Sonic Lost World Review: Same Hedgehog, New Spin
Sonic Lost World is an experiment. At least, that’s the impression I got while playing it. Sonic has been the victim of mediocre games for a long time. With the exception of Sonic Generations, which we should get a sequel to but Sega just refuses, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a Sonic game, and walked away completely satisfied.
Sonic Lost World is not your traditional Sonic game, and that could very well be a huge turn off right away. Sonic obviously has always been about speed and platforming, but that is taken to a different level in Sonic Lost World. Immediately if you have played Super Mario Galaxy, you might cry out copy cat at the end of the first level. In many ways, Lost World is a hybrid of Sonic and Mario elements more than ever before, but there are enough mechanics that make the experience not feel like a blatant rip off.
The story has Sonic teaming up with Dr Eggman after Sonic accidentally destroys a device that Eggman was using to control a few monsters known as The Deadly Six. When Eggman loses control of these monsters, the world known as The Lost Hex becomes in danger of extinction. The story is pretty much what you expect from a Sonic title, but that isn’t a bad thing. The funny but stupid jokes are here, and there are a lot of familiar faces you have grown to love from the Sonic series. The Deadly Six mix things up quite nicely. Each member has their own distinct personality, and their personality plays a role into how you inevitably fight them. The story is what you would expect from a Sonic game, and that is a good thing. We definitely don’t want something along the lines of Sonic falling in love with a girl ever again. The real magic of Sonic has always been in its’ gameplay.
Game play is broken down to a few different level types. There are full on 3D levels that focus on a combination of speed and platforming. Then there are levels that are pure speed and require you to analyze your next move quickly, and then combo levels that have 3D and 2D platforming. The pure 3D levels are the most common, and are broken into sections. Not to bring up Mario once again, but the 3D sections have Sonic running around planet like objects, and he jumps from section to section to progress through levels. Each section consists of doing an objective like killing all the enemies on screen, or run to the end of the section to progress to the next. Each section usually has a few different ways to progress, and some of the branching paths have collectables like Red Rings and extra lives. The speed focused levels focus the camera behind Sonic, and have the simple objective of getting to the end, and is very similar to other games like Sonic Unleashed. The combo levels that have 2D and 3D usually just push sonic into a classic 2D style sonic game for a section or two. These combination levels also use some of the power ups from Sonic Colors, and offer some cool ways to spice up the game from time to time. Having the different styles of play keeps the action varied enough so you don’t get bored just running in one direction. The over world is broken into different themed worlds, and each world has at least one of each type of level. Again, there seems to be a nod towards the Super Mario Series, Each world has its own theme such as ice, forest, and fire.
At first I couldn’t stand Lost World. I was running around constantly getting hit by enemies, combined with being completely lost due to the multiple paths that Sonic can take. After a few hours I stopped trying to playing it like a traditional Sonic title, and that’s when I started to have fun. You cannot Play Lost world just running around and expect to have success. You have to take Lost World at a slower pace at first , and when you learn the new mechanics such as Wall Running and Double Jumping, you will then have the ability to take levels at a faster pace. After you get over the initial learning curve, you will find a game that players will either love or hate.
World design is the most important part of any platforming game, and this is the section where Sonic Lost World is well done, but misses a few steps along the way. Most of the time the worlds are well crafted, and are a blast to play. There is plenty of variety and unique bosses that will keep you playing with a smile on your face. There is also a lot of classic Sonic humor and enemies that will make a veteran feel at home, and the mix up in game play is a much welcome addition in my opinion. Trying new things in the Sonic universe is something that I didn’t know I wanted till I played Sonic Lost World.
Even with the new way Sonic Lost World plays, there are some unexpected levels you will run into that are infuriating to play. The design doesn’t become the issue, but the obstacles that the game throws you. Some enemies cannot be killed with the homing attack, but instead require sonic to perform a bounce kick to weaken them. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but mix in the combination of effects like ice on the floor, or an enemy blowing wind in your face, and you have a recipe for controller chucking madness. Playing levels that have these obstacles require a lot of patience, because as the player you don’t have direct control over what happens, and you will die a few times from the randomness not going in your favor. The reason these issues are such a problem is the level length. Each level for the most part is broken into 4-6 sections, but if you lose all your lives, you go back to the beginning. Dying due to pure randomness and having to replay the same section a few times gets tiring extremely quickly. If Sonic Lost World gets a sequel, the developers should really leave out anything to do with elements that change how the game controls and plays on the fly.
Presentation is an area where Sonic Lost World is a mixed bag as well. While the graphics look crisp and clean, some world obviously got more care than others. While some levels are very detailed and are full of character, others are just feel like a circle of the same assets over and over. The Dessert World was one that just stick outs on my mind instantly. I must of seen the same cupcake and donut 100 times. While it did make my hungry, it was a cheap tactic to make another level without much development time. The music on the other hand, is top notch. I found myself humming a few of the songs after I powered off my Wii U, which isn’t something I have done since singing City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2.
Sonic Lost World is a good game, but lacks some of the polish that you get from an AAA platformer like Super Mario Galaxy. There are some insanely frustrating elements that can halt your enjoyment suddenly, but when Lost World shines you quickly forget the bad parts. If feels as if this is the first time we are getting something new from Sonic, and sometimes you get growing pains when you try new mechanics. If Lost World would of had some more time in development, I feel like this game could of been something big for the Sonic franchise. Sure, there is a lot of borrowed elements from Mario, but sometimes a new spin on an old classic can be something great. If you want a Sonic title that plays different, and offers a harder challenge, then Sonic Lost World is the game for you.