PAX Prime: Sonic Lost World – First Impressions

Hearing about another Sonic game evokes the same kind of reaction as hearing that a long-running sitcom, that everyone thought would end three seasons ago, has been renewed. It’s the slight disbelief that it’s still hanging on, combined with a strange, optimistic hope, but tinged with the knowledge that it can never again reach the glory of its prime.

So… why another Sonic game? Why now? And is it worthwhile?

As always, when I play a Sonic game, personally I feel as though I’m just bouncing about with no sense of strategy or space/time/wibbly-wobbly whatever. I’m all over the map and eventually, maybe, possibly, I’ll find my way to the finish line.

What about this new title? Well… it sounded good. Great, perhaps. Maybe even the Sonic title we’ve been waiting for, without weird gimmicks (Sonic Unleashed, anyone?) and with a bit of a return to the style of play that fans enjoyed in the 32-bit era. Plus, familiar faces and it looked fun to boot.

The Sonic Lost World demo at the SEGA booth, which I played on a Wii U (of course, though there were a variety of options available), used the GamePad to complement what’s on the main screen. I played only one stage of the game, though it was fairly long and took some time to get through.

It looks really neat—bright, fun, spinning around, and plenty to make sure your gamer senses are overstimulated within the first thirty seconds—but when I started playing, something felt familiar. But like an “off” familiar… if you’ve played Super Mario Galaxy, you’re already familiar with the rotating planet style of gameplay, which worked really well in that particular game. In this demo, that’s how Sonic traverses the level—on a rotating world—using his signature spin dashes, homing attacks, and new wall runs and double jumps. Sound fun, right?

Until you die repeatedly. Maybe it’s just me (is it?), but I had serious difficulty mastering the controls, trying to figure out how to get Sonic to do what I wanted to do, without falling into space or homing right into a bad guy. I mean, it should be easy, it’s just one main button to press to do what you want to do… but no, no it’s not. This time the controls are separated and, while moving ridiculous fast (as Sonic does) you need to respond with exact timing.

The worst of the bunch was the run button. Otherwise, you walk around like a sluggish old lady at the grocery store. Not that there’s anything wrong with old ladies (love you, Grandma!), but this is a Sonic game. Sonic doesn’t walk leisurely anywhere!

In the end, I made it to the end of the stage out of pure determination to finish the level so I could write about it, but I still couldn’t tell you how I did it or how I made it there. It seemed to me that if you memorized the sequence of buttons, you could make it through the difficult sections… which means a lot of precision and brainwork. In a Sonic game. Maybe that’s what people want, but I honestly, didn’t find anything too different or special about this title to set it apart from the recent Sonic games that have come before.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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