I had the chance to try out Sonic Lost World at this year’s Summer of Sonic convention in Westminster, London. Both the 3DS and Wii U versions were there for demonstration, although the queues were alot longer for the Wii U version (50 minutes+ for the Wii U as opposed to 5 minutes for the 3DS) which is ironic considering that the 3DS is alot more popular than its home console relative. Like Sonic Generations, there are call-backs to the previous Sonic titles, like the Wisps from Sonic Colors and several badniks from the Megadrive titles are in this game.
Anyway onto the game itself. The 3DS demo has 3 options: Windy Hill Tutorial, Windy Hill Act 1 and Desert Ruins Act 2.
For Windy Hill Act 1, the gameplay is in full 3D mode (unlike 3DS Sonic Generations which had both acts in 2.5D) and the graphics are improvement over its predecessor (if Generations can be refered to as that). They are also simpler. Windy Hill, like many of the first levels in Sonic games, has that classic ‘Green Hill Zone’ look, what with the block design and scenery sharing many similarities. The level felt like the classic formula of getting from Point A to Point B, albeit with some obstacles like falling platforms. The end of the level has a chase scene where a pink catterkiller chases Sonic, with poisonous water thrown in to the mix to add extra to the challenge. By getting the Wisp power-up you transform into a asteroid which destroys walls. The level design, as stated by many, is a mixture of Super Mario Galaxy and the cancelled Saturn title Sonic X-treme.
While this was the more stable level of the two, Windy Hill has one flaw – the floating clouds, which have a sort-of SM3D Land feel. Sonic has an awkward way of landing on them and the camera view doesn’t help things.
For Desert Ruins Act 2, it shifts to the 2.5D gameplay with 3D graphics (like Sonic Generations). The second acts appear to be more puzzle-oriented than the first acts which feels more like classic Sonic. I found the ball puzzle to be quite frustrating at times in that you had to hit the moving ball to stop it on the switch in order to advance on the moving blocks. A huge variation compared to Windy Hill Act 1 which is like comparing Green Hill Zone to Labyrinth Zone in Sonic 1. In all a strange level to show as the demo, as this level could put off potential players.
The controls are decent for the most part, although I had some difficulty trying to run up the walls to get to the platforms (this took me a few turns to get a hang of). Hopefully SEGA/DIMPS will get the level design sorted by the release date. The graphics and movement seem to be smooth with no noticeable lag, a step up from the 3DS version of Sonic Generations.
The game is expected to be released on the 18th October 2013 for both the 3DS and the Wii U in Europe.