Sonic: Lost World is a disappointing mess of frustrating controls and half-baked ideas

Sonic: Lost World is a disappointing mess of frustrating controls and half-baked ideas

Sonic: Lost World is a heartbreaking game.

It looks wonderful in video, with all the title’s strengths edited together and its weaknesses massaged away. The levels often look like they’re inspired by the Galaxy series of Mario games, and that’s a wonderful place to start. The problem is that everything is so poorly designed.

The levels may want to reward Mario-style platforming and exploration, but Sonic’s move set just isn’t precise enough to make this anything but frustrating. The analog stick causes you to move around at a leisurely pace, and you can sprint by holding the trigger button, but this also causes you to run up vertical structures if you so much as look at them funny. The game’s controls, complete with a lock-on mode that is unforgivably hard to control, will lead to more deaths than the level designs or enemies themselves.

The 2D levels aren’t much better, and often require the sort of timing and ninja-like mastery of the controls that make Mario titles so much fun. The developers simply didn’t hone Sonic’s controls well enough to allow you to rise to the challenge, and I often felt like throwing my controller into the wall in frustration.

It’s rare that you’ll get to run at the speeds that make Sonic really shine, and when these sequences happen they’re more like a cut scene in the middle of the level than actual game play. You’re just asked to sit back and watch as Sonic careens from bumper to bumper, without being asked to give the character any guidance.

The Wisp Powers show up from past Sonic games, but they don’t really do much to add to the game. Sometimes you’ll be able to use the touch screen of the Wii U’s game pad to control drilling into the ground, and other times you’ll move the controller to aim a Sonic that is shot through the air.

They’re novel the first time, but you’re never really asked to master these powers nor will you use them in any interesting ways. It’s just another thing to do in each level, and the result feels like a checked box than an interesting wrinkle to the game.

The cut scenes and boss battles are likewise insufferable, filled with terrible dialog and ruined by the frustrating controls. Sometimes it’s hard to even know if you’ve landed a hit on the boss characters, and the battles themselves can sometimes go on for way too long.

Sonic: Lost World is beautiful in screenshots and trailers, and there are many interesting ideas on display, but it feels too sloppy and unpolished. The game’s many gimmicks and additions never seem to work together to help the game feel complete or even enjoyable, and the result is a disappointing mess. There are hints of a very good Sonic title here, but the final product is messy, rushed, and unfocused.