TSS Review: LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack

LEGO and Sonic the Hedgehog. Now there’s two things we never thought we’d see officially put together in the same product. Sure, maybe it’s not as earth-shattering a crossover as the Mario & Sonic series (I mean, who’d have ever seen that one coming, and at the Olympic Games no less?!), but it’s just as mind-bogglingly unthinkable. But, then again, almost anything is possible in the crazy world of TT Games’ LEGO Dimensions. You know what’s even crazier though? This bonkers mash-up of blue blurs and bricks is arguably the best thing to come out of Sonic’s 25th anniversary celebrations this year.

legosonicscreen7
Ten seconds into LEGO and chill, he gives you this look…

As was widely expected, Sonic’s involvement in this toys-to-life phenomenon comes in the form of his very own Level Pack. Setting you back between £25-£30 (or equivalent), these are some of the meatier add-on packs for LEGO Dimensions which means you get a decent amount of bang for your buck. In addition to Sonic himself, the box also includes two vehicles: the Sonic Speedster (Sonic’s trusty car from All-Stars Racing) and, of course, the classic Tornado bi-plane. Both of these vehicles can be enhanced and upgraded in-game – for instance, you can unlock a Tornado 2 paint job – and there’s even the option of transforming them into entirely unique builds, such as a Crabmeat or Motobug (which can be physically constructed in real life too using the same parts).

They’re hugely versatile within the game – and purely as LEGO mini-figs, they look really impressive despite their small scale. Sonic comes with a gold ring to hold, but in true LEGO fashion, you can swap that out for whatever you like – relive the glory days of Sonic Underground by giving him Marty McFly’s guitar, or play out an extended joke by making him hold The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. While it doesn’t have any in-game effect, it’s an opportunity to let your imagination go crazy and put your favourite hedgehog into all manner of weird and wonderful situations.

Go go, go Sonic, go, go...!
Go go, go Sonic, go, go…!

The real reason you’ll be picking up the Sonic Level Pack though (unless you’re just a die-hard collector) – and the reason you’re reading this review – is for the Sonic level itself, knowingly titled “Sonic Dimensions”. This degree of self-awareness is consistent throughout the stage, which on first playthrough provides a solid hour’s worth of content.

Compare that to some of the other Level Packs available (for example Back to the Future, which lasts only around 20-30 minutes) and you’re getting some of the best value that LEGO Dimensions has to offer. Even better, the level itself consists entirely of new content (again, compared to something like Back to the Future, which was just an abridged retelling of the first movie). Well, alright, maybe that statement needs a bit of adjustment. The Sonic level’s structure is a whirlwind tour of iconic stages from the series’ past (à la Sonic Generations), but it’s all neatly tied together as part of an original story – even if it does boil down to the usual “stop Dr. Eggman!” narrative (boiled egg pun fully intended: and that’s something players should get used to). From Green Hill to Emerald Coast, Marble Zone to Metropolis, all the way to a final showdown on the Death Egg, it’s full of nostalgic nods, each broken up by a visit to a Sonic 2 inspired special stage.

In fact, it might be said that LEGO Dimensions actually does a better job at weaving Sonic’s past into a cohesive whole than SEGA’s own attempt five years ago. The game’s dimension-hopping premise certainly lends itself perfectly to the idea.

You're in for a whale of a time in this Level Pack
You’re in for a whale of a time in this Level Pack

So, that’s the set-up, but how does it work? If you’ve ever played a LEGO game before, you know that they use a hugely different play style to what we’re accustomed to in Sonic’s own adventures. Thankfully, Sonic hasn’t been slowed down to compromise for the experience – he handles pretty much how you’d expect, which in itself goes to show the amount of effort that’s gone into this content. The homing attack, the spin dash, the wheel o’ feet – they’re all here and accounted for. Sonic even flexes his combat muscles with a few moves most recently seen in Super Smash Bros.,  meaning he’s quite capable of fighting off enemies whichever method you choose.

A fair chunk of the content (particularly boss battles) is played in 3D, but some sections will instead have you fixed on a 2D plane, and these stages feel the most like the traditional Sonic gameplay, with loop-de-loops and corkscrews aplenty. If you choose to play as any other character in these sections, they also temporarily gain Sonic’s running abilities, so if you’ve ever fancied seeing Homer Simpson or Mr. T rolling around at the speed of sound, prepare to have your dreams come true. On the flipside though, Sonic doesn’t get nerfed if you do the reverse – place Sonic in any other level that isn’t his own and his moveset can actually all but break the game. The blue blur can cover some serious distance with his ground and aerial speed, and it certainly changes the way you might choose to approach older stages from now on.

