E3 2013: Sonic Lost World Preview

June 24, 2013

Ah, Sonic the Hedgehog. Where would the world be without you? Better of due to a lack of terrible fan characters and crazy aficionados? Quite possibly. But whether you feel that way about Sonic or not, there’s no doubt that the new game, Sonic Lost World has created quite a stir. We at Rocket Chainsaw got our hands on the game to try it out for ourselves.

Sonic Lost World is a Nintendo exclusive Sonic title that will be hitting both Wii U and 3DS. We played the Wii U version, but not the 3DS one. The 3DS version, we were told, is a 3D game rather than the traditional 2D Sonic games that are typically created for the handheld platforms. We noticed that there seemed to be superficial similarities to the cancelled Sonic X-Treme title from a couple decades ago, but these are unintentional, as the representatives on-site confirmed. An X-Treme baseball cap was present at the booth as a joke, but no design elements or concepts have been intentionally carried over. Visually, however, the game is rather similar to Super Mario Galaxy with Sonic ending up on a lot of different planetoids and bits of environment with their own gravity. Sonic can walk off the edge of a level and gravitate to the bottom of it to keep exploring.

In terms of platforming, Sonic’s plays quite similarly to how he previously has in past 3D Sonic titles. Sonic has his homing attack, although it seems bouncier than normal, and a bit goofier. Sonic’s spindash is back in a big way, and there’s also a button dedicated to putting Sonic into a ‘sprint’ mode, where his legs lock into a figure-eight pattern and you can move faster without spindashing. This also allows Sonic to run up curves in the walls and gravitate to them. Sorely absent, however, is the quick-step feature found in Sonic games since Sonic Unleashed. We found that there were several times in our demo where you’re running at high speeds, and need to quickly move left and right to collect rings and avoid obstacles. With the quick-step, this would have been simple, but with the analogue movement they have now it’s slow and awkward.

The demo we played had three acts, with two based in an area called ‘Windy Hill’ and a third in ‘Desert Ruins’. The first act was reminiscent of, again, Super Mario Galaxy, while the second had gameplay that reminded us more of a 2D Sonic game. The third act was an auto-run level, similar in concept to the mach speed segments from Sonic 2006. A lot of it took place inside a tube, where Sonic could run up the walls to collect rings and avoid enemies. The Wisps and their powers from Sonic Colours are also back. In the demo, we saw the Indigo wisp with its laser power making a return, but there will be others featured, with some new Wisps added as well.

In all, we found the colourful design and return to simple platforming of Sonic Lost World endearing, but the controls felt a little loose. Hopefully it’ll be tightened up in time for its release at the end of the year.