Of the latest batch of LEGO Dimensions expansion pack releases, the Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack was probably one of, if not the most anticipated.
Unlike fellow late-2016 releases E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and Gremlins (which I’ve reviewed here), the Sonic pack includes one figure, two rebuildable vehicles, an Adventure World, and a “Level” which is almost like a short Sonic game in itself.
In addition to the custom Sonic the Hedgehog LEGO figure, which includes a ring accessory. Sadly, the ring is just a plain plastic yellow, unlike the metallic gold seen in some earlier pictures, and the flesh-toned paint on his stomach doesn’t seem quite solid enough, as it appears sort of faded against the blue plastic. It’s not bad overall, but those two issues seemed like they warranted a mention.
Sonic’s abilities, which include super speed, his Homing Attack, signature Spin Dash, rail grinding, and even his Stomp and a few melee attacks for good measure. He’s a powerhouse who is no doubt good in many of LEGO Dimensions‘ adventures, not just his own. Plus, after beating the Level Pack, you gain the ability to transform into the invincible Super Sonic, but only for a limited amount of time.
Then there are the vehicles. One is the Sonic Speedster from the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing games, which does the standard LEGO Dimensions car stuff, like activating accelerator switches and towing stuff. On the real-world side of things, it turns out that this — like Gizmo’s R.C. Racer — is one of the relatively few LEGO car builds in this series that you can actually have the character ride in, should you want to display it that way. However, with Sonic’s taller form, you might want to remove the legs before plugging the torso down into the “seat” of the car.
The Sonic Speedster can be rebuilt into the Blue Typhoon, which is no relation to Tails’ ship of the same name in Sonic X. It gives up the ability to use accelerator switches for flight in this mode, and adds a few other abilities as well. From that, it can then be rebuilt again into a Moto Bug, one of Eggman’s classic Badniks, though the resemblance is iffy at best, mostly due to the blue color versus a Motobug’s trademark red. In this form, it can use accelerator switches again, as well as dig and cut things for various puzzles.
Then there’s the Tornado, Sonic’s biplane that is usually piloted by Tails — and actually is in the game, unlike the toy itself. Incidentally, you can’t have Sonic pilot this one, or even stand on the wings as he typically does, though if you’re desperate, he can stand on the tailfins via the pegs on the pieces there.
In addition to flying, docking, and hooking things, the Tornado can be rebuilt into another Badnik, Crabmeat. In addition to having lasers and super-jumps, it looks more like its normal self, thanks to the red color scheme. It can then be rebuilt once more into the Eggcatcher, which has the same abilities as the standard Tornado, but swaps out the tow bar for electricity.
The meat of this set is what puts the “Level” in “Level Pack,” that of course being the “Sonic Dimensions” level. As noted before, the term “level” feels like a bit of a misnomer, if only because there are several levels here, combining into what feels more or less like a short and fairly simple Sonic the Hedgehog game. You can get a good feel for the character’s abilities here before going into the other parts of the game.
This portion feels a lot like what you might expect: A LEGO game combined with a Sonic game. The controls feel like they meet right in the middle, and everything feels like a real hybrid of the two games. Rings replace studs, though they still contribute towards your stud count, but instead of losing any of them when hit, you have a four-hit life meter, represented by the 1UP monitors from Sonic’s Genesis days. As for lives, there is no limit there, so it’s very forgiving.
The gameplay is generally 2D, but on a 3D field, sort of like an old arcade-style brawler. It can make things a bit tricky at times when figuring out Sonic’s placement in your field of view, but the game’s forgiving nature keeps this from being too much of a problem.
There’s a lot of self-referential humor involved in the story, as Dr. Eggman is up to his old tricks again — and one familiar to readers of the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comics, as he uses the power of the Chaos Emeralds to access other dimensions. The end result is that you get to revisit a lot of classic Sonic scenarios, albeit LEGO-fied. Tails, Amy Rose, Knuckles the Echidna, Shadow the Hedgehog, and even Big the Cat and Froggy all show up, too! …which can ultimately have the side-effect of leaving you wanting LEGO figures of them as well.
Oh, and there’s also Omochao, who surprisingly has one of the most amusing bits in the game as they put him in the Marble Zone. It’s amazing how two of the most loathed parts of the Sonic franchise manage to work so well together here.
Put simply: If you’re a fan of Sonic and LEGO gameplay, then this is an absolute joy to play through, though it does end rather abruptly — hopefully a sign of more Sonic level packs to come.
Then there’s the Adventure World, and oh lord, what a nightmare it is!
In concept, it’s pretty cool: It’s a big hub world comprised of different Zones and locales from throughout Sonic’s history. You start in the Green Hill Zone and can go most anywhere, from the Chemical Plant Zone to Sandopolis, the Master Emerald Shrine, Carnival Night Zone, and more. Scattered throughout are other characters who need your help in some way, such as helping Big find Froggy or bashing Badniks with Knuckles, with gold bricks as your reward.
The problem is the camera. In “Sonic Dimensions,” the camera is just fine for the most part, and even using Sonic in other levels such as the Midway Arcade Adventure World has been just fine. But the camera here is jittery and janky, making things more difficult than they should be. Running through a basic Sonic loop in the Green Hill area is nearly impossible without falling out, and when trying to find Froggy, Big tended to obstruct the camera much of the time. It’s as though the camera here were designed by Dr. Eggman himself.
While I managed to adapt just enough to manage, albeit uncomfortably, my wife didn’t fare so well. Suffice to say that if you experience motion sickness easily, you should definitely stay away from this Adventure World.
Then there’s the matter of the music throughout the entire experience, “Sonic Dimensions” and the Adventure World alike. There are basically two types of music to be heard here: Crush 40’s awesome Sonic Adventure tunes, and the stuff for the Genesis-based areas.
The problem is that while the Genesis games had fantastic music, none of that is here. Instead, you end up with — at best — “legally distinct” approximations of the actual music. The best of them is the Green Hill music, which at least resembles what it’s trying to replace, while others vary in how close they manage to come, none of them really up to part with the originals.
Click the video below for an idea of how Green Hill sounds.
Despite what flaws there are in this package, some of which are just inherent to LEGO games in general (such as puzzles that come off as a little bit too obtuse, at least until you see the solution), I had an absolute blast with this pack based on the “Sonic Dimensions” Level alone. It only took me about three hours to beat, but I couldn’t put it down during that entire time.
The Adventure World is the weakest part of the package due to the camera, and I hope they’ll do something to fix that. But even with that said, if you’re a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, and especially if you’re a fan of both Sonic and LEGO games, then this really is a must-buy. Though until that camera is fixed, it might be good to wait for a sale.
The LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack was released on Tuesday, November 18th, 2016 at a price of $29.99. LEGO Dimensions is available for Wii U (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. The expansion packs are compatible with any version of the game.
A review sample was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.