Just a casual visit to 21st Century London
Just a casual visit to 21st Century London

The absolute highlight of the Sonic level pack though is its presentation. In addition to a collection of CG cutscenes filled to the brim with visual gags (Shadow the Hedgehog fans, pay special attention), the writing and voice acting here is simply the best it’s ever been. Some of the voice cast have more to do here than they have done in any of the ‘proper’ Sonic games so far, and Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock shine in particular thanks to Sonic and Eggman continually bantering back and forth. If this doesn’t convince you that these current cast are right for their roles, then nothing will – it’s truly as if all the wit of the Sonic Boom cartoon has been injected into the main series, and it’s side-splittingly good. Couple that with all the references to games of old and you’ve got the most tongue-in-cheek and fan-pleasing Sonic experience since… well, possibly ever. The only tiny criticism is that some music tracks aren’t the original compositions, which jars slightly with the otherwise familiar soundtrack. Also, if you’re not a huge fan of in-jokes or the meme-based route that Sonic has been going down recently, you might not be so won over (there’s certainly no dark and edgy stuff here) – but, then again, this is a LEGO game. If you’re not going in expecting some amount of playful charm, then you’re entirely missing the point.

Because we're LEGO heroes!
Because we’re LEGO heroes!

As easy as it is to gush over everything though, it’s important to note that Sonic in LEGO Dimensions isn’t perfect. The whistle-stop nature of the story means that you only get a fleeting glimpse of each area, and that the pacing between different zones can sometimes feel unbalanced. The repeated use of Sonic 2 special stages as a means of transition also grows a little predictable before long. But the real niggling issues start to manifest themselves when you reach the Sonic Adventure World (by which we mean an Adventure World themed around Sonic, not a world inspired by Sonic Adventure).

This is a fully open playground, and for the most part, you can expect more of the same – an even more varied range of zones to explore (particularly if you’re a Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 & Knuckles fan) and the chance to interact with other characters (you’ve not lived until you’ve heard Knuckles busting out the lyrics to his own theme song). So far, so good – but where the problems lie is in the missions available. A majority of these involve exploring the Adventure World for specific spots on the map (be it finding Froggy or collecting chilli dogs), and while that’s great for encouraging exploration, a little more variety wouldn’t have gone amiss. The other form of mission you’ll encounter most often are the Sonic races: timed challenges in which you need to run through a series of rings before the clock hits zero.

On paper, this works wonders, but in practice it can be frustratingly clunky. The physics and hit detection aren’t as precise as they ought to be (on too many occasions has a homing attack or loop not worked how you’d expect it to), and at least on the less powerful consoles (this review is based on the Wii U version) Sonic is simply too fast for his own good – framerate drops, zooming off edges, unexpectedly wonky camera angles… they’re all small but significant buffers to the enjoyment and make seemingly easy (and fun) tasks into something more of a chore. Which is a shame, because everything else about the Sonic content in LEGO Dimensions is so darn good. Perhaps we just need to convince ourselves that these pitfalls make the experience even more authentically Sonic, warts and all.

That's no moon...
That’s no moon…

As an additional point, it’s also worth noting that, as with every other LEGO Dimensions pack out there, you can’t 100% the level or Adventure World with Sonic alone. Picking up the Level Pack grants you access to all of the Sonic themed content in the game, but if you want to get the full experience then you’re going to need to buy into the toys-to-life model and pick up a few more figures (or make use of the pricey “Hire a Hero” function that uses up your LEGO studs). But, really, that’s half the fun – seeing Sonic cross over and interact with the plethora of other characters is a huge joy. The attention to detail is spot on, and the lines are delivered with razor sharp hilarity. You’re almost doing the game a disservice if you only pick it up for Sonic himself.

In conclusion, the Sonic Level Pack for LEGO Dimensions is an absolute treat and something any devoted fan should check out if they get the chance. It’s positively overflowing with jokes and nostalgia, every facet lavished with love and serving as a brilliant culmination of Sonic’s first quarter-century. Not everything translates seamlessly into the LEGO universe, but considering the amount of effort that’s clearly on display, it’s easy to forgive a few technical shortcomings. Perhaps the biggest obstacle though for many players will be the game’s daunting price tag. It’s an expensive investment, there’s no doubt about it – but if you can afford the entry fee to this virtual world of whimsical mayhem, you’re in for one heck of a wild ride. Gotta LEGO fast!

