Sonic Lost World (Wii U): The Retro Review


I won’t bore you with the usual spiel about Sonic’s state in the past and present. Leave that to any other website trying to pad the word count. Let’s get right into the heart of it: Sonic Lost World is a half-baked game. At its best, it brings a fresh element of fun to the series through the new Parkour System that lets Sonic zip around landmarks, triangle jump up walls, and even cancel his now-signature homing attack to kick enemies around. But the experience tends to get bogged down by odd level design choices or a finicky mechanics.

But is the game still salvageable and worth putting into your blossoming Wii U library?

It’s a tough call. Sonic’s been slowed down considerably from his Unleashed/Generations days, and this results in the game feeling like a more expansive sequel to Sonic Colors (which it is, in a certain way.) This is actually a pretty good thing, since it allows greater control of Sonic for platforming in both 2D and 3D. Problems arise, however, with a few of the core mechanics. From time to time, the homing attack will decide to slowly register a lock or just drop it entirely. Furthermore, wall running in 3D feels rather unintuitive, a fact I think Sonic Team knows as well since the two key areas in the game where wall running is tested on the player have alternate routes using Wisp powers to skip the segments.

The Wisps themselves, whorbot cubotile having no real explanation as to why they’re around, lack the same spark of enjoyment most of them had in Colors. Eagle and Underwater Drill feel rather clunky due to requiring the Wii U Pad’s motion and touch controls to function, while Rhythm only requires mindlessly tapping the touch screen to move around. Fortunately, they are usually optional to continue through the stage.

Halfway through the game, progression begins to become somewhat of a chore with either cheap object placement that will straight up kill Sonic regardless if he’s holding rings or punish the player through so-called newbie traps that will force the player to memorize a few things while progressing through the stage.

One such jarring example was a stealth segment where getting caught was an instant death. It’s only jarring since it’s the only time it occurs within the game, and with little warning. Also featured is a snowball level that feels like a throwback to Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Sonic remains in a snowball through most of the stage, and is both a bit hard to control and very easy to get knocked off into a pit. Bring your patience for this one and a later level with tons of instant kill bomb-filled mine carts.


Otherwise, Lost World is a very pretty game. It runs at a deliciously crisp 60FPS and the environments are very bright and colorful. The music is no less delightful than usual Sega Sound Team works in the series, and I found some very quick favorites within the soundtrack such as the somber but energetic tune for Tropical Coast Act 3.

The story exists to just move things along, though this is easily the best Dr. Eggman has been in a long while, essentially stealing the show. The Zeti, on the other hand, are rather unmemorable and exist purely as a generic underling unit. I could not tell you the names of any of them, just vague descriptions of them. For example, my favorite of the ensemble is the Emo One. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fade into the same abyss that holds the likes of Marine the Raccoon or Jonathan Jones (remember them?)

Much like their characterizations, the boss battles also remain a little uninspired. That is to say, they’re there, you smack them two or three times and then move on. It’s a bit unfortunate since this would have enabled the bosses to stand out a little more as “The Deadly Six”, rather than “Collectively bop us six times to beat us.” Progression is also walled by “Flicky Gates”, though the occasional circus mini games that pop up should make clearing these a trivial matter.

So what’s the verdict?

In the long run, Sonic Lost World was an enjoyable ride, but unlike Colors or Generations, I don’t have any particular desire to go back to it for a second playthrough. The right ingredients are there for an ever better Sonic title, but much like how Sonic Unleashed felt like a half-baked endeavor that later inspired Colors and Generations, I feel Lost World is setting the table for some more interesting experiences in future titles. Definitely give it a spin, but hold steady on simply adding it to your library.

Sonic Lost World was reviewed via a copy of the Deadly Six Bonus Edition provided by SEGA of America.

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  • Reply

    This review feels incomplete…

    • Reply

      If you’re expecting a score, Retro doesn’t do those.

  • Reply

    Well, a serious review. Did not expect that to be honest.

    Anyway, after my current experiences with the game I am pretty sure it was rushed to release before next-gen mania and SM3dW, though obviously not to the level known from ’06. Weird Wisps, weird tutoring, weird change in stage quality, very weird extra stages, some glitchiness and incompleteness both felt and seen regarding Red Ring collecting. Then there’s some stuff like boss fights being short as hell, but with one exception I think this was caused by Mariofication, not time constrains.

    But was it rushed more than, say, Colors or Unleashed or not? I have no idea.

    • Reply

      Hey, my review on Transformed last year was pretty serious. =(

  • Reply

    I like the lack of sugar-coating that a lot of otherwise similar reviews have attempted to heap on top of it.

