Sonic Lost World Review
They say the last thing out of Pandora’s box was hope. We gamers live in an eternal state of hopeful desperation don’t we? We want the next game in a franchise to bring back that special, magical feeling we haven’t quite had since the original, all those years ago.
We won’t entertain the idea that maybe what we miss is that time in our lives, the freedom to play all day until you were called for your dinner (Findus Crispy Pancakes), when the only thing you had to apply yourself to was learning the words to Ice Ice Baby and Do The Bartman.
Many Sonic games have tried to bring back the blue blur in a way that will really satisfy our hopes and let us return to those halcyon days.
A couple of titles, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, have come close but ultimately failed to return us to the days of our responsibility-free youth.
Unfortunately Sonic Lost World won’t even offer those who actually are responsibility-free youths much pleasure either. Is all hope lost?
Sonic Lost World’s New Colours
The best thing about Sonic Lost World is its visuals, both in terms of the level designs and the beautifully sharp and colourful graphics.
The backgrounds are less busy than they have been in previous titles, with more simplistic level designs. This was a clever design decision unlocking multiple paths available to Sonic to be easier to spot and allowing the game to run in a smooth 60 frames per second.
Each world is wildly different looking so that, for example, Frozen Factory and Tropical Coast are so distinct they could almost be from different games. No game in the franchise has ever looked this good.
Both the 2D and 3D environments splash into your eyeballs like a rainbow-dappled waterfall of colourful wonder.
The cutscenes also look great, as do all the characters, including Eggman, who you actually team up with to defeat the Deadly Six, out to destroy the world rather than just suck it dry, like lovable old Robotnik wanted.
Take A Saunter With Sonic Lost World
Team Sonic’s idea with Sonic Lost World was to move the franchise on from games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations.
Given that these are pretty much the only two titles to get Sonic right in recent years it doesn’t seem such a clever move to leave behind what makes Sonic great but if it has to be done its going to be done at a blistering speed, right? Wrong.
Instead the basis for the mechanics in Sonic Lost World is to slow the pace right down and introduce a wall running mechanic to make the game feel more like a traditional platformer and to prevent the annoying dead stops those who are a little ‘hard of Sonic’ tend to experience when they miss their mark.
When words like parkour start getting bandied around about a Sonic the Hedgehog game you know the old days are truly gone for good.
Push forward on the stick and Sonic jogs, yeah that’s right, jogs along. That’s your default speed. You can hold down the right trigger for running although it’s still more a leisurely speed than you’ll feel comfortable having Sonic traverse the levels at.
The left trigger engages the spin dash, which helps somewhat.
The pace you want to move at only really occurs though when your using homing attacks and bouncing off jump pads or in the occasional moments when the game takes over and has Sonic do something cool like ricochet from one floating Mario Galaxy-like platform to another or when the screen spins round from 3D into 2D mid level or vice versa.
Worst of all those ‘dead stops’ that the slowed down pace and wall running are meant to combat still happen!
The wall run isn’t infinite so if you aren’t going fast enough when you come up against one you might find yourself sliding down the wall, like hedgehog flavoured flan thrown in anger, only to have to back up and take a spin dash at it again.
In 3D levels there are so many directions to go and so many sticky surfaces, or quicksand areas in the way that everything around you seems determined to slow you down, even boost pads and speedways direct you into enemies and pit falls to bring you up short for daring to try to find a rhythm.
Sonic Lost World – All The Mechanics
There’s a mish mash of mechanics to play with, which at first makes the gameplay feel reasonably varied. However you’ll realise half way through Sonic Lost World that the new ideas are not abating.
You’ll never master any of them as they are tossed out in favour of some novel way of controlling Sonic every few minutes.
The return of the popular wisp powers from Sonic Colors should be good news but there are loads of them, they’re all designed to show off the Wii U gamepad and they’re pretty poorly implemented.
Sonic transforming into a drill, a rocket or an asteroid should be fun but these and all the other wisp powers ultimately involve you waving the Wii U gamepad around in the air awkwardly while swearing at eagles or ineffectively prodding at the screen while trying to see past your own podgy, sweaty fingers.
The 2D levels are classic in design with clever moments of creative flair with nicely varied enemies but 3D levels can involve jumping between planetoids, running through a wide flat world, running forward on a rotating cylinder and rail sliding.
This wealth of variety might have been fun if the mechanics remained the same for all, but Sonic’s momentum is all over the place as is his homing ability. This seems to vary in its responsiveness from one area to the next and makes game over screens a regular occurrence.
You can execute two different attacks while homing in on enemies which happens automatically as you approach them but knowing whether the normal jump attack or new kick attack will work on an enemy isn’t clear and the need to switch between them with perfect timing isn’t fun when just a couple of hits will lose you a life and set you back to a checkpoint.
Sonic Lost World Multiplayer Misery
Misery loves company but your company might not love you anymore once you’ve had them waggle a Wiimote in co-op, where for no reason at all they can be a jet fighter or a helicopter that can fire really slow missiles and float about the screen pointlessly with counter intuitive controls.
You can race a friend too locally with one of you looking at the TV and one at the Wii U gamepad. It works fairly well but the races aren’t fun and you may both find yourself running around aimlessly and helplessly lost until you get bored or happen across the finish line by accident.
Sonic Lost World Review
The story of Sonic Lost World is a perfect reflection of what’s wrong with the gameplay. Loads of Sonic’s friends pop up to say hello, Eggman is helping you, his robots never shut up and you’re fighting six alien enemies, each of whom has their own traits and motives.
There’s too much of it, each plot line and conversation never goes anywhere and everyone is pulling in a different direction.
It plays just the same, too. You’ll never get to grips with one idea before another half thought through one with unreliable mechanics comes along.
In Team Sonic’s attempt to move on from the old days, every new idea has been thrown into the mix and the game slowed down to allow for this.
It’s just not very Sonic and the core of what makes the early games great – speed and simplicity, have been lost in this Lost World.
Version tested: Wii U