Sonic Lost World (Wii U) Review – Meet The New World, Same As The Old World
Sonic Lost World had a lot of people buzzing. The new layout of the worlds reminded people of Super Mario Galaxy, the new run button was supposed to help keep Sonic in control and it was to expand about the good run Sonic games have had over the past couple of years. While it does maintain Sonic’s recent string of good titles, it doesn’t expand upon it and the comparison to the 3DS version, of which I’ve already reviewed, is actually not a kind one.
Developed by Sonic Team
Published by Sega
Platforms: Wii U
Released on 10-29-2013
The story remains the same as the 3DS version. Dr. Eggman has yet another diabolical plan to take over the world, only this time Sonic will have to face a new set of villains known as the Deadly Six. The premise is reminiscent of a previous game in the series Sonic Colors, as both have plots involving damaging the world from a distant planet, but the Deadly Six don’t make for compelling characters.
By and large, the plot is fun and entertaining, if ultimately inconsequential to the gameplay and predictable. The plot unfolds over a series of cutscenes and they are typically well done with funny voice acting, quick witted jokes and dialogue, and a good sense of timing in the animation. Listening to Sonic taunt Eggman and the Deadly Six will make you giggle often.
The game is presented well also, as the game looks beautiful in HD, aside from some rough edges that some anti aliasing could have fixed. What’s surprising to me though is how much this game looks just like the 3DS version. It’s essentially the same looking game except the Wii U version is in HD. The soundtrack generally fits the game fine though I miss the rock inspired soundtrack of the Sonic Adventure games though.
The best design however is the levels themselves and when compared to the 3DS version, are stronger in the Wii U version. Levels have a Super Mario Galaxy style to them, only in cylinder form rather than spherical. Levels often give the player various paths to take, switch between 2D and 3D perspectives, and have rail grinding sequences. This mixture of various play styles is handled well as each play style feels distinct, unlike the 3DS version where something like the 2D and 3D levels feel essentially the same and this is unhampered by the four acts, two boss fight structure of each zone.
Level design isn’t perfect though. There are two levels where you’re flying through the air but it feels more like your free falling and you generally feel a lack of control. There’s also an unlockable set of levels after completing the game that feel like concepts of levels rather than an actual enjoyable level. To make a comparison, they reminded me of the sections in Super Mario Sunshine when you would have your water pack taken from you. Like those sections, the bonus levels at the end of Sonic Lost World are just random geometric shapes you use as platforms. It’s uninspired and the levels tend to be really short. Not a good reward for completing the game.
However, the most prevalent issue in the game comes from the controls. Controlling Sonic feels too sensitive and it’ll take some time to get use to the touchy movement. Also, the lock-on feature, although typically okay, is actually broken in some sequences. For example, in the first boss fight in Zone 6, you are required to quickly lock on and attack in order to reach the boss but the game just stops locking on for no reason halfway. However, the most frustrating example is the first act of the final zone, when even if you’re standing right next to your enemy, your homing attack will circle around so that you’re attacking them from behind, which sends you right into the enemy’s counter attack.
Another problem is some of your abilities in the game (bouncing, spin dash, flash kicking, wall running, wisps, crouching) are underutilized on the Wii U, whereas they felt useful in the 3DS. The spin dash and wall running also feel finicky as you don’t feel like you control when Sonic will go fast and when he won’t. The means to continue your momentum on both the ground and on the wall – holding the trigger immediately after letting go of the spin dash charge – is less intuitive than the 3DS version of the game as well. Wisps are also problematic as a lot of them require the use of the touch screen, which pauses the game cold so you can look down on the Wii U Gamepad screen and use touch controls.
Thankfully, the new way your run is mostly just as good as on the 3DS. Despite it feeling different from games from Sonic’s heyday, holding down a button to run feels good and gives you control of Sonic without having to sacrifice speed. The physics in the game are also good as Sonic rarely stop cold and feel more like a person on foot rather than a car on wheels, a problem previous Sonic games have.
Oddly enough, there are actually features not present in the Wii U version that are in the 3DS version. There are no acts solely for boss fights and are now at the end of Act 2 and 4. They’re also easier and less time consuming than the 3DS version. The final fight is the same as the 3DS version except with only one stage and is much easier, making for an unsatisfying end. Seriously, it was over in a minute or so.
Chaos Emeralds are now earned just by finding all the Red Rings in a Zone, as the special stages are gone in this version. Their faux replacements are these bonus carnival levels that have Sonic and Tails rescuing animals and collecting rings by bouncing off a trampoline you control with the touch screen. You’ll need these animals to unlock the final acts of each zone, a stipulation exclusive to this version that feels like a cheap way to get people to replay levels. It’s not really fun and just feels tacked on for no reason other than to pad the game a bit.
The item crafting is replaced with sharing items across the Wii U’s miiverse social network but since you can only hold five items at one time, I had to manage my items and get rid of something to make room or ignore the new item. You have to deal with this too since the game stops the hub world so you can do this and won’t go away until you do.
There are time trials to keep you coming back to the levels and leaderboards to compare your times to. These are challenging without being overly hard and it can be fun to get that S ranking. Red Rings get you Chaos Emeralds, as mentioned before, and Chao Challenges to complete as well. Sonic Lost World does actually give you a lot of little goals to complete to keep you interested, though they’re inconsequential. There’s also a multiplayer mode but it’s about the same as the 3DS version; it’s boring, uninspired, and not even worth mentioning. Try it once, fail miserably to care about it and move on.
Sonic Lost World on the Wii U seems to be in love more with its concepts rather than its mechanics and it hurts the experience as a result. That’s why oddly enough the 3DS version benefits from its admittedly smaller scale and simpler mechanics as a result, despite the Wii U version’s superior level design. On it’s own, Sonic Lost World on the Wii U continues the string of good recent Sonic games but fails to push the franchise further, marred by persistent problems from past games. Still, Sonic Lost World is a fun game and if you’re a fan, like I am, of Sonic the Hedgehog, you’ll enjoy your time on the Lost Hex planet, even if you wish you had gone somewhere else instead.
3.5 out of 5