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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Colors Feel So Right! [AKA Sonic Lost World]

I'm gonna parkour over my own title.
I am a fanatic of many gaming franchises, though there are two that truly strike a hype nerve in me, and they are Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog. I've been rooting for the blue blue for years now, hoping that he would return to the levels of fun and ingenuity that I remembered from my childhood, which was largely comprised of playing Sonic 3 and Knuckles and learning that title inside-out. After that, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle conquered my life, and I played through level after level trying to max out my Chao and master each challenge. They were some of the best times of my video gaming career.

Of course, Sonic had a rough time transitioning to 3D, and it hasn't been until recently that he's regained some respect in the eyes of gamers. After some severe blunders and truly odd design choices (even in relatively decent titles), Sonic has yet to prove that he can stand toe-to-toe with his old rival in the 3D plane. However, there have been some close calls- Sonic Colors, which I reviewed previously here, had a unique blend of platforming challenges based on its new color mechanics, allowing Sonic to take different forms and tackle different obstacles. It was entertaining platforming, even if most of it was in 2D- and many reacted favorably to Sonic Generations, a retrospective look at the franchise through the traditional Genesis-style platforming as well as the Modern mechanics.

But if there's one thing that has always plagued Sonic, it is a general lack of control. The character and his series are all about going fast- it's inescapable. As gaming technology has improved, people have wanted to see Sonic become faster and faster- and he has, with the inclusion of the boost mechanic. It's unfortunate that Modern Sonic became known for the way this mechanic functioned in Unleashed rather than Colors, as the latter focuses on the conservation of boost instead of the overuse of it.

But, all this is in the past, and the new title that we have to look forward to is Sonic Lost World, which... well, it looks a lot like Sonic X-Treme. And Super Mario Galaxy. Rather than creating massive, highly detailed environments that you'll blow through without giving a second thought towards, Lost World instead focuses on tight levels that utilize every aspect you see on screen- they're cylindrical, which means you can walk all the way around to their underside and explore. The "tiered" level design has been replaced with multiple paths  that feature on each side- and speeding through levels doesn't necessarily get you the fastest time or the most bonuses, either- there's plenty of alternate paths that take you higher and lower, allowing for more exploration.

Essentially, Sonic is back. All it took was being like Mario.

Except the difference between the two is that Sonic has always been a linear platformer, whereas Mario was until his first forays into 3D, where he ditched the tradition "go right" style for collect-a-thon gameplay. The style of platforming found in Lost World fits Sonic much more than it does Mario. Sonic's new moveset, allowing him to run up and on walls with ease, increases exploration potential and opens up a whole plethora of new pathways and concepts.

If you think that Sonic was always about running blindingly fast, you should reconsider and take a look at the classic titles like Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 and Knuckles, which focused on exploration and opening new pathways in order to quickly progress through levels. That's what the originals had going for them, and Lost World looks to be a brilliant recreation of that formula. With a variety of levels and strong mechanics throughout, this might be the Sonic game I've been most excited for- a true platforming experience with the attitude and mechanics of the snarky blue hedgehog I know and love. I gushed about Colors because it was such a step in the right direction, but this looks even better in just about every way. Sonic is here to stay, and that's just the way I like it.

Oh, and it's for Wii U, which is nice, because I've had nothing to play but Super Metroid for a while.

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