I wanted this to be a good game. I also wanted this to be a relatively mellow review. Unfortunately, neither of those happened.
Sonic Lost World was a Wii U exclusive game developed by Sonic Team for Sega, and it was recently released for PC. I’m a huge Sonic fan, so (despite the mixed reviews) I had to give it a try after the PC version released. I had heard about the slower pace, and some of the problems that it had, but it looked like other fans really liked the game. I figured, heck, why not?
I didn’t like this game. I actually (mostly) hated it.
To be fair, there were some things about Lost World that I liked: the game’s graphics looked beautiful as ever, they failed to give Omochao a voice (if you’ve played any of the Adventure games or some of the other newer ones, you’ll agree with me), and the soundtrack was spot-on as always. Also, it was a bit refreshing to see a batch of new villains for the series. And, despite the clumsy use of Color powers, some uses of them were pretty clever.
And that’s where the good times end.
I’m not even sure where to begin pointing out this game’s flaws; there are too many of them. The controls suck; I had way too many cheap deaths simply because Sonic’s movements didn’t fully match my controller input, or because the physics felt off. Of course, several of the cheap deaths were also due to poor level design. (Some were because of my skill, but that’s beside the point.) Furthermore, the game is just difficult. The game gives you nine lives every time you restart, not because it’s generous, but because you’ll need them. Every last one of them. On top of that, if you struggle getting past a section of a level, the game will offer to let you skip that section. The game knows it’s difficult and offers ways to help alleviate the pain. This seems cheap, mainly because the game isn’t difficult in a way that feels satisfying when it’s defeated; it’s difficult in a way that leaves one in pain and hating themselves.
[Note: I played with a Logitech controller on my PC, using x360ce for the game to recognize it as an Xbox 360 controller. I don’t know if my experience would have been different if I had played on the Wii U, or if I had used the keyboard… really, though, using the keyboard probably would have been a lot worse.]
The game has seven main Zones, each with four levels and with a few bonus levels sprinkled in for good measure. This is more levels per Zone than previous games had, which is nice… except for the fact that the levels are mostly formulaic. For example, the first level is mostly 3D and contains a number of rounded Super Mario Galaxy-esque planetoids. The second level tends to be mostly 2D/side-scrolling and contains the mini-boss for the Zone, and the fourth level is the main boss. Besides the Zone structure being all too familiar, the level design echoes levels from previous games; there’s a cool food-themed level, but that feels like a rip-off from a Zone in Sonic Colors. There’s a casino-themed level, but… haven’t we had enough of those in Sonic games? And of course, the first Zone is Green Hill Zone-like, naturally. Instead of appreciating the level design, I found myself wishing that it made more sense and that it was more unique.
Color Powers, introduced in Sonic Colors, are back and gimmicky as ever. And, I might add, frustrating as ever. Some of the Color Powers were cool; I liked the green one where I could levitate. That made for a decent challenge in the levels. But there were others that I hated, like the orange drill one. That sucker is difficult to control; I raged my way through the levels that used it. Other Powers were scattered through the levels; some were completely optional (the way they should be, in my opinion), and others were required to progress through the levels (such as the green and orange ones I mentioned).
Equally frustrating is Sonic’s utter lack of speed. Sure, the game has controller buttons for spin-dashing or sprinting, but those didn’t give me anywhere near the amount of speed that previous games. It sucks, especially since speed is the #1 thing Sonic is known for; it’s part of who he is. Taking that away ruins the experience.
The new villains are a group of six “Zeti” called the Deadly Six. Aside from sounding like a terrible Sinister Six rip-off, they’re not very exciting villains. Most of them are plain irritating, and a few are a pain to beat in a boss fight. I mean, one of them contains a stealth portion. Sonic games aren’t supposed to be stealthy! Some of the rules for beating the bosses don’t make sense, and they aren’t explained to you at all; you’re thrown in blind hoping that you can figure it out.
Even the achievements you can earn in the game are janky; instead of earning achievements for story progress or gathering collectibles, they’re only awarded after completing certain missions from Omochao (only after having those missions assigned by Omochao; you have to talk to him first, then do the tasks), and those missions could be anything from collecting 10 rings to killing enemies. They’re highly unsubstantial, and not linked to the story at all.
I can’t recommend this game. Maybe if it looks and sounds like it’d be OK for you, I can’t stop you. But I can’t say that this is a good Sonic game. (Maybe the 3DS version is better, but I can’t say since I didn’t play it.) If you want to play a good Sonic game, go get Sonic Generations. Heck, even Sonic 4: Episode I would be better than this, and that had its share of problems.
Cost: $30 on PC and Wii U; $20 on Nintendo 3DS
Platforms: Windows, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS