Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-10-19 06:26:47
Sonic Lost World (Wii U) Review
I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that while I'm not against developers trying new things with their franchises, there has to be some sort of limitation imposed to keep a series in check, or else it will run wild. Sonic the Hedgehog as a series has become a parody of itself, constantly recycling the same levels, themes and motifs while introducing a plethora of new issues. If you thought the controls in games like Sonic '06 sucked, and that Sonic Team would have spent the last 7 or so years fixing them, then you're sadly mistaken - Sonic Lost World is a giant step back for the speedster after the above average Colors and serves as a painful reminder that no matter how many vibrant colours you ejaculate into a player's face, they can't ever be enough to mask inferior gameplay.
Sonic Lost World is the next big Sonic game, so of course it tries its hand at something Sonic Team has never done before with the hedgehog - it's a Dating Sim/Visual Novel, full of steamy images of famous Sonic characters past and present. It's a bold move to go down such a mature route with Sonic, especially for a Nintendo exclusive, but sadly it doesn't pay off. Perhaps I'm not the intended audience for this game, but every sexually repressed situation I found myself in within Sonic Lost World made me cringe and die a little inside - is this really what Sonic Team has resorted to in order to catch the Sonic the Hedgehog fans in their net?
You play as Sonic, a mild-mannered hedgehog who loves going for runs, eating 'chili dogs' and fighting evil, or at least that's how your in-game character profile describes you. You don't spend very much time in Sonic Lost World fighting, though - the bulk of the game is spent working various menial jobs (which amount to little more than boring mini-games using the Wii U gamepad) in order to earn money, which is later spent trying to seduce up to twelve different characters, including Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit and Rouge the Bat. The game is kind of sordid in that monogamy seems to have no place in hedgehog society - there is no punishment for getting with all of the characters, and they barely care if you do. In fact, some actively invite you to try bed more than one of them at the same time, which is disturbing and somewhat unrealistic.
Most of the game is spent seducing these characters. For the first five or so hours not a lot happens; you talk to characters and get to know them, interacting with them in various ways using the Wii U gamepad. Sonic Team has clearly taken some ideas from acclaimed DS title Feel the Magic: XY/XX (or, the far less cumbersome Project Rub in European territories), as you spend a lot of the time touching and groping these characters in the hope of some sort of pay-off. Does that pay-off ever come? Well, apart from a few scenes here and there illustrating the females in mildly suggestive positions, there isn't much to get excited about, if that kind of thing is your bag - a quick Google search would reveal images of a much more graphic nature.
I chose Amy Rose as my main dating companion as she seemed the most up for it out of all the characters. Comparatively, Cream the Rabbit was all shy and irritating and Blaze the Cat kept bossing me about and claiming she was my queen or something. Amy Rose, on the other hand, was all about trying to get into my sneakers, so I picked her from the roster and went off on my little Sonic adventure to try and breed with her. First I had to take her to a flower shop and buy her a rose, but it turned out that Sonic couldn't afford one; I then had to take part in a flower watering mini-game for about ten minutes to raise the money to buy a single flower. After giving it to Amy she blushed and then went home. Talk about anticlimactic.
Four dates later and we were at a cafe together. Later on I had an opportunity to press the 'make a move' button, which turned out to be a bit of a cocktease; she didn't really respond, which after five dates was enough to tell me that I was getting nowhere fast with her. I chose a different character but found that I was near the end of the game. I couldn't be bothered to try a different character out - if you can actually get with any of them, I'd be interested to hear about it, but in my experience nothing came of the dates, making the entire affair seem a little bit pointless.
This is kind of the problem with Sonic Team's latest. Lost World is just incredibly boring - there are a few cool references to previous Sonic games, but otherwise you just spend your time going on fake electronic dates with animal characters whilst trawling through uninspired dialogue, a lot of which seems to get lost in translation. At one point I took Espio the Chameleon out for a date to a theme park. I asked if she wanted to ride the carousel, and she replied, 'No, but play your cards right and you might get to ride me'. I don't know anyone who actually talks like that in real life, and it's pretty disturbing that she'd offer such a tantalizing proposition to Sonic and then never deliver upon the promise - I guess I just didn't play the right hand of cards after all.
Sonic Lost World is short, bland and embarrassing. While it continues the trend of Sonic games trying new things, in this particular circumstance I wish they had left the series alone. While members of the Sonic fandom might get a kick out of 'dating' the cast from the games, I found it to be a cringe-worthy experience; something I would expect from a fan-made Flash game, rather than a fully-fledged Wii U exclusive. This will surely go down as being the most unusual and polarizing Sonic the Hedgehog game yet, but I do hope that it doesn't sell well enough to warrant a sequel. Sometimes, Sonic needs to look without touching. Maybe it's time that this hedgehog is finally put to bed:
All images belong to their respective owner.