The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but Sonic’s mimicry of Super Mario Galaxy’s planet-hopping formula is an embarrassment. Sonic Lost World is a confused mash-up of finicky platforming, aggravating level design, and some of the most aggressively annoying villains ever.
Levels in Sonic Lost world come in both 2D and 3D, sometimes switching between the two mid-stage. Several areas feature spherical land bodies that players can run around Mario Galaxy-style. These colorful, independent “planets” are chained together with cannons, springs, and other unlikely forms of transportation. These launchers shepherd Sonic through sections at a breakneck pace, making it difficult to comprehend what’s happening, let alone collect rings and liberate animals. Certain levels only open if you’ve liberated enough of Sonic’s animal friends, requiring you to replay old levels to grind enemies or play mind-numbing balloon-popping minigames using the Wii U GamePad.
Sonic reaches into his familiar move set to take on evil robots. Homing attacks are useful for taking out multiple enemies, but lining up your shots is unreliable and sometimes propels Sonic off a cliff. Holding a trigger makes Sonic automatically run along walls, but the new mechanic is a death trap. Leaping between walls and using the spin dash for an extra boost is unreliable, leading to frequent falls. Only a few sections in the game require outright wall running, but they devour your limited lives. I never got a good feel for the rhythm of wall running and jumping, and felt lucky to pass sections where it was forced. Character movement is paramount in platformers, and Sonic’s momentum and jumping just feels off.
Sonic Team attempts to sprinkle in variety with several atrocious diversions. High among these offenses is a winter level where Sonic is rolled up into a snowball. Steering the cumbersome sphere past obstacles feels like a drunken version of Super Monkey Ball. Attacking foes sends Sonic bouncing off in random directions, usually off a cliff. I also received multiple game overs during a mundane mandatory pinball sequence in a casino level. Getting stuck due to an awkwardly laid-out pinball table is incredibly frustrating.
Retrying tricky sections sometimes subjects you to hearing repeated taunts from the new agitating and stereotypical boss enemies. For example, the emo one discusses the pointlessness of existence, and the female one talks about her nails and dieting. These idiots are bound to test the patience of even the truest Sonic fans.
Sonic Lost World takes another page from Super Mario Galaxy with its co-op mode, but it’s useless. A second player is supposed to use small remote-controlled planes or helicopters to attack enemies for Sonic, but the game moves far too fast for these to ever be useful. The gadget struggles to catch up after the blue hero blazes across ramps, and lining up attacks is too sluggish to assist him reliably. More RC gizmos can be added by linking up the 3DS version of the game, but we don't recommend the time investment. A local competitive two-player race mode lets friends race through campaign levels against one another, but gameplay suffers the same pitfalls as the single-player.
Last generation’s Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors were both poor attempts to fuse 2D and 3D platforming, and it’s sad to see Sonic Team fail to improve following those stumbling points. Lost World’s obvious inspiration from Super Mario Galaxy appeared to be a step in the right direction, but the core game is sub-par even by Sonic’s standards.