Perhaps it’s not saying much to some, but Lego Dimensions’ Sonic Level Pack might be the best Sonic game in a very, very long time. It’s a nostalgia fuelled, brick-enhanced version of some of the best-loved moments in Sonic’s history and while it shouldn’t really work – and occasionally it doesn’t – fans old and new will undoubtedly get a kick out of one of the best outings for Sega’s iconic hero.
The level’s narrative follows Dr. Robotnik’s attempt to use the Chaos Emeralds with the Dimensional keystone in order to, you know, control the world, and as such you’re treated to a trip through various Sonic zones, or at least similarly themed renditions. Sonic’s humour marries perfectly with the playful tone of Lego Dimensions, and fans of both series will be chuckling along at the banter between Sonic, Eggman and pals.
Right off the bat, the Sonic figure looks great, though those looking for attention to detail will be disappointed by the fact the red paint for his shoes doesn’t go all the way around either foot. The average Lego Dimensions player is unlikely to focus too much on the negatives anyway, and the average Lego Dimensions player’s parent will be swept along by the immense wave of nostalgia.
The level of fan service here is deeply impressive, from the iconic opening “Sega” voice at the start to Sonic tapping his foot while waiting or falling asleep and dreaming of the classic 2D Sonic when your character becomes inactive. The music tickles all of the spots that Sonic fans could want with both new and classic themes sitting perfectly alongside the action.
The two builds – the Speed Star racing car from Sonic Transformed, and the Tornado plane that first appeared in Sonic 2 – both live up to the perfectly formed and relatively solid build quality of most Lego Dimensions kits. The Tornado in particular really looks the part, and allows the Resogun-esque shooting sections to return from some recent Lego games.
The Speed Star’s use in the game though is really quite disappointing, as I was expecting some kind of karting section that never materialised. There’s even a track in the hub world, but the car somehow manages to be far slower than Sonic is. It’s not helped by the camera in the hub world proving deeply unreliable.
There’s something a little odd about Sonic punching and kicking his enemies as this fundamentally remains the Lego Dimensions game, but you can at least jump on their heads too. Sonic’s homing attack makes its inevitable return as well, but here at least it makes sense when moving through the 3D landscape.
The half-pipe bonus stages from Sonic 2 make a return, though they’re not as fiendishly difficult as they were back then. In classic Lego fashion there’s no real sense of danger here or anywhere else, as you’ll simply bounce straight back from a death. If you just let Sonic run through all of the mines in the half pipe, he’ll still get the Chaos Emerald at the end, but then I don’t expect many people are playing Lego games for the challenge.
While it’s a pretty good Sonic game, it’s a less successful example of a Lego one, with minimal use of construction, and an especially limited use of the Dimensions’ portal. It also has some classically poor platforming sections, and 3D spacing problems as well, but that’s not unique to this level pack. Though not on the scale of a story pack, this does offer a slightly longer experience than some of the other level packs released so far, and overall I came away having enjoyed myself despite the niggling problems.
While the nostalgia factor fades the longer you spend with the game, the Lego Dimensions Sonic Level Pack is a worthy addition to the Sonic canon, and given the franchise’s recent missteps that’s a worthy achievement. It doesn’t rewrite the Dimensions rulebook, and there are some clear missed opportunities, but Sonic fans in particular should love the hedgehog’s latest outing.