[video=youtube;D-sIkDWfccU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-sIkDWfccU[/video] your thoughts? i was hoping to see eggman(dr robotnik)...but i bet he will be the secret boss like andross was in starfox adventures.. -- IGN article here Despite its legendary 20-plus year legacy, the Sonic the Hedgehog series has struggled to maintain a consistent track record when it comes to quality. SEGA, in an effort to find a successful formula, has experimented time and time again, moving from the series 2D roots to outlandish concepts involving werewolves to 3D adventures and back again. Success seemed to elude Sonic Team repeatedly until recently. Although several Sonic games of the past decade have struggled in numerous ways, some of the more recent entries, including Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, have been on the right track. They've been fun, and started to grapple with the fact that 3D and 2D adventures must be accommodated in unique ways. Generations even went so far as to take the same levels and approach them from both perspectives. With Sonic: Lost World, the Sonic Team is taking that design concept to the next step, blending 3D and 2D mechanics in abstract levels that more than resemble another Nintendo exclusive Super Mario Galaxy. Derivative gameplay is sometimes frowned upon in this industry, but in the case of Lost World, this is more than welcome, and more than necessary. The development team has now been freed to think of gameplay first and worldly concepts second, and that can only mean good things for the final product. I recently had time to watch three levels of Sonic: Lost World, and the changes being made to the franchise range from entirely obvious to remarkably subtle. First and foremost the games aforementioned larger design approach, and the necessary control alterations that followed. We wanted to create an all-new design for 3D Sonic games with Sonic: Lost World, producer Takashi Iizuka told me via e-mail. Ever since the first day of development, we were focused on creating new and unique levels to best fit this new style. That style basically removes Sonic from the constraints of a cohesive, grounded world design. Instead, players will find themselves twisting, turning and jumping along floating constructs suspended in mid-air. Levels are now informed by gameplay needs, with some stages focusing on slower speeds with more platforming, and others pushing players to run as fast as possible. Aesthetic ideas are now more free, ranging from the more idyllic, grassy settings of Wind Hill to something like Desert Ruins 1, which consists of cakes, cookies, donuts and all manners of candy. And just to throw a curveball, Desert Ruins 2 drops the sweets theme entirely, and features an entirely different gameplay style, opting for the tunnel racing concept that Sonic games have used for decades. Of course, all of this works within Sonics typical level designs, which feature a wide range of branching paths and exploration options. Some parts of levels call upon classic Sonic concepts... More critically, it appears as though Sonic Team has realized that many of the core ideas from games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors can co-exist. 2D and 3D dont have to be isolated so long as theyre incorporated in the proper manner. They can coexist in whatever state Sonic Team wants, allowing for levels that are 2D and 3D hybrids to varying degrees. Speed can also not only be about tunnel-based obstacle avoidance, but the crazier, twistier constructs that first appeared in the Sonic Adventure series. All of this can work together. Its a remarkably simple realization for the series, but all indications seem to be that it works marvelously, particularly now that Sonics controls have been adjusted to accommodate those ideas. Exhilarating and dynamic speed can sometimes conflict with [intuitive] controls, so we're constantly trying to improve the balance between the two, Iizuka said, noting that improving control in this game was of the utmost importance to the team. Two key ideas were born of this focus being able to control Sonics speed, and a Parkour system that allows players to automatically accommodate basic obstacles when hes running. As mentioned, Sonic Teams greatest challenge was maintaining a sense of speed for the series while finding controls that made sense. The result is now that, by default, Sonic doesnt burst off with a tilt of the analog stick. He walks until you use one of the GamePads triggers to engage his running speed. This too is actually not full speed. Holding down the second trigger will pull Sonic into a ball, giving him access to his full momentum, which Iizuka likened to the Boost speed from previous titles. By creating a tiered structure to movement, Sonic Team is hoping players will be able to navigate the wide range of level designs, exploring and running as necessary. While others more than resemble concepts from Mario Galaxy. Thats also where the Parkour system comes into play. In previous 3D Sonic games, even if you're running through a level at top speed, if you hit an obstacle you stop instantly, Iizuka explained. To avoid this, we added a new action to keep Sonic running, even when you hit an obstacle. To make sure it only happens when you want it to, it's triggered by the player holding the run button. Like any game, automating actions brings a certain risk, but doing nothing means Sonic games continue to run into a brick wall literally in the case of gameplay. Of course, theres also the small matter of Lost World being a Wii U (and 3DS) exclusive. On Wii U, the GamePad is specifically used to activate various Whisp-based Color Powers, which feature touch-based controls and are mostly used to gain access to side paths and areas. The GamePad will also play a role in Support Mode, which allows one player to use Wii Us tablet to assist a second player who is controlling Sonic with a Wii remote and Nunchuck. Speaking of playing as Sonic, while the iconic hedgehog is the only character players will directly control, friends such as Tails, Knuckles and Amy will make appearances in the story. The story itself is, as youd expect, remarkably simple. Sonic is chasing his longtime foe, Eggman, and encounters a mysterious floating island known as Lost Hex. Its here where Sonic will run across the Deadly Six that SEGA has already teased, and Iizuka noted these foes will bring a sense of danger and humor to the story. SEGA isn't shying away from full 3D levels on the 3DS. All of this and there are still a wide range of smaller details that will certainly please long-time Sonic fans. Some factor directly into game mechanics, such as the fact that Sonic will once again save animals throughout levels. Rescuing these critters will not only be tracked level by level, but cumulatively, and will factor into unlockable content. And then there are more subtle things, such as the animation for Sonics running or the presence of Red Star Rings (collected for unlockable content) and gold cannons (which access hidden paths). For every adjustment to the legacy, there is a similar tribute to it, and that acknowledgement is great to see. Theres plenty we dont know about Lost World. The precise world and level structure remains a bit elusive. The size of the game. The nature of the bosses. However the biggest question mark of all is the 3DS version of the game. We know it will incorporate full 3D levels similar to the Wii U game, but the scale or design of these remains to be seen. Theres also the significant fact that we havent played this game. Its control and level design adjustments certainly seem to step in the right direction but will they result in fun gameplay? Well find out. E3 2013 is just around the corner and Sonic: Lost World will be there.