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Does Sonic Lost World Have the Worst Pre-Order Bonus Ever?

Pre-order Sonic Lost World and you'll find yourself with something largely useless.

News by Pete Davison, .

Pre-order bonuses vary enormously in quality... and in fairness.

The best pre-order bonuses provide players with collectible bits and pieces that enthusiastic players can use to commemorate the fact that they were there, day one, with the latest installment in their favorite franchise, or with the latest work from a favorite studio.

The worst pre-order bonuses feel like content has been excised from the game, or that you need to buy several copies of the game from several different outlets in order to get the "full" experience.

Sega appears to have taken things one step further, however, with quite possibly the worst pre-order bonus of all time if you choose to grab the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World from Amazon: 25 extra lives or, as they call it, "a safety net for the risk-taking Sonic player."

Need a safety net? Pre-order!

Actually, this isn't the only thing you get if you pre-order from Amazon: you also get your game upgraded to the "Deadly Six Edition," which includes the "Nightmare" DLC pack. This includes an extra level featuring Nightmaren enemies drawn from Sega's Saturn classic Nights into Dreams, and battles against the titular Deadly Six -- so it's perhaps not so bad.

Let's take a look at that "extra lives" DLC, though. The sheer existence of this content is bizarre, given how irrelevant the concept of "lives" is in modern gaming; indeed, at the recent Eurogamer Expo, the developers of both Velocity 2X and Assault Android Cactus noted that they had specifically removed lives from their games because it simply makes for a more enjoyable experience that way. Consider recent games you may have played, too; outside of an RPG, when was the last time you saw a "Game Over" screen? They're even getting rarer in RPGs; many modern games of this type -- particularly those from Japan -- favor an immediate "retry" option rather than requiring that the player reload a save.

Lives are a largely irrelevant construct these days due to the fact that we're not playing arcade machines any more. Lives were originally incorporated into arcade games as a means of limiting how much a player could play in a single session without having to pay again, but in a different way to how freemium games use energy mechanics these days; lives also rewarded skilled play by only being lost if the player made a mistake, and in many cases could be extended by fulfilling certain conditions, whereas freemium energy bars deplete regardless of skill.

The main reason that lives are largely obsolete these days, however, is because the size of most modern games necessitates they use a save system. Running out of lives is consequently meaningless, because you can just reload a saved game, making any "game over" screen utterly irrelevant -- unless, of course, you're going for a permadeath system that wipes your save file if you run out of lives. It is, let's face it, unlikely that Sega will take that approach with Sonic Lost World, however.

Ultimately, though, this DLC isn't really hurting anyone -- so long as it doesn't mean Sonic Lost World incorporates freemium-style play throttling mechanics whereby you run out of lives and either have to wait for hours or pay up to be able to continue playing. Please don't do that, Sega; that would be the worst thing to happen to Sonic since [insert your least-favorite 3D Sonic game here].

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for kyleyadlosky64 #1 kyleyadlosky64 4 years ago
    The fact that they're still using the lives system is silly enough, but this is just lazy.
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  • Avatar for Thusian #2 Thusian 4 years ago
    I don't know about worst, but dumbest its definitely in the running for.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #3 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    It's really a shame that "lives" systems are going away, because it was a good framework for risk within a game. "Lives" are just chances you have to die before there is some sort of punishment, something that is a very important concept in games. There's really no need to get rid of it, and the idea that games would evolve past this concept is bizarre.

    Now, on the other hand, I always thought it was stupid when a game gives you lives and continues, but even when you continue you start at the same place from when you lose a life.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #4 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 It could always be an option. Those of us who want to play with unlimited lives can do so, the rest who like more of a challenge have that option. Everyone wins.

    As for this promotion... it just feels gross. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but it's all sorts of wrong.
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #5 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 The trouble, I think, is that in many cases modern games are too big to make a lives system workable. Would you want to work your way through a 20+ hour game, only to have to start all over again if you ran out of lives? I think that would be an interesting risk/reward mechanic, personally, but I can see a lot of people who would be angry about it.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #6 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    @pjedavison It doesn't have to be that cut and dry. "Lives" are just one way of showing that you have a punishment after a certain amount of failures. That punishment doesn't have to be game over.

    Mega Man is the classic example... lives have real meaning in that game because they represent your chances of using checkpoints within the level. When you run out, you just have to start the level over again, but you don't necessarily have to lose all your progress. If you took lives out of Megaman and just always let the player continue from a checkpoint, sure you could just make the game more difficult to compensate, but something of real value would be lost.

    The concept of risk is very valuable to games and there's no reason modern games still can't make use of it, even larger ones. It doesn't have to be in the form of "lives," but that's still one great way to do it.
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #7 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 Very good points! Personally speaking, I haven't found lives relevant since Super Mario World allowed you to enter that one level with a 1up at the start, then Start-Select quit out over and over again until you had 99 lives. Not to mention the fact that when you ran out of lives you could pretty much pick up exactly where you left off. :)

    I absolutely agree that the concept of risk is valuable to games -- but I think it's quite nice that some devs are starting to explore alternative means of "punishment" for messing up.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #8 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    @pjedavison Well lives certainly haven't been relevant in Mario games since Super Mario World, that's for sure!

    I like the idea of alternative methods of punishment for failure, and you see a few games play around with that idea, like Dark Souls. But the major trend right now seems to be moving away from risk and punishment, either with lots of little bite sized challenges, or simply dropping the idea of "challenge" from games period. Many modern games are more focused on stories, and challenge only gets in the way of the interactive movie.

    So it's not really a surprise that we're seeing less lives systems and game overs. On the other hand in the indie scene, there's been a huge recent movement towards rogue likes, so it's kind of gone in the opposite direction. So it seems like in most modern games you either have infinite lives or only one. I would like to see the return of more games with a middle ground.
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  • Avatar for TotalHenshin #9 TotalHenshin 4 years ago
    I think the only reason this seems "wrong" to us is that it is indeed reminiscent of something you'd find on the App Store. Maybe people are worried that Sonic, or part of Sonic could go F2P? Or maybe Sega just couldn't think of a decent pre-order bonus for Amazon. I'd like to believe the latter, but part of me worries it could be the former.

    Not that I care. I haven't enjoyed a Sonic game in ages and I'm very skeptical about Lost World.
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  • Avatar for strongbadsings #10 strongbadsings 4 years ago
    Slow news day?
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