Sonic Lost World
|Sonic Lost World|
North American Wii U cover art
|Director(s)||Morio Kishimoto (Wii U)
Takao Hirabayashi (3DS)
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Release date(s)||Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Sonic Lost World is an action-adventure/platform video game developed by Sonic Team for the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC platforms. It was published by Nintendo in Europe and Australia and Sega in North America and Japan in October 2013, and later worldwide for Microsoft Windows via Steam in November 2015. It is part of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and was the first title in the series on an eighth-generation home console.
Lost World focuses on the efforts of Sonic the Hedgehog to stop the Deadly Six, an alien tribe that serves as the game's main antagonists, as they seek to siphon energy from the Lost Hex, the game's setting. Sonic and his long-time sidekick Tails must team up with Doctor Eggman, normally their enemy, to stop the Deadly Six, leading to conflicts among the three parties. While the gameplay is typical of the Sonic series in some ways, it adds parkour mechanics and features largely cylindrical level design with an emphasis on alternate pathways. The game also features the Wisp creatures from Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations as power-ups.
The game began development shortly after the 2010 release of Sonic Colors. It was designed to be streamlined, simple, and fluid in movement and design, using a novel tube-like level design style and a simple, bright color scheme. The game received mixed reviews upon release; its controls and the Deadly Six were frequently criticized, but its visuals and audio were seen positively. Downloadable content was released both alongside and after the game's release, adding features such as additional levels and a new type of Wisp power.
Sonic Lost World is a platform game with action-adventure elements, in which the player controls Sonic the Hedgehog as he travels across the Lost Hex in order to rescue captured animals and stop the Deadly Six. Levels range from side-scrolling 2D levels to fast-moving 3D linear levels to levels taking place on spherical worlds similar to the cancelled Sonic X-treme and the Super Mario Galaxy series. This also translates to the 3DS version, as it was the first handheld game in the series presented entirely in 3D.
The game uses a new control system which allows players to control Sonic's speed. Simply moving the directional controls will move Sonic at a moderate pace, allowing for more precision. Holding down a trigger button will put Sonic into a run, allowing him to move faster and perform new parkour moves, such as running up and along walls and hopping over smalls ledges. In the air, Sonic can perform a double jump, which returns from Sonic Colors, a homing attack, which can now target multiple enemies in quick succession, and a new kick attack, which can be used to defeat stronger enemies, or knock them into others.
Also returning from Colors are the Wisp creatures, which provide short-lived power-ups to Sonic. The Wisps' powers are now controlled using the Wii U GamePad's touchscreen and gyroscopic features. Alongside returning powers such as Drill, Laser and Rocket, new powers include Eagle, which lets Sonic fly through the air, Asteroid, which atomizes objects in his path, and Rhythm, which lets him bounce along a path of notes. There are also some Wisps exclusive to each version of the game. During the game, players can rescue animals by destroying enemies or opening containers, allowing players to progress, or find Red Star Rings that open up circus-themed bonus stages where players can earn more animals. Collecting all the Red Star Rings in the game unlocks the ability to transform into Super Sonic.
The Wii U version supports both co-operative multiplayer, in which a second player can control a remote controlled vehicle to assist Sonic, and competitive multiplayer, in which a second player can use the Wii U Gamepad screen to race against the other player. The game also supports Miiverse and Off-TV Play functionality. Using Miiverse, players can exchange items such as Wisps or shields, which grow more effective if they are used by other players. The 3DS version supports both local and online multiplayer for up to four players. Players may also customise RC vehicles in the 3DS version, which can then be used in the Wii U version.
Seven returning characters from previous Sonic titles star in Sonic Lost World. The protagonist, Sonic the Hedgehog who must defeat the main antagonist Doctor Eggman and stop the Deadly Six. Aiding him in his quest is Tails, Sonic's fox friend who has the ability to fly. Knuckles the Echidna, Sonic's strong friend, and Amy Rose, his self-proclaimed girlfriend, also make relatively minor appearances.
The main antagonist of the series, Doctor Eggman, is a mad scientist who seemingly turns over a new leaf to help Sonic stop the Deadly Six. Orbot and Cubot make a return appearance as Eggman's henchmen. Also serving as the main antagonists and boss characters are the Deadly Six, a group of the world's indigenous Zeti race consisting of Zazz, a hyperactive Zeti; Zomom, an obese and dim-witted Zeti; Master Zik, the elderly founder of the tribe and Zavok's teacher; Zeena, a flirtatious and self-absorbed Zeti; Zor, a diminutive and pessimistic Zeti; and Zavok, the tribe's leader. The tribe plans to steal the energy from Sonic's world.
