For a Sonic fan, Sonic Lost World has all the ingredients for the perfect Sonic game. It is like someone at Sega has listened to the fans and delivered. Lost World is trying really hard to be a fresh but classic take on Sonic and no doubt a lot of thought and TLC went into making it. So how does work out?
Since the 3D Sonic era began its safe to say no game has got things quite right. Gameplay issues aside, none of them ever felt true to blue hedgehogs roots; Things might have to change but they played around with things far too much. Lost world is of course nothing like the 2D Sonic games, but everything about it from the inclusion of past enemies to its choice in tone, sound and visual style hits all the right notes with this long time Sonic fan. The music feels so utterly Sega and so 90’s, it feels as if it belongs. It’s great to hear plenty of classic sound effects too. All nods to the past the recreated right as well; No lame attempts to modernise them, they represent the original designs well. Lost World is made in true spirit of the original Sonic games. It however is by no means dwelling in the past.
It’s not just that it strikes the right style for Sonic. That style is surprisingly diverse across its respectful quantity of levels. Nothing is overused, plenty is new, and if you’re not much of an explorer there’s a whole lot to miss as well: Back with bang is the choice of direction you take throughout a level. While never absent from any Sonic game, with Lost World there’s a strong freedom in direction, alternate routes are blatant to choose from, it’s not about alternate routes being hidden or necessarily hard to reach.
The gameplay is delightfully varied too. Lost World certainly doesn’t neglect Sonic’s 3D roots either. It utilises the many different gameplay styles the series has developed over the years within and beyond its new Mario Galaxy-style level designs. Some are typical 3rd person 3D Sonic levels. Some are classic side-scrolling action in the 2.5D style and other levels alternate between 3D and 2.5D. Others play in a style reminiscent to several kinds of classic special stages while other levels take away most of the speed and are platformer/objective based.
Then there are levels which are almost entirely rail grinding, and these sum up a lot of what Sonic Lost World gets right. Rails have been loathed by some sonic fans, at times they have littered sonic games to the point it felt like Sonic had become all about rails. But they weren’t always boring, and here in Lost World, rails are done the right way. They are pretty much absent from the game except for when you occasionally get a near all-rails level, and instead of being a nuisance they are a welcomed change of pace and are gone again long before they get boring. Rails end up standing out as a nice diversion. Lost World’s diversity means that for any faults you accuse it of, you can’t accuse it of doing the same thing over and over again.
They also haven’t done too bad on the story either. Voice acting is decent for a Sonic game and it can be genuinely amusing at times. I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, but it can make you chuckle for sure. And as stories go, it was good to see Sonic and Tails have a completely different dynamic with Robotnik. This time they are somewhat on the same side as each other and it allows for a different dynamic within the story resulting in what feels like some genuine character development. I must confess to being a fan of Eggman’s new robot henchmen too who are responsible for most of the laughs, they are my favorite new contributions to the Sonic character roster probably since Tikal and Shadow.
But here comes the bad bits….
The problem is the controls are not very good. It’s not that they don’t work, but it will not play how you want it to play. Sonic should turn a little bit sharper, he should jump a little further, the wall running is frustrating to execute, it all feels a bit sluggish. In reality it’s largely a case of learning how this game is supposed to be played, because in many cases once you’ve got adjusted things work pretty much fine, but sadly they still don’t feel quite right. To pull many things off you have to be so particular it ruins the flow.
The colour powers are a bit of a let down too. Odd because they worked fine in Sonic Colours, I was happy to hear they were returning, but something went wrong with them here. Some seem totally pointless, others just feel broke. The drill is still good fun, but that’s about it. On the topic of Sonic Colours, I have to say that game came within an inch of nailing how a 3D Sonic game should play, and while there’s nothing wrong with the intent with Lost World, it’s strange that it manages to take such a frustrating step back in the controls department.
My big pet hate with this game is the wisps that are delivered to you. It’s not that it’s a bad idea but you end up wanting to turn the feature off because it’s just gets in the way. It’s takes up a stupid amount of loading time and invariably you end up having to deal with something you’re not interested in when you want to get on with playing. But you can turn it off, so I can get over it!
Lost World had all the ingredients for a perfect and fresh Sonic game, it’s just not playing quite right. It’s a shame, because this game is begging to be loved it’s no cynical re-use of a franchise, it has tried hard to move the franchise forward and please Sonic fans
If you’re a Sonic fan you’re not likely to regret buying it, and there’s definitely been many far worse Sonic games, ‘Heroes’ ‘Dark Knight’ ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ for 360/PS3 come straight to mind. Lost World ranks no lower than 5th best 3D sonic game from my perspective. The other positive I want to stress is that Lost World feels like it understands Sonic better than any game since the 16-bit era.
I don’t not recommend Lost World, but I’m not about insist anyone buy it. The demo available on the e-shop is a good taste-test if you’re contemplating buy it. At any rate, if you see it going cheap in a sale it’s defo worth the chance.