  • Reply

    I didn’t play the game yet, sadly lack of money atm, but watching it online I must say it’s a big step in the right direction, this is how I want Sonic games to be, more platforming and exploration and less “boost-boost-boost”, the lack of item boxes in the Wii U version kinda bugs me though, it’s ironic how the 3DS version better score than the Wii U version this time around, which if I recall was the case in Colors too, the story is a huge improvement than anything I’ve seen since Sonic Unleashed, I grew to love Zavoc for he’s the kind of a villain I like in a Sonic game (I miss Mephiles) but I’m still to actually play the game to better judge it!

    Now what I’m surprised is a Sonic Lost World update came out for Sonic Dash few days ago and Sonic Retro didn’t even talk about it, you can battle against Zazz from the Deadly Six, link for trailer:

  • Reply

    Interesting. This review is very direct, but i feel which is not complete.
    I played part of this game and the most positive point is the art. Sega finally return the artistic essence of Sonic the Hedgehog with clean scenarios.

  • Reply

    Did you get to play the NiGHTS boss battles? I’m considering getting the bonus edition second-hand and want to know if it’s worth searching for.

    • Reply

      The NiGHTS boss battles sadly aren’t anything special, so much as they’re the normal boss fights, but with parts of them reskinned with NiGHTS bosses. So, the Purple One uses the Bumble Queen boss while the Red One replaces his dragon with Gillwing. You fight them in a boss rush.

  • Reply

    I always enjoy the straightforwardness of retro reviews, wish you guys did more than just sonic games

  • Reply

    This is going to bug me forever if I don’t ask: Who is Jonathan Jones? I tried searching for him, and I was just directed to this page.

    Also good review. Simple and direct.

    • Reply

      He’s better known as Johnny.

    • Reply

      Jonathan Jones is the Character that appeared in Sonic Rush Adventure. he’s usually known as Johnny.

  • Reply

    Will there be a review for the 3DS version?

    • Reply

      Yes. The 3DS version is taking a little more time for the other reviewer. It should be up at some point this week.

  • Reply

    All of this “Oh the game was rushed.” How many major games aren’t rushed? This game was poorly designed.

    They either need to get some new staff members, or they need to give the IP to a developer who cares. This quality for a Sonic title is pathetic. He is way more capable than this, as some past 3D Sonic titles have shown.

    “Well why don’t you try to make the game serpx.” I’m pretty confident I could design some of those levels better, with the knowledge of whatever you need to know to make a level. Here’s an edit to the game I’d make right now: Cut that stupid grind level near the end of the game. That’s one change. There’s more I’d make!

    • Reply

      Won’t argue with you on poorly designed. I don’t think the planetoid design the game had going was really working in their favor, though I’d argue it’s because it was their first time doing it. The game’s just rough all around and I honestly can’t help but feel it has to do with throwing too many ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. Sonic Team’s pretty infamous for doing this.

  • Reply

    I didn’t feel Unleashed was half-baked, just for the Day stages.

  • Reply

    I feel the core issue Sonic Lost World suffers from is Sonic Team’s inclination to introduce variation into the gameplay, when really it should focus solely on the core gameplay and expand on it instead of occasionally forgoing it. I think we’re all too familiar with the infamous Minecart level of Sonic 4 Episode 1, along with the pinball level.

    The snowball stage in particular is a really guilty party here, it’s unintuitive, is riddled with instant death pitfalls despite being a one-time first encounter deal. If this were something introduced in a Mario Galaxy title, the first encounter would be relatively easy and you would encounter the same diversion in gameplay a couple more times, each progressively harder and also optional thanks to level select or branching paths.

    When Sonic Lost World sticks to its guns with the core platforming experience, it’s much better. My favourite level may actually be the grindrail level actually, surprisingly they had to introduce grinding in its own dedicated level as grindrails are totally absent in the usual levels.

    I would love to say that Sonic Team should expand on what they have here as it has serious potential, if they can iron out the control and physics kinks to make things properly responsive and more intuitive. Knowing Sonic Team though, they will reinvent the wheel once again and drop whatever good things they had to give us another mixed bag.

    On one last note, Sonic Lost World has the worst ice physics imaginable. They don’t mess around with the responsiveness, they actually flat out alter the control scheme, trying to run makes Sonic iceskate instead and a running jump results in a twirling jump that both disables Sonic’s double jump ability or any directional influence once airborne. It feels like a totally unnecessary change put in place solely to remove any mid-air adjustment the player might need, resulting in many awkward jumps that send Sonic flying into a wall or hazard that brings him to a halt.

  • Reply

    Sonic Lost World is also modernization of Sonic X-Treme.

  • Reply

    Lost World Demo now finally available on US E-Shop!

  • Reply

    That was quite a well done review. Somebody’s been to uni.

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