Aquatic Ruin Zone artwork by Ricky Earl!
Wednesday, 1st January 2014, 1:48pm (GMT), 17 Comments
Well at least someone is updating this site with new content! Ricky Earl resumes his pledge to artwork up as many of my zones as he would care to within his lifetime. This time it's Aquatic Ruin Zone - good isn't it?



So expect Casino Night in another couple of years, right Ricky? I'm one to talk.
Comments   17 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Ricky on Wednesday, 1st January 2014, 4:53pm
hahaha. How does 2050 sound?
#2. Comment posted by TruthSeeker86 on Saturday, 4th January 2014, 8:06am
That is gorgeous work, Ricky! Hope to see more!
#3. Comment posted by Kabam! on Saturday, 4th January 2014, 5:39pm
Darn... It has been a while. It certainly looks very nice. I like how the main focus is more on the Grounder than Sonic because he is such an iconic badnik in this zone. | Hey, what is two-zero-five-zero supposed to mea- Two thousand fifty?! Jeez man! I'll still be alive then but, gosh! Anyways, can't wait for the next!
#4. Comment posted by Kabam! on Saturday, 4th January 2014, 5:45pm
On a side note, I guess I should mention that Sonic Wrecks is no longer Sonic Wrecks. It is now, "Last Minute Continue." You should check out the new site when you have the time, and don't worry, the web link on your homepage to Sonic Wrecks still works so all you have to do is click there.
#5. Comment posted by Kabam! on Wednesday, 12th February 2014, 1:50am
Hey! LiQuidShade! Don't you have anything to say about Sonic Boom?! I can't wait to see your reaction. Better yet, what do you think of the character redesigns? Don't take too long to state your thoughts!
#6. Comment posted by dualzxz on Tuesday, 10th June 2014, 4:25pm
Hello, I know a brilliant sonic the hedgehog marble zone act 3 secret. Use knuckles or tails just above the ring box just above the last entrance to the cave. Go up the wall and there's a secret bypass. It gives a speed boot and a life. You skip the whole level!!!
#7. Comment posted by dualzxz on Tuesday, 10th June 2014, 4:28pm
Same goes for spring yard act 1. It gives 2 lives by going above the part with the sliding blocks
#8. Comment posted by dualzxz on Sunday, 6th July 2014, 8:06pm
Ok, it's actually on ALL marble zone acts
#9. Comment posted by asanjuan on Friday, 17th October 2014, 3:58am
No updates? :)
#10. Comment posted by Dakras on Thursday, 1st January 2015, 8:18pm
No update still? Damn.
#11. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 31st May 2015, 11:46pm
I Would Love to see the casino night zone fan art when it comes out ^_^
#12. Comment posted by Pizza DrĂ¡cula on Thursday, 14th April 2016, 6:00am
Awesome guides, awesome compilation work, the rip of the music tracks... thanks so much from Andalucia mate hahaha

PS: when a guide for Sonic Spinball?
#13. Comment posted by Paulo on Sunday, 24th April 2016, 3:54am
Very nice this blog. I follow since now. http://www.agenciamocho.com
#14. Comment posted by Mocho on Sunday, 24th April 2016, 3:56am
Sonic is my young! <a href="http://www.agenciamocho.com"></a>
#15. Comment posted by www.agenciamocho.com on Sunday, 24th April 2016, 3:57am
Hi! Mega Drive Sonic!
#16. Comment posted by Master of the Macarenas on Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 9:44am
Its been over a couple of years... :V
#17. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 2:05am
Casino Night might not ever come... :(
Sonic Lost World: The Review
Saturday, 26th October 2013, 10:20am (BST), 6 Comments
Whatever you want to say about Sonic games since going 3D, one thing you can't accuse them of is staying the same. They are a far more varied bunch than their 2D brethren, and SEGA have constantly experimented with new ideas to not only try to capture the essence of Sonic in the third dimension, but also seeing what new gameplay mechanics can be deployed to make it more interesting. Opinions on the results have often varied, to put it mildly, and so they kept trying, diversity brought on by an endless stream of feedback. Finally, it seemed they had found something that both critical and fan reception agreed was pretty good in Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations, and peace was restored.

Now we know how to make a 3D Sonic game, right? Well yes, but one thing all those wildly diverse Sonic games were good at was getting your hopes up. Maybe the next game will work better than the last. No? How about the next? They can always come up with new ways of making fans hopeful and thus still interested in the franchise, but it seems to me like the one thing SEGA are truly afraid of is Sonic becoming stale and same-y.

Why else would you make the new Wii U game, Sonic Lost World, one of the most different Sonic experiences yet after finally finding a gameplay mechanic that works? Gone are the frenzied euphoric dashes through detailed environments, boost button firmly under finger. It's a game that for the most part relieves the blue blur of a lot of his speed and traditional momentum physics, and puts him in a far more simplistic, fanciful and less ordered world than he's accustomed to. Yet at the same time, it emphasises, more than any other game in the series, the technical joy of proper platforming and an ingenious variety of objects, hazards and gimmicks the likes of which have been few and far between until now. One could say it's the absolute antithesis of "boost to win" gameplay.

