Sonic Lost World Review: A New Kind of Sonic Game

by David Sanchez November 24, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

Sonic Lost World - Wii U - Feature

Poor ol’ Sonic the Hedgehog has struggled to gain favor with video game players for nearly two decades now. It seems that no matter how good Sega’s intentions may be, the iconic blue critter just can’t seem to star in video games that are widely revered. That’s actually kind of a shame, because endeavors such as Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations were actually pretty great, though Sonic’s track record is almost like a seal of death on the series. Now we have Sonic Lost World, a game that’s quite novel and entertaining. Well, for the most part, at least.

If you decide to give Lost World a shot (and you should), don’t let the initial moments fool you. You’re first treated to the archetypal cheesy cutscene that showcases Sonic and Tails as they attempt to put an end to Eggman’s vile plots of world domination (and ultimately, a greater evil that unites the sworn enemies). The voice acting isn’t so much bad as it is obnoxiously kiddy. It seriously feels like you’re watching a kids’ show at times, which can get a bit annoying. Sega would do well to take a page out of Nintendo’s Mario bible and refrain from including time-consuming story sequences

Sonic Lost World - Wii U - 1

If you fancy yourself a fan of either the aformentioned Colors or Generations, you shouldn’t jump into Lost World with the same expectations of brilliantly speedy gameplay. This game slows things down a lot of the time, but thankfully, that’s not exactly a bad thing. The rotating world mechanics that are undeniably reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy — or those unreleased Sonic X-treme concept videos, if you’re a true series purist — provide one of the most inventive, inviting, and intriguing landscapes in a Sonic game to date.

Regarding the rotating level design, it’s hard not to draw parallels to the Mario Galaxy games. Unfortunately, this gameplay feature isn’t as slick in Lost World as it was in the famous Italian plumber dude’s space adventures. On the plus side, it doesn’t seem like it’s trying to be — Lost World does its own thing, and that’s for the best. This game is unlike other entries in the franchise, which is certainly admirable, but most importantly, the gameplay this time around isn’t just novel; it’s fun, as well

Though you may want to just speed right through at first, you’ll soon find that taking a few moments here and there to enjoy your surroundings will reap some rewards. These come in the form of collectible items, extra lives, or secret paths that encourage multiple playthroughs. The gracefully spinning worlds are almost like a double-edged sword, though, because while there’s certainly a rewarding aspect to exploring, there’s also nothing quite like zipping through a level in a Sonic game. It’s important that you play in a way that’ll ensure your enjoyment, though having to take your enjoyment into account is definitely a glaring caveat.

Truth be told, the best way to enjoy Lost World is to throw all of your previous notions of the blue mascot’s exploits out the window. Enjoy this title for what it is: a new type of Sonic game that brings back some classic series tropes while boldly attempting a few new things. If you accept the fact that this game won’t push the speed barrier like past entries, you’ll be rewarded with several memorable, smile-worthy moments.

Sonic Lost World - Wii U - 2

Returning from Colors are the Wisp power-ups, which make use of the GamePad’s screen. These work well enough, utilizing touch or motion features that are neither incredibly impressive nor terribly dreadful. They’re simply there, providing you with harmless use of the controller in a slightly gimmicky manner. In all honesty, you probably won’t even think about it all that much.

It’s really easy to get into Lost World. Or rather, it should be. The thing is that this game has the potential to grip you and keep you playing, but breaks in the action will cause some amount of frustration. Cutscenes pop up all to often before and after the various stages, and if you’re totally engaged in the high-speed antics of the blue blur, the constant interruptions will rip you right out of your otherwise pleasant experience. It’s a shame, because Lost World is a lot of fun most of the time, and seeing the dialogue-heavy sequences rear their ugly heads is tedious.

Speaking of flaws that disrupt your enjoyment, each level requires that you rescue a preset number of animals before you can advance. At first, that’s not a problem. Later on, however, the higher number of furry and feathered creatures that unlock new stages ramps up quite noticeably, forcing you to replay stages rather than fluidly progressing. This is a completely unnecessary gameplay crutch, and one that’s a hassle at times.

In addition to the main campaign, there are mini-games and multiplayer modes to keep you busy. Well, if you’re into that sort of thing, that is. These diversions are hardly worth caring about, and it’s the main single player story that’ll keep you engaged and provide you with the most fun. That said, some of these mini-games, which utilize the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen, do reward you with more rescued animals, which means your progression woes can be somewhat reduced.

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Two of the shining aspects of Lost World are its visual and audio design. Graphically, the game is gorgeous, and whether you’re playing on your big screen HD set or directly on the GamePad, you’re treated to a wonderful splash of bold and bright colors. The music is also spectacular, and it mixes in with the action flawlessly, giving you a stellar soundtrack to speed, hop, and explore to.

Lost World is a funnily bipolar experience. The bulk of what the game does is great, and whether you’re a longtime Sonic fan or not, there’s a lot to love about this package so long as you don’t expect Genesis-era levels of frantic speed. It’s not quite the Mario Galaxy clone people were likely expecting, but it’s definitely a proper realization of the unreleased Sonic X-treme concept, which honestly didn’t even look like it was going to be that amazing. If Sonic Team can iron out a few nasty wrinkles, there’s no reason the studio shouldn’t stick to the beautifully different and otherwise winning formula presented in Lost World.

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