Sonic Lost World: S-Rank Player Review
"You're too slow!" The infamous Sonic taunt from Super Smash Bros. Brawl seems to be the general consensus among many professional video game reviewers in regards to the hedgehog in Sonic Lost World. To be more specific they're saying: "Random enemies pop up out of nowhere", "Sonic moves at two different speeds and neither are fast", and "the parkour system is poorly implemented."
To be very blunt I feel a lot of these reviewers playing this game are bad at it. I'm not saying that they're bad at video games as a whole, just that they're not taking the time to learn the game. Unlike the previous title, Sonic Generations, the player has to put a lot more work into Sonic Lost World in order to keep up a blazing pace. As a player who has no trouble obtaining an S-rank, the highest possible rank in Sonic games, let me tell you how I feel about the game.
Sonic feels very different in this game than he did in Sonic Generations or Sonic Colors. There are far less boost ramps in this game and Sonic has also lost his 'Speed Boost' ability. Instead Lost World's version of Sonic has more control over his varying levels of speed and can utilize his new found parkour abilities to run up walls and dash along them. In regards to combat Sonic also gets a new kick attack to go with his homing attack. This new kick allows Sonic to combat enemies with a bit more variation.
When you think about a Sonic game you probably think purely of the Hedgehog's speed. Well in Lost World our hero comes in three different speeds.
Walking Speed: The default speed is not exactly fast and is executed simply by pressing a direction. It appears to me this slower speed was gifted to Sonic to allow him more precise control for some of the game's complex platforming segments.
Sprinting Speed: Sonic's next level of speed is achieved by holding down the right shoulder button. This is the speed you'll be utilizing most of the time to speed through the level, jump over large gaps, and race past falling platforms.
Spin Dashing: Sonic's fastest speed in this game, which is of course hard to control, comes from his spin dash ability. By holding down the spin dash button you charge up the initial spin dash. You can use this for a quick boost or you can quickly let go of the spin dash button and then hold it down again in order to spin dash indefinitely. By spin dashing Sonic can jump a substantial amount farther than he can sprinting. This allows Sonic to reach previously untouchable platforms and drastically reduce the amount of obstacles he has to navigate past.
While spin dashing Sonic does not have to rely on his homing attack as he will simply plow through most enemies silly enough to be in his way. If Sonic is spin dashing in the air when he crashes into an enemy it will bounce him slightly forwards and upwards. Also when Sonic uses his new found parkour abilities to run up walls he can spin dash to increase how far he can climb vertically. The spin dash ability can cut the time it takes to complete a level by more than half if implemented correctly.
Now that we've discussed Sonic's speed I'd like to go a bit into the level design. Sonic Lost World levels for the most part are designed with three different routes in mind. An optimal speed route, a discovery route, and an obstacle route. These routes generally intertwine with each other here and there, but all have you playing the level in a different manner. In this game you must perfectly utilize Sonic's speed dash, double jumps, and parkour abilities to get the best time along the optimal route. The timing and positioning for this is very strict and demanding. You'll need to build up a lot of muscle memory as you attempt speed runs if you plan on controlling Sonic's direction and elevation perfectly whilst spin dashing.
Then you have what I would call the 'discovery route'. This is the route you take simply by sprinting ahead and carefully placing your jumps. This route will have you interacting with much more of the stage than the optimal route and is also where you'll find more extra lives, power-ups, and red rings. This route has the most branching paths out of all them. Especially now in Sonic Lost World with the rotating levels you'll find yourself with many options on how to tackle the level. With one path asking you to carefully navigate past spikes and another presenting you a wide array of enemies it'll be up to you to decide which path you'd like to tackle.
Lastly you have the obstacle route. Not every gap between platforms and missed homing attack sends the blue hedgehog to his oblivion. Rather a good number of these areas will drop Sonic to a lower part of the level that promotes a slower pace. This route is one to be avoided if you're hoping to keep your speed, but at the same time this is where you'll find the most variety in gameplay. It's in these lower sections of the level that Sonic will find himself facing a various assortment of robotic enemies. Enemies with spikes or shields will require the blue blur to use his new kick ability to overcome them. Once you pass the enemies this is where you'll find some of the trickier platforms in the game. They might either be moving platforms that require careful timing or trampoline like clouds that send you even higher into the sky.
I have to say I really like this game and the only thing I find jarring are Sonic's homing attacks. Having played every Sonic game featuring this ability I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the second worst utilization of the homing attack in a Sonic game. The worst homing attack in my opinion was in Sonic Unleashed in which the homing attack, light speed dash, and 'Sonic Boost' were all assigned to the same button. Unfortunately my problem with the homing attack in Lost World isn't the fact that it shares a button with double jumping, I've never mistakenly used one in an attempt to use the other. My problem is simply that it seems to take ages for Sonic to 'lock on' to an enemy and even then I don't feel like I have good control over who I'm attacking if there is ever more than one enemy near by.
Overall I'm having a blast playing Sonic Lost World. I find the appeal of playing a course repetitively as my finish time gets shorter and shorter very alluring. And yet when I get bored of that I can always visit another level and explore the rotating worlds. All the branching paths in this game allow me to tackle the game in a multitude of ways. If there's one thing I like in my games it's variety and this game has lots to choose from. I'd happily recommend this game to anyone who likes platformers, though it does take a little time to grasp the controls. If you live in the US you can visit the eShop on WiiU or 3DS and give the demo a spin.