Lego Dimensions: Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack
Regular readers know that I am not much of a gamer. My video game coverage is limited to Lego games largely because their skill requirements closely align with my limited hand-eye coordination. But that was not true of the video games of my youth. When I was a kid, arcade games were unforgiving and most of the home console games weren’t much better. Even then, I gravitated towards games like Atari’s Adventure which didn’t require split-second timing. But those games were few and far between.
In the early 90’s, I had a Sega Genesis in my dorm room. Side-scrollers were the popular game style of the day. Sonic the Hedgehog innovated by making its spiky blue protagonist was really, really fast. Playing Sonic was frequently a dizzying, exhilarating blur. Even though I frequently ended up losing all of the rings I had collected, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the fun as Sonic rocketed from platform to platform spinning and bouncing like a hyper-kinetic pinball.
I didn’t stick with the Sonic series for very long. I think I may have owned the first couple of games. After that, my pathetic gameplay steered me to games that were more my speed. In other words, slower games. Thanks to Lego Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack, I can revisit the old high speed side-scrolling gameplay married with the much less challenging Lego video game format.
For any Sonic novices out there, Sonic is a really fast blue hedgehog who runs around collecting gold rings. His arch enemy is an evil scientist nicknamed Eggman who captures friendly, helpless little animals and turns them into robots to menace Sonic. Over the course of several sequels and spin-offs, Sonic has acquired several friends and sidekicks most of whom I am unfamiliar with. But if you have played a lot of Sonic games, odds are you know the supporting cast.
As a casual player at best, I recognized that the new level introduced in this expansion recreates a lot of the gameplay from the original Sonic games. The later stages of the level introduced allies, enemies and settings I was not as familiar with. I assume these came from games that were released after I stopped playing. The attention to detail that is a trademark of Lego Dimensions is in full force here.
My main concern was how well the two very different game styles could be merged together. The comparison I would make here is to the Portal 2 Level Pack. With both games, if you stick to the level’s intended protagonist, you can experience a faithful recreation of the original franchise’s game play. Of course if you are like me and you are really bad at Sonic games, you will occasionally sub in a character who can just fly over most of the obstacles with ease. But that’s your choice.
Even if you stick with Sonic, the Lego Dimensions level isn’t as punishing as the old Sonic games. In those games, you had a limited number of lives. But since this is a Lego game, you essentially have unlimited lives no matter how many times you drown or fall onto spikes. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you lose all your rings. This removes the frustration of having to replay a difficult part of the game because you mistimed a single jump.
Appropriately, Sonic’s main ability is that he is really fast. This can make him a bit hard to control outside of his level. But it’s also nice for getting around an adventure world without a vehicle. Most of the other characters walk with all the urgency of someone on a Sunday afternoon stroll. His other main selling point is that Sonic can ride on looping “grind rails”. The only other character with this ability is Legolas.
Sonic also has a few more common skills such as acrobatics, super strength, invulnerability and laser deflection. In order to use those last two skills, Sonic has to transform in midair which makes them a little less dependable than some other characters who inherently have these skills. In terms of game utility, Sonic isn’t bad but he isn’t essential either.
It may seem counter-intuitive for a speed-based character to use vehicles, but Sonic comes with a plane and a car. The Tornado, a red biplane, makes a certain amount of sense since the hedgehog can’t fly. Why Sonic needs a race car is beyond me, but it actually comes from a racing game. The Tornado can be upgraded into a robotic crab that shoots lasers or a flying mech with electricity. The Sonic Speedster can be used to break “cursed” lego bricks. It can also be ugraded to fly and smash glass.
As usual, the vehicles are there for flavor more than utility.
To date, there are no other options available if you want to access the Sonic the Hedgehog adventure world. So if you’re a completist or a Sonic fan, you’re going to have to shell out for the Level Pack. If you don’t fit into one of those two categories, this is one of the less essential Level Packs from Year 2. Sonic doesn’t have any unique abilities. You won’t need him to complete puzzles in other areas of the game.
But if you are a fan of the Sonic series who also enjoys Lego Dimensions, this pack is sure to please.