With such a varied fan-base to contend with, Sonic Lost World was always going to be a game that divided opinion. Whether you're a classic purist, a modern speed freak, or someone just looking for a great technical platforming experience, whatever your first thoughts were on seeing the game in action, I would imagine they would not change much upon playing it.. But let's find out anyway...



So we begin with the story. The opening cutscene certainly has a ring of nostalgia about it, as we find Sonic and Tails chasing Eggman across the skies on their trusty, original, Tornado, hoping to secure a last capsule full of animals. Apparently Eggman has taken an endearingly back-to-basics approach with his latest evil scheme. A scuffle sees our heroes hurtling towards a floating land called Lost Hex - and that's pretty much the only background we're given on what the hell this place is and why it's here.

It transpires though that alongside turning Sonic's thousands of furry friends into nuts and bolts, Eggman's also acquired the subservience of the Deadly Six, a colourful cast of villains whose powers are controlled by blowing into a mystical shell. Early on, Sonic makes the mistake of relieving Eggman of this shell, causing the Deadly Six to go nuts, take control of the hoards of vintage badniks that have been shipped in straight from the 90's, and generally run amok. Queue the unlikely teaming up of Sonic and his oldest foe to foil the Six's dastardly plan of sucking up all of the energy from the planet below to make themselves ever more powerful.

Though things start out quite cheesy, the numerous cutscenes actually begin to demonstrate some interesting character development (well, by Sonic game standards anyway) as the three main protagonists progress through the story. Eggman at one point demonstrates some surprisingly violent anger, and the whole situation actually causes some noticeable tension between Sonic and Tails. It's also quite interesting to see how Sonic, not known for his emotional displays, reacts to everything going wrong, and for once being in the wrong himself. It's not exactly Shakespeare, and the dialogue isn't as funny as Sonic Colours, but it's not bad. I felt the ending somewhat lacking and anti-climactic though.



Now the world of Lost Hex is a curious place, and unlike any other from Sonic's world. In what is at least partially an attempt to increase the length and variety of the game by making levels easier for the developers to build, the zones are minimalistic, abstract and perhaps child-like. The ongoing theme is that, although Lost Hex is an incomplete globe of hexagons, most of the places Sonic seems to visit are above this surface, spread out across floating platforms amongst the clouds, leading to level design reminiscent of what a lot of Sonic Heroes levels turned out to be.

As is now very much the norm, the game's zones divide themselves fairly evenly between 2D and 3D portions - some are entirely one or the other, others mix and match at certain points. In both dimensions though, many platforms and chunks of ground tend to employ the use of gravity in ways that will be extremely familiar to anyone who's played Mario Galaxy 1 or 2, and the comparisons are hard to ignore when you see Sonic running around huge spheres with their own gravity field. Other examples are more Sonic-ified, such as long looping cylindrical structures that only Sonic's speed could traverse quickly, and the 2D camera will often twist with Sonic as curved walls become floors while you walk across them. I suppose it's a shame that they've had to borrow so heavily from another, very popular game that's very well known for using this effect - It's almost a little embarrassing actually. If you can get Sonic to dash across these structures then it's at least interesting to see what he can do with them that Mario can't.

I say if you can get Sonic to dash because the other key aspect that will immediately grab you about Lost World is that it's easily the slowest Sonic game in recent memory. This is very deliberate and represents the recent realisation that some people aren't crazy about Sonic simply running everywhere very very quickly. There are still bursts of speed, but these are quite rare, and instead this game caters much more to the cerebral Sonic player, with all manner of platform-hopping layouts and trials in timing and precision to encounter.

To accommodate this, the engine needed to change, and it changed drastically - most notably that Sonic now has two gears - walking and running, with the latter only accessed by holding the right trigger. Of course objects like speed zippers and springs will send you off as quickly as they ever did, and the left trigger unleashes the spin dash, though this is more useful for climbing long curved walls than injecting a prolonged period of acceleration. The truth is, unless the game wants you to move particularly quickly, you won't, and there will be times that you'll really want Sonic to get a move on, even while holding the run button down tightly.

I admit, it may be a difficult adjustment to make initially, and one that I do worry slightly contradicts the child-friendly aesthetics of the game, perhaps being too complicated for the young ones. On top of that, you have a wide range of moves at your disposal. Although A, B and Y buttons are all jump, they perform differently when pressed again in the air. Without a homing target around, A and B double jump, while Y performs a bounce. With an enemy nearby, the B button turns into the homing attack (which can now chain multiple targets with one press), while pressing Y gets you a new kick attack, which sends the badnik flying. It's a nice idea that employs a bit more strategy, as some badniks require one or the other to defeat, or both in a certain order. My only gripe is that it's rarely obvious, visually, which badniks need which attack until you've found out the hard way, as the wrong method can result in ring loss.

One of the more difficult moves to master though is the wall run. Jump up to a wall while holding L and Sonic will attempt to run up it until he loses all momentum or can grab on to the ledge at the top and hoist himself up. It takes a little practise to jump between adjacent walls while in 2D, allowing you to keep on going when done correctly, but doing the same in 3D is something I'm yet to master.

