'Sonic Lost World' Review: Sega's Spikey Runner Runs The Gauntlet On Wii U And 3DS

Sonic Lost World (Wii U, 3DS) is an all-new 3D and 2D platforming adventure featuring Sega's famous spikey blue runner. It is released on 18 October 2013.

The Pitch:

In his latest plot to defeat Sonic and rule the world, Dr. Eggman has harnessed the power of six menacing creatures known as the Deadly Six. However, when the Deadly Six rise up against their new master, Sonic must unite with his arch nemesis Eggman and explore the mystical Lost Hex in order to take them on head-to-head. Use Sonic's amazing new moves and incredible Color Powers to speed across a variety of unique terrains, racing inside, outside and upside down in every level.

Key Features:

  • New moves, including wall-running, sky diving and spin dash
  • Range of colourful 2D and 3D environments
  • Mind-bending spinning courses
  • Play the Wii U version entirely on the Gamepad
  • Co-operative multiplayer
  • Share radio-controlled 'gadgets' between Wii U and 3DS


For all its retro appeal, 'Sonic Lost World' is inadvertently a great argument against nostalgia. For while this extremely varied and creative game is occasionally a riot, it's always much more fun when it's trying something new, rather than emulating the past.

As you may have seen from the exhausting trailers, 'Lost World' is a hybrid two-and-three dimensional take on the classic Sega platformer, which had its glory years way back in the Megadrive era. Sonic himself is pretty much as he was - all speedy running and spiky blue prongs, saving animals from their robotic prisons in a progression of stages and defeating Eggman and his newly recruited, and fairly generic cohort of Deadly Six demons. But where Sonic once ran only from left to right, here he's free to explore his strange new worlds in many different directions (at least some of the time). Seen as a series of quick clips, it looks dramatic, bold and glorious.

And for the first few levels, the game lives up to the promise. Here, back in the stark blue-and-orange of the Green Hill Zone, you have to run along a series of rotating cylinders, finding paths and smashing enemies while maintaining the momentum and speed that is at the heart of any Sonic game. There are plenty of new moves to get your head around - from wall running and new attacks, all the way up to remote-controlled 'gadgets' and other strange power-ups - but the heart of these early levels is familiar, and straightforward: run fast, run clever.

In these early stages, it's easy to be dazzled. For about 20 minutes, 'Lost World' gives Sonic his best moments in years. Despite the frequent cut-scenes that take you between the level's different areas, it's kinetic and extremely quick. Yes, it's a bit baffling - but it's impressive too, in a way reminiscent of the Wonderful 101 in its 'trust me' style of bash-buttons-and-hope controls.

Sonic Lost World

Sonic Lost World Screenshots

Quickly, though, the game splinters from this core, clever premise into a range of other modes which are far less successful. Worst are the recreations of the original 2D gameplay - which are poorly realised compared to both the 3D stages and the 16-bit games - and boss battles which are too hard and frustrating. Sonic's controls are less precise, slower and more complex than they were 20 years ago, and the result is gameplay that is similarly clunky. Soon enough you'll long to return to the simple ease of the first few tubular stages. Luckily, a range of time-trial modes means you can easily do this. But it's not quite enough to make a whole game.

In so many other areas, 'Lost World' makes you want to believe in Sonic again. Even the presentation recalls the old games, with stage cards sliding in with the same triangles and fonts, enemies taken straight from the 16-bit era and Sonic's loops, twists and rings all present and correct.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that the game just isn't consistent. It doesn't have enough trust in its new ideas to give them room to breathe, instead choking them with power-ups and 2D levels that should have been left on the cutting room floor. The result is a bit of a disappointment. For while Sonic Lost World can be a very fun and exhilarating game, it's just a bit hit-and-miss. Which when you're travelling as fast as Sonic does, is a treacherous strategy indeed.