I love platformers; they’re probably my very favourite sort of games. I grew up playing Mario, Adventure Island and just about every other game that involved jumping in and on things. I, rather naturally, have an old love for Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s been whittled away over the years, following bad Sonic game after bad Sonic game. 2010’s Sonic Colors and even the more recent Generations very nearly made me a believer again, rekindling a bit of the old fire. Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U has undone it all – leaving nothing but pure, festering hate for the blue spiny bastard

Sonic: Lost World is actually a direct follow-up to Sonic Colors, but instead of refining and iterating upon that game’s mechanics, Lost World takes an entirely different approach. It borrows much in the way of aesthetics and mechanics from Nintendo’s own Super Mario Galaxy, so you’ll be running along along on long, air-bound cylinders, jumping to and from planetoids with their own gravity, engaging in simple environmental puzzles and rotating along those bizarre landforms’ tubular axes.

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It’s colourful, vibrant and instantly charming, and the game actually makes a decent first impression with its first few levels, locked 60fps action and sharp, crisp visuals.  The initial Windy Hill Zone has you zipping through that familiar grassy terrain, turbo-boosting your way through ring-filled loops that evoke memories of Sonic’s glory days, but it doesn’t last. And it certainly doesn’t take very long before you realise that the comparisons to Super Mario Galaxy are simply cosmetic; the game completely fails to capitalise on the idea of spheroid levels. 

There’s a story, of course – but it’s a terrible, cringe-worthy artefact of the era in which Sonic was still really popular.  Sonic’s perpetual nemesis Dr Eggman (or Robotnik, for purists) makes way for six bizarre alien creatures hell-bent on conquering earth, none of whom are interesting or memorable. Of course Robotnik and Sonic have to work together to vanquish this new enemy, because of course they do. The stupid narrative isn’t made any more enjoyable by the fact that Sonic himself is entirely unlikeable. For some bizarre reason, since Sonic found his voice in the 90’s he’s been stuck there, as an annoying reprobate with all the charm of a cocky teenager. Whenever he appeared on-screen in a cutscene, I wanted to put my fist through the screen.

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You’ll mostly be playing the game from a 3D perspective in a variety of ways; standard 3D platforming and on-rails gliding 3D sections (hooray for insta-death!), interspersed every so often with moments of 2D platforming action that almost recall the magic of Sonic games of old – but even they’re clunky and tiresome.  To make this newfangled level design work, Sonic has had a fundamental, jarring  change to how he works; instead of perpetually attempting to run at full speed, Sonic is now a little slower , and  you’ll have to hold in a trigger button to bring him to full gait. It’s odd; Sonic has always been about going flat-out – and this change in mechanics slows the whole game down. The level design makes it necessary though; Lost World favours pixel-precise platforming over Sonic’s trademark speed and you’ll often have to be rather cautious and conservative with running, lest you fall in to yet another pit of spikes. There are all sorts of other egregious faults that come down to poor controls; Sonic no longer has much forward momentum thanks to speed, so you’ll have to double jump to cross chasms, and a new wall-running mechanic means Sonic often clambers up walls whether you want him to or not – resulting in  death.

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It  does become frighteningly difficult – but so little of that feels like real difficulty due to masterful design; most of your deaths result from not actually being able to control Sonic as well as you should. It’s made even more challenging thanks to a baffling design choice; collecting 100 rings no longer gives Sonic an extra life – making the collection of rings almost meaningless.  That’s speed, and the importance of collecting rings – the two very central tenets of a Sonic game – pointless.

The only way to get extras in Lost World is to collect them, and they’re pretty sparse, and without a cache of spare lives many sections begin to feel hopelessly impossible. Fail on a section enough times and you can skip to the next checkpoint; but unlike Nintendo’s superguide systems, this seems almost an admission by the developers that the game is so badly designed. 

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The wisp powers from Sonic colours return, but their inclusion feels more like they were thrown on just to be included than to aid in level design in any meaningful way. And while they could have added some inventive uses for the Wii U’s second screen, make the whole system feel instead like a comically oversized DS. In many ways, it feels like the game’s designers have thrown just about every idea they could conceive of at the game, in the hope that some of them stuck – but all its resulted in is Sonic: Lost World being a confused hodgepodge of misguided, ill-fitting ideas and mechanics that’s about as fun as running head-first in to a brick wall. There’s a stealth section for god’s sake.

