization that used to live there, and how they used the emeralds.

As most Sonic fans probably know, once Sonic collects all 7 chaos emeralds, he unlocks the ability to turn into Super Sonic. His super form increases his speed, and strength, making him pretty much invincible. You’re only able to turn super 4 times through the whole game, one for each boss fight. The bosses, while difficult, are incredibly entertaining to fight as super Sonic with the new combat system. I believe the majority of the changes and choices for the game were smart. However, there are still many flaws to it.

One big flaw is the game is very vague about what you need to do. While open-world games don’t hold your hand the whole way through, they don’t indicate how to get to certain objectives, which gets very frustrating on island 3. Another major flaw would be the fact that every time you defeat a boss, you lose the chaos emeralds and need to find them all over again, as it is part of the story, for the plot I guess. It is understandable so you don’t end up making the game too easy, but it’s just annoying and frustrating since you have to do it 4 separate times.

Another annoying issue is unlocking more of the map screen. Normally that isn’t an issue in most games, but it’s the fact that when you do unlock more of the map, you barely get any view of it, it only unlocks a small portion of the map. And since you’re Sonic and are going incredibly fast, this means the maps are huge, so only unlocking tiny tidbits at a time is troublesome, as you have to get keys to unlock them every single time, and just tiring.

 One more issue is once again about how vague the game is, but not with what was already described, it’s actually during the boss fights. There isn’t any indication of how to fight a boss, you just kind of have to guess and go, if you have enough rings you’ll eventually figure it out but still, some don’t even let you have enough rings to survive long enough. Sonic is all about speed, as everyone knows, however, some stages are either all 2D, meaning it’s a single side-scrolling camera angle, or have occasional 2D segments, but in both cases, Sonic moves unbearably slow, even while using the boost move to increase speed.

The final two problems I’ve found with the game are when you have beaten the final boss, the game will do the same thing as “Sonic Unleashed” and leave you at a point before the fight. So you don’t get a proper feeling of completion. The second issue is the final boss. The fight is extremely short and all you have to do is hit one button 3 times at the right moment. That is all you do. There is a secret ending where you fight the “real” boss, but it’s just a minigame that transitions into the same hit-the-button segment, and the minigame is pretty much like “Space Invaders.” 

“Sonic Frontiers,” despite its flaws, is still an incredibly fun game and I recommend picking it up if you’re a fan. Overall, the game was a good change of pace and a needed addition to the Sonic series. Hopefully, in the future, more open-world Sonic games are released and improved upon after this one.