No Longer the Fastest Thing Alive
Why can’t Sega just leave well enough alone!? Sonic Generations is… dare I say it.. a GOOD Sonic game! Both past Sonic and modern Sonic feel like the speedy blue hedgehog we all know and love. All of Sonic’s friends are pushed to the background and the game focuses on speedruns and old-school platforming, which is what we have wanted for ages. Now the next Sonic game, Sonic Lost World , is out, and what do we get? We get a janky-controlling mess of a Super Mario Galaxy ripoff that introduces a whole bunch of other new minor characters that nobody cares about while slowing Sonic down for no good reason! Why didn’t you just do Sonic Generations again, Sega!? You had a hit! Why did you have to mess around with a formula that was already proven to work!?
So here’s the plot. Eggman–otherwise known to actual Sonic fans as Robotnik, has captured Sonic’s animal friends. Awesome! Sounds classic, right!? Well, to save these animal friends, Sonic has to chase Eggman down to a world called Lost Hex where Eggman has taken control of villains known as the Deadly Six…which all kind of look like Skylanders rejects. Sonic ultimately destroys Eggman’s control device, and that means the Deadly Six are set free, so Sonic and Eggman have to team up to defeat them and blah blah blah blah boring. It feels like Sega just swapped around portions of the plot of Sonic Colors and introduced a new antagonist. The plot is hokey, even for a Sonic game, I’d take King Arthur’s court or Arabian Nights over this! Heck, I’d even take turning into a werewolf over…. No, no, I take that back. I never want to experience that part of Sonic Unleashed again… ugh.
Let’s start with the biggest flaw in this game: Sonic doesn’t automatically run. He just plods around in a leisurely stroll unless you hold a run button. This was supposed to make Sonic easier to control, but it doesn’t work. Sonic, even when walking, moves in a twitchy manner that makes it hard to start and stop him. His jumps also have a lot more momentum than his land speed when running, and he barely moves at all when walking. It’s also hard to deny that Sonic feels slower in general. Even when at his fastest in Lost Worlds , he seems far slower than he was in any other Sonic game.
So Sega reduced Sonic’s speed to make him easier to control, which is a questionable but valid design choice. However, what is totally invalid and possibly completely crazy, is the fact that Sega then went ahead and added in stages in which Sonic literally can’t stop running. This is all the crappy parts of Sonic and the Secret Rings all over again. Sonic goes from not going fast enough to going way too fast. Stage hazards are numerous, and nearly all of them amount to instant death. Heck, running into a wall is instant death. For the life of me, I can’t fathom why Sega undermined its own design decisions with more design decisions!
Other levels aren’t all that great, either. Sonic Lost World wants to be Super Mario Galaxy so bad; it even has random, floating planetoids with wonky gravity making up a good portion of the game’s levels. Unfortunately, Sonic’s weird movement and overabundance/complete lack of speed makes it hard to navigate a 3D space like this. The camera loves to swing in odd directions, making you completely unable to see the next platform you want to hit. Enemies and spikes like to hide out at the end of collapsing walkways or series of bumpers, making them impossible to dodge without trial and error, and making you flinch back just enough to fall off a ledge to your doom every time you hit them. Every death you experience in this game feels cheap, either a result of a camera glitch, a frustrating platforming segment, or a portion of the game where Sonic can’t stop running. The only good parts of the game are the 2D levels, which still have frustrating platforming and unfair enemy placement, but at least you don’t have to deal with Sonic’s clunky 3D controls.
I talked about the run button previously, but Sonic has a bunch of other tricks at his disposal too. Gone are the boost mechanics of previous modern Sonic games. Instead, Sonic has the spin dash back, which is actually kind of cool. Unfortunately, this does mean you have to do the lame rapid spin-dash trick from Sonic Adventure in order to do successful speedruns, but that’s just nitpicking.
The homing attack also returns, but it’s changed. When you use it, Sonic pauses in the air for a second before attacking a series of enemies at once. It’s slower than the previous homing attack, and bouncing from enemy to enemy doesn’t work like it used to, which is frustrating, but you eventually get used to it.
The biggest problem in the game is Sonic’s new parkour skills. The blue hedgehog has his wall jump back, and this time, he can also wall run, which is something you saw him do in the old 90s animated series that never made its way into the games outside of scripted loops and such. Unfortunately, these new techniques are a bit broken by the game’s inability to consistently detect when you are close to a wall. Sometimes, the game will make you wall plant when you don’t want to, causing you to unexpectedly drop to your doom. Other times, the game won’t let you wall plant when you do want to, which makes you just jump up and down like an idiot in front of a wall.
The Wisp powers from Sonic Colors return, but they suffer the same problems that they did before. None of these power-ups actually feel like tools Sonic can use regularly. They are simply one-shot abilities that let Sonic get to a new area before they wear off. In this way, they are a lot less like power-ups and a lot more like cutscenes. These power-ups do utilize the Wii U gamepad and motion controls in interesting ways, but if you screw up, you’ll likely fall to your death… again.
Honestly, I just don’t understand Sonic Lost World . After Sonic 4: Episodes 1 and 2 , Sonic Colors , and Sonic Generations , it seemed like Sega finally understood what made Sonic games fun: the speed, the flow, the feeling of being the fastest thing alive. But everything in Sonic Lost World stops this flow. The new homing attack pauses the action and stops the flow. The Wisp powers stop the flow. The finicky 3D platforming stops the flow. The need to press a run button stops the flow and makes your fingers cramp! Even the stages where you literally cannot stop running somehow stop the flow with all their constant instant-death threats!
Sonic Team, I’m just going to spell this out for you. This is not what we want from a Sonic game. Don’t go back to the drawing board. Don’t try to re-invent Sonic’s image again. Just give us the stuff that works from your last few successful titles and call it a day.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
The graphics of the game are impressive, though the design of the Deadly Six is lacking. 1.5 Control
The controls are horrible. Sonic is too twitchy and either moves too fast or not fast enough. Nothing is enjoyable about controlling the Blue Blur in this one. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music has a Super Mario Galaxy -style quality to it, and it works. It’s fast and enjoyable but can’t save the rest of the game. 2.0 Play Value
Maybe I’m docking more points than usual because it feels like Sonic Team loves to ditch things that are proven to work, but the new gameplay mechanics are mostly a flop. Please stop trying to reinvent Sonic. It doesn’t work. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best