Review by NickTheBlitz
"Two steps forward; one spindash back."
I have a complicated relationship with Sega. If you talk to me about pre-2004 Sega, I'll gush on and on about how they're the unsung heroes of the gaming industry; a plucky team of underdog go-getters who flipped the bird at the competition and did what they did best. If you ask me about modern Sega, I'll rant about how they're a comradery of perfectly capable game developers who consciously choose to **** up their games on purpose--almost in some sadistic, "it puts the lotion on its skin" way.
I hearts me my Sonic the Hedgehog; or rather, I did, up until sometime after Sonic Adventure 2. Because it was from Adventure 2 onward that Sega forgot exactly what made Sonic Sonic. Gone were the days of ingenious level design, intuitive momentum-based physics, and a minimally explained yet clearly understood universe. Instead they were replaced with speedy corridors, needless pitfalls, and an extremely sad case of "taking your mascot too seriously."
Needless to say, I gave up on the blue hedgehog for a good five or so years of my life; that is until Sonic Generations. That game, in addition to Sonic Colors, Unleashed, and Sonic 4: Episode 2 in part, showed me Sega had at least begun to remove their heads from their butts. Maybe they were back. Maybe the blue blur returned to form.
And then I played Sonic Lost World.
It's not a terrible game by any sense. Overall, I quite enjoyed the experience.
Let's start with the positives. The graphics and art style is simply eye candy. The colors, shapes, and stylings of the world and its' inhabitants have a certain Pixar-ish flair to them in that it's equally wonderful for kids and adults. The return of simplistic plotlines and classic themes--AKA, gotta free the animals and beat up Robotnik--came back with new twists. The cutscene movies in-between levels oozed personality and charm, and I'd say had a lot more character development than any Sonic game I've ever played. And the music? Oh God. Do I even need to describe it? Go on Youtube, listen to Tropical Coast Zone 3's music, and tell me it's not beautiful. I dare you.
And then there's the level design. Generally speaking, the levels are no longer just mile long corridors for the player to blast through. They have alternate paths. They have secret items. They're, you know, actually worth exploring. This is the sort of design that the Genesis Sonic games had and everything thereafter completely lacked. It's a feature sorely missed for this guy, and I couldn't be happier that Sega finally brought it back.
But then we get to the negatives. First off: Sonic is slow. Read that last sentence one more time and think about it.
Now before we grab our pitchforks, let's calm down and contemplate this. Slow alone isn't necessarily a BAD thing. Mario is slow, and it works wonders for him. If anything Sonic's new "speed" accommodates the level design; the worlds are much bigger, so it does you little favor to blast past them.
... Which is how I would defend this, if it weren't for the fact that it's still a Sonic game. As a player, I'm psychologically preconditioned to want to utilize speed to my advantage; and here, unless I hold the R shoulder button, Sonic walks his way through the levels.
And about those levels. I know I said the level design is great, but I have to add a modifier to that: the level design, as in the size and depth of the levels, is great. The level design, as in the means by which the player is meant to interact with it, ranges from brilliant to what-the-hell-were-you-smoking-how-was-I-supposed-to-beat-that. Yes folks, Sonic Lost World features lots and lots of cheap deaths. Things that a player with the caliber of yours-truly should normally not fall victim to. If you're in an automatic running segment and you barely touch a wall or miss a jump: dead. If you get hit, your rings fly WAY too far away for you to safely retrieve any of them. Pitfalls are freaking everywhere. The homing attack works only half of the time, so you're prone to kill yourself by ramming into an enemy or doofusly falling to your doom. And some of the levels are just plain bullcrap. Whoever designed Lava Mountain Zone 2 should be demoted to janitor; as an automatic rail sliding level, where hitting an object kills you, and you can barely control your speed and jump height, does not a good level make.
Then there's the bosses. Without spoiling, half of them are pitifully easy. I mean, three hits and they go down easy. But then there's some bosses where you have to stop the game and search for a help on the internet to beat it--because the means by which Sega decided you should deal the finishing blow is a maneuver you would have NEVER thought to execute. To give you an example: the penultimate boss is entirely invincible, and chases you. At some point you're cornered with no where to run, and literally just await death. It took me twenty minutes of repeating this battle, constantly shouting "what the **** am I supposed to DO?!" It was after searching for that same boss on Youtube that I discovered I was supposed to--get this--bounce on certain blocks to send them towards the boss. Gee. I'm sure glad the game introduced that feature to me in previous leve--Oh wait, no they didn't. How the **** was I supposed to figure that out without the internet?!?
Anyways. Frustrations aside, I still enjoyed Sonic Lost World. If you have a Wii U and enjoy Sonic, I recommend you pick this game up. It's a better-than-decent game that has a ton of charm. But keep in mind, it's not as fun as Sonic Generations. And it's nowhere near as good or well-designed as Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/13
Game Release: Sonic: Lost World (Deadly Six Bonus Edition) (US, 10/29/13)
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