It all takes some getting used to, particularly the reduced speed and more prescribed sense of momentum, but after a while it sort of all makes sense, and I began to find that jumping Sonic from one platform to another feels more accurate and reliable than it's ever really been, particularly in the third dimension. Just last night I managed, first time, to retrieve a red star ring by carefully jumping across a couple of very small platforms, requiring the momentum from different running speeds. In pretty much any other 3D Sonic game this would have been challenging at best, and almost impossible at worst. Without different gears, we've been slipping off of narrow pathways or over-shooting jumps and dashes for years now, but thanks to the new system, it was rarely a problem for me.

Not only that, but considering factors such as the gear that you should approach a jump in, whether you should employ the double jump in mid-air, or if you'll just about make it with the wall run or clinging onto the edge.. it all adds a slightly more strategic element to basic platform hopping that's relatively new to the series. Overall, with one notable exception that I will get to in a minute, I would say that technically this is a very solid title, with little in the way of bugs or control issues. Most types of movement feel sturdy and precise.



The game offers seven levels, each split into four zones (notice they've gone with the Sonic CD school of confusingly referring to what are normally acts as zones, and what are traditionally zones as unnamed clusters of stages). An eighth is unlocked upon completion, plus more zones appear at certain points, the criteria for which remain unknown to me at this moment. Everything is accessible by plotting Sonic round a top-down map made of hexagons, with zones, bonuses and other items appearing on certain panels. We'll cover all that later.

There's no denying that this time they've certainly opted for very generic level themes across the seven main clusters of zones - green hills, desert, beach, snowy, lava - you can't get much more route 1 platformer than that. However, as advertised early on during promotion, the zones in each level diversify greatly, sometimes into what would normally be thought of as completely different, and more specific level themes. Desert Ruins Zone 3, which gains an extra letter 's' and becomes a ludicrous food-based world, and Frozen Factory's casino level are still the best examples of this. After seeing that Desert Ruins has at least three totally different themes within it, I was curious about whether every other level would match this too. Sadly it doesn't quite work out like that, with some themes reappearing within different levels - the whole of level 6 for example is a total cop out, with no great discernible theme of its own other than simply more clouds. Despite this though, the new philosophy on level creation checks out, as we have at least a dozen completely different types of location in this game, plus many small permeations, compared to the usual maximum of only nine.

Although the highly generic central themes become more specific, I can't deny that this particular visual direction is not for me. The simplistic style and cartoon-like look to the trees, mountains and clouds is far more Mario than Sonic, and it struggles to gel with anything we've seen before in the series, which has traditionally favoured occasionally fanciful ideas but always within a certain realistic aesthetic framework. Much of the game lacks that slightly more serious tone Sonic has always had over Mario, and forgets its normally quite active pursuit of seeking out whole new ideas for themes and locations (see Sonic Colours for excellent examples). I rarely felt the wonder and excitement upon first arriving at a brand new level that I normally look forward to more than anything else in a new Sonic game, simply because I'd pretty much seen everything done a million times before, not just in Sonic but many other generic platformers before it.

It doesn't help that most levels, at least their initial zones anyway, are simply an arrangement of various blocks strewn across the sky, with no sort of detailed structure holding them together. You definitely get the impression that the developers saw Mario Galaxy and said "let's make a Sonic game just like that" - my most optimistic thoughts are that this was only supposed to be a starting point of inspiration, but just ended up borrowing way too heavily from it. Some zones, such as Tropical Coast 2 - which has Sonic luring giant watermelons and pineapples across spherical planetoids into equally large fruit juicer blades - could be put straight into one of the Galaxy games with absolutely no adjustment whatsoever.



However, when you're chased by huge tropical fruits rather than boulders or killer whales, you have to admit, you're in a world with slightly further boundaries of what's possible. Things can happen that don't normally happen and luckily, along with Mario's unfortunate aesthetics come by far his best attribute, and the one aspect I have always wanted Sonic to be inspired by - the sheer variety of level content and gimmicks. When Sonic runs at ridiculous speeds, there's only so much variety one can encounter in that type of gameplay. When he trots around at a slower pace within a wackier, more abstract and colourful world however, the perfect storm is created to make this one of the most inventive and imaginative Sonic games around, and I'm thrilled that they've actually taken as much advantage of such an opportunity as I would have liked.

Sonic spends the entirety of Frozen Factory Zone 2 inside a giant snowball that you must roll around between narrow walkways, sticking collected rings on the outside surface. A later zone mimics Sky Chase but without the plane, as Sonic glides side-scrolling across a windy sky strewn with obstacles, while in others you must hide from the search lights of a large mechanical owl, or dodge huge purple sand creatures with massive jaws. New ideas to Sonic are explored; in one zone, running outside of one edge of the screen will have you reappear on the other, and elsewhere, Sonic and his surroundings are cast in a black silhouette until you pull Sandopolis style light switches. There's more familiar ideas too, such as levels entirely consisting of grinding, albeit with the twist of controlling your speed by hopping to different coloured rails, and of course the classic pinball table segment is here too. Refreshingly, the amount of generic objects across all levels, normally red coloured and consisting of speed devices or pulleys etc, and which frequently plague modern Sonic games, are kept to a bare minimum here. In their place are much more level-specific features and obstacles, which may be no more complicated than a sheep that you bounce off of, or a flower bud that opens up as a larger platform when hit. It all adds up though and by the end you really feel like you've covered a lot of different ground in the game.

