The legendary blue hedgehog is back in full-fledged HD, but SEGA’s title lacks substance which cannot be masked with super-powered dashes, punch-packing tumbles, and overtly stylish levels.
SEGA’s Sonic Lost World combines the speed of Sonic’s last endeavours and introduces new parkour abilities for precision and control, while intricately designed platform levels give players an opportunity to explore the Lost Hex. But some levels can lack fluidity and, at times, feel bloated, making the difficulty sharply shoot from one end of the scale to the other.
Teaming up with his arch-nemesis Dr. Eggman, Sonic must fend off the Deadly Six as they seek to destroy the world and obtain complete domination. From flying and rail grinding, to your standard platform parkour, Sonic keeps his enemies on their toes. The challenge, however, does not come from boss fights with the Deadly Six – falling down after a few bumps to the head – but in the various zones, some superbly and cleverly designed, others not so much.
Mastering the new control system will make navigating the large platform levels that much easier. Wall climbing and wall running will often open up hidden areas to a red ring or an alternative pathway, unseen to players who take the fastest route. In many levels, a dash before a thought will result in – more often than not – a lost life, and you’ll be bashing full-force into that Game Over sign. There are, however, ample opportunities to get Sonic up to death-defying speeds, particularly in the earlier levels where a string of homing attacks on enemies will continue your momentum rather than grind it to a halt, as well as plenty of loops and well-executed 2D levels to keep your inner-child grinning from ear to ear.
Better watch your landing there Sonic, it’s a bit slippery.
Sonic Lost World is not without its faults, though, and pushes forth the idea of style over substance in a few of its levels. The Frozen Factory begins Lost World’s downfall, where zone one throws Sonic through a maze of pipes so quickly that, when you’re plonked into another area, it can be both a disorientating and infuriating struggle to gain control once more. Ice levels can also assault the senses by pumping you with high levels of vertigo as you struggle to find the next checkpoint before falling or pirouetting into an early demise, while controlling snowball Sonic at snail-pace is slippery and awkward, sucking the fun from the glorious visuals. Plus, jumping from rolling vines in the fifth area takes much more luck than skill when trying to avoid a glaring, searching light from a robotic owl.
Colour powers, missions and collectibles return to help Sonic face the Deadly Six, providing level longevity for those trophy hunting players. Picking up a colour power allows you to tap and slide your finger across the GamePad, which brings a well-timed breather into enemy saturated levels. Collecting red rings hidden in various places opens up bonus areas, but the lack of variation available offers next to no incentive to continue, rather only for personal achievement. However, the ability to send and receive items over Miiverse is a great addition to the game, often aiding you with protection bubbles, wings and other such items in your time of need.
Despite its flaws, Sonic Lost World is an aesthetically gorgeous and pleasing game. SEGA’s new direction into parkour proves that Sonic can vault and wall climb in considerable style, but poorly constructed levels and a rapid slide in difficulty often propel Sonic into areas reliant on blind luck, rather than proven skill.