Developer(s): Sonic Team, Dimps
Rating: E for Everyone
So it seems that this year has been dropping two things: highly anticipated sequels/prequels and reinventions of our all-time favorite titles. This time, SEGA has decided to grace us with the sequel – I’m sorry, the true sequel – to its classic series that had everyone in front of their Genesis. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 is out, but is it the blue hedgehog’s rise to fame or nothing more than a pitfall to a spiky doom?
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is set shortly after its predecessor Sonic & Knuckles; in the game, Sonic destroys Doctor Eggman's space station, the Death Egg. With the Death Egg destroyed and Angel Island returned to the sky, Sonic decides that it is time to take a break. After parting with Tails and Knuckles, he sets off to explore new territories alone; however, unbeknownst to him, his nemesis Dr. Eggman has survived their last encounter, and has revisited and rehashed some of his "very best" robotic creations in another attempt to defeat Sonic. Sonic must travel through a variety of zones to defeat Doctor Eggman once again.
So, from the start, I’ll just say that I’m a fan of the older Sonic series (Sonic the Hedgehog – Sonic & Knuckles and both Sonic Adventure games). And the first – and possibly major – pro that I’ll list on here is that Sonic 4: Episode 1 is a true sequel of the Genesis series games. The developers did what they said they would do: they kept everything exactly like the original games that we all grew up on. And that in itself is a major pro.
A major pro for this game was the controls. The controls were basic Sonic controls: D-Pad/Analog to move, and face buttons to jump. The Spin Dash is back and they even gifted the blue blur with the Homing Attack. And honestly, that’s all you really need to play a Sonic game…no guns or psychic powers, just jumps, spin dashes, and homing attacks.
The stages are another pro for this game. All the zones in the game are reminiscent of the old school games graphically, but are a bit more challenging in this installment. It’s guaranteed that you’ll get a bit stuck in some zones on this one. Also, the music is a solid pro for this game. All of the Sonic games had memorable music and this one is no different.
Although this game is great, it has its downsides. For starters, as sharp as the graphics are, it seems that our blue blur of a hero goes a bit slower in this game. Compared to earlier installments – especially Sonic 2 – Sonic seems to run with a leg cramp in this game. Not that it’s alarmingly slow; it’s just that he’s not as speedy as he was before. Also, the amount of stages is another con. When you break it down, you have 4 zones with 3 acts and a boss battle. Add in the 7 special stages and the final boss battle and you have 24 stages that honestly go a bit quick for hardcore players. Granted, it’s the first episode and you expect that but…eh.
Also, another con is the lack of competitiveness in this one. They’ve added in a time attack and score attack mode and you’re able to post up your times on the XBL/PSN/WiiWare leader boards, but there’s no multiplayer. And as I said before, it’s the first episode so we don’t know exactly what will happen, but there could have been a multiplayer race mode, either local or online.
If you’re the Sonic fan that’s heavily disappointed with all the Sonic games released after Sonic Adventure 2 and wanted a revival of the old series, this game is for you. If not, then I suggest that you still get this game. Even though it’s a bit short, it’s still worth the $15/1200 MS Points that it costs for the download. And remember: this is Episode 1. Imagine what Episode 2 will bring.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5