Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Duke0911
Review: Sonic Lost World – 3DS
Developer(s): Sonic Team (Wii U) and Dimps (3DS Version)
Publisher(s): Sega (Japan and North America) and Nintendo (Europe and Australia)
System(s): Wii U and 3DS
Release Date(s): October 18, 2013 (Europe), October 19, 2013 (Australia), October 24, 2013 (Japan), October 29, 2013 (North America)
Sonic Lost World marks a formula change for the blue blur. Between 2008 and 2011 the hedgehog ran on an extremely fast play style, allowing you to boost at will as long as you had energy to do so. Sonic Lost World decides to take everything at a different pace; though speed is still part of the game, it also introduces a Parkour System letting players do a multitude of acrobatic maneuvers such as running along walls and climbing ledges to traverse the terrain. It all sounds like a good way of giving Sonic a better sense of speed and control, but how does it fare in execution?
Sonic has been slowed down quite a bit for this adventure; a walking speed when tilting the circle pad, a running speed when holding down the R bumper, and the return of the Spin Dash when pressing the Y button. The Spin Dash has a new trait this time around, allowing players to spin infinitely if the button is pressed and hold down after the initial button press. It’s a little confusing at first to understand but it’s easier done than said really. Being able to Spin Dash at all times on the ground allows for some neat tricks to be pulled off, and it’s really fun combining these 3 speed categories with the Parkour System.
As mentioned earlier, Sonic Lost World introduces a Parkour System that allows Sonic to scale walls, grab ledges, and more. Players won’t automatically start running along a wall when they simply approach it; they either need to be running or spinning into the wall in order to start. From this point on Sonic will go up the wall automatically, but that’s not all. You can move left and right along the wall, as well as Spin Dash to reach a ledge faster; the latter of which can help Sonic regain his stamina when running up.
Parkour can also be used for running between walls, in which you can travel across large gaps and discover hidden paths. As with running up a wall, you can start this maneuver only when running or spinning at a wall. Sonic also has limited stamina in these situations, but what’s interesting here is that you can reset Sonic’s stanima by simply jumping from wall to wall; essentially running forever so long as you don’t run into an obstacle. All these options add up to some interesting gameplay, and a smooth control system that gives me a sense of full control over Sonic and his movements. For once I felt like I was pulling off all of the fancy stunts that the blue hedgehog shows off in a lot of the opening cinematics that we’ve seen in many previous games. There’s definitely a learning curve to overcome, but in the end it’s almost second nature blazing through the levels…when the design cooperates that is.
One of the biggest flaws with Sonic Lost World is the level design. In the beginning of the game, everything starts out smoothly with wide open areas for you to explore, clever platforming bits, and a sense of speed that makes the game feel amazing. However, as early as the second set of levels, the levels can range from being a chore to play, to just outright horrible design. There are quite a few instances where the game comes to a complete halt because there are so many puzzles scattered about; with some instances where a level is nothing but a giant puzzle. These levels not only take away from the Parkour System, which is suppose to be the primary focus for Sonic Lost World, but they can also be frustrating and tedious. Imagine playing through one level where you’re running at high speeds and scaling walls in a frozen facility, and in the next level you’re forced to push snowballs into gaps in the floor to progress; for the entire level. It just kills the pacing of the game, but the problems don’t stop there.
Color Wisps, which I personally found to be ingenious power ups in Sonic Colors, makes a return in Sonic Lost World. These little adorable creatures can be found scattered about the levels, and give you temporary powers to take alternate paths, and find hidden goodies. What I found to be brilliant design with the Wisps is that they weren’t mandatory for the most part; you used them however you see fit and they were enjoyable to use because of their versatility. Sonic Lost World does the complete opposite, and in most cases design a level around the power up. I admittedly like using the Wisps, but the overall design comes off as confusing and clunky. Precise aiming with returning powers such as Cyan Laser, or careful movements with new powers such as Gray Quake are thrown at the player many times. These power-ups are timed as well, so if your time runs out before completing a puzzle that requires a Wisp, too bad. This either results in you having to backtrack to get another Wisp, cost an extra life, or having to take out enemies with obnoxious amounts of health at a slow pace.
Enemies in this game comprise of many Badniks and Egg Pawns for you to smash, which is easier said than done. Quite a few enemies in this game have large amounts of health, and obviously take some time to destroy. The most irritating part about these enemies is that a few of them are linked to a capsule, usually containing something needed to progress through a level. Even when you know what you’re doing it still takes quite a bit of time to progress, with Wisps being the only means of destroying enemies in fewer hits than it normally would without one.
Your means of attacking can be simple, or complicated depending on what enemy you’re facing. You can do a simple Spin Jump to damage an enemy, or use Sonic’s Homing Attack to zoom at an enemy close by. A Homing Attack can also be charged to deal out more damage, but doing so is a bit wonky at times. In order to perform a regular Homing Attack, a reticle must be visible on an enemy, otherwise you’ll Double Jump if you press the A Button in the air. If you let the reticle stay on the enemy for a while, it will grow up to three times, letting you deal out large amounts of damage. However, it’s not always instant, and the reticle will just stay there without charging up. A similar problem can be found with the Somersault, an aerial kick that can stun enemies and expose their weak spot. This button also serves as your means of performing the Bounce Attack, which can really throw off your rhythm. You’ll sometimes bounce when you want to somersault and vice versa, which can lead to some annoying deaths in some instances.
If you’re able to get through a level with at least fifty rings despite the overall bad design, you’re presented with the option of entering a Special Stage. Here you have a chance of nabbing one of seven Chaos Emeralds. There’s one huge positive to these stages, and one massive negative as well. These are one of the more unique Special Stage designs I’ve seen in years, and it’s such a refreshing element. You move Sonic in a wide open space with many orbs to collect, and once you nab enough of the orbs an emerald will be rewarded to you. They do get tricky as you progress, but as long as you can make out a pattern with the orbs, then you’ll be flying around with no worries. In a sense, the traditional level design that we know and love about the series is present in these Special Stages. They reward players who take the time to study the area with the best path possible for completing them. Although there’s a time limit, you can easily restart the special stage before the timer reaches zero, giving players infinite tries at obtaining an emerald. I’d love to see this brought back in future games, but the method for controlling Sonic is very problematic.
Gyro Controls are used to affect Sonic’s direction, but it’s nothing simple. If you plan on playing these Special Stages, be prepared to stand up and move your entire body. With this control scheme you have 360 control, which means it is impossible to play these without staying in one spot too long. Not once can I recall ever beating these sitting down, I always found myself having to stand up in order to turn around for orbs that generate behind me. Gyro controls aren’t limited to the Special Stages though, for Sonic Lost World has plenty of instances where you need to tilt your 3DS in order to ride a rocket, or even control a Wisp power. The Special Stages are as bad as it gets, but the game as a whole could be better without the use of the Gyro sensor. They really feel out of place; why do I need to tilt my 3DS in order to control where Sonic rolls? Or where he flies when on a rocket? Aiming a cannon in order to expose a boss is reasonable, but everything else just seems like it was thrown in for the sake of having a gimmick to use a feature of the 3DS.
Most bosses that you face off against can be taken down pretty quickly with the attacks mentioned earlier, but if you can get your hands on a Wisp it’s pretty much a guaranteed victory for the player once they land a hit. The Deadly Six, new enemies introduced to this franchise, are six beings known as Zeti which have an odd power of controlling Dr. Eggmans Badniks. The fights with the Zeti are okay and can actually present a decent challenge, but the characters themselves are a bit forgettable, almost as forgettable as the story for Sonic Lost World…oh, right.
The story for this game begins with Sonic and Tails chasing Dr. Eggman through the skies in order to take back a capsule full of animals. Eggman manages to shoot down the plane the two heroes were in, leaving Sonic and Tails no choice but to make an emergency landing on the Lost Hex, a planet floating in the clouds. It’s here that the Zeti call home, and Dr. Eggman has control over them with some type of instrument. This is all interesting, but what exactly is the Lost Hex? How did Eggman manage to get his hands on something to control the Zeti? In fact, he has a base on the Lost Hex, so how did he learn about that? These and other questions are left unanswered, and in the end leaves the game with an uninteresting story that just feels utterly empty. The cutscenes are also very compressed, and present some very bad quality for a handheld that’s capable of showing crisp, clear visuals. Some cutscenes that are present in the Wii U version are completely absent from the 3DS version, so am I even getting the full story with this version of the game? At the very least, the character interactions are great to listen to, with some memorable lines here and there.
So what is there to do once the main adventure is completed? Quite a bit of content to explore actually. Within most stages are 5 Red Rings for you to collect, and once you nab all of them in a zone, you unlock an extra level for that Zone to give you a new challenge. Each level also has a Hard Mode for you to attempt, putting your skills and patience to the test as you make your way through these alternate levels. You can also make RC vehicles at Tails’ workshop with materials, which you can earn by completing levels. These devices will aid Sonic in a level by getting rings for him, or taking out enemies nearby. This game is packed with loads of content for you to do, and that is something I can appreciate about Sonic Lost World since the main story will take no time at all complete.
As with previous handheld Sonic games, online multiplayer returns, and it is one of the best online experiences in any handheld Sonic game, and the best part about this game in general. You and up to three friends or other players across the globe can take part in a race to the finish, with reworked level design to accommodate for multiple players. These levels are way more enjoyable than what they’re based off of because the reworked design takes out most of the issues that you go through in single player. Quite a shame that these aren’t playable for solo runs…
If there’s one thing that I can say about Sonic Lost World that is absolutely fantastic, it’s the soundtrack. Tomoya Ohtani and Takahito Eguchi, who are the masterminds behind the music for Sonic Unleashed, return to deliver another pleasant musical experience. Want some rock? The game has it covered. Want a full orchestra? The game has it covered. There’s so much variety in the soundtrack, and is a good example at how amazing the franchise is with music.
Sonic Lost World for the Nintendo 3DS does a few things right, but is pulled down with multiple issues. The Parkour System is a fantastic way of controlling Sonic, and it gives the player a sense of doing everything on their own in terms of control. However, when the clunky and bad level design hits, it can knock you out. The very few good levels don’t make up for all of the badly made ones that you need to go through, and gimmicky controls with the use of the Gyro Sensor don’t help at all. All though I’d like to see the Parkour System brought back for future games in the franchise, Sonic Lost World, as far as the 3DS version goes, is a sluggish start.
+ Fun Parkour System
+ Fantastic Soundtrack
+ Addicting online multiplayer
– Clunky level designs outnumber the good ones
– Use of Gyro Controls is obnoxious at times
– Story serves little to no purpose
Final score: 2.5 out of 5