Slow and steady wins the race.
Sonic Lost World had the tricky predicament of maintaining the high quality of Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations before it. Does Sonic Lost World maintain this level of quality? Short answer: no, long answer: It’s better than the games that came after Adventure 2 until the glorious Sonic Colours.
Lost World is instantly more interesting than Generations, the graphical style has been given a complete overhaul – the realistic look of the past two games has been replaced by bright, crisp blocks and cartoon-like shapes. Sonic has a “run” button and he can climb and run along and up walls.
The first world does wonders introducing you to the new (and slightly confusing) controls of the game; indeed, the first world is spectacular fun, the bright, crisp greens of the grass really jumping from the screen, and the beauty of it all is that you can go as fast or slow as you like – as long as you finish the level before the time runs out.
Unfortunately the rest of the game doesn’t quite reach the same standards, not quite finding the balance between speed, skill and simplicity. The rest of the game is not bad; it’s just not as great as the first world. Each concurrent world does have its stand out level – zipping along a stage made of confectionary is a joy, as is speeding through a tunnel full of bees, and spiders.
There are a fair amount of these tunnel stages, which are the fastest, but perhaps there is one too many – as each one feels the same, making the fifth feel stale and uninspired. The tunnel stages also showcase one of the game’s biggest flaws: Sonic still can’t turn while at full speed, Sega really need to work on this as he slows right down just to make a simple turn.. The best Lost World stages are the large, open levels that give you many different paths to explore in the search of the five red rings in each stage. There are also grinding stages, which involve little from the player besides jumping; these are quick, exciting and serve to change the formula.
Coming back from Sonic Colours are the Colour Powers, this time however they feature a lot less – there are not many points where you have to use them, and this is good. All the Colour Powers feel a little rubbish to play other than the basic Lightning one, which is as fun as it ever was in Sonic Colours. Another aspect of the game seems a little underused, and this is one of the major differences in the game, the entire reason why Sonic is slower this time – the parkour. Now, the parkour definitely is part and parcel of the whole package, it is never shoved in your face, never really forced upon you; some would see this decision as a good thing, but I feel that the system has a lot of potential that I feel was unfortunately never given the time to properly shine. Don’t get me wrong, you will still be darting along walls and climbing up them (holding ZR, the run button, to do so), I just wanted more of it to feel worthwhile, and instead of something you may occasionally do.
Perhaps this is a fault of the length of the game. Again, just as with Generations and Colours before it, Lost World is too short, with just four levels per world it never quite gets into its groove, more levels would have been great as you can tell while playing the developers were full of ideas while making the game. The Sonic games are known for how they shift and change, but Lost world feels different from anything that has come before and I think this comes from one game in particular – Mario Galaxy.
Like Mario Galaxy, Lost World uses spherical level designs and an orchestral score to compliment. Unlike the sweeping score and grandeur on display in Mario Galaxy however, Lost World brings a bright, colourful score to complement its bright colourful graphics. The music and graphics in Lost World are fantastic, the star of the show. The rest of the game is not up to the same standard.
Despite the brilliant first world there is a lack of masterful game-design, evident in the amount of time you will die from a jump not quite feeling right, the momentum not quite matching the distance travelled. There are a fair few cheap deaths throughout the game and this brings me on to one of my major grievances of the game. The fail item. If you die a lot at the same point in a level, an item appears at the last checkpoint that takes you to the next, this may prove useful for younger players, but for me it got very annoying. Often I would die because of some dodgy jump or annoyingly placed enemy only to be unable to avoid the fail item – which is huge – requiring me to start the stage again, as I need to play through a stage in its entirety. The item is a decent idea, but it isn’t half annoying how big it is, how unavoidable it is.
Maybe I was not very good at the game, but I feel at times it felt badly designed, the failure of the level designers, not me. Some of the boss battles make my argument stronger, as a few of them I had no clue how to beat them, no hints were given and a few attempts were required to figure out how to beat the boss. A simple clue would have sufficed, but we are not given anything. Luckily, extra lives are easy to come by and you should never see the game over screen unless luck is not on your side.
However, the negative aspects of the game do not ruin the experience (rather infuriate) for there are plenty of positives to be found and enjoyed in Lost World. Last but not least of these are the cut-scenes and story which is great fun to watch unfold. The game has a solid sense of humour that should put a smile on the face of even the most down-trodden players, but kids in particular would love it – if they can get through the game.
The icing on the cake however is the DLC. Each copy of the game should come with Nights Into Dreams DLC, which takes the Deadly Six (the new baddies in the game) from the game and puts them into Nights Into Dreams style bosses, riding enemies from the famous Sega Saturn game. The two Nintendo themed DLCs themed Yoshi’s Island and The Legend of Zelda are a wondrous joy to look at let alone play – it’s a shame these weren’t included from the start, as I believe the proper critical response would have been better.
Despite the flaws, Sonic Lost World is a fun, great game. It is unlikely to be your favourite Sonic game, but it proves that Sega can still make a good one. It’s riddled with relatively small flaws, some dodgy level design and ends far too soon. The parkour and slower pace is a good thing, but the parkour feels underused. The star of the show comes with the game’s production values – graphics and soundtrack are perhaps the strongest the franchise has ever known.
Sonic Lost World shows that Sega still want to take this franchise forward, perhaps a Sonic Lost World 2 would be fantastic.