Game review by Barry Carenza
Game Title: Sonic Lost World
Version: 3DS Retail copy
ESRB Rating: E 10+
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Obtained: Review copy provided by Sega
Dimps and Sega’s ambitions were high when turning a Sonic game into a Mario-like platformer. Sadly high ambitions don’t always make a great game.
Story & Plot:
Dr. Eggman is at it again. This time, he wants to harness the world’s energy to destroy Sonic. He “befriends” The Deadly Six, a villainous group of demon-like creatures known as Zeti, and controls them with a special instrument called the Cacophonic Conch. While attempting to stop Eggman, Sonic kicks away the Conch, leaving The Deadly Six free to go on a rampage. Now Sonic and Eggman need to work together to save the world.
Gameplay & Controls:
Controls in Sonic games are usually hit or miss and in this one, it’s about half and half. The layout is simple enough: A and B will make you jump, and pressing them again causes you to double jump. X or Y will cause Sonic to perform a spin dash, his trademark move that allows him to reach top speeds. You can hold one of these buttons down to charge it up. Holding R will make Sonic run. You can also activate special abilities and powers such as the Wisps, intergalactic aliens that give Sonic the ability to turn into various objects such as an asteroid or a drill, using the touch screen.
The speed in Sonic Lost Worlds is dialed back relative to the rest of the series, in an attempt to create a different kind of Sonic platformer. If you don’t hold the R button, you’ll walk around. Many of the levels require you to go at a slower pace to explore and hit switches. The problem is this is a Sonic game, and making Sonic go this slow feels out of character and it doesn’t flow very well.
The camera works well occasionally, but more often than not I found myself having to backtrack and run towards it, which made for some frustrating platforming. There are parkour elements that work in your favor most of the time, allowing you to dash along walls or even scale them. Occasionally they will misfire and you’ll find yourself scaling a wall you didn’t want to, or falling to your death when you should have ran along the wall.
There are also gyro controls that have you tilting the system to steer Sonic around. While this seems to work properly, it does create problems when playing with the 3D on. Thankfully these are only used in a few levels as well as in the special stages.
Overall, the controls work well enough. Occasionally the parkour and the lock-on systems won’t detect but they aren’t a deal breaker. Having free range on the camera would have been a nice addition. Hopefully next time around they can tweak the controls so they respond without a hitch.
There are several modes available at the start: Story Mode, VS mode, and Time Attack.
Story Mode contains 7 main worlds, plus an additional “Special World”. Each world consists of 3 levels and a boss. The levels themselves all vary in their look and feel. Some are 2D levels formatted like the original Genesis games, while others feel more like Mario Galaxy-inspired 3D stages. One thing is common among them all, and that’s their length. Personally, I felt that each level was FAR too long. There are checkpoints, but I feel it would flow better if each level was cut in half, making 6 levels per world. There were times when I was happy to be seemingly finishing a frustrating level, only to find out that I still had another section to go.
The bosses are all rather unique with their own hooks. One boss will have you racing around a giant ring in 2D, the next will have you dodging penguins in 3D, and then you’ll find yourself fighting a boss while constantly falling through the sky. They are different enough that I never felt I was fighting the same boss twice. Several of them were quite enjoyable and I gladly went back to fight them again. Sadly motion controls do find their way into some boss battles so be prepared to have to move the system around.
There are 3 reasons to go back into each stage. The first is to collect all 5 red rings, which seems to have become a new staple of Sonic games. These rings are hidden all over the place and for the completionist, make a fun side attraction to the levels. Then, based on your grade for the level, you get different parts for Tail’s lab which you can use purchase RC parts or other helpful items such as shields, extra rings, and speed shoes. Last is to collect enough rings to enter the special stages to grab a Chaos Emerald.
The special stages…well let’s just say they are the part of the game I liked the least. They place Sonic in space and task you with collecting colored orbs in a certain amount of time. You use the buttons to steer, and the gyroscope to turn. It’s very similar to Pokémon Dream Radar except instead of firing shots, you are moving Sonic forward. What this means is that if you miss an orb, you have to spin all the way around and hope you can collect it quickly without going out of your way. After doing a few of these, I wound up getting motion sickness from constantly spinning around and gave up on my quest to collect all the emeralds.
The VS mode allows for you to play against up to 3 other players via local play with everyone having a cart, download play, or via the internet. You have three different types of games to play against your friends. The first is Race, which is standard Sonic get to the goal first. Next is Battle where instead of fighting each other, you compete to collect the most rings. Finally there’s Special Stage which tasks you with collecting the most orbs using gyro controls. One thing to note is that this mode is only available in 2D. There is also a ranking system and a leaderboard if you’re interested in becoming the best Sonic player in the world.
Time Attack is pretty much what you would expect: race to try and get the best time on each stage. You can only attempt this on stages you’ve completed in the story mode. You can also see the best time that’s been recorded to see how you rate compared to other players.
I’m happy that they took the time to incorporate so many multiplayer modes to go along with the single player story. It’s also great that there are reasons to re-play levels in addition to them being fun. I just wish that the developers didn’t force motion controls on the special stages. It would have been great to have the option to control Sonic with the circle-pad instead.
Graphics & Sound:
The graphics are very well done detailed character models and some fantastic level effects. The 3D works well although I never found it necessary. The colors are vibrant and appealing and is definitely one of the stronger points of the game. Dimps did a great job of bringing Sonic’s world to life on the 3DS.
The sound is another strong point. The soundtrack is filled with original pieces that vary from world to world. Each of the games melodies are very catchy and I found myself putting the game down at times just to listen to the music. With music this good I’m shocked the game didn’t come with a soundtrack.
While I really wanted to like this game, there were just a tad too many things wrong with it. Tediously lengthy levels, occasionally unresponsive controls/lock on, and motion sickness-inducing special stages hampered my experience. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not great either. Let’s hope third time’s a charm and Sonic Boom gives us a truly great Sonic game on the 3DS.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
+ Colorful graphics
+ Fantastic soundtrack
+ Nice multiplayer features
– Problematic camera
– Levels that are too long
– Forced Motion controls
– Occasionally unresponsive controls