While it’s occasionally inspired, with a handful of nicely designed, fun levels, Lost World is an affront to fun – and Sonic fans deserve better than this. I hope that SEGA really re-examines the guy who used to be their mascot to find out what really made him work – or just retire him for good.

Last Updated: October 29, 2013

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U)
Occasional moments of brilliance do very little to elevate what is otherwise a terrible, poorly designed game. It's an unfortunate mash of ill-fitting, ill-conceived ideas, leaving us with yet another poor Sonic game.
4.0
Sonic: Lost World (Wii U) was reviewed on Nintendo Wii U
63 / 100

48 Comments

  1. oVg

    October 29, 2013 at 15:33

    SONIC on a Nintendo platform BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Darn I wish I time traveled from 1991 and brought back some pictures for my SEGA fudgetards at school. They would never believe me in a million years.

    Reply

    • Umar heartless

      October 29, 2013 at 15:42

      Soon it’s going to be Mario on a Sony Platform if they don’t get their act together

      Reply

      • Eva Amore

        November 1, 2013 at 13:59

        No it won’t. You obviously don’t believe in strange ideas.

        Did the Virtual Boy fail? Yes. But look what it became in future years..

        THE 3DS. That thing has sold so well.. :3

        Sure its not the big thing everything wants now but.. its just so crazy and unique someday it might work into something better~

        At least they tried to innovate~

        I AM BUYING A WII U. I love Nintendos spirit.

        Reply

        • Umar Moe Moe

          November 1, 2013 at 14:50

          You misunderstand. I am not bashing the console itself. WiiU is awesome 🙂 But Ninty is doing a mighty poor job of properly marketing this thing , they aren’t giving this console enough attention. They can’t get by just with innovation this time.

          Reply

        • Guest

          February 7, 2014 at 10:34

          hahaahaha… 3DS and Wii U suck.. Next gen sonic is already announced for Xbox One and PS4.. go cry to ur mum

          Reply

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:08

      Yes, yes! HAHAH! Rember the wars we used to have!

      Reply

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:08

      Yes, yes! HAHAH! Rember the wars we used to have!

      Reply

  2. Vampyre Squirrel

    October 29, 2013 at 15:33

    The game that killed Sonic for Geoff… and if it has that power, I shall avoid it.

    Also it getting a 4 out of 10 makes me want to avoid it even more…

    Reply

  3. That Happy Twit

    October 29, 2013 at 15:35

    Nooooo…!!!

    Reply

  4. Umar heartless

    October 29, 2013 at 15:37

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:09

      Forgot one…

      Reply

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:09

      Forgot one…

      Reply

  5. Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    October 29, 2013 at 15:37

    Stop killing my childhood :'(

    Reply

  6. Umar heartless

    October 29, 2013 at 15:37

    Sonic died the moment he had a human love interest

    Reply

    • Mario

      October 29, 2013 at 22:57

      He’s not dead! And this game doesn’t deserve the hate!

      Reply

  7. Admiral Chief Ninja

    October 29, 2013 at 15:38

    Yeah, so much fail

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      October 29, 2013 at 15:39

      I just laughed so hard man! Epic.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief Ninja

        October 29, 2013 at 15:46

        Heheh

        Reply

  8. Admiral Chief Ninja

    October 29, 2013 at 15:38

    BRING BACK Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles!

    So much win! Combine them and you get a whole new experience!!!

    Reply

    • Grant Hancock

      October 29, 2013 at 16:03

      I’d love to see a Sonic(ish) game made a la Mighty No. 9

      Reply

  9. Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

    October 29, 2013 at 15:43

    4/5. Would play again.

    Reply

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 29, 2013 at 15:45

      Really? You would torture yourself for no reason?

      Reply

      • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

        October 29, 2013 at 15:46

        lolnope. Fuck that shit.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief Ninja

          October 29, 2013 at 15:47

          hahahaha

          Reply

        • Eva Amore

          November 1, 2013 at 14:01

          -sigh- I really hate how people pay attention to critics. Yes Sonic Lost World is a bad game but they tend to give all the good things bad ratings.

          Reply

  10. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    October 29, 2013 at 15:44

    I reviewed the DS version, but from my chats with Geoff post-review, it really seems like he drew the short end of the string. I thought the DS version was dismally average, but the Wii U one seems even worse.