Sonic's the name, LEGO's my game!
Sonic’s the name, LEGO’s my game!

You’ll Love

  • Top notch writing and performances
  • Incredible attention to detail that hits you right in the nostalgia
  • Infinite possibilities for crossover madness

You’ll Hate

  • Game mechanics not always working how you want them to
  • Repetition in story progression and Adventure World missions
  • The price tag for 100% completion

The LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack is now available at Amazon UK for £24.99, and at Amazon US for $29.99.

Published by

Doctor MK

Tally-ho! Doctor MK is a writer and English Language enthusiast with a love of gaming, particularly when it comes to a certain blue hedgehog. He's also known for being slightly too fond of puns, so provide wordplay opportunities at your peril. Founder of the Sonic Relief fundraising campaigns (2009-2011).

20 Comments

  1. Ignoring Generations, I thought this was the best Sonic game in years. Enjoyable gameplay and funny too. And the Adventure World, with some polish, is a more official realisation that a more ‘open world’ Sonic game could actually work outside of fangames.

    1. I bought this LD on sale alongside the Sonic pack. I really like seeing what a potential full-fledged LEGO Sonic game could be like, and seeing everybody in a LEGO state feels right for some reason.

      My only complaint:
      IT NEEDS MORE SONIC CHARACTERS!
      Seriously though, I want to play as Amy and beat the crap out of Harley Quinn in a Battle Arena. I want to climb walls as Knuckles, and I want to slow down enemies as Shadow. Finally, I want to use Technology Points as Tails instead of Cyborg for a change.

      LEGO, SEGA, Make this happen. I’ll give you my money right now to see it happen!

      1. Or, they could just make a new Sonic game with all these characters playable. It doesn’t have to be just a Lego spin off. Why should Sonic’s friends only be playable in a Lego game? Sega needs to start showing more love to Sonic’s pals, and quit treating them like useless cheerleaders. I really hope they surprise us with Project 2017. I don’t care if we have to beat the game just to have other characters optional, but I want to play as the others for a change! Sega should look up the fan game Sonic World, and get some inspiration from that. They should make a game that improves upon Sonic World with more polished gameplay, a story, and hub worlds.

        1. Part, if not most of the reason why SEGA isn’t using Sonic’s friends outside cutscenes is because they have YET to nail down a basic gameplay foundation for Sonic that can be expanded upon for everyone. Before you start yelling out about previous games that this

          – Sonic Generations & any boost game in general was designed from the ground upto expand upon and highlight the specific abilities and gameplay experience of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG. All the 3D Levels where created to really emphasize the sensation of speed above all else, (which is probably why they need 2.5 sections to do any decent platforming). Which means in order to take advantage of exploration based gameplay or sequence breaking of Tails or Knuckles, they’ll be stuck in the 2-D sections. Otherwise, I hope you like re-skins.

          – Sonic Heroes (and by extension Sonic World) is merely a modfied take on the Sonic Levels from the Sonic Adventure games and I’ll get to why you can’t use that later. The characters themselves are irrelevant .Because outside of a tiny bit of exclusive moves, they practically play as extensions of the speed character’s move set. There’s no reason to play as anyone other than the runner, thus no real reason for an extensive cast if they have to be tied to one person. SONIC WORLD makes it worst – I applaud it’s effort to get rid of all the automation, streamline the gameplay, and create more open areas, I don’t like what Ozcrash does with the characters. First, the game is unwieldy using the native input for all Sonic games – a game controller. Second, while the additional abilities are welcome, most of them aren’t very practical or intuitive to the gameplay. Finally, outside of those additional abilities, there are no variety among the characters in terms of speed or agility; you might as well try playing a trio of Sonics (which apparently you can in that game). I’m not saying I disagree that SEGA should take lessons from Sonic World, but not THOSE lessons.

          – The Adventure formula died with Sonic Team USA. Unless the old Sonic Team decides to get the band back together or SEGA decides to kidnap..err, hire some fan-gamers, the chances of the modern Sonic Team making anything like an Adventure title is zero-to-zilch. Even then, the Adventure formula only accommodated the other characters by shunting them off to their own stages and these days, mostly all general gamers just want to play as Sonic or Sonic-type characters.

