Review: Sonic Lost World (3DS)

Is it better than the sequel to Jurassic Park? Absolutely.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 10/29/2013 12:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Excellent level design; great use of 3D; very good graphics
Poison Mushroom for...
Sega needs to keep the formula simple; Cheap deaths are still common; Cinema scenes look poor

Sonic the Hedgehog has always been a weird franchise. It features the fastest character in all of gaming, but the games always encourage you to slow down, lest you end up facing a cheap death by landing in a pit, or hitting a drill-bearing enemy. It’s like getting the keys to your Dad’s Ferrari and being told to drive five miles under the speed limit. Sonic Lost World is no exception. In fact, there’s probably more slowing you down than ever before. But slowing down isn’t always such a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s nice to take a second and admire the view.

When Sonic Lost World is at its best, it feels like a blend of Sonic Generations and Super Mario Galaxy. The level design is clearly inspired by the latter, and anyone that has played either Galaxy title can tell you that is a very good thing. Gravity is thrown out the window as worlds end up moving and shifting around in unique and interesting ways. Even the boss battles feel like they’ve taken a page from Mario’s outer space outings. The levels don’t feel like they’ve been ripped off, however. While the inspiration came from Sonic’s oldest rival, the title still retains all the unique trappings we’ve come to expect from a Hedgehog game. As a result, we’re treated to some incredible level design, probably some of the best I’ve seen in this series since the character switched dimensions back in the Dreamcast days. It also seems like Sega has finally found a way to keep the camera on Sonic with minimal readjusting needed. This has been a problem the franchise has struggled with for about a decade now, so I can’t express how happy I am to see this.

One of my favorite things about Sonic Generations on the PS3 and Xbox 360 is that the game really showed how good Sonic’s 2D adventures could look with a next gen boost. The 3DS doesn’t quite have the same graphical output, but Sonic Lost World still manages to continue that trend with old-school influenced 2D levels that look stunning. However, while Generations split up 2D and 3D segments based on whether or not “classic” or “current” Sonic was selected, these levels are thrown in a little more haphazardly. One level could be 3D and the next 2D. While this might not sound like a big deal, it contributes to my biggest overall problem with the title: the game bogs down the Sonic formula by overcomplicating it. It just feels like there’s too much going on in Lost World.

The earliest Sonic titles were very simple. While Lost World doesn’t have Sonic wielding a sword or transforming into a Werehog, it still isn’t as basic as Sonic probably should be. We have parkour-influenced moves, color-based abilities, 2D levels and gyroscopic bonus areas. The result is a product that doesn’t quite feel as natural as the Sega Genesis Sonic titles because there’s so much going on. As I’m speeding up to a wall, I literally had to say to myself “okay, now press ‘A’ to jump to the other wall, and press ‘X’ to speedboost up the side of the wall you’re already on.” It took a long time to feel natural, and it never quite came across as simple as those earlier titles did.

When it comes to Lost World‘s levels, they look really impressive on the 3DS. The graphics are crisp and smooth, and the 3D effect is one of the best I’ve seen on the system. Unfortunately, the 3D is marred by having to stay in the system’s sweet spot. If I could keep my hands still, the 3D looked eye-popping. I found myself drifting out of it a lot, though, and I think this is partly because of the way Sonic moves. I had the same problem with Sega’s Super Monkey Ball 3D, too. This is probably more of a shortcoming of the handheld than the game itself, however. Considering how minimal the 3D has been in recent Nintendo games like Pokémon X and Y and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, I applaud Sega for putting so much effort into the 3D of the 3DS.

One thing is for sure, there is one area you’ll want to turn off the 3D for: the gyroscopic bonus areas. Playing like a mix between the old Genesis bonus levels and Face Raiders, the levels force you to move the 3DS around the room to control Sonic. The levels advise you to turn the 3D off beforehand and are entirely skippable, but they do offer a little bit of charm. Just be prepared to look like a fool if someone happens to walk in the room while you’re trying it.

The graphics are great in-game, but they do suffer in one section: The cut-scenes. While some get easily annoyed by the stories in Sonic titles, I usually find them fun, and I did here, too. There’s definitely an overabundance of them in this game, but they can be skipped easily. Here’s the problem: the cut-scenes in Lost World are very ugly. While I haven’t played the game on Wii U, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this game recycles that title’s cut-scenes. The results are muddy and unimpressive. It looks like the system just can’t handle them. They run smoothly and sound fine, but the drop-off is really jarring, especially with a title that looks this good.

Sonic Lost World on 3DS is a good Sonic game. While it doesn’t reach the same heights as Sonic Generations or the Wii U racer Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed, it’s certainly better than where the franchise was headed just a few years ago. And that’s a great thing to see. We still have a few too many gimmicks, but they aren’t nearly as problematic as they have been in the past. If you’re a big fan of the franchise, I would certainly recommend checking out this game. It’s a huge step in the right direction for this hedgehog.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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