Sonic 4: Episode I - updated hands-on

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

I don’t know what the hell fanboys are bitching about. Sonic 4 is exactly the game I’ve always wanted to play. This here’s a picture I whipped up two years ago for an article called “10 Games that need the Mega Man 9 treatment...”


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’pose. From comic to cartoons, 2D to 3D, Sonic’s fanbase is not only console specific, it’s even spans multiple mediums. And with so many incredibly vocal factions, I’d just gone ahead and written off all Sonic fans as virtually unpleasable.

Fortunately for you, Sega doesn’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 “gloriest” 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’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’ve some history with Sonic. And you’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’ll be honest: As head-over-heels elated I was with the idea Mega Man 9, the execution didn’t really do it for me. Turns out, maybe you can’t hinge an entire game, let alonemultiple games, on preexisting nostalgia alone. So whereas Capcom attempted to simply amplify “that old feelin” Sega’s building off of it in this direct follow up to Sonic and Knuckles, and I’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’s another thing Sonic 4 remembers that many of his 2D speed runs have forgotten: The level itself. While exploration’s become secondary to sheer velocity, blowing through the levels at the speed of Blast Processing wasn’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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