Oh Sonic, you and I have had a weird relationship. In your infancy I was amazed at your Blast Processing and speed. You wowed me with Sonic Adventure, then; well then you ripped my heart out of my chest and introduced a Werehog…seriously. Sonic may be one of the most beloved characters in gaming, but his titles are also the most sporadic. Sonic Team has recently been on an upward trend with the likes of Generations and of course Colors before it, but the sting is still there. Lost World once again delivers a solid outing, but not without plenty of problems of its own.
Dr. Eggman is at it again, and this time he has stolen a device that controls a formidable force known as the Deadly Six. Of course conflict has to be instigated, thus Eggman loses this device, allowing the Deadly Six to run amok. This is where Sonic and his trusted furry friend Tails come in. It still creeps me out that Tails has a proper name…Miles. That aside this is the catalyst for the adventure, and it works in that goofy Sonic fashion.
It is impossible to discuss Lost World without making a reference to Mario Galaxy. A lot of the level design here is comprised of that 360 degree mechanic. Sonic is barreling down the level, while being able to run completely up walls, or around them like a planet. It is a nice nod, and one that sticks out more considering it is only on a Nintendo console.
Not every level is like this though. There are traditional 2D levels, which have Sonic running left to right, performing classic actions and some mild platforming. There are also flying segments and mini-games that involve the Wii U Gamepad, neither of which are really engaging or fun.
Every level does sprinkle in some new ideas and features though which keeps things interesting. The snowball level, for example, turns the game into a sort of Monkey Ball-esque experience, while the infamous casino level once again spins Sonic into a giant pinball machine. There is never a lack of variety in what I was doing in Lost World, I just wish it was more polished all around.
One example of the problem is how Sonic traverses the world. Tilting the analog stick forward causes him to trot along at a casual pace. This is Sonic, he is fast. Holding down the right trigger causes him to burst into his normal breakneck speed, but it also causes him to run up walls, or any vertical surface he comes into contact. This can be troublesome in some levels when I would get stuck on a surface, only to slide down and lose my momentum. It sucks the core idea right out of the game.
Then comes the jumping. It simply feels short, and almost any significant maneuver requires a double jump, which feels awkward. Jumping also kills some of Sonic’s momentum when moving forward. I understand why that is, but it is disorienting when I was barreling down an area at blistering speeds, only to have it die out because I needed to jump over an obstacle.
When things work though, those Sonic moments shine through. There are also the classic segments where the game takes over, and simply holding forward treated me to a showcase of spins, loops and jumps. This is the Sonic I remember, even if it is more on-rails than I wanted to admit.
One last gripe about archaic design before I move on; why do some developers feel the need to include lives in these games? It is an expired design that rarely has any effect on the game itself. Running out of lives in Lost World doesn’t end the game, it just forces players to start the level over from the beginning. Considering most levels are not exactly epic endeavors, it is hardly a punishment and I rarely felt the need to care how many I had.
Lost World also implements the two-player co-op style mode in the Wii U version. This essentially gives the second player access to gadgets and items they can use to attack enemies for Sonic. This is pointless. Most of the time, the game moves so fast that the second player has little impact on the overall experience. Instead, they just get bored or frustrated. I appreciate the idea, but would never play it outside of testing it out for the review.
One area I loved about Lost World was how it looked. Levels are pretty to look at, even if some of them are poorly designed. The colorful areas jump off the screen, and it runs at a blistering 60 frames per second. This is a gorgeous game that delivers on speed and performance. Music is equally impressive with the classic tunes that simply fit the Sonic motif. I was humming along with most of them when I had to return to areas to grind for progression.
Sonic: Lost World is a solid game that simply tries to do too much. The variety keeps things entertaining, but also frustrating at the same time. Still it is a step in the right direction. Wii U owners are starved for games, and this one is definitely one they should check out. It has its moments of brilliance, and is a treat for Sonic fans.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.