Sonic The Hedgehog has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows throughout his career as one of gaming's most recognizable mascots.
After a flood of games that slowed down the Blue Blur’s steady progress, two recent entries managed to build up some of the goodwill needed to set Sonic back in place – Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Now, we have a Wii U exclusive title that looks to keep repairing Sonic’s tarnished image. Does it manage to bring back Sonic to his former glory? Eh, not really…
Before we get to the less likable parts of this release, let’s applaud its finer aspects first. Sonic Lost World is downright gorgeous. The 60 FPS output of this title keeps everything running smoothly as you make your way through some truly wonderful landscapes. Each world that you run around in maintains its own theme, which keeps you invested since you’ll want to see what each stage has to offer. The Green Hill-like world and the Casino Night-esque stages will tug at your nostalgic heart, while the candy planet and winter snow land-themed levels will present something new to gawk at. Sonic’s world travels take him to some colorful and wide-open expanses that you’ll no doubt enjoy staring at. The audio adopts a healthy mix of orchestral tracks, which make sense for this type of global adventure.
So the visuals and audio perform admirably. What about the game itself? Well, that’s where things start to diminish a bit. It’s easy to see that Sonic Lost World took several elements from the Super Mario Galaxy series. Hopping from planet to planet and maneuvering around a globe/cylinder-like stage will instantly feel familiar to those who’ve played Mario’s previous Wii titles. The originality factor is surely lacking here. As for how Sonic controls, he feels a bit off this time around. Moving the left analog stick puts Sonic into a light jog animation, while holding onto the right trigger lets Sonic enter into his faster dashing animation. Sonic’s accelerated running just doesn’t feel as fast and fluid as it was in Colors and Generations.
Sonic has a host of new moves that widen his repertoire, too. Some of them feel right, such as the spin dash and the homing attack. The newly added wall run doesn’t feel as tight as it should be though. Running along walls looks cool, but pulling it off without landing on a row of spikes or falling over a cliff is pretty darn difficult. I found myself sticking to those paths that were devoid of too many traps/hazards/enemies. Doing that allows players to enjoy some moments of true Sonic The Hedgehog speed runs. It’s unfortunate that some of the stages take away that sense of speed, thanks to mediocre puzzles and tiresome platforming sections. The stages may look nice, but some of their archaic designs suck a bit of the fun out of actually playing them.
The plot is typical Sonic fare, so there’s not much story here to invest in. The voice actors for familiar characters such as Knuckles and Dr. Eggman sound fitting as usual, but the new Deadly Six crew manage to become one of the more annoying characters in this entry. Their quips during boss fights are face-palm worthy and facing off with them tends to be more of a chore than a good time. You’ll dread facing off with them and you’ll want to rush back to the wide open 3D levels in no time. Speaking of levels, the 2D sections feel a tad bit off too. They don’t maintain that classic sense of speed/platforming that Generations reintroduced, which is really a disappointment.
Two players can enjoy either one of two methods at a time. The co-op mechanic (a second player uses remote-controlled gadgets to attack onscreen enemies) isn’t as useful as it sounds. You’ll be much better off doing the attacking yourself, since Sonic’s fast movement won’t give you many chances to put your friend’s gadgets to good use. The traditional two-player racing mode returns here, which is a much better option for local players. These multiplayer sections of the game are nothing more than slight diversions you won’t pay much attention to though.
Sonic Lost World could have been one of the better Sonic games released during the dawn of the next gen. It looks great, the musical score sounds fitting and some of the game’s 3D sections perform admirably. What holds this game back from greatness is Sonic’s awkward movement, some of the game’s slower stages (the Super Monkey Ball-like snowball stage is painfully boring) and the annoying Deadly Six members.
Diehard Sonic fans (such as myself) have grown accustomed to being let down again and again. Sonic Lost World isn’t horrible; it simply doesn’t perform as good as the game it lifted its overall theme from. It’s time to go back to the drawing board, Sega.