    How did Sega get it so wrong? It baffles my mind.

    Reply

    • Vampyre Squirrel

      October 29, 2013 at 15:58

      Sega’s been losing the plot lately… I’m not sure what’s up with them.

      Nothing against the Nintendo platforms, some games are definitely just better on them… but maybe they shouldn’t have produced this game for the DS and WiiU?

      Reply

  11. Umar heartless

    October 29, 2013 at 15:46

    To hell with sonic. It’s time Shenmue returns!!

    Reply

    • Mario

      October 29, 2013 at 22:58

      Sonic’s far from going there. AT ALLLLLLLLL!!!

      Reply

  12. Lourens Jordaan

    October 29, 2013 at 15:50

    The review proves something I’ve been thinking for years, i.e. SONIC SUCKS!!! I’ve never encountered such an overrated game character in my life. My apologies if I’ve offended anyone.

    Reply

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 29, 2013 at 16:05

      I’m still optimistic, but I think it might also be that SONIC needs a makeover. Maybe it’s time he gets the Nolan gritty makeover… also his lover Knuckles needs to die. It’ll give Sonic the fire to become a badass.

      Reply

      • Grant Hancock

        October 29, 2013 at 16:14

        gritty would work … the first season of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon was mucho dark for a kiddies show when it first came out… 1993’ish

        After all … living creatures are being turned into robots… many of whom are Sonics friends… he is part of ‘The Resistance’ … shit is heavy yo!

        Reply

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          October 30, 2013 at 00:56

          Sonic mixed in with some Robocop and Terminator? Damn! See that’s why we should be out there making movies and creating games. 😛

          Reply

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 29, 2013 at 16:05

      I’m still optimistic, but I think it might also be that SONIC needs a makeover. Maybe it’s time he gets the Nolan gritty makeover… also his lover Knuckles needs to die. It’ll give Sonic the fire to become a badass.

      Reply

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:09

      What you said man. Never liked the damn thing…

      Reply

    • Rincethis

      October 29, 2013 at 16:09

      What you said man. Never liked the damn thing…

      Reply

  13. Grant Hancock

    October 29, 2013 at 16:01

    The problem with Sonic… is that he is no longer being voiced by Jaleel “Steve Urkel” White !! 😀

    Reply

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 29, 2013 at 16:05

      The power of Steve Urkel!

      Reply

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 29, 2013 at 16:05

      The power of Steve Urkel!

      Reply

  14. Mario

    October 29, 2013 at 22:55

    Still doesn’t deserve this.

    Reply

  15. Guest

    October 30, 2013 at 01:12

    So the people who designed the stage deserve to be shot, and you wanted to put a fist through the screen? Are you sure you should be writing game articles?

    Reply

  16. Pieter Brand

    October 30, 2013 at 14:17

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      October 31, 2013 at 16:29

      Just makes it even more heartbreaking to realise how SEGA’s botched this game… :/

      Reply

  17. TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    October 31, 2013 at 16:25

    “Word”

    “Typographical error” detected.

    Reply

  18. Zebliin

    November 2, 2013 at 19:42

    I’ve almost finished this game and my partner already has. It can be tricky on occasion but neither of us get why the critics hate this game. The game actually plays very well in my experience. Try watching this video if they haven’t put you off giving it a go already..

    Being able to slow down for platforming is a helpful addition, but no one’s forcing you to run slow so you can speed along like the guy in the video if you want. Also, getting 100 rings in Sonic Colors didn’t give you an extra life neither so that isn’t something new to Lost World, but there are PLENTY of extra lives to collect throughout the game.

    Reply

    • Josh

      May 11, 2014 at 05:37

      “THIS GAME ISN’T SLOW UR TOO SLOW IGN”

      “SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH SPIN DASH”

      lol, this guy kinda proved IGN’s point, Sonic shouldn’t depend on the Spin Dash to go fast, the sluggishness in this game (and some bullshit level designs here and there) is actually what made me drop it before I even made to half of it.

      They were doing very well in Sonic Colors and Generations, I see no reason to change things again.

      Reply

  19. geniuskong

    December 28, 2013 at 09:07

    No, there is not actually a stealth section. You DODGE the search light… you don’t sneak around it.

    Reply

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