While it’s an approach that's horrified methodical Mario fans since the 16-bit era, the delirious thrill of playing a Sonic game has always been pushing forward on the controller, watching your spiky hero accelerate like a bullet, and rocketing across gaudy levels that test your reflexes to the max and are specifically built for speed.
But in slowing down to pay homage to
Nintendo's deeper, more disciplined adventures, Sega has somehow lost sight of what made its über mascot such a blast in the first place.
On first impressions Lost World looks every bit a Sonic classic, and is brought screaming to life with imaginative visuals, familiar devices and enemies, and an aggressive colour palette that will deep fry your retinas. But it isn’t long before the game’s clumsy controls begin to suck away the fun.
Rather than perpetually sprinting across the surreal landscapes, players can choose to modify their speed using the right trigger to bring Sonic skidding to a stroll, allowing you to spend time searching for secrets and liberating imprisoned animals. But as the ’hog’s leisurely gait feels too sluggish when walking, and is too jittery to give you confident control at top speed, the game feels like an uncomfortable compromise between Super Mario Galaxy and a traditional Sonic quest, and lacks the charm of either series. Further control woes come in Sonic's propensity for running along walls if you so much as glance against a vertical surface, locking on certain enemies while ignoring others and preventing you from chaining attacks, and a camera that often blocks you from seeing where you're going or what you’re attacking.
But all this pales into insignificance during the intensely irritating ice levels where the control issues are exasperated by slippery snow, and will drive even the most patient gamer into paroxysms of controller-smashing rage. A cheap, cruel, crushing disappointment in the wake of Sonic Colors and Generations, Lost World is a step backwards for Sega’s most celebrated son and proof that the Blue Blur should stick with he does best – fluid, breathtaking, supercharged action.
Reviewed by David McComb