Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-11-18 14:50:47
Sonic Lost World: Amy Rose's Bush DLC (Wii U) Review
In my review of Sonic Lost World, I complained about the way in which Sonic Team has consistently used the once iconic hero for all manner of stupid and ill-thought-out concepts in recent years. They haven't known what to do with Sonic for years now, so they keep putting him into new settings in the hope that one day they'll find something that works - after all, what do they have left to lose at this stage?
Sonic Lost World was a dating simulator, which disturbed me for several reasons. I couldn't believe my eyes when instead of platforms and rings I was collecting affection points and taking characters on flimsily conceived dates that, more often than not, got lost in translation. I remember how the game made me cringe, which was reflected in my (largely negative) write-up.
Another month is upon us, and the first of three planned DLC packs for Sonic Lost World has come with it. The first DLC adventure, entitled Amy Rose's Bush, is more of the same 'gameplay' offered by the original, although at least Sonic Team has decided to vary things up a tiny bit. While you still spend most of the game attempting to woo Amy, there is at least some tension in the DLC, as you have to save her from an evil clan of Badniks called the Fearsome Four. These characters show up quite frequently and kidnap her, meaning that Sonic has to finally get off his arse and do some running for once.
Unfortunately, while the premise is slightly more interesting than Lost World's, it's quite surprising how tedious it quickly becomes. The entire game is little more than rescuing Amy, and while this could have manifested in a cool Shadow of the Colossus-type experience of taking down awesome bosses, it introduces a new frustration that the first game somehow avoided - Quick Time Events.
Every single fight in the game requires a series of Quick Time Events to be worked through. Failure to tap the correct button once is an instant kill, which is ludicrous when you have to hit 100s of prompts every minute. In fact, the game is so focused on making the player respond to these button commands that you barely get a chance to look at what is happening on screen. It's a shame and proves that once again Sonic Team has its priorities all wrong, because the visuals are actually really good, making it all the more frustrating that you never get to look at them for more than five seconds.
Outside of saving Amy from the Fearsome Four, there are a few narrative points that are actually quite interesting and new for the series, although they aren't explored anywhere near as much as they should have been. Between the second and third boss fight Tails, Sonic's oldest and best friend, scolds Sonic for his constant God complex, criticizing him for always putting their friends (Amy) in danger. Sonic retorts that he is God, and that Tails is wrong to doubt him. Tails asks Sonic to prove it, and Sonic proceeds to walk on water. This Biblical allusion is incredibly self-evaluative of Sonic, and it's just a shame that Sonic Team didn't spend longer exploring Sonic's narcissism. After the scene is over Sonic heads right back out into the Quick Time Event-saturated combat arenas.
There's one other bit in the game that caught my attention as being in need of fleshing out further - at one point Sonic stumbles while running through a hoop and falls to the floor. When he lands he's dazed and sees images of a shadowy hedgehog that he doesn't recognise. I believe this will be Shadow the Hedgehog, and I imagine this may come into significance in the second or third DLC packs for the game. Until then, though, Amy Rose's Bush leaves little to the imagination.
It would be fitting at this stage to accuse Sonic Team of having totally lost the plot. Where Sonic Lost World lacked direction, Amy Rose's Bush compounds the issue by adding in Quick Time Events; where Lost World had the player flirting with the denizens of Sonic's Mobius, Amy doesn't even dangle so much as a hint of nooky in front of the player's face. For a hedgehog who spends all of his free time saving her, Amy is surprisingly negligent towards Sonic - she gives you nothing in return for the effort you put in, which is emblematic of the issues plaguing Amy Rose's Bush in general.