Sonic the Hedgehog and his friend Tails pursue Doctor Eggman, who has captured several of their animal friends with the intention of using them to power his robot army. While the two attempt to retrieve a falling capsule filled with animals, Eggman shoots down Tails' plane. However, they end up discovering a world in the sky known as the Lost Hex, and crash land there. Entering the Windy Hill Zone, Sonic and Tails make their way through clouds and the grassy fields. The duo then discover that Eggman has enlisted the aid of a group of the world's indigenous Zeti race, collectively known as the Deadly Six, using a magical conch to keep them under his command. However, when Sonic rushes in and kicks the conch away, the Deadly Six betray Eggman and take control of his Badnik army. They then start to use one of Eggman's machines to siphon energy from Sonic's world below, planning to drain all of its life force until there is nothing left and use it to power themselves up. Reluctantly, Sonic agrees to work with Eggman, believing that he needs his help to stop the machine, though this seems to cause some distrust between him and Tails.
As Sonic battles his way throughout the Lost Hex, the Deadly Six concoct a plan to capture Sonic and turn him into a robot under their control, but they end up accidentally capturing Tails instead. After Eggman is seemingly killed, Sonic comes across the Deadly Six as they prepare to use the roboticized Tails against him. However, prior to the conversion, Tails managed to reprogram the process to retain his free will and instead helps Sonic to defeat them. Upon reaching the machine and finding it already switched off, Eggman reappears, having faked his death and used the energy harvested to power his latest giant mech. After sending Eggman falling out of the sky, Sonic and Tails return the stolen energy to the world below and return home. The game ends with Orbot and Cubot finding Eggman, who has survived his fall, and digging him out of a soft spot of dirt where he landed on.
Development for Lost World started shortly after Sonic Colors was finished and took place over two-and-a-half years. Sonic Team sought to streamline the controls, increase the length, and add more diverse levels compared to previous entries in the series. After reviewing the history of the franchise with Sonic Generations, game producer Takashi Iizuka hoped to "deliver a new experience" with Lost World. Development started on PC, with early experiments involving "twisted tube-type level[s]" inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk. As the concept "was totally new", early levels had to be remade "over and over." Players were given greater ability to control Sonic's speed in an effort to create a more traditional platforming experience. The parkour mechanic was introduced to maintain a more fluid sense of movement, in contrast to previous Sonic games where running into a wall would force the player to a complete stop. Iizuka stated that "This game is like going into the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, an action game where you can experience many strange and fun experiences."
Development ultimately focused on the Wii U and 3DS because of the success of previous Sonic titles on Nintendo platforms. Because Wii U "has two monitors to use", Sonic Team decided to include both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. The Wii U GamePad's touch screen and gyroscope were employed to activate the returning Color Powers. The 3DS version, co-developed with Dimps, was designed to "fully utilize" the 3DS hardware with 3D gameplay and motion controls. Development was harder on 3DS due to its more limited processing power. Iizuka stated that the Color Powers are "essential" to the level design of the 3DS version, while they work as an "additional tool" in the Wii U version. A simple art style was used to make objects stand out more against the backgrounds, and to keep the game running at a consistent 60 frames per second. The design of the new "Deadly Six" villains was based on that of an ogre, and each one's appearance was intended to reflect a certain key characteristic of their personality, which the developers hoped players could see "just by looking at them." The Wii U version of the game was directed by Morio Kishimoto, the director of Sonic Colors and the lead designer of Sonic and the Black Knight, while the 3DS version was directed by Takao Hirabayashi, the director of Sonic Colors DS.
A trademark for the title Sonic Lost World was filed by Sega in May 2013. The game was first revealed on May 17, 2013 in a Nintendo Direct announcement, as part of an exclusive partnership between Sega and Nintendo for the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is one of three games in this partnership, the other ones being the fourth entry to the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series, and Sonic Boom, a game based on the animated series of the same name. Sega reported that more on the game would be revealed before the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 convention, and that the game will contain both returning and new original characters, both in enemies and friends of Sonic. On May 23, 2013, Sega posted a teaser, showing silhouette images of the Deadly Six, and stating that more would be revealed on May 29. The first trailer for the game was released on May 28, a day earlier than previously announced.
