Sonic 4: Episode I - updated hands-on

Sega's throwback strikes a near perfect blend of things old and new

I don%26rsquo;t know what the hell fanboys are bitching about. Sonic 4 is exactly the game I%26rsquo;ve always wanted to play. This here%26rsquo;s a picture I whipped up two years ago for an article called %26ldquo;10 Games that need the Mega Man 9 treatment...%26rdquo;

Above: Millions of you have beengrantedmy wish!

Seriously, people?! Are there really even a handful of people that were excited to play this game until they found out Sonic had greens eyes?! Such is the cost of longevity, I s%26rsquo;pose. From comic to cartoons, 2D to 3D, Sonic%26rsquo;s fanbase is not only console specific, it%26rsquo;s even spans multiple mediums. And with so many incredibly vocal factions, I%26rsquo;d just gone ahead and written off all Sonic fans as virtually unpleasable.

Fortunately for you, Sega doesn%26rsquo;t see it that way, and its employing multiple platforms to deliver Sonic to specific sects of Hedgehog fandom in a manner anybody with a vested interest in his future should be commending.

Sonic Colors on Wiiis taking a 3D stab at Super Mario Galaxy platforming bliss, the DS version recalls the overlooked greatness of Sonic Rush. The Blue Blur is getting his ownKinect game, for motion-controller crazy kiddies who love the Riders series. And Sonic 4?! Oh Good Holy Lord, Sonic 4 harkens back to the %26ldquo;gloriest%26rdquo; of hedgehog glory days in a brilliantly conceived plan to appeal to his oldest fans.

As the star of the highest selling games on Sega%26rsquo;s best selling console, if you were one of the 40 or so million people lucky enough to own a Genesis/Mega Drive, chances are you%26rsquo;ve some history with Sonic. And you%26rsquo;d be a moron of the highest caliber to deny yourself the opportunity to relive that legacy on PSN, XBLA and Wii just because the color of his pupils.

I%26rsquo;ll be honest: As head-over-heels elated I was with the idea Mega Man 9, the execution didn%26rsquo;t really do it for me. Turns out, maybe you can%26rsquo;t hinge an entire game, let alonemultiple games, on preexisting nostalgia alone. So whereas Capcom attempted to simply amplify %26ldquo;that old feelin%26rdquo; Sega%26rsquo;s building off of it in this direct follow up to Sonic and Knuckles, and I%26rsquo;m digging the holy hell out of it.

Above: BWoOo

For one, the homing attack and midair dash Sonic gained from his 3D outings proves a fantastic addition to the 2D formula. Few people care to remember that Sonic was a recklessly piss-poor jumper, so this newly implemented technique not only increases accuracy and staves off spike/pit related peril, you may now chain homing attacks to achieve otherwise unreachable heights.

And that%26rsquo;s another thing Sonic 4 remembers that many of his 2D speed runs have forgotten: The level itself. While exploration%26rsquo;s become secondary to sheer velocity, blowing through the levels at the speed of Blast Processing wasn%26rsquo;t what had my generation replaying Sonic games over and over again.

Above: Now that's what I'm talking about!


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