The Wisps - little aliens in item boxes that give Sonic new super powers - are also part of this attempt at mixing up the gameplay a bit, though unfortunately they represent the one main area that I feel is technically flawed to a significant degree. Luckily they don't quite appear often enough to totally ruin the game, though when they do, use of them is quite often essential. The problem stems mostly from their use with the gamepad, which I felt seemed only to be used for the sake of it more than anything else - some require you to stop what you're doing, look down and drag your finger around the screen, others have you looking at your TV but tilting the controller, and others don't seem to require any special feature of the pad at all. I dreaded having to use them really, they're just inconsistent, disorientating and quite often really don't work very well at all. I still don't quite know how to fully control the Rhythm Wisp, and as for the Laser, well this little bastard raised alarm bells when I saw him in previews both at Summer of Sonic and Eurogamer, and I also saw countless people wondering how the hell it works and what it's even really for. That was perfect user testing that should have made them rethink things a bit, but of course it hasn't at all.

Any sort of in-game help is quite minimal in general, and this is particularly missed when it comes to the Wisps, where it's needed most. After getting the Hover Wisp I could see a long line of rings that - I know from Sonic Colours - I should be able to light dash across, but it didn't seem to be explained anywhere how I could make this happen or anything about said maneuver whatsoever. Sadly, as I found out first hand during an interview with Takashi Iizuka himself, Wisp power-ups are here to stay as a regular feature in Sonic games. Though they were a little intrusive in Sonic Colours, they were at least handled very well. Unless they can return to that degree of quality, and preferably ditch their use of any interaction method that isn't a button or a thumbstick, then I don't look forward to their return at all.



Lost World has a very traditional and rather casual approach to bosses. For the first time in absolutely ages (I'm talking Sonic Advance, maybe Sonic Advance 3 at the latest), most bosses can be found at the ends of levels, rather than in dedicated boss arenas. They're quite frequent (every other zone in fact), but because more is at stake if you lose, you'll find they're usually quite straightforward, and also small scale compared to the massive bosses Sonic usually has to fight nowadays. Despite their frequency, they're not too repetitive and I wouldn't mind replaying them afterwards as part of the levels. And let's be honest, how often do you normally choose to play boss levels again, for fun? Later on, you also seem to quietly learn a technique to increase the strength of your homing attack, to deal with bosses more quickly too.

Each boss is of course one of the Deadly Six, patrolling a level each, and unfortunately you tend to be able to somehow hear their thoughts as you get closer to meeting them, throughout their zones. Some of the characters offer mildly amusing voice overs, such as the girl or the emo fella (I've no idea what their names are - I'm not sure it's important really), but others, such as the first one, who is irritatingly mental, kind of ruin the experience quite a lot. And it's always annoying when you keep dying on a particular bit and have to hear the same piece over and over. They're not a patch on Eggman's hilarious tannoy announcements from Colours.



Speaking of dying, prepare to do rather a lot of it as this game is no pushover. You'll regularly be falling into pits or finding ingenious new ways for Sonic to kick the bucket instantly that you would swear, ordinarily, would just cause ring loss. Though this is not without frustration, it rarely feels unfair as the controls are so tight this time around, you've really no one to blame but yourself, and it's certainly no worse than anything Mario regularly dishes up. Also, they've finally implemented a very simple idea I've been suggesting for ages - don't restart the music upon each death. It's surprisingly effective at reducing frustration. Extra lives are few and far between too, especially as the ever useful 100 ring bonus life is curiously absent. Replaying Desert Ruin Zone 2 is your best bet, which can give at least five extra lives relatively easily.

Though Game Overs will be plentiful, there is a very curious and surprising addition that makes up for the lack of lives. Should you return to the same checkpoint a certain number of times or get down to your last chance, an item box with a wing symbol appears nearby, which simply teleports you to the next checkpoint. For me, the jury's still very much out on whether this is a good idea or not. On the one hand it's saved me a lot of bother in having to deal with particularly frustrating sections, but on the other I did feel that I kind of cheated a little bit, and there are still portions of levels I've yet to defeat because of it. If you could gather enough lives, you're theoretically guaranteed to have most of the game beaten for you. Then again, inputing up, down, left, right, A and start into Sonic 1 has the same effect and is a heck of a lot quicker too.

The game feels fairly substantial in size, not so much in the amount of levels but their duration, as most of them are satisfyingly lengthy - especially if you keep dying in them. I still managed to beat the game over a weekend though, including long gaps of time where I actually went outside too, so I still don't know if it's as long a game as it could be, which is a shame, given their devotion to making level creation a more efficient process. There's the usual amount of extra stuff to do afterwards, including red star rings, time trials, unlockable hidden zones and even an Omochao-lead feature that offers three little side missions at a time, just like mobile games do. Unfortunately though, other than pretty much just the very first zone, multiple routes in the levels is not a strong point in this game, from what I've found so far at least, so if you're hoping for some further exploration afterwards then you're unlikely to have much luck.