A downloadable demo of the "Windy Hill Zone 1" stage was made available for both consoles on October 9 in Japan and in mid-November in North America and Europe. The game's official soundtrack, titled Without Boundaries, was released via physical media in Japan on November 27, 2013 and digitally in the United States and Europe on December 2, 2013. To promote the release of Sonic Lost World, Hardlight Studios released an update for Sonic Dash that includes a boss battle against Zazz, one of the Deadly Six. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U also includes a stage based on Windy Hill Zone from the game as well.
Downloadable content and patches
A special, limited stock "Deadly Six" edition of the Wii U version of the game was available for pre-order, which included special "Nightmare" downloadable content, featuring a new stage and boss battles based on one of Sonic Team's previous games, Nights into Dreams.... Clearing the DLC unlocks a special Color Power, the Black Bomb, normally only obtainable via Miiverse. Pre-ordering the game from Amazon.com allowed the player to start off with twenty-five extra lives.
A patch for the Wii U version was released on December 10, 2013, adding additional features such as button controls for some Wisps and the traditional extra life reward for collecting 100 rings. On December 18, 2013, Nintendo announced two exclusive pieces of free DLC for the Wii U version based on other Nintendo games. The first DLC stage, "Yoshi's Island Zone", was released on the day of the announcement, with a second installment, "The Legend of Zelda Zone", released on March 27, 2014.
The game's music was composed and directed by Tomoya Ohtani, with Takahito Eguchi handling the cut-scene music and orchestration. Naofumi Hataya also contributed a single piece, the theme for "Desert Ruins Zone - Act 3". The three-disc official soundtrack, titled Sonic Lost World Original Soundtrack Without Boundaries, was released physically in Japan and digitally worldwide via iTunes and Amazon Music on November 27, 2013.
Sonic Lost World received mixed reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. During its opening week in the UK, Sonic Lost World charted at #11 on the All-formats chart for sales, but achieved the top spot on the Wii U chart and #4 on the Nintendo 3DS chart. As of the end of 2013, Sega had shipped 640,000 copies of the game. As of March 31, 2014, the game had sold 710,000 copies.
The game's presentation was well received. Chris Plante of Polygon praised the Wii U version's visuals and music as "arguably the best" in the series. Game Informer's Tim Turi wrote that "The orchestrated tracks evoke Mario Galaxy in the best ways." GameSpot's Mark Walton and Computer and Videogames's Chris Scullion singled out the candy-themed "Dessert Ruins" level as a visual highlight. However, Turi made note of "ultra-compressed" cutscenes in the 3DS version. IGN's Vince Ingenito was favorable to the "pleasant" art direction and stable framerate, but criticized the "subdued" color palette. Roger Hargreaves of Metro stated that the "imaginative" designs and "spectacular set piece[s]" kept him "interested to know what comes next." Chris Schilling of Eurogamer was even more effusive: "Blue skies forever!"
Strong criticism was directed at the game's control scheme, especially the new parkour mechanic. Turi "never got a good feel for the rhythm of wall running and jumping, and felt lucky to pass sections where it was forced." Hargreaves, Walton, and Official Nintendo Magazine's Matthew Castle agreed. Ingenito found it problematic that Sonic tends to wall-run on every nearby vertical surface. Schilling singled out the multi-lock homing attack, writing that while "most of the time it works perfectly well", it appeared to "inexplicably fail" on occasion. Ingenito, Turi, and Hargreaves agreed. Matthew Castle of Official Nintendo Magazine struggled with the homing attack "locking on too late or attacking enemies in awkward sequence." However, GamesRadar's Justin Towell defended the control scheme, explaining that while it had a learning curve, it also "modernize[s] environmental traversal" and "provide[s] a distinct safety net". Towell argued that Sonic was mainly hard to control in the "more complex 2D sections" because there are "so many rules for how Sonic reacts contextually to his environment". Reona Ebihara of Famitsu stated that the ability to slow down made the game easier to play for beginners. However, Turi criticized Sonic's "odd sense of momentum" and imprecise jumps, stating that switching between two speeds is "jarring" and produces "touchy platforming". Schilling excoriated the "profoundly frustrating" controls as the worst in the series, explaining that "Sonic's too sluggish while walking, and too skittish to cope with the trickier platforming bits when running". Ingenito agreed: "I've played a lot of Sonic over the years, and the controls have never felt as alien and inconsistent as they do here."
