Sonic Lost World for 3DS holds a lot of promise. Find out why it might even be better than its Wii U counterpart!
The Sonic Lost World E3 demo for Nintendo 3DS strongly resembles its console big brother, right down to its art style and soundtrack. While it is easy to dismiss the 3DS version as a downgrade or lesser version at first glance, the demo's impressive 3D visuals, interesting level design, and surprisingly responsive controls left me more impressed by the portable entry than its console sibling.
The first two levels in the demo are three-dimensional levels that take place in Windy Hill Zone. The introductory level explains the various game mechanics and controls, which are similar to, although slightly different, than the Wii U game's and—from what I could tell—more responsive. Sonic jogs at a moderate pace when only using the circle pad and increases speed when either shoulder button is held. Sonic handles surprisingly well: I found it easy to change directions to maneuver around obstacles and pits, even when running.
In the Wii U demo Sonic felt somewhat loose and easier to over-steer, but I had no such problems when playing on the 3DS. Sonic can also jump and double-jump (A or B without a nearby enemy) which does not result in Sonic becoming vulnerable, unlike on the Wii U. Sonic can also perform his homing attack by pushing the jump button when in midair and while auto-locked onto one or more enemies. He can also perform an aerial kick and ground bounce (which are confusingly triggered via similar jump-then-X button combinations) while the spin-dash is mapped to Y.
These 3D levels also highlighted some features not showcased in the Wii U 3D levels on display. Just as in the Wii U demo, Sonic will climb walls and other obstacles when holding down the run (shoulder) button. But in the 3DS game, the wall-climbing mechanic also allows Sonic to run sideways up walls and even wall jump between parallel walls in narrow spaces. The second level also featured an asteroid whisp power-up, in which Sonic transforms into a small planet and can demolish enemies and the environment, turning them into asteroids (moons?) that orbit around him until the power times out. These levels look great in stereoscopic 3D, with a great sense of depth, all without coming off as distracting or showy.
The third level on display is a 2D side-scrolling level set in desert ruins. I found this level to be fairly challenging because of how it incorporated switch puzzles in which Sonic must stun boulder-shaped baddies on the switch in order to move blocks that are in his way or to create paths. Many of these puzzles required you to move quickly once the boulder baddie was stunned in order to progress.
Other areas of the level required Sonic to destroy all of the enemies in order to progress. While the notion of kill rooms are cause for concern, as they became a serious pacing problem in Sonic Rush for DS, this level was interesting enough to hold my attention. Most of these areas were reasonably large and required timing and skilled wall-jumping to find and reach all of the enemies. Oddly, the 2D level on display suffered from an occasional drop in framerate that I didn't notice on the first level.
Overall the 3DS demo of Sonic Lost World was a pleasant surprise, and I look forward to its release later this year.