Lastly, the game is accompanied by a very good, and varied soundtrack, bringing the stages to life as they always do. It's possibly not the best, as there are few that I would say are absolute instant classics, but there are no real disasters either. Favourites include Windy Hill 1, Desert Ruins 1 and 2, Tropical Coast 3 (a beautiful piano piece) and the very Sonic-y and melodic Sky Road Zone 1 to name a few. I'm desperately looking for a full rip to tide me over til the OST is released next month!



My excitement levels for this game were admittedly not as high as they have been for pretty much every other major Sonic game in history, and its good and bad points were pretty much exactly what I expected them to be. I probably won't be playing the levels over and over again all that much either. However, I come away from this game generally very satisfied, and feeling that they've done a good job. What it lacks in a less than impressive or interesting art direction, and a philosophy that borrows too heavily from another series, rather than a unique look of its own, it makes up for in its great use of ideas and level specific features, and a highly precise and technical platforming experience.

I suppose the question of whether or not you'll enjoy Sonic Lost World is entirely down to your own preferences in Sonic gameplay, and whether it's the cerebral attention to detail you seek, or whether you're more interested in the visceral thrill of a speed sensation. I suppose I'm lucky in that I appreciate both, and in my opinion there's plenty of room for slower, more considered experiences like this. They each have their advantages over the other though. A platform-heavy Sonic game is more free to experiment with interesting ideas, creating a richer first play through that lasts a bit longer too. However, once you've beaten it, it becomes less fun to return to on a regular basis to play again. The opposite is true of a Sonic adventure that you simply blast through. It has less room for variety but the intense thrill of getting a perfect, record-breaking run through a level, without slowing down or getting hit, is all the incentive you need to play over and over again. The visceral pleasure just gets more and more intense compared to your initial play through, which is liable to be clumsy and less satisfying.



Vexingly, Lost World actually has everything it needs to combine the two experiences quite well, because the couple of occasions in the game in which Sonic builds up a prolonged burst of speed are really enjoyable. A well implemented system to switch seamlessly from a conservative platformer to a thrilling dash, in which Sonic runs by himself and invites you to dodge obstacles, is already in place in this game as if it featured as frequently as every other stage. The honeycomb zone from Desert Ruin is the obvious example, but there's also a series of great runs in Sky Road Zone 1 that have you darting across the surface of those long tube structures, chaining enemies, jumping daringly over gaps and dodging massive Caterkillers erupting from the ground, and it's brilliant!

Though this game itself is not at all perfect, the ideas it brings to the table are enough to make me wonder; maybe we hadn't necessarily reached the ideal way of doing 3D Sonic. Perhaps there are still new ways of looking at things that aren't necessarily better, but different. Perhaps they can be combined more evenly to create a game that not only makes for a very rewarding first play, but is also one that keeps you yearning for just one more go again, over and over. At first I was sceptical as to why they would want to fix what isn't broken and take a whole new path in developing a game so different from what has proved successful - but now I understand a little better. It's not just for the sake of keeping Sonic from going stale, the thinking man's Sonic game was getting overlooked, but now the sides have become more even, and whole new avenues can be explored. This game, in a way, needed to exist as it does, and I genuinely look forward to seeing where it takes us from here.
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Saturday, 26th October 2013, 3:39pm
Decent game, but hugely missed potential.

And the wisp implementation was horrid. Even down to silly minor things like pressing A after using Laser - why? Colours did a much better job.

Excellent review though.
#2. Comment posted by Cris on Saturday, 26th October 2013, 10:21pm
-"This game, in a way, needed to exist as it does, and I genuinely look forward to seeing where it takes us from here".

Yes!, i think the same too, like Sonic NextGen/2006, visually the opposite of Lost World, but SEGA after brought us the Unleashed formula and that was an great or incredible evolution, so maybe the future is bright with all this things the sonic team learned, i refer to the parkour system...the next sonic game could be a mixture of great platforming-exploration, satisfaction of boost and a more complete parkour!
#3. Comment posted by Tricky_E on Friday, 1st November 2013, 8:47am
Huge review! Thanks for the detailed analysis. I must admit I am a bit disappointed by the lack of speed evident in Generations, and I will miss playing in 3D (Generations on PC through a 3D TV is quite breathtaking), but I think i'll give it a shot after reading this :D
#4. Comment posted by riii on Tuesday, 10th December 2013, 12:22am
The wisps are terrible (excluding drill in 2D) in SLW, even the wisps in Sonic Colors DS were much better. I hope iizuka isn't going to insert them in every future sonic game.
#5. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 22nd December 2013, 2:26pm
"(...)Although A, B and Y buttons are all jump(...)" Actually, isn't the Y (Along with X) is a crouch, or a roll if you're moving?
#6. Comment posted by L Nguyen Huu on Saturday, 17th January 2015, 5:32pm
Thanks for the review! As noted by Cris, I think speed and momentum is an important component of parkour, but it may have been difficult for players not used to these kind of motion to retain control of the character at high-speed.

"Also, they've finally implemented a very simple idea I've been suggesting for ages - don't restart the music upon each death."

