Sonic Lost World is the first Nintendo exclusive Sonic title since the company announced that they’d partnered with SEGA earlier this year. Available on the Wii U and 3DS I opted for the 3DS version to see how Sonic translates as a more simple, hand held title. I must say one thing before we begin, SEGA have done a fantastic job on keeping Sonic as frustrating as ever to play.
The earliest memory of Sonic I have is for the Sega Megadrive wayyy back in the 90’s back then you couldn’t save games. If you ran out of lives in most games that was it, you had to start from the beginning. Days were wasted retrying the same levels over and over again because Dr. Robotnik would always catch you at that one point causing you to repeatedly lose all of your lives.
Sonic Lost World hasn’t lost that sense of frustration, disaster, and panic when you’re down to your last life and there’s at least half of the level yet to comeplete. There’s always that same part of the level you keep failing to get past, you think you’re about to do it, you’re on a roll, then disaster strikes, Sonic splerts his rings everywhere and you’re yet to get to safety, Sonic blinks away giving you those few precious seconds of invincibility, then boing.. too late. Sonic is dead.
Sonic Lost World begins as any other Sonic story. Dr. Robotnik, or Dr. Eggman as Sonic calls him, has captured the worlds wild life and is using them for evil, it’s Sonic’s job to free the critters from their robotic prisons until disaster strikes. Introducing a new set of antagonists, the Deadly Six. This cast of gruesome characters adds a new twist to the same-old Sonic storyline as they overcome Dr. Robotnik’s control over them and wreak havoc with Robotniks mechanical creations in hand.
Upon battling Robotnik in the air you all stumble across the Lost Hex, where the entirety of the game is based. This world adds a new type of gameplay to the Sonic franchise which mixes side scrolling 2D play with 3D play based on spherical worlds similar to the Super Mario Galaxy series.
This mixed gameplay appeals to both the side-scrolling Sonic fan part of me and the part of me that want’s to experience something new. It also does a fantastic job of keeping the game from going stale too quickly. The 3D capabilities of the game are also pretty well thought out too, there’s not too much getting thrown at you, and it activates at just the right points.
The level designs in Sonic Lost World are the some of the most diverse levels I’ve ever seen in a handheld title. You begin with the simple 3D Mario Galaxy style spherical platformer then dive into an almost 2.5D side scroller, but then you’re thrown inside that spherical world into a level that rotates as you go around it. If that doesn’t sound complicated enough you’re then thrown into a snowboarding level then you’re underwater, man I hate the underwater levels.
Sonic Lost World also contains puzzle levels which require you to complete series of mini puzzles in order to get to your end-goal which is usually a gigantic pinball bumper. One level required you to roll apples into holes in order to fire them back to a blender-type platform, this had to be repeated until you’d filled the huge tube up with juice in order to raise the platform to the top and escape.
Now, for a Sonic game I’m used to the controls being fairly simple, Jump, Spin, Run. In Lost Worlds there’s a plethora of new controls and button combinations it can at times become quite frustrating and overwhelming. The ability to run up and across walls may not be a new concept, but stun attacks are. With the option to “stun” enemies is used mainly for those little buggers covered in spikes, hop up in the air, tap “Y” and poof, the spikes have gone, or for the larger enemies it stuns them for a few seconds allowing you to target the part that counts.
Colour Powers are an entirely new thing all together and I absolutely loathe them. Well, some of them. These colour powers turn Sonic into, well, I don’t know what. One Colour Power turns him into some sort of fish, another into a mean looking lightning bolt. These powers give him a bunch of new abilities that are often needed in order to progress and can, at times be more of a hindrance to the game. It’s definitely a nice touch and does add variety to the game, but I’m not a huge fan.
In some levels the Colour Power doesn’t need to be activated, you can sometimes proceed without it but it does make it slightly more difficult.
Colour Powers aside, Sonic Lost Worlds gives players the classic level progression that we’re all used to with the Sonic franchise. Each zone has around four or five levels which ends with a boss, each Zone has one of the Deadly Six waiting for you at the end with their own unique personalities and weaknesses. The bosses themselves vary in difficulty as the game progresses with the final boss being the big red guy who seems to be the leader of the Deadly Six.
One thing I’m a little indifferent about in this game is the targeting system. Whenever Sonic is near an enemy and isn’t using a Colour Power a target appears over the enemy, Sonic can target up to three enemies at once and all it takes is a tap of the ‘B’ button and you’ve wiped out that entire group. It some cases it makes the, what used to be, difficult task of knocking down an enemy a doddle, but at the same time it’s a bonus because it can keep the fast paced gameplay flowing. It’s a catch 22 really.
Probably the most important and what I felt was an underlooked part of the game is Tails’ Lab. At the end of each level you receive materials which can be used to make items for you to use within the game in Tails’ Lab, these can range from Super Rings to 1-UPs and will ultimately be lifesavers in the main game. Another new addition is the use of RC items. These RC choppers and vehicles give you slight advantages whilst playing such as the option to ride the hover car through difficult parts of the level, or have a fighter jet take out the enemy in your path.
These RC vehicles also appear when you get a little too stuck offering a sort of fast track pass through the more difficult parts. These don’t have to be picked up but if you want to keep your lives intact then you may need to consider it.
Tails’ Lab also offers the chance to watch the cut scenes again, just in case you accidentally skipped it as well as listen to music that’s featured in the game. There’s also the ability to play StreetPass missions, beam an RC vehicle to your Wii U version of the game and fiddle with the games settings.
Sonic Lost World offers a multiplayer mode giving players the chance to play either locally or online in a series of three game types. The first is a Race where you and several other players choose a level and the first player to complete the level wins, the next mode is a Battle mode where players compete against each other to collect Rings, finally there’s a Special Stage mode where players compete to collect Key Orbs.
Overall Sonic Lost World is just as frustrating as Sonic The Hedgehog as ever been. You’ll find yourself frantically shaking your fist in the air every time the little blue bastard falls off the edge of the world. At the same time however you’ll feel like a kid playing a game that feels so familiar, yet looks so different.
I believe Sonic Lost World appeals to old and new Sonic fans alike and is a welcome addition to my game collection.