Similarly, a new item that transforms Sonic into something caught between a Monkey Ball and a Bomb - activated by navigating a neat little drop-down menu on the GamePad screen - is perfect for steamrolling a group of enemies in 3D, but just slows the pace and leaves you vulnerable on a 2D plane.
The fact that these systems seem so disjointed is a worrying trend for a game that strives to be the best of both platforming worlds. Even more worrying is when it offers up the worst of each. The newest level included in this build, Frozen Factory, takes on the classic Sonic casino stages in 3D and, through its various gimmicks, fundamentally fails to evoke either that speed or platforming heritage.
In this garish neon flashback to Sonic 2's ace Casino Night Zone, floor-mounted lasers fence off dangerous, twisting tracks, but Sonic's sprint is bad at sharp turns, meaning any cornering slows you to a crawl. If you want to take the stage at speed you have to steer him up onto the walls. Easier said than done. Sonic's free-running may crib its 'one button does all' idea from Assassin's Creed, but he doesn't have the athletic grace of a Kenway quite yet. After the nippy straights of Windy Hill, Frozen Factory is far more of a stop and start experience.
Likewise, exploration. Such a joy in Windy Hill, it's limited here to picking one of three 10-meter-
long corridors to funnel you to the next open area containing a tiny bunch of enemies to bop. Instead of platforming, the team seems focused on cramming in gimmicks. Not content with his usual ring haul, Sonic now hoovers up coins (they swarm like glittering flies) to deposit for a points payoff later in the level. It's goofy, but relatively harmless, which is more than can be said for the giant pinball tables that interrupt the action. Pitched as nostalgic nods to Sonic 2's own tables, these clumsy intrusions drain lives for every ball you lose. In a blink of an eye they go from a goofy distraction to a major hurdle. Sonic Spinball is, er, spinballing in its grave.
Sonic Team's dedication to wanton creativity is admirable, but, the fact is, the stage fails at platforming and speed. When end of level ratings evaluate us for time taken, rings collected, Red Rings found and Flickies freed we're reminded how Windy Hill managed to make the same individual goals that much more fun. In Frozen Factory, we were happy just to survive to the finish line.
The real question is whether the rest of the game will be capable of treading that precision/speed line more carefully, and whether players will engage with two radically opposed ideals. Having seen both the light and dark sides of Lost World we await review code with trepidation.