This was the case in Shadow the Hedgehog, which matched its stages with (despite appearances) rather relaxed atmospheres. However for BGMs with a stressed introduction such as in Cosmic Fall, I would have preferred the BGM to restart. In Sonic Adventure 2's City Escape, they have a simplified intro when you die and restart (compared to the original intro when falling from the sky with a board), which tended to less break continuity.
Summer of Sonic 2013 - Sonic Lost World impressions
Friday, 9th August 2013, 1:13pm (BST), 4 Comments
Previous Summer of Sonic conventions have offered first opportunities to play the likes of Sonic's 4, Colours and Generations, and this year's did not let us down, offering up both Wii U and 3DS versions of the upcoming Sonic Lost World - a game for which I am cautiously optimistic, yet admittedly not as excited about as pretty much any other Sonic game of its prominence that has come before. Still, this did not stop me from queuing up twice for the Wii U and once for the 3DS, during the course of the day.

Having queued up for these sorts of demos before, I've found in the past that it's often difficult to really get the full experience from them. This is mainly for two reasons, a) you've normally seen the whole demo played out for you in videos before this point, so it's not going to be as fresh an experience anyway, and b) the sound is normally turned down or muted, which is a huge part of the fun of a good Sonic game, as any fan will tell you. The result is that, though not necessarily as a result of problems with the game itself, it actually feels a bit sterile, and you come away not knowing as much more about it as you would have liked to. All you can really measure is how the controls feel, and how easy it is to play, which is invariably along the lines of how it looks in all those videos.

So this is what I tried to focus on in Lost World, choosing first the Windy Hill act as it seemed like the best place to get a grasp on Sonic's new moves, and later, when I rejoined the queue, the honeycomb act in Desert Ruins, mainly because it seemed quite fun. There was also the "dessert ruins" act and the new casino one on offer too.

As you'll know, Sonic essentially now has two "gears" - slow and fast, depending on whether or not you're holding the control pad's right trigger. Hitting springs and speed zippers though will of course fire you off as they always have, despite the gear you're in. In slow mode, there shouldn't be much chance of slipping off of things unexpectedly, as it all seems very tight and responsive, though it takes a moment to adjust to Sonic's lack of acceleration, during moments where you want to dash. It may take longer than a moment really to make full use of this quite drastic new change, and I can see its benefits - a reasonable player hopefully won't be falling off into the game's many death drops without good reason. However I can also see its down sides, as coupled with all of Sonic's various moves and the Wisps as well, we could be looking at a game that, in spite of the simplistic, cuddly, child friendly style, is actually quite complicated to play. Hopefully not.

Watching other people play the same level though, you do get a sense of just how rich in multiple routes this one in particular is. It goes beyond just short parallel paths around the long tubular platform pieces, as each of these tend to extend out into different collections of floating platforms. I saw others bounce around on clouds or run down a speedy, more traditionally Sonic segment, and I wanted another go so I could explore these other areas, which is a really good thing, and I hope it's representative of levels throughout the game. Oh, and something I didn't know beforehand, you can deprive those sheep that are dotted around the level of their wool by dashing into them. Nice touch.

One thing that did have me completely baffled was the use of the laser Wisp. It requires you to drag your finger across the touch screen to aim Sonic, and some sort of quick swipe gesture seemed appropriate enough to launch him, to me, but that didn't seem to be the case. I think it was the A button that did it eventually. Strangely though, at the end of the laser burst when Sonic transforms back to his normal self, the screen completely freezes in order to tally up some sort of score total, and you actually have to press A again to continue, which seemed a bit disjointed to me, and I could see others equally confused by it. I'd suggest this system might need some tweaks to make it a little more user friendly.

As the waiting time wasn't too long - and there wasn't much else to do that didn't involve standing up and hanging around anyway - I rejoined the queue a little later to have another go, this time on the honeycomb level. This is a fast-paced forward facing dash through some inventive hexagonal challenges and some cool new badniks. It was fun and involved some quick reaction times, however it wasn't quite the same experience as the occasional forward-facing corridor dashes in recent games, in which you must quickly side step obstacles. I love those moments, and the mechanic in this level could have benefited from allowing the arrow stick to quickly dash to the next side of the hexagon or parallel path straight away. As it is, you have to hold it for a second or so in order to switch, meaning that the automatic pace of the whole level is not as fast as it could be. If you hit a wall, Sonic lands splat onto it and you have to restart, which happened to me a few times before I got to the end, and makes for a good challenge, without feeling too cheap.

On the opposite end of the hall was a table with a small queue next to it, allowing access to the 3DS version of the game, though I wouldn't blame you if you missed it entirely. I played an act of Windy Hill on this as well, and overall it's impressive that they've captured roughly the same experience on a significantly scaled down console, without having to sacrifice a smooth frame rate, and the already minimalistic design scales down well with it. Unfortunately I think the controls work a little less well here. In low gear mode Sonic felt a bit too slow at times, even jumping across platforms carefully, but holding the trigger (which is worryingly uncomfortable by the way) brought a sudden speed increase that was difficult to adjust to as well. My time with it was short and it could be a matter of getting used to it but it felt a bit clunky to me. The level design in this version was also not that fluid, and I found myself stuck trying to figure out how to get past a high wall and spending longer than I would have wanted to trying to defeat a giant Caterkiller.