Several critics felt that Sonic controlled better on the 3DS. IGN's Jose Otero said the parkour "felt great" and "turned most obstructions into minor hurdles" in this version. Official Nintendo Magazine's Joe Skrebels felt that Sonic "controls far better at top speed on 3DS". Kotaku's Stephen Totilo stated that the 3DS version does a better job of teaching the controls, although Turi derided its "constant, lengthy tutorial text". However, Schilling called the homing attack "even more capricious" on 3DS.
Reaction to the game's level design was mixed. Turi made note of oddly placed invisible springs in the Wii U version's "confusing" and "aggravating" levels, and expressed frustration with the 3DS version's "head-scratching" puzzles. Walton preferred the "inoffensive" 2D sections to the "frustrating mishmash of speed and exploration" found in 3D. Plante praised the Wii U version's 3D stages as "wildly creative exercises in platforming experimentation" while decrying its 2D stages as "so clunky and tiresome that it's hard to imagine a time when a side-scrolling Sonic was actually good." Fellow Polygon writer Philip Kollar was harsher on the 3DS version due to its "confusing and labyrinthine" level design and "awkward puzzles". Ingenito stated that the Wii U version's levels were stuck in "design gridlock" and "lack[ed] rhythm and cohesion". Otero praised the 3DS version's "better levels" as "competently made race tracks full of alternate pathways", but called the "trial and error" required to complete the "slower-paced 3D stages" "incredibly frustrating". Castle stated that the Wii U version's "best stages play to the strengths of Sonic's tiered speed", while Skrebels felt the 3DS version featured levels well-suited for handheld play. Totilo praised "the intuitive, flowing, player-friendly levels of the 3DS version" but panned "the badly-explained, choppy, punitive levels of the Wii U version". Schilling wrote that "I came perilously close to biting my GamePad at one particularly sharp difficulty spike." Edge noted that "Sonic games, and platformers in general, have always been about memorizing the lay of the land, but rarely have mistakes been so costly or heavily punished."
The alternate gameplay styles polarized many critics. Daniel Cairns of VideoGamer.com and Castle highlighted the level where Sonic becomes a giant snowball as "genuinely excellent" and "a cool riff on Monkey Ball", whereas Turi and Ingenito described it as "atrocious", "uncontrollabl[e]" and "the exact opposite of fun". Turi "received multiple game overs during a mundane mandatory pinball sequence." Walton felt that some of the Wisps were an "amusing aside," while others suffered from "frustrating motion controls". GameTrailers' Justin Speer stated that the Wisps "don't really feel like they belong" in the Wii U version. Totilo preferred how the Wisps were used in the 3DS version, but Towell stated that while they were "more integral" to the design, they tended to interrupt "the free-form gameplay" with "clumsy mechanic[s]". Towell described the 3DS version's motion-controlled Special Stages as "borderline unplayable". Totilo and Castle criticized the Wii U version's Jetpack Joyride-style flying levels as "regrettable" and "horribly imprecise". Turi and Totilo criticized the Wii U version's balloon-popping minigame as "mind-numbing" and "awkward". Turi called the Wii U version's co-op mode "useless". Castle wrote that "Two-player races would be a cool addition were it not for the horrible framerate issues."
The Deadly Six were negatively received. Although Towell enjoyed their "fun, stereotypical personalities", he was disappointed by their "awful" dialogue. Speer called the boss battles "weirdly anticlimactic", and Ingenito stated they were "some of the most boring in the series' history". Turi referred to the Deadly Six as "generic", "forgettable", and "some of the most aggressively annoying villains ever."
Critics disagreed over what to make of the game as a whole. In 2015, the staff of USgamer referred to Lost World as "perhaps Sonic's best outing in years." Destructoid's Jim Sterling said it "can wildly swing from brilliant to horrific at the drop of a hat, but when one steps back and takes a look at the whole production, one sees far more to love than hate." Plante noted that "the early stages display a degree of design ingenuity and polish which gradually degrades". Empire's David McComb called it "A cheap, cruel, crushing disappointment in the wake of Sonic Colors and Generations." Walton concluded that "in overtly coveting the great Italian plumber, it smothers the talents of its blazing blue hedgehog."
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Sonic the Hedgehog: Drop the critters, Eggman!
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