Sonic Lost World Review
Cart: Sonic Lost World
Cab: Wii U
Coin: Sonic Team
Yes, the blue spiky wonder is back with a new game, and guess what? Is is not a complete waste of time, and is actually rather good. To be fair, Sonic games have been getting a little better in recent years, although never approaching the quality of the original 2D games, and Sonic Team have been listening to some of the criticism and fixing problems that hark back to Sonic Adventure.
Sonic Lost World is the best 3D Sonic game yet, not a tough feat you might say, and while it could never be described as a classic Sonic title, it is highly enjoyable, almost innovative and actually quite refreshing. I say ‘almost innovative’, as the game it is most riffing off, Super Mario Galaxy, has never been cloned or copied before, so the idea of running around 3D objects with their own little gravitational fields still feels new. Perhaps it is fairer to say it is one step removed from innovation.
The game is at its best in these free stages
While many of the levels are, indeed, Super Mario Galaxy in new clothes, there are actually plenty of levels and ideas that are new. In fact, the wide variety in level styles is one of the game’s best features, although it has to be said that the Galaxy-style levels are easily the best, with the pure 2D stages right at the other end of the quality scale.
Sonic Team have always had one big problem with 3D Sonic games; how do you make Sonic super fast when a 3D environment is so much more difficult to navigate at speed, especially from a 3rd person perspective? The solution in the past has been to create automated rollercoaster style levels, with Sonic behaving more like a racing car than a character, and the slower platforming sections were essentially thrown to the dogs, without so much as a care for the frustrations of gamers.
The new approach is far better. Sonic moves around at a slow pace naturally in this new game, and only starts to run if you hold a button down. While this seems awkward at first, is actually works very well in practice, and the better levels are designed around optional routes, optimised for each method. Indeed, there are even moves, such as wall runs, which can only be performed by running, and this optional speed, alongside the sprawling levels, opens up the game for the first enjoyable exploration in a Sonic game in years.
The touch screen and motion based pickups are a distraction
There have been some murmurings that, even with the run button held down, Sonic just does not move fast enough. My answer is that if you really want insanely fast 3D Sonic games, well Sonic Team have been giving them to you for years, and they have been awful. There is a reason Sonic can’t go super fast in 3D: it just doesn’t work. You can’t have it both ways.
Yet, Sonic Lost World is far from perfect. The ledge grab feels unnatural, as does having a separate button for the spin attack, and there are levels where the gravity has been inexplicably switched off at points. There is even the occasional nonsensical invisible barrier, which in a game that gives you so much freedom elsewhere, is strange to say the least. Some bosses are woeful, and there are areas where things just don’t work, where the designers had a ‘that’ll do’ attitude.
Aside from those frustrations this is a very enjoyable experience, with excellent Miiverse integration, the ability the play through the game with a friend controlling a little RC vehicle, 2 player racing, plenty of levels and even some mini games to find. Lost World does feel like a complete package.
Easily the best Sonic game is quite some time, Lost World brings a new control solution, bright vibrant worlds with plenty of variety, and the ability to actually properly explore and take alternate routes. Far better than other reviews would have you believe, Lost World is a very good game that helps make up for a distinct lack of Super Mario Galaxy on Wii U and adds a blue burst of speed to proceedings.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.