I had a brief go on the start of the 2D Desert Ruins act, before getting stuck and deciding to relinquish my grasp on the device for the next person, as really we were only allowed one act each. Even this had aspects that needed getting used to though, as there were high walls that could only be reached by running up them - a process that for some reason appeared to happen automatically, even without holding the trigger.

I have my concerns, but generally I am looking forward to the game - mostly though for its inventive use of objects and ideas rather than the rather completed mechanics of shifting Sonic around. I get what they're trying to do with it, but I don't know if they're barking up the wrong tree to be honest. I guess we'll find out in October!
Comments   4 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Kabam! on Saturday, 10th August 2013, 7:44am
We will find out in October indeed! Over many websites, people complain similarly about the wisp activity including the swiping and stopping for the tally-up.
#2. Comment posted by Kabam! on Friday, 27th September 2013, 8:09pm
Wow, a lot of lost world stuff has went down since August 9th. I recommend you write an overview post unless you are trying to see as little of the game as possible.
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 30th September 2013, 8:03am
I'd love to, but I have seen absolutely nothing new of it since 9th August and I would have advised the same of anyone else who's already decided to buy the game - it's important to keep as much of it spoiler-free as possible, as far as I'm concerned! Sega always show way too much - I like to dive into levels, having seen nothing of them beforehand.
#4. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 23rd October 2013, 7:43am
Sadly, Sonic Lost World has received mixed reception. The Wii U version earned 62% & 62/100 by the aggregate scorers Metacritic & GameRankings respectively. The 3DS version earned 60.44% & 60/100. It's not looking good for SLW :(
Summer of Sonic 2013 - Interview with Takashi Iizuka
Friday, 9th August 2013, 1:03pm (BST), 5 Comments
After missing last year's I was glad to return to Summer of Sonic in London this past weekend to enjoy another fun-filled Sonic fan convention, with all the usual treats I've come to expect, plus copious amounts of BO, as my ever-so-slightly-unwilling girlfriend was ever keen to point out. As fun as it is, you'd be hard pressed to call it a pretty affair, lets be honest!

Still, that didn't bother me too much, as amongst the great live Sonic music (we both enjoyed that at least), I managed to get two great privileges. The first, shared by most people at the convention, was that I got a go on both versions of Sonic Lost World, and even queued up twice for the Wii U to get to play two of the four available acts. The second, a little more exclusive, was that I finally got my interview time with guests, after narrowly missing out on it a couple of years back due to scheduling issues. This was an awesome experience for me, given that I'm no journalist and haven't even updated the site that got me the gig in the last year (ahem..). So would like to give a thank you to T-Bird for hooking me up with Takashi Iizuka and Kazuyki Hoshino, both influential in the development of crucial Sonic game from the mid-nineties onwards.

My interview with Iizuka was probably the best part of the day for me, and having failed at getting interview time before, I must say the scheduling was handled much better this year, even though I ended up having to share my allotted time with a nice chap from Sega Nerds. As a result I only got to ask three of my own questions, and I kind of wish I'd swapped the first one for another on my list that was more interesting, but never mind. He was very detailed with his answers, and even revealed a couple of bits of information about Sonic's future that were news to me and I hope, unless you've now already read them from someone else's interview, are also news to you too! I've included Q and A's from Sega Nerds too. Enjoy!

Z:0: Sonic Lost World is quite a brave new direction for the series. What made you decide to take a new approach as opposed to furthering the popular engine from Sonic Unleashed, Colours, and Generations?

Two years ago, we released Sonic Generations, and that was our twentieth anniversary title, and the intentions we had with that game was to compress twenty years into one game, so it really was reflective of everything we had done before. At that point, we'd already decided our target, as a team, was to do something completely new and really innovative for the next game, and the thing that we really wanted to innovate and improve on was the forward view action gameplay. With Generations, it was very much 'go really quickly and avoid obstacles' - we wanted to really build on that, and that's really where the innovation for Sonic Lost World came from.

SN: is there a particular reason Sonic Team decided to bring back the Colour Powers from Sonic Colours? Is Lost World meant to be a direct sequel, or more of a spinoff?

To clarify, the story is completely separate from Colours, it is not a sequel in that sense. As far as the colour power implementation goes, In Sonic Colours, it was a key selling point for that game, but as a team, we really like colour powers, and we intend to keep using them. We want to standardise them in the games, as long as it matches the playability, in each case. It wasn't a one-off in Colours, we will continue to use them in Sonic games in the future.

Z:0: The levels seem very deliberately more minimalistic than in recent games. Are these easier to create? If so, can we therefore expect to play a larger amount of different stages and acts than normal?

Compared to Generations, it's definitely got a look that's a lot more minimalistic. Why we did that, to start with, was to make it easier for people to play the game, and to make sure we can attain 60fps. We want to make sure that players can see the rings, for example, and things that we want people to pick up on, so that they can see that without it looking a bit too busy. So it's really a playability thing that we saw as an issue before that we wanted to address. In doing that, we can actually create stages a lot faster than before, so there is an absolute, clear difference with the amount of variation you'll see in the levels than before.

