Found: World of Hurt.
Running and jumping—these are the only two abilities gamers look forward to in a Sonic game. After all, these were your only abilities for four Sonic console games in a row. I mean, sure, you occasionally did some other things in those games, but Sonic himself could only run and jump. Sega masterfully created a game for their own console where each of the three face buttons all performed the same action. Back then, they knew how not to gild the lily.
Well now, the lily is so well-gilded that Sonic is a lifeless lump of gold that should be discarded in your basement collecting dust. It seems that Sonic: Lost World’s gameplay has collapsed in on itself under the weight of all the extra bullshit laid on it. But whereas one could argue that the Wii U version of the game has a shiny exterior going for it, the less-powerful 3DS is resigned to execute a mundane excuse for a game with no real redeeming qualities.
I ask you, Dear Reader, when did we ask Sega...
1) For a homing attack with automatic targeting that can send Sonic flying off ledges or into harm?
2) To take a break from all that high-energy running to stop and roll up snowballs?
3) For wall runs and ambiguously executed parkour mechanics?
4) For shoehorned-in gyroscope-controller bonus stages and Wisp powers?
5) For Wisps at all?
All I want to do when I play a Sonic game is run and jump. Jumping on top of most enemies should kill them, and the ones that can’t be killed by a jumping attack should be plainly obvious in their weakness. Instead, Sonic: Lost World seems to want me to stop every other second to get past some enemy gate, either featuring enemies that require multiple hits to defeat or others that require a disabling kick-flip attack to be performed first. Sometimes, Sonic is jettisoned onto walls, begging me to figure out some odd puzzle of wall jumping and speed boosting in order to proceed. Then, there are the stages where Sonic can barely move at all without utilizing an awkward steel rolling ball Wisp power. I wish I was kidding, but I am not.
Oh, I failed to mention that in order to keep Sonic running, the player must continually hold the R button. That’s right, you cannot run—Sonic’s raison d'être—without holding an additional button. Sonic: Lost World has escalated from being a punishment itself to becoming a sentient tormentor, doling out repetitive condemnation for desiring anything resembling Sonic the Hedgehog. Even stages in classic 2D suffer the same issues, though not navigating three dimensions of platforms with Sonic’s floaty jump is something of a blessing. It should have been evident that Sega had little interest in maintaining nostalgia when the villain became Dr. Eggman, eschewing the post-Cold War era fear-mongering charm of his past self, Robotnik.
Actually, in Sonic: Lost World, Sonic must team up with Eggman to defeat the Zeti in their desire to conquer… something. As opposed to fighting one of Eggman’s machinations after each world, Sonic is pitted against each Zeti in what are largely the stupidest boss fights I’ve ever encountered this generation. Each Zeti invokes some idiotic persona—the superficial tart, the emo/goth kid, the obese oaf, the psychopath, Shifu—that makes it apparent that this game is targeted towards children, who likely don’t know any better. But given the difficulties and many cheap deaths that await these kids, it’ll ultimately be Mommy and Daddy grimacing as they help them get past one more frustrating section of a stage.
Sega obviously tried to emulate aspects of Super Mario Galaxy or other 3D Mario games to make this leap in the Sonic series, but Sonic: Lost World suffers with each “feature” they have added to the Sonic’s successful formula: running and jumping. The result is a mess of a game that teases you with speedy gameplay, frequently interrupted by absolute idiocy at every step. Other games that rehash boss fights in their last act would often be derided, but I welcomed the opportunity to avoid another world of awkward platforming. The only aspect I truly appreciated about Sonic: Lost World was some music near the end of the game. I’d praise Sega for making a game with no discernible bugs, but that’s sort of a bare minimum expectation.
Steer clear of this entry and maybe all future Sonic entries until Sega figures it out.