Nintendo’s Raring For Another Platformer, Sonic Style.
The recent announcement of Sonic Lost World via Nintendo Direct was like a blur onto the scene. Nobody was expecting SEGA’s prime mascot, and suddenly there he was, with his giant statue spinning atop the SEGA booth at E3 and plenty of stations to test out his newest adventure. I took some time to get my hands on both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game in order to see which direction developer Sonic Team would be taking their hedgehog hero this time around.
Using direction to describe the game doesn’t seem appropriate for Sonic Lost World , as the levels will turn you every which way. You see, in pursuit of Doctor Eggman, Sonic and Tails have been transported to the Lost Hex, a world laden with floating islands. Working my way around the 360-degree cylinders on the first demo board felt very much like Super Mario Galaxy , only in the universe of Sonic. SEGA has made a conscious decision to decelerate Sonic’s overall speed for Lost World , putting exploration slightly above simply dashing to the finish line. They wanted to give Sonic some parkour skills this time around, allowing him to scale walls and dodge obstacles in a graceful display of footwork.
That’s not to say there aren’t moments where you’re bouncing off a dozen bumpers, zipping through tunnels, while taking out several enemies in quick bouncing succession. It’s a satisfying blend of both speeds, actually, with the option to go as fast or as slow as you’d like. Besides filling up on gold rings, there are five Red Star Rings to collect in each level, making a steady run a must for completionists. At some points, however, the game takes control of Sonic’s legs, moving you ever forward. These were by far the most challenging sections of the demo, weaving between platforms and keeping yourself on course lest you fall off the ledge or splatter into the wall ahead of you. For even more variety, certain levels break away from the 3D action and transition to the classic 2D perspective, yet even here, the velocity is turned down slightly from the original Sonic games.
Tackling enemies requires Sonic to form into a ball, home in on enemies, and launch himself at the target. With a cluster of enemies, each can be targeted for a single chain kill. Some enemies have defenses that require Sonic to perform a daze attack before taking them out. There are also minibosses that need a few extra pummels before being beaten into submission. Lost Hex is controlled by a sinister group called the Deadly Six, so we can guess that there will be at least six worlds to tackle, and I’m sure there will be few encounters with Eggman, just for fun. This is speculation, however, as my prying for information was met with, “We are not divulging any information at this time.”
Another area where I felt like I was pulling teeth with the SEGA representative was the multiplayer feature. According to him, the game is primarily a single-player adventure. However, there is a two-player cooperative element to the game, but it will not be a side-by-side trek through the levels with a friend playing as Tails. If I had to guess, I would say the second player will either control the GamePad and manipulate the level as well as locate obscure pickups and collectibles, or they’ll control the Wii Remote and target enemies, much like the supplemental role in the Super Mario Galaxy games. Competitively, there is a racing mode for you and a friend to test your speed with. The 3DS version also supports a four-player multiplayer mode, both ad hoc and online, though no details were revealed about what that entails.
All the same levels on the Wii U demo were present in the 3DS demo, although they were slightly trimmed down and not nearly as vibrant or detailed. The controls also felt much heavier on the portable, but it still had the variety of 3D and 2D perspectives. Of course, the 3DS version allows you to take your Sonic adventure on the go, though the Wii U title supports complete off-TV play for the GamePad.
Sonic Lost World is one of four upcoming titles with SEGA partnering exclusively with Nintendo. This embrace is sure to please fans of both nations, giving platform lovers plenty of options for the rest of the year with Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze also scheduled to release in 2013. Sonic Lost World is scheduled to be released this holiday season.