Release Date: October 18 (UK), October 29 (US)
Platforms available on: Wii U, 3DS
Developer: Sonic Team
Sonic the Hedgehog has experienced mixed fortunes in recent years, struggling to find his feet in a brave new world of 3D platforming.
Recent signs suggest that Sega's long-time mascot has turned a corner, with the episodic Sonic 4 successfully taking the character back to his roots, and 2011's Sonic Generations serving as an apt homage to his history.
Sonic: Lost World for Wii U borrows elements from both of the above, as well as numerous other contemporary platformers, to deliver a Sonic experience that is both differentiated and definitive.
The title embraces the 2D gameplay that helped the blue hedgehog make a name for himself on the Mega Drive in the early 1990s, and perfects the linear 3D platforming of recent Sonic outings.
There is no shortage of variety on offer since levels range from side-scrolling 2D to face-paced 3D, with stages set against spherical backdrops akin to those found in Super Mario Galaxy also incorporated into the mix.
Sonic: Lost World is constantly switching between these perspectives, seamlessly blending them to create what feels like a hybrid platformer comprised of cherry-picked elements from the best titles the genre has to offer.
- Sonic: Lost World for Wii U borrows elements from both of the above, as well as numerous other contemporary platformers, to deliver a Sonic experience that is both differentiated and definitive.
Controlling Sonic on a spherical playing field is not unlike tackling Super Mario Galaxy with the speed dial cranked into overdrive. It's Sonic like you've never seen him before, and that's pretty much what the game is all about.
Sonic: Lost World wastes no time setting itself apart from its series predecessors, with players now required to hold down the ZR button to run at top speed, rather than it being the default pace.
While you will spend much of the game with this button firmly pressed, it's good to have the option to drop to a slower pace when a situation calls for precision rather than speed.
Sonic also has a dozen or so new tricks at his disposal, including the ability to run up walls and a powerful kick attack, which work in harmony with familiar moves such as the homing attack.
The Wisp powers introduced in 2010's Sonic Colours make a comeback here too, and the developers have gotten creative with their implementation, mapping them to the touchscreen and accelerometer functionality of the Wii U GamePad.
For instance, players can activate the Drill power to tunnel through rock with a swipe of the controller's screen, or map out their flight path via the accelerometer after selecting the Eagle ability.
New Wisp powers include Asteroid, which sees Sonic atomise everything in his path, and Rhythm, which transforms him into a bouncy music note. Both are weird and wonderful in equal measure, adding yet more unique content to the game.
There are a fair few mechanics at play in Sonic: Lost World, but the game is no less accessible than the Sonic titles of old, thanks to the level of balance the developers have attained.
Control staples old and new blend into one another flawlessly, and the alternating level types complement each other to make this Sonic's most diverse adventure to date.
No two stages are the same. One moment you're exploring underwater depths, the next you might be bouncing on clouds up in the heavens. The game is constantly throwing new experiences at the player, keeping it fresh throughout.
There's plenty to do and see outside of the story campaign, with local multiplayer races to compete in, countless collectables to unearth, and challenges to complete within each beaten stage, providing an incentive to revisit levels at least once.
Each level can be tackled co-operatively, with the second player taking control of small UFO that can assist Sonic by taking out enemies and creating platforms to help him through the game's trickier segments.
It's a fun and novel approach to local co-op play that adds a different flavour to each level, creating even more potential for replay value.
Sonic: Lost World deserves plaudits for breathing new life into a franchise in danger of turning stale, but it falls short of perfection.
While it is more than fair to call it challenging, there are some jarring difficulty spikes here and there. Beginners traps and cheap deaths give off the impression that the developers were merely trying to frustrate with some of the more taxing levels.
However, with so much great content on offer, it will take more than fleeting instances of brutality to prevent any self-respecting Sonic fan from persevering to the bitter end.
- No two stages are the same. One moment you're exploring underwater depths, the next you might be bouncing on clouds up in the heavens. The game is constantly throwing new experiences at the player, keeping it fresh throughout.
The game introduces players to a band of antagonistic monsters called The Deadly Six, who start out under the control of Sonic's nemesis Doctor Eggman.
Sonic and Eggman are forced to forge an unlikely alliance to defeat their common enemies after The Deadly Six rebel and assume control of the mad doctor's robotic army.
Sonic fans will be the first to admit that they don't play these games for their storylines, and Sonic: Lost World isn't about to buck that trend with its corny voice acting and wafer-thin script.
Polished graphics, colourful worlds and smooth animation makes Sonic: Lost World one of the best looking platformers on the Wii U and a wonderfully infectious soundtrack that will work its way into your head in no time, caps off the near-flawless production.
Sonic: Lost World is a fresh and unique take on Sega's mascot that recaptures everything that was great about his 2D adventures, rights the wrongs of his 3D outings, and takes him into uncharted territory.
It took the Sonic Team long enough to deliver the definitive contemporary Sonic adventure, but it's finally here, and it was worth the wait.