Sonic Lost World for Wii U wasn’t the only Sonic game impressing fans at the show floor. The 3DS version was on display as well, the first Sonic portable game to offer a fully 3-D world to explore. While the game is technically very sound, how is it compared to its big console brother and can Dimps pull it off on both a technical and design level? Read on to find why Sonic Lost World on 3DS is two steps forward and one step back for Dimps.
The 3DS version of Lost World tries to copy the console version in quite a few ways. Although the level design is different, Windy Hill still has many alternate paths, walls to parkor on and quite a few new tricks. One of them is a new wisp power which gives Sonic the ability to turn into a tiny asteroid of sorts. He rolls into a ball with a gravitational pull that lets him smash through walls which then form a ring around him killing enemies with ease. Another new addition is a large catterkiller that tries to smash you as you run around him. The camera does a fantastic job of focusing right on the catterkiller as you attack him. At the end of the level a giant female version of one of these caterkillers chases you down, smashing the narrow path behind you as you run over a pit of poisonous water. The whole scene is reminiscent of the many chase scenes Sonic has been apart of other the years, though nothing beats a killer whale or a giant GUN truck.
The only negative thing I can say about the Windy Hill is the transition between the floating islands that make up the level. Whenever Sonic reaches the end of an area he bounces off a spring. The camera then cuts to Sonic suspended awkwardly in the air as the next part of the game loads. The transition is very jarring and just looks sloppy, completely at odds with the rest of Windy Hill’s presentation. If the camera had followed him from the spring to the next area instead of this odd camera cut, it would have fit and looked less sloppy.
The other 3DS stage is an all new, exclusive 2-D version of Desert Ruins 2 that looks nothing like the Wii U version. This time around Sonic is running around inside what looks like an Egyptian pyramid. Here, Sonic can run up walls using his speed dash and attack enemies with some kind of kinetic wave that comes from his hands. Kinda odd. You also need to position these sentient rolling balls that follow you and can damage you if mishandled. You have to get them on a switch and stun them with an attack so some stairs can drop and you can proceed further. There are also spots where you cannot progress further until you free some animals by smashing more badniks, which causes a lot of backtracking. Also, positioning and stunning the balls can be a bit of a pain. It ends up more frustrating than fun and an odd choice for a demo level to show off. It’s like in Sonic 1 when you go from Green Hill to the very slow Marble Garden Zone. The game suddenly slows to a crawl.
At a technical level, the entire demo looked great. The simpler visuals allow for a much better framerate on the 3DS as the game tends to run at 30+ FPS, which is a significant improvement over Sonic Generations. The controls work very well too, though in this version they’ve gone the more conventional route and have mapped the spindash to the Y button rather then a trigger. However, while Dimps does get all the technical stuff right, it’s their level design that needs work. At least if the demo is anything to go by. While I’m 100% sold on Sonic Lost World for Wii U as you can tell by my hands-on for SEGAbits, the 3DS version needs to have better level design than what we saw in the demo.
Sonic Lost World will be available on both Wii U and DS later this Fall.