By Joseph Walter
Of course, those games were also blessed with phenomenal soundtracks. That fact didn't change when the series moved to 3D, but the overall franchise quality did. Although there is an immense portion of the resilient Sonic fanbase that obsesses over the Adventure series, and 3D Sonic in general, it's not hard to see that the hedgehog tripped over his own feet, and continues to do so, as every 3D outing is plagued by some awful, facepalm-worthy decisions by Sonic Team, or some horrendous programming.
Then there's Lost World for the Wii U. When the game arrived, it wasn't only lambasted by critics, but Sonic's biggest fans, as well.
So, naturally I decided I needed to play it.
Going in, I assumed it would be something akin to Colors, where there were moments of utter glory, but with the majority of the package bogged down by any number of technical flaws.
Much to my surprise, I'm unwillingly loving the game. Sure, it's a major departure from Sonic's typical formula, but it's actually loaded with good ideas (for once... unlike "Werehogs" or "Wispons" or "Super Sonic DLC") and... they all honestly pan out (for once... unlike "Werehogs" or "Wispons" or "Super Sonic DLC"). I don't want to love it, or even like it. Yet here I am.
The game has an absolutely stunning aesthetic, taking major inspiration from Super Mario 3D World, and its gameplay is clearly inspired by Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, but despite the extremely obvious lifts (or "rip-offs," if you will) Lost World manages to take what Mario (and even Donkey Kong) did, and warp it to fit with Sonic, creating something unique in a world of Sonic Forces or Sonic 2006.
It's not flawless by any means, though, and its soundtrack is, unfortunately, one of its weakest elements.
There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but it's just so blasé when compared to Colors or the fantastic scores of Adventure or Forces. Like its visual and gameplay "inspirations" from certain Mario games, the soundtrack often seems to be aping Sunshine or Galaxy, but only their weakest moments, never fully growing into its own thing. Except for this, "Tropical Coast Zone Act 3/Sea Bottom Segue."
Ugh. These mournful strings and harmonies legitimately bring a tear to my eye. This swirling piece sucks you into its heart-rending vortex, and it doesn't let go.
I want to bite my tongue off for even thinking the following sentence, but I must type this blasphemy for one and all to hear: I earnestly believe that this piece rivals, comes close to rivaling, David Wise's phenomenal soundscape and aural bliss from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a score that fully immerses and transports the player to a realm that it purely defined by music. A place where no single track exists on its own, as they are all part of a cohesive whole that forms a mesmerizing experience, far beyond the simple act of having music accompany gameplay.
Sonic Lost World's full score isn't exactly in that same boat, not even close, but "Sea Bottom Segue" seems like it could have very well slipped in amongst Wise's ultimate triumphs like "Seashore War" or "Stickerbrush Symphony."
And, once again, I wish I wasn't serious. But I am.