          Honestly, the best place for more Sonic characters, is either in 2D or in a basic 3D platformer similar to LEGO. The Beauty of the LEGO system is the basic infrastructure is so simple and maliable, that just like LEGOS themselves, you can fit any part from another set into any other part and it creates something new. It accommodates nearly any type of character because they’re mostly based on previous models from previous LEGO games; Sonic himself is just a heavily modified version of LEGO Batman’s Flash model. So any character from Sonic is fair game, as long as they can fit to a previous game style and if not, it’s not like it’ll be hard for Traveller’s Tales to make another. They’re experts at this point.

    1. Well, in fact, better the former 4kids Voice Actors indeed (Jason Adam Griffith and Lisa Ortiz in first place). ‘^.^’
      Also (from the comments above), WHY NOT MY BELOVED AMY ROSE AS PLAYABLE CHARACTER?!?!? >:O

      1. It’s funny how Amy was the most useful side character in the game, and she was omitted throughout most of the game. She had the least amount of screen time, with no explanation, yet the game managed to make up for it by having her show up at last minute to kick Eggman’s butt, and hand Sonic the last chaos emerald needed to defeat Chaos. I was almost upset that Amy was missing throughout, until the final act showed up. Sonic was even cheering her on. I do question why Sonic only saved Amy by opening a dimension rift, instead of just swooping down to save her, he was in his super form for crying out loud! At least we know she was ok though, considering how you’ll find her in the Sonic Adventure World upon completing the Sonic Pack’s story.

  2. Yea LEGO, SEGA make a full on game please a free roaming Mobius with 100’s of characters, come on do it do it!

  3. I don’t know if this counts as a spoiler, but Knuckles and Big’s missions in the Adventure World are called “Lego Dimensions & Knuckles” and “Big’s Big Fishing Adventure 4”, and after beating Big’s mission, he gets a call from someone named “Sanic”.

  4. Seeing a full Lego Sonic game would be pretty cool. Especially if they add characters from the Archie comics!

    But before you question it, the Lego games have included PLENTY of unusual characters in past games. I imagine the Batman/DC & Marvel games would make the best examples, but Lego Star Wars had some interesting choices too…

    1. Knowing Travellers Tales are UK based they might even put a couple STC characters in there too for kicks.

  5. Lego Dimensions Sonic The Hedgehog Level Pack in my actual opinion is amazing I wish they have Blaze Cream, Sliver, also Chaotixs & E123 Omega in Lego Dimensions Sonic The Hedgehog Level Pack. To see their Lego form that will be sweet not interested to get Lego Dimensions full game then Sonic The Hedgehog Level Pack I feel it’s kind of short some point overall awesome Review yo!

  6. Not gonna lie, watched a playthrough of this online and the story kind of irritated me. Eggman is more moronic than he’s ever been, and it isn’t even Boom Eggman… That being said, still looks like more effort was put into this than most SEGA-Sonic materials XD Awesome way to conclude what has been a pretty cool 25th anniversary celebration this year!

    I’d probably pick this up just for the toys, screw the game. I’ve been done with LEGO Games since Star Wars ventured into Indiana Jones, after that it got old to me, probably because I don’t care for American pop culture much. Oops.

  7. My only gripe with the s pack is the fact that you can’t save your progress. Other than that(insert the cheesiest song from the Lego movie here. No seriously THAT SONG IS HORRIBLE.)

  8. We love it too, except for the fact that the Wii U version has the worst framerate of any Wii U game I’ve ever seen. The main game runs perfectly, even when we use Sonic in it. The DLC levels, however, run like they’re using stop-motion animation or something. Glitchy and jerky. We are so disappointed.
    And for the record, Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock ARE and WILL ALWAYS BE Sonic and Eggman to me. They are hilarious the way they bounce off each other. The whole modern cast of the Sonic games and shows is just a really great team of actors.

  9. Help! We bought the sonic level pack but when i go to option add on content the sonic level packs shows coming soon. We can’t go into the sonic portal. My son already finished the first level ‘ the yellow brick road. Please let me know what to do. Thank you

    1. This is what I did.

      There is a menu in the game called ‘Content manager’ (something along those lines, it should be on the left side of the main menu).

      It will list all the available expansion packs. You can either go to the online store from this menu or go to the online store directly from the console dashboard.

      Download the Sonic pack to the console and install it.

      Then when you’re playing Lego Dimensions, either beat the Wizard of Oz stage (completely) so you return to the main hub (where the portal device is), or quit the level and go back to the main menu hub.

      Then place the Sonic character on the central panel. Sonic should now appear in the game.

      Then go to the portal and jump through it as Sonic.

      You will now start the Sonic stages.

Comments are closed.