The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scroller with pretty simple game play. By comparison, the latest installment, Sonic Lost World, by Sega for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS, is a radically different experience at times, with some levels consisting of “classic,” 2-D, side-scrolling play, while others are immersive 3-D from an angled, top-down perspective. Players now have the option of moving in nearly all directions, and interact with terrain in ways that would have been impossible during the 2-D days.
In Sonic Lost World, players can use the trigger button on the Wii U controller to rev Sonic up, and send him zipping along extra fast (Be warned: He can get a little out of hand if you aren’t used to it). When approaching tight spaces, he can subsequently ricochet off walls and perform other special maneuvers. During my demo, I actually kept my finger mostly off that button, and the game still managed to be a kinetic, occasionally vertiginous experience, with lots of rocketing off springboards into the air and pinballing faster than the eye could keep up.
Yet despite plenty of new moves, the average player can still get pretty far using the old Sonic the Hedgehog control range–just the directional pad and regular jump button. I was thankful that the game play mechanics could be boiled down so succinctly; on the other hand, it makes sense, since the appeal of the franchise has always been its speedy play, and nothing slows a player’s reaction time like having to ponder which of six million buttons to press. In the new game, players can jump, home in on approaching hostiles, and put them out of commission—all by hitting the same button repeatedly; and of course, without the title character ever breaking his stride.