SN: In terms of development, how do you find developing titles both for fans of the older games and fans of the newer games, is there a particular method you use to ensure that the new games can appeal to all types of gamers?

This is something we're particularly aware of, and something that we do focus on, to ensure we provide something for both types of fans, and in 2010, what we did was release Sonic 4 for the old fans, and that was very much a classic themed game, and then Colours was much more for the newer fans. Following from that we created Generations, which was looking back at twenty years of Sonic, and that was aimed at both fans, because we had Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic, and mixed up both forward view and side view gameplay in one game. And now in Lost World, we've carried on the tradition from Generations, by providing both views again, so we feel this title will satisfy both groups of fans.

In 2010, we had the two groups of fans satisfied by two separate games, and what we plan to do now is merge them into one game. So in Lost World, we've almost completed the journey to make sure both types of fans can enjoy Sonic as he is today.


Z:0: Is it fair to say that you're finding it hard to make full use of certain characters like Shadow and Knuckles? It's been a while since they've had significant roles in any game.

Sonic's friends still play a really important role within the Sonic universe, and we really do want them to shine. But for them to shine, we want to make sure that Sonic himself can take the centre stage, and really appeal to the audience, so we wanted to make sure we really focused on Sonic and his gameplay first. And in the meantime, we've had games like Mario & Sonic, where the other characters have a place where people can enjoy playing as them. So it's not like they're completely being sidelined at all, but we just wanted to focus on Sonic and the gameplay first. And moving forwards, we want to make sure we're providing content where Sonic's friends have a place to take centre stage.

SN: How do you find working with the Wii hardware and the gamepad, did Sonic Lost World benefit from using the gamepad?

When using the Wii U hardware, the clear obvious advantage is the fact that you've got two screens, and we've really taken that to our advantage. There's three main things that we can categorise to say how we use the gamepad, and one of the key hardware features that people seem to love is that you can play without having to use the TV screen, so we've implemented that and you can play Lost World on the gamepad. The second thing is that as we have two screens, we can allow competitive gameplay between two players. So previously we had to split the screen in half and you would have lost half of your screen as a player, but now you can play one person on the TV and one person on the gamepad, so you both have a full screen to play with. And the third one is the colour power actions, so you can activate your colour powers through swiping on the gamepad. We feel it wasn't just a case of shoe-horning these features into the game, but that it was actually a natural fit for Sonic.



Well there you have it! Wisps apparently here to stay, and could there be light at the end of the tunnel for those longing to play as someone other than Sonic for a change? It was awesome meeting the main man behind Sonic! I found him friendly and willing to provide some interesting insight. Great stuff!
Comments   5 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Kabam! on Thursday, 8th August 2013, 12:29am
I was afraid I'd hear that wisps would become a normal thing. I am sure many of you are thinking that chao have been kicked out the back door in order to make room for the wisps, but I guess that is just how the coral crumbles. This is in no way a bad thing, but I just didn't really appreciate the wisps all too much. I understand the whole deal about getting Sonic on firm ground first before his friends so I suppose we will just have to be patient on that matter. Other than that, this interview was very interesting, especially the wisp fact. Can't wait for more!
P.S. Wisps are okay, I'm just a bit surprised they are already recycling old ideas.
#2. Comment posted by Kabam! on Thursday, 8th August 2013, 1:24am
Also, if you don't mind, may you please tell us what the question is that you wanted to ask him.
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 9th August 2013, 6:24pm
I know what you mean, I think as long as the Wisps are rarely essential, it shouldn't be too bad, but when use of them becomes necessary, that's where I think the experience starts to break up and lose its fluidity a bit - I don't particularly want to keep transforming into different things all the time.

Other questions I had prepared include whether he thinks Sonic could, in his future, have another major design change like he did in Sonic Adventure, whether there will be another Sonic 4 ep or another classically themed game, and whether it's time for another proper traditional Sonic rival like Silver or Shadow. Also how he goes about picking level themes, and whether he plays or knows of any Sonic fan games.
#4. Comment posted by Kabam! on Saturday, 10th August 2013, 7:27am
Exactly! I agree! & Those are some interesting quetions. If you want my take on them, I'd say Sonic won't be in for another design change for a long time. What else could they do to him besides maybe changing his size or attitude. It could be anyone's guess whether there will be a Sonic 4 episode 3 or Sonic 5 because at the end of Sonic 4 episode 2, it didn't say "TO BE CONTINUED" like ep 1 did so it could be saying: that's it for Sonic 4, here comes Sonic 5! Or the developers were just too busy to put any type of hint in at the end and a Sonic 4 ep 3 is coming. It is also possible that neither is coming and they're cutting it, but let's hope not. The deadly six were just introduced and only time will tell whether they are a one-off for lost world or whether they are here to stay as a new rival. Other than that, I think they'd rather bring back an old member of the cast instead of adding another character to the cast. Those are some good questions though.
#5. Comment posted by Faust on Thursday, 28th August 2014, 9:36pm
Haha, well your question on Sonic's design change sure has been answered this year, hasn't it?
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