Sonic: Lost World is a game that you will want to love even after enduring some of its frustrating sections. You may get angry and declare the game to be unfair at times, and perhaps you might even quit the game in rage and hate it for its shortcomings; and yet, you will always come back to it.
This Wii U exclusive offers a type of challenge that is rarely seen in modern releases, and I believe that that is its defining feature. It is comparable to the original Crash Bandicoot or Rayman on the Playstation, both of which offered beautiful and interesting level design while also being difficult, frustrating and tedious because they required the player to memorize the many traps laid out for them and become perfect at navigating the levels. Like these two games, there are a plethora of instant-death scenarios and yet only a very limited number of lives at your disposal, so expect to see the Game Over screen more than once when playing through some of the later Zones; however, it is clear that Lost World was intentionally designed that way.
It is important to understand that the difficulty of the game does not stem from inaccurate controls or bad level-design. As opposed to the recent fan-favorites, Colors and Generations, Lost World does not allow you to simply boost through enemies and destroy everything in your way; instead, you have full control of Sonic and you have to know what you are doing and perfect each possible maneuver in Sonic's arsenal in order to be able to just reach the end of a level. The game was deliberately designed to overwhelm you by forcing you to adapt to, explore and memorize a level until you reach the point where your muscle-memory takes over. It is those moments that define the game, because once you manage to perfect that your gameplay, you realize that these levels that you initially thought to be impossible have become the simplest of obstacle courses for you that you can now just speed through and perfect.
Sonic: Lost World's biggest problem, however, is the fact that it has not been polished enough. While most levels were exhilarating and left you with a chance to constantly improve your play, some levels were either boring and slow or just dragged on too long. In one level, for example, I had to lead giant fruit to certain spots in an area so that I could advance to the next level, but the fruit was moving so slowly that the level took far longer than it should. Also, for a game that requires the player to replay a level multiple times before beating it, restarting a level takes a bit longer than I would have liked, though it is not slow enough for it to be frustrating (there are no loading times between Game Over and the restart of the level, but it is not instant either).
One of the really bad parts about this game is the fact that there is no real way to obtain more lives. Sure, there are lives to be found around the level most of the time, but trying to obtain them often leads to more dying. Why did the designers feel the need to remove the '100 rings give you a life'-rule? There are plenty of rings to collect, and yet they do not do anything other than save you from dying in one hit. It would have been great if I was encouraged to watch out and not lose my rings so that I could get that one life that I so desperately needed, and it would have been a great motivating factor to be even more careful.
There are other things that are equally frustrating, though they won't detract from the overall experience. For example, the collectable Red Rings, while easy to find, are often hard to obtain, though I have to mention that that is more the case in the latter half of the game. I started off collecting every single one of them since it was a fun exercise, but after reaching the fourth zone, it just got really frustrating because I would miss them by a hair's length, and it was stupidly infuriating because I knew exactly where they were. Due to the lack of a 'restart at checkpoint' option, I would have to restart the whole level just to return to that one part of the level where I could find that one particular Red Ring I was missing, just to miss it again. Sometimes, they even force Sonic right into a checkpoint after a missable Red Rings, so I could not even jump in a pit or get killed by an enemy to get try again. Add to that the fact that you only have four lives that you will rarely add more to, and you have an exercise in absolute frustration if you are going for 100% Completion.
Lastly, I just want to say that the game performs perfectly. It probably isn't running at 60 FPS, but it feels extremely smooth and is probably the best looking game on the Wii U. The environments look beautiful, the soundtrack is absolutely wonderful in my opinion, and the cutscenes are often funny, or just charming.
All in all, Sonic Lost World may not be a perfect experience, but it may be one of the most enjoyable experiences you can get on the Wii U if you do not mind a good challenge. You will get frustrated, no doubt about that, but you will also feel exhilarated. It is a game that needs you to live and learn and go fast like the wind.