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Our followers on Twitter and Facebook yesterday were asked: What do you want to know about Sonic 4? Having been shown the first three levels of the game and being a long-time Sonic fan, I feel ready to answer even the geekiest of questions. So here we go:
Terry Collins: How long will it be/ how many episodes?
It hasn't been confirmed yet. However, the second episode has been confirmed already and not as the last. I would think there will be three episodes.
Keiffer Newman: Will it suck?
From what I've seen... no. It looks like it plays well, the sensation of movement is smooth and the pacing seems right. It may not have as much scope for exploration as, say, Sonic 2, but the music, iconography and level layout is way better than other recent Sonic games. I'd say it'll be at least as good as Sonic Advance 1, which I liked very much.
Above: Looks a lot like Sonic 2, doesn't it? Except in shiny HD
Nay Aung Latt: When will the retail version be released? I can't use Xbox Live in my country. So, I'm really looking forward to the retail version. After 3 episodes? 5 episodes?
Sadly there are no plans for a disc version. However, if it sells really well online, I would be surprised if we didn't see some kind of collectors' disc edition after all the episodes have been released. And there's always the iPhone version?
Brendan Day: Will they get Michael Jackson to do any of the music?
It looks unlikely Michael will be contributing. However, I will say that the music is a real return to form after the god-awful orchestrated stuff of recent games. It even samples the 16-bit original's snare sound. Remember the count-in for the title screen? It's there throughout the soundtrack. Marvellous.
Antony Essex: Why did it Sega so long to realise 3D Sonic sucks?
Firstly, 3D Sonic hasn't always sucked. Sonic Adventure 1 was a great game and the 3D Sonic World bit of Sonic Jam on Saturn proved that the game could work brilliantly in 3D. But to answer your question: Because Sonic has to be seen to be moving with the times and also because the franchise still makes money. Sonic Heroes was at number one for aeons a few years back and a lot of people hate that. It's only because of decreasing review scores and the low-risk online distribution method that we're getting a next-gen 2D outing at all. If enough people buy this, we may get a big-budget 2D Sonic 5. Imagine that.
Chris Hughes: How fast can he actually run????
Sonic himself can break the sound barrier which is 761.2mph. In Sonic 4, he runs slower than he does in Sonic Rush on DS but faster than the normal-speed gameplay of Sonic 2. And his feet do blur when he hits top speed. Phew.
Above: Sonic hasn't even hit full speed here but he's still kicking up dust
Patrick Petraitis: Is it really worth getting in episodes?
Well... I would have preferred one big game, but there are four levels in the first episode, each apparently with three acts and a separate boss stage (yep, you get a third spinner now in Act 3) plus seven bonus stages, so that's enough to be getting on with. Remember, Sonic 1, 2 and 3 can each be finished in under one hour, so the length of Episode 1 is probably getting on for that of any of the old games.
Karl Smith: Wouldn't Sonic 4 have benefited from high def 2D drawn sprites than 3D polygons? BlazBlue Calamity Trigger is a beautiful and fast moving game with drawn sprites. I'm not knocking what you are doing but I think it would be more faithful to the original Sonics of times gone by.
Erm, you realise GamesRadar isn't making the game, right? But yes, I absolutely agree - hand-drawn sprites would have looked better. The 3D Sonic doesn't sit right in his environment. His feet overlap the 2D terrain a little, his revolutions are too slow when he jumps, but at least he looks awesome when he's rolling down a hill. The animation is very much 'new Sonic'.
Above: Acts are individually named. Splash Hill features: 'The Adventure Begins', 'High Speed Athletics', 'Sunset Dash' and 'Showdown with Dr Eggman'. Can you guess which one this screen's from?
Conor McKenna: Will this be the direction future Sonics will take, or is it just a ZBLA/PSN game to keep console gamers interested in the Sonic games?
I fully expect another 3D Sonic game to be announced at some point this year. There's no way Sega would confine their biggest asset to XBLA, PSN and WiiWare. That said, if it sells well, I think we'll see a full-price Sonic game with more traditional side-on gameplay - and not in the twitch sense of the side-on bits from Sonic Unleashed. Sonic 4 is just a lower-budget game to finally give fans what they've been asking for for the last decade.