(Sega for WiiU)
By Mike Delano
Despite annual attempts, the Sonic franchise doesn’t get the same amount of respect in the current platformer landscape as Mario, Rayman, or even indie successes like Super Meat Boy or Spelunky. This is partly due to the series’ continuing attempts to revisit past glories, from the strict 2D style of Sonic 4 to the career retrospective of 2011’s Sonic Generations. With Sonic Lost World, however, the series finally has a forward-looking approach with a title that seeks to shake up the formula a little and try some new ideas.
Visually, the game takes major cues from Super Mario Galaxy, with its introduction of spherical worlds, but overall, it looks and plays a lot like recent Sonic games. The design feels much more coherent, though, with gorgeous layouts, vibrant colors, and sharp lines creating areas that are fun to explore. The enormous scope of many of the levels is also impressive, and the branching paths maintain the Sonic tradition of replaying sections to find alternate routes.
This fresh start for Sonic still carries some of the legacy problems from recent entries, though. While the sense of speed is at times empowering, it’s often hard to get into a rhythm with Sonic‘s forward movement, meaning that just as you’re starting to get into a groove, the level design or enemy placement will stop you dead in your tracks. This unfortunately gives the game a herky jerky, start/stop feel that doesn’t make the most of the hyperspeed action that the series is known for.
Even with some hiccups that prevent this new vision of Sonic from being a complete success, Sonic Lost World finds the franchise feeling more modern and ambitious than it has in years. If you don’t mind racing over some kinks on the way to the finish, this Sonic entry has a lot to offer platforming fans.