Whenever new Sonic games come out, fans hold their breath and hope that it’s actually good. They did get some good ones recently with titles like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Sonic Dash is also quite alright, if you’re into mobile gaming. But as history has shown us, there are plenty of bad Sonic titles that pop up from time to time. So when Sonic: Lost World was first announced, there was a lot of speculation as to whether it is to be a Sonic game that will either carry on the legacy or falter like many of its predecessors.
Sonic: Lost World is the latest from Sonic Team, and it can be played on the Wii U and 3DS, and it does seem to be promising at first. As with a lot of the newer Sonic games, the presentation is nothing short of pretty. It does look sharp and colorful like a Sonic game should, and animations are pretty smooth overall. The music also isn’t that bad, which isn’t something that can be said about past Sonic games from a few years ago. You may also not care much for Sonic’s brospeak in the cutscenes, and there’s plenty of them here. But at least he’s still Sonic.
As for gameplay, you have Sonic and his super speed, along with his enhanced jumping and other abilities to traverse the various levels and take out . It’s still about collecting rings while getting from start to finish while trying to either evade or take out enemies so they don’t hit you and make you lose your rings. As long as you still have at least one ring, then you’re still in the game. The 2D parts of the game are perhaps the best in this game since they’re mostly like the old games. If you liked Sonic the Hedgehog 4, then you’ll surely be alright with this. The 3D parts though are the weakness, and it takes a big chunk of the gameplay. The levels feature multiple paths, which is usually a good thing since it makes for a need to explore and adds variety.
That may work against its favor though, as it had with its predecessors. As with most 3D Sonic titles, this game suffers the same disease of poor level design. They are made as such that you can never sustain any momentum with Sonic at all, which defeats the premise of going fast and blitzing through a level in a continuous flow. This Sonic game is anything but fast, and that marks yet another notch down for the franchise. Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations were pretty good, but they were attempts to rehabilitate Sonic’s image since the travesty of Sonic 2006, Shadow the Hedgehog, and others.
It seems that for every good Sonic title, there’s a bad one to balance it out. Even Sonic Dash came after Sonic Jump, which isn’t as exciting as first hoped since Sonic is more about running than jumping. You’d think that with how good Sonic Dash was, they could have applied the concepts from there to this game. It also doesn’t help that the controls feel quite awkward, so changing directions and moving around becomes difficult, which takes away even more speed that could make this game play well. Challenge in any game must come from the gameplay elements like enemies and obstacles, not just from janky controls.
It’s a bit sad since Sonic Generations did get the 3D gameplay right, but that’s because the controls were alright and the level design was better done in there. Some people would complain a bit about the physics in classic mode of Sonic Generations, but it’s not enough to make it too bad. What makes Sonic: Lost World not work well in this case is that it feels too much like Mario Galaxy, which doesn’t work as well with a character like Sonic. With Mario, you can be a bit more deliberate with him and address obstacles. Sonic has his speed, which requires a more reactive playing style in order to be fun, so there’s less time to think about how to clear each obstacle. That’s wholly dependent on the level design.
What makes modern iterations of classic games work is how people who had played the old titles get to remember them through the new games. That includes having the same basic gameplay while adding more twists to it in order to keep it fresh while still remaining faithful to its core mechanics. In this case, Sonic: Lost World is trying too many new things all at once to be considered a really . Perhaps why Sonic Team wanted this to not be like Sonic Generations since that previous title was more of a homage to Sonic games gone past on its 20th anniversary, while Sonic: Lost World is a whole new world with a whole new premise and storyline.
In that case, they will have to dig deeper to refine the new Sonic formula. If you don’t mind getting stuck a lot in a 3D platformer, then you can play this game. You could also just get Sonic Colors and enjoy playing that one. But if you really do want to play this one, then you’ll be glad to know that it’s still playable, even if it’s not exactly one of the better Sonic titles in the franchise. At least this isn’t Sonic Freeriders though, thank goodness.
Tested in Wii U. Final Score: 5/10