“Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal” – The Blind Review
With the Sonic the Hedgehog film releasing this week, I thought it would be a swell time to throw up a review of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. Sure, it was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2014, but this isn’t really a “retro review”, is it? Maybe I could coin a phrase and call it a “Backlog Review”?
Pheh. Who cares…
In any case, the problem now is that you’ve likely seen everything you need to know about whether Shattered Crystal is a good game for you to pick up. What else could I possibly add? Honestly, not a whole heck of a lot. Sure, the music ain’t great, collecting unlockables is cool, a prequel comic is included, and the cinematic interludes are genuinely funny.
So, instead of doing a full review of the game, I’ve decided to get a completely fresh perspective on Shattered Crystal from someone whose voice is rarely heard in the gaming community. And no, it’s not a woman’s perspective, or the black perspective, or the gay perspective. That’s right. It’s time for us all to embrace…
…The BLIND perspective.†
I gave a copy of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal to some blind dude named Dan who I met at the YMCA. Let’s give him a call, shall we?…
The Spintering: Hello! Thanks for joining us, Dan, Dan, the Can’t-See-Shit-Man!
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Hey, so is this The Splinteri-? You know m- name is actual- Jason…
TS: Yeah, whatever. So, Can’t-See-Shit-Dan, so… Let’s talk some Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal…
TS: Yeah, I’m here, I’m here. Hello?
TS: You sound muffled. Are you talking into the right side of your phone? It’s just…
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Sorr- man, you know I can’t s- shit. The- we go.
TS: No, that…
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Is th- bett-?
TS: Not really.
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: How abo- tha-?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Aw, man, I can’t see SHIT!!!
TS: Jesus! I knew you were blind but I didn’t realize you were fucking retarded.
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Hey! You can’t say ‘retarded’.
TS: As if that’s really the most offensive thing that’s going on right now. Can I say fucktard?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Yeah, I think that’s okay.
TS: Okay then, you’re fucktarded. Anyway. Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. You’ve been playing the game, CSSD, and you’re ready to give us all the definitive perspective of the blind community, right?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: Blind people aren’t really a community, I mean-
TS: Jesus! Just tell us about the fucking game!
TS: How far did you get?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: I don’t know. I think it was way too hard for me.
TS: There we go. Blind Perspective Point One: Way too difficult. That surprises me. Game journalists have been telling us for years that all you have to do when you play a Sonic game is “press right to win.” Did you try that?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: You told me about that, and I did try, but that didn’t work.
TS: Oh. My. God. Blind Perspective Point Two: You can’t push right to win.
Can’t-See-Shit-Tim: Well, wait- Maybe it’s working, I don’t know. It’s tough for me to tell what to do-
TS: Is it the 3D effect? Does the 3D effect change your experience as a blind person?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: What? I can’t see shit! What 3D effect?
TS: Blind Perspective Point 3: No 3D effect. Of course you tried playing Sonic Boom without the 3D effect turned on right? What did you think about the graphics in general?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: I don’t know.
TS: What do you mean you don’t know?
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: I can’t see SHIT! I don’t see anything!
TS: What are you talking about? Nothing?!
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: That’s what I’m telling you! I can’t see SHIIIIIIT!
TS: Blind Perspective Point 4: NO graphics. Thanks Dan, you’ve enlightened us regarding the blind perspective on Sonic Boom.
Can’t-See-Shit-Dan: I still have some other stuff to say about-
TS: Thanks, CSSD, bye.
Can’t-See-Shit-Tim: Wow. You’re really an asshole, whoever you are. Your website sucks.
TS: Come say that to my face, you fucktarded bitch!
There you have it, dear readers. Let’s review Can’t-See-Shit-Dan’s points on the blind experience playing Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal.
- Blind Perspective Point 1– Too difficult
- Blind Perspective Point 2– You can’t push right to win
- Blind Perspective Point 3– No 3D effect
- Blind Perspective Point 4– No graphics
It’s pretty clear, from these points, that Can’t See Shit Dan would have given Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal the absolute worst possible rating.
And all I really have to say is this… Shame on you, SEGA. Shame on you for not making Sonic Boom games accessible to the blind community. Clearly game companies in our society can try harder to ensure that everything they produce is equally enjoyable to people who can’t experience the visual aspects of an audio-visual medium like video games.
Now, I’ll list a few more of my own 20/20, able-sighted thoughts on Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal below.
Still with us?
With any luck, you enjoyed the interview above, and I hope that we all learned from someone in our lesser-privileged, handicapable community. My own thoughts?
To make a few additional points, I found the character-swapping mechanic to be rather seamless, and being able to switch characters on the fly was a nice touch. Adding Sticks as a playable character also helped set this game apart from other Sonic titles, and her boomerang was a unique addition to the game.
There’s a bit of variation in the stages, too, which helped break up the action a bit. In addition to the standard side-scrolling levels, Sonic races against boss characters in an auto-running, behind-the-back parkour stages, which are all rather fun, though perhaps a bit on the easy side.
To add a couple of gripes, the stage backgrounds and settings aren’t very inspired. There’s not much life or charm to the stage designs, and that goes for many of the enemy designs, as well. This may not have been quite as noticeable if the stages weren’t so long, so painfully long, at times. Sure, you can cruise through many of them rather quickly, but did you collect everything necessary to progress to the next stage? If you didn’t, you have to go back, and hunting around for everything you missed gets to be a bit of a chore. Truth be told, I even got lost once or twice, spending nearly half an hour in one stage just trying to get back out. Maybe I’m old and confuse easily, or maybe each stage didn’t need to be its own mini-Metroid adventure.
The foundations for a successful, new take on Sonic are present in Shattered Crystal. Yeah, this review probably comes far too late for anyone looking for help in making the decision to buy the game, but I do think it was a fun primer setting up the later release of the 3DS sequel, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice. Honestly, the reception of Shattered Crystal was probably hurt by its simultaneous release with the more highly-derided Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U.
Thanks for reading!
†Note: It has come to my attention that the term “perspective” is triggering to the vision impaired. That is all. I just thought I would mention that it had come to my attention.