Sonic: Lost World Review
The early levels are promising; Most of the 2D sections are enjoyable; Taking out several enemies at once with homing attacks can feel satisfying
The camera is bad; Most levels are confusing and dull; The boss battles are laughably awful; The cutscenes are ugly and dumb; Tutorial messages constantly bring the game to a halt
Super Boring Galaxy
I’m not ashamed to let anyone within earshot know that Sonic the Hedgehog 2Â is one of my favorite games. I’ve completed it at least 150 times in my lifetime (including another playthrough from October). I never really did enjoy or get into any of the other Sonic Â games as much as I did it (who can blame me lately?). When I heard that Sonic: Lost WorldÂ would be a new direction for the Blue Blur, I got all nostalgic and excited. Well, sometimes nostalgia clouds my better judgment. Lost World Â is attempting to be some sort of Super Mario Galaxy Â clone, but it fails miserably.
Dr. Robotnik (not Eggman) is at it again, and by “it” I mean “kidnapping forest creatures.” While Sonic and Tails are pursuing him in an airplane, they crash land on a strange floating world called the Lost Hex, which is the “lost world” mentioned in the title. There Robotnik discovers a group called the Deadly Six and starts to control them with a magical conch. This of course leads to a bunch of bad stuff happening. The story is too muddled for its own good and never really makes sense (in case the words “magical conch” didn’t clue you in). The old Sonic cartoons had better writing in them, and that’s just kind of…sad.
Lost WorldÂ does indeed differentiate itself from otherÂ Sonic Â games by featuring some drastic gameplay modifications. Lost WorldÂ relies more on exploration than any other game in the series ever has. Every level begins with a 20-minute time limit, which seems like it’s going to be more than enough early on when Sonic can easily blaze through levels in his trademark way. However, later on levels start to become more and more confusing. Then the time limit starts to seem like it’s not long enough, and it isn’t (more on that in the “Issues” section below).
The environments in Lost WorldÂ are massive, even on the 3DS. Power-ups, rings and extra lives are hidden in holes, on top of tall structures and in all sorts of nooks and crannies. At any moment the game can transition from a sprawling landscape into 2D sections, which are tiny reminders of the past. Some levels are very straightforward. Others feel like giant puzzles. Lost World Â is undoubtedly filled with variety.
Sonic still jumps on enemies to defeat them after all these years, and he still has his recently-adopted homing attack at his disposal. In Lost WorldÂ tapping a button on the 3DS causes Sonic to bounce from enemy to enemy to enemyâ€”nine or 10 or more in a row sometimes. Not all enemies are that simple to defeat, however. Some of them will damage Sonic if he attempts to attack them in a way that the game deems inappropriate (more on that later as well).
Graphics & Sound
Lost WorldÂ is nothing if not bright and colorful and vibrant and all those other words usually used to describe how games look on Nintendo consoles. The levels look pretty good on the 3DS aside from some of the character models. However, the cutscenes are hideous. They are obviously super duper compressed and are blurry as hell. It doesn’t help that the characters speak during them either because the voiceover work is unsurprisingly awful. At least the music is pretty decent, although it too seems as if it was borrowed from a Mario game.
Remember those early previews of Lost WorldÂ that were talking about how good the first few levels of the game are? They are good. Then everything changes. The developers made the foolish decision to slow Sonic down. It wouldn’t be a problem in a less poorly designed game. Nearly everything in Lost World Â screams “How Not to Make a Platformer 101”.
Levels start feeling like mazes. Frustrating, boring mazes. Sonic can run all over the place looking for an exit, but he won’t be able to progress because he didn’t land on an invisible platform by that one section of wall he didn’t run across and wasn’t informed to run across. He didn’t pass through that one little stupid floating question mark to trigger a game-halting tutorial message. Other games may have boring tutorial sections, but tutorials are literally everywhereÂ Â in Lost World.
Why? Because Lost WorldÂ hates Sonic fans. It thinks they’re idiots. It thinks they’re not going to notice that it’s digging their beloved hedgehog an even deeper grave. It thinks it can get away with being lethargic and mundane. It thinks cameras from 1996 that cause unavoidable deaths are still acceptable.
It breaks my heart because some parts of Lost WorldÂ are genuinely creative and fun. Most of it isn’t, but those moments do exist. The early levels are glimpses of what could have been. A lot of the 2D sections are enjoyable, but they’re short and few and far between. I even began enjoying myself at times before the game presented me with another arbitrary goal or confusing path or cutscene containing the Deadly Six, who are more vapid and annoying than any other characters in the long history of Sonic the Hedgehog, including Big the Cat and Princess Elise.
I just don’t understand how a developer hasn’t taken the Sonic formula and turned it into something golden yet. Maybe they’ve just stopped caring. Maybe Sonic really is a lost cause. I still have some hope in my heart. One of these days Sonic fans like myself will get another game that makes our fallen hero look good. Until then we’ll be stuck with crap like Sonic: Lost World.Â It’s a disappointing ending to a promising story.