Sonic Lost World Review: Sonic applies the brakes
Unlike Mario games, which are almost always gold, the Sonic games have their highs and lows. From the terrible Sonic 06, to the much better Colors and then the fantastic Generations, it seemed like Sonic games were finally starting to get better. With that logic, Sonic Lost World should have been an absolute gem, especially considering that Sonic Team has tried its hand at some Mario Galaxy-esque level design. This made perfect sense for a Sonic title exclusive to a Nintendo console.
Unfortunately, Sonic Lost World is definitely a mixed bag.
New controls take some getting used to
You'd think that being familiar with Sonic games would mean controlling Sonic in his latest game would be effortless. It's not. That's largely due to Sonic's slow run being his default. With the press of a trigger, Sonic will shift into a speedier run that allows him to pull off various parkour moves, like running up walls. However, Sonic is still not as speedy as you remember him.
Sonic also has a homing attack that works similarly to ones in previous games. Here, however, pressing the jump button twice doesn't activate it. It instead allows Sonic a secondary 'half' jump, which is unfortunately almost useless. It has the added downside of leaving you vulnerable to attack, since it takes you out of Sonic's ball form. You'll need to jump with B and then do the homing attack with A. It takes some time to get used to, but the worst part is that the homing attack doesn't always work. Even when multiple enemies are outlined, Sonic will sometimes only hit one and then come to a unexpected stop, only to be hit by the other enemies.
Then there's Sonic's new jump kick, which also brings Sonic to a complete stop only to kick an enemy mid-air. Why Sonic needs this move is unknown to me, but something that a slower running Sonic could certainly do without is a move that makes him stop.
Returning are Sonic's Color Powers, which for the most part are pretty fun to use. Familiar ones like Rocket and Laser make a return, but Sonic also has access to a few new ones like Asteroid, which turns him into a floating rock, and turns every level obstacle into tiny particles that revolve around him. Every power also utilizes the Wii U GamePad. Asteroid requires you to tilt the GamePad to steer Sonic in a direction, and Laser will have you drawing a path with the stylus, allowing Sonic to speed through specific segments of a level.
Blue Blur no more
As mentioned, Sonic's movement has been slowed down for the sake of the game mechanics, but doing so has hurt the overall experience. The worst part is that the game teases you with various high speed sequences that unfortunately don't amount to much more than scripted events that are over way too soon.
There are occasional levels where Sonic will be running down vertically. These are certainly one of the best experiences in the game, and I wish there were more.
The level designs matter, Sega!
The great thing about Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel was the insane amount of variety in its levels. Exploring each level and finding hidden items felt extremely satisfying. Lost World attempts this, but it doesn't fully succeed. There are some standout levels that are extremely fun to run through, but on the flipside, there are an equal amount of frustrating levels full of unnecessary pitfalls. When you combine this with Sonic's new control layout, it'll surely lead to players falling to their deaths more than intended.
Like Generations, the game does a good job at shifting the game from 3D levels to 2D levels. This is certainly welcome, but the level design problems remain. Unlike Generations (which just so happened to showcase remakes of classic Sonic levels), Lost World doesn't retain a steady momentum in each level. There are far too many times when your run is abruptly stopped. In a Sonic game, that's a problem.
The only thing the levels have going for them is their look. Seriously, they're all gorgeous! Since you'll be stopping relatively often with Sonic, you might as well take in the sights.
Sonic has never looked better
There are no doubts about it: Sonic Lost World is a gorgeous game. Displaying at a full 1080p and 60 fps, it's hard not to drool while playing it. The levels themselves are almost all gorgeous to look at. The first time you see the vibrant level of Windy Hill, you'll certainly get a blast of both nostalgia and wonder when you see how it blends the classic Sonic look with a completely modern layout.
Aside from the gorgeous graphics, the color palette brings everything together. I even love the designs for the Deadly Six. If only they weren't such push-overs.
The Not-so-Deadly Six
Kid's game or not, Sonic games have always offered relatively challenging boss fights. This is not really the case here. The Deadly Six, who have been hired by Dr. Eggman to get rid of Sonic, aren't really all that threatening.
The 2D Boss Battles especially are a joke. It's as if the developers have never played or even seen a 2D Sonic Boss Battle. The enemies are far too predictable with movements and so slow it's laughable. Things do get better in 3D Battles, but they're not much harder. The only aspect that saves it is the creativity and the use of various Color Powers. One battle has you fighting on tiny planets. In order to get from one to another, you have to use the Rocket Power to zoom between them.
It's hard to tell who this game is supposed to appeal to. Classic Sonic fans will undoubtedly be a little put off with Sonic's new moves, lack of speed and the awkwardness of level designs. On the other hand, kids will breeze through the Deadly Six, but may find the levels themselves too hard due to unfortunate pitfalls.
It's certainly not the worst Sonic game you can get your hands on, but unless you're a die-hard Sonic who lives and breathes the Blue Blur, you might find the changes in Sonic Lost World a little off-putting.