Sonic: Lost World (Wii U) Review 
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Geoffrey Tim
October 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I love platformers; they’re probably my very favourite sort of games. I grew up playing Mario, Adventure Island and just about every other game that involved jumping in and on things. I, rather naturally, have an old love for Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s been whittled away over the years, following bad Sonic game after bad Sonic game. 2010’s Sonic Colors and even the more recent Generations very nearly made me a believer again, rekindling a bit of the old fire. Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U has undone it all – leaving nothing but pure, festering hate for the blue spiny bastard

Sonic: Lost World is actually a direct follow-up to Sonic Colors, but instead of refining and iterating upon that game’s mechanics, Lost World takes an entirely different approach. It borrows much in the way of aesthetics and mechanics from Nintendo’s own Super Mario Galaxy, so you’ll be running along along on long, air-bound cylinders, jumping to and from planetoids with their own gravity, engaging in simple environmental puzzles and rotating along those bizarre landforms’ tubular axes.

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It’s colourful, vibrant and instantly charming, and the game actually makes a decent first impression with its first few levels, locked 60fps action and sharp, crisp visuals.  The initial Windy Hill Zone has you zipping through that familiar grassy terrain, turbo-boosting your way through ring-filled loops that evoke memories of Sonic’s glory days, but it doesn’t last. And it certainly doesn’t take very long before you realise that the comparisons to Super Mario Galaxy are simply cosmetic; the game completely fails to capitalise on the idea of spheroid levels. 

There’s a story, of course – but it’s a terrible, cringe-worthy artefact of the era in which Sonic was still really popular.  Sonic’s perpetual nemesis Dr Eggman (or Robotnik, for purists) makes way for six bizarre alien creatures hell-bent on conquering earth, none of whom are interesting or memorable. Of course Robotnik and Sonic have to work together to vanquish this new enemy, because of course they do. The stupid narrative isn’t made any more enjoyable by the fact that Sonic himself is entirely unlikeable. For some bizarre reason, since Sonic found his voice in the 90’s he’s been stuck there, as an annoying reprobate with all the charm of a cocky teenager. Whenever he appeared on-screen in a cutscene, I wanted to put my fist through the screen.

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You’ll mostly be playing the game from a 3D perspective in a variety of ways; standard 3D platforming and on-rails gliding 3D sections (hooray for insta-death!), interspersed every so often with moments of 2D platforming action that almost recall the magic of Sonic games of old – but even they’re clunky and tiresome.  To make this newfangled level design work, Sonic has had a fundamental, jarring  change to how he works; instead of perpetually attempting to run at full speed, Sonic is now a little slower , and  you’ll have to hold in a trigger button to bring him to full gait. It’s odd; Sonic has always been about going flat-out – and this change in mechanics slows the whole game down. The level design makes it necessary though; Lost World favours pixel-precise platforming over Sonic’s trademark speed and you’ll often have to be rather cautious and conservative with running, lest you fall in to yet another pit of spikes. There are all sorts of other egregious faults that come down to poor controls; Sonic no longer has much forward momentum thanks to speed, so you’ll have to double jump to cross chasms, and a new wall-running mechanic means Sonic often clambers up walls whether you want him to or not – resulting in  death.

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It  does become frighteningly difficult – but so little of that feels like real difficulty due to masterful design; most of your deaths result from not actually being able to control Sonic as well as you should. It’s made even more challenging thanks to a baffling design choice; collecting 100 rings no longer gives Sonic an extra life – making the collection of rings almost meaningless.  That’s speed, and the importance of collecting rings – the two very central tenets of a Sonic game – pointless.

The only way to get extras in Lost World is to collect them, and they’re pretty sparse, and without a cache of spare lives many sections begin to feel hopelessly impossible. Fail on a section enough times and you can skip to the next checkpoint; but unlike Nintendo’s superguide systems, this seems almost an admission by the developers that the game is so badly designed. 

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The wisp powers from Sonic colours return, but their inclusion feels more like they were thrown on just to be included than to aid in level design in any meaningful way. And while they could have added some inventive uses for the Wii U’s second screen, make the whole system feel instead like a comically oversized DS. In many ways, it feels like the game’s designers have thrown just about every idea they could conceive of at the game, in the hope that some of them stuck – but all its resulted in is Sonic: Lost World being a confused hodgepodge of misguided, ill-fitting ideas and mechanics that’s about as fun as running head-first in to a brick wall. There’s a stealth section for god’s sake.

While it’s occasionally inspired, with a handful of nicely designed, fun levels, Lost World is an affront to fun – and Sonic fans deserve better than this. I hope that SEGA really re-examines the guy who used to be their mascot to find out what really made him work – or just retire him for good.

Conclusion

Occasional moments of brilliance do very little to elevate what is otherwise a terrible, poorly designed game. It's an unfortunate mash of ill-fitting, ill-conceived ideas, leaving us with yet another poor Sonic game.
4.0

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U) was reviewed by Geoffrey Tim on a Nintendo Wii U

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces. I am also the emperor of the backend

  • oVg

    SONIC on a Nintendo platform BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Darn I wish I time traveled from 1991 and brought back some pictures for my SEGA fudgetards at school. They would never believe me in a million years.

    • Umar heartless

      Soon it’s going to be Mario on a Sony Platform if they don’t get their act together

      • Eva Amore

        No it won’t. You obviously don’t believe in strange ideas.

        Did the Virtual Boy fail? Yes. But look what it became in future years..

        THE 3DS. That thing has sold so well.. :3

        Sure its not the big thing everything wants now but.. its just so crazy and unique someday it might work into something better~

        At least they tried to innovate~

        I AM BUYING A WII U. I love Nintendos spirit.

        • Umar Moe Moe

          You misunderstand. I am not bashing the console itself. WiiU is awesome :) But Ninty is doing a mighty poor job of properly marketing this thing , they aren’t giving this console enough attention. They can’t get by just with innovation this time.

        • Guest

          hahaahaha… 3DS and Wii U suck.. Next gen sonic is already announced for Xbox One and PS4.. go cry to ur mum

    • Rincethis

      Yes, yes! HAHAH! Rember the wars we used to have!

    • Rincethis

      Yes, yes! HAHAH! Rember the wars we used to have!

  • Vampyre Squirrel

    The game that killed Sonic for Geoff… and if it has that power, I shall avoid it.

    Also it getting a 4 out of 10 makes me want to avoid it even more…

  • That Happy Twit

    Nooooo…!!!

  • Umar heartless
    • Rincethis

      Forgot one…

    • Rincethis

      Forgot one…

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Stop killing my childhood :'(

  • Umar heartless

    Sonic died the moment he had a human love interest

    • Mario

      He’s not dead! And this game doesn’t deserve the hate!

  • Admiral Chief Ninja

    Yeah, so much fail

    • ToshZA

      I just laughed so hard man! Epic.

      • Admiral Chief Ninja

        Heheh

  • Admiral Chief Ninja

    BRING BACK Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles!

    So much win! Combine them and you get a whole new experience!!!

    • Grant Hancock

      I’d love to see a Sonic(ish) game made a la Mighty No. 9

  • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

    4/5. Would play again.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Really? You would torture yourself for no reason?

      • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

        lolnope. Fuck that shit.

        • Admiral Chief Ninja

          hahahaha

        • Eva Amore

          -sigh- I really hate how people pay attention to critics. Yes Sonic Lost World is a bad game but they tend to give all the good things bad ratings.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I reviewed the DS version, but from my chats with Geoff post-review, it really seems like he drew the short end of the string. I thought the DS version was dismally average, but the Wii U one seems even worse.

    How did Sega get it so wrong? It baffles my mind.

    • Vampyre Squirrel

      Sega’s been losing the plot lately… I’m not sure what’s up with them.

      Nothing against the Nintendo platforms, some games are definitely just better on them… but maybe they shouldn’t have produced this game for the DS and WiiU?

  • Umar heartless

    To hell with sonic. It’s time Shenmue returns!!

    • Mario

      Sonic’s far from going there. AT ALLLLLLLLL!!!

  • Lourens Jordaan

    The review proves something I’ve been thinking for years, i.e. SONIC SUCKS!!! I’ve never encountered such an overrated game character in my life. My apologies if I’ve offended anyone.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I’m still optimistic, but I think it might also be that SONIC needs a makeover. Maybe it’s time he gets the Nolan gritty makeover… also his lover Knuckles needs to die. It’ll give Sonic the fire to become a badass.

      • Grant Hancock

        gritty would work … the first season of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon was mucho dark for a kiddies show when it first came out… 1993’ish

        After all … living creatures are being turned into robots… many of whom are Sonics friends… he is part of ‘The Resistance’ … shit is heavy yo!

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Sonic mixed in with some Robocop and Terminator? Damn! See that’s why we should be out there making movies and creating games. :P

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I’m still optimistic, but I think it might also be that SONIC needs a makeover. Maybe it’s time he gets the Nolan gritty makeover… also his lover Knuckles needs to die. It’ll give Sonic the fire to become a badass.

    • Rincethis

      What you said man. Never liked the damn thing…

    • Rincethis

      What you said man. Never liked the damn thing…

  • Grant Hancock

    The problem with Sonic… is that he is no longer being voiced by Jaleel “Steve Urkel” White !! :D

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      The power of Steve Urkel!

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      The power of Steve Urkel!

  • Mario

    Still doesn’t deserve this.

    • http://thescienceethusiast1130.tumblr.com/ TheScienceEnthusiast1130

      Hello, “Mario”. I have a “Disqus” “discussion board”. Could you visit it and post a comment?

      :)

      http://thescienceethusiast1130.tumblr.com/

  • Guest

    So the people who designed the stage deserve to be shot, and you wanted to put a fist through the screen? Are you sure you should be writing game articles?

  • Pieter Brand
    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Just makes it even more heartbreaking to realise how SEGA’s botched this game… :/

  • http://thescienceethusiast1130.tumblr.com/ TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    “Word”

    “Typographical error” detected.

  • Zebliin

    I’ve almost finished this game and my partner already has. It can be tricky on occasion but neither of us get why the critics hate this game. The game actually plays very well in my experience. Try watching this video if they haven’t put you off giving it a go already..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH3jNLX8IRo

    Being able to slow down for platforming is a helpful addition, but no one’s forcing you to run slow so you can speed along like the guy in the video if you want. Also, getting 100 rings in Sonic Colors didn’t give you an extra life neither so that isn’t something new to Lost World, but there are PLENTY of extra lives to collect throughout the game.

    • Josh

      “THIS GAME ISN’T SLOW UR TOO SLOW IGN”

      “SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH”

      lol, this guy kinda proved IGN’s point, Sonic shouldn’t depend on the Spin Dash to go fast, the sluggishness in this game (and some bullshit level designs here and there) is actually what made me drop it before I even made to half of it.

      They were doing very well in Sonic Colors and Generations, I see no reason to change things again.

  • geniuskong

    No, there is not actually a stealth section. You DODGE the search light